Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Yesterday after my morning Penn class there was an afternoon full of Teach for America sessions. First up was a workshop and following that was a town hall discussion on the state of our region... that's when everything seemed to go out the window. Apparently our Mid-Atlantic region is one of the most dissatisfied in the program, so Teach for America brought in some national staff members to sit down in small groups (about fifty corps members in each) to hold town hall discussion to find out what we're not thrilled with. While it was very open and candid, the room had a rather tense feel to it, and few people made positive comments. Complaints were made in almost all aspects of the program in Philadelphia, from professional development sessions, to our program directors, to feelings of hostility, and anger at Teach for America's handling of our program at Penn.

In terms of our Penn program, what angered most people is that Friday afternoon, right before our Friday classes were about to start, all corps members received this enigmatic e-mail from someone at Penn saying that our Penn program director was going to be moved to a new position. It did not mention why, and it was not an e-mail from our director. Anyone who has ever talked to Dina (our director) would know that she would not have chosen to leave on her own accord - she did an amazing job at managing all of us, she was prompt and tactful with all of our dealings, and she was present at every one of our Penn days. And then, abruptly, she is gone, with no explanation. Rumor had it that Teach for America did not like the direction the program was heading and chose to replace her. I really hope this is not true, because we are all paying tens of thousands of dollars to go to Penn, and I for one do not want my Penn experience tainted with Teach for America's values. If the Penn program has a different view of what education needs to look like in this country, it should be welcomed and Teach for America should not be threatened by it.

Anyway, it was an interesting day and I was very proud that during the town hall discussion no one let their tempers or annoyances at Teach for America show and instead spoke openly about their grievances (which were many).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In the Full Moon's Light

Unexpected snow day yesterday? Amazing. Infected mouth sore that is causing me wicked headaches? Not so amazing. Last Thursday I went out to eat at a Vietnamese noodle restaurant nearby my house and burned my palate on a spring roll of all things. It must have JUST come out of the oven because I tossed it in my mouth, burned the top of my mouth, and felt a piece of skin tear off. Since then it's been sore but healing, but now I think it's infected and I've been up since 4:45AM (after having gone to bed around 1AM) from a headache stemming from my mouth. Not amazing.

I cannot stop reflecting on this past weekend and what a great time I had. I feel as though every moment of the weekend was great: great friends, great places, great food, great everything! From our cheesesteak challenge, to 2AM IHOP meals, to roaming around the city; it was a great weekend. Sad that it's about to be overshadowed by a very stressful half week ahead of me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Thanks for the Shots..."

Winthrop came to Philly for President's Day and a great weekend was had!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Imaginary Relationships

It feels as though I make up relationships in my head that don't exist. Maybe it's because I think too deeply about the relationships I have with people I meet that I begin to weave a tale of something that's not even there. And when I go on a date with someone that I'm not technically "seeing" then my mind tries to delve deeper and create a relationship out of something that's not there. Call me the "faux relationship master" because even though my last relationship ended in September, my brain is still trying to concoct a relationship that's not there anymore.

...and I always come off clingy!

In the words of Carrie Bradshaw: "I revealed too much too soon. I was emotionally slutty."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cosmic Love

Alexander the Great and I have been co-habitating quite well since I adopted him. He doesn't make a mess, he doesn't stay up running around all night anymore, and he takes good care of his litter box. My only concern is that he continually scratches the rugs and neglects his scratch post. And he loves to come and jump onto my lap when I'm sitting at my desk, which is adorable.

Valentine's Day is tomorrow. I'd have to say that it's probably my most loathed day of the year. I don't think I've ever done anything exciting on it or had someone to spend it with - although I don't think I would make a big deal about it either way. I wish I taught at a normal school where kids would pass out Valentines to each other, but alas, no such event tomorrow.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

When A Stranger Calls

I was buying some veggies in Chinatown this morning and I had an experience with this European woman in the market. While shopping in the two little produce markets that I have come to call my local spots in the city, I rarely see other non-Chinese (or Asians) browsing around. But today this European girl bumped into me. She looked at me with these big eyes, perhaps surprised to see another "white" face amongst her? - I don't know. Anyway, she said "excuse me" and went on her way. When I went up to pay, I was behind her in line. I took no notice of her but when she finished paying she said goodbye to me and nodded her head. Not to the saleswoman, but to me. And this isn't the first time I've noticed some camaraderie among other non-Asians while shopping in Chinatown. Is it because we're the minority in this Chinese enclave? I enjoy shopping in Chinatown and I never think twice about the people I see around me, but I guess others may not be feeling the same way.

I think this is similar to the camaraderie I always feel while using public transportation with my fellow humans. I'm always fascinated with how complete strangers will come together in shared anguish when trains are delayed or when you're on a train that stops for ten minutes because the "train up ahead in stalled." Complete strangers look each other in the eye and shake their heads in common annoyance. I love it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Trail of Hugs

I made an observation today:

With my third graders, it seems that when you get one hug, you then get a line of hugs. It's the power of positivity and happiness! You see, in the mornings (or when we line up after class) there is almost always one student who will saunter over to me and sneak a hug. Well, they're not really sneaking because the rest of the class always sees and that's what prompts at least three or four more students to come over for a hug. 

For example, today when we were walking into the auditorium for dismissal, one student came up to me for a hug and before I knew it, I was hugging the four kids left in my line who hadn't entered yet, one by one. 

It seems this goes against my earlier teaching goal of "rule the classroom through fear" and instead I'm "ruling through hugs." And it seems to be working! No matter how bored a kid may look in class, or how big a pain they may be in class, they will always appreciate some form of positive acknowledgement outside the classroom.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Date Night

Know what I hate? The after-first date experience. What I find most awkward is when the date is over and you'e both about to head your separate ways home and there's those few seconds of "...well...I had a nice night...see you again?" and then you both awkwardly head in two different directions. Throw in a busy downtown location and it gets even worse.

And then there is the "after-date wait" where you aren't sure if you should wait to make the first word or let them. You think, "well if he had a good time and wants to see me again, then he'll make the first effort to reach out to me." Then after that you instantly realize, "but what if he's thinking the same thing and waiting for me to make the first move?" And then there is an awkward limbo-wait time before someone reaches out to verify a good time was had.

Even after both parties have confirmed a good time was had on said date, there is then the lag before any effort is made to make a follow-up hang out. "Should I suggest another date? But what if he's not interested...?" Or the more commonly thought "well if he's interested he'll set something up" and then again you realize they're probably waiting for you to take the initiative.

I guess in this world there's only one thing to do when dating: grow a pair of balls and hope for the best.