Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The calm before the storm

Tomorrow we go back to work, the students don't actually show up until Tuesday after we have one last relaxing three day weekend. As a student and now a teacher, each year as the end of summer arrives I get the itch. I've always gotten the itch: the excitement about starting a new year, picking out a new and fabulous back to school outfit, connecting with old friends, making new ones. It doesn't change when you're on the other side of the desk. This year however I feel more anxiety than excitement about my return to school. I still feel thrilled about seeing the kids on Tuesday (maybe thrilled was too strong a word), the anxiety comes from facing the adults I share the building with tomorrow. In the two years I've been at my school, I have become aware of the insane amount of politics surrounding education, NYC Department of Education, and my school in general. The past year was a tough one for the senior teachers at my school and the end of the year was not as light-hearted and hopeful as in years past. Each time I meet up for coffee or dinner with co-workers I hear about another one of us leaving, moving on to a different school, taking a promotion to be an Assistant Principal or Principal somewhere else. Today I found out that three key players are leaving.

My school is located in a rough neighborhood in New York City. The kids however come from all five boroughs, some travel as much as two hours each way on public transportation. The school is considered a good school by city standards, and is, we do well with what we have. The students tend to be very bright, making my job one of the easier city teaching positions.

I know why I went into teaching and while the dream of "making a difference in the lives of young people" seems more and more idealistic each day, it is still my dream, as silly as that is. I guess I am wondering when the politics starts to outweigh "doing it for the kids". Maybe I should enjoy this temporary period of blissful teaching while I still can.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Goals for this school year:

I don't really care about New Year's Resolutions mainly because my year begins in September, and come January 1st there's not a whole lot on my mind that I want to re-vamp and change. I am lucky enough to have the summer to recharge and renew, so all of that normally takes place then. Some goals I do have for my classroom this year include:

1. A field trip-- I have never been on one, and I think NYC students are underserved in this area. Some ideas I am throwing around are dance performances, an art museum visit...

2. A skype conference with another country, I can't imagine anything cooler than that!

3. A green classroom-- I am always shocked by the amount of waste my classes produce. My goal this year is to produce less, and find a way to recycle what we do make.

4. Work hard with my special ed. students. Each year there is a large number of special ed students failing foreign language classes, I need to continue working hard to make the material and exams more accessible for everyone.

Something interesting to try in school

I am on a foreign language teaching listserve and this morning read a message about a Spanish classroom in New York having a Skype conference with a classroom in Venezuela. This is something I would love to do with my 9th graders!

There is a blog post with a link to a video showing the kids talking. Very Cute!

http://miscositasblog.blogspot.com/2008/05/skyping-with-caracas.html

Sunday, August 24, 2008

An excellent resource for teachers!

I just found out about a really cool website designed for teachers in need of classroom materials. The way the site works is a teacher will post a proposal on the site, and “donors” searching the site can give tax-deductible donations as little as $1 to the proposals of their choice. Proposals can really be anything, from pencils to a classroom computer. The main requirement is that the items requested directly benefit the students.

I have posted two proposals:

http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=201316

http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=201544

The first propoosal is requesting help getting arts and crafts supplies so my students can work on a Picasso inspired art project. The second proposal is requesting a document camera, so we can read comics, childrens books, and other stories in Spanish without having to make low quality black and white copies to do so.

Personally, I am so excited a site like this exists for teachers. As it gets closer to September and I am shopping back to school supply sales I am reminded again of how quickly the small things add up and how unattainable some of the big things seem.

So, why am I posting this here for all of you to see? Well, maybe you were, are, know, or will be a teacher and could benefit from this site yourself. Or, maybe maybe you feel like helping out someone with a lot of good ideas, but not a lot of funds.

Hola y Bienvenidos

Hello and welcome to my blog! This is my first entry, a week before I go back to work to start my second year as a NYC Spanish teacher. With this blog I hope to better document my own experiences as a teacher, share Spanish, education, and NYC resources with interested people, and make public the craziness involved in living, learning, and teaching in New York.