Thursday, August 23, 2007

from the beginning til the end of it.

jurassic 5 on my mind, quality control has been the soundtrack to the season. i met with mary (my mentor teacher) at her home in novi yesterday. we've planned out our first essay and in an effort to get to know the students, i'm going to be videotaping a performance of their "all about me" intro essays... we were both bringing up ideas for projects and she's letting me take over the poetry unit in february, as well as the persuasive essay unit. she made it clear that because of detroit funding issues, the first two months of school really are all about the MEAPs, and she found my interest in diving in and collaborating with her on curriculum to be cool.

with a new superintendent in the schools, she broke it down to me quickly: "i don't tend to plan until i get there, because they change it up on us every year, i don't know what the expectations are, and we have to run by the pacing charts, so... we fly by the seat of our pants." she's really excited to explore the kinds of projects and group work we can accomplish with two of us and it already feels like we're on a team. every sentence seemed to end with "we're on the same page" as a conjunction. and though i know already that our styles are different, (when i told her that i was doing the videotaping records of practice thing, she said "oh my god! i better plan exciting lessons, ha!") i can already tell that she's the type of teacher that her students remember for years.

we went over MAC's guidelines and expectations and talked about some of our own objectives, as well as some of the nitty gritty (weekly lesson plans are due on mondays, she will be printing a copy for me for records of practice. we talked about me saving a copy of worksheets/student work, and about their do-it-now (bellwork) journals. thursdays we're going to have a weekly meeting, her prep period is last period, so many details so little time.) over and over again i hear "get to know the secretaries, the janitors, the lunch ladies, the security staff. we talked about dress code for students and teachers, the heat index in her classroom, obtaining a digital overhead for my laptop so we can do powerpoint, i feel like it's alllll taking shape. 2 professional development days and 2 days to set up/clean/organize the classroom next week. i am so incredibly excited, i just can't hide it.

and now back to organizing the effective teaching handbook.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


has been quiet. being the dork that i am, i made a list of objectives. i have watched much golf and csi with my dad. been to shows, dog parks (to meet my mentor teacher!), punk week, chilled with my cousins, gone mini golfing, dancing, karaoke-ing, had a lot of fun. still reading books, still listening to common, not quite ready to go back to the world yet. but i've been keeping busy. i want to volunteer as a mentor at the peace center, i want to make the effort to not have my best friends become acquaintances this year. i saw sparks. but what i've learned is that you all are becoming my good friends, too.

i awake to find no peace of mind. said how do you live as a fugitive? (there has been a coldplay influence, too)

Monday, August 6, 2007

how are myspace/facebook infringing on our own civil liberties?

now, this is not surprising, but it's still hella creepy (excuse my lack of intellectual language, the substantive conversation paper has been leeching my brain). i just wrote an email earlier today in which i had asked an educator friend of mine how he felt about having his students on his myspace page -- as i have to think about how to edit mine before heading into schools. they will find me (as will potential employers and many other folks unbeknownst to me) i think i've already talked about this once in my blog, but it represents my burning desire to be fully ME whereever i am, and realizing how i need to tone certain parts of myself down for my students. for instance, especially this year working in a middle school, i really don't need them stumbling onto my page and finding out that i'm not straight. the question of coming out to students is kind of another ball game...

the question i wanted to ask was -- why, as someone who considers myself to be an informed cultural critic and very much a conspiracy theorist, am i participating in this so completely? i admit that part of my myspace obsession is about vanity, but part of it is also about staying connected with friends from all over the world, being able to be updated on their lives by seeing their pages as "records of life", i'll also admit that i like to use myspace as ethnography -- but as liz pointed out in a comment on an earlier blog, the internet has been archived for the past 10 years or so... how can i be supplying so much information about myself and my beliefs? i know i've been on CIA/FBI lists for years because of my activist work, but didn't realize how my blogs might also put me there. add this entry to the list.

so, just advising you (and checking myself) to think about what you put up online. especially on sites that are "personal networking sites", as one of the ulterior motives of these are really marketing ploys (come on, myspace is owned by rupert murdock, it's not a better alternative to facebook, just a different flavor of evil) to gather massive amounts of information and identify trends in pop culture to increase consumption. what are the dangers of our ignorant participation? and how can we best use these tools for their benefits without putting ourselves at risk? i will continue thinking about this.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

i miss new york. my old neighborhood, ---> where it's about to be august and the heat is oppressive, but everyone is out in the streets. reggaeton blasting from every car, there is a vibrancy in every molecule of air in brooklyn during the summer. the city itself has such a strong august personality and will be much on my mind.
i have made a commitment to myself to read a lot over our break (a partial reading list to follow shortly), and while the pure volume of theory that we've been reading over the past six weeks does not seem conducive to reading for pleasure, i am also committing to reading one non-school book (or other form of text) per week during the fall -- as i'm thinking about going back into the classroom, i'm concerned that i haven't been reading enough content texts. i've been reading a lot about literacy and multiple literacies, but not challenging myself as a reader (well, except for speed-reading, which is quite challenging as a technique... but so satisfying!) to delve into new fiction, new poetry, and creative non-fiction, too.
i also had an epiphany today, after the dork squad drove me to my mom's office. i have learned so much in the past few days from our presentations on effective teaching. i want to make a handbook of effective teaching, using all of the records of practice from 695 and our lessons, so that we have something to go back to that is tactile and physical as we head into schools this fall.(or maybe an online resource? thoughts?) i have learned so much already from each of you in this program, and find myself blown away by how different each of our lessons have been, but how much i've taken away from each one.
oh... and while it's not quite done yet (i'm still waiting on some feedback -- there is another revision or two), i wanted to post the poem that i read at my friend's wedding last friday. thank you so much for all of your constructive criticism, it is much appreciated. in the wake of losing sekou and some disconnection with other poetic partners in crime, i realize that there is a large void in who i turn to for feedback. i need to start building that community again -- and given my hectic fall schedule, i get the feeling that this blog may start to take that shape, too. talk about a multi-tasker!

the diva and the poet
(for erin and tony - 7/27/07)

let me tell you something.

when we are in your living room
and talk, surrounded by coffee,
elephants and drawing
the circle bigger, you are two
that bellow large love in
its real form, from home.

you are exactly what i have
in mind when i envision how it could be
to locate my soul alive
in someone else's body.
the way your faces ignite
at the smallest exchange
of touch.

i adore what you
hold open to each other.
there is evidence in
the everyday of
your gentle care and loud passion.

for years, i have watched this grow.
for years, i have admired the
calibrated movement
between your hearts.

i would wish you luck, but
can say with certainty
that your love is how
strength is defined.

(love you big).