29 June 2007 

Vinyasa Yoga

Last night I checked out a beginner's hot vinyasa class at a studio that overlooks the harbor. Sweat dripped, and it felt good to be alone, searching for peacefulness. The last week has been nurturing. I hit a trail that engulfed me in streams and trees, hit the gym at 5:45ish each morning, and tested out a new yoga studio. Each morning I've been relaxing at different coffee digs working on Hopkins, exploring the internet, n'such. It's just been so nice that I turned down the Starbuck's job and am opting to rely only on my summer orientation teaching for money for the sake of quiet.
I'm heading to Boston next weekend to see a good friend and another is coming to stay with me for the following weekend. I miss both of these ladies, and it'll be wonderful to see them.

What I don't get is why I'm sleeping so poorly. I go to bed exhausted, wake up really earlier, any caffeine in my system should be processed and out by sleeping time...

21 June 2007 

I'm in it for the kids.

My principal called me last night and talked to me for over half an hour. "I'm in it for the kids," she continually blurted. Yeah, awesome, me too, stop. It's almost felt like a cover, all too convenient. But I guess I think being in it for the kids is shown through actions and not having to blatantly state it to a teacher who often puts in 90 hour weeks.

I left a pleading letter with her on my last day of work, and it basically took her through why I'm justified moving on. I tried to employ logic, and I even let a little emotion creep in to see if that would work too. I just wanted her to see that my decision making was very deliberate and not something she should take personal. I think my letter hit some sort of emotional chord with her. She cares very much about her image as a principal, and she interpreted my letter as me having a negative one of her. It wasn't really about her at all, but that's what happens when narcissistic people deal with other narcissistic people.

After a lot of her being passive-aggressive and scolding me for things that couldn't be prevented (how am I supposed to tell her I want to leave before I knew I wanted to leave? seriously), she mostly came out of the talk as supportive of the transfer. She told me that she's doing everything she can to find a good person to replace me, and as soon as she finds someone she'll release me. I feel good about this awkward conversation, because she knows where I stand and there isn't bad blood. As bizarre as she can be, I still mostly like her and firmly believe she's really just doing her best as a first year principal. I'm pretty sure the transfer will go through. It's just a matter of me being patient with the way time inevitably slows itself when working with this district.

18 June 2007 


This weekend was full. I drove to Ohio, six and a half hours of driving from Baltimore, to help the family move my sister into her new apartment. It's a little freaky to think that she's starting grad school. In that same weekend, I left a school that I won't return to and students I will see again but in such a different way. I had a birthday, my mom had a birthday, and we embraced father's day.

Last week was pretty awful. I just really bottomed out. I guess it makes sense, but I was pitiful. Thank god for therapists and good friends and family. Anyway, the summer is looking like it'll be rejuvenating in the end. And as part of that process, I just finished Sherman Alexie's newest Flight. Pretty breezy, easy read. I found it captivating. Raw. Nothing notable literary-wise, but entertaining. And who doesn't want to read a book about an adolescent teenage boy named Zits?

Feist played at the 930 club, and she lived up to the hype. I would've had an amazing time if it wasn't during the bottoming out period, but I was able to appreciate/gawk at/obsess over her talent even if enjoyment wasn't totally in the picture.

Just grabbed this new music: Grow up and Blow Away by Metric / Peter Bjorn & John / matt pond pa / The Cribs.

Besides an interview for a Barista job at this guy's favorite place, I'm going to focus on training Scout, figuring out that guitar, going to the beach, finish my class at Hopkins, working out like a motherfucker, reading da books, etc. It's going to be a great summer, despite mishaps.

10 June 2007 

Getting Stuff Right

I'm doing pretty well right now. Considering that life has been crazy, I've just let it be.

On Friday I made my students come to school, because I just wasn't happy with their portfolios. Thursday was supposed to be their last day. I lured them in with chocolate chip, strawberry pancakes with all the fixings. I think it worked. I made them from scratch and used my roommate's griddle right in front of them. They loved. I think I made over a hundred pancakes while they hurriedly finished their radio productions.

I then stopped them for a moment and showed them a short fifteen-minute movie I made for them. It was sort my way of saying goodbye, because I plan to leave my monster school for a hidden jewel in Baltimore City that can crow a staggering 100% college acceptance rate for its seniors. I have no intention of not being part of their lives, however. We're too close to not stay in touch and for me to check up on their college acceptance rates. Besides, if I don't check up on them, how will I ever know if B gets the education he needs to surpass his third grade reading level?

As for the blocked transfer to the charter school, it's still blocked. I'm planning on it going through, because that's better than not. I'm just really frustrated at Baltimore's system.

