By Corinne Flax
September 06, 2006
No Blues on the First Day
A mad mosquito has invaded my apartment. I am currently sporting this bugger ’s handiwork: three bites on my face! Who bites on the face? It’s just not sporting. I don’t expect much out of blood sucking pests, but I’m still bitter about the fact that I look like I’ve got a tumor in my forehead. When I see people staring at me with a mix of pity and disgust I feel like walking up to them and saying in my best German accent “It’s not a tumor, it’s a reaction to some chemical in mosquito spit.” Sigh.
I’ve got my orientation at Bank Street today, which I’m actually looking forward to. Finally my museum classes are beginning, and I can more accurately describe to people what it is exactly that I’m studying. My advisor had recommended that those of us who have already started student teaching spend a half day in our classrooms and then come to school for the orientation. I am not doing that, although up until now my advisors advice has been really excellent.
Thanks to my advisor I was the only student teacher who showed up with her (there are five other students teachers at P.S. 51, all female), head teacher to set up the classroom. Therefore I met the staff before everyone else, bonded with my head teacher, and ended up looking extremely dedicated. I am actually fairly dedicated, but I’m no dope. I told my head teacher I’d only be able to stay a couple of hours today because I had to go to orientation she told me to not come in, and I listened. After all, dedicated or no there’s not much appeal in getting up at 6:30am. Of course I’ll probably be the only person who didn’t go to her placement today, oh well.
Yesterday was the first day of public school here in NYC, and it was really wonderful being in the classroom and being introduced as a teacher. I guess that’s what’s so strange right now. Firstly I don’t really work at P.S. 51 in the sense that I was not hired, nor do I get paid. Despite this fact, and despite the fact that I’ve only been there for a few days I feel completely at home. The staff all seem like they are characters I would have chosen to populate a school. There’s a passionate veteran first grade teacher who carries a guitar and chip on her shoulder against the administration, the wizened librarian who’s been with the school for 18 years and has 3 great-grandchildren, the nutty third grade teacher who walks everywhere and believes in the world changing power of positive thought.
Everyone seems hand picked not only for their abilities, but also for their appearance and personality traits. There’s the two willowy brunette kindergarten teachers (female), the jolly immensely overweight third grade teacher who’s smile makes your entire day brighten up, the classroom assistant who reminds me of something delicious in my grandmother’s kitchen. Am I exaggerating, well maybe a little. Seriously though, I am so excited and happy right now. Here’s how I see my part in the cast: I am the lovably eccentric student teacher learning the ropes from her tough-as-nails head teacher who takes no guff but who clearly has a heart of gold.
August 30, 2006
Currently Iím waiting for the head teacher to come and pick me up and take me to the Bronx. That being said I think that little analysis of the preceding sentence is necessary so that you (the reader), can understand completely what I meant by it. At this very moment in time (10:25am on an uncommonly cold August morning), I am waiting. I am waiting in my room in front of my computer, a place I havenít been for days because I was on vacation in various New England locales.
To continue my analysis, I am waiting for the head teacher. Who is this person you might be wondering? She is a second grade teacher whoís classroom I am going to be infiltrating this Fall as a Student Teacher. It turns out she lives mere blocks away from me, which is exciting. Will we car-pool to work together? That seems unlikely as I have no car to contribute to the pool. I had planned on taking the subway out there, but when I called her to tell her I was on my way she said, ďHold it! Iíll come pick you up.Ē Which is exciting for me, but also a little nerve racking because I am nervous about meeting this woman and teaching in her classroom.
The classroom is located in the Bronx, out by the second to last stop on the D train. It takes at least 30 minutes to get there from where I live in Harlem. I was planning on reading ďA Confederacy of DuncesĒ and that would certainly not have been a waste of time. I had meant to start and finish ďConfederacyĒ this past week but somehow I found little time for reading while I was away. I really thought there were going to be hours of time that I would need to fill by reading this charming book, but for better or worse I managed to fill up my time.
Vacations are strange things. You choose to leave knowing full well that you will come back. I think the purpose is to have a wonderful time and to stay away just long enough so that returning to your normal life feels like a privilege. Coming into your musty smelling home after and extended period away you are comforted by the sight of you familiar possessions. The water tastes the way it always does, the bed smells like you, and you can find everything in the bathroom with your eyes shut.
This last vacation I took was a doozy, and the strange thing is that instead of returning to my old familiar life Iím coming back to my new and (hopefully), improved life as a student teacher. Itís not as if Iím going to be exploring wild untamed wilderness with only a machete and a pair of hiking boots, but I am going to be doing something thatís new to me, and thatís exciting. So now all I have to do is wait for this woman to come and get me and then the newness is going to start. You know what they say: today is the first day of the rest of your life.
