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Last Day of Freedom

Today is officially my last day of summer. Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I will need to be at school. Many freshmen will arrive and go through their first day of high school via freshmen orientation. Luckily, I don’t teach freshmen, so while they are running through their schedule in the afternoon, I will be putting together last-minute things. I’d love to put together last minute touches on my rooms, but that will have to happen after school.

As I head into my fourth year of teaching, I realize one amazing fact: this is the first job that I’ve had for more than three years. As I’m counting school years instead of calendar years, it works. I’m proud of myself for that fact. The first three years weren’t easy by any means. I’m not kidding myself in thinking that this next year will be easy either. No…we’re changing the game, again.

My district decided to institute a change in grading policy this year. Apparently, they’ve been studying the research for three years (according to an article in our local paper). However, the first we heard of it was last year. And, we’re expected to make these huge sweeping changes in how we grade, what we grade and how we decide what to assess and how much that assessment is worth — in one year. As someone who is her own worst critic and who really wants to be a good teacher — I’m in panic mode. I think that the only reason I’ve calmed down internally is because it’s necessary for survival. My insomnia was about a week long — which is too long. Part of it was my brain in panic mode about a number of things. Part of it was also because my apartment was too damn hot. Apparently, I need it to be about 70 degrees in order to sleep properly. It was between 75 and 80 in my bedroom, till I turned the a/c down super low (it’s wonky & doesn’t work right) and wet my hair before bed so I’d be colder yet. The heatwave plaguing us finally broke yesterday too, so…that was nice.

SBG is going to be a huge mindset change for many people. As someone who grew up with the points system and who did her homework because a) I wanted good grades and b) it was expected, this is a change. I like the idea of grading w/ rubrics. I like the idea of grading less (since that will apparently happen), but…I have to alter a lot of my assessments. I also have to change my mindset of HOW I grade many things. Additionally, there are a number of other responsibilities we have, as teachers, this year. This is why I’m freaking out.

And…we have a new principal. *glub*

So, when I say it’s my last day of freedom…that’s true and untrue. I’ve been struggling w/ anxiety about all these changes since June. So, I’ll never be free of that till I’m comfortable with the new grading system, etc. But, this is my last day that I have that’s officially summer.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early…I resume my teacher life full-time. I’m excited, but scared as hell.


Filed under 2010, beginnings, grading


I’m not sure that what I have qualifies as insomnia. But, I DO know that my sleep schedule is completely screwed up. As you will see when I post this blog entry, it is way past the normal “go to sleep” time for people. In fact, in other time zones, some people are waking up to start their day right now. In MY time zone my dad gets up around this time because his drive to work takes him an hour and he starts work really early. (Lucky him — he’s on vacation this week).

I’m not sure why I can’t sleep. Maybe I’m nervous about year four. Maybe I have just got on a bad sleep schedule. I thought back to my day…I got out of bed at noon (yeah, that’s late, but…even with that, I used to be able to go to bed at 1 am & fall asleep) and didn’t have any caffeine after 4pm. I wish I knew what was going on. A few years ago I had really severe sleep problems. Those problems were because my boyfriend at the time moved to AZ. When he moved, I realized I hadn’t slept in my (still newish) apartment alone yet (I moved in, in July…he moved away in October). Our relationship was great while he was here — it floundered and sputtered when he moved. My doctor put me on Ambien. For the most part, I loved it. It was fantastic and worked really well for me. I just got worried that I needed it too much.

Yet…every summer I go through the same thing. I screw up my sleep schedule & act like I’m some college kid. I stay up late & get up late. I’ve never had trouble sleeping in in the morning. This summer has been the worst though. I go to bed and I just lie there. I can’t get my brain to shut off. Right now, I’m only sort of tired. (It doesn’t help that I’m worried the A/C in my apartment is dying — it sounds so loud, like it will rocket out of the wall. FREAKY!). Last night I just lie there, then I put on some relaxing music. However, the relaxing music triggered something in me (I don’t feel like going into the details) and I started to freak out & cry. (not related to the ex-boyfriend, trust me).

