Tuesday, September 30, 2003

first day online in the new place . . .

It's been a long stretch of homelessness--depending on friends, or just simply traveling around for freedom. But now it's back to setting up house again. Thinking back, this is the seventh place I've had since graduating college. Seven homes in eight years, sounds like a lot, but three were squeezed into a period of 6 months. This new home comes with a new roommate and two family members down the street. It also comes with a lovely park, Central Park. It also comes with a pee-stained, graffitied elevator. Overall, the good outweighs the bad here. We're overstuffed with stuff. The Colonel (roommate's mom) did us right with window treatments, swags, pics in assorted arrangments, even a new threshhold for the kitchen entry where none had been put in. We, I, feel taken care of in this home, surrounded by stuff.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Do you hear them? School bells, friends. Year two, day 1, Monday, September 8, 2003. My post: fourth grade inclusion, which means the class will consist of half special education students (some who will have physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, others with emotional problems, others with learning disabilities), and general education students who have been identified to require more than the regular classroom environment provides. Two teachers work with these students at all times, one special education and one general education teacher. The class also has a general para-professional, and some individual students have their own para-professional assigned to accompany and assist them each day. (A para is like an assistant teacher.)

As Monday begins, my environment will be made up of 5 adults and 17 students, quite a change from one teacher to twenty-some-odd students, quite a relief for me.

I am one of the lucky ones at P.S. "She's Going Back to That School!" Ms. D, my principal, chose me to co-teach with Ms. G. Ms. G is a real teacher. Even in the midst of Mary J. Blige's kind of "drama," she maintains herself in her own foundation of what it is to educate children--a combination of the self-knowledge she has gained working as a teacher for 10 years, and the desire to understand curriculum and how students best learn it. Ms. D has come to think of Ms. G in the capacity of teacher trainer. She chose me to learn from her. It is a luxury, friends. Especially since I have never been trained, just plopped down into one of the thousands of schools across the country caught in a black hole of low performance, and doused in societal dysfunction, "where teachers can't teach and children can't learn." I heard that one at the Dean rally--some politician from Brooklyn going for the line. (Dean didn't speak in sound bites, though. He spoke in detail. He is thoughtful.)

Even with this spot, the year will not be easy. It will be hard. It will be physically and emotionally draining. But this year I hope the stretch derives in more instances from learning how to teach rather than how to keep the masses from busting out the doors. I love these children. That has carried me through and gives them some stability, but they need more. They need chances.

Pronto (soon), as my friend likes to say.
Sistra Teach