Saturday, November 26, 2011

Character Building

Owen's school skirts the dressing up for Halloween issue by having a "Storybook Character Day". Moms across the neighborhood groan because the Halloween costume most of the kids are wearing is NOT literacy related. So, we end up with two costumes. The girls have a ton of dress up clothes (Angelina Ballerina and Pinkalicious were the most popular, Owen said), but the dudes? From where does the second costume come?

Even though Owen had a Star Wars costume planned (and plenty of Star Wars literature to carry around school), he wanted to dress up like one of the guys from his current favorite book "The Official Guide to Lego Ninjago". Yes, I realize that this is a lame attempt at a "book", but give a 6 year old guy free reign at the school "book" fair, and you get what you get. I said fine, as long as he picked a hero.

You see, if you're going to emulate someone ALL day, I'd rather it not be Lord Garmedon, whose hobbies are "planning escape and revenge against Sensui Wu; lying and deceiving." (source: The Official Guide to Lego Ninjago). We need the villains as non-examples, but I don't need my son to be mimicking every evil move in an effort to stay in character all day. I steered him towards the heroes section and asked him to find a character who had traits he admired or would want to see in himself. He finally picked Kai, the red ninja. What character traits did he admire? "Mom, look at his hobbies: Music & breakdancing." Close enough...and they do have similar angry eyebrows.

As Owen sat at the kitchen table trying to brainstorm how to match the costume with what we have at the house (read: my mom is too cheap to buy a second costume), I read on about Ninja Kai...and immediately started laughing.

"Brave, reckless, daring, stubborn, inspiring, infuriating - all of these describe Kai, the Ninja of Fire. Of all my ninja, he was the most difficult to train...not because he lacked the skill, but because he lacked patience and was reluctant to listen to anyone else. Still, I saw potential in him." (again, "The Official Guide...")

If you know O, you are shaking your head slowly in agreement. If you don't know O, you do now. Psychologists theorize that core personality traits are developed before the age of 6. From this point on, I know that I am parenting the Ninja of Fire.

"Kai" with his Grammy (as the Cat in the Hat)

For those of you wondering how you can recreate this outfit at home:
  • black skeleton Halloween pj pants on inside out
  • red school shirt, also on inside out (a plain red t-shirt would be too classy)
  • Mom's black knee-high tied around your waist
  • put on another red shirt, then take it off, but not all the way. Stop it at your big melon. Then drape it around your neck like a lady and have your mom safety pin it.
  • Finally, get your mom's big hair-tie know the one like the soccer girls wear and put it on like Rambo. I know you don't feel like Rambo...if you were any older than 6, you might realize that you actually look like a cross-dressing sleepwalker, but since you are 6, you happily march off to school as a ninja in a homemade costume.
  • Cost: $0 now, hundreds in therapy later.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back to Work

A lot* of people have asked how my new job is going. *By “a lot” read: an elder's wife, a neighbor, and my boss. After 3 months, I wanted to document where I am at with the whole "back to work" thing.

I’m a teacher with no “classroom”…but my life is still run by bells. Nothing hearkens one back to the sounds of industrialism's golden age like a bell set to ring at 2:03 pm every day. That’s the start of 7th period.

Gone are my 75 to 160 students; here are my 40 teachers. I’m not an administrator or evaluator; I am a support teacher. I am to Tim Gunn as the principals for whom I work are to Nina, Michael, and Heidi. I’ll leave it to them to figure out which one of them is Heidi. As for the teachers (contestants)? Well, it is one wild season. Does my Project Runway analogy reveal too much into my Thursday evenings for you? :P I have to cope with the stress somehow.

My unofficial job description is to support teacher growth in classroom management, lesson planning, instruction, and assessment. No day is the same, but in the course of a week, you could find me:

Co-writing lesson plans
Cutting out and laminating manipulatives
Compiling assessment data
Modeling a lesson
Emailing documents between two campuses (I split my time between 2 high schools)
Facilitating a team meeting
Daydreaming about the next weekend or vacation day with my family
Collaborating with the support teachers from other subjects
Researching end-of-course exams from other states
Doing any random task a teacher or administrator asks...and there have been some doozies
Listening…a lot of listening.

I’m still working on that part: the listening. If you marry your opposite, consider that my husband is a therapist. He listens all day long. I talk all day long. The discipline of listening to a teacher or team of teachers flesh out a problem, discuss a grievance, share a hardship, or elaborate on a plan has been good for me. I am so blessed to hear what our AMAZING teachers need to say and want to share. I’m working on being someone who knows more of what she says than saying what she knows. Toughest part of the job, by far.

Make no mistake, this job is a gift, but I would be remiss not to tell you that it is a gift that comes in a big box with 1,000 pieces and no instructions. And on most days, I am happily working with my eyebrows furrowed and chewing the inside of my lip as I tackle today’s unexpected opportunity.

Now, back to work.

PS: a post with no pictures and little mention of my children is a rarity. Don't worry, Grandmom, I'll return to our regularly scheduled programming soon with Halloween photos. :)