I hate not being able to sleep. I LOVE sleep. Sleep is wonderful. Sleep makes me happy. Sleeping is one of my favorite things to do. But right now, sleep is what I cannot have. I don’t want to have to call my doctor, but…maybe there’s just too much in my brain right now in my life. Maybe I have to have ambien again. It certainly was magical. I just don’t like the idea of being reliant on something to help me sleep. However, the tylenol pm just isn’t cutting it anymore. And, I can’t not sleep. Not sleeping will be…well, apparently you can die if you don’t sleep. I’m not up for that.

So, maybe I’ll call my doctor tomorrow. Crap. I mean…today. The sun will be up soon. My alarm is set for 9:30. I wonder when I’ll stop hitting snooze & get up?…

I do have to take the recycling to the recycling place…and move all my magazines to school and…

See…see what it’s like in my head? Geez.

Ok, g’nite!


Filed under about me, crankiness, frustrations, napping

Freedom Writers

So, I have to admit…when I went to Long Beach on Friday morning, I was skeptical. I didn’t know what to think. I’ve seen the Freedom Writers movie. I’ve read the Freedom Writers Diary. Both were touching. Both were almost too incredible to believe, but after teaching a few years in an urban setting (though my city is not a BIG city, it’s still a city and I’m at an “urban” school), I knew that those types of occurrences or situations can happen.

I never expected to be affected like I was. I cried, a lot. Some of it was in response to hearing from actual Freedom Writers. Some of it was in reaction to stories and situations that struck too close to home.

Erin Gruwell is THE MOST POSITIVE/UPBEAT person I’ve ever met in my life. My friend Susanna from high school is a close second. She is so committed to what the Freedom Writers Institute is doing and their methods. I want so badly to be able to have some of that positivity.

I wish that I would have written this post 2 weeks ago, or whenever it was that I just returned from CA. I feel as if I’ve forgotten so much. Plus…there’s only so much that I can say. As part of my training, there are many things that I have to keep confidential. But…I have more ideas on how to teach and how to reach my students.

Let’s hope the $25 I spent on notebooks (230 of them!) will pay off…I have a lot to do this week. (We start with kids on the 16th).


Filed under beginnings, books, expectations, instruction, planning, writing

Schedule for 2010-2011

So…my tentative schedule for next year is this:

Semester One
1st: Junior English (1st floor)
2nd: Homeroom (2nd floor)
3rd: Senior English (2nd floor)
4th: Credit Recovery (1st floor)
5th: Plan

Semester Two
1st: Junior English (1st floor)
2nd: Homeroom (2nd floor)
3rd: Credit Recovery (1st floor)
4th: Plan
5th: Junior English (2nd floor)

Credit Recovery for 1st and 3rd quarters will be makeup for Freshmen or Sophomore English. Credit Recovery for 2nd & 4th Quarters is makeup for Junior or Senior English. The junior/senior class is geared more towards writing, so I’m going to tweak it to make it more writing intense. It was last year, but…it wasn’t exactly what I like.

Currently, I’m in 3 rooms throughout the year, not counting homeroom. However, that’s why I put the 1st & 2nd floor stuff. I’m in a different room for each block. Plan period will be in our English office area. If they ever take our office area away (b/c we don’t have room) I will be supremely pissed and will DEFINITELY look for a job at a new school.

We have a new principal this year…I’m nervous. It’s like being at a new job all over again. Change (that I didn’t initiate) gives me such anxiety. Bleagh…

I hope that my curriculum person works things out so that I’m not traveling all the live-long day. I might just buy myself some KEENS and wear them and say they’re dress shoes. Shit.


Filed under beginnings, block schedule, credit recovery, preparation

Exciting News

Well, the information I was waiting for arrived today via a phone call. I have officially been accepted to be part of the Freedom Writers Institute. I’m excited. It’s a special training for teachers from my district, which is definitely one reason why I got selected. However, I still got in! I’m pumped. That will make my July super awesome!

Note: The phone call woke me up from my nap. I hope I made sense. 😛

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Filed under 2010

Money, money, money, money!

So, I just got an email from our State Department of Ed — I was granted $2100 in loan forgiveness money for grad school for next academic year!!! Meaning, they’ll loan me the money, then I’ll meet their requirements and not have to pay it back. Sweet!!! It’s money, with strings, but it’s still money. That’s such a weight off my shoulders. Now, I can use my summer school dough for other things (like books for my students, or books for me).


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