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Archive for the ‘School’ Category

I quit my day job.

I couple days ago I thought this post would be of a different flavor. I thought I would be screaming from the rooftops, “I QUIT!” I thought I would be jumping for joy. I thought I would be writing a post about how I never wanted to go “back to school” again. But instead I feel melancholy.

816 for 5 years

In reality, I couldn’t say the words “I’m leaving” without tears. It was harder than I though it would be. When it comes down to actually saying goodbye, I’m always just a pile of mush. It doesn’t matter how ready I am to leave and move on.

Thinking about all this, it hit me…in my conscious exsistence I have NEVER not gone “back to school.” Never. I went from school, to undergrad, to masters, to teaching. I don’t know what a year is without a school year governing it. And no matter how much I have been looking forward to this, it is strange and scary. Like being cut loose without a map.

the daily walk to my room

Clearing out my classroom was hard. I kept feeling like I was forgetting something. I kept looking through the same cabinets making sure I had everything. I had all my stuff. I left memories, moments, growing up, pieces of my life, and attachments to the place left behind. I loved my classroom. A room of my own. Always messy with creative projects and piles of undone grading. Always loud with shouting and laughing. Always full of questions and frustrations. Sometimes a retreat. Sometimes a mosh pit.

And I liked the routine. It was boring and I did get tired of teaching the same things five times a day for five years, but there is something to be said for blocks of time, deadlines, and structure. I got used to it and found creativity within it. Now I need to create that for myself.

empty

Okay! Enough moping! I just bought tickets to go to Europe for two months! I am excited to be starting something totally new and totally based on my passions. I am still searching for a routine that will make this all work, but it will come. I know it will.

Looking forward. What will I now be doing?

Painting and running Seek Your Course. I got an artist residency in Spain for a month. So along with backpacking through Europe with Ben I will be in Europe for two months this fall. It is going to be an amazing journey. And I will blog about every bit.

I have 8 days left to raise the rest of my funds for my residency. I am confident I will get there.

Celebrating with delish vegetables: Vegetable and Goat Cheese Chimichangas and Matt Bittman's Creamy Fried Tofu with dipping sauce and asian stir fried vegis!

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Positives

This evening I sat outside in shorts by a low burning campfire in peace. It was a perfect night, after a great Outdoor Club hike and cookout in our magnificent backyard (aka Mt Tom), after a not-so-bad day. Not-so-bad is as good as it gets in my book so it was a good day. Monday was a bad day; today not-so-bad. We had the more exquisite and unusual weather for our hike. It was 70’s and sunny for most of the time and the forest was ablaze below us as I demanded a decent margin between the teens and the edge of the cliffs. Stunning, actually. It was.

So then once everyone was gone and the mayhem died down I sat staring at the small campfire and listened. There were no bugs to bite me. Just the crackling fire, the crickets and evening bugs chirping, wind in the trees, and the occasional creepy snap or crack in the woods. Well, and cars and some sort of fighter jets for a bit. I sat in shorts feeling the heat from the fire on my bare legs. And no bugs to eat my bare skin. That’s the beauty of late fall warmth: the frost has done its job and all that is left can be enjoyed.

I sat there for almost an hour until the peace lulled me to the point of continuous yawns and it finally started sprinkling. It had held off all through the events. Then it was time to go in.

in progress paintings

I  have been painting, which has been wonderful. I have even begun playing with my colored wax and it leaves me perplexed, so I need to get out of my comfort zone and play around more. Experiment! Soon. But this (and the one at the top) is what I have finished lately.

 

missing (u)

the painting I made for my sis-in-law to take with her to the Peace Corps in Rwanda (4"x4"...she was trying to fit a lot in)

falling and rising

a bad day

 

Feeling good most of the time. Busy as ever and more, but trying to ride the waves….never was good at surfing.

an experiment with colored wax...it's ok. room to grow.

 

 

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Finding a Way

I am fighting to stay above water with school pulling me under. Labor Day weekend is always a nice break right at the onset that helps ease myself back into the rhythm of work, work, work, breathe, work. I was overwhelmed again by the way that being at school consumes and drains me leaving me feeling like a wet rag at the end of the day.

This weekend was a nice reprieve. We had a tag sale that successfully got rid of some unneeded stuff on Saturday. Sunday we (finally) went to the beach (RI to be exact) and ate delicious seafood for dinner. And today I made shirts and treated myself to a break at Starbucks in Barnes & Noble with a stack of magazines. With Squam Art Workshops (SAW) only 8 days away I have a lot to do and a lot to be excited about! Getting shirts made helped me feel less overwhelmed by all that must get done before I go.

