Summer Vacation: Recent obsession

Hello world! I’m starting week three of summer vacation, and I honestly don’t have much to show for the enormous amount of free time I’ve suddenly been given. That’s OK, though. I’ve watched some Netflix, read some books, baked a LOT of bread, made some fancier meals, and gotten at least halfway through organizing some of this past year’s school materials to be better prepared for next year.

The first two weeks of vacation, and continuing into this week although to a lesser degree, have been set to the soundtrack of Hamilton, the musical. The Tonys happened the Sunday after the last day of school (do yourself a favor and watch this clip of their performance during the awards show) and so the hugely popular production resurfaced in my consciousness and, acknowledging I will likely never see the show live, I downloaded the original cast recording and blasted it three days straight while I cleaned my classroom. My pal, the third-grade teacher, wasn’t there to make fun or to see me tear up during “Burn” (it was an emotional week).

I tried to mix it up by listening to other musical soundtracks, but the thing that I can do while Colin is around is read 1776 by David McCullough, which follows Gen. Washington during the fight for American independence and barely features Hamilton. Oh well. A riveting story nonetheless.

one thing

I also made this inspirational poster for next year’s second graders. It’s a lyric.

Late to the game, I know, but I’ve got a lot to catch up on coming out of the first year of teaching. So if everyone could stop talking about House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Game of Thrones, that would be great, thnx.

Rain Days

I got two unexpected days off work this week because Central America got hit by some severe… rain. I have next to nothing to show for my time: some carrot muffins, a pumpkin loaf, the leftovers of an involved fish dinner. I watched more Netflix than I care to admit. I did manage the outline of a plan for how to teach five days’ worth of material in three days. Somehow we’re already in week 10 of the school year–the end of the first quarter. I will have to issue report cards for my little monsters next week. It also marks 10 weeks that we’ve had Cat (and have managed to keep her). IMAG2852

Things that are making me happy this week: Halloween preparations are in full swing! My costume is going to be on the understated side, but I’m looking forward to a fun Friday at school (complete with birthday cake!) and then a nice long weekend with a trip to the lake. All of the family visiting for Christmas now has their flights booked! Colin bought our tickets for the Marine Corps Ball at the end of November. We received a Halloween care package full of lots of fun goodies! It has been decided that we’ll be the hosts for Friendsgiving, so this weekend I allowed myself to start planning that.

Every weekend should last four days: there’s so much more to be positive about when they do!

Zoo visit!

Field trips are the best, right? Going somewhere cool and different with all your friends and skipping math centers? To borrow my students’ collective favorite word of the week: “Awesome!”
warthogsAnd the Rabat Zoo? I was pleasantly surprised! The animals seemed content, if a bit hot, and there was really lovely landscaping throughout. The trees need a few more years to mature into decent shade trees, so hopefully they don’t forget to water them (as the Rabati seem to do with a lot of their other city trees).
goatsSpringtime meant there were so many baby animals to “oooh” at–Barbary sheep, antelope, lions, goats–and “oooh,” we did. We walked through a magical garden area with peacocks roaming around that the kids gawked at and marvelously didn’t scare off. I could have stayed there all day.
peacockThe kids overall were pretty good. They complained a bit, but it was really hot and there wasn’t quite enough shade. They only asked for ice cream for the first hour, and when it became clear they weren’t going to get any, they stopped. They were way better about reapplying sun screen than I would have been at 6, and they stayed with the group such that I only got nervous about losing one when we got sandwiched by a few other school groups. Plus they’re extra cute when they’re excited about all the animals and given the opportunity to show off. Animal? Oh yeah, these 6-year-olds think they know all about them.
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Kindergarten Congress

While my kids were off doing somersaults in PE yesterday, I stumbled on this article about Rand Paul breaking his 12-hour-long filibuster over the drone strikes policy with a trip to the bathroom.

