OH MY GOD! IT IS DONE! And I am still alive. Have some GIFs.

My edTPA, that is.  What is the edTPA? Oh, just something I had to do to complete my secondary student teaching experience so I can get a license to teach secondary grades.  Yes.  It’s boring.  Who cares what it is?  I finished the dang thing tonight so:

And the whole time I was working on it (um, several months) I kept thinking, “This is terrible and I am clearly doing a terrible job and am a terrible teacher,” except I have a boss card from the students I just finished teaching (weep a little weep) that tells me OTHERWISE.  Having to explain why I am awesome in writing, however, is the worst.  THE WORST.  I feel like my whole edTPA sounds like this:

I mean, I am sure I  sound fine in it, but there’s a certain way of speaking that things like that require.  A sort of bureaucratic teacher-speak that I have never been adept at mastering.  Thing is, I know I am a good teacher.  Hell, I know I am a great teacher.  I love it, and I can’t wait to get back into a high school.  The younger kids, they’re fine and all — I’m back with them now and they are as sweet and funny as before — but man, working with teenagers?  So great.  I can’t even begin to explain it.  That said, to then have to put into writing WHY my methods are awesome and have it sound… in tune with the expected language?

UGH.  Can’t I just be awesome and not have to explain why?  Or explain it in my own words?

But hey.  It doesn’t really count this year as anything other than a thing to brag about if you do well.  I mean, otherwise…

I kid.  I cared enough that it was something I put a buttload of effort into at the expense of other areas of my life — for example, blogging — and its completion gives me a sense of pride in having completed this step.  Oh, I’ll be back at it in two days time, preparing for the NEXT step, but for today — rather, for tomorrow after work?  I’m taking the night off.  I am watching all the Thursday  Night shows I skipped so I could finish this well ahead of the deadline.  I am getting a slice of cake from Keys.



works well with others

I can’t say how, exactly, I became the one chosen to acquire the goods.  Perhaps it’s because as the teaching candidate, I am young, energetic, and eager to get a good recommendation.  Perhaps it’s also because I am the only woman in this prep — but this is not to say that this mission was inherently sexist.  It just meant that me being female, in this instance, made it more likely that I could pilfer the necessary material.

At any rate, while the kids were preparing their skits, my co-teachers sent me on an exploratory mission.  I didn’t want to fail because, ultimately, this was for the teens.  In a month, I’ll be back at my job and missing these teens dearly.

“They really got a kick out of this activity last year,” one of my co-teachers had said when we talked about doing this activity.  “They got really creative with the costumes they made.  I should have taken pictures.”

I walked to the hallway where what I needed was located — casually making one cycle around.  I observed the teens lining the hallway, some giving each other orders in clipped, militaristic tones.  I walked back to my room.

“There’s a problem,” I said to my co-teachers. “The JROTC kids are using that hall right now.”

One of them rifled through his belongings and handed me a reusable shopping bag he had on him.  “Here, use this.”

I returned the hallway with the bag slung over my shoulder and my keys in my right hand.  I sidled past the JROTC students, who barely registered my presence, sifted through  my keychain for the correct key, and opened the door.

When I returned, I tossed the bag down. “I got four big ones!” I said triumphantly.

“Perfect!” my co-teachers said, looking in the bag at the four large rolls of toilet paper I’d taken from the women’s employee bathroom.  “We never have this much in the men’s room.”

“Do you think it will be enough?”

“Oh, yeah.  I think they’ll make some pretty interesting costumes from this.”

A few minutes later, one of them said, “I was going to mention this to you — I’m about to get started on writing your letter of recommendation.”

“Will you be mentioning the fact that I just stole several rolls of toilet paper?”

“Maybe not directly, but I’ll probably acknowledge that you are willing to go the distance.”

my cat sat on your homework.


Under this cat is a pile of grading.


Grading all those papers would have been a lot easier if I didn’t have to keep lifting this cat off the papers.  Hermes, too, although he runs before I get the camera.  His interest is in trying to steal the papers and hide them from me, because that’s the kind of thing that dbag does.

Friday just wants to sit on the student work.  Incidentally, moments after I threw down a heavily-plagiarized paper in disgust, she sat upon it and looked up at me.  If she had decided to pee on it, I can’t say I would have stopped her.  But that’s not her game.  She just sits on it.

Sit away, kitten.  Show your disdain for plagiarism by shedding all over it.

This post brought to you by eight hours of grading.

Everything You Believe Is Wrong!

At a recent meeting with my colleagues, we were discussing one of my colleagues “baby-watch 2013.”  His wife’s due date was fast approaching. He was anxious because the next day was her last day of work, and he was concerned that she would go into labor before her maternity leave started.

“I wouldn’t worry,” said one colleague, who has three kids.  “Her body will know when she’s ready.  My last days of work were tough, yeah, but my body kept it together until my last Friday.  And then on Sunday, bam.  Baby.”  She paused and reflected for a second.  “It’s like when you have to take a poop.  You can pretty much hold it in until you get home, but when you get to your own bathroom, your body is like, I’m ready.”

The rest of the group – largely male – stared back blankly at her.  Finally, the expectant father said, “Did you just say giving birth was like pooping?”

She nodded.  “Giving birth is exactly like pooping.”

Our male colleagues looked at me questioningly.  I shrugged.  “She’s the expert.”

