Donors Choose - Teachers ask. You choose. Students learn.

31 August 2008

Baby beluga in the deep blue sea...

So I bought a Raffi CD for my class. And wow, does it bring back the memories!!

This should be sign number 1 that I am too young to be teaching... the things I get for my classroom are things that I remember from being a kid, and still love them. I mean how can you not love Raffi?!??!?

The CD is called "Animal Songs" so I'm pretty excited about all of it. The other CD that I got is a 4 disc set called "101 Toddler Favorites" (it's not Raffi, unfortunately). Some day, in the very far future, when I have kids... I'm going to be so good with the songs. I will probably know all 101 of those songs by the 2nd week of teaching. I'm not a fan of silence, especially in a class with 5 year olds, so we'll probably be playing music a lot. We'll see what the kids can handle I guess.

Anyways I need to start planning what we'll be doing on Tuesday... and also try to figure out if I actually have a curriculum, or if I simply follow the "I do what I want!" philosophy. I have a hunch that it's the latter of those two options...

30 August 2008

It's a small New York world.

Had another crazy small world moment yesterday. I went with some teacher friends to the Brooklyn Brewery (coolest place ever, btw) and literally ran into a friend that I studied abroad with. I knew he used to live in New York but thought he moved after graduation. We haven't kept in the best of touch but get a long great and used to be pretty good friends. Of course, we run into eachother in a borough that neither of us lives in.

I also ran into a good friend from high school who I haven't seen in 4 years. At the same place. So so so strange. I expected to see her there, but not the study abroad kid who I haven't seen in over a year, nor really ever planned on seeing again.

And this is why I love New York. In a city of 8 million people, I still randomly see people I know, don't feel lost in the shuffle, and can reconnect with people completely unexpectedly.

This morning in my semi-hungover and VERY sore state (moving classrooms around is tough), I realized, oh no, the teacher store! WHEN IS IT OPEN THIS WEEKEND???? Of course, it's only open today. And I'm supposed to be in the East Village in an hour to tailgate and watch the big game. And I still have to go to the teacher store and spend more of my life savings. So I should probably end this blog post and get going on that so I can have at least a little fun today.... :)

29 August 2008

Today I bought Dora band-aids.

And teddy grahams (snack food), dish towels (for the sink), a coffee maker (for the storage closet and obviously necessary coffee), and rolls and rolls of fadeless paper, and so so so much more. I knew you had to buy a lot of stuff when teaching... but phewie. But it will all be worth it I think. It already feels worth it.

If I could only use one word to sum up my experience so far, it'd be AMAZING. I am truly blessed to be in the situation I am. I read horror stories about NYC public schools, especially special ed, but my experience thus far has been MUCH different. It's definitely not the average though, and I'm well aware of all of the issues many of my colleagues are going through.

My paras are great. They know so much about the kids already and helped me set up my room and basically did anything that I asked. They gave me so much helpful input and really had great ideas. They even said they're going to teach me Spanish this year... woo! I don't think I'll have an issue with being the authority figure, which was my biggest fear earlier. I mean being a first year teacher is one thing, but being 22... I mean who listens to 22-year-olds?!??!?? But I think we'll be a great team.

My room is huge and is turning out nicely. As my cooperating teacher from the summer session said, "Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your classroom." And she's so right. But it's coming along. I still need to label EVERYTHING, make student schedules, laminate a bunch of things, etc etc, but so far so good. I found a huge brand new rug in the basement today, so I snatched that up ASAP. The AP didn't exactly give me the go ahead, but I can promise you, he's not missing it. My classroom would be. And so would my 5-year-olds who are going to be sitting, rolling, laying, and playing on it all day.

At the end of the day, I had to go to the office to get a few things and ran into my Principal, who I absolutely adore. I'm not on as close terms with the APs, but me and Ms. Principal are like BFFs. She gave me a hug and asked how it was going. I told her how excited I was about my room and how great my paras were, and she agreed that they were great. She told me I might have some issues with one, but I really appreciated her honesty. She told me to just stop worrying, that she knows I'm going to do great, and that it's going to be a great year. SO reassuring... she's just fabulous.

