Friday, November 20, 2009
My first two classes are a joy most of the time - my Advanced Art class is, of course, full of students who are artistically talented and who love the subject. They are also from the accelerated learner team (we call it pre-advanced placement) or are at least the right age for the grade - meaning they have not been held back or retained, they care about school, they come from families where school is a priority. My second class is comprised of similar students, although it's a mix of Basic and Advanced students, and most of them are also in music classes - so it's a different dynamic, but still students interested in the world around them.
Every other Friday I like to use the computer and projector to show artwork - we've been focusing on murals and mosaics, but today I asked if they'd prefer to see travel pictures. The vote was a unanimous yes. They had a choice of Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, or South America - the only digital travel pictures I have. (And I probably should scan in the rest of my travels, so I can share that with the students.)
They voted for Italy. Perfect. So we looked at pictures, they asked questions, I explained about medieval art and architecture, the rise of the Renaissance and how it changed not only our thinking but how that was portrayed in the art and architecture, why the Renaissance artists celebrated the human form (nude sculpture) and why the women look like men (male models), we talked about the medieval hill towns and how that impacts urban planning today, on and on. And after the explanation of why there were so many nude sculptures, the giggling stopped and the understanding of art and culture began.
It was great! It was effortless! It was a travelogue and art history lesson combined. Students learned about buttressing as an architectural necessity, while learning a new vocabulary word. They marvelled over the cathedrals of central Italy, oohed over the pictures of food, laughed at pictures of me posing with a stuffed wild boar, asked tons of questions about life in Italy. (I spent a month travelling and attending an art class with a friend; we also spent a week with her family.)
It was everything learning should be. Fun for the students, fun for me, and just one of those days when I remember exactly why I love my job.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Did you know that this is National Education Week? Why is this so under-advertised? Why isn't this a big deal, with national events, bonuses, special assemblies, gift bags for teachers from local businesses, donations to schools?
Why is this kept so quiet?
I'm a teacher in a public school - a public middle school - the grade level that is known among educators as being THE worst group to work with. Yet every day, myself and 100 other colleagues try to teach these 700 students entrusted to us by society - the same society that ignores National Education Week, gives us a barely-livable salary, doesn't provide needed materials/supplies/equipment, and expects us to perform miracles.
We teach - the accelerated learner, the gifted and talented student, the student with special needs, the average student, the student who barely reads, the student who doesn't care, the student who was molested or stoned or babysitting or committing a criminal act the night before.
We nurture - we care about our students, we try to find special services or support systems when needed, we provide hugs and encouragement and advice, we come early and stay late and work through lunch with students who need extra help to keep up with their peers.
We arbitrate, we discipline, we teach morals and proper behavior and conflict resolution. All while keeping our personal beliefs to ourselves, because we try to maintain the separation of church and state. We model appropriate behavior and how to be a law-abiding citizen.
We inspire students to do more than they thought possible. We compliment achievements, no matter how small. We try to build character and self-esteem in children from broken homes, broken communities, toxic environments. At my school, we provide breakfast and lunch, and look the other way when students suspended from school come over for lunch, because there is no food at home.
We spend money out of our own pockets, so that we can have supplies and materials we need. We work overtime, and don't get paid. We scrounge, we beg, we learn to make due - and then we go to a meeting and notice all the state-of-the-art gadgets that the administrators have. We try to prepare students for the ever-changing technological world, while we make due with obsolete equipment.
We make a difference in people's lives.
It's National Education Week. If you have children in school, thank their teacher. If you are still in touch with your former teachers, thank them too. Because that thank you means more to us than the paycheck, or the occasional extra pad of paper we're given to celebrate National Education Week. That thank you means that you noticed what we do, and that you, like us, think it's important.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I haven't seen the chiropractor in a week - this is the longest I've gone without an adjustment since the accident. I'm really feeling it - no matter how I position my head, I can't get comfortable, my neck and upper back ache. I've iced every night, but I need to get the bones put back into alignment, the muscles need the electro-stimulation machine, and everything probably would feel better with some heat and rest.
So my chiro is back on island, and I have a 2:45 appt.
Then I have a 4:30 massage appointment - I am so looking forward to that. Help those muscles relax and stretch and stop protesting.
I'll be a puddle of relaxation tonight.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Yesterday was one of those horrible days we get sometimes, when it's cold (for us) and wet and rainy and windy - when we wear long sleeves and huddle under quilts and shut all the windows. We had flash flood warnings (meaning don't just watch, but they will happen so be prepared) and the entire government closed down at noon.
I got home before 11 AM, and was snug in DH's long-sleeved T shirt by the time he got home, wet and soaked because he drives a Jeep with a canvas top and no side windows.
So I made him Jewish comfort food - matzah ball soup. Steaming hot, big fluffy matzah balls, rich broth - all from a box. Took about 45 minutes to prepare and cook. Low cal (9 servings in the box, 40 calories each, I figure we each had about 1/3 of the package so 120 cals for 3 matzah balls and broth). Low fat. Horrendously high sodium, we both could taste it. But oh so good.
Followed, of course, by tiny slices of the anniversary chocolate decadence torte sitting in the fridge - we finally are halfway through it, three days later, with DH having eaten 75% of what's gone. This is also comfort food, at least for us. Chocolate is so soothing and comforting and just makes the world a better place.
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