Saturday, March 30, 2013

Colorblocking on the Weekend

It is finally feeling like spring!  Here are some quick photos before brunch in beautiful Brooklyn.

go-to chambray shirt from Old Navy, jeggings and jacket from Uniqlo, Louis Vuitton bag and white chucks.  Lipstick is my current MAC fav: girl about town.

loving my latest Calgel manicure! Glitter makes me happy.

Hip Hop Miss M

I threw my students off with this outfit.  By the end of the day one sixth grade put a name to my look: "Hip Hop Miss M."  I'll take it.  This was the day before the long awaited, 11-day spring break and I was clearly ready to be just me and not teacher, special educator, mandated reporter... all that comes with the title of Miss M.  That and, honestly, I was seriously overdue for a trip to the laundromat.  Thank goodness for time off. 

gold bamboo heart earrings courtesy of my sister, J.Crew cardigan, Gap top, express pants, white Converse, an assortment of bracelets

Orange and Pink

 Quick photo.  I thoroughly enjoyed this color combination! Warm, mustardy orange against pink tweed.  Yes!  Dark brown opaque tights, leather pumps.  Gold watch.  Warm tone up top, warm on the bottom.

Jackie cardigan and tweed skirt fro J.Crew, Hue tights, Guess watch, Frye pumps

A Change of Seats: Displacement in the Classroom

Ah, the infamous struggle for a teacher to rearrange her seating chart. 

For some reason, students get very attached to their seats.  Every teacher faces the battle of unseating a child who is causing a mild to severe disruption in class. Every teacher has tried moving those distracted from distractors who may be too stubborn or defiant to move when told.  On a level day, it is not worth providing the platform for a potential standoff between child and teacher. On days when you just don't care you've had enough, you allow yourself to go there-- because a good teacher is always aware of emotions --and do your best to will the student to move. You wait, pausing instruction, stern-faced, hand on hip, as you bide time expecting the student to gather his belongings... and move. You may even help the student along by moving his notebook and pencil from his old seat to his newly awaiting chair. You may even threaten visits to the dean and phone calls home while alternating between speaking firmly, practically yelling and maybe even down to an eerie whisper.  

But really, who wants to be the teacher who calls the dean, or home, because a student was defiant by not moving his seat?  In order to make most day level days, a teacher must think smart, calculate moves and know the outcome before acting.

I once sat in girl's seat before she came in. She was always causing trouble and would never move when told.  There's nothing worse than a student who comes in late and disrupts the learning of others. She came in that day, and there I was in her seat. She didn't know what to do. She looked around for a while and eventually sat quietly across the room. She was effectively displaced. I did that for two days and she got the point. 

Today my co-teacher and I enforced new seats with a usually really good but very talkative class. We warned them yesterday that it would happen-- so they couldn't complain today-- and wrote their names at the top of their work, filtered them into the room with the instruction greeting: good morning, find your seat, get started. It worked like a charm. Thoughtful, purposeful seating is key!

A particularly troubled, hold-over was placed facing one other student and the sink area, and surrounded by students who are extremely focused and not going to pay him any mind. A particularly talkative, can't-tell-her-nothing student was placed facing one student and the teachers' desk.

The students were effectively displaced. From time to time, a teacher must throw off her students simply using the power of a seating chart.  It was nice to learn yet another lesson of transference, from self-contained classroom management to general education. After years of navigating seating wars, I've come to accept that seats give some students power.  Teacher lesson reinforced: change seats, shift energy, maintain order in the classroom. 

Miss M


Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Little Gray Dress, Navy and Yellow

Here's an outfit update I almost forgot about.  A little wrinkly, with a little dog in the frame, but I did thoroughly enjoy this outfit when I wore it.  Here are two pictures taken right before rushing to meet my gym buddy.

pocketed-shift dress by Jessica Simpson, J.Crew Tippi cardigan, navy tights and trusty yellow pumps by Seychelles

I love the cap-sleeves on this dress, very versatile.

