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July 26, 2010

I woke, again, this morning to the screaming of crows, “CAW! CAW! CAW!”  The cool morning breeze tried to gently put me back to sleep, but the crows were relentless.  “CAW! CAW! CAW!”  I refused to open my eyes.  I know that eventually they go away and scream in someone else’s yard.  But, it seems they knew that I was ignoring them.  They just got louder, if that is possible.  Finally, I acknowledged them, quietly, speaking mostly to my dog than to them.  It had been almost an hour of the racket by then.  They stayed a few more minutes, and then it was blissfully quiet again.  I dozed, but the sound sleep was over.

It is another beautiful Summer Day, but unlike many this summer there is nothing on the calendar.  Well, except going to the library and to the grocery store.  (And, the library is optional.)  Softball and Baseball are officially over, and Soccer doesn’t start until the last weeks in August.  We have a little bit of space to breathe, and it feels so good.  I was worried that we didn’t have enough to do this summer, HA!  But we have had a good time with nightly ice cream cones on the patio, playdates, and the beach.

Last week was crazy busy.  It began with Sarah’s birthday, and went on to have a schedule every day.  I met with all three professors that had been in contact with me, separately of course.  On Tuesday, I went to one’s house.  I was really nervous, because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing, or offend her.  We met for over two hours.  She and I clicked and we are totally on the same page as far as philosophy goes.  I came home energized and so grateful, I will have someone at school that I can go to and get help, or bounce ideas off of, or cry on her shoulder.  It is such a relief.  She is not teaching the same class as me this semester, but she taught it last year.  She handed me all of her files for the class, and let me take them home.  She basically saved my life.  All of her lesson plans were in those files, so I could see how she paced out the entire semester.  I could determine how much time she spent on the textbook and what else she did.  This was the missing piece for me.  I met with another colleague from my school on Thursday morning.  She gave me a whole folder of stuff and a zip drive of more “in case I want to change anything.”  We also met for about two hours.  She was very supportive and gave me totally different information.  Like, don’t hand back tests from the test bank…cheating you know.  That wasn’t even on my radar.  Kindergartners don’t cheat.  If they do, it is because they don’t know why they shouldn’t.  She basically teaches only the textbook, so it was a really good meeting talking about that, and how to use the publisher.  Both of them liked my ideas that have been bouncing around in my head.  I still don’t know if they will work, but I think I am going to try them.  The last professor that I met with on Friday teaches at a different community college, but is the guru of adult education.  I don’t really remember all she does, because she basically does everything.  She and I met for about two hours as well, and she gave me really good materials…a whole stack!  She trains teachers when it comes to adult reading education, so our conversation was on the nitty-gritty of how to teach vocabulary, how to practice paying attention while you read, how to “study read” and how important it is to preview material, be strategic while reading, and go back after reading to confirm you got all of the important information out of the text.  She was beyond helpful. I think I may go and observe her class on Wednesday, since she is teaching and invited me to do so anytime.

The thing EVERY professor has told me, including my teacher for my remedial reading class, was that I need to have an air tight syllabus, and I need to be a hard ass.  I have to fail people, if that is the grade they earn.  They all told me that I will have students come to me crying because they are failing, but to stay strong.  They all said that I would not be doing them any favors by coddling them.  Um.  Hi.  I taught KINDERGARTEN.  I coddle.  I even kiss boo-boos.  So I have been practicing.  I can tell them ahead of time how to get a good grade.  I can tell them how much it makes a difference to come and talk to the professor.  If I lay it all out ahead of time, then I won’t feel guilty when I have to fail people.  Yikes.  I will hate that part.  I already do.

I am so honored that these three people took time out of their summers to meet with me, and were so willing to share materials and expertise.  I was amazed at how generous they all were.  I don’t know how I am ever going to repay them, but I know I will pay it forward.  I have never had a problem sharing my materials, and I have been lucky that I have always taught with people who shared easily.  But many teachers don’t share.  They are competitive and don’t want others to get credit for their ideas.  I am glad I work at a place that shares.

