Teaching Diary 8(-8)

Today was the second half of the two-day New Teacher Orientation. We discussed what curriculum and instruction mean, and what they don’t mean. In short, this is not good teaching…

Tomorrow it’s back to our own campuses for the first official contract day, when all teachers, new and returning alike, must report.

Also today I signed an application for an apartment. Life is moving forward. At least twenty times by now I have answered questions about why I moved to Texas with a simple “I needed a change.”

We all do sometimes…


Teaching Diary 8(-9)

Today was the first of a two-day, district-wide new teacher orientation. We had some technology training and two sessions with Dr. Adam L. Saenz, an educational psychologist and fantastic speaker (he was able to silence the audience and even elicit a few tears). He is author of the book The Power of a Teacher, which I purchased. More on him tomorrow when I don’t wait so late to write (for a change). I’m also dealing with some family drama and apartment hunting in the midst of this new teaching adventure.

I was helping Becca’s hypothetical child write a paragraph for homework and told him that it needed a conclusion sentence. Yet I find them frustratingly hard to write myself… as this sentence proves.

Teaching Diary 8(-10)

I went back to work today. First day of new teacher orientation. I arrived to a locked front door. Because I had interviewed by phone, my first face-to-face meeting with my principal, and the assistant principal who had interviewed me, was when they were walking down the hall towards said front door and let me in. I now have an ID badge and 24/7 keycard so that shouldn’t be an issue again. I learned they use “backwards design” for unit planning, which I’m already familiar with, and the usual acronym soup that I am not familiar with as it’s all different in each state. I got my room key, only to discover before the end of the day, serendipitously, that it was the wrong room. There were really yummy breakfast burritos, and other really new teachers who made me feel old.

The 8 is for my eighth year teaching. The (-10) means there’s ten nonstudent work days before the REAL first day of school, with students. That will be 8.001.

In the previous seven years I never tried to document the day-to-day journey. New year, new school, new state; perfect time to attempt such a daily diary. Even though I said I’d go to bed almost an hour ago… I’m going to have to build up more endurance quickly.


Most important thing first: Happy Birthday to my very best friend, Becca! No one has ever been a greater inspiration or better friend to me, and she deserves bountiful birthday blessings bestowed upon her.

It’s now been over two months since I arrived in Texas. Now that I’m gainfully employed for the imminently upcoming school year, my extended stay at Casa de Becca will soon be coming to an end. But whilst living here, I’ve been able to defray the frustration that inevitably arises from some of my less attractive living habits by not only washing dishes and cleaning up puppy piddle, but also lending my hand to animal rescue. 

ImageIndeed, not once but twice in the past ten days have I lent a hand to a creature in need. First it was this baby bird that had fallen out of its nest in a corner of the house near/above the garage door. We’d heard that you’re not supposed to pick up birds with your bare hands because your scent may make mama bird reject them, but we couldn’t just leave it sitting helpless in the driveway. Becca scooped it up, and then I used a stepladder to gingerly deposit it back in the nest. There are three birds for sure in the nest now, two clearly larger and older, so I hope the the third is still Baby Bird. 

ImageMore recently we were out in front of the house as guests were leaving around 10 p.m. and spotted a fairly large bunny rabbit. Rabbits are quite common in this neighborhood, but this one was clearly bigger and exceedingly tame; it came right up to us and, not seeing any obvious mouth-foaming, we dared to pet it. I was just on the verge of picking it up when relatives of the owner drove up and spotted it with us. One little girl was ecstatic that night at getting her bunny back. It was the least I could do, really, for a fellow member of the rodent family.

So I got to enjoy the goodness of good deeds done towards the end of a summer in which I have accomplished very little, apart from the whole transplanting my life thing. I still can’t find motivation to write or even read blogs regularly, yet as long as I don’t, I feel like a piece of me is missing. 

Monday means back to work for me. Three days of new teacher orientation, then our official report date on Thursday. That means a full two weeks of preparation before the first day for students on the 26th. I’m excited and nervous and, I admit, a little sad that once again the summer ends. But I didn’t buy my Powerball ticket, so until that bestseller is published or I happen onto an independently wealthy patron, I proudly remain a public educator. 


I have 18 more days of vacation before returning to work. After moving to Texas, I was fortunate to be offered a job on my first interview. Now I will be teaching 6th grade language arts, one year younger than I ever have before. Today I was called by a high school in the same district, and felt a bit sad that I had to turn down the interview. C’est la vie.

So I hope to make the most of these 18 days by writing, which I have done precious little of this summer despite quite a lot of free time, as I discussed in my last post, when I asked for ideas to write about. Becca told me to write about when I got in trouble when I was young, which I thought was something of a silly suggestion since I was, of course, a model child who never got in trouble. But since I need to work on my fiction-writing skills, I’ll take a shot. 

When I started high school, it included 8th grade. That year, I had to go to the public library across the street after school and wait an hour or more until my mom could pick me up. I spent time looking at the magazines, and came to favor Car & Driver and Motor Trend. I decided I wanted to be an automotive engineer and design cars when I grew up. 


I know he anxiously checked the mailbox for this one!

But not all my time there was spent alone. One of my new friends was also there almost every day and we inevitably got to scheming together. There was another friend that I had known since fourth grade, and I remembered his address. Know those little subscription postcards that always fall out of magazines? Yes, we filled out at least two dozen of them with his name and address. Although there was no hard proof, once his parents got mad, he started accusing us. I can’t remember if I admitted to any wrongdoing, but those were the kind of shenanigans I got into as a young teenager.

