Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

... Others Not So Much

Not all of my students are as fun, though.  Take this example from my Drama 1 finals:

Tell me, why is it that I can read 30 glowing surveys from kids who are nothing but happy about the class and me as their teacher, but this is the one that sticks in my craw?

Don't get me wrong - I snorted when I first read this.  Then I took a picture.  Then I wrote her a diplomatic response and went on to grade other finals.

But still.  Bad taste.

I'm Going to Miss These Snarky Humanities Students

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Golden Mean

I had a lovely weekend, and as I went to bed last night I reviewed my itinerary to see just what it was that made it so pleasant.

  • I spent time with friends (seeing the latest Star Trek movie at the Alamo with Brian Friday night and dinner Saturday with Rachel, Ben, Brian, and Jack), 
  • I did things for myself (working out, haircut and errand running Saturday morning), 
  • I accomplished items on my to do list (craft projects not for a show but instead for a certain nephew who's turning three)
  • I served (substitute teaching in RS Sunday and attending an enrichment planning meeting)
  • I cleaned my house,
  • and I didn't fret about my sleep schedule because I knew that I only had 3.5 days of school left so going to bed at 10:30 didn't feel like the end of the world.

As I suspected, it was a well-balanced weekend.  This kind of schedule - one that allows me to have time to myself, time with others, and time for others - works well for me.  The weekend was a break from work, a chance to accomplish things I enjoy and things that make me feel good.  It's a golden time of year when I have enough work to feel accomplished, yet not so much that it takes over my life.   A golden and a rare time - in the 2012-2013 school year it lasted about 3 weeks total.

Of course the challenge is how to find such balance on a regular basis.  Summer is just as daunting as the school year - there's so much time to fill and flying close to the sea is just as dangerous as flying close to the sun.

I'm working on it, though.

P.S. You fellow crafters are probably curious about the aforementioned projects, and I will post more details after the birthday party.  Granted, the nephew does not read my blog, but I think we all know the presents are just as much for Rachel's reaction as they are for Jack's.

Just for fun, though, here's a glimpse:

Friday, May 17, 2013

When He Turned It In, He Promised There Were "Many Historical Accuracies"

Today was the 17th-19th centuries test in Humanities. In one section, I gave the students a list of terms from those periods and the following instructions:

Select one of the following and write a paragraph that explains how that person/thing changed history.

One student's summary was particularly... enthusiastic. Here's his response for
*The Industrial Revolution* (all spelling, punctuation, etc. per original):

So the Industrial Revolution was pretty awesome; awesome enough to be capitalized! Around the mid 18th century, people started realizing, "Hey! Wait just a darn tootin' minute, (Accent = Period accurate) We could probably built one a' then dern fangled machines teh do this fer us!" And thats what they did. The industrial revolution lived up to it's name, it was revolutionary. Due to this event, mass production began, economies expanded, trade increased (Primarily due to RAILROADS!), the world made a universal shift from agricultural output to industrial! Planes, trains, and automobiles! Hallelujah! Viva le Revolution! (The industrial one, not the French.)

At least it's better than the girl who wrote "During the Industrial Revolution communication improved greatly with the invention of the telephone and the Internet."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Other's Day

My ward has a lavish Mother's Day tradition - the central hall in the church is filled with tulip-decorated tables and the women are all invited to a brunch made and served by the men.  Crepes, berries, fresh whipped cream, breakfast casseroles, bread - it's quite the spread.  Apparently the women treat the men to a similar meal for Father's Day (never having been in my ward for June, I asked about this today); and the tradition is cherished enough that when our current bishop accepted the role he announced "While we can all agree that our Mother's/Father's Day celebrations have gotten out of hand, I have no intention of it ending on my watch."

It's enjoyable to visit with the other women in my ward over good food, but Mother's Day always seems to highlight my otherness as a single, childless, female adult in a family ward.  Inevitably, in the spirit of inclusivity, the good wishes and mass tokens of the holiday get expanded to any adult with ovaries, leading to moments like this:

Man:  (as he hands out bags of chocolates to the women at my table)  Just a gift from the men in the ward to say that your husbands appreciate you!  (He notices me.)  And your... friends.  Your friends in the ward appreciate you too.