I have a huge shopping list for this weekend for school stuff.... then the big challenge is getting it from my aparment on the Upper West Side to my school in the Bronx. Hm. This weekend should be fun though... I'll be staying in the city but tomorrow is the start of college football!!! To celebrate, I'll be wearing my jersey and partying at my friends house and at one of the many bars in NYC devoted to Michigan fans. How exciting. The rest of the weekend will be spent getting ready for Tuesday!

PS: I didn't even look at my kids IEPs (individualized education plans) today, so I'm going to be totally surprised when they come in on Tuesday. I thought I was going to have to look at them to prevent a self imposed nervous breakdown, but I'm feeling shockingly calm about not seeing them. :)


I just woke up at 5:20 for work. The coffee can't come out of the pot fast enough.

This is going to be a challenge this year...

28 August 2008


Wow, where to begin.

Today was the first day of teachers reporting back. I was told to be there at 8:10am, but then found out that the stuff didn't start till 9. But we had to be there early. And do nothing.

Anyways, once we got started, it was a lot of boring administrative stuff via a huge staff meeting. Then, we got our class lists and schedules. I have 2 prep periods every day + lunch. So that's pretty awesome. And I have (as of right now) only 5 students. They're mostly actually 5 years old, even though it's first grade. So they're probably super teeny tiny and (hopefully) really cute.

Of course, I couldn't find my class. It's not numbered and no one knew which room it was, not even my AP (grrrrreat). We had to actually use the extention (same as my room number) and play "find the ringing phone" to find my room. But, eventually we found it and it was HUGE! It also came with about 20 desks and full size chairs. Of course, I don't need any of those, so me and my paras had a great time moving those.

My paras seem good, and everyone tells me I got lucky with them. They also know a lot, which is both good and bad. Good for obvious reasons, but bad because it's hard for me to feel like I'm the one really in charge. I'm doing a lot of what they're suggesting to me, and I don't want them to think its because I'm a push over or something, I just really have no clue what I'm doing at this point.

Anyways, I have to cut this short. I still need to figure out where I'm putting what in my room and figure out how I'm going to lug all of this up to the Bronx tomorrow.

Just letting you know that I survived.

19 August 2008

Miss A: Future Gossip Girl Star??

Well, today I got to see my first TV show being filmed. None other than the New York centric Gossip Girl. There have been these film trailers outside of the Columbia campus for a few days now, with the names "Lucy" and "Desi" on them. So I figured I'd walk through campus and see what I could see. First, I saw a huge group of people (I'm assuming they were extras) in ridiculously nice designer clothes. So that should have been my first clue.

So then I just walk across campus, and pass a sign basically saying that if you decide to walk past this you are releasing your rights to being filmed. By this point, I'm just thinking, "sweet, I'm going to be in a I Love Lucy remake." I walk right across the main "quad" type area and find a group of people standing there watching a limo scene. Hmm... limo in I Love Lucy?????

Then I quickly realize that I just walked straight across the set while filming. I feel bad for about a second, but then remember that no one stopped me so it must have been ok. I try to decipher the person in the limo but still have no clue. At first, I think it's Jude Law. Then, after closer examination, I realize that Ed Westwick (Chuck Bass) is looking directly at me. How embarassing. They continue the scene and he gets out of the limo and then the director announces that they're having a lunch break.

I hate to be the stereotypical Midwestern transplant, but I'm a tad star struck, even though I've seen Ed Westwick and Chace Crawford around Chelsea before, which is where Perez Hilton tells me that they live. So that's my first tw0-time celeb sighting and first time tv show filming sighting. Oh New York. Thank God I actually took the time to do my hair today, lest I actually show up in an episode.

PS: Read more about this here.

18 August 2008

SO thankful!

So I've realized, I'm SO lucky to already have a job. I seriously feel so blessed that it just fell straight into my lap with really zero grunt work on my behalf.

I'm reading all of these message boards on facebook and on the NYCTF website about there being just zero postitions within the NYC system and it's really shocking to me. Maybe it's just because I'm in special ed, which is such a high need area, but there are really slim pickings in terms of jobs. I guess the crappy economy has even affected education.

I've read a lot of posts about people going traditional route (getting a bachelors in ed.) and having to go their first year as a substitute in order ot establish the necessary connections to secure a job. Maybe these people just aren't willing to work in high-needs schools? I mean you get paid the same amount regardless of what school you work at. I just don't get it. I've also read a lot of things about age discrimination in hiring... it seems a lot of schools are looking for the enthusiastic, young teachers and not as much for the 50-year-old career changer teachers.

