This is by far my favorite place in the city... Bryant Park. Sorry my hair's in the picture... I couldn't be so sly as to take a picture totally without me in it. I looked ridiculous enough trying to do it right now.
I'm in Bryant Park on this lovely Tuesday for a variety of reasons. First, for the free wireless. My internet at home has been super shoddy and I haven't been able to get on for more than 2 minutes at a time... hence my absence from blogging. Second, I don't have work today (or tomorrow) because of Rosh Hashanah. I've never gotten school or work of for Jewish holidays, but it's quite nice and I definitely needed it. So where better to get free wireless on your beautiful day off than Bryant Park? (I'm super dorky and think of Project Runway and Fashion Week everytime I'm here....)
Work is going ok. Last week it seemed like my whole job was to blow noses... pretty disgusting. Which leads me to my current state of being: sick. It was a lot worse over the weekend, so now I'm just congested and just otherwise not feeling 100%. Seriously... these kids have so much snot. I never realized how much they have. It's like never ending. We went through 3 boxes of tissues and a whole thing of soap within a week.
Now, 3 (as opposed to 2) students readily say my name. And when I say readily, I mean, at any chance that they get. My day is constantly "Miss A Miss A Miss A!!!!".... accompanied with poking me. We definitely need to work on appropriate social skills.
I feel like it's taking me a while to get into the swing of things. I still don't feel fully acclimated to everything and feel like I'm always trying to catch up. I'm suspecting I'll feel like this for the whole year. My students are improving but I still feel like I'm not teaching them anything. Or at least not teaching them anything that they remember.
So this week is short, then next week we have Thursday off due to Yom Kippur, then that weekend my best friend from high school is coming in from Ohio and we're going to the Madonna concert! Then we have the next Monday off for Columbus day, so things are looking up with all of these breaks and visitors.
On a side note, I went to a typical Columbia "college type" bar this past weekend... and wow do I feel old. Add to that fact that my across the hall neighbors just moved in and the first thing they ask is "ARE YOU A STUDENT TOO????". Nope... I work. Sigh.
30 September 2008
14 September 2008
Another Sunday... another week. The weekends are definitely not long enough. Had a fun weekend, but still... I need more time!!!
12 September 2008
So my 1st Donors Choose project got funded within 24 hours.... SO I made another one already for people who didn't get the chance to donate to the first one and expressed interest.
11 September 2008
do you see Obama and McCain in person, get an entire curriculum set for math (!!!!!!!!), and have a mentally retarded boy profess his love for you in the sweetest way.... all in the same day.
10 September 2008
Ah, those magic words. I swear I've heard The New Girl say these words before, but alas, today was not one of those days. I was doing one to one instruction with her this morning when all of the sudden, my foot was wet. I look down and sure enough, a huge puddle was forming on the floor. Yep, I got peed on. Or, according to the other teachers, "christened into the big kids club".
07 September 2008
Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm not a morning person. It usually takes me about an hour to really wake up and get to a place in my head where I can actually talk to people.
06 September 2008
I just found out that a fellow Teaching Fellow has been missing for over a week. She started the program last year, and this summer, I almost subleased her apartment while searching for a more permanent place.
The fact that I've had personal contact with this girl makes the whole thing way too close to home. She offered to help me get settled in New York and seemed like an amazing person. All of her ID, credit cards, and cell phone were left at her apartment.
Here's a link to the story.
Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Thanks.
05 September 2008
Today I finally felt like a teacher. It's all about rhythm and transition with my students. Making sure each activity is long enough, but not too long. Giving them enough breaks so that they don't get overwhelmed. Getting into a routine and not deviating from it AT ALL.
Donors Choose is an amazing website for educators that lets them post proposals that need funding and allows people to donate to that project. You can donate any amount, and the money goes straight to Donors Choose, who fund the project through vendors and ships whatever you requested straight to your school!
04 September 2008
Woo for bodily fluids inside schools.
03 September 2008
I can't lie... day 2 was pretty great. You'll have to excuse me, but I'm so exhausted, I need to just do bullet points.
- Had all 6 of my students today. They are on SUCH different levels... it's ridiculous. Whoever thought to put them all together was crazy.
