Archive for the ‘teaching’ Tag

All was well   Leave a comment

Harris Teeter doesn’t have a whole lot of Starbucks hours to give, so I’m working less than I have been recently. Yesterday, for example, I got out of work while the sun was still up. I haven’t seen the sun a whole lot recently. It seemed like such a big thing. Once got home, I changed out of my work clothes, into some casual clothes, then put on some walking shoes and took a walk.

I spent most of the walk thinking just how amazing it was that I was able to take this walk. Then, after a while, I found myself thinking that this would be more fun with a dog. But for now, I should just be happy to walk. The peak of fall had already hit, so I was looking at a lot of bare trees. But the temperature was nice. The sun was making everything gold. Work had been thoroughly dull — they have so few hours available for Starbucks that I had spent the whole day training in Pizza. Once you get over the initial excitement of oh my gosh pizza!, the actual work of pizza is quite dull. As soon as you get one pizza out, you turn around, beat a new piece of dough into shape, spread the sauce, and sprinkle on the sauce and toppings, and then bake it and get it out. Repeat ad finitum. But my whole head felt clearer after just a 30-minute walk.

This morning, I was able to sleep in until 9:00. Actually, I didn’t even sleep that late. I spent the last hour just lying in bed thinking how nice it was that I didn’t have to get up if I didn’t want to. I’m closing the pizza bar tonight, so I don’t have to do anything until 2:00. Technically, James asked me to finish cleaning the kitchen, since he would only have a little time to attend to it before he had to leave for work. I had said I would. But that wasn’t, like, pressing.

I ate breakfast and read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for an hour and a half, before admitting to myself that it was now 11:30 and I really should get ready for the day. Once I did all that, I went and got all my schedules figured out and entered into my calendar and synched up to my phone.

I have Friday 5 off. I somehow got a random day off. James and I will be Christmas shopping that day. I was finally able to sign up for the ACT workkeys test that I need to finish applying to Wake County Schools. It’s, uh, tomorrow. My tests are tomorrow. Huh.

If all goes according to plan, I should be leaving for DC on the night of Thursday 11, and then I’ll leave either Sunday night or Monday, depending on how my work schedules line up.

I’m feeling good, guys.

Posted November 30, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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College career path   Leave a comment

unc latin requirements

unc history requirements

I was talking with my brother-in-law the other day (I have a brother-in-law now!) and I told him that I was planning on pursuing a teaching degree at the University of North Carolina. He suggested that I apply as soon as possible, for a variety of reasons. With that in mind, I went and looked up the endorsements necessary to get into the two teaching programs I’m considering.

It appears that I am going to be a Latin teacher. Colonial history is going to have to be a hobby. For now.

What Will the Fox Say?   Leave a comment

Lord help me, do not send me eight-year-olds. I did not come into this having to deal with the politics of eight-year-olds. I just wanted to teach them cool tricks they could do with their own body, like how to hop from one place to another like they’re crossing a creek.

The Gruffalo’s Child has six parts. I needed parts for nine kids. So invented a few more parts — I made the tallest kid be the Mouse’s Shadow, I had another kid help me narrate, and lastly, I split the part of the Gruffalo into two parts — the Gruffalo, and the Gruffalo’s Wife. I did not think this would be a problem. The Gruffalo has a lot of lines. By splitting them into two, there would be less work for all involved.

It didn’t occur to me that, by casting two kids as the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s Wife, I was making them married and that is so super gross. The word “cooties” wasn’t said but they made their presence known. I had to find ways to keep them separated. Their “daughter” stood between them whenever possible. They spend most of the play asleep on the ground, and I had to assure them three times that no, they were just sleeping, they weren’t cuddling, don’t worry, you don’t have to touch each other.

Speaking of their “daughter”, I had trouble getting the Gruffalo’s Child to come out from under a desk. I sat with her and asked her questions, wondering if she had stage fright. I finally got a reason out of her — she was afraid the Fox would make fun of her. Why the Fox, of all people, considering that she doesn’t interact with any of the kids, really. Part of the reason why I made her the star was because I knew she could speak, but she never really talked. She tended to hang back, separate from the rest of the group. The kid who plays the Fox isn’t even the most rambunctious of the group. That would be the Gruffalo or the Owl. Why would she be afraid of the Fox in particular?

