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

26 November 2008

Thankful 2008

Instead of writing about my emotional break down in the middle of Penn Station, here's my list of things I'm thankful for this year.

This year, I'm thankful for:
-having a job.
-making enough money to live on my own (even if it's just barely).
-hearing "I love you" from 5-year-olds everyday.
-getting paid to hear that.
-having an unlimited MetroCard that's good for the whole year.
-friends at school who make huge Thanksgiving feasts.
-my coworker who drives me to the train every afternoon.
-Nussbaum & Wu bagels and iced coffee.
-the Dunkin' Donuts near my school.
-having friends who invite me to Thanksgiving dinner.
-the Pistons playing the Knicks so I can watch it here.
-my roommate's cute cats.
-sparkling water.
-American Apparel t-shirts.
-random generous people who donate to my Donors Choose thingys.
-the MTA (sometimes).
-my Burberry earmuffs.
-friendly strangers.
-wireless internet.
-Barack Obama.
-ginger ale.
-a nice warm and cozy apartment.
-my family visiting in 8 days.
-all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins (whom I miss DEARLY).
-Tasti-D-Lite and Pinkberry (why don't we have these things in MI?)
-staying in touch with my good friends.
-my talented and amazingly smart little sister.
-my parents who I know will support me even if I join the circus.

Pretty good list, I think. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

23 November 2008

New Donors Choose

Sorry for this lame attempt at a post, but I have a new Donors Choose project....

Here it is!

These materials would help my kids so much. I asked my principal for them but there's a freeze on buying new materials until the budget gets regulated.... so basically that sucks. I would appreciate ANY help.

Thanks guys!

18 November 2008

Aye dios mio.

Yes, my students say this. And yes I laugh (every time).

Today's dios mio moment came when talking to two parents. They are from Africa and don't speak English all that well. Enough to basically communicate, but not get down to the nitty gritty, you know? Anyways, their daughter has autism (as all of my students do), and they knew absolutely NOTHING about it. It was so eye opening and sad.

They didn't know that it was something in the brain. They didn't know that they process things differently. They didn't know that a lot of kids with autism have sensory issues (and theirs seeerriously does). They didn't know that kids with autism often echo back what they hear. They didn't know that there's no proven reason why it occurs. A doctor just told them that was what she had and that she should be in special ed. And there we were.

I felt so bad for them because they are so concerned and worried for her. I tried my best to ease their fears and reassure them that she's actually doing great and learning so quickly, but I could still see that they were worried. And who wouldn't be? Someone told them there was something wrong with their daughter and that's it! No one bothered to explain to them what, or why, or what she was doing.

They kept asking me what they could do at home, telling me behaviors and asking if it was related to autism, etc. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the whole notion of "parents in lower income areas don't care about what's going on, aren't involved, etc.". And yes, some of that is true. But sometimes there are the parents that just have no idea what to do. These parents I met with today haven't written me one thing all year in her communication book, don't send things in on time, and don't always bring snack.

At first I thought they just didn't care or didn't have the time. But now I see that they've just been bombarded. And especially with the language barrier. So much of what we send home is technical... gestural prompts, manipulative materials, hand over hand, assisstive technology, cognition, etc etc.... they have no idea what that means. So anyways, my new goal is to find some information about autism in their native, little known dialect. Wish me luck.

Oh- and work could get really stressful tomorrow with an important meeting I have. Pray for me around 1pm....

17 November 2008

Get into the groove...

I finally feel like teaching is becoming more natural. Not that interacting with kids has ever been unnatural for me... but interacting with them and teaching them are totally different. Today was one of those days that just went by so fast... it was amazing! I can only list today because the Nyquill is starting to set in...

--For the first time, I feel like I timed the day perfectly. The kids were constantly busy and did a very good job at focusing today, which eliminated a lot of our problem behaviors. Which was also good because the ABA consultant came today and it made me look like a good teacher. Whew.

--I love the ladies in the office. They're constantly giving me compliments and telling me how cute I am (which of course, makes me blush)... I think this stems from the fact that I'm the youngest person in the school (besides the kids) and they like to baby me. I'm not complaining.