- My one student who is supposedly the "worst" wasn't there yesterday. So his mom brought him in today and I talked to her and stuff (4/6 parents met). She told me, and I quote "Mr. Difficult didn't get ANY sleep last night so he's very agitated. God bless your soul for dealing with him today, Lord knows I couldn't do it. He's going to be a handful... I feel so bad for you." SO... awesome. Well, turns out, he wasn't that bad. No major melt downs and he was really just not that bad. I guess I was just preparing for the worse.
- That being said, he can barely hold an object. Motor skills are a huge thing that we need to work on with him. If I give him anything in his hands it either goes in his mouth or he slams it on the desk. Add that to the list of goals.
- I changed my name today. I'm no longer Ms. [Last name], but now I'm Ms. [First name]. Those of you who know me in real life... it flows much better, right? Plus everyone from the summer knows me as Ms. [First name] and calls me that, so what's the point in changing it. I was afraid that using my first name would make me look young and like I had zero authority, but for kids as young as mine, it's better. A lot of the young teachers at my school do it. I feel much more comfortable with the name thing already.
- The alumni association at my wonderful alma mater is collecting school supplies for us graduates who are NYC teachers... woo for going to a school with a strong alumni base. ;)
- Still haven't figured out how to eat or go to the bathroom during the day. Prep periods are too busy at this point, lunch is rushed. I revel in the few moments that I leave the room to run errands.... sometimes you just need a break.
- Two of my students (Mr. Talkative and Mr. Genius) totally shocked me today with how great their literacy skills are. No surprise, Mr. Talkative is an AMAZING reader. I was reading him a story, and he literally just jumped in and took over with the reading. Of a Berenstein Bears book nonetheless... not even an easy leveled book. He like cut me off.... I was shocked.
- Mr. Talkative has incredible social skills for a child with "autism". I'm doubting his diagnosis, but then again, it's only the second day. And I haven't seen IEPs. There could be a lot of issues that I am just blind to right now... only time will tell.
- I did a read aloud with my kids today (one of the very few things I actually feel confident doing in terms of teaching), and some of them got SO into it.... I finally felt like a real teacher. "Ms. A., Ms. A., TURN THE PAGE!!! I wanna see what happens next!!!" Seriously, the most rewarding thing I've heard so far.
- Ms. Apprehensive was.... apprehensive as we approached her busing table. I took her to it and she immediately backed away and tried to run out of the school. I got a hold of her and coaxed her into coming back, trying to play with her and tickle her. So then, to make sure she was comfortable, I stayed with her until she left, making animal noises, acting out jungle animals... basically looking like a crazy fool. But she loved it and someone even said "Wow, and you've only known her 2 days?????" Another rewarding moment. (This is why I teach.)
- I also got to pretend I was a 6 year old boy for a good half hour... playing action heros and ninjas while also teaching valuable lessons in working as teams and sharing resources (powers). All in the day of an "early childhood" teacher.
- Last thing... I had a parent call (5/6 parents communicated with), and she told me flat out, "Don't send homework home with Mr. Dimples. I personally will not do it with him. I really don't want to see it in his folder." Hmmm... had no idea how to react so I was just like... ok! Like seriously, what do I say to that?
- Ok, real last thing... started grad school classes today. Wasn't too bad, don't think it's gonna be a lot of work. I'm just going to be dying of exhaustion. That's all, no big.
02 September 2008
Well, I survived. Actually, I shouldn't say it like that because it wasn't that bad. I think the first day of my teaching career went about as well as it could have. Let me recap.
Got up pretty early (5am.. I know.) because I wanted to make sure I had my stuff together and got in early. Check and check. I had 2 huge bags and a bunch of posters to carry... fun, believe me. People on the subway are pretty interested in what you teach, where you teach, etc etc. So that made for some good convos. Plus, there were many other young, white, brand new teachers traveling up to the Bronx, so I had an impromptu pump up session with some other new teachers on the 2 train today. Pretty cool.
