Tag: locked in a classroom for days and days


Two more days

3
April

and I am barely holding it together, school-wise. I did finish boiling the eggs for tomorrow–all four dozen of them.

Kindergarten conversations:


Child, as I read a story aloud:
Times New Roman!
Me, pausing: Font? Maybe. But check our homework. I use Comic Sans on that.

Same child from behind me as I print out a page for another student: So. Is this for commercial use only?
Me: Uh… well, if I decided to sell it, I suppose.

Same child: So, what’s your password?
Me: I am not telling you my password!
Same child: But why not?
Me: It’s supposed to be a secret!

(Man, I don’t envy that one’s parents.)

New child: So, is medium a math word?
Me: The way we’re using it now–talking about what materials an illustrator used to make his or her pictures–means it’s an art word.

Another child: 135’s a palindrome!
Yet another child, indignant: Is not! You can’t read it backwards.

This year’s class is keeping me on my toes.

Monday, the Posse managed to kick sense into the latest scene/mini chapter and the chapter that leads up to it. Yay for two very smart writer friends! Don’t know how I’d get this novel finished without them.

Yet to come: more practice on the music for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But that’s going to wait until tomorrow–

My bed is singing its siren song.

Comments Off on Two more days | the stories I could tell

What do you mean it’s not vacation yet?

24
March

It has been a week.

(Okay, it’s been longer, but I’m serious. It’s been a WEEK.)

It started off well enough: a concert on Tuesday to see Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin. AMAZING. The first half was all variants of love songs, and their joy at singing together evident. My favorite piece came right before the intermission–“April in Fairbanks” choreographed on wheeled office chairs. I adored the silliness of dancing while seated, and Patti careening backstage with a scream when Mandy let go. Watch it, although the quality is not what I would have desired.

The second half began with solos from Evita and ended with Sondheim. I love Sondheim and have since I first saw Side by Side by Sondheim in the city years and years ago. (I think that small show was pre-children, so waaaaaaaaaaay long ago.)

Dinner with Jenn and her friend pre-show was super. Chatting with Rachel and Mike in the crowds during the intermission just as wonderful. (Yes, it was writers who adore Broadway. Should anything wonderful come along again, we meeting up again.) Hair is on the line up for next season, so I think I will have to break down and cough up money for tickets.

But after Tuesday, it all went downhill. School is assessment, assessment, assessment, and while I managed to squeeze in the kids’ four-page typed stories, it was not easy. Spring has hit, and the number of kids who cannot close their mouths has risen. In addition, we’ve added leprechaun chase to the playground games, which only means tears on someone’s part. Either they’re not the leprechaun or they are the leprechaun or someone falls on the asphalt and skins a knee.

Two more weeks before I’m on Easter break.

There’s stress barreling down on teachers, too. Class-size reduction was voted out by the school board so they could pink-slip 25+ teachers. We’re adding a transitional K class at our site, and it’s uncertain who is going to teach it. But NOT ME. By gum, seniority should count for something. I’ve been quite outspoken as to how I don’t want to do it, my partner teacher the same, and the third teacher is more or less willing. The fourth teacher, sadly, got a pink slip. And we’re going to have about thirty kids apiece next year–whether or not we’re teaching T-K.

I’m all for making parent help mandatory and will campaign heavily to acquire volunteers.

By last night, I was wiped and gave up and went to bed a little after 8P. Which means I woke up at 11:30, again at 1:30 when I couldn’t fall right back to sleep, but finally did around 3A.

Harley whined me awake at 7A.

The Daughter is having a birthday party today. She hasn’t settled on the menu yet, but I think we’re cooking. It won’t be at the house, but at the park. Unless it rains. Which means I should clean the house–just in case.

Tomorrow is nothing. I’m calling in dead and reading all day. I finished Discount Armageddon, went back to my Ann Aguirre series, and might get Killbox finished before Leah’s book Above arrives. Amazon is sending it early–with a note that it was being released earlier. I’ve got Deb’s Wide Open waiting for me, too.

When work sucks, I really do need a rich fantasy life. Thank god for damn fine writers.

Comments Off on What do you mean it’s not vacation yet? | book recommendations, school

Ups and downs. Or downs and ups. Whatevers.

13
March

School is wearing me out. Today? The trimester math test for everyone. Each individually tested and while things went okay, I skipped two of the questions on graphs. I’ll do them, but I’m buying myself another day or two of time. Because WHOA.