In more positive news, mom's visit was a complete success. On Tuesday, we went to visit my school and I think it's safe to say she was more than just impressed by the amazing atmosphere. I'm so glad that she liked it and felt comfortable, I think it was definitely a relief for her. Then we went to the REAL Little Italy.... Arthur Ave. in the Bronx. It was great... we learned about how to cook stomachs, ate some amazing sandwiches, and also indulged in quite possibly the best cannoli outside of Italy. Tuesday night, we saw RENT on Broadway. It was amazing and great and everything I hoped it would be. We stopped at a bar that I go to a lot on the way home, but only stayed for one drink because we were both exhausted.

On Wednesday, we slept in a little bit then did some tourist things. Walked around lower Manhattan near the WTC site and South Street Seaport, then did some good shopping in Soho. That evening we met up with a friend of mine for some great Latin food... something that is definitely harder to come by in Michigan. To end the night, we went to a German place to have a few huge German beers and relive the great Munich days. And to top it off, in true New York style, on the way home we stopped to get (what I think is) the best pizza in my area, and I think it's safe to say that Mom fell in love with New York pizza at that moment.

Thursday, we did some shopping for school stuff at Staples and home stuff at Bed Bath and Beyond. ((Thank you again, Mom!!!)) We just sorta wandered around the Upper West Side and had a pretty relaxing afternoon, capped off by some more pizza (at the same place, of course). Mom had to leave in the afternoon, right as a huge storm came in. Thankfully though, we didn't have any bad weather when she was here!

Next up, Dad's visit this weekend. And lots of rest and relaxation for me before I have to go back to work on the 28th. Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

12 August 2008

NEWS FLASH: My cat is a dog.

Yes it's true...

I couldn't figure out why my cat wouldn't leave me alone as I'm watching all of the Olympic glory, then I realized, he just wanted to play catch.

He's obsessed with small pieces of paper and playing catch with them. He literally runs after them and then brings them back until you throw it again. Very bizarre behavior from a cat, no???

Olympic Fever

Every 2 years I get the Olympic fever.... and this time, it's baaaad.

First, our own little hometown hero Peter Vanderkaay got bronze in the 200 free for swimming today!! It's so cool to see someone from Rochester and someone so down to earth winning medals in the Olympics. He has a few more events in the next week or so (1500 free and 4x200 relay I think...), so be sure to watch for him and cheer him on!

I have a small beef with NBC though.... I know that Michael Phelps is pulling in the biggest ratings in Olympics history since 1976, but COME ON, give some other people some sort of spotlight too. It's amazing how much attention Phelps brings to the sport, but still. I got a little mad yesterday when Peter was in first going into tonights race, but it was still all about Phelps. They said maybe one word about Peter. Obviously, Michael Phelps wasn't going 100% and was conserving energy for his gold medal swim tonight, but they still should have given kudos where they were deserved. END RANT.

Second of all, I'm watching the men's gymnastics team competition and just falling in love with the USA mens team as they capture the bronze medal. I don't know why, but they're all just so cute! And trying so hard and get so excited because they're putting out amazing routines. I love it when people are passionate about sports like that... gives me the warm fuzzies for sure.

Can't wait to see what else the USA will do in these games... regardless of politics or who we mistakenly chose as our President, we should ALL be proud to be an American and admire those athletes for their amazing sportsmanship and dedication. Basically, if you can't tell, I'm in love. With the Olympics.

10 August 2008

Funny Video // Sunday

This is the funniest video ever... please watch.  Especially if you love Rick Astley.  

Today was the perfect Sunday.  Got up early, took a run in Riverside Park, went to a beautiful church, did some window shopping, bought some amazing books about autism, went to my favorite cafe, had some great coffee and did some reading, then came home and listed to the rain while reading some more.  And then had yummy left over spaghetti for dinner.

Sunday is definitely my favorite day of the week.  

