Saturday, September 28, 2013

As the Seasons Turn, Turn, Turn

So, it's been 3 weeks! And perhaps this is a better way to blog and not bore; you get less of the hectic details and MORE of the pictures. So, no complaints, eh?

My first week, the week of the 9th, was:
Monday: SFCC First Aid, CPR, and AED
Tuesday: Farmer's Market and Doula Presentation
Wednesday: SPED EA for an austic boy in kinder
Thursday: (ditto to Wednesday)
Friday: Psychology and then the weekend!

Monday was a trip - our instructor was a former EMT with a flair for macabre humor (don't they all) as she guided us from 9am-3pm. The highlight was probably her wailing falsetto as she belted "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees as we pumped on the chests of our mannikins. To be fair, it IS the exact tempo. Though it was a lot to take in, I feel pretty confident in my ability to make a tourniquet, flush out an eye, and use an AED.  It's also a wonderful (though hopefully never used) skill as a doula and aspiring midwife.

Tuesday started out nice and slow with a bike down to the Farmer's Market. From the pic, you can see I got quite the haul: summer squash, three giant onions, four peppers (4 for a dollar!), a big jar of last year's raspberry jam, and half a dozen ears of sweet corn. The corn farmer, a wry middle aged guy perched in his truck bed, gave his whole spiel to a newcomer to the stand (as was I, but this woman was a little closer to his age range ;). He shucked back the husk and presented a perfect white-yellow cob. He asked her to taste, saying that his late father always said, "If it ain't good fresh, it ain't ever gonna be good." Raw and steamed and sauteed, I'm still enjoying the tail end of this bounty.
The Doula Presentation that afternoon was wonderful! I got to introduce the topic of labor support with a group of 6 pregnant students at the Santa Fe High School Pregnancy Center. They were very attentive, if a little shy, and the lead teacher was just great. I was treading carefully to be highly birth PC, and then she'd ask, "Well, could you explain the cascade of interventions." Well, well, I could indeed. I left my contact info with each student (along with a handout), offering my volunteer services. So. . . we'll see!

Wednesday and Thursday I was an assistant to a fairly high-functioning autistic boy. After the horror story of my last entry, I was so relieved to have a GOOD teacher and a GOOD SPED coordinator. I was given comprehensive instructions and support, and thus had a much easier time. I enjoyed the most spending time whole-class, however. The students were adorable, and caring, and so thrilled with the new knowledge that hour by hour came seeping in. The lead teacher was very good. I found her perhaps a bit strict - kindergartners need extremely clear boundaries, for sure, but also you need to accolade the heck out of them. They just glow! One little girl especially (Marlastar) I felt was always corrected, but her intelligence and kindness not rewarded hardly. Working with her and my charge, though, I had the extreme pleasure of showing them how the index in their little first-reader book worked.

Oh! AND I got a cupcake (with a sweet Transformer ring) at a student's birthday party the second day.

A moment redolent in humor and stress was when the little boy, not understanding the concept of sharing, threw himself upon the ground in 5-10min of sobs after another little boy got 'his' ball. I sat with him quietly, and said, "Okay, now, ______. Are you ready to be a big boy now?" He lifted his head, glared his tear-stained face into mine, and said, "NO!"
I was exasperated, but confronted a similar specter that same night when I was nearly reduced to tears and yowling by the frustration of a math problem in my stats class. The juxtaposition helped me to smile through the situation.
I will also note that this kinder class had an Isaiah, an Ezekiel, AND an Elijah. "No wonder," my dad quipped, "that there was so much brimstone in the little guy."

Week Two (the week of the 16th):
Monday: AP Psychology and History.
Tuesday: 1st & 2nd grade.
Wednesday: 5th grade.
Thursday: HOMEWORK
Friday: Psychology & TFA interviews
Saturday: Celebration For Mother Earth
Sunday: Church fiesta and TFA Interviews

Monday, as you would expect, was an utter treat. I was unsure of whether to sub, being so overwhelmed with work. But, of course, I was able to give the lesson, supervise the students, answer any questions, and still get a ton of A&P coursework done. This shot of me is with The New Yorker article they had to read and annotate for the class.

