Sunday, September 29, 2013

13th Grade

How to deal with challenging co-workers.

I often joke that teaching is like being in the 13th grade. Things you thought you left behind in high school continue in the workplace.  And sometimes it's like we never left middle school.


The gossip: do you best not to partake. The same way you are including in the session, is just as easily you'll be the topic of discussion.  I never forgot when during my first week of my first year teaching, I was involved in a large gossip session at lunch. No one knew me and I didn't know them, but it didn't matter.

The competition: know that there is room for all of us to be successful. Address undercover negative comments with a question such as, "What do you mean by that?"  Or if you prefer to speak through actions, ignore attempts by others to engage you in unnecessary competition, and know it really isn't about you.  I have experienced competition dealing with whose class a group children like best to my teacher wardrobe. People will compete with you even when you are simply being yourself.

The sabotage: it's not all about stealing brooms, teacher books and even furniture, sometimes things get ugly. Learn from these experiences-- for starters, write your name on everything!-- but remain open though wiser. Most people won't go to the level some will. My second year teaching, also the year I begrudgingly taught science, a colleague gave me high school textbooks to use with my self-contained students. Months later, in my struggles, I showed it to someone else and we realized it was not a 10th grade textbook, and most certainly not what the general education 8th graders were using.  I've also had, in addition to the previously mentioned items, a projector stolen (and recovered) as well as personal bangles lent to a cultural exhibit for Black History Month (read about that lesson here).

The attitude: each day is a new day. It helps to be cordial with all but know that some colleagues will not return a greeting, and it is not personal.  My first few years, I greeted each adult I crossed paths with. Eventually I realized some were not responding to me, but actually giving me looks.  Fact is: there are many grumpy, unhappy-with-life people in the workplace; do your best not to become one of them.

And when it comes to middle school antics, like you're sitting in my seat when there are no assigned seats during department meetings or it's not my fault that I was invited on the trip when you're really discussing self-contained students being including on a grade-wide trip and not a party invitation, stay on the higher ground.  Keep it professional as you address what you must, and then let it go.  At the end of the day, you are the one who is putting your best foot forward at all times. Don't succumb to mean person or petty antics. And when it's time to leave the school building for the day, leave it all behind. You have a full life to live, so go forth and enjoy the second part of your day.

Miss M

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

All About the Acessories!

Here are some quick photos before I biked off to work in my attempt to get there earlier to take care of a few things before first period.  I thoroughly enjoyed my necklaces and I will say my, outfit got me though my incredibly busy day.  Teaching sixth grade is draining! 

 Old Navy blouse, Target skirt, Forever 21 & J.Crew Factory necklaces, Uniqlo jacket

I like the mix of casual jacket with my outfit.  It helps to tone things down a bit, and since the jacket is long, its perfect to bike with when in a fitted skirt.

J.Crew Factory tights, Seychelles heels, also worn here
 The navy (and black) tights helped further break-up an otherwise black and white outfit.  I prefer to stay away from typical color combinations. 

Cropped Pants and Ruby Woo

Here's my Monday outfit.  There's something easy about cropped pants.  I back to biking in heels.  I enjoyed the flannel-otherwise-casual-button-down with cropped-work-pants.  I buttoned my top all the way up and added a long necklace for interest.  My bright red lipstick finished off this look, adding polish to an otherwise simple look.

MAC Ruby Woo lipstick, J.Crew Factory giraffe necklace, Warby Parker frames
Old Navy Flannel shirt, Gap cropped pants, Frye pumps

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Navy, Black & Brown: Fun with Neutrals

I made it to Friday!

Here's what I wore:
ASOS dress, J.Crew cardigan, J.Crew Factory tights, Frye pumps, MAC So Chuad lipstick

An easy, bike-friendly cotton skater dress, funky tights, and pumps. I felt so dark, so of course I added my pop of color up top.

It's tempting for teachers to totally checkout wardrobe-wise on Fridays, but after a long week and it only being the second week of school, I had to stay strong. A nice outfit makes everything better.  Since I had my graduate classes on Thursdays this year, I know Fridays may be a bit rough. 


Have a great weekend everyone!

Miss M

Many Colors at Work

 Once again, I am all buttoned up with a collared necklace.  I had a lot of fun with this colorful outfit.  I needed something bright to get me through my long day teaching sixth graders and then heading uptown for two, long graduate classes.  This outfit, complete with chunky arm candy, did the trick.