August 18, 2006
Bye Bye Bux
Tomorrow I work my last shift as a Starbucks employee. I am technically going on leave, not quitting, but the truth is that Iím just staying on because I can. Why quit when you can keep your stocks and stuff? After my shift Iím having my store over to my house to barbeque on the roof. One feature of this get together will be the large number of under-age guests. Itís a difficult thing for me. I drank when I was underage, I mean hello, I was in college when I was 17! You have to know I was taking shots on Thursday night! My biggest fear is that somehow the police will get called and I will get arrested, and then I wonít be able to be a public school teacher.
Also there is one 16 year old coming, which is really freaking me out. Sheís in high school, I could be teaching highschool right now! She says she doesnít drink but...
Iíve had the people I work with over before and I was nervous then, and Iím nervous now. The average age has gotten a tiny bit younger, and this makes me feel like the integrity of my furniture and possessions is threatened by youthful hijinks. But I love the people I work with. I love my coworkers, they are diverse in everything from their intellectual ideals, interests, ethnic backgrounds and life goals, all of which theyíve been kind enough to share with me over the last six months. Still though, Iím nervous about having them come over for a night of partying.
I have to admit Iím always nervous about stuff like that, but I keep right on throwing parties. So far nothing truly awful has happened; nobody has fallen down the stairs breaking bones, there has been no swan dive off the roof trying to jump onto the next building, the cops have not been called, and nothing has been set on fire. Still though, I canít help but worry that something could happen that would not only fatally change the mood of a party, but the entire course of a life, if not lives. Well, there is no telling whatís going to happen until it actually happens.
I hope I got the right amount of food. Weíre going to grill even though grills make me nervous, a strange quirk I picked up from my father. He has always hated grilling, although he acknowledges that grilling meat and vegetables lends them a uniquely appetizing flavor, and will therefore grill several times a summer. Every time he grills he complains, and somehow Iíve picked up his nervous feeling about that all American pass time. Plus I have never really grilled much myself because men always seem to want to do it, and as I pointed out I get nervous about it anyway. If only my friend Sonja was going to be here, sheís a grill master.
August 7, 2006
I Never Mention This But I Have A Cold
Sunday morning has dawned and gone, and now it is Sunday afternoon. For the first time in years I’ve managed to sleep past noon, what a blessing! Friends from college are still asleep in the living room and I have chosen these precious moments of silence as a time to write an overdue blog. School is out! T has found an awesome apartment in Sarajevo! I put in my notice at work and the days that remain are paltry, like autumn leafs that have been through the winter.
Wow that last line was silly, but that’s what comes of writing right after you wake up. I still feel fuzzed from sleep, and would gladly right back into my still warm bed, except there’s people in my living room who need to go back to Jersey, dishes that must be washed, clothing that must be sorted, and of course a job that must be gone to in a few hours.
Work has become an obstacle to relaxation and a relaxing experience where everyone is nice to me and tells me how much I will be missed. The paycheck is still coming in handy too. Tomorrow I start my summer readings for school, and also my summer project of visiting museums and assessing what I see. I ended up meeting two women (I just had to edit out the word girls, it’s hard to realize that a) people my age are adults and b) females my age are women), who work in museums as educators and they’ve invited me to come by any time and check out their tours. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that, because I really am beginning to wonder what museum education is all about.
Meanwhile on the children’s education front I’ve got my assigned classroom and I just have to wait for the fall clean up to meet my head teacher and see the space. Second graders are obscenely cute and I know there’s a lot of good times in my future. I try not to dwell on all the hard-work and early rising that lies in wait as well. Actually that’s a lie, I am counting on teaching to inspire and confound me. I want teaching to open doors in my mind that have previously been shut. There’s never been anything that inspired me, at least nothing that really paid me or was a culturally approved job, so I’ve really set my hopes on teaching as being able to move me out of the complacent shell I’ve built around my life.
Speaking of complacent shells I’ve got to go shake my friends out of there’s in a minute and remind them they’ve gotta drive all the way to DC today after they get their car out of the lot in Newark NJ. I don’t know if anyone else’s friends call 24 hours before showing up, but I like that about my friends, they’re unpredictable, spontaneous, and they don’t care if all you’ve got to offer them is a futon and a couple of hours after you get out of work. Luckily I had a little bit more time than that, and the futon has pillows! It’s amazing how being around them instantly changes my view of this city. I tried to imagine them seeing me here and I can tell that they think I fit. That feels great.
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