Monday, May 31, 2010

Well, Some Lady is Singing Somewhere...

Because my current "adventure" at Valley High School is over. I taught my last class on Wednesday and cleaned out my class room on Friday. I still have to turn in my keys, and I have a couple little things to manage over the next couple of weeks. Not to mention all the letters of recommendation I will need to pick up...ugh.

Several weeks ago, I was beyond distraught. It was very hard for me not to cry if the topic of my lay-off came up. And I was angrier than all get out. I'm pretty sure I started manufacturing venom.

Then, about two weeks ago, something strange happened. I stopped caring so much about losing my job. I'm not sure what it was: being super happy about my graduation, applying to a ton of admin jobs, staying up too late watching the Lost series finale, etc. But all of sudden, the tears stopped. (And most of the venom too.)

I had lots of "tear" tests this weeks, but so far my cheeks have remained dry. First, my first class I taught at Valley graduated. I went to graduation, which I haven't done before. It was actually really cool, and it was awesome to see the kids so happy, but nope, no tears.

Then, I said good-bye to all my classes. I cleaned out my room. I had the "final" lunch with my friends. I even found out who is teaching Honors English 10 next year. Through it all, I remained smiling. And it wasn't a fake smile. I told my kids that everything will work out, and amazingly enough, I believe it.

Don't get me wrong, I still have panicky moments. And I'm sure that if I don't get interviews out of my applications that I will be UNHAPPY. (Watch out for venom below.) But I actually experienced a thrill of excitement a few moments ago when I realized that the whole summer is mine. Well, Emerson's, and Justin's, and mine, but you get the idea.

So, here's to the end. I may go back, but I kinda don't think so. It's been a good, sometimes rocky, three years. I know that I am a stronger person and teacher for having worked at Valley. It was hard to leave my safe haven of Milpitas, but I'm really happy I stuck through the difficult times. I have been a very lucky teacher.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

This year my career has been all about opposites. 40 things due in one day; the next week, relative calm. No admin jobs posted; then in two days, six jobs posted. Ack! I'm the little yo-yo that could this year.

This end-of-spectrum effect is especially true with my teaching schedule. On one end, I teach the supposedly most skilled students of the 10th grade--English 10 Honors. On the other end, I teach the so-called "intervention" 9th graders. One would think that both groups of students are polar opposites. Yes, that way mostly true. Except for one aspect.

Both groups think everyone wants to hear their opinions all the effing time.

These opinions, on a range of scintillating topics such as the teacher's clothing choices and every single assignment given to them, are issued at lightening speed with each individual student shouting their view simultaneously.


The 9th graders opinions tend to center on things they don't understand. Truly, they mean to ask questions; they just don't realize it. The honors kids actually bug me more because they don't know what they don't know. In other words, they've grown too big for their britches.

I have found myself giving my standard lecture about opinions to both groups REPEATEDLY. Version 1 (the kinder, Ms Harrell had plenty of coffee rendition) goes along like: "After spending 31 years on this lovely planet of ours, I have come to the conclusion that only one person wishes to hear my opinion." Insert pregnant pause here as my students still have no idea where this is going. "Me. Yup, I'm the only one. And you will find this is true for you too, I imagine." Version 2 (the Ms Harrell has answered the same question literally 55 times) is much shorter: "Opinions are like butt-holes; everyone has one." Enough said.

Recently, I have found me giving myself the same talking too. As I am sure everyone within shouting distance is aware, I have lost my job. Yes, it is because of no fault of my own. Yes, I have experienced a tough break.

However, my opinions are best kept to myself, as 90% of what I want to say about this situation is bitter and mean. MEAN.

So, in order to avoid being one of those haggish English teachers I hate, I am going to keep my mouth closed as much as possible. This will be a tall order, as I love to hear myself talk and my anger has whittled my sarcasm to a razor's edge.

However, if this truly is going to be my last teaching job for a while, if I truly am not going to be able to be an influence on children in the near future, I better make sure that the influence I currently have is positive.


So I here I sit, with my mouth closed. Yup, those are my teeth you hear gritting together...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

It's hard to believe that it's been a year already since last Mother's Day. The days go by quickly. I think I'm in a reflective mood because last year's Mother's Day was so different from this weekend.

Firstly, last year we were rather home bound because I had class the day before, my last class for the semester. I was pretty exhausted and ready to have a break. That night Justin and I celebrated with mango-chipotle margaritas, a choice I paid for the next day. Tasty, but ouchy.

Secondly, the weather was gorgeous last year, so we took a picnic to William Land Park in Sacramento. Justin got a bunch of salads and made some sandwiches. It was very pleasant. Then I went home and took a nap.

This year Mother's Day has quite the wintry feel to it. The day started out blustery and it's actually been raining quite a bit. Justin, Em, and I headed to Old Sac for lunch and fudge. Mmmmmm, fudge. We're back home now, and Justin is making stew. I'm looking forward to some scrap booking, reading, and maybe even a nap. (Somethings stay the same.)

The biggest difference is that my sister is a mommy-to-be, which adds a new, fun element to the day. It is very exciting to think of her having a son. We saw her, and my mom, yesterday, and she seems so happy. Fingers crossed that the weather stays mild for her.

So Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies out there! Have a lovely, if albeit chilly, day.