Un-Sweatpants on a Saturday

I thought about wearing sweats to Saturday school today.  For real.  I was thinking my J.Crew un-sweatpants.  Yup, that's what they're called.  Slim fit, olive green, draw-string waist with zipper detailing at the ankles.  I resisted though.  What I wore instead: dark Levi skinny jeans, olive green loose fit sweater, flat boots, bangles.  I tried.  I wore the sweatpants after work to walk the dog.

A Moment of Clarity: I'm Taking the Summer Off

I had a moment of clarity Thursday morning as I stood over my classroom computer printing out a graduate school template before my morning program began at 7:30 AM. Nope. I am not working this summer.

I've always been the teacher to not work summer school, nor was I about to begin this summer.  But I did hear about a special education program in Queens, a twelve month school for students recently released from psychiatric institutions, that needs special education teachers for the summer and pays very well. I guess their teachers also take the summers off.  However, between teaching 6th grade ELA, SETSS, morning school and Saturday Academy plus graduate school, I am beat.  Thankfully NYC public school teachers are salaried, so I don't have to work.

This summer, I will chill. Chill and read young adult books now that my students are above level and voracious readers.  I will likely read those books and more on my stoop, at the park, on the beach and on the plane as I travel the world.  So far I have one trip confirmed-- Mexico City in July-- and another trip in the works.

This traveling teacher is thoroughly looking forward to summer.

Miss M

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Praise in the Face of Subtle Arrogance

Today my co-teacher and I got praise! praise! praise! from our principal during our ELA Meeting. It always feels good to get positive feedback, but to get some in front of a colleague who is forever tooting her horn and counting her similar-in-time-to-mine years as an educator, it felt especially good.

Yes, it is extremely challenging to be a new teacher. However, a new teacher can become an excellent teacher, even as soon as year two. Likewise, my seven years in the system does not make me a veteran nor does it make me automatically a great teacher.

Perhaps it's my humility, which I continue to be oh-so grateful for, or perhaps it's my understanding that to be a teacher is to have embarked on a career-long journey of learning. There is always a way to improve our teaching practice as we strive to educate others. There is always room for growth.

Miss M

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pink Pants & Pink Boots on the Weekend

my pup and I on a Bedstuy block.
trusty navy puffer, light pink pants & leopard gloves from J.Crew, hot pink high-heeled Jodhpurs
glasses from Warby Parker, go-to pink gloss from Victoria's Secret

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Shiny Tweed and Nuetrals

tweed pencil skirt from J.Crew, denim shirt is Gap 1969, knit tights from J.Crew, booties are Steven, gold watch by Guess.

I love the gray and brown combination.  The gold detailing compliments my gold watch and studs.  I love mixing silvers and golds and grays.

denim again silver and black tweed, yes!

my pup and I after the long day.  My trusty gray scarf from the Gap sale bin.

Using a Mood Meter

Since learning about the Mood Meter in graduate class last week, I've already used it twice.  I first used it when I realized my small group, of former self-contained kids that I meet with for support classes, were dealing with a bullying issue.  I also used it the following day, when my co-teacher was talking a seventh grader down from that angry place from which one makes poor, impulsive decisions.

I realize now that the mood meter can be a conflict management device.  I really liked the idea of the tool when I first learned about it; I wondered when and how I might be able to use it in my fast-paced, college-prep, rigorous teaching environment.  Things like mood meters make me long for the days of self-contained and closed doors.

1. Plot mood using energy level and level of pleasantness.  (I used the words good and bad to simplfy it for some of my students.)
2. Write down an emotion word that goes with where you plotted your mood.
3. Ask: What happened to cause this emotion?

And then hopefully, as the girl eventually did, go on to class or whatever the next activity is in a much calmer state.  (On a side note, this student who I had encountered previously in seventh grade coverages, now goes out of her way to tap me and say hello.  I guess for many students, relationships are key-- all or nothing.  I digress...)

One situation you'll find is that students and adults alike do not know how they really feel.  The girl in question plotted herself in the blue and said she was angry when she was no longer angry.  She settled on mad when called on it, but really I think she was hurting.  Naming emotions is hard work, but the longer I teach and the more I learn about SEL, or social emotional learning, the more I tout its importance.

More to come.
Miss M

my much used, color-coded meter from one class period.  I went from green to red when there was a fight, and back to the green.