--I think one of my kids is in a foster home but have no concrete way of knowing. Asking the mom would be overstepping my boundary, but I really wish I knew. It doesn't change how I treat him or interact with him, but still, it would be good to know.

--If it weren't for the people I work with I don't know what I'd do. They're great and amazing, both as coworkers and as friends. They give me ideas, inspiration, curriculum, materials, laughs, perspective, and rides to the train (no bus for this girl).

--The average age of my new work friends is probably around 29... which makes me feel older. I've never had friends who were that old, but now I definitely agree that once you get past a certain age the number doesn't matter anymore. It's just funny to think that some of my closest friends were born in the 70's and I regularly counsel them on not being so scared to turn 30. If you asked me a year ago, I never would have thought I'd be having those types of conversations.

--I'm a huge fan of collaboration with other teachers, but for the first few months, I felt like I was the one taking ideas and worksheets and plans, and not able to share anything of quality. Finally, I feel like I have legit things that people want to steal... it feels nice.

--It's finally getting cold here. :( :( :( Although I'm not looking forward to the cold weather, I am VERY much looking forward to my first New York snow. I hope it's as magical as I think it will be. It probably will be for like 2.4 minutes and then I'll be over it.

--Haagen Daaz Fat-Free Strawberry Sorbet is to die for. Seriously.

--Oh, and so is Desperate Housewives. The end.

15 November 2008


This is the chorus of PS 22, in Staten Island. This group of 5th graders and their teacher are SO amazing. I've been watching their videos all day... I just can't get enough. These kids are so talented and passionate. This sort of creative outlet is exactly what kids need, especially in NYC. Being that sort of teacher is something to aspire to be... I mean just look at their faces as they sing!! Truly amazing and special.

They have a blog, so if you'd like to read more, look for the link to the right. :)

**Thanks to Angela for teaching me how to embed videos :)

13 November 2008

Couscous is the new mac and cheese.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I looooveee mac and cheese.  Mostly of the Kraft/Velveeta variety, although a delicious home-made batch is a surefire way to my heart.  But, I've found a new love.

Near East Couscous.  Especially the olive oil/garlic kind and parmesan.

It's basically foolproof and ready in 7 mins... it's great on it's own, as a lovely bed under chicken, in a salad, etc etc.  Easily my new obsession.

I like to think of it as the grown-up version of mac and cheese... you know since I'm supposedly a grown-up and all (or at least act like one more than 50% of the time).

More to come on the total incompetency of people I work with in the near future.... 

08 November 2008

Patience is a virtue....

Some days, it's just so hard to be patient.  I'm not sure what it takes, but sometimes I just want to walk out.  I'm not sure if it was because yesterday was Friday, or if it was because the whole week was weird due to conferences and Election Day, but the kids were going crazy.  Or at least I thought they were.

I actually made a student cry.  I don't feel like explaining in detail but I didn't yell at him, just reprimanded him and he went to the corner to cry.  I took him aside and he just wouldn't stop hugging me and telling me he was sorry.  I felt really bad, but I had to address the situation.  He just got really emotional over it.  Oops.

I got a Smartboard though!!!  I was very excited when the technology teacher brought it in.... I wasn't expecting to get it yesterday.  I can't wait to get it set up and start using it.  Another teacher was pretty peeved that I got it and she didn't, but that's what happens when you're nice to the technology teacher.  And when you have three students who can't write.  I think the Smartboard will really help them because of its touch screen.... I'm excited to see what we can do with it.

Last thing for today... I just wanted to mention one more time about my Donors Choose project.  Somehow my project qualified for "Double Your Impact", which means that Wachovia bank is matching donations.  So if you donate $20, the total contribution is $40.  And so even though the total cost is $542 and only $181 has been given... only $90 is left!

I hope you all have an enjoyable and relaxing weekend :)

04 November 2008


omg omg omg omg omg omg....

All I hear right now is horns honking, fireworks, screaming.... and it's AMAZING.  This is something to remember... forever.

03 November 2008

Your Civic Duty

I remember four years ago... voting for the first time.  It was so, so, so exciting.  I was a freshman in college, 18 years old.  I registered my address at my dorm so I could vote in the lobby in my pajamas.  And that's exactly what I did.