M.A.C. Girl About Town under Stilla gloss, also worn here; necklack from H&M, also worn here

J.Crew factory blazer, GAP 1969 denim shirt, ASOS navy high-waist pencil skirt (fits me perfectly, but I wore my shirt untucked because it was a bit too much for work), J.Crew leather ballet flats

glasses by Warby Parker, Guess watch, J.Crew bracelet

All in the Shoes

I thoroughly enjoyed my stockings and peep-toe heels combination this week.  I am easing my way into fall, and decided to pair these burgundy tights with teal and gray heels.  Yes!

tights from J.Crew Factory, find them here; sandals by Seychelles, find a similar pair here
Okay, now that I got that out of the way, here is the rest of my outfit.  I had initially planned to wear this top and skirt with fuchsia pumps and matching lipstick, but then I realized I had tights burgundy tights and could have a little fun with my shoes.

side view
blouse from Target, J.Crew pencil skirt, earrings from Express
jacket from Uniqlo

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

TL: Students Deserve Honest, Yet Sensitive Feedback

The school year is off to a great start-- my new co-teacher is awesome, we're establishing consistent routines and procedures and my new curriculum is engaging, as well rigorous and thorough. In addition to rolling out our intense unit on the second day of school, we are also actively establishing our classroom culture as we revise, add on and re-teach expectations and procedures. It is a lot of work!  Sixth graders need structure, structure and structure.  It takes time to teach procedures so that they are rooted enough to last the whole year. Our challenge so far is to condense and teach lessons that are meant for longer class periods, as well as teach to our classroom culture. Nonetheless, are getting it done!

I'll post some classroom photos soon. Yesterday, I had a mini realization. I realized that students want honest feedback even if its something they don't want to hear. I was giving feedback during one of our many group discussion based lessons, and I focused on the positive about a particular group. They then self-assessed and shared their negative which is that a specific group member was not participating. I had noticed this and addressed it with little success.  While I didn't want to call out a specific student and focus on the negative when the rest of the group was great, they wanted and expected me too.

Teacher lesson: honest, though sensitive feedback is key. Likewise, when it came to the group that had conflicts most of the period-- from who would be the group manager and why to how the note taker was taking notes-- I addressed their struggles while giving them acknowledgement for getting it together in the end, as evidenced by the work they produced. 

I realize my tendency to focus on the positive is part who I am, and part six years as a special educator teaching 12:1:1 classes. However, in my new inclusion setting, the students are not as fragile and deserve honest, yet sensitive feedback.   

Miss M

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

All Buttoned-Up

Highlights of today's outfit: collar necklace, pop of color and lipgloss.  I have been dying to wear necklace, and thoroughly enjoyed this buttoned-all-the-way-up look.  I can see myself wearing it with skinny jeans and well-heeled boots for an after work look.  The pop of color was suggested by my boyfriend as I struggled to choose footwear after realizing how chilly it is outside-- too cold for open toes!  The lipgloss-- I am in love with!  I made a recent trip to Sephora with a good friend, and we both came away with many goodies.  This lipgloss wears like a lipstick and truly lasts all day with one application!  Love love. 

Stay All Day Vinyl Lip Gloss
 by Stella in fuchsia, find it here   
favorite chambray button-down from Old Navy, J.Crew denim pencil skirt, J.Crew Cece leather ballet flats (similar here), Forever 21 necklace
rings from H&M and Nordstrom, Guess watch, Express beaded bracelet, J.Crew pave link bracelet (find it here, or similar one here)
denim on denim!
loving these flats!  flat and a pop of bright, bright yellow

Friday, September 13, 2013

Parental Involvement is Key!

I slept in this morning until 6:45!  This week I've been getting up at 5:25 to train for the Bedstuy 10k, but after yesterday's long day at work I decided to rest. Yesterday was parent-orientation at my school, and of course most of the teachers who showed were sixth grade parents. Awesome!  My estimate is that we say over one third of the sixth grade parents.

Having parental support is key for student and teacher success.  My co-teacher and I spoke to that as we briefly outlined our rigorous Common Core State Standards aligned curriculum, our first unit using Percy Jackson and the Lighting Theif in conjuction with Greek Mythology and informational texts, as well as our indepedent reading initiative. This year I am ecstatic to have a curriculum given to me. I've never had one before in my eight years of teaching, and this one is thorough!  One lesson is eight pages long, and includes relevant homework. That is where parental support comes in. Teachers need parents to sit down with their children, check their planners, make sure they complete their homework and read daily. 

Nonetheless, I find myself excited about this school year.  abeautiful teaching schedule-- I teach all periods of 6th grade ELA with my co-teacher, the grounds for successful inclusion model!-- strong routines in place, involved parents and so far sweet kids.

Miss M

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sunshine in a Dress!

It's only three days into the school year and I am exhausted!  The year is off to a great start, but all the work it takes to structure a school year coupled with my still-in-summer-mode sleeping schedule is truly draining. 

I hesitated to wear this lemon yellow, nearly neon dress because September makes me feel like fall colors, but I'm glad I did!  I warmed up my look with my burnt orange cardigan and brown pumps. Love love!

Cora dress from J.Crew Factory, Jackie dress from J.Crew

Giraffe necklace from J.Crew Factory, Guess watch & chunky pave bracelet from J.Crew


I even broke out my fall, in other words only dark lipstick: Cyber by M.A.C. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Colorblocking: The Story of a First Day of School Outfit

Here are some quick shots of my first day of school outfit, just before I hurried off to work in my attempt to get there "early" and before I realized my bra was visible under my thin tee.  Ah, the tales of getting dressed in a ground floor, low-light apartment!  I am loving burgundy and pink together.  I'll be wearing that combo again very soon!

colorblocked: fuchsia lips, burgundy tee, mustard skirt, hot pink pumps

J.Crew Factory tissue tee, J.Crew pencil skirt, Cooperative canvas pumps From Urban Outfitters, leopard J.Crew tote.

