Thursday, October 30, 2008
This week has been completely crazy. Monday was our only normal day... well, as normal as you can get with middle school. It was an especially long day for me because I'd been up very late Sunday night finishing grades. I stayed at school until 1:30 a.m., and I don't mind doing that because it's quiet and I get a lot done, but it makes a very short night's sleep.
Tuesday was an early dismissal due to conferences. After school, I worked like mad getting ready for Wednesday staff development, which I was in charge of, along with my associate principal. I grabbed something to eat and quickly let the dog out before heading back to school for conferences. After conferences, I had rehearsal until 10:45, which would have been enough, right? Well... I had stuff to finish for the morning, so I went back to school after that. Another short night of sleep.
I was at school by 7 a.m. on Wednesday to prep for staff development (on a normal day, I'm not even up by that time), and even though I was tired, it was totally worth it. Kelly, my associate principal, and I had planned different learning stations for our colleagues to learn some new strategies for differentiating instruction for all learners. Our planning really paid off. Everything went so smoothly, and so many people came up to me afterward to say that they really got a lot out of the experience. Wednesday night I had choir, and then rehearsal after that until about 11.
Today, we had another early dismissal because of conferences. And now, here I am. I have rehearsal when I leave here, probably until 10:30 or 11. And then... drum roll please... I GET TO SLEEP LATE TOMORROW!!!! I can't tell you how I'm looking forward to that. Is it bad to look so forward to sleep??? Having Friday off is the best part of conference week.
Tomorrow I'm having a special rehearsal at 1:30, and then I'm meeting up with a friend of mine who is coming into town for the weekend. I hear about what Emily is up to through Facebook and through her mom who is in my Centering Prayer group, but I haven't actually seen her in a few years, so I'm looking forward to it.
Saturday is the big day at the Governor's mansion. Dad and Alice are going with me, and the other two teachers in my district who earned National Board Certification last year will be there with their families too. I don't really know what to expect, but I'm excited.
Choir sings on Sunday, but I don't have to teach Sunday school. That combined with turning the clocks back will hopefully catch me up on all the sleep I missed this week. I'm hoping!
Someone (Tracy maybe?) sent me a pretty funny website this week. If you're a Republican, don't bother, but it's so funny that I wish they'd actually do the same thing for all the candidates. Check it out at www.palinaspresident.com. I'm actually really looking forward to Election Day. It's that A.P. Government nerd in me. Whenever I vote, I think of Mr. Tobias. His class was a highlight of my junior year. That was the 1988-1989 school year, with the George Bush/Michael Dukakis campaign. Mr. T worked it out for our class to be at the courthouse on Election night. We got to tally and run totals to the newspapers and TV stations. It was a total blast. It also instilled in me a passion for voting and the whole election process. Thanks, Mr. T. I'll be thinking of you on Tuesday.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
OK. I'm better. It's just that all of that was brewing inside for a few hours, and I had to let it out. I did my share with a smile on my face. None of them needed to know what was going on inside my head.
And pray for me this week, everyone. Parent/teacher conferences. Enough said.
Friday, October 24, 2008
It was their last day in class to work on their project, basically a reflection of what they've learned during the unit about the characters in their books, how the Holocaust affected the world, and what lessons there are to learn today from studying the Holocaust. The classroom was quiet, and they were working hard because the deadline is looming. One of my students (I tell her she tests me... she's just one of those kids who needs to know why we're doing everything we're doing... it's good for me, but she tests me) raised her hand and quietly said, "I just don't get why there is war." 8 sets of eyes looked in my direction for answers. This led to the most meaningful discussion I've had with them so far this year.
We talked about reasons for war, and as with most good discussions, every question led to 10 more. I played Devil's Advocate, and they debated and discussed and questioned. Oil dependency. Vietnam. Islam. Holocaust survivors. The Crusades. Freedom. I teared up. I'm not kidding. I told them that if they left my class in May thinking about these kinds of questions, not just eating up what other people feed them about important issues, that I will have considered my time with them a success.