As I chose magazines at Barnes & Noble to accompany my chai frappuccino today I realized that the lovely online self-representing artist community is one of the only realms in life that make me feel that it is okay to be me and even nurtures me to become who I am meant to be, who I was created to be. If the world is boiled down and looked at through the lens of the magazine publishing industry, self help magazines make me feel like something is wrong with me and I better get working to fix it, beauty & fashion magazines make me feel not pretty enough, architecture magazines make me feel poor and remind me of my unfinished house, gossip magazines bring out an unhealthy obsession with celebrities that always leaves me feeling stupider, sports magazines don’t appeal to me in the least, and magazines on business and economics make me feel angry or bored. The plethora of pricey self-taught artist and crafter magazines are the only ones that make me feel full of possibility, tell me that I can be the artist I deep down inside want to be, convince me that there is room for me too, and encourage me to be brave in trying all new things in life. Afterall, what other magazine can I open and know the people in the photographs and the writers who are pouring out their love and encouragement? Today the Stampington (Somerset) and Cloth Paper Scissors magazine families, along with my faithful chai frappe, brought me to a place where words and ideas flowed and it was marvelous. SAW does the same (but kind of on steroids since it is an experience unto itself). I am so looking forward to it.

In a way I feel at peace. Not really, but kind of. I feel like I have realized some things and have some distance from other things that helps me focus and understand where I am. How’s that for vague? But I can’t really explain it any other way. I was thinking today about my blog and how it has evolved. This blog started as a way for me to continue writing about that education world I longed to be part of and was convinced I could change for the better. I was writing my senior thesis on personal and character development in schools and wanted this blog to be a space to continue thinking about schools and educational dilemmas. In the last five+ years it has evolved as I sometimes have been dragged, sometimes wandered aimlessly, sometimes stumbled forward, sometimes ran, and sometimes sat unable to move through life. This summer I started having the words to write here again and sat down to think about what the purpose of this blog actually was. I thought about what I liked in the blogs I read and decided that the purpose of my blog is to find beauty in life, the kind of beauty that keeps me going. Because despite the horrifyingly discouraging things I could tell you about teaching, there is still beauty even there. And finding it makes me feel okay. Not always great, but okay.

My current step to make life more livable is to develop some simple, good habits. Like going to bed early (unlike right now), eating good food at school (like I do when I am home), cleaning my desk, and filing things right away. Good habits. I don’t have many of those, so I am trying. Ben and I even cleaned the kitchen after making a nice meal together tonight. Big step!

But I have decided that the Box Challenge is over. School is enough of an emotional drain for each day. I did 21 and that’s great.

Well I am faltering on my going to bed early, so off I go. Good night.

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my fall into bitchdom

After wrestling with accusations from a student that I have been mean to her I realized that I can make excuses for my behavior, manipulate her into thinking she deserved what I said, try to convince her I didn’t say such things, or claim I was just joking but really I just need to own up to the fact that I have been acting like a complete bitch to my students this year.

I am such a bitch to them. I yell at them, roll my eyes at them, sneer at them, and mock them. I never smile. I have no patience for their immaturity, insolance, and lack of brains. I’m mean to my husband. I kick my dogs. I want to throw things. And I can’t tell yet if I have turned into a bitch for good or if there is hope. I keep thinking I am having a bad week and that it will pass. It’s not passing so here I am, a bitch.

I tell my students I care. I pretend I am still a good teacher, which is why I have taken to blaming them for eveything. I haven’t wanted to admit that I am just acting like a bitch. I tell my students to talk to me if they have a problem with something I am doing. But I don’t want to hear it. I tell them that I care about their learning, their issues, their day. But I don’t. I don’t care because I now lack the capacity to carry any of their words. And I certainly don’t feel like explaining (or excusing) why I have gotten to this point. I’m not about to go into a psychological analysis of my fall into bitchdom. I understand it, but they certainly don’t need to delve into my personal life. So I’ve taken to denying my actions and claiming that I still want to help them through their problems and that I still want to see that spark of learning in their eyes. Honestly, I don’t care about the freaking spark. Just don’t piss me off. Do your work and shut up. I tried to tell someone today that my favorite thing to do is take students abroad when I realized that, while I had a fantastic trip to Guatemala and am planning another trip this summer, I don’t know if that’s completely true anymore.

I realized today that denying how I feel is not really helping anyone. I am telling poor innocent children that I care about them and then turning around and treating them like crap. Telling them I care and thinking that I still care (all because some part of myself still wants to care and wants to see myself as the Glinda the Good Witch who cares) is a bunch of shit if I can’t show it. Words are empty. That’s what I realized today. So, for now at least, I am playing the part of bitchy teacher number one-million-and-seventy-two.

I hope I am just playing a part for now, to fulfill some segment of my journey. But honestly, I have to accept where I am at for now because I cannot make a decision to stay here or find my way back to being a loving, caring teacher if I don’t even admit that I have fallen. I have fallen so far. I am just not nice, that’s the plain and dirty truth. I hope there is such a thing as redemption in my future.