Politics completely aside, I was tickled by the news of the traditional filibuster in use. If you want to be obstinate and hold up progress of a particular bill, you’d better be willing to stand up and read from a phone book like the Founders intended! The newer silent filibuster, which requires only the announcement of a filibuster without anyone having to stand or talk or even be present, delays things by changing the required number of votes to pass a bill.

With such a low (non-existent) hurdle to clear before holding a bill hostage, it not surprisingly gets used and abused. It just seems so absurd! This isn’t how it’s supposed to be done; forgive me, your rules are asinine.

It reminds me of the way my kindergartners play tag: by crossing their arms like an Egyptian mummy and shouting “Shield!” they are apparently un-tag-able. It’s a silly rule that doesn’t advance the game.

Paul’s epic filibuster made quite a splash, but ultimately the outcome was something a lot of my kids could relate to: it’s a good day if you can get to the bathroom on time.

Translating kinderspeak

Walking the kindergartners to the bus after school today.

Me: So [adorable 5-year-old American girl], are you going to wear a hat tomorrow [for Crazy Week at school]?
Girl: Yeah, I’m going to wear my Oreo hat.
Me: Your Oreo hat? Like the cookie?
Girl: No, my Oriole hat!
Me: Oh Oriole, like the bird–like the baseball team!
Girl: Yeah! They’re my team!

When the unthinkable happens, again and again

I am now a full-time assistant in the kindergarten class that I’ve been in and out of since I started at the international school here. Health needs required the teacher return to the U.S. for a few months, allowing the former assistant to step into her place, and me to step into hers. Sixteen little people greet me every day, and I’m working out how I can help them be ready for first grade.

It had only been a few days of this new routine when I came home and read the terrible news coming out of Connecticut. A massacre at an elementary school? Semi-automatic rifles and a bullet-proof vest used against 5- and 6-year-olds? How unbelievably horrific and nauseating. I was at a loss for words trying to imagine myself in the place of those teachers, protecting my new little charges.

There are a lot of things to talk about: gun control, access to mental health services, the role of the media. Kandahar, Aroura, Wisconsin, Newtown; These massacres are happening more and more frequently–clearly something needs to be done.

Happy Friday

We had a rainy day at school today, meaning the kindergartners were stuck inside drawing or reading a lot more than they normally are, which made for a very long day. By the time I was cleaning up the mess from making play-dough (as in, flour + water + salt), I was already ready to head home, but it wasn’t yet lunchtime.

But it was all a little sweeter because my favorite kindergartner made me a paper link for a bracelet that morning, and then later I got not one but three drawings made for me. “I made this for you, Ms. T.” D’awwww.

Maybe their parents told them not to bring home any more drawings.

Oh! Plus I bought a plug-in radiator this evening so life in our apartment is much more pleasant!

Back to school

Almost everyone who reads this knows already, but I’m a working girl now! I’m subbing at a private international school here in my neighborhood that has quite the international mix of students, pre-K through 12, including a sizable chunk of Moroccans. The language of instruction is English, so I’m able to sub in just about any class they need me, which recently has been in their elementary computer lab.

Let me tell you, computer labs have come a long way since I was in elementary school. These kids are working on (and sneezing all over) brand-new Macs, and they have all sorts of neat programs that engage the different grades while teaching good computer habits. What I’m saying is that I bet the middle schoolers could beat me in a words-per-minute typing contest.

I’m still working on the occasional editing project, but it’s really nice to get out of the house and be around people, even if a lot of them are 5 years old. Plus I didn’t exactly bring enough clothes to be going regularly to a job, so I had to go shopping.

So far I really like it, but I hope that after this long-term sub gig in the computer lab wraps up (maybe next week) I’ll be tapped to work in some of the secondary classrooms. As the sub, I won’t ever find myself leading the classroom–I get rotated into an assistant teacher position–so there’s not too much pressure, but I still get a sense of whether I might like to do this when we get back to real life.

Oh, and in unrelated news, Colin and I spent our three-day weekend de-gunking and figuring out our oven, and now we’re confident that it can be used. Yes!