Thursday, September 28, 2006

So Happy


Despite an amazingly chaotic week - testing, three days of different schedules, an ambulance arrival at school, the fire drill that wouldn't end, and parent-teacher conferences, I am in a great mood. Yes, part of that is probably because there is no school tomorrow. I am blissfully anticipating sleeping in until 9:00 (that's four more hours!), a visit to the temple with Janelle, and a weekend with my parents in town (not to mention General Conference - church in your pajamas is always a treat).

Other reasons for happiness:

I held auditions this yesterday for my Advanced Drama class' production of "Much Ado", casted it today, and posted the cast list with no tears from the students! They actually all seemed pretty happy with their parts (glory be). I finished cutting the play as well. This was one of those projects that I didn't realize how much stress it was causing me until it was over. Now we begin rehearsals. I'm really excited to see them grow into these parts, though.

I had many wonderful compliments from parents at the conferences - the students like my classes enough to talk about them at home. Pretty high praise for teenagers! I'm also discovering that I have a strong reputation at other schools in our district - our musicals and the training I give my student-actors were both mentioned as being complimented by teachers from other schools.

One of the dear teachers at our school stopped by to tell Janelle, Kelley, and I that she was glad the cuts at our school aren't really affecting our performing arts program. As she put it, "I'm glad they're not cutting out the heart of our school."

I'm going to go to NYC in about a month - a joint birthday celebration for me and Jason. Our plan is to see "Madame Butterfly" at the Met. (Times review) I've wanted to see "Butterfly" for a while, and the misty winter set of the "La Boheme" I saw there a year or so ago still lives happily in my theater slide-show of my mind.

And other such happinesses. Sleepiness is dawning, though, and so I'm off to bed. Good night, faithful readers!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Stiff Upper Lip

Taking advantage of the plethora of sick days we get as teachers in Utah (that's about all we get) and my grandmother's nagging, I'm home for day 2. And I think it was wise - not talking is a good thing right now, and while I feel a lot better than yesterday, I think taking it easy for another day is going to make getting better happen a lot faster.

Between the cold in me and the cold outside, I've been craving comfort food, so today I made a childhood classic: creamed tuna. This was a staple for us growing up, usually either when we're sick or when we return from a trip.

The recipe:
1) Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir.
2) Whisk in milk to make a basic white sauce.
3) While thickening, add tuna or, if you prefer, hard boiled eggs.
4) Season with salt. Serve over toast. Add frozen peas, if desired, for cooling.

It comes from the British side of the family - can you tell?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Pajama Game

I'm sick.

The good news is, I took today off work. I should have taken yesterday off, but I couldn't miss two of my classes, and I had a meeting after school. The kids were nice to me, though. When I couldn't talk loudly for the coughing during 3rd period, I appointed a student to be my voice. Adam took to the job quickly - when I (he) asked a question and no one volunteered, he ad-libbed "I'm going to start calling on people!" And he did just that - "Okay, you. Blond girl. What's the answer?" It was entertaining, for me at least.

I survived yesterday, though, and fell asleep on my couch at about 6:30. I woke up to a phone call at 9-ish, and then crawled into bed. I slept until 10:30 this morning, got up, made some lunch, and then fell asleep on the couch again until 3:30. Since then, I've showered, did some laundry, cleaned up a little, and now I'm putting grades in the computer. I'm feeling a bit better (nothing like 18 hours of sleep, right?), so I guess it's back to school again tomorrow. I don't like to miss more than one day, anyway. We have mid-terms this Friday, a little early because of Parent-Teacher conferences next week. Whoo.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Man/Woman Doesn't Know

This week has been oddly bi-polar. On one hand, I am happy with how my classes are going - I'm finding the rhythm of things, check-in is going marvelously, and I really like my kids this year. Advanced Drama, for example, are falling in love with Much Ado, and we haven't even held auditions yet. A bunch of the students rented the movie themselves, and now they're roaming the halls declaring "Remember I am an ass" (see the last line of this scene) And here I was hoping the line that would catch on would be "We are the only love-gods"....

On the other hand, though, we (the faculty) were informed of a last-minute "short" meeting immediately after school on Wednesday. Our principal explained that the numbers are in, and we have too many teachers - we need to "surplus" 2.5 FTEs (Full-Time Employees). This is thanks to our district who decided last year that it's problematic to have junior high schools feed into different high schools. So they redrew the boundaries, thereby dropping our overall enrollment significantly (this also meant, by the way, that students who lived within walking distance of our school - mere blocks away - are now being bused to a different school. Makes a lot of sense in a time of high gas prices, yes?). In one sense, I'm thrilled and more than a little surprised that our administration is communicating with us so openly about the problem (that's really not the pattern at my school - something like this would more likely be swept under the carpet until it exploded). Still, the faculty have all been tense since that meeting. Between the question "who's gonna go?" that gets whispered and bantered about, there's also the knowledge that no matter who is surplused, we're all going to have to face new students in every class. Essentially, we're going to have Day 1 all over again, sometime around October 1. That should be a lot of fun for testing this year - let's create so many changes that it's like the first 6 weeks of school didn't happen, and then let's see how the students do on year-end tests with those crazy weeks. And, even better, let's see who they blame for lower test scores across the district. Must be the teachers, right? Because heaven forbid the district own up to their mistakes.

Sorry for the rant. Honestly, I don't think my job's in any danger. How remarkable is that? Normally, electives (that is, the arts) are the first targets for budget cuts, but not at our school. That's wonderful and rare, I must say. Plus, I think I've made myself indispensable, as they discovered when they tried to remove me as stage crew advisor (that went from "We'll find a replacement for you" to "we'll find an assistant for you" to "we'll find someone to cover for you when you can't come" within about a week). Even without that threat, though, there's just too much frustration. I'm tired of feeling so powerless as a teacher. We're being threatened, pushed around, punished, and experimented with all the time, and we have no control or say in the matter.

On the plus side, it's cold and rainy outside. And I'm not being sarcastic - I really do love this weather. I've been looking forward to it all week. I'm hoping it continues tomorrow, since it suits my plan of hot chocolate-at-a-bookstore-browsing-and-a-movie perfectly. Tonight I rewarded myself with chicken tikka masala and naan bread from a really tasty Indian restaurant. Mmm....

Happy weekend to you all!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The More We Dance

I found my own version of hot yoga today! After school, I chaperoned a junior high school dance. 200 junior high students in a sweaty, darkened, non-air-conditioned gym. Add loud pounding music, and the fact that I joined in the dancing as much as possible, and I've got a 40-minute workout. I suppose the main difference between that and hot yoga, though, is that I had fun during it. From what Meg and co. described, that's not allowed during real hot yoga.

I just returned from a terrific weekend with my dad's family in San Diego. My mom, dad, and brother and I flew out to SD on Friday and spent the long weekend shopping (IKEA!), eating (grandmere's marvelous 5-course dinner), visiting (you have to see the bay-bee!), and frolicking at the beach (whoo! waves!). It was absolutely delightful.

The first week of school, by the way, went rather well. I'm constantly exhausted, and spending a few hours each day after work is a necessity to stay afloat, but boy do I have good kids this year. They're excited, fun, and pretty well behaved. I'm excited about the year.

At the "Hello" assembly today, we announced our selection for the spring musical - "Honk, Jr.". The kids went nuts with cheering when the trailer started and they figured out that this was the musical announcement. The show itself, though, was greeted with a general "huh?" I'm not worried - that's the reaction I expected, since we picked a pretty obscure show. They will fall in love with whatever show we choose - that's one of the quirks of theater. I'm just excited we can talk about it now with them.