Tuesday, September 30, 2008

For the love of language

Sitting outside the classroom, waiting for parent pick up today:

Issac*: Ms. Ng?
Me: Yes?
Issac: Do you speak Spanish?
Me: No.
Issac: Yes?
Me: No. (I shake my head)
Issac: Yes! (he nods vigorously)
Me: (thinks to myself, "Ms. Ng, you cultural dumbnut.") Oh, yes, "no" means no in Spanish.
Issac: Yes! You speak Spanish!
Me: (trying very hard to hold in the side-splitting laugher bubbling up) Si, I speak a little Spanish. Do you?
Issac: (huge grin) Yes!
Me: No?
Issac: (pauses and thinks for a moment - I could almost hear the cogs in his head clicking) Si!!


Monday, September 29, 2008

Just a note...

The brand spanking new fun books I ordered arrived today, as well as E's gift of the 6th season of 24 (Go Jack, go!), which means I have much to distract me from real work or not-so-read work (like this blog) so I'm making this short.

Today was a good teaching day. =) I feel like a weight has been lifted from my back. I hope it continues.

That is all.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Playing favorites

Student teachers (and teachers in general) are told not to have favorites because scientific observation proves these favorites will out perform non-favorites academically. Putting aside the idea of why can't all your students be your favorite, I'm shamelessly admitting that I've got mine.

Issac* has the cutest face I've ever seen. He resembles the blonde fur puppy in the photo above - although he isn't blonde, as well as tons livelier. I never really understood the term "liquid eyes" before, but this kid has got them. He is smart, well behaved, listens attentively, participates, and is in general the kind of student every teacher loves to teach. He is slightly on the mischievous side, but that is what prevents him from being a robot and brings him into the realm of charmer.

Kate* reminds me of me. She is supremely shy, doesn't have a whole lot of confidence, and it takes A LOT to bring her out of her shell. She's like the white puppy with the sleepy eyes in the photo, her hair and the puppy's hair has exactly the same texture. A little sad-faced, a little world-weary, but a really sweet kid. When she does open up it's like the transformation of a sunflower seed into a sunflower. Sadly, she's considered one of the "lower" or "not at proficient" students, however I believe there is a lot of potential with her.

I really wish I could use a real photo of them, but that's supposedly considered child abuse or some such thing. This previous week was a really tough teaching week for me, not just at WB but for YR too. I guess everyone just had a difficult week.

But these two kiddos made it worth it. =) Ms. Ng appreciates your presence in her class.

*names are changed


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Ok, I'm ready to be a CPA now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rule of the day

Rulers are not light sabers.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Clues and wanderings

How come I'm most tempted to buy wanted, but imprudent, things just when my wallet can't handle it? Really, I might have to sell this mac in order to pay for next semester.

5 English speakers + 1 Cantonese speaker + 1 rather shallow curriculum = me pulling out my hair in fistfuls.

I'm not sure my CT really enjoys me being in her classroom...student teachers get such an awkward position.

Baja Fresh's chips and guacamole were surprisingly satisfying today.

Babies are funny when they drool.

Ok, so my financial situation is not as dreary as the picture states, but tonight I am strongly wishing I had filled out a FAFSA for the 08-09 school year. My cash reserves are just getting a little too low for comfort.

I'm also getting a little too sloppy for comfort. It's clean up time!

Photo from here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back to school night

This past Wednesday was the dreaded back to school night. Why dreaded? I don't know. All the parents who came and stayed beyond getting free school supplies were nice and attentive and interested. If they weren't they wouldn't have stayed.

But my CT was kind of disconcerted about meeting parents. She was jittery and talked a little too much in my opinion. I would have loved to mingle around and talked one-on-one with the parents. I would have also loved to ask those who wanted to sign up for home visits and volunteering. Parents are a huge resource and teachers generally don't use them enough.

I suppose I would feel jittery too, but I know many parents of my current/former students and I have never had an unpleasant situation with any of them. I suppose I'm lucky in that sense. Unless there is some unfortunate upheaval, the guardians of students only want what's best for their student. Which should be in line with the teacher's wishes as well.

