That’s a terrible title, but it’s all you’re gonna get. Moving on.
It’s been a hectic week, what with school starting on the 14th. On Saturday I went up to the school to work in peace, because I find it helpful to get organized when there’s no one else (well, almost no one else) around. I’ve always been that way – I get too distracted when the school is full of students and teachers. As excited as I am to get back into the classroom, I’m also pretty nervous about it. It has been over 4 years since I last taught (for the most part – I did teach one class for one semester my first year at my current school) and not only that, but I am teaching a completely different subject this time, one that’s not a subject at all but a support class for students with learning disabilities. When it comes to teaching I’m a huge control freak, and I feel quite out of control over how this class is going to go. The coordinator of the program keeps telling me that as long as my primary concern is for the good of the students, I will be a good learning specialist – that all the training and certificates in the world don’t make a good case manager, but still, I wish I had some! This whole program is brand new, so we’re both flying a bit blind, although she has started up programs like this before and has a special education background. I will just have to trust her when she says she has faith I can help kids succeed, and that everything will be fine, because I’m kind of not sure about it right now.
My classroom – the walls are finished, but as you can see I still don’t have any furniture.
I’m also starting to feel nervous because since returning to school, the staff has of course been in meeting after meeting and so far I’ve had no time to plan. That was part of what I went to the school Saturday to do, but the learning center coordinator fell ill on Friday, so she wasn’t available for me to confer with. One of my main concerns right now is class length; I am used to teaching in 55-minute blocks which is how classes were structured in the public school where I taught previously, but here the classes are an hour and thirty minutes, and I always struggled to fill all that time when I taught the one-semester course here a year ago. In fact, I think most of the teachers struggle to fill that much time in a class period, but the administration loves the block schedule and I don’t see them getting rid of it. Personally I’ve never cared for it; I spent my first teaching year in a block-schedule school and the hour and a half classes were torture (but of course, any amount of time I spent teaching that first year would have been torture no matter how long the classes were). I suppose I am just feeling some pre-teaching jitters, mingled with a smattering of insecurity and a dash of I-don’t-wanna-go-back-to-work resistance.
This guy was actually on his way to paint the walls in my classroom when I snapped this pic on Thursday – the reaction on Flickr when I posted this alerted me to the fact that not many people are familiar with a sight like this. Where I live, these guys will come into your house with those things to paint high walls, but almost no one who commented on my photo had ever seen them (and one guy from France said such stilts were illegal in his country). I had no idea these were so uncommon, so there you go. There’ve been loads of these guys tooling all over the school the past week, since it’s been under construction in several areas.
In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, all the shots in this post are new 365 ones taken since the last photo update about the project. I’m up to Day 10 now, so still going strong, with 355 days to go. An interesting observation about the project so far: taking pictures with the intention of just editing and posting one of them certainly has its differences from my usual approach, wherein I intend to collect as many awesome shots as possible and process every one (every awesome one, that is). Since I’m only going for one shot I tend to shoot less, obviously, but that’s also because I have to shoot every day and am often doing so as an after- or side-thought and as a result don’t have a lot of time to do it. But there have been days when, even with this new less-is-more approach, I find myself facing three or four interesting shots I’d like to process, and having to decide which shot is going to be “the one” for the day. Sure I can always go back and edit the other cool shots later (like I did with the sunglasses pictures, where I processed three of them and made on the pic of the day) but initially, at least, I have to decide which one will represent me that day for my 365 project. And the truth is, if I’m going to shoot and process every day, I don’t want to bog myself down by feeling I have to edit 4 or 5 a night – it’s much easier to keep this project manageable if I just stick with one and force myself to delete the rest. It’s also more in keeping with the spirit of the project, at least to me, to only keep and edit one shot per day. In the shot above, I actually dressed up the wighead and took photos eventually, but when I first pulled it out of the cabinet Simon got all up in it, so I took some pics of that while they were bonding, and ended up liking it better than any of the ones with the wig I took later. (Side note: such wigheads are pretty, but slippery, so I always preferred styrofoam wigheads on which to place my wigs.)