I woke up at 5:50 am and went down the hall to rouse my equally excited first-time-voter friend.  We both went down in our pajamas and were within the first 1o people to vote at our location.  How exciting, right?  After we voted, which took a lot less time than I'd hoped, we went across the street to the other dorm, which served breakfast.

We waited for our other excited first-time-voter friends and then slowly trickled out to attend classes (yuck).  We were all so happy and giddy.... until the results started coming back.  My lovely die-hard Democrat of a roommate sat on our couch in her Kerry t-shirt for 2 days.

We were all shocked, started researching universities in Australia and Canada, and basically just bitched and moaned for about a week before realizing that we weren't going to leave school to move out of the country.  And somehow, we (barely) made it through those 4 years.

Voting was a little less exciting this time around... woo absentee ballot.  I can't wait for this election to be over and to stop thinking about "What if?" constantly.  Of course, I'm trying not to be too optimistic, but yeah, I just can't wait until tomorrow night is over.

I hope you all know your polling place and are making time to vote tomorrow.... it's a MUST.  Voting matters more than ever, and hopefully you think so too.

For me, I'll be going to lovely professional development all day and checking CNN on my phone to read anything I can.  Also, RIP Barack Obama's grandmother.... timing is a strange thing.

Happy voting!

02 November 2008

Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time never really seemed to affect me... until this morning.  I think it's the greatest thing on Earth.  If everyday had 25 hours in it, my quality of life would be so much higher.  This morning, on a Sunday, I just naturally woke up at 8:30.  I know Mom, you're shocked.  

I wish I could wake up this early on every weekend day and not feel tired and wanting to go back to bed.  Imagine how productive I could be.....

I'm back!

A huge reason for my absence from blogging?  Stupid Time Warner cable.... I swear, they are ridiculous.  Our internet will go out for like a week at a time, no one comes when they schedule appointments, and it's always just quick fixes.  Like I'm terrified that as I'm writing this it will go out and be gone forever.  ANYWAYS, excuses excuses.

I am constantly exhausted.  I feel like I'm playing a never-ending game of Catch Up and failing miserably.  I don't think I'm failing at my job or anything, but it's just like things are never finished and I can never just relax without thinking about school (work) or school (grad school).  I hate doing stupid grad school stuff when I really need to be lesson planning or getting things ready for the next day.  It's very frustrating, esp. when everything you're doing in those grad school classes are a waste of time or not even applicable to what you need to know.

Work is going pretty well, all things considered.  I feel really lucky to have the co-workers that I do.  It's really easy to collaborate with people and get ideas and things from them.  It's also nice to have a group of teachers who have sort of taken me under their wings... I'm like the baby of the group.  It's still strange to me that I have friends who are 30 who I go out with and stuff.  Strange but very normal all at the same time.  Having these friends at school are great, because it gets you things you need, like SMARTBOARDS!  I'm getting one on Monday... and I'm very excited because I think it will be great for my kids and hopefully I'll be able to do a lot with it.

Halloween was a great day in school.  A teacher planned this huge Halloween party at our school for the autistic and multiple handicapped students.  Only 1 of my students brought in a costume, but luckily the drama teacher had a few extra costumes so we got my kids all dressed up, and they looked amazing!  I wish I could post pictures of them on my blog... family, you'll get pics in an email.  They had so much fun and it was just great to see them having such a great time and just being kids.  A lot of our students don't go trick-or-treating at home, so it's great to be able to do that for them in school.

I also fell in love with a kindergarten student in one of my friend's classes.  He's the most difficult one, but I love him.  I hadn't really interacted with him before Friday (honestly I was scared after hearing the stories...), but on Friday I let him come sit on my lap and he wouldn't get off.  He took my arms and put them around him so tight and just laid back and was so content.  It was so cute, yet so sad.  His teacher said that he likes the embrace so much because she doesn't think that he feels that at home.  Sad sad... maybe I'll have him next year (if I don't keep my kids for the next year).

I swear I'll start writing more.  That's my November goal.  That and to get myself organized.  If you know me at all, you know organization is my weak spot, so I must work on that.  Have a great weekend, everyone!