I really wanted to reassure my CT that things will be fine and it'll work out and parents aren't as demanding as she seemed to think they are. Perhaps she wasn't so lucky as I was with the parental units of her students. Parents can be quite anxious and they have the ability to take it out on their kid's teacher.

Props to the parents who came! My parents never went to a back-to-school night in my entire academic career. Not because they didn't care, but because they trusted the public education system enough to let it do it's thing. Oh, and they worked 16 hours a day, including weekends, which puts a damper on extra activities such as these.

Which goes back to the theoretical usefulness of newsletters. Many parents regularly ask their kids what they did in school, but it's nice to have some confirmation from a teacher's authority. I haven't gotten mine out for Sunday school yet. But I swear it will happen!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Well, I was hoping that I could blog a lot more than I have recently. Because there is a lot to write about and writing helps me process. However, that hasn't happened and the following is why.

- My CT is an overachiever. Which is good. Except for the fact that I'm slightly overachieving too. And that makes for a very long, very thorough to-do list.

- My dad had some surgery. Long story short, the point of this part is that Kaiser sucks. And it takes a lot longer to make mashed potatoes than I thought it does.

- A college friend is getting married tomorrow. Yay! There are various preparations for this as well, and I'm a lot slower (read: more fastidious) than I used to be about certain things related to dress and appearance and social occasions.

- Readings, journals, reflections, lesson plans, unit plans, PACT (which deserves an entire series of entries to explain), and the fact that my selective memory has kicked in leaving a lot of last minute rushes makes for a wiped out Bonnie by the time the weekend rolls around.

- An other college friend is in Japan and requested some care package items that were so hard to find that I have yet to locate them to this day. I blame this God-forsaken dump of a town rather than said friend's hippie tastes.

- I have to lesson and unit plan for Sunday School too. Here, I'm allowed a lot more freedom. But that doesn't mean I'm working with curriculum that's better than Open Court or Saxon Math. Side question: What is with this preoccupation with witchcraft and psychics? I swear, I'm going to stumble along a lesson involving lighter fluid and a hundred copies of Harry Potter one of these days.

- A China teammate is now in Laos and I know shipping to Laos is on another level from shipping to Japan, thus planning a Halloween/Thanksgiving package needs to start last week.

- Did I mention the incredible amount of work that is involved in Phase II?

Anyway, this may seem like complaining, but to me, I'm just writing down what I've been up to for the past two weeks. It's difficult and time consuming and it makes me want to veg out in front of the TV for a month in order to recover from a week of this pounding schedule, but I love it. For sure.

Happy thought of the week: I taught an awful lesson on Tuesday. But I got lots of hugs and "I love you, Ms. Ng! You're my favorite teacher!" notes from various Ss. I don't like kids in general, but sometimes they make me all warm and fuzzy and think that having kids of my own might not be so bad. =)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Whoever says, "SES doesn't affect kids," is in denial

Case in point: Chernobyl teen wants to stay in US

Hmm, return home to a nuclear fallout landscape or snatch at the possibility of living in sunny Cali for the rest of my life? Decisions, decisions....

Not that CA is all that grand *ahem*arnold*ahem* right now. Still, there are plenty of positives that I often forget.

Like when I hear of tuition fees in other states like Ohio.

Or when I hear of produce prices (as well as selection) on the Atlantic coast in the dead of winter.

Or when some White Bread wanna-be ANTM decides that hate-spurred shooting deaths of transgender persons isn't "closed minded" thinking, it's just "traditional."

Cali doesn't seem to bad after all.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

So I don't write very well when I'm cranky and overheated and feeling slightly abandoned...

But I'm over it. For now. On with some random things that will fit nicely into an envelop and tucked away into a cubby until it's necessary to pull out again later. Or not. Just like what half those parents would do to the letters home my CT sent with the Ss on the first day of school.