These kids are the leaders of tomorrow, and hopefully, they're going to grow up into adults with consciences who think about how their actions affect others and how they can solve the problems we've handed them on a silver platter. We didn't come up with a single answer today. I'm sure they left my room with 100 more questions than when they walked in. But they're thinking, and they're thinking deep. This is why I love my job.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
2. I can tie a maraschino cherry stem in a knot with my tongue. It's a hereditary talent. My mom could do it too.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Emma and I slept in the back bedroom. I'd wanted to crochet Pat a couple of dishcloths as a thank-you, and of course, I'd put it off way too long. I was finishing up that night, and Emma was snuggled in beside me. She was tired because she broke her collarbone earlier in the week (fell of the jungle gym at recess... teachers, including mom Mrs. Kurth got her an ice pack and sent her back to class... no one believed the poor little Diva that something was seriously wrong... the trials of being a drama queen), and she was still on tylenol with codeine at night. I wasn't complaining... I was hoping she'd sleep hard enough to not kick me in the night. ;) She was very interested in the crocheting, and she was very excited about the surprise for Granny Pat. I told her the story about how my grandma had taught me to crochet on Christmas Eve when I was in 6th grade. That's one of the most special presents I ever received. She fell asleep before I finished the last dishcloth, and in the morning she helped me tie the ribbon and deliver the present.
After a restful night, we left for Mankato. The kids were excited about time with Granny Pat and Grandpa Terry. Emma was very exuberant about waving goodbye, and as we were pulling out, she tripped and fell over a step, right on her bum shoulder. Ugh. Traumatic exit for us, but she got settled and was fine.
Jason lived in Mankato for several years, so Suzanne and I got to hear all his fun college stories, and we got to see his old favorite hangouts. Pagliai's Pizza was the first stop. It's kind of a little hole in the wall, but the pizza is a local favorite. We had the buffalo chicken pizza, and it was great... spicy, deep dish... delicious!
We toured campus a bit. A lot had changed since Jason had gone to school there. We stopped at the bookstore, and I got a Minnesota State University hoodie. Then we called Stephen. He came over and met us at the Union. I was so glad to see him. He's really become like a little brother to me, and I was anxious to see how he was doing. We shopped at the mall for a bit, and then we checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, and it was really nice. Excellent pillows. We ate supper at a place called Grizzly's, and then we dropped Stephen off at the theatre.
Miss Saigon was amazing. Stephen and two other of the summer interns from the Sondheim Center were in the show. They had their own little cheering section that Saturday night because three more of our Sondheim crew had gone up to see the show too. I just love the show anyway. It and Les Miserables are my favorites. I just love love love the music. This clip from YouTube is from the Tony Awards and shows two of my very favorite singers on earth... Lea Salonga and Liz Callaway. sigh.
I've seen Miss Saigon twice, and the Minnesota State production surprised the heck out of me. I was moved in places this time that surprised me. I got most emotional during the Fall of Saigon scene with the helicopter. I don't remember ever being that upset in that particular spot in the show before. The way they did it was so intense and emotional. I was a wreck. Their Kim was Equity from New York, and she was amazing. She lifted the caliber of performance from the entire cast. Everything was so well done. The lighting was especially interesting and beautiful. If every production at MNSU is like this, I'm definitely going back for more!
Our crew all met at a cafe after the show for some social time, and after dropping Stephen off at the dorm, we headed for the hotel. We were wiped, but in a good way.
Stephen joined us for breakfast the next morning. It was nice chatting, just the four of us. These pics are from breakfast.
We made our way back to Jefferson to pick up the kids, stopping in Ames for lunch at the Pizza Pit. We helped return Granny Pat's back to normal. This pic is Jack "helping" put the toys away. ha
I had rehearsal when I got home on Sunday, and then I went to school to prep for my sub, since I was going to miss two days this week. Needless to say, I was so completely exhausted when I finally went to bed on Sunday, but the weekend was totally worth it. This is the first little trip that I've taken with Jason & Suzanne, and I had a great time. I hope we can do it again!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
My head is still spinning with thoughts and ideas from my conference. I have so much to share. I feel like it's going to explode out of me. The best thing is that even though I knew before my conference that I need to do professional development with my staff about differentiating instruction for high ability learners, now I feel like I have a whole plethora of real, exciting, easy, useful strategies to use during that professional development. It's making me excited about the very thing I was dreading.
On a separate note, I had rehearsal last night with Steve, and we read through all our scenes with Henry and Eleanor. I'm seeing a lot of similarities between Eleanor and myself. My realization last night was that the love between the two of them stems from the fact that they are the only people who truly understand each other... personalities, situations, duties, obligations, dilemmas... I think that's why they were drawn to each other in the first place. It's very appealing to meet someone who understands you. More revelations to come...