Why did I start this post with a conversation?  Well, one, it’s about pooping, and I can’t resist a good poop discussion. Also, this was my most recent experience wherein I was involved in a bit of parenting advice being passed from one parent to a future parent.  These conversations happen all the time.  You probably couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a group of people sharing parenting stories and advice, but you will have to explain to them why you killed a cat and threw it at them.  The point is, Child Rearing and Ways of Accomplishing It is a topic of conversation among adults, and sometimes it is innocuous and fun (and compares childbirth to pooping).  Sometimes, though, it is an incredibly loaded topic, rife with cultural and socioeconomic implications that could be explored in a thousand dissertation-length blog posts.  It is a topic that people feel very strongly about, because it is so tied up with our image of ourselves that we sometimes take it personally when someone disagrees with our methods.  Don’t believe me?  Go to a parenting forum and write a post about feeding your baby formula.  You will be told to Die In A Fire in less than 30 seconds.  Parenting and how it is done can be a controversial topic.

This was news to Matt Walsh.

Continue reading

teaching compassion

I am honestly struggling with something when I teach, and that is how to broach serious subjects with sensitivity.  And how to do so to convey the importance of compassion and respect for all.

I had an incident today where a group of boys were laughing — LAUGHING — at a scene in film class where a girl was hit by her boyfriend.  In the movie, it was played seriously, and well (her brother witnessing the event and her binding him to secrecy).  And they laughed, and made crass jokes.

And I didn’t know how to separate my anger from my teaching at the moment, and I merely told them what they were doing was inappropriate and to knock it off which, after a while, they did.

But I want to do better, really.  I want to explain that, of the books we read and the movies we watch, we don’t know what in those books might affect those around us, and that whatever our reaction might be in private, part of being a human is having compassion for people we don’t know very well who might react differently.

I feel I am saying this poorly.  But it is an issue with me.   How do I talk about this?

socializing, and who needs it?


Typical scene upon returning to my desk after a bathroom or drink break.

I’ve come to think, since becoming a cat owner, that cats are highly misunderstood when they are categorized as antisocial animals.  From what I’ve observed, cats are extremely social – but what differentiates them from dogs is that they are social entirely on their own terms.  Friday, for instance, likes being around all people, but only to observe them.  With few exceptions, she does not like to be touched, or held, or petted, or condescended to as a pet.

Hermes, on the other hand, is extremely affectionate, but only with those whose actions he can predict.  Children – small, fast, and unpredictable beings – terrify him.


He does like sitting on things and making them smell like him, though.

For the most part, though, these two like being where people are – as evidenced by this series of pictures I call “Feline Work Interference.”  They like being around each other, and they like being around me.


Even working from my bed, like I have been today, I am not allowed to be without feline distraction

I have sympathy for cats, because I have sympathy for fellow extroverted-introverts like myself.

My last class of the day is great.  It’s a large group, and they are chatty.  There is always a low hum of energy as a baseline in that group, and when it ends, I come out of it feeling high, accomplished, inspired.  It doesn’t matter if other classes didn’t go as well that day, that one goes well and my day feels like a victory.

Then I go home and I collapse for about half-an- hour each day, not speaking to anyone.  I need that, too.

I don’t know where, exactly, I fit in on the extrovert-introvert spectrum.  I can draw energy from people around me, but I also need serious alone-time.  I like work – I like that I am around people all day, that I am joking around with colleagues all day, that I am surrounded by kids who ask questions and make comments all day.  It would be hell for me to work where I am hardly able to speak to another human all day – whatever job that may be.  I imagine it involves a cubicle, a coffee cup with a wry comment about Chocolate, and an 8×11 xerox sheet full of Cathy cartoons.  That would be my hell.

But when I come home, I like being alone.  I like that I don’t have to talk anymore, that I can choose to have the TV on or off, or the radio on or off, that I am only responsible for feeding the cats and, eventually, myself.  Even when I had roommates, I generally needed “chill-out” time alone in my room at the end of the day before I could comprehend possibly carrying on a conversation with another.  Even back at Fort Awesome, before we threw our parties, Anna commented that I would generally disappear for half an hour in my room before the action started.  Usually, I was using that time to just be quiet and watch an episode of Daria on my laptop, or something like that.   But when people came,  I was totally social.

STILL.  I can go two days without needing to say another word out loud to another human.  I have weekends like this one to back that up.  And maybe this weekend had extenuating circumstances — I have a chest cold and I am trying to save my voice because boy howdy do I talk a lot at work — but I feel comfortable not having said a word, none-the-less.

I suppose this all makes me an introvert, but I hate the idea of that pinning me down as seeming like someone who doesn’t like people.  Because I do like people.  I just like them on my own terms.

Maybe cats and I are just a egomaniacs who like being the center of attention and like having things our way.  This is another theory.  Perhaps it is the correct one.

overheard as the teens discussed poetry

“No, the animal is her HUSBAND.  It’s, like, a metaphor.”
“How do we know it’s a metaphor and not an actual animal?”
“Because she talks about burying it.”
“So?  It could still be about hunting an animal.”
“Why would you HUNT an animal just so you could bury it?”
“Because SCIENCE.”

“But why does he describe the horse-droppings like gold?  Like, horse droppings are poop.  Right?  This is poop he’s talking about.  Droppings means poop.”
“He says their last years droppings, though?  So maybe over time, horse poop gets shiny?”
*thoughtful silence*
“Or turns yellow, or something.”