Of course the teacher was fabulous - he was there in the morning, and explained everything to me, and left me his number for contact in case of questions. His classes were as such that the only question I had was where to leave the slab of Mexican Independence Pineapple Upside Down cake, since several students had brought it to him in recognition of his great teacher.
It was a wonderful gig, but as my mom put it, "Well, great. There's another instance of the 'gifted' kiddos getting all of the goods." Truth. Also, in case you were feeling too optimistic about the Achievement Gap today: 5/7ths of the kids in the AP courses were white. The one elective (non-AP) course he taught? 17/22 were POC.

Tuesday: Well, Tuesday and Wednesday were SUPPOSED to also be sugar days. I signed up to be a kindergarten bilingual EA. Awesome, right??
Unfortunately, the school where I was subbing must've had 12 vacancies. No joke. So, when the vice-principal asked if I could lead teach, I wasn't not going to say no. So, that's how I taught 1st and 2nd grade combined on Monday. It was looney tunes. Sure, the kids made Constitution books and colored them and we discussed the nature of government and played fun counting games and completed worksheets and had silent reading time! But they also cried and ran and kept the noise level at an abominable decibel reading. Fortunately, there were a few darlings who lavished hugs and did exactly what they were supposed to do.

Wednesday, I biked over with renewed hope. Surely TODAY they would me be my bilingual EA identity. Not a chance. This time I got the 'hardest class in the school.' In addition, there were no plans. Yep, you read right. I took a deep breath - the little hellions were at PE first thing in the morning - and then did this:

PE 'til 8.55
"* Literacy / Breakfast
- Journal with breakfast (9-9.30), after brief show don't tell lesson (DETAIL!
- Then read silently
- Brief lesson on adding / subtracting decimals
- Do #1 & #2 together
- #15-26 independently or with a partner
- Go outside and get three rocks each
- Identify, if possible, with charts on wall
- Share with class
- Sort into small, medium, and large (tracing in math notebook)
- Assign them the following prices (small = $1.37, medium = $2.09, large = $3.13)
- Add up your total 'money.' Pool your money with your partner. Take away two rocks.
- Read beginning of several books (Stargirl, Series of Unfortunate Events, etc)
* Do action, setting, character (INFERENCE)
- Do same analysis for "Art School," then answer the questions
Social Studies
 - State / capital flashcards (play)
- Money Matters sheet (summarize in journal)
- Preamble to Constitution (read original and modern text, understand)
- Bill of Rights (choose one and journal why important)
Math game!
Two teams at board
Pass out parent flyer
Clean up
Head out"

Yes, they were still loud and disrespectful, but I wasn't giving an inch. I had worked damn hard making those plans (culling from state standards, the ambiguous pile of stuff on the teacher's desk, and neighbor teachers) and we were going to do them, by God.
Just as we were finishing up the rock lesson (and after confiscating scissors from students who somehow thought because we hadn't made a rule against it, it was okay to 'shave' their rocks and send sparks around), the secretary came in.
Her chagrin made me nervous, and rightfully so. She handed me a sheet of paper. Ah, so it seemed the teacher had emailed in plans after all. Well, then.
So, the end of the day was Stress City. The kids worsened, if anything, and then I had to try and reconcile these new arrived plans with what we had been doing all day. The icing on the cake was that then I did bus duty. "You'll find the orange vest on the peg by the door" was all the teacher's note said. Well, great.
It's no surprise that when my Lyly called and asked a very basic question (concerning weekend plans, I think?) after school, I simply burst into tears. "I'm sorry!" I sobbed. "I just had a really hard day." I made quite the lachrymose picture, standing in a lot of weeds with my bike propped against me.
The day was partially redeemed by one of my first grade tinies running up to embrace me in the bus line, and the secretaries said that they had "heard about me." Oh no, I thought. But apparently, they had heard 'really good' things. What the hull? was my thought. What was this class normally like??

Fortunately, that night I got to unwind with Lyl. She helped me study for my Nervous System exam (YEAH those are flashcards), and we snarfed food and generally enjoyed a brief respite from the week.

That weekend, TFA interviews were good! For the sake of confidentiality I can't say much more, but it was an honor to get to talk with so many expectant (and mostly current) teachers with so much energy and hope.