Vacation will help, but I am not even sure I can undo the damage I have done to a few of my students this year. I am grateful to the one student who finally said something, but I just don’t know if I can guarantee that I can do something about it. She and the others might just have to write me off as one of the bitchy teachers who shouldn’t be teaching. I just don’t know if I can be the teacher I used to be, or just be a new version of myself that’s nice. It’s not like I don’t know why I am where I am – I do. But excuses don’t cut it and it’s just not a quick fix. It’s not like I haven’t been trying, all year long, to stay the person I was. I have realized mistakes all this year and then go back to the classroom with what I believe to be a stronger face and a nicer attitude. It has lasted for a day, or a couple hours. So today I decided to admit that I am being a bitch so that I can say it like it is and work on not becoming a bitch for good.

The scene from Julie & Julia where Julie realizes she has been a total bitch has been replaying in my head for a while now. I think I now know why. I see myself in her and know I need to come to her same conclusion before I can properly move on.

I think a true sign of my fallen state is that I just swore more than I have ever sworn in my whole life up until now. Or maybe that’s just me learning that there is a time and a place for such things. Who knows…

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Pending

3 days left. This is truely my favorite part of the year. I am trying to soak up every minute of time I have with my favorite children. In my third year of teaching I think I finally have gotten myself organized enough to have enough energy to make it to the end. I have very little patience left but I am able to absorb the good moments when they come. And this week I am finding that the more I relax and just enjoy being with my students, the more I realize I will miss them. And the more I realize that I lost so many opportunities to say what they really need to hear.

…must not cry yet.

Instead, let us laugh about my insane schedule for the next 6 days:

Faculty breakfast, morning tv cast and crew breakfast, per 2 breakfast and film editing, per 3 breakfast and film editing, per 4 movie editing and watching, per 5 finishing filming, per 6 editing, outdoor club bbq, 5th wedding anniversary, youth group bbq, class day (= 300 students on inflatables and playing games) with bbq, finish all 5 films, export and burn films (this takes forever), breakfast with homerooms, awards ceremony, screening the 5 films, ice cream party, goodbyes, dress shopping, clean room, clean room, clean room, grade 8 faculty party (and remember to take off my e-brake this year!).

So the real question is…will I ever be able to eat muffins or a burger again?

Film Synopses:
Per 2: We are the knights who say TREE!
Per 3: mutant midgets brutally murder innocent people
Per 4: I’m on a boat, litterbuggers, don’t you ever forget!
Per 5:  color is a distant myth in a polluted world until one girl is inspired by a colored dream
Per 6: Recycling Olympics 

 

from the top of Mt. Moosilauke in NH

from the top of Mt. Moosilauke in NH

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This is the most exhausting and splendiferous time of my year. My life is a non-stop party of intensive film production, travel, food, teens and breaking the mold of who a “teacher” is supposed to be (example: screaming down the hallway “I don’t like spam!” in a British accent).

As my classroom aide said the other day, “This is your favorite time of year, isn’t it?”

Yes it is.

When I have energy and am happy my students can rightly assume that I have had caffeine. Right now they are very confused because I act caffeinated, but swear I have had none. Some teachers continue teaching in June, others pop in movie after movie, but I temporarily forget I am a science teacher and instead teach filmmaking and take students backpacking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. 

The world is green again, I am teaching whatever I want, and I am missing three days of school to backpack. I may not get paid for Outdoor Club, but I do get to miss three days of school at the end of the year. Priceless.

 

Checked off To Do List items:
plant garden (yes, I planted the chives in the dark)
order gear for trip next week 
see UP
go out to dinner during restaurant week
screen shirts for squam 

Still To Do:
embellish shirts for squam
beat my previous procrastination record (how many things can I possibly do before finishing these darn shirts!?)
plan menu for backpacking
shop for backpacking food
arrange travel in Canada 
grade science fair 

 

If you are in the Squam Lakes region this weekend I will be selling shirts at the Squam Art Workshops’ Art Fair. I have new shirt designs and lots of them. Come say hi and browse all the wonderful goodies if you can! [directions]

artfair

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campfire on the first day of vacation campfire on the first day of vacation

Oh my freakin goodness is about all I have energy to utter at this point. I suddenly realized last night that in the last 8 days I took 11 teens to cape cod for 3 days, facilitated 155 teens going to UMass and Amherst College, took 10 teens to Senior Design Day at UMass ECE, and spent at least 5 hours trying to determine where and when we are going to the UK this summer. OMG! When I am this tired I completely regress to the 8th grade level of articulation. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back to sleep.

Thankfully I do not have a lot to do this weekend.

These are some of my favorites from going to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens on April 19 and the Cape Cod trip last weekend.

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yes, they did go in and, yes, it was freezing

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