In my opinion, 99.9% of parents don't really want to be bothered with what their kid is learning is school. Let me explain.

Parents care, I know they do. For the most part at least, and as far as their energies will allow. But they like to think that their kid is cared for while at school. They put a lot of trust into the CT and the school environment to bring up their kid.

Case in point #1: the growing need for teachers to teach morals, manners, and acceptable social behavior in the classroom. Up until very recently, all of this was taught at home and only reinforced at school. Like it or not, the trend is towards schools taking responsibility for non-academic learning as well. Too bad teachers and schools don't get extra money for moral performance.

Case in point #2: although a church Sunday School is VERY different from everyday Monday-through-Friday school, this principle stays the same. I don't even see the parents of my Sunday School kids on a regular basis. They do not question what I teach, nor do they visit the class. I'm not even sure they have any interest in their kids' Sunday School learning...because, let's face it, Sunday School is boring.

But I don't want my Sunday School to be. So I'm working on a once-every-other-month newsletter to communicate with parents. I don't really want to print them (the expense), but I also work from a mac so the newsletter formats might not cross-over in email-land. Plus, I don't know every parent's email. Maybe printing and copying them are my only do-able choice.

Which leads to my question, after many winds and turns, how do teachers keep in touch with the parents of their kids? I'm sure some don't even see them unless their kid is acting out or failing. But that's not really acceptable to me. I want to at least be on communicative terms with the parents of my Ss. It'll help me teach better.

Well, I'll try the electronic version of the newsletter for the first round. And then try something else if it's not doing what it's supposed to do. Trial and error is never easy.

In other news, now that all my course syllabi are in my hands, and I've stopped freaking out about the immense amount of workload, it's time to get down to business.

Lesson planning isn't as bad as some people see it. It's also not as good as how veteran teachers see it. I see it as a chore that must be done, and thus I spent nearly all of Friday working on this upcoming week's LP's. I'm glad they are done.

Now on with the real assignments.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A convoluted story if I ever heard one

At the end of May this year, I registered for my fall classes. No biggie right? Millions of students across the nation, across the world, does this. I'm a veteran at registration. I've done this about 12-15 times. Not including summer sessions.

Yesterday, I found out I was registered for the wrong class. Except it's right. Except it's wrong. Except it's right. And the entire staff and crew over in the Office of the Registrar and as well as the Department of Teacher Ed. is having a blast of a tennis match over who is right and who is wrong with students caught in the cross-fire like poorly trained ballboys/girls.

Anyway, to make a long story short, this is why section numbers should be abolished. Or at least a better system put in place with less confusion. I personally don't understand why one class offering, with one instructor and one meeting time, and only 23 students in the entire damn class, should have 4 sections. It's the same class damn it! It's not like Bio Sci 101 where there's a gazillion students each term and sections must be offered in order to accommodate them.

Just another thing to not get hung up over.

So....anyone watch the RNC this week? The elections are probably the only thing more controversial than what's going on at CSUS's registration codes.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


This whole student teaching/going to school/working thing isn't letting me swim as much as I would like.

I haven't swam since...last Tuesday. Today is only the 3rd class I've missed, but it seems like forever ago. And it's hot, and I WANT to swim.

But I can't.

So boo.

Ok, I'm allowed to get over it now.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Things that went through my head during the first day of school

- crap, it's early.

- crap, there's only 2 more minutes of morning prep before the bell rings!

- some kids do not like the taste of gingerbread cookies.

- sometimes it is hard to stop myself during a really good, responsive read aloud.

- dude, lunch is short!

- they were not kidding about the "after lunch slump."

- it's not very fair to expect half-day kinders to suddenly adjust to full-day 1st grade.

- gotta get me a set of link blocks.

- who has "n00b" printed in bold italics on their forehead? The student teacher does!

- even 1st graders know a test when they see one...and thus nerves definitely play a part in unexpectedly low scores

- a/c good. hot sun bad.

- Borders is officially my go-to place to process and unwind after long days.