domingo, enero 22, 2006



i'm still alive... haven't felt the blogging bug this month so entries have been scarce. i've been immersed in a new art project, trying to take some classes, and figuring out relationship nonsense. i've also actually been trying to plan (gasp!) a lot of my lessons, and good freakin lord that takes a lot of time! this semester i'll be teaching an after school dessert-making class, so if you've got some good no-bake goodie recipes, please send them my way!

jueves, enero 12, 2006


a cry for help

it's been a crazy coupla weeks.

my kids are making good progress except for a couple that are really starting to stump me. we've been doing lots of new science centers and activities that have really been engaging my students, but in spite of that, these two just aren't performing as well as the rest. i beseech you readers and fellow educators... what do i DO?

Case #1: Leon
Leon is a kid with amazing potential. He can be very sweet and energetic, but more often than not finds himself easily frustrated and is quite moody.. bit of a temper on him. He has low self-esteem and little faith in his ability to produce good work independently; he rarely gets to work promptly and hardly ever stays on task, regardless of the complexity or interestingness of the assignment. I give him daily pep talks and spend more one-on-one time with him than anyone else in the class. I regularly talk to mom about his performance, making sure to emphasize when he does good work. We've tried a behavior contract based on him working "like a shark" and not being a "floppy fish" who doesn't take charge of his learning. It worked okay for awhile, but I'm not big on reward-based effort and would like to find something with better long-term effects. At this point, I'm trying to get him to perform under pressure... I give him time deadlines and that seems to work alright, but it's usually after he's wasted a substantial amount of time anyway. He has no problem working during recess, so no threat there. I've moved him to my table this week, but he remains mostly unproductive. I've sent him to complete assignments in other classroom in order to "earn the right" to work in our room with his friends. Same results. And he's terrible at paying attention during group time on the carpet, especially as the day wears on.

Case #2: Freddie
Freddie is a very charismatic and social kid. He's all about knowing everybody's business and consequently spends a lot of time out of his seat chatting instead of staying on task. He's prone to rushing through assignments with sloppy and/or incomplete results. He's not as naturally bright as Leon and many of my other students, but he's certainly capable of grade-level expectations. I give lots of homework and have been upping the number of assignments per day, but Freddie rarely does any of it. In fact, he often comes to school without his backpack or take-home folder. Notes home never make it there, so forget about anything else. I've given him the "be responsible for your own learning" lecture a bazillion times... I talked to Mom about homework in December and saw no noticeable change. Yesterday I sent home a bundle of papers and told him explicitly (in front of a peer and in front of another teacher) that he HAD to get these papers home and complete his homework, and if he DIDN'T (he was supposed to report to the peer in the morning), he had to call dad and explain why he wasn't being responsible for his work. This morning, once again, he walked in empty-handed. We called dad first thing... he rambled for a bit, then I spoke to dad. Dad tried to blame the lack of homework completion on Freddie's after school program, then said he'd talk to him. After school, I told Freddie's older brother to make sure that he did his homework and brings it back tomorrow. His overall behavior has improved significantly since he first came to my class; we did a behavior contract based on staying on task with increased peer-interaction rewards. I don't expect him to become docile and am actually okay with the fact that he's just a chatty guy who can't necessarily focus on his work for long periods of time, but the lack of effort and responsibility when it comes to homework and other stuff I send him is driving me INSANE.

There ya go. Comment away.

domingo, enero 08, 2006


seven by seven

i saw this on stepping stone, one of my favorite bilingual educator blogs. thought it'd be a nice way to ring in the new year.

Seven things to do before I die:

1. Have kids. Preferably at least two or three. And watch them blossom into adulthood.
2. Learn another language.
3. Get my masters.
4. Visit every continent.
5. Open a bakery/panaderíá.
6. Learn how to sew my own clothing.
7. Fall in love again.

Seven things I cannot do:

1. Spend long amounts of time with my mother.
2. Snowboard.
3. Control the volume of my voice or laughter without using some sort of muffling technique.
4. Conceal my emotions well.
5. Have friends who I don't trust.
6. Read García Márquez in Spanish and actually understand it all.
7. Pray traditionally.

Seven things that attract me to... teaching:

1. Watching students' amazing progress over time and knowing I played a part in it.
2. Kids never get boring.
3. Kids are creative fountains who come up with ideas and drawings and explanations that boggle my mind.
4. I laugh every day. Repeatedly. Sometimes to the point where it's painful and I tear up.
5. I can put to good use my neat handwriting, drawing ability and organizational anal-retentiveness
6. Endless faculty meetings... just kidding. I am fortunate enough to have a whole hell of a lot of freedom in terms of what I teach and how I teach it. As shitty as my administration can be at times, they really do trust me to do what I must as I like.
7. I am a serious bookophile and I get to share all my favorite books/authors/illustrators/subjects.

Seven things I say most often:

1. Oh my GOD.
2. Fuck!/¡Chingao!
3. What are you doing?/¿Qué andas haciendo?
4. Dude! (often used with "Fuck!")
5. Yo..
6. Shut up! (in disbelief)
7. Ya.

Seven books I love:

1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
2. Haroun & the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
3. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
4. And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts
5. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
7. Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada/Cien sonetos de amor by Pablo Neruda

Seven children's books I love:

1. A Porcupine Named Fluffy
2. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciezska
3. My Little Sister Ate One Hare by Bill Grossman
4. Milton by Haydé Ardalán
5. The Peanut Butter Rhino by Vincent Andriani
6. Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
7. Animalia by Graeme Base

Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would if I had time):

1. Scarface
2. Singles
3. Keeping the Faith
4. Coming to America
5. Monsoon Wedding
6. The Usual Suspects
7. Zoolander

Seven people I want to join in, too:

1. Madhatter
2. Gustavo
3. Megan
4. Dree
5. César
6. Coco
7. Kait


i'm still alive

i've been overwhelmed by low reading scores and intervention forms, meetings with administrators and my annual observation. but i'm alive and kicking and ready to begin my thematic unit on pandas, endangered species, china, and the chinese new year. i'm teaching money, maps, wood, nouns, and punctuation. and i'm working closely with two other teachers to make sure my kids' reading needs are being met. i'm going to get my shit together in terms of organization and planning and preparation. my observation stressed me the hell out but went surprisingly beautifully... my kids can be soooo good. They can also be sooo bad, as they were the following day when they went INSANE with the PE sub and almost knocked down a special ed student. After a long lecture and some absolutely silent work time (I never ask for silence unless i'm PISSED... i find it unnatural and unnecessary, and only asked for it because the little mocosos needed to prove their self-control), we went outside for the recess time i owed them. I was sitting next to a student who had to sit out for five minutes, and I guess I sighed or something because he looked at me with those big curious brown eyes and asked concernedly,

"Maestra, is it hard being a teacher?"

where to begin, my dear. where to begin...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?