MAC lipstick in "Girl About Town, H&M necklace

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Second Year of Co-Teaching 6th Grade: What I Know Now

I realized last year that teaching on age sixth graders who are actually 10-11 years old is a lot different than the overage, emotionally disturbed and learning disabled students I was accustomed to. My seventh and eighth grade self-contained students ranged from 13-16 years old on average.  What a major difference!

Sixth graders are very needy. While seventh graders are the babies who are part grown, sixth graders are simply the babies of middle school.  They need and want adults to tell them what to do and how to do everything, including how to sit in a chair during class and when to sharpen their pencils.  That was new for me.

This year in addition to respecting self, teachers, peers and environment in sixth grade ELA, students will do the following:

students will talk only with permission. While productive chatter doesn't bother me, I learned sixth graders cannot handle talking in class.  Productive chatter quickly and easily turns to ridiculously silly chaos.  I was able to allow my self-contained students to talk quietly, partly because I had to also choose my battles and thankfully they were able to quiet down when necessary. However there are no battles in comparison in my current teaching situation, so talking out of turn will not be tolerated. 

students will stay in their seat.  While I notice just about everything, a student getting up without permission was never cause  for me to reprimand or really call attention to. However, that has changed.  In a class of 30 sixth graders, or really any middle school grade for that matter, it is necessary for students to keep their seats in order to maintain just that: order. 

students will not chew, eat food candy or drink anything but water.  While I didn't encourage gum chewing in my past classes, it wasn't a battle I chose to combat. Sixth graders, on the other hand, will put gum everywhere even if its not allowed.  I may just hold a basket at the door this year. 

Consistency with all students regardless of grade is key. It's how students learn what is expected and tolerated. I live for new beginnings. The beginning of a school year is the perfect chance to think through and visualize every aspect of my classroom and create routines and procedures to make them happen. 

This year will be better than the last, and hopefully will include less sixth grade tantrums. The tears, the hiding, the sitting on the floor, all of the tantrum-type behavior was new for me last year. Nonetheless, I love teaching sixth grade, and the second year doing so in my eighth year of teaching must be a charm.  

Miss M

A Day in the Park

I meant to post these photos from my afternoon at Soul Summit, a house music day party in Fort Greene park.  I had a lovely time with friends, enjoying our picnic, cocktails and the music.  There is nothing like dancing in the park and people-watching on a summer evening!


American Apparel cropped top in neon pink, Urban Outfitters midi pencil skirt in deep red, white Converse sneakers, L.L. Bean cloth tote bag, M.A.C. Heroine lipstick.

fried chicken & potato wedges from KFC, cheese, tomato and herb plate, assorted juices, rum & wine:)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Simply Bright on my Bike

I have been extra busy beginning this new school year!  Thankfully teachers report to work for two days the week before children start school. In two days, I met my new co-teacher, set up my our classroom, created opening day procedures and classroom routines, and attended a full day of in-house professional developments and meetings.  I'm also still in summer mode of hanging out nightly and sleeping late, so I am exhausted!  Thankfully we have two days off for the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah. 

Here's what I wore to my second day of work with no students I'm the building:

J.crew blouse, Express pants, Converse, MAC Heroine lipstick, J.Crew pink stud earrings, Dolce & Gabbana sunnies

Initial ring from Urban Outfitters, Betsy Johnson watch & charm bracelet, Express white bangle

By the way the Ortlieb panniers that O bought me as my birthday gift are amazing!  On this day I carried a large, heavy plant on one side as well as otherwise cumbersome charts, posters, sentences strips, my lunch bag, water bottle, ipad, and pouch on the other side.  I can't believe it took me so long to get panniers! 

Okay, Almond, the dog in the bottom left-hand corner above is waiting nicely for me to talk him out.  I am trying to get up and out early even though I am off from work. 

Miss M

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bright Colors in Negril!

I've finally got around to sorting through pictures from my week in Jamaica.  I had a beautiful time with my boyfriend and our mothers.  Negril is a lot more touristy than my recent travels, but we had a great time nonetheless. 

At the airport, newly arrived in Negril, Jamaica! ASOS cropped shirt, American Apparel easy jeans, D&G sunnies, Betsy Johnson locket, Express black heat necklace

in the shade

Old Navy tank, Target skirt, DV sandals, D&G sunnies

picking a flower for my hair


at the Jamaican market bargaining!
saltfish and ackee, Jamaica's national dish.  Our taxi driver took us to this local spot in town.  those Johnny cakes were delicious!
on an early morning run, nice and empty beach!
this jerk chicken is the best I've ever had!  at De Bar" in West End, another taxi driver recommendation
at De Bar, very visually cool spot with semi-outdoor dinning area.

Urban Outfitters dress at Just Natural, an awesome spot also in the West End
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the "Jamaican Breakfast" at Just Natural.  delicious saltfish and ackee, callaloo, breadfruit, Johnny cake with banana preserves and and tropical fruit

stunning sunset on Seven Mile Beach