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Friday, March 20, 2015

Eat them up, yum!

In a moment of unwisdom today, I taught my students the roly poly fish heads song. Sometimes you're pouring little piles of goldfish crackers onto napkins and these things just happen.

(Yes, I am a highly trained professional educator. And like most in my line of work I spend a great deal of time dishing out class snack, opening Go-Gurt tubes, and putting newly-lost teeth in ziplock baggies. I teach 5th grade.)

(Did you know that the fish heads song has a whole bit about drinking cappuccino with oriental women? I didn't until I played it in its entirety on the Smart Board this afternoon. The lyrics passed uncommented on.)

Perfectionism and teaching never go really well together, and sometimes they clash in ways that make me want to crawl under a bed and hide for the rest of my life.

(When was the last time I fit under a bed? Do you remember what it was like down there? Dark and quiet and smelling like your pets?)

Today was the day my kids began drafting the 'informed opinion pieces' that are supposed to be the final product of this district mandated writing unit that takes months and months to complete, and at least last year did ultimately result in some pretty fine fifth grade writing. Which is a good thing because it is a LONG unit filled with recursive reading of challenging texts, and though the topic is engaging and the kids actively participate in the discussions and activities, they tend to come away from the experience believing that they hated every minute of it. When my students from last year drop by (which they do fairly often as their middle school is right next door), they see the anchor charts on the wall and shudder "Oh no. You're doing that unit?" (It doesn't kill them, and it does make them stronger, so...?)

Anyway, you know the concept of the terrible first draft? Imagine feeling personally responsible for 25 terrible first drafts. I am not actually personally responsible for them, of course. They reflect the students' growth and effort as opposed to mine, and I can no more take credit for the incomplete sentences and half-baked ideas being scratched out today than I can for the beautiful final drafts my kids submitted last year. It's about them. Not me.

I think I do an ok job of keeping my neurotic anxiety to myself in the classroom. You should hear how chill and promising that things will get fixed and made better later I am with anxious writers. (I never take that attitude with myself.) Then I go home and want to cry because apparently none of my students know how to write a sentence.

It was the first day of writing. I need to chill.


It was my birthday last Wednesday, so I made myself a cake. Damn skippy you can make your own birthday cake if the best cake in the world is your grandma's recipe and no one you know (including yourself) knows how to make it. I thought learning it would be a great gift to myself.

Um... in spite of my best efforts, it did not look much like my grandma's cake when I finished with it

J said I should take a picture of it, and at first I resisted. It was UGLY! My "fluffy white frosting" did not set right and was more runny than fluffy. Also, I might have taken it out of the oven a minute or two too soon, and I DEFINITELY had slapstick misadventures trying to get the hot angel food cake pan inverted onto a bottle in a timely fashion, so it collapsed a little.

It tasted good, though, and I am trying to be more at one with first drafts of all sorts, so here it is.

Delicious! Droopy, but delicious.

 Notice! It's half gone! Because it's delicious! Maybe by this time next year I'll master the art of tasty AND pretty, but if I have to have one or the other, I suppose I got the better of the two.

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