After rehearsal, she again hid under a desk. I asked her, and she again said that she was afraid the Fox would make fun of her.

I had the group play Sneaky Statues* to eat up time and encourage them to be quiet. She seemed fine for that. Then class ended. She gathered up her stuff, then looked around.

“Where’s [the Fox]?” she asked. “Where is he?”

Then it clicked. The Gruffalo’s Child has a precocious crush on the Fox. I have no idea what to do with this information. I also know that if she keeps up this behavior — hiding under tables in between rehearsals and then having to get coaxed out — then I’m going to need to find a new Gruffalo’s Child. And I don’t know how to break that gently.

*Sneaky Statues is a game where the players freeze in place while the “curator” or “guard” or “janitor” walks around them. When the janitor has her back to them, the statues have to move. If the janitor catches them moving, they are out of the game. Last person still a statue wins and becomes the next janitor. I like the game because it’s simple, physical, runs itself, and the kids tend to be quieter during the game. I dislike the game because, especially with small children, they tend to whine about getting eliminated, and you have to entertain the kids who have been eliminated. Eight is about the youngest age you can play with and keep your sanity.

Posted July 24, 2014 by agentksilver in teaching

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How to Rig an Election   Leave a comment

So I’ve been working with elementary school students with learning differences these past five weeks. I’ve drunk the kool-aid! Having spent a lot of time with them, I now say that they have “learning differences” instead of “learning disabilities” or “learning disorders”. The kids are all smart and perfectly capable of learning what we have to teach them. They just don’t learn it the same way that we do.

They’ve also caught on that on Fridays, my class performs a play for the whole school. So for, like, all of Monday and Tuesday, whenever they had a free second, they would ask if they could do Calvin and Hobbes as their Friday performance. I wrote up a script for Calvin and Hobbes, in which Calvin takes Hobbes to school and cheats on a test using Hobbes and his Stupendous Man costume. It was taken word-for-word from a Calvin and Hobbes book. I loved it, entirely because I got to give Hobbes the line SOOOOOSIE IS A BOOGER BRAINNNNN.

I still struggled with writing it, because these are kids with learning differences. I had no idea what their level of reading was. Calvin has an immense vocabulary, and a lot of the punchlines are based on that. I ended up deleting an entire exchange between Calvin and Susie because, according to a lecture by a school psychologist at orientation, my kids don’t understand sarcasm and lying. All that Susie did in the exchange was use sarcasm and lie.

Still, I printed out copies of the script and handed it to the kids to read out loud. It went as terribly as I thought it would: the kids pondered over every word, and the counselors had to help two of them through the reading of it. It took us 45 minutes to get through a 2.5-page script. If we had had the entire five weeks, I’m sure we could pull it off, but I had two days to get a not-terrible play out of these kids.

And I had already picked out a play for them. I’ve seen Gruffalo’s Child, which features weird acting direction and clumsy, plain animation, neither of which would be terrible except that it’s an Oscar-Nominated short film. Still, the story is cute, and the story is great as something to read aloud to kids. And it features plenty of small parts with just one or two lines, perfect for a group of kids who can’t read but want to try reciting lines.

In the middle of the 45-minute struggle to get through Calvin and Hobbes, a little girl stood up, walked over to me, gestured for me to bend down, and then whispered in my ear. “None of the girls want to do Calvin and Hobbes. We all want to do Gruffalo’s Child.”

So I enacted my plan with confidence. After we finished reading Calvin and Hobbes, all the boys shouted that it was fun and that they couldn’t wait to perform it, who would play Hobbes, who would play the narrator, etc. etc. I had them quiet down, then told them that Calvin and Hobbes featured a lot of talking and reading, while Gruffalo’s Child was a lot simpler and easier and more fun, and that we’d all have a great time doing Gruffalo’s Child. But, I added, it was totally up to them. We would cast a vote. Who wanted to do Gruffalo’s Child? Who wanted to do Calvin and Hobbes?

Gruffalo’s Child won by a landslide.