And Mom comes in 2 days!!!  We have lots planned, I'm super excited for her to finally see my neighborhood, apartment, and general New York things that I do all the time now. :)

06 August 2008

God Bless Target

I was in a rather foul mood when I had to wake up this morning at 6 am and travel 1 hr 28 mins (according to to get to a workshop at the end of the Earth in Brooklyn this morning.  However, this was all reversed when I emerged from the subway station and saw a gleaming, huge, new, Target!!!!!

Not having been in a Target for 2 months is harder than I thought.  I don't know how I did it when I lived in Germany. 

Did you know that Target has a smell???  All Targets smell the same!  It all came back to me when I walked in.  Anyways the whole reason for this renewed love affair is their $1 section right when you get in the store.  Someone at Target is VERY smart and must be my cosmic twin, because this week their theme (or whatever) is TEACHER THINGS!!!!  

I've been worrying about getting things for my class for a long time.  I have this horrible nightmare that my classroom will be bare and my students won't have the games, toys, and manipulatives that they need in order to be successful learners.  Part of it is an irrational fear, but I think a lot of it is quite legitimate.

So today, I got a ton of puzzles (stuff like colors, body parts, letters, etc), pencils (for the treasure box), books, stamps, clippy things for the white board, flashcards, and a bunch of other $1 things that I thought would be useful.  So I got 2 huge bags of stuff, and it cost under $25!!!!!!!

Basically, I'm elated and relieved.  Thank you Target, for always being there for me.

05 August 2008

It's a small world after all....

Yes indeed it is. In the past few days, I've had the smallest world encounters. In a city with over 8 million people, you wouldn't think you'd see people as much as you do. But Manhattan is a very small island. Very small.

Example 1:
There's this woman who I see every morning on my commute. We both get on the train at 96th and ride it uptown, with her going somewhere past my stop in the Bronx. We always end up in the same train car, which makes sense because it's the fastest way to get out of the station depending on where the stairs are. And after riding the train every morning and having a commute where a 30-second hustle can make the difference in 20 minutes, every little bit counts. Anyways. Seeing this woman every morning is normal, and not too uncommon in rush hour New York.

However, on SATURDAY afternoon I saw her!!! And not even on the train that we ride into the Bronx every morning, but on a different one!!!! This random lady, in a city of 8 million people, and I see her everyday, INCLUDING THE WEEKENDS NOW. Like wtf. I mean it's not a bad thing, she seems very nice, but how strange is that. We smiled at each other because we obviously recognized one another but didn't say anything. When I got off, I waved goodbye. Very strange and awkward.

Example 2:
On Fridays in July, we had workshops for NYCTF that we had to go to (ahemagainstourwillahem). There was this girl in mine, I think she said she lived and worked in Brooklyn. Then today, I'm sitting on the train minding my own business, reading Random Family, and all of the sudden, I look up, and she's across from me! Had another awkward smile and "hey how's it going" type conversation (luckily my stop was next because there's only so much awkwardness I can handle). But seriously. What are the chances???

Example 3:
On Thursday, I was walking around the UWS (Upper West Side for all of you who aren't down with the cool sounding New York lingo), and I saw this transsexual (male to female if you must know). She was dressed very loudly an obviously stood out. No big. Then on Friday, I saw her like 30 blocks farther uptown on my block. I mean, she's not hard to notice. But seeing the same person, 30 blocks away, 2 days in a row... very strange. Right place at the right time, I guess.

Many people have also heard the story of me seeing an old accquaintence (how do you spell this??) in my neighborhood while sitting in my favorite cafe in June. And he's not from New York, doesn't live here. But was just walking around, randomly uptown. How do you explain that?

I wonder if all of these chance encounters are fate or if it's more common than we think. I vote for the latter of the two. Any ideas on the matter?


So someone came across my blog by searching "2 in his pants" on google.  Yep, 2 as in poop.  I hope they found what they were looking for.

Anyways training is over = FREEDOM!  Had some great celebrations with fellow Fellows this past weekend... I already feel like I'm in withdraw though from my Fellows friends and just from having stuff to do!  This will pass though, I'm sure.  I don't miss the masters classes, but I do miss the kids.  I'll be seeing enough of them soon though.

So today on my first official day off, I went to the beach.  Me and a friend took the Long Island Railroad all the way out to Long Beach, which is, you guessed it, on Long Island.  It was a beautiful day and I greatly enjoyed being by the ocean... it's been too long.