I have been obsessed with getting my files in order, and I finished outlining the damn textbook.  My files are done, and I worked on my syllabus last night.  I think I was a hard ass.  No late assignments will be accepted?  Hard.  Ass.  Tests can only be made up with prior approval?  Yes.  I just have to do one more for my Saturday class.  It will be the same except for the class dates.  I am not sure if I am going to do a schedule sheet that tells what we do on each day and the assignment.  I don’t know if I can get all of those lessons planned before school starts, and I am still a bit unsure how long things will actually take.  My favorite part of the weekend was going to office depot to shop for files, and supplies.  I had to put back most of what was in my cart.  I haven’t seen my cubicle, so I can’t start decorating it yet.  Suddenly, preparing for this class is just like those crows this morning, “CAW! CAW! CAW!”  I can’t stop thinking about it!

The rest of my days were spent doing kid things:  We went to my favorite bookstore:  Wild Rumpus, and then out for ice cream cones at Sebastian Joe’s.  Everybody got a book, but I got more than one.  The privilege of being the one who pays.  We had two days of playdates at our house so I had double the kids and no arguing.  We went to Edinborough Park, which is an indoor park, on a rainy day.  Not something I would advise, but the kids had fun.  We had softball playoffs for Katie, but they lost both of their games.  It was a busy week, but a good one.  Maybe I will do a post on the books we bought, if you’re interested?

I have been taking a poll on Facebook.  I asked people what they LOVE to READ.  I have gotten a fair about of comments, but I would love to hear yours too.  I am compiling a list for my first day of school.  I am going to have students put a post-it with their name on it on each category that they love to read.  I started a list myself, but I knew I was leaving something out.  So, what do you spend your time on reading?  It would do me a great service if you comment.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  1. July 26, 2010 11:55 am

    Oh, I am so happy that your meetings went well! More than well, really. Isn’t that always amazing when we’re apprehensive about something, even dreading it, things turn out so well. For me it feels like I’ve received a blessing or a reward for being courageous. I “suffer” from this weird fear thing. It happens e-v-e-r-y time I have to face an unknown. It’s debilitating, I tell ya! I breathe a complete “thank you” each & every time I move beyond it & experience a positive outcome. I’m so glad that you feel such positive connections already in your new position, & I hope it gives you more confidence & courage!! :) (I answered your poll on FB, BTW!)

    • July 30, 2010 8:54 pm

      It really has Jamie. I feel so much better, and I am in such a state of knowing what to do right now. I know it is a false sense of security, there is still A LOT that I don’t know, and it could negate all that I think that I do know, but I am going with it just the same. I have my first full week of school planned, and my syllabus is almost done, I just have to check a couple things to make sure they are correct. Having the textbook done is so huge. I feel like I am on my way!

      As for your fear of the unknown… I totally get that. I hate not being in control. (Control Freak = ME) It makes it that much better that you went out on a limb and started a blog! Yay for you! I think starting a blog was one of the scariest thing I have ever done. It is hard to put yourself out there into the universe. Turns out, it isn’t scary at all, but it was in my head!

  2. July 26, 2010 12:37 pm

    All your colleagues/mentors sound wonderful!! I’m so excited for you!!

    I answered your poll on FB, but I will answer here, too. BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS (mostly paperback, but occasionally hardcover. Also blogs. Also magazines, and if I’m in the shower and there’s nothing else to hand I will read the shampoo bottles.

    • July 30, 2010 8:45 pm

      I LOVE that you read the shampoo bottles! I have done that as well :) I am going to tell my students that you do that, when you are a reader…you read ANYTHING!

  3. July 26, 2010 12:38 pm

    (O! Also, I think you can be a hard ass when you need to and relent when really necessary :)

    • July 30, 2010 8:47 pm

      Absolutely. My thing is, they just need to talk to me. Ask for help, explain what is going on, anything is negotiable, they just need to know that they need to be the ones who initiate it. If they don’t? Well, it sucks for them then. That is college, right?

  4. July 27, 2010 9:46 am

    This sounds so exciting, I’m so happy for you! Jut don’t let any of your students find this blog and see what a softy you really are :) Good luck with everything.

    • July 30, 2010 8:44 pm

      Exactly! I am sure they will figure it out eventually. Thanks for the good luck wishes, I need all the luck I can get.

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