Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Whip My Hair

Since I began teaching at Wilson, I've become introduced to all the "cool" things that middle-schoolers are doing, listening to, watching, and wearing nowadays.  The most interesting part so far is the music, which is far different than what I would have listened to when I was in middle school.  Remember N'Sync?  Britney Spears?  Puddle of Mud?  Dixie Chicks?  Not at Wilson!  What I get usually comes in the form of "bee-boxin'" (beatboxing) every day during first period from one of the boys in the back row.  Or I get girls dancing in the hallways and I have to remind them of how many minutes they have to get to class (I don't like to just yell at them to stop, although some of my neighbor teachers do).  

Lately a lot of my sixth-grade girls have been singing a song called "Whip My Hair" during their free time (or reading time, or writing time...you get the picture).  So I came home to look it up because I was curious...and it was catchy.  It's by Willow Smith.  Yes, she's the daughter of Will and Jada Pinket Smith.  Yes, she's nine.  But the song is cute and I think it's got a pretty good message, actually.  And is way better than what these kids COULD be listening to.

So anyway, here's a video of Willow singing "Whip My Hair".

PS--most of the adults are confused by the kids' trends.  It's actually very comical.  For example, this week is Red Ribbon Week and the kids are allowed to dress up to a theme on the different days.  Today was '70s day and when we were in the library, one of the old librarians and a plainclothes cop were talking with some of the students what styles were like in the '70s.  The cop called himself an "aspiring hippie" and proclaimed that his hair was halfway down his back.  One of the little girls in my class promptly said, "Well, Mr. ________, imma ax one thang.  Did you whip it?"  And the cop asked, "Whip what?"  And the girl and all her friends broke out in song.  I thought it was quite comical, but the cop really didn't know what was going on...

Friday, October 22, 2010

On Turning Ten

So during one of my methods classes, we did a poetry exercise on this Billy Collins poem.  I have to say that I've read a little of his poetry and I'm becoming quite the fan.  I don't read much contemporary poetry, though (I actually don't read much at all--just what I'm studying in class), so I can't say that I'm an avid reader.

This poem is about turning ten, obviously.

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fun weekend in store? I hope so!

Ahhhh...Friday.  I just love Fridays!  I didn't used to care too much what day it was (this is when I stayed inside all day and had no life), but I've come to discover over the past few years that Fridays are...amazing.

So today my first two classes were cancelled.  Yay!  So now I only have a 3:00 class and work right after until 9:30.  I finished all my assignments for this week just a few seconds ago (with 12 hours to spare!) and now plan to shower and make the bed before I go to class.  Maybe I'll fold a little laundry, too.  And now would be a good time to make that loaf of pumpkin bread that I've been dying to make the past few days....we'll see how much I get done!

Kyle's at work right now and gets off at 4, so it's a bummer we won't get to see each other until tonight, but we've got good plans in store:  dinner, cleaning the house, and probably a movie or something.  We've got a coupon for a redbox near our house, and it would be super awesome if we could rent a Halloween movie.  I love being scared.  Especially when I'm so scared that I can't walk down our hallway alone and Kyle has to come to the bathroom with me so nothing will get me along the way.  He acts like it's an annoying hassle, but I know he thinks it's funny.

And tomorrow is the Dean's List Ceremony (that's always good news in the grades department!) and the best part is that I'll get to sit right by my husband in the crowd.  I hated sitting next to strangers.  It's an awkward thing.  Our parents will come up and maybe we'll go to lunch together.  Then I have a comp camp to go to, and I'm HOME FREE for the rest of the weekend.

Oh and I think we're having the missionaries over for dinner on Sunday.  Maybe I should check on that...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10 Eternal Truths of the Gentlemanly Life

From  the book How to Be a Gentleman by John Bridges, and worth repeating.

1.  A gentleman says "please" and "thank you," readily and often.

2.  A gentleman does not disparage the beliefs of others--whether they relate to matters of faith, politics, or sports teams.

3.  A gentleman always carries a handkerchief, and is ready to lend it, especially to a weeping lady, should the need arise.

4.  A gentleman never allows a door to slam in the face of another person--male or female, young or old, absolute stranger or long time best friend.

5.  A gentleman does not make jokes about race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation; neither does he find such jokes amusing.

6.  A gentleman knows how to stand in line and how to wait his turn.

7.  A gentleman is always ready to offer a hearty handshake.

8.  A gentleman keeps his leather shoes polished and his fingernails clean.

9.  A gentleman admits when he is wrong.

10. A gentleman does not pick a fight.

A great website that I've found recently is The Art of Manliness.  It's a great source of information for those who believe, like I do, that being manly is not synonymous with being a macho jerk.


Today I yelled...

So for my practicum placement I've been assigned to one middle school and one high school.  I've been to the middle school three days so far, and until today, didn't really see any of the discipline problems.

Today being the last day before the middle school's fall break, however, was ticket day.  Tickets are rewards students collect when they behave well.  When they misbehave or act out, the class does not receive a ticket.  At the end of the month, a ticket cut-off is decided.  If the students meet the ticket requirement, they get to do fun activities in their classes.  If the students did not meet the requirement, they get to do work and boring stuff.  On ticket day, students are given a number between 1 and 6 (because there are six teachers on the team).  They go to the teacher whose number coordinates with theirs and from then on out, the classes rotate so that each teacher sees a group of kids at least once.

So the kids don't know this, but they are assigned numbers based on how many tickets they received.  The kids with the most tickets all receive the same number and move around together throughout the day.  They do super-fun things like have free time and get pizza parties.  Those who got a decent amount of tickets do arts and crafts stuff or watch movies that are only semi-lame.  Those who got virtually no tickets do work and watch super-lame movies.

During the two hours I was at the school today, I got a group of kids who got a decent amount of tickets (we made mini-scarecrows) and another group of kids who got five tickets or less (the cutoff is like twenty). 

Anyway, the second group of students had to watch an awful grammar video today.  It was lame beyond lame.  I actually wanted to shoot the TV.  Thankfully, though, I didn't have to watch it, because I was so busy helping the student teacher maintain control of the classroom.  Students who were tipping their chairs or sleeping had to stand.  We had 3/4 of the class standing at the end of the period.  

I don't need to go into detail of what all happened (I don't want to relive that class period), but I yelled.  I have never yelled at a class before!  Not in all the tutoring I've done, or the help I've given, or the lessons I've taught...never ever ever.  I've raised my voice to get students attention, but I've never had to yell.  I've never even yelled at my husband like that, or my siblings.  Okay, maybe my mom, but whatever.  I really didn't know I had it in me.  I didn't lose my head or anything like that, but I was loud enough to demand respect and control the class. 

Now, before you go off judging me for my actions in the classroom today, I want to ask you to consider what my practicum teacher told us before we went into the schools.  First of all, as teachers, we have been trained not to yell if at all possible.  As parents, other teachers, or even people in the community...you DON'T know what has gone on in that classroom, and you DON'T know how many times these kids have broken the rules, and you DON'T know how it is to have two choice on your hands:  to yell and shatter what self-respect you might have for yourself, or not to yell and deplete any sort of respect the students have for YOUR authority.  It's a tough call.  

So today I told myself that eventually I'd get over it, and I made a choice to throw out what my ideal of myself as a good teacher was and I actually acted like a good teacher.  And, the best part?  I'm already over it.  I think sometimes things like this really do need to happen in order for you to grow...