Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Time slips away and leaves you with nothing

Today I had lunch with old pal Muffin (of this post, 4th paragraph).  She's had a bit of tsuris this year, mostly in the form of breast cancer.  She got a double mastectomy and is getting some replacement boobs put in.  She jokes about going bigger, having been all her life the width of a clothes line and nothing in the chestal regions.  I subscribe to the philosophy that any more than a handful is a waste.  Hopefully, the cancer's been fully excised and she'd well recovered.  For a while there she was looking pretty skeletal.

As we were walking across the street from the diner to where her car was getting its mandated state inspection ("Texas: because it shouldn't be easy for poor people to drive"), I stepped down from the curb where it slanted into a gutter and my ankle kind of went out from under me and I fell.  I didn't just stumble, I went all the way down to the concrete.  I scraped my hand and knee and was otherwise fine, but man!  Falling down for no particular reason, that's the province of the under-six and over-sixty crowd!  I'm not such a spring chicken any more, and let's face it, I was never particularly robust even in my prime.

After lunch, I met up with Palfrey, the Friar's wife, who is also a teacher, and a co-worker of hers, for a coffee (I had juice, being a non-coffee drinker all my life) and then we all three went to the teacher's store.  They were there to buy rule posters and bulletin boards and cute stuff like that that teachers typically get.  Prestigius, though, generally doesn't allow teachers to decorate their rooms on the principle that things on the walls should reflect a student-centered approach.  Officially, the only things on the walls should be kid-made, but in the higher grades, the teachers tend to put up signs, like steps to editing and revising a paper, anyway.  However, even these tend to be simple print jobs and not the kind of pastel-colored cutesy stuff that is sold in stores.

I was at the teacher's store to buy pencils bearing the legend "I'm a Super Third Grader."  Why?  Because, after five years teaching kindergarten at Prestigius and many years in Early Childhood before that, I am starting as the third grade language arts teacher in August.  Hooray!  And gulp!  Because --- no reason for false modesty --- back in the kinder room I was a superstar, adored by the little kids (though I am feared by infants), consistently and strongly requested by incoming parents, praised by former parents, and well-liked by the solid, friendly K team as well as admin.  It's true that planning was never my strong suit, to say the least, but I've always been a natural pre-K and K teacher.  I followed a loose plan or I went through a whole week by deciding what to do on the spot hour by hour.  I just did whatever felt right and obvious, and it worked.  And over the years a gathered a bit of knowledge --- not much, but enough to get by --- about how five- to six-year-olds develop math, reading, and writing skills.

Third grade is not like Early Childhood.  There's a standardized test kids which need to not just pass but do very well on (it's Prestigius; there are certain expectations).  I know almost nothing about how third graders process text or what their vocabulary level ought to be or what kids of words they typically can or can't spell.  I also won't be self-contained, so I can't really wing it the way I'm used to.  So this could be either New and Exciting, or a Slow Crash and Burn.  Well, no reason it can't be both, I suppose. 

I'm doing this for a variety of reasons.  One, I was getting bored.  I was great at Kinder and I loved it, but sometimes it felt like going through the motions.  That's not good; teachers should not be bored at work. I needed a new challenge; I wanted to extend my horizons and be surprised professionally again.  (Not that K kids didn't surprise me, but I don't mean that way.)  And our (now ex-)admissions director, Max, told me that if I ever left Prestigius, I'd have a lot stronger resume if it had a bit more variety to show that I could adapt to whatever a new employer might need.

By the way, this is turning into a very long post, so I won't go into it here, but the process of me becoming a third grade teacher was such a convoluted and aggravating journey it deserves a post of its own someday, perhaps.  It involves, as so many aggravating things do, inconsistent policies and preferential treatment of certain employees by admin.

Anyway.  More on the job later.  After that outing, I putzed around until late evening when I met the Friar at the Hangout.  Plus ça change...  He's trying to get a music festival going and he was supposed to meet some twenty-something billionaire backers through our friend Pureneck (a woman who works in PR for local companies), but they didn't show up.  So we sat around drinking and playing video games.  Because accomplishment makes our stomachs hurt.

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