I’ll save more to write about next time; until then…


ImageYou know you’re in a blogging funk when you’ve had a post sitting in draft for three weeks, and then realize you’ve got to trash it and start over because the events discussed therein are now past relevance. It’s a counterintuitive phenomenon of the highest order that the more time I have to write, the less I do write. 

I spent eight days alone in a great big house with just two dogs and a few fish to care for. I had no job to go to. I had no social plans as I don’t know anyone here, really, outside of the family for whom I was housesitting. The days slipped by and they returned, and sure enough, I have accomplished more in the five days since than the eight days while they were absent.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that I may be the world’s worst self-motivator. Actually, I arrived at that conclusion years ago, but have actively tried to deny it ever since. I live and breathe the contradiction of wanting to be fiercely independent, yet accomplishing the most when people tell me exactly what to do and when to do it.

So could someone please tell me what to write? I promise I will tell you how much I don’t like that idea and will totally write about something else, or maybe not at all. 

Seven Years, Two Weeks, and One Not-So-Great Day

Happy Anniversary!

You registered on WordPress.com 7 years ago!

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

Hard to believe. Seven years ago I came here under another name, seeking to branch out into a more “professional” blogging platform. I didn’t do much with that blog for the first, oh, six years or so. I finally got it really rolling last August, and then in March it was “discovered” by some of my students, and I felt compelled to make this new, quasi-anonymous blog.

To speak of much shorter time frames, today (Friday) marks two weeks since I arrived here at Casa De Becca in Texas. It’s been fun, it’s been adjustment, it’s been a whole lot of visiting the local authorities: vehicle registration, driver’s license, getting fingerprinted for my teaching certificate, etc. Most days have been great.

Tuesday was not the greatest day. I awoke at 6:10 a.m. to the sound of thunder and pounding rain. It occurred to me that the windows on my car were rolled down slightly. I ran downstairs and outside to address this problem, and upon returning to the front door, discovered that I was locked out of the house. Though I’d been given a door key, I had neglected to put it on my key ring yet. So I stood outside on the front porch, watching the deluge and really needing to pee, for about an hour and a half before Becca’s hypothetical husband opened the garage to leave for work. Sure, I did have my car keys and could have taken off for McDonald’s or a convenience store– I was in cotton shorts that might not be considered pajamas by most. But I was afraid of not getting back in time and continuing to be stuck outside, as the doorbell was nearly inaudible indoors.

Something like this.

Something like this.

I got in, showered, and took off. I decided to make a coffee stop, and as I was walking up to Starbucks I noticed that this one point on my foot kept hurting. It wasn’t the first time in the past few days either, but until that point I hadn’t thought of looking at the bottom of my flip-flop. When I did, I discovered I was getting screwed– literally. There was a screw firmly lodged there, from when I was installing my new license plates. I sat on an outside bench trying to dislodge it with my car key. Just before that, I had decided to take the temporary C0lorado tag– just a piece of paper with tape– out of my rear window. But instead of being logical and just raising the hatch and taking it off from there, I decided to try to climb in the backseat of my two-door car and get at it that way. I had to essentially fall back into the front seat, and in the process I broke the knob off my car stereo and one of my cupholders.

Finally, I was off to find the Social Security office to replace my card. I decided I would try out a GPS app on my iPhone. For a long time, I thought I was ahead of the technological curve, but ever since the advent of smartphones, I have fallen decidedly behind. I only recently got this phone, used (I had to clear off the previous owner’s porn first). Mine is a pre-Siri iPhone, so you have to find an app for voice GPS. This one kept saying to exit the highway, then get back on it again. I circled the same point at least three times, getting increasingly frustrated. Once I finally found it, I didn’t have to stay there long, and then I was off to my favorite place…

If I'm going to include a related picture-- might as well make a PSA with it.

If I’m going to include a related picture– might as well make a PSA with it.

Wal-Mart. I care not for the Big Blue Behemoth, but I was requested to go there because it was close to my destination and their rotisserie chicken was preferred over the supermarket’s. In any case, being tasked with a shopping list in an unfamiliar and crowded store such as that is going to burn up another two hours or so for me. By the time I got out, I had completely forgotten where my car was in the parking lot. I pushed my shopping cart from one end of the lot to the other searching every row. A gentleman noticed and astutely asked, “Did you lose your car?” Now, I should note that I really HAVE lost my car in a parking lot– one night when I was working at Target, I walked out after closing and it simply wasn’t there. So I tend to start to panic a bit whenever I don’t see it promptly. I finally did locate it; unfortunately I didn’t have any gloves to put on before touching anything inside it. See, about a month before moving, I decided to buy a black car, despite my destination being central Texas.

I was feeling the unfamiliar sensation of my shirt sticking to my back. In Colorado, we have many summer days in the 90s, even 100, but we have single-digit humidity. So sweat doesn’t tend to become the drenching, clinging kind. I grew up in Georgia and I know what Southern summers are like, but I have to admit I have become unaccustomed to such matters. At times in these past two weeks the house has felt akin to a meat locker, but that afternoon I felt happy for the very-well-functioning air-conditioning. For the trying nature of the day, I was relieved of dishwashing or any other duties for the evening by the ever-gracious familia de Becca. Two weeks and I’m thrilled to be here. More stories soon to come.