Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Locks

The biggest obstacle for some of my sixth graders has been their locks.  Combination locks.  As you may know, you have to turn the lock clockwise, counterclockwise, and then clockwise again.  Some of them can't remember this requirement.  Others have forgotten their combinations.

After I tried one lock twice with no success, I said, "Let's look up the combo."

"I KNOW it's 22-7-17," said the kid.

"Let's just check," I said, locating the information.  "Okay, it's 7-22-17."

"OH!"  Problem solved.

Later, a kid said, "My locker won't open."

"Let me get you the combo," I said.

"But I have the combo," he said, producing the original slip of paper with the exact combo written on it.

"Okay," I said, approaching the lock.  Luckily, I happened to glance up at the locker itself, on which I'd hung a locker sign with the student's name. "Hey," I said, "this locker isn't yours!"

And sure enough, that was the problem.  He was trying to open someone else's lock.

At the end of the day, two of my advisees said the locks were the worst part of the day.  I suggested that those two take their locks home for some extra practice.  I think they'll do it.

It's Go Time

The sixers were in yesterday for orientation, and I have to say, I got a lot of positive comments about the room.  Kids and parents wandered in and out all the day, and they mostly said, "Hey, I like this room," which was gratifying, indeed.

Room, view from door
One kid really loved the yoda in the reading area.

I especially like the hanging lanterns and this bulletin board, the idea for which I found on pinterest.

Now we're on for good, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be awesome.

Room, view from back corner

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Rock Mom Jeans

We're up to day four.  We've had meetings like you would not believe.  Meetings on very important topics - connected learning, 1:1 policies, digital citizenship, mitigating stereotype threat, democracy and education - but meetings straight for 3 days.  You might not know this, but teachers really want to get into their classrooms during this pre-school time.  No matter how many cool ideas we're presented with, we can't really process and internalize those ideas right now.  We have to get ready for the kids to actually arrive in the building.

This is a perennial problem in back-to-school weeks.  Balancing the teachers' desire to get their rooms and lessons ready, and everyone's desire to learn cool new ideas and necessary information about the start of the year.  For instance, this morning I'm learning about empathy.  Who wouldn't want to learn about that?  Everyone would!

But, I also want to sort school supplies, make clipboards with hall passes, finish a bulletin board, finalize some lesson plans, and review the material I need to present to my advisory on MONDAY MORNING.

They're coming.  And I'm not ready yet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

All About That Bass

We made it through the first day of workshops.  In my mind, that should be a walk in the park, Kazanski.  But, it's not.  I had to lead a book discussion group, give a presentation, and be on my best behavior from 7:30am to 7:30pm, following the Back-to-School BBQ.  Next year, I'm going to try just showing up without volunteering or being asked to do anything.  Just walking around and smiling at people and being friendly.  Can't that be enough?

Today, I'm leading a couple of more workshops.  It was my goal to develop my leadership skills, but so far, being a leader is cramping my style of being a nodding and smiling audience member.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ragnar, Again

Last year, I did the Ultra Ragnar, and it was a difficult and triumphant experience.  I was excited for Dan because he was going to do the relay this year with most of our same team from last year.  I was staying home, and I was happy about that, too.

But then, yesterday, I got a call from Dan about a calf injury he sustained.  He was out.  Super frustrating and disappointing for him.  Also, the team was in need of an alternate.  I was, in fact, the alternate; so I drove down to the race, switched places with Dan, and started running.

During the first leg in the hot sun, I said to myself, "But I said NO to this."  And yet. After the 7-miler, I got in the van and reported to Liz that luckily, I'd actually been training on hills more this summer than last, even though "I'm not doing this."

To be honest, the team was a little lo-mo with the struggles they'd already encountered, so I set to being cheery and pleasant.  "Enjoy this gift," I told myself.  "Feel grateful that you're able to run."

We continued on through the normal highs and lows of the race (my favorite part was running three legs overnight, picking off runners ahead, whom I reeled in by watching the blinking lights on the back of their reflective vests) we completed our morning legs, and then it became clear that one of our pals was getting progressively ill.  Liz pulled over in the van in front of me and said, "We're stopping."

"Great," I said.  I got in the van, called Dan to come and pick me up.  We were all good with this excellent decision.  Our pal was ill and needed medical attention.  We'd all accomplished plenty.  We celebrated the fact that we can run, and I celebrated that I got to go home early and watch tv in bed.  Now that Pal is home, healthy and resting, I feel like it's win-win, except for Dan's calf injury.  Maybe he can try again someday, if he feels like it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

This is the End

We're winding down here.  I have to go to work today to meet the new teacher I'm mentoring.  I'm inordinately excited, of course, and I'm going to have to temper my natural reactions and responses, lest the poor new teacher thinks I'm a unmitigated lunatic.  I'm going to try my best.

Before we start for real on Monday, I wanted to write about a particular summer memory.  When Mac is sitting opposite you at a table, he'll probably say at some point, "I'm dancing, but you can't see it."

This is your cue to guess what tiny dance he's performing.  He might be wiggling his toes, bending his thumb, jiggling his knee, or something else.  Basically, he's dancing.  And you can't even see it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I've been trying to do that barre class once per week.  It's great, and it's a perfect complement for running.  And, it's wicked hard, which I enjoy.

The only problem is that, very often, the most convenient time to go to barre class is 6:30 am.  That's early for summer.

The sacrifices I make for this body.

Anyway, the way I get myself to that class is to arrange for my friend KK to pick me up.  Then, I try to go when the teacher is this woman named Heather.  Heather has a great playlist and awesome bird tattoos on her shoulder.  Go, Heather.  Lots of people show up to her class, even though it's at 6:30.

But, sometimes I feel like I want to go on other days when Heather is not the teacher.  For convenience's sake.  At these times, the teachers are practically teenagers and they play the absolute worst music.  Either that, or they don't show up.  That actually happened one time.

Anyway, the music is this melody-less crap that offers zero in the motivation department.  I'm not sure what it's called.  Electronica?  New Wave?  Souless Droning?

This morning, the teacher was cute little 20 year-old Kelly.  Two people including KK and me showed up for her class with the wack music. BECAUSE THE MUSIC WAS WACKED, KELLY!

I have a suggestion for you: play the top-40 pop music that the 30-to-60-somethings enjoy. Have you heard of Pink?  Rhianna?  Beyonce?  Kelly CLARKSON?!  You guys even have the same name!