Second graders might be able to do that horrible, horrible one, but I doubt it. The second you start giving four conflicting choices, two about having pets vs. two about liking pets, we’re done. The brightest child I have (reads on a second grade level, can tell you the opposite of transparent is opaque and spell them both correctly, I could go on and on) was confused by the choices. And he could read the damn things.

Good thing we are trying this out and get to give feedback. I have an earful planned.

The books we were writing this week? So not happening until I get control of these math assessments.

I scored a copy of Seanan McGuire’s latest book, Discount Armaggeddon, this afternoon and am now trying to convince myself to finish the book I started two days ago first.

Yeah, that’s so not going to work.

I have two friends’ books on order, and it would be three, but Leah’s book doesn’t come out here until next month. It’s enough to make me want to move to Canada. Athough I must say, I really appreciate my friends writing books for me. Don’t know what I would do for reading material if I didn’t have you all. I can’t wait to get Deb’s Wide Open. I’ve been waiting for it since I heard her reading at World Fantasy. Jodi’s Incarnate is winging its way to me in the same box as Deb’s. YAY!

In other news, Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin’s concert is Tuesday. I can’t wait. Rachel and Jenn both bought tickets the same night. What’s just as wonderful as writers who write books for you? Writers who love musical theater as much as you do.

Writing? Hell, no. I can’t even drag myself out of bed before 6A–even Harley’s sleeping in. Damn daylight savings time.

Comments Off on Ups and downs. Or downs and ups. Whatevers. | this and that

Woe is me

22
October

I wish school was all about the teaching–that’s my favorite part.

But no. It’s mostly about assessment (read a three-paragraph story to each kinder individually and ask them to predict what will happen at four different points*), pacing guides for language arts (and when that’s done, there will be pacing guides for math) and then the transition from quadruplicate paper report cards to the online versions. Oh, and the dragging of the reluctant and fearful into the modern age.

I didn’t get home yesterday until 6P. Again.

Even then, I couldn’t let school go. I stayed up until 10P working on new Halloween-themed activities for my class. I’m not going to be there Thursday and Friday (San Diego! WFC! All my peeps I haven’t seen in a year!), but they’ll be working on some of it for the sub ANYWAY.

One spider book. Check.
Two counting worksheets. Check.
Two pattern worksheets. Check.

If I had time and energy, I would package this stuff up and sell it. However, that would be a no on the prerequisite.

The only writing-related thing I’ve accomplished this week is Jenn’s haiku your novel challenge. (And a tiny bit of short story fixiness on Monday. That’s a long gap, you know?)

Tattoos

Sharing a head-space
Makes for rude awakening
Peace and war collide

I’m going to have to change my gym days, because by Thursdays and Fridays I’m wiped out. I’m going with a M/W/Sa and hoping like heck I don’t lose momentum. It’s also complicated by a meeting on Monday. Maybe I’ll get home before 5P, though. Maybe.

In other news, the house exploded this week (apparently. I wasn’t here to see. I think it was the Mayan pork that I had nothing to do with.) and in addition to getting that fixed, I am packing. Because WFC! WOO!

*My favorite assessment story:

Me to small child: What sound do you hear at the beginning of dog?
Small child: Woof!!

Comments Off on Woe is me | this and that

A day in kindergarten

29
September

Start groups. Tell group to draw a box under each squirrel. Repeat for the two children who weren’t paying attention. Repeat for the child who doesn’t understand still. Explain how to draw a train of five cubes. Explain how to draw a train of five cubes. Explain how to draw a train of five cubes. Make a five. Make another five. Hold child’s hand to make a five. Time out children who are poking each other with a broom handle and a magic wand.

Line kids by door for computer lab. Ignore cries of children who did not finish pumpkin craft and are traumatized.

Test two kids on sight words. Finish language arts test for five additional kids. Set up next class on computers. Return to classroom. Switch groups. Explain how to draw a train of five cubes. Explain how to draw a train of five cubes. Switch groups. Praise dog I am not stapling little flip books as I explain.

Explain how to–Who is doing all that talking at blue table?

Have children repeat the mantra: First we work, then we talk and play.

Finish explaining how to draw a train of five cubes.

Switch.

Halfway explain how to draw a train of five cubes before the group has completed drawing it. Laugh with the child who did not draw boxes under each squirrel because he drew a cube instead. First kindergartener ever to draw a three-dimensional representation of a cube. Make a mental note that the kid is obviously GATE (if I didn’t already know that because the kid reads on a second grade level) and I need to notate that at the end of the year.