Got to school, calmed my nerves with a fellow fellow (har har har), and headed down to the cafeteria, where the kids come after busing and eat breakfast. For the longest while, I had no kids. Just me, alone, at the lunch table. Finally, they started trickling in, one by one. Here's a quick cast of characters:
Mr. Dimples: Pretty self explanatory why he has that name. He's non-verbal but according to the speech therapist, he's at the beginning stages of coherent words. So that will be very exciting to try to develop that in him. Fascinated with the window and looking out of it... makes me terrified (we're on the 4th floor). Poor motor skills, can't hold pencil, recognize letters, short attention span. Another teacher said he might be slightly mentally retarded, and I think I can see that in him. Cutest boy ever though... such a cuddle bug and just always wants to sit on your lap. Not potty trained... haven't had to deal with it yet.
Mr. Talkative: VERY difficult to understand this boy. He talks, and if you listen carefully, you understand. But I found myself saying "WHAT???" so many times today. I definitely need to learn "his language". He talks a lot though, and I'm sure it's great stuff, but I just need to become a better listener. Very smart boy, has great and imaginative ideas. Can write his name, identify letters, knows his numbers, etc etc. Don't have much more to say about him right now.
Mr. Genius: Came in with his mom who is very involved. A para mentioned that it could get annoying, and I can see that (maybe someday), but I think it's great and am really looking forward to parental involvement. He has an outside ABA therapist, which is great, and you can see it in his social skills. He's very polite and always answers small talk questions. Knows alphabet, can spell full name, also very imaginative. He told me all about the TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles... they're now acronym-ized and the turtles are referred to as Mike, Raf, Donny, and Leo... hmm, strange...). Math seems to be his strong point and from my very very brief assessment, he's either right at grade level or even a little above, which is AMAZING.
Ms. Apprehensive*: She came in late and was brought in by her mother, so there's another parent met and hopefully impressed. She came to me willingly but was shy as we made our way up to my room. When we got to the room she just stood there and slowly backed out. She eventually came around but didn't want anyone to touch her... she needed to absorb her new atmosphere. Totally cool... I can completely relate. So we gave her her space, and about 5 minutes later, she came up to me ready to work. She quickly got into the routine but was really quiet. Then, in the afternoon, when I did her one on one assessment, I couldn't get her to STOP talking! We did a "picture walk" though a book, and she made up the entire story. Great imagination, amazing comprehension skills, and what impressed me most was how in tune she was to the characters feelings and emotions. This is often a source of trouble for people with autism, so I was amazed that she could tell me that this character is happy and I can tell because he's smiling.
The New Girl*: The new girl was brought to me, I was given a piece of paper, and was told, here's her mother (parent number 3 of the day). That's it. Tried to talk to the mother, but had a bit of a language issue. So I got the information I could but at the same time tried to make her feel as comfortable in the school as possible, because I'm sure it's intimidating. Come to find out at the end of the day, she's actually a Kindergarten student, not first grade like my others. But she still belongs in my class because it's an "early childhood" class. So I'm glad that I tried to reassure her mother and spend a little time talking to her.... I had no idea it was her first day of school. But with the limited info on the new girl it was hard to know what she was like. Was she verbal? Violent? Any self-stimming behavior? Allergies? I mean there are a ton of things you need to know, and I just wasn't given this information. She's an explorer and wouldn't leave the things on my desk alone. We're definitely going to have to remedy that. At first we were all a little wary of her, but by the end of the day she was playing with the others and seemed to fit right in. It was also difficult because for the entire day we didn't know how to correctly pronounce her name, but I discussed it with the mom after school, thank God. I'd hate to call a kid the wrong name for the whole year.
So that's my list so far. There's one more who didn't come today, I'm expecting him tomorrow. My day went relatively well. Here's an excerpt from a colleague about her first day (she has high school emotionally disturbed):
here is an example of what the kids did today: i was reading aloud a
survey of questions i wanted them to answer and this is what i got:
what is one strength of yours? fucking. that is what one kid wrote.
I'm glad my kids are cuddly and like to color. God bless those who have the strength and patience to deal with the emotionally disturbed group though. Another funny first day thing... another colleague of mine had a student eat (yes, eat) things in her class. Lesson plans, class decorations, supplies, etc. In his stomach.
So relatively, my day was GREAT.
*These names will be changed... Ms. Apprehensive will not be apprehensive forever and The New Girl will not be new forever.