04 November 2007 

It's truly been a while since I've jumped on to blog myself, although I've been actively watching the blog world. In the meantime, school is obviously in full swing along with life. I'm getting ready to start working with the Project to End Human Trafficking. I'm aching for Northern Minnesota, which is a surprise for me. Scout, the wonderful dog, is more and more wonderful every day. Hopkins courses are such a waste of time right now - who knew grad courses could be so ridiculous at such a supposedly good institution. I literally had a prof read handouts to us for an entire two hour block. Who does that? I can't stand my bosses on most days, but the kids are fabulous and crazy. My students are producing student journalism with a higher level of fierceness than before. Although, I must say, it's been an exhausting emotional year with the kids. They know such sadness and pain, and they're ready to share the moment they walk in to my room. I can't even tell you how many kids I've had crying in my classroom with me about the shit that happens to them when they leave my room. I've been throwing these situations around a lot after seeing Gone Baby Gone. After some friends and I left the theater, we were over stimulated and morally overwhelmed. Maybe it resonates with us more because we fight for our children every day that aren't really our children, and we don't know how to handle that boundary when it comes to their needs. However, in the end, if you truly take the movie up on all it has to offer, it is dumbfounding. No promises on more frequent updates or even better quality, but hello, here's a snapshot of now.

02 September 2007 

that thing with kids

School started, Hopkins and my own kiddos. So far, the bitterness for not getting to have control over my own career path is fading. It's not healthy to hang on to that stuff, so I'm letting it go. Hence my willingness to help out with the restructuring committee. Why not?

This is year three of teaching, year four if you count RL student teaching, year 40 if you count the chaos of that student teaching year. We have a lot of new teachers at my school, and I can't help but to want to coddle them. They are panicked and feeling defeated. It's such a horrible but strengthening process, that first year. Even last year was troubling in Baltimore since it was a new school, but all of the emotions that come with starting in this field, particularly in schools with chaotic infrastructure, had dissipated. It's good to be here a second year, even though it wasn't my original choice. I appreciate the continuity, and I feel better knowing I'm with a couple of students that I was particularly concerned about. Like my little guy who is a junior and read at a second grade level.

The Wilson reading teacher and I are breaking some rules together. He gets a lot of thinking skills out of my class. I'm always pushing them to be analytical about the way the media is controlling their minds, but in the end, he won't go to college (like HE WANTS) if he can't read. So, unofficially, he's going to be in my class part time, and go to her class the other part. I'm going to grade him for the work he does in there. I didn't think she'd go for it, because I totally judged her as an non-invested, jaded, educator. She's not. Fuck me.

My other kiddo won't stop wearing his flag. I'm the official crime scene recorder in my school. Seriously, they send me everywhere at the most awkward times (like in the middle of my instruction) to take picture of weapons and graffiti. I noticed his crew had scribbled their reps on the wall. Thank god this kid is brilliant. He's going to hand that flag over to me each morning so he doesn't repeat last year's long term suspension. He might be one of the kids that will break me.

In other news, I have a new department head. She is wonderful. We had a departmental meeting where there was no conflict, just a meeting of the minds. She did what few can do: take administrative demands and make them applicable instead of ridiculous and offered to at least try to negotiate with administration for the few demands that really seemed strange. She is already checking lesson plans after only one week of teaching. And I have to create three plans a day! That is crazy. Kind of overwhelming. However, I appreciate her holding us accountable in a way that embraces student success and not a power-hungry-drive that is purely for the sake of itself.

Now I get to do the thing that revs me, lesson plan. As I've said before. This is such a renewing process. Anything is possible when I take a moment to breathe and think. I can soulfully say that I'm not scared of failing in my classroom. It's okay to think big and for it to not work. I will risk.

15 August 2007 

Being home

The visit home has flown by at a ridiculous rate. My little vacation to Minnesota has turned out to be a big money drain, and I was so driven to not be stressed out by money that I lost a little bit of control along the way. Little things add up. Oh well. It's not like that's the statement of the century. BUT I've had a great time and don't regret it. It looks like I'll just have to be conservative for the next couple of weeks.

I'm stealing this picture from Julie because we look so darn cute!

Last night we spent some time catching up. Jon and Natasha are wonderful - even if they tend to sober the evening with asteroid, global warming realities. We hit up their new apartment for careless conversation. I think I'm a better person for knowing them. Maybe.

Until I move back here one day, I'm not sure that I'll ever get to see all the people I want in anything more than short blasts of conversations and catch up games.

I start the drive back to Baltimore on Friday morning, where I'll make a pit stop in Chicago to see Kamran. That should be entertaining. Although I heard he cut off his Jesus hair. That might change things.

10 August 2007 

I didn't get the transfer. Too much unrest at the school I wanted to transfer to, with a principal leaving for another district halfway through the process. He was my advocate and warrior.

08 August 2007 

dealing with anger

I am so perturbed by the way my transfer is being dealt with that I found myself practicing what I would say (in the car) on the first day of school to my principal if I didn't get it.

I have no idea what's going to happen, but I'm pretty sure the transfer won't go through. I just haven't heard anything and the pessimism is growing.

The job I want won't be there after next year, and I will no longer be able to teach in the program at the school that's holding me hostage. Basically, this means being a Baltimore teacher is up in the air for year three. I wanted to stay here too, this sucks.

I'm probably getting waaaayyyy ahead of myself. So this entry is me blabbling and moving on for the sake of enjoying the rest of my real vacation time at home.

07 August 2007 

This is awkward

but I think I like it...

24 July 2007 

Scout can still hike

After the poisoning incident, Scout seems to be just fine. When the normal wear of a Monday was over, we went on a rejuvenating hike on Gunpowder. There is just something so calming about watching this little guy explore the trail. I drop the leash and let him have at it. He doesn't go far from me, and I'm starting to get a little nervous by this bond that I'm forming with him. I grew up with animals, adored them. But this little guy is mine, solely. It's been pretty amazing watching him grow up and learning all of those little things like using the stairs, swimming, housebreaking even. He even has a manly bark. I think it makes sense that I enjoy this so much, since I dig my day job.

Which brings me to that. Teaching is going wonderfully. I have my footing, figure out the 30 minute lessons. Our scholars are freakin' incredible. They've been opening themselves up to a whole new way of existing and some are meeting this with immediate success. Others need some time and our, the staff's, persistence. It's just amazing, every morning, to have an administrator face all of our students in complete silence. He has silence because he's that good. He can tell these wiggly 9th graders a straight story. He harps on them, gets frustrated, and loud. Two seconds later, a smile stretches his face and he's pointing at them and saying, "but we aren't giving up on you. You can do this. THIS IS IMPORTANT. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT." It's just going to take time for kids who are used to failing and being failed to move the other direction, but some are latching on and they're slowly pulling everyone else over as well.

The transfer to this school is static at this point. I'm unhappy with the union's attention to this issue that's affecting the placement of many teachers, but I just don't have it in me to give my time to helping create a solution to the union's kinks. I can't imagine being a leader in the union and how hard, overwhelming that may be, but it needs to be better. My heart's just not in tackling that problem. Rather, I'm helping out a Hopkins prof with a nonprofit that works to end human trafficking. I'll be putting in anywhere from 10-20 hours from now on. I have to say, I really miss this part of my life, you know where I volunteered and was a social advocate for people. Can't wait.

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