Tuesday, March 28, 2017

#SOL17 28/31 - Toast

Well, I've fallen off the pace with daily pace this week, with regards to Slice of Life writing. But writing (almost) everyday has been satisfying, invigorating, and inspiring. And that doesn't even take into account reading what others have written. I'm running on fumes right now. If I taught in public school, I'd be enjoying a much needed spring break. But instead, I'm at the mercy of the Jewish calendar, and Pesach doesn't arrive for another two weeks.

The big revelation this month has been how much my third graders love to blog! I had just started blogging with them at the end of February, when I learned about the Slice of Life Challenge. Talk about timing! Whether or not I continue to write on a regular basis, blogging now has a permanent place in my classroom.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

#SOL17 26/31 - One Week and Counting

The older I get, the more I pare away bits and pieces that used to matter to me, but now feel like extra baggage, weighing me down. Things that would preoccupy me on a daily or seasonal basis. Like sports. I used to watch football every weekend. Then, with the advent of the DVR, I could record a game and watch it later, skipping all of the timeouts, TV ads, and even the huddles. The plays and nothing but the plays. (You can bet that my wife and daughter appreciated that). But now, I don't even watch any football at all. The same goes for college basketball and the NCAA tournament, now in progress. I never followed the sport, but I would at least fill out my bracket, watch and root. No more.  And I can't be bothered with my local NBA team either. Tennis? Nope. Do I miss it? Nah.

But even though I'm paring things away, I will be leaving room for the essentials, and when it comes to sports, I have only one essential - the New York Mets. Starting a week from Monday, I will settle into the little rituals that fill my day from April until October (hopefully to the very end of October!). My ridiculously expensive iPhone will serve as an even more ridiculously expensive transistor radio, to which I will be glued each afternoon, following the exploits of the boys in Orange and Blue. From Portland, I will carry on text message, game long conversations with My old friend Brad, in Atlanta, chatting about Wheeler's return to the rotation, Cespedes's homeruns (and his unavoidable slumps), who's hot and who's not. Standing in the shower each morning at 6:00am, I'll be thinking about who is pitching, how many games up (or back) they are. I think you're getting the picture. Obsessed? Well, yeah.

There's a reason this blog is called Mets Diaspora. Far from the homeland of boroughs, bagels, and Long Island beaches, I'm always searching for ways to stay connected to my roots, and nothing represents those roots as much as the team from Flushing. Some things I can't, and won't pare away.

And if you happen to shadow me throughout the day, eventually you're bound to here me singing this little song: https://youtu.be/Jfz7gW2Wf3I

Saturday, March 25, 2017

#SOL 17 25/31 - A Slice From the Past

“Hey Rand, let’s go bowling”. That’s my friend Ross. Musician, artist, restaurant manager, record store owner, late night coffee drinker, and all hours bowler. We’re bowling after midnight at the 24-hour lanes. He’s a better bowler than I, but once in a while I get lucky, and bowl well over one hundred.

I’m standing at the line, looking at a pretty tough spare. Ross knows I’m over thinking it, in danger of psyching myself, and he pushes me further in that direction by start to sing the chorus to Foreigner’s “Head Games”.  I throw the ball. The two pins remain standing. Yep, he knows me well.

Ross died a year ago today. He slipped away while I was riding my bike, listening to his music. (Great band – The Glands). So today, what else was I to do but hop on the bike, plug in the headphones, and listen to my friend. And think about bowling.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

#SOL 17 23/31 - Playtime

The sun broke through just in time for recess. It really felt like spring.  Most of the lower grades were outside. Usually I stand with another teacher or two, scanning the yard and shooting the breeze, responding to the not too occasional gripes from the kids. ("He just took the four square ball and wouldn't give it to me when I asked him and then he kicked it into the mud.").

Today I walked a couple of laps, and tuned in more than I usually do to how the students were spending recess. It struck me more than usual how so many of the kids are just in constant, active motion for twenty minutes. And such a variety of playing modes. My kids' thing this year has been elaborate tag games, so there was a lot of chasing. The swings were full, and the play structures crowded and teeming with whirring limbs. On the basketball court,  the action was more predictable and organized. The playing field has been to muddy for months now for football, but a multi aged group was playing some their own blacktop version with a blue nerf football next to the bark chip playground. In the covered area, a teacher was leading a large group in a jumprope game. I don't know jump rope games. In this game one kid started, then another jumped in, continuing until someone trips up.

But best of all were the three girls standing on two bales of hay, left over from the middle school Charlotte's Web production. They were joyously and enthusiastically performing their own, private song and dance number to a song about sushi.

The joys are there for the taking. You just have to stop and take them.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#SOL17 22/31 - A Promise

I will never teach math in the afternoon again. I will never teach math in the afternoon again.

I switched up the schedule so I could have the iPad cart in the morning for social studies, which meant teaching math in the afternoon, right after recess. This did not go well.

I will never teach math in the afternoon again.

Aside from a couple of kids, they lacked energy, focus, stamina, and interest. And we had such a great morning. I pulled out all the stops - cheering them on! Egging them on! Having the heart to heart "we're really not connecting today. Can anybody think of a reason why?" talk. All I got were glassy stares, the wiggles, and requests to go to the bathroom. So.

I will never teach math in the afternoon again.

I guess there was a reason I taught it in the morning in the first place.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The floor of the laundry room is getting wet. The little throw rugs that cover the concrete are damp after every load. My wife thinks there is a leak from the rear of the machine. But I have a vague recollection of this happening a few years ago, and I start moving the clutter that's accumulated over the last fifteen years and find the drain hole in the floor. There is a little bit of standing water around it. I believe I've found the culprit.

"But if the water is coming up from that drain, how come the rugs close to the drain aren't wet?"
She has me there. But I'm not giving up on my theory.

"The drain is clogged, and that's just messing up all the pipes under the house, and that's causing the wash water outtake to back up."

"Do you even know what you're talking about?"

Of course not. "Yes. Tomorrow I will pour Drano down the drain in the floor and everything will be fine"

Well, today is now tomorrow, and there is a puddle of Drano, which would not go down the drain, on the laundry room floor.

Channelling Dr. Bones McCoy: "Jim, I'm a 3rd grade teacher, not a plumber!"

Monday, March 20, 2017

#SOL17 20/31 - Tick Tock

The classroom clock stopped ticking today. One of the kids pointed it out to me. The clock said that it was 1:58, when it was actually going on 2:10. It wasn't really a big deal. the class got to PE on time, and while they were gone a new clock was installed in the classroom.

No big deal, but it got me thinking. So much of the school day revolves around the clock. Math at 8:30. Language Arts at 9:40. Writers' Workshop at 1:15. Each morning I write the schedule on the board, and I try to stick to it, somedays more successfully than others. But os this the best way to do things? I know that students need (sometimes crave) consistency, but sometimes this adherence to a schedule seems counterintuitive. What if, instead, we worked on something until it was done - taught a lesson until it seemed the class got it? Maybe even longer if we were having fun! What if we spent more time reading independently, just because everyone was really into their books? To be honest, I've moved more in this direction. I no longer put the time next to the item on the schedule. But it is a sequence, nonetheless.

My favorite sport is baseball. One of the things I love about it is that there's no clock. Teams play unit the inning is over, inning by inning until there are nine in the books, and sometimes more. They play unit they get the job done. And during the seventh inning, everyone gets up, stretches, and sings a song.

Anyway, we have a working clock again!