Oh, the awkward!  I'm happy to forgive this one, though, since it came with a bag of Lindor and Dove truffles. Most of the time the comments like this reassurance from over the pulpit - "And for those of you who haven't been blessed with motherhood yet, you still have the chance to share your womanly attributes with those around you," are all too common and, worse, are truffleless.

Unless we make it a day for appreciating women, I would rather just be ignored altogether.  Although I did appreciate the snarky woman sitting next to me who, at that comment, leaned over, squeezed my arm, and said in a faux-sultry voice in my ear "I appreciate your womanly attributes."

I snorted.  Not the most reverent response to have in Sacrament meeting I suppose, but it was appropriate.

P.S.  To answer Miranda's questions:
- Our May book was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  The romance annoyed me, but the book is devourable and I have been interested in Victorian flower symbolism since the first time I read The Age of Innocence.  June's book, if you're curious, is The Light Between Oceans, which I read and enjoyed last fall.
- I am going to take watercolors and probably a class on oil painting as well.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Keeping Watch in the Night

Many half-written blog entries have been floating in my head this week.  Some of them might still become essays, but for whatever reason (End-of-the-year fatigue?  Lingering illness?  Back-episodes of How I Met Your Mother?) "my thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations" (to quote John Green).  Still, I want to post something with more substance than a weather report, so here are some pinholes of light:

1.  This week is full of rain, which makes me happy.

2.  The joy that rain brings me makes me even more certain that I would have loved living in England for a year.

3.  The Fulbright people released the contact information for our not-to-be matches this week, and I had been matched with a teacher in NW London.  Not the gritty, unromantic, Billy Elliot-esque, obscure English town I was bracing myself for; but a lovely, upper-class, Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, take-the-metro-to-the-West-End-every-weekend placement.  

Stupid sequester.

4.  While disappointed at this lost opportunity, I have had a couple gentle reminders of the pleasures of my own workplace this week, including a surprising detail on my teacher evaluation.  I work for and with good people, and that's a remarkable thing.

5.  Speaking of which, it was Teacher Appreciation Week.  I got a mass-emailed story about how a teacher helped someone who later became some Olympian athlete (yawn) and a piece of a sheet cake (eh).

6.  Also in honor of the "holiday," this cartoon showed up in a few places online:
By Jim Benton
It really, really bugs me.

7.  My voice made it through the week!

It was touch-and-go a few nights, but I made it to Friday without going totally hoarse.

I still have a painfully sore throat and a cough that keeps me up at night, but at least I stopped having coughing fits that end with me vomiting in the school parking lot.  Win!

8.  Another win: my health improved enough AND I didn't have any after-school duties, so I got to go to Book Club last night.  Always a treat to visit/argue with those delightful ladies.

9.  At Book Club I got to bring up this fascinating challenge Maureen Johnson threw together on Twitter this week.  Ever a critic of gendered writing labels (and rightly so), she inspired her followers to "flip" a book cover's perceived gender-oriented design.  Here's a link to the Huffington Post article, which includes a slideshow of some of the entries.  I especially enjoyed the ones for Game of Thrones,  The Marriage Plot, and Before I Fall.  

10.  Speaking of design, my summer is shaping up to be an artistic one.  With only one or two shorter trips, I have decided to take one or two art classes at one of the nearby community colleges.  They will probably start right after Memorial Day (i.e. right after school lets out), so I won't have more than a day or two of unscheduled vacation time, thank goodness.

Also?  I'm more excited about having a good reason to buy school supplies (Pens!  Mechanical pencils!  Pretty notebooks and binders!  Maybe even a new hole-puncher!) than I am about having a good reason to buy art supplies.  And I'm pretty darn excited about a trip to Meininger's already.