What I can talk about was the wonderful Tewa Women United's Celebration For Mother Earth. What a beautiful time of fellowship - good food, good conversation, and good music. (highlights were the Appalachian and Maori music) I tabled for Breath of My Heart, and, as ever, it was heartening to have so much love and support for 'Body Sovereignty.'
Lyly came around 2, and we got some fry bread and strolled around the fair. There were hawks and honey, seed networks and some good social dances. A few images:

What a day~

This past week has been another good, another full one!
Monday: 1/2 Day SPED Teacher
Tuesday: Pre-K EA
Wednesday: Elementary Music Teacher
Thursday: homework and meeting with a local midwife
Friday (Yesterday): class, work, and frolicking

Monday I was subbing at the same classroom that I wrote about in my last entry - namely, the godawful one. Fortunately, it was a bit better this time! Now, this was still my reception:
Me: Hi, I'm subbing for Mr. ____.
Lead Teacher: What?
Me: (repeat)
LT: (angrily) I didn't know he wasn't here today. Well, that changes things. I guess I'll have to teach now.
Me: Well, I can teach.
LT: He normally teaches first hour. Now I'll have to.
Me: Just get me his lessons. I'm a substitute teacher. I can teach first hour.
LT: Um, NO. (laughs sarcastically) 
Me: Excuse me?
LT: I don't know where his lessons are. I'll have to put something together.
So, she did, and it almost passed muster. Like, there were two different assignments for the 15 or so differently-leveled SPED students. That's ALMOST differentiation.
Later, though, I stood my ground when she was mis-teaching inference. Yep, you read that right. Her way of defining an inference was, "What are three FACTS you know about this picture." A bit later:
LT: Like, you can't say that this is during WWII. That's not an inference.
Me: Actually, I am inferring that this is from WWII. I'm inferring that this is from Berlin during WWII.
LT: (uncertain grimace smile) But that's from your background knowledge.
Me: Exactly. I'm making an educated guess from the architecture, the evidence of bombing, the woman's demographics, and the photographic style. That is an inference. Not a fact.
At this point, she allowed me to help the students in the class.
Anyway, it was still a good experience: though the teacher had no recollection of me from my last subbing venture, the students did. They remembered my name, our inside jokes, and my closest student asked the moment he saw me, "Can we write another story?" I left him an armband as a day-late birthday present. Hope as a little persistent bird indeed.

Tuesday was a romp. I've gone on too long already, but suffice it to say it was delightful. The staff was supportive, we sang songs in English and Spanish, and we played and played and learned. A little autistic boy was calmest wearing a Belle dress (as I quipped to the lead teacher, 'Mira! Es una Bella y Bestia en una persona") and a little girl kissed her friend goodbye on the lips. God love three-year-olds. This is also what their (indoor) playground looks like. 

I'm happily going back there the week after next.

Wednesday I got to WALK a couple blocks to school. Oh, delectable! I taught music from no plans (but again, a pile of stuff to sort through). It was a mixed bag - 5th & 1st grades were awful, Kinder & 2nd & 3rd were AWESOME - but I managed, in each class, to figure out what stuff applied to each class and then create a lesson around each.
We did warm-up dance / rhythm game to Batoumambe. (my own insertion)
For some classes, we did singing to IguazĂș.
And for 3rd grade, we did a scarf dance to Arabesque
(click on each song to hear it)
It was a sheer pleasure to get to sing and bang on bongos and dance, especially with a roomful of hugging kindergarteners. It surely doesn't hurt also when they run up, grin, and tell you "YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL!" Well, thanks, Guys.

Thursday I had the opportunity to do a lot of work, ace my cell test, and then meet with a local home birth midwife. It's wonderful how giving this community is - with their time, experience, and advice. It's one more meeting to catalog in my 'soul-searching,' and all of that.

Last night I had a delicious (both gastronomically and intellectually) time with Lyly; we grabbed some delectable Chinese food at, like, non-SF prices (so affordable!) and then had ice cream. Long after we finished our Baskin Robbins, we sat side by side at the table and just shot the breeze. What a way to spend a Friday night. :)

Over and out ~

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Alix... those plans for the "worst class in the school" are AWESOME! They're going to miss you. It seems that some of your days can be so hard, yet I find myself very envious of the daily variation. I laughed out loud through a lot of it, and told Lane your stories. My favorite part is thinking of you at the Sanfe Fe Pregnancy Center--I know you made those young women feel so much more informed = more safe and prepared. Reading this was a great way to start my Sunday morning inspired.