Monday, May 11, 2015

Google: Lord and Master Turned Enemy

I've always been a fan of Google and the right to access infinite knowledge. However, when an innocent College and Career Week activity results in a student nearly calling my dad's business . . . well, then a girl has to reevaluate her self-proclaimed Google-philia.

For the first day of College and Career Week, faculty was encouraged to wear representation for their alma mater. So despite the near-80 degree weather, I donned my bright, pink Pace sweatshirt. Advisory teachers, including myself, were asked to have our students decorate our classroom doors to represent our respective schools.

It sounded perfectly reasonable and one mass email later, I had the necessary blue and gold construction paper to showcase Pace University.

The "raven croaked itself hoarse" when I asked my students to conduct online research about Pace to give them decoration ideas. An inquisitive, "Miss, how old are you?" and a mischevious, "36 or 62 or whatever age you want me to be," resulted in the following horrifyingly hilarious moments:

1. "Is this you? It's on the school website," in response to an article on the School of Education site.

2. "Oh, you write poems, Miss..." and then proceeds to regale the class with my bad art.

3. "Miss, I know how old you are! You're 23, turning 24. Or are you 24 already?"

4. "Miss, you've been to Japan?!" "What? No, but I watch Japanese shows and blog and stuff..."

5. "Miss, who's Mohamed?" " What? My dad! What are you ladies doing, anyway?!"

6. "Miss, by the end of tonight, I'm going to know everything about you," as if that's not creepy at all.

7. "Who's Arabdgshs," butchering my poor mother's name. (Digression: I celebrated Mother's Day by flooding the bathroom and I remain un-disowned. My mom is more awesome than yours!)

8. Student at phone: "Miss, I'm calling your phone!" "Lemme see the number.... T, stop, you're calling my dad's business! That's it--you all have a problem and I'm cutting you off!"

Just a typical day with my crazy, yet loveable kiddos.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Feeling Really Darn Appreciated Right About Now (Teacher Appreciation Week)

The administration and students in a Leadership elective course have been really amazing about celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week.

A red carpet was laid out from the door to where we clock in. I, of course, walked right by it and had to be called back to try again.

My principal also visited my classroom and thanked me for my service in front of the students, while gifting me with a Amazon gift card.

Free coffee coupon and a Chocolate Chip cookie for breakfast, despite my lamentations that it should have been fruit, as well as an adorable cupcakes for lunch.

Red pen in hand is accidental, but quite fitting.

Principal visited again with a bag of school branded memorabilia--water bottle, flash drive, pencil, pen, wristband, and headphones.

Break from students due to an all-day PD, involving Curriculum Mapping for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year. (I cannot believe I've nearly survived Year One and am planning for Year Two.)

Absolutely love it when our entire middle/high school ELA department gets together. It's usually the best part of PD's because it's always a good time with like-minded book nerds!

Second best part--free Chipotle for lunch! I had a DIVINE chicken burrito with chips and guac. I was totally blissed out, barely able to work through unwrapping common core standards during the afternoon portion of the PD.

Principal delivered giant cupcake during first period. Why are we encouraging bad dietary habits?! It looked delicious; I forgot to take it home, but it was just as edible the next day.

Students were dismissed early for a "mandatory staff" meeting. Highly suspicious as we had a staff meeting just the day before. And apparently the School Leadership Team had pitched in to buy Happy Hour drink tickets for entire staff. I had a delicious Grilled PhillyCheese sandwich and spent evening chatting with coworkers.

If only my students would show appreciation as blatantly...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Students Say: Ego-centrism and Chill Mode

The fact that I'd had to take an Adolescent Psychology class as part of my Education degree came up in class today and one of my students was all, "so, what'd you learn about us?"

"You're all egocentric and mostly see the world from only your own perspective."

"Facts." Nods head sagaciously.

At least, she's aware of her own flaws. =)


"Miss, you're mad chill when you're in a good mood."

"I'm always in a good mood until you all frustrate me by talking. How about we aim to frustrate Miss less? And she can stay as chilly as ice."

Friday, April 24, 2015

MIA: Busy Being Employed

Hello Readers,

It's been a "minute," as my 10th graders like to say, since I've last written. I'm now curious as to what my few readers/followers might have thought when I suddenly stopped writing last May, but only fairly positive things have happened. I am alive and well.

The highlights to catch you all up:

- Was offered a long term ELA substitute teacher position at one of the schools at which I'd been subbing periodically.
- After being hired for the 2014-2015 school year!
- Teach for America NY Summer Institute, while fasting for Ramadan, was quite the experience
- As was "New Teacher" training at my new school in Washington Heights
- Been teaching (and managing to survive) 10th grade English since September.