In doing this, I will often chose a less interesting or cool-looking photo if it feels it communicates something about me or my day: I chose this one although most people have no idea what those figurines are. Suffice it to say I am a rabid fan of the 90’s cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (click the link if you care to know more), and these are some of the puppets from that show. I took this shot on one of our end tables in the bedroom; there’s a shaded window behind them that let in an interesting light, and I loved the green tint of the glass top along with the reflections, so I used Photoshop to bring out the color and contrast. These little guys used to sit on my computer desk, but I had to hide them once Simon came along, because he kept knocking them off and carrying them all over the house. So they’re now tucked away on a high shelf, at least until Simon loses interest.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m obsessed with toeless socks – one of the reasons for this obsession is aptly photographed below (socks with flip-flops! what could be tackier?!). At first I just wanted to take a shot of the socks-and-sandals combo for the ridiculousness factor, and had posed my feet in exactly the same position as my previous toeless sock shot to do that, but then Penny sidled up and I decided to try and get a pic of both her and the aforementioned socks, so this is another circumstance where I had to let some other fairly cool-looking shots go to share a photo I felt worked better on a content level as opposed to a stylistic one (a pic of my pet whom I love, as opposed to the cool light and shadows on some of the sock shots). Although style-wise, I actually like the placement and color of the football toy, too. A weird shot, but Penny sightings are so rare that it had to be the shot of the day.
And I guess that’s it. A pretty random post, but I’ve been so focused on reviewing things lately maybe that’s a good thing. I did buy these really cool clips from DevaCurl that you can use in your hair when it’s air-drying to give it lift at the crown, and they actually work, but I’ll review them some other time to give everyone a break (as a weird side note, my husband loves it when I have all these ugly silver hair clips stuck on top my head; he thinks it’s cute and always comments on it. Go figure – in fact, I guess I’ll have to take a 365 hair-clip shot at some point).
I like all these pictures, of course. They show real versatility and are never boring.
As for teaching, I think your job is exciting and what is so great about an experimental or pilot program, is you can write the curriculum and have it exactly the way you want. I think the ideas will come to you as you sense the kids. The first days of class when I was teaching, I spent learning about the group, because there will be a character to that particular set of kids and you will instinctively tailor what you do, to their collective features (and individual ones of course) — but you know this already. It is like the proverbial bicycle. Honestly, you could pick a topic and then teach it through language, history, art, movement, music, culture, photography — it could be so creative. I will bet, before long, yours will be the most colorful and dynamic classroom in the school.
Those painters on stilts are such a hoot. As I mentioned, drywallers use them here, not painters but I had never seen them. I would love to try shorter ones, just to develop balance.
Anyway, always an interesting post. Thanks for keeping it real and fresh.
Good point Beth – I didn’t think about quite this way, but you are right in that I am probably having a hard time visualizing what’s going to go on in the class because it hasn’t started yet and I don’t know what I’m looking at/dealing with.
Spend the first week having them write about themselves. They are in high school and at that point, it is all about “them”. They will probably love doing it. Have them take a photo of themselves or draw a picture to go with the bio or make up a jingle with a tag line or promo about themselves. That is also the age when they need a boost to their self confidence, especially special ed kids.
I think I’ll feel better once the coordinator is back and I can talk to her about what to do on the first days too. She got sick Friday and I texted her once Saturday and she never texted back (which is totally out of character for her) so now I am nervous I am gonna go into Thursday without ever having a chance to hear from her what is best to do. But of course that won’t happen. These are good suggestions too, I just think hearing from the expert on this class will ease my mind a little. I didn’t expect to be this nervous actually. I was always edgy before the first day of school because you just never know what you’re going to get, but my nerves are more active this year, for sure. Thanks for the suggestions! They all make sense.
You know what I could see? Kids will be claiming learning challenges just to get into the fun, exciting class. Parochial schools are rarely dynamic, but your class will be.
You already received my comment, but just testing WP to see if it’s working.
It worked! Don’t know what happened earlier though.
Never seen a painter on stilts but it’s cool. You’re going to be fabulous in class.
Love the toeless socks and the picture of you in the empty room. Also the the guy on stilts. Fun fun your perspective!
Thanks! I abandoned the 365 long ago, though. Too hard to keep it up!