11.  Before settling on art classes, I also considered and then vetoed taking Arabic (not offered in the summer), Yoga (cheaper to do through my rec center), and Geometry (too nerdy, even for me, to take a math class simply because I miss taking math classes).

12.  Not unrelatedly, many of my students are mid-AP tests right now.  Unabashedly jealous of them, I have resorted to recounting the tales of my own honors exams ("Back in my day I took six honors classes at a time!  And they were much harder!  And I had the flu while sitting the four-hour IB English exam!  And I had to walk two miles uphill through the snow both ways!") while they listen politely because I'm they're teacher and they're legally required to be there.

13.  It's weird that one of the best perks of my job is the captivated attention of dozens of youths.


Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Drive to Work

...on May 9.

May 9th!

School's out two weeks from today, and this is our drive to work:

Follow up:  Weirdly, the drive home included bonus active snowfall.


Monday, May 06, 2013

Glory Be

And thus with an almost full-house the final performance/field trip/rehearsal/practice/after school job of 2012-2013 is done!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Nuno Scarf Class

For Rachel's birthday this year, I got her a gift certificate to a class at Amazing Fibers.  Yesterday we cashed it in, despite both of us sporting Kleenex, cough drops, and rotten colds.

The class was at an alpaca farm out in Elizabeth, Colorado, which meant we drove an hour into the middle of nowhere until we found this place:

The instructor, Samantha, showed us around her enviable craft room (a converted barn) and some sample scarves.  We'd be learning the nuno felting technique, a method of making lighter weight felt using a gauzy fabric.  Silk, in our case.  Samantha pulled out bags and bags of precut silk panels until Rachel and I selected our base fabrics.

We laid them out on long pieces of bubble wrap, then picked out some roving to decorate:

Once we set our designs, we covered the scarves with this green mesh cloth and wet them with soapy water:

Rachel started the felting process on some of her embellishments with this handy wooden scrubber:

Then we rolled up the scarves around pool noodles and loaded them in the rolling machine:

The machine rolled the scarves for us, stopping every four minutes or so to unroll and then re-roll the scarves to change up the friction:

After about a dozen stop-and-starts (and a homemade chicken salad lunch, which was included with the class), we slimed the scarves with olive oil soap:

which made them nice and foamy when we put them back in the rolling machine:

After a few more rounds of rolling and flipping, we put the scarves in buckets and pulled out some good old-fashioned washboards:

By working them over on the washboard we could complete the felting and add crinkles to the fabric, one section at a time.  By the end, my scarf looked like this:

Finally, we rinsed out the soap and Samantha ironed the scarves:

And voila!  We each had our own silk-and-wool scarf:

I liked how they turned out.  Rachel's zig-zag gave it a much more pronounced ruffle, reminding us both of Victorian undergarments (ooh la la!), while my more wispy patterns produced a more organic-looking final product.  A fun product and an even more fun outing with my sister, even if both of us were too diseased to be properly social.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Three Out of Four

In the last seven spring-time weeks I had a musical, two plays, and a field trip.  As of this afternoon, three of those four events were postponed due to snow.

My front "yard"

Instead of running a final dress rehearsal at school and getting the kids psyched up for a show in two hours, I'm on the couch at home with a pan of rice pudding cooking on the stove and a cup of mint tea at my side.

Here's what my car door looked like after the icy drive home:

A baseball game got rescheduled to tomorrow afternoon, so the in-school performance had to be moved as well.  Now we'll do that on Friday, I'll run a drama field trip Friday night, and the evening show performance will be Monday night.

I was looking forward to being done with after school things this weekend, but it's probably a good thing for my students to have a few more days to rehearse and my immune system to have a few more days to recover since I keep having incidents like this:

Me:  Okay, everybody, cir-  interrupted by coughing fit.  Cir-  coughing fit.  Cir- coughing fit.  I gesture my index finger in a circling move above my head.  -up on sta- coughing fit.  I point at the stage.

My TA: Standing next to me, shaking his head.  Poor Waterhouse.