Clean up. Outside for snack and playtime. Open snack. Open snack. Open snack. Tie a shoe. Open snack. Open drink. Bench two children for leaping off the jungle gym. Release them from their torture. Line up for small groups.

Teach eight kids letters. Intensively. This involves R being a pirate (Arrrrr. D’oh.)
and P being a peg-leg pirate whose name is P (not Pete) and making the letter C with one hand and cupping it around one eye to say I see you! and U (not me, but U!!) and M has two mountains, and B is a bumblebee and adding the details to B to prove it, and reminding myself that tomorrow D gets a big belly button for his fat tummy.

Send kids back to class and get my own kids back.

Sing orange song. Sing number songs. Fill out orange chart. Review rhyming words. Run through Zoophonics animals. Read a book that a kid brought to share. Remember that I didn’t check out books. Check out library books. Everyone packs up. Give behavior stickers out to one student. Give a single behavior sticker to another who went to the other teacher with crying or struggling.

Walk class out, holding hand of latter child and passing child over to uncle. Speak to one parent briefly. Speak to another parent at length.

Eat lunch.

Meeting one. Meeting two. Meeting three.

It’s now 3:30. Set up groups for tomorrow. Remember I am actually going to have class paint pumpkins. Curse. Set up paints anyway. Make folders for each of my meetings and paperwork ensuing from each. Answer an email, fill out the form for my evaluation next week. Add tests to grade book. Realize it’s 4:45 and I don’t have time to make up the RtI groups I need for Monday until tomorrow.

Head home. Argue with myself as to whether or not the dog really needs food. Stop at the store.

I am not writing tonight or cleaning anything. Instead I’ve drained a margarita and I’m contemplating bed.

Please, dear dog, let tomorrow be an easier day.

Comments Off on A day in kindergarten | school

22
September

My fall break may be only three weeks away, but it feels as far as the moon.

The Essential Standards committee I’m on split itself into three parts: a sub-committee for report cards, one for pacing guides to our language arts curriculum, and a third I don’t remember. Most people got one committee.

I got two. (This is where seniority and experience stabs you to the heart.)

The good news is that I’m working with reasonable people that I like. The bad news is that there will be triple the meetings. Frex, this week’s meetings were Tuesday (for which I needed sub plans) and tomorrow after school. Monday I have another, with a repeat on Friday.

We won’t mention any of the classroom issues. Let’s just say that all the hoops I have to leap through got raised a couple of feet.

If I weren’t so exhausted, I’d be drinking. I may play multiple bouts of solitaire instead.

I haven’t worked on the novel since Sunday morning, but I’m in the process of tweaking one short I’m sending off to another market; I’ve given up on ever hearing from the market where it’s currently residing. I figure I’ll wait until I hit a nice even number like 500 (days out, and that’s not a typo).

Mostly I’m snappish, lacking patience for anyone older than six (and even then that’s iffy) and praying fervently that my precious copy of The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Yay, Rae!) soothes the cranky beast within.

Comments Off on | school

Intellectually,

29
April

I know it wasn’t the longest week ever.

I just squeezed a lot more into it. That’s all. With no music to distract me, I’ve managed to accomplish 2/3 of Mother’s Day, 1/10 of Open House, 1/3 of the zoo field trip, 4/5 of the author’s faire books, some testing (one down, eight to go) and a bit of sporadic records for the end of the year.

In no way am I done, approaching doneness, or even within twenty miles of the goal.

My favorite activity has been their books. First page, character. Second, setting. Third, problem. Fourth, resolution.

The kinders have come through again with their sad endings. It was about a 50/50 split, with the vast majority of sad tales rated as tragedies. We had death by shark in a flooded house, death by drowning (She drowned and she died. The End.) and death by alligator. On the beach. (Warning: Do not stand and scream at the alligator. Run. Run far away. Screaming only makes them hungrier.)

I only had one princess story this year, (Princess wanted cake. Daddy did not. Dad sent her to her room forever when the Princess started to cry. The End.) one house on fire, one broken leg, and one tumble into quicksand (but the protag in that one rescued herself by pulling herself up on a handy rock.) and one encounter with a scary spider in a scary mask. (Spider meet shoe. Shoe meet spider. WHAP. The End. This from the child who refuses to enter the bathroom if a spider is lurking in any corner. She checks the ceilings, too.)

SO MUCH FUN. (Well, when I’m not freaking out that I won’t finish everything. I cross out stuff, but the list never gets shorter because I think of new things to add.)