I'll try to blog more regularly from now on.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

"Career Shopping" -- Creative Fiction about Choosing to be a Teacher

Tonight I came across a creative writing piece that I wrote two years ago for my Teaching English to Adolescent course. Once again, I was reminded of why I had really enjoyed this piece. Feel free to read it below in its entirety. My favorite lines (bias nonewithstanding) are:

In those eyes—25 desperate hopes, 25 whimsical dreams, 25 inquiring minds, 25 windows—some clear, some dim—to 25 fledgling souls, 25 rare chances for 25 daily successes, beginning with a single line interpreted 25 many ways by 25 unique beings.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Today we’re going to learn…

* * *

Costume Career Shopping
By: Fatuma Hydara

In the middle of Ricky’s Costume Superstore, I stand, arms tender and shaking from the weight of numerous costume choices. With limited vision, I slowly make my way to the dressing room, mumbling “5” to the clerk in answer to her barely audible question of ‘how many items?’ Walking into dressing room 13, my lucky number, I throw my burden onto the seat, before turning to shut and lock the door. Click.

Taking a deep breath, and a quick look at my watch—crap, only have 20 minutes—I quickly grab the first costume and put it on. 

Twisting one way, then the other, the four mirror-covered walls capture the khaki shorts, polo tee, shades and imitation camera around my neck. I stop, lean closer, scrunch up my nose, make a decision. Nature photographer for National Geographic? No.

Costume Number Two: A white coat, stethoscope, smiley face sticker and lollipops as props. Single shake of head. Pediatrician? Nuh-uh.

Costume Number Three:  Business wear, microphone, notebook and pen. …Still not quite right. Journalist? Not happening.

Costume Number Four: Business wear again, more old-fashioned. Silver wire rimmed glasses attached to a sterling silver chain. Pile of books in arm. Closer look in mirror. Nearly, not quite. Love the books, not the rest. Librarian? No way. 

Costume Number Five: Business wear once again. Sigh…but wait? Another look—more casual, comfortable. Grade book and novels in one hand. Apple in the other. Staring intensely, straighten up. Turn this way, turn that way. A smile. It’s perfect. Almost. 

If only I was in—wind, gust, momentarily blindness, ending—in a classroom.
A blink. Another. Gaze clears. One pair of brown eyes meets 25 other pairs in varying shades. 

In those eyes—25 desperate hopes, 25 whimsical dreams, 25 inquiring minds, 25 windows—some clear, some dim—to 25 fledgling souls, 25 rare chances for 25 daily successes, beginning with a single line interpreted 25 many ways by 25 unique beings.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Today we’re going to learn…

How to read, to write, to explore, to live.
How to scream, yell, give voice to pain.
How to survive, to be, to succeed.
How to care, to love, to share.
How to rearrange the letters in D-R-E-A-M and make them R-E-A-L-I-T-Y.
How to fly, to run, to jump.
How to smile, to laugh, to grin, to smirk.
How to…

Sudden wind, gust, momentarily blindness. A blink. Another. Gaze clears. One pair of brown eyes looking at their twin. In those eyes—a single burning flame of passion, a single determination, a single goal to be the greatest English teacher to ever live. 

Another look at my wrist, “Time to go.” Frantic undressing, messy repackaging. One last guilty look at the mess left behind, I unlock the door and hurry to the register. ‘Will that be all?’ ‘Yes, found the perfect one’. Proud Smile. “That’s be $200,000, please’. Cringe, wince. Reluctant handing over of credit card. Deep breath. In six years, it’ll be worth it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

[Unit/Lessons] Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare  

Romeo and Juliet Unit Plan
Performance Tasks Packet for Unit (Four Major Unit Assignments Included)

Lesson 1: Introduction to Romeo and Juliet (Day 3 of Unit Plan)

Students will be asked to listen to clips from the 1996 Romeo and Juliet movie soundtrack, read the prologue, and make predictions about the play.

Lesson Plan
Prologue Text
Soundtrack Lyrics
Student Handout

Lesson 2: Characterization (Act I) (Day 5 of Unit Plan)

Students will characterize major characters using bubble maps.

Lesson Plan
Student Notes Handout
Idea Map Model Handout
Student Task Instructions
Student Exit Ticket

Lesson 3: Psychological Theories of Love  (Day 21 of Unit Plan)

Students will be introduced to well-known psychological theories of love and begin applying them to Romeo and Juliet.

Lesson Plan
Teacher Lecture Notes
Psychological Theories of Love Assignment (Task #1 in Unit Packet)
Rubin Scales of Liking and Loving Questionnaire
Student Notes Handout

Lesson 4: Debate (Day 18 of Unit Plan)

Students are introduced to the art of debate as they argue the question of "Who is most to blame for Romeo and Juliet's untimely deaths?"

Lesson Plan
Introduction to Debate Handout
Student Debate Notes Handout

Lesson 5: Culminating Assignment (Day 25-26 of Unit Plan)

Students are introduced to the unit's culminating assignment, a comparing and contrasting essay.

Lesson Plan
Comparing and Contrasting Essay Rubric
Organizing Comparing and Contrasting Essays Handout
Student Outline Handout