Baltimore has created this process called zero-base, which essentially means that Principals get to start with zero staff and rebuild their classrooms. Everybody gets fired and has to reapply for their jobs. I can see how it makes sense to get rid of under performing teachers. However, those teachers still end up at another school, if I'm not mistaken. It seems like another band aid and short term solution for what is really a long term problem.

Then there's Aimless. I wasn't really thinking about leaving until I was recruited, basically, to teach at this other school. So I started thinking about what that transition would mean to my career and the long run of what I could do to help bring a positive impact to students. I still wasn't sold on leaving, although I was sold on the effectiveness and amazingness of the charter school. Then my principal made some choices about the program I teach without talking to me about it, and I realized that I couldn't get behind what she wanted me to teach. Basically, she wants to me to reconstruct my academy from its mission of giving kids opportunities to do whatever they want to do by starting with college, and being accepted into many colleges, to gaming. She wants my academy to do one thing: produce students who walk out with a certificate paper showing that they mastered a very specific field. I'm not behind that.

I made the jump. I accepted the offer, because it might not be there in two years when she tries to get this new program off the ground. So even though, I'm being fired and have to reapply, apparently I can't accept a new position. This doesn't make sense, because we were told we could leave if we wanted.

It just seems that if you're going to enact a policy of zero-basing you need to realize that it's a double-edge sword. You might lose staff you don't want to lose in the process. Technically, new teachers are tied to their schools for, I think, two or three years before they can transfer. These rules are supposed to go out the window for zero-based sites.

She's (principal) trying to convince me to stay, and I'm humbled by that, but I don't want to be there if I can be at this other school I BELIEVE IN.

This leaves the transfer up in the air, but I think it'll go through since my new principal (I speak as if it'll happen) is fighting for me. He's actually rebelling against North Avenue. I love this guy. He's everything that's right about leadership. He inspires me. So. Much.

Current Principal is going to be even more angry when she finds out I'm kidnapping a student to come to the charter with me. I went to family orientation this week, and my student and her father are behind this new school.

Another random question:

I went to get my vision test yesterday for my license. Can somebody decode this sentence for me, because the entire staff and I couldn't figure out what to select?

Do you feel your patient would be safe driving in an area limited to familiar surroundings?

the doc selected no - which I thought made me sound like it was unsafe for me to drive in familiar surroundings / so she switched it to yes and put no restrictions above the box. Ahhh!

03 June 2007 


My school is awkward. Not only did some key teachers work their asses off to make graduation happen, but some administrators did so little work that they undid the worked off asses. Really sad. So many little things, that the kids didn't notice, went wrong. I guess I just want it to be a ceremony of integrity. Oh well. It all ended with an adult pulling a gun in the middle of the lobby during the reception. Nothing happened - besides him just showing it and causing mass pandemonium.

01 June 2007 

Random Things

I'm currently reading:

god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens
Teachers Have it Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers by Daniel Moulthrop, Ninive Clements Calegari, and Dave Eggers
Flight by Sherman Alexie
A Thousand Splendind Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Traumatic Stress edited by Bessel A. van der Kolk, Alexander C. McFarlane, and Lars Weisaeth

Clearly this is going to take me a while to plow through, especially since I have to brush up on what the Praxis gods consider to be the classics. My masters program requires me to take a test that I don't need since my MN license transfered. I can't help but to read several books at once. Maybe it's an issue of stamina???

I started a new class at Hopkins this week. My department is letting me be the guinea pig and take a class out of my program and let it count as an elective for my program. This rocks. The class is an amazing beginning counseling course. I think when I'm done with it, at the end of the day, when that one student lingers, I'll actually know better how to access resources or even just how to listen. My prof is so amazing that on the side, she started a nonprofit that counsels victims of human trafficking all over the world.

Then there's summer money. Ugh. I wish we were paid through the summer, even though it means smaller checks each time. I've got an interview with a summer program that has a pretty solid track record and has a national reputation for moving its summer students ahead significantly, in terms of literacy. The catch is that the program is elementary based, but this includes what I consider to be middle school students. I've got some experience from a few years back with middle school students. Hard to remember anything substantial, besides one lesson, that I accomplished with that age group. I was so fresh out of college I had little knowledge of what I was really doing, I guess I still am pretty fresh out of college and still have a lot to learn (I'm assuming I always will, by the way).

That brings me to tomorrow. My seniors are graduating! For some reason, I'm really excited to put the garbs on and lead them into the stadium and "give them away." This particular bunch has had a pretty dramatic year. An example, one of my students' father died on Monday. Can't even fathom that right now.

And I think we'll end this here, with me staring at these five books, deciding which one to pick up and fling its pages. My 5 am workout is finally catching up (took my first spin class today!), so there might not be much flinging after all.

(By the way, this guy sleeps like a stuffed up, overweight, apnea-plagued, 70 year-old man.)

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