Ah, well. I am soothing myself with new music. I discovered the Carolina Chocolate Drops a week or so ago, and Rhiannon Giddens has such a pure voice–I’m caught every time I hear something of hers. Listen. (She actually sings at 1:00)

I’m late to the party with Ludovico Einaudi (and thanks to Jodi’s tweet that sent me searching him out. Go YouTube. What did I ever do before you?)

My favorite this week? This video by Norah Jones.

And while I like the song a lot, and Norah Jones’ voice–it’s really the video I adore from the very beginning. Who wouldn’t want to chase pirates if you can sword fight on a ship in a bottle? And let’s not forget raising sails mid-city and sailing down the street.

With the entire building.

Such a cool premise and so beautifully done.

Comments Off on Intellectually, | my favorite things

8
March

Report cards have reared their heads and I’m in the middle of testing, testing, testing. It’ll be all over by Friday, but right now? Ick.

It certainly didn’t help that I wasn’t at school last week–it’s compressed everything down into a small amount of time. I’m extraordinarily lucky that no one was out today.

I really, really hope it continues.

I opened the rewrite files and read the last six scenes I’d written back in October or so. I read them.

I mean I read them as if I were reading a book and not my prose, and then I realized that if it were a book, I’d keep reading.

Of course, that would mean I’d have to finish this rewrite, wouldn’t I? But the idea of having this turn into a book that would draw you in and make you keep reading? Wow.
And weird.

It almost makes me want to write until the very end. (Yeah, that’s only another 250 pages or so. :P)

Comments Off on | novel, school

Down, but not out

4
February

I was ready to drop after today. I had no chance to sit down because there was just too much to do on the 100th day of school.

But I managed to get through everything.

And then I came home and had a nap. Because even if you’re not 100 years old, the 100th day kind of chews you up and spits you out. I think it’s the sugar high from just smelling the Fruit Loops and the powdered doughnuts.

An hour and forty-five minutes later, Harley started barking. I dragged myself out of bed after five minutes, because seriously? Who could sleep with that racket? Luckily I was up in time to write with Amber (not that Amber was necessarily writing, but being accountable? ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.) and accomplished far more than I would have thought I could.

Almost four pages, and although I’ve cut two and half pages so far in this section, it’s still not tight enough and will need another pass.

Yeah, not going to happen tonight because I’m headed back to bed to rest up. Lots to do tomorrow and a David Garrett concert in LA tomorrow night, which I’m excited about.

Also, the cute comment of the day from one of my kinders, regarding the fact that I tricked them with the 100 doughnuts (which are not actually 100, but 2.5 with the half standing on the cut edges to make a number 1 and the whole doughnuts as the 0’s):

“It’s okay, Mrs. Sisolak. This way we won’t get diabetes.”

Can’t argue with that at all. (Not that I can argue with much this child says. He’s very pragmatic and reminds me of the Middle Child at this age.)

Comments Off on Down, but not out | school, writing

One step forward, half step back

3
February

Survived Chinese New Year. And it was a pretty good day overall–no wind to rile the kids up. Such a difference from the day before.

The fact that it’s early dismissal had nothing to do with.

Much. :P

Put my butt in the chair for thirty minutes or so and managed to rewrite the three sentences that had been bugging me. I’m still not certain if I’ll keep this section–it introduces Bashak’s POV, his annoying soul, and his relationship with Kalim. But does anything happen?

That would be a bit not so much. Which means I have to make something happen if I want this scene to earn its place. If not….

Well. There’s always the axe. It worked so well for me in the opening scene, too.

I’ll make that decision this weekend. And then it’ll be a jump forward to where I left off. I’m sliding lesser characters around or combining them, which is something I never thought I’d be able to do. But look, here I am. Silas was originally the bad guy, but Bashak needs to report to someone–and there’s nothing better than reporting to a guy who isn’t actually a healer and doesn’t get what your job entails, and if he’s the bad guy on the side who’s making your life miserable in other ways?

Well, then. Noooooooooo problem.

I have yet to warm up. It’s 68 in the house, we’re in freaking SoCal, and I’m wearing my coat with the hood up. I’d probably be in my snowsuit if I lived some place with a real winter and not here in SoCal, although the temps will be in the high 30’s tonight. So I’m calling it a night and crawling into bed.

School hits early tomorrow, and as I recall, all my prep is not finished. There was this little issue of not having card stock for the 100 hats, but a quick stop solved that. Except for the part where I do the actual photocopying. Like tomorrow morning. And I have a few needles left to thread….

Man, I really hope my brain shuts off when I hit my pillow.

Comments Off on One step forward, half step back | this and that, writing

Back to top