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updates for 11.12.2011

4 new posts today


We had Character Day at school today!  It was basically like a nerdy second Halloween, where everybody dressed up like a character from a book.  I dressed up as Susan Pevensie from the Chronicles of Narnia (bringing in the C.S. Lewis of course), and the responses I got from my kids were - ahem - diverse, to say the least.  I was dressed in vintage-y clothes, and I wore pin curls and red lipstick, and they said I looked like:

  • Jenny from Forrest Gump
  • the girl from Leatherheads (?)
  • Taylor Swift
  • the schoolteacher from Holes
  • Katie Perry
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Amelia Earhart
  • the girl from King Kong (?)
I was impressed/surprised that they had heard of half of these people.  One more week left 'till Thanksgiving break, and huzzah for Friday!


Today we had a power outage... that lasted a hour and a half. Our school does not have windows so when the lights went off, it was practically pitch black. It was unfortunate. My takeaway from the day: My kids will not survive if we have a real emergency. Guess we need to work on that!


"When are we going to have a sub in this class?"

Never. Every time the teacher across the hall, Mrs. B, is absent (which has been 8 days so far this year), I get that question. My response is always "unless I'm confined to my bed, I'll be here." While some students groan and complain about this, the majority are happy that I'm going to be an ever-present force in my classroom. I don't flatter myself by thinking that every single lesson I teach is going to change the world, or even my students' thinking, but I do see value in being consistently present and prepared. Our school, like many others, has a subbing problem. The subs are treated and thought of as glorified babysitters, and students automatically assume they have a day off whenever the teacher is not present. At the most, there is a worksheet or book work for the students to do, often disconnected from the current topic of study or assessing students at a middle school level. These missed days emphasize a lackadaisical attitude among students - one that I've noticed is hard to overcome when the teacher returns to school. At the beginning of the school year, I have my students fill out a survey. One of the questions on this survey asks students to identify three things they believe they will need from me this school year. One of my students identified his number one request as "No Substitutes - be here everyday." His powerful recognition of just how important it is for a teacher to be in the classroom every day is what drives me to get up, even when I go to school while its dark and drive home in the dark. When I see him every day during 6th period, I think of his passionate desire to learn, to use time effectively, to constantly push forward toward his end goal of going to college and becoming a lawyer. Last year, I got sick a few times (germy.students.), and had a few other issues (car accident, etc) that prevented me from being in school every single day. So far this year, I've missed none - something I'm proud of and want to maintain. Don't get me wrong, I love having days off, and am enjoying sitting on my couch and taking a well-deserved break (Thank you, Veterans!), but I'm also getting ready for Monday. Because my students are waiting. And no, we won't have a sub.


The Great Work begins.

Welcome to Teach For Us. Welcome to Teach For America. Welcome to Kansas City. Welcome to Real Life. About an hour ago, I officially accepted my offer to join the 2012 corps in Kansas City, MO. I've been offered to teach ESL (6-12), but I've been told that this could change. The important thing is that I'm here. I'm Official. It seems surreal, in a good way though. Maybe I jumped the gun a little bit, because I haven't even had a chance to talk to anyone in the Kansas City office (they've tried calling me, but I've been in class each time and my only free time to return their calls in the past 2 days have been in the wee early hours or late at night). Do I have my questions? Sure. I don't think they're anything the staff can answer though. They're questions like--what are my students going to  be like? Will I have my own classroom? (Some ESL teachers do, some don't). What's my apartment going to be like? Will I be living downtown? What's it going to be like, you know...to be a teacher? Only time will answer my questions. But between now and June, when I journey to KC for the first time for my induction, I'm going to keep on my rose-colored glasses. I come from a family full of educators, and I'm a pre-service teacher myself (i.e. I start student teaching full-time this spring, and I'll be a licensed English teacher in the state of VA by the time I graduate). So I've heard all the "horror stories." They've never phased me. Why? Because this is what I want to do. Not for the next two years, but for the rest of my life. I want to blog often, and with honesty. As a writer, I need this chance to align my thoughts, to vent, and to make sense of all of these awesome and exciting--yet wonderfully terrifying--things that are happening in my life. It's also going to be a great chance to connect with other corp members who are feeling the same way as me. I started blogging when I was thirteen, and I've found that it only brings good things. Good friends, great communication and flow of ideas, and in general just a great opportunity to have your voice heard. I'm excited about TFA, I'm excited about Kansas City, I'm STOKED about my future students, and I'm excited to share my experience here. Oh, and a little bit about the name. I mentioned I've been blogging on and off since I was a young adolescent--one of the first blogs I ever followed was "Wonderland Manhattan," which was also a clothing line designed and operated by an NYU student. With a quick Google search I see that her site doesn't exist anymore, which is strange to think about how long ago it must have been. But anyway, she had moved to Manhattan for college and fell in love with the city--it was almost ten years ago that I read her blog, but I'll never forget the way she compared it to Alice's adventures in Wonderland, where everything is a beautiful surprise--confusing at times, sometimes unfair--but always spectacular, hilarious and wonderful. I've never been to Kansas City before, but my family has moved around a lot. Every time we move, I discover something new and magical--about myself, and about my new home. I expect KC to be the same. I'm going to make it my own Wonderland. And the tagline--yeah, I love the Wizard of Oz. I'm stoked about *practically* being Dorothy's neighbor. Maybe a tornado will lift me off into Oz, but without the creepy monkeys.


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