Sunday, January 21, 2007

The good, the bad and the artsy.

I've been complaining about my job lately. My bosses still seem to be out to get me sometimes. The forced me to teach nothing but test prep exercise books for more than three months, which was miserable. The kids were bored to death and acted out. This made me more miserable.

As we got closer to the big statewide test (that test which determines whether the child will go to the next grade, whether our school will receive more funds or be "restructured," and whether my boss will rip me a new one for not raising scores enough), I thought, "Surely the kids will buckle down and get serious." On the contrary. As they got closer to the test, perhaps in a fit of nerves, they shut me out more. Just when I was convinced they all hated me, though, Abena gave me this drawing. It's even better in real life (my scanner didn't pick up all the subtle shading). Abena's only 12. Isn't she talented? After class, I've been helping her a little with perspective in her drawings, and I think this was sort of a thank you gift.

The three-day weekend was great. Friday Jan. 12 night Tom and I went to dinner, then a movie. Casino Royale was probably the best Bond movie I've ever seen: sexy but rough around the edges. It lacked the comic-book silliness of some of the other Bond flicks. Saturday Tom and I watched Arrested Development and he made me spaghetti with homemade meat sauce. Then we went to hear Laura's boyfriend Ryan's band, Who By Fire, play at Lit. That was fun. We hung out Sunday and Monday, too, though I don't remember what we did, exactly. I know there was a lot of fooling around involved.

One morning we brunched at Gravy, a restaurant which had a jazz combo with a great guitarist and an amazing upright bass player. I love a good bassline to accompany my biscuits and gravy. At one point, Tom and I listed to an interesting program on National Public Radio where one of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s lawyers/speechwriters reminisced about Dr. King and how the reverend got him to join the cause. It was a funny story, and didn't make Dr King seem perfect. I liked how human it made him seem -- human, but influential and focused on what needed to be done for the civil rights movement.

Tuesday and Wednesday were the big test all morning and Finding Forrester in the afternoon. I knew the kids would be too stressed for "real" lessons those days, so I had them make KWL charts (What did you Know about the characters, setting and plot at the beginning of the movie? What did you Want to know? At the end of the movie, what did you Learn?) and showed them an inspiring movie about a cool kid from The Bronx who is smarter than he likes to let on. He loves to write and meets someone who helps him become a better writer and share his writing with others. We're getting back the the real writing in my class, so I hope this will inspire them. Friday a Ramp-up coordinator came. I'm supposed to start teaching Ramp-up, but my school's not providing all the necessary supplies. I'm supposed to buy the stuff, and if I don't, they suggest I don't care enough about my students. Yep, the fact that I'm trying to pay off all my bills and live within my means shows I don't care about the kids I work so hard to teach 180 days a year.

Then, finally, it was the weekend again. Laura and Carolina and I met at La'Annam for Vietnamese, including the world's yummiest scallion pancakes with peanut dipping sauce. We then went to Solas for a drink. Saturday I cleaned my room and Val helped me polish my poetry portfolio. That evening I met up with Tom for Brazilian food at Cocotero, followed by brilliant long-form improv by a group called Mother at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater. They used music people brought with them (on cds and iPods) to inspire the scenes. Today I spent mostly on chores and working on grad school stuff again...some more. I've got to make it happen. Okay, bed time. God bless you all.

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