One Year Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary to us!!! It feels like forever ago that I was dealing with the stresses of planning a wedding and all that it entails (showers, rehearsal dinner, dress, etc). And man oh man I do not miss that stress! But marriage comes with it’s own stresses, obviously. I know this is still considered the honeymoon stage and it only gets harder (and, therefore, more wonderful?) from here, but I accepted that challenge August 16 of last year. Heck, I accepted that when he proposed!

I’ve learned a lot about Tom over the last year, and I’m sure he’s learned a lot about me too. Heck, I’ve learned a lot about me! I guess that happens when you share your life with someone else. I mean, I lived with my friend Becky in college, but we were so much alike that there were rarely issues about cleanliness, organization, sleep schedules, etc. I did learn that we are very weird people and sometimes the dumbest things entertain us. I miss you Becky!

I won’t get into gory details of what I’ve learned, because I’m sure they’re typical things that two people who come from different backgrounds encounter. And also this would quickly become the longest blog post ever. No thank you!

Anyways, as mentioned in previous blogs, we’re going to celebrate by going out to Montauk next weekend. We’re staying in the same B&B we had for our honeymoon because we really enjoyed our stay there. I can’t wait to enjoy the peace and tranquility of being so far away from the city before school starts and all the hecticness it brings. As it is, I’m coaching volleyball this fall and I have to be there the day after we come back. I also have a doctor’s appointment that morning. Okay, stress is returning.

Also as previously mentioned, I’m hoping my feet can handle some walking and some sand. Good news: I changed my own dressings! My mother-in-law offered to do it again after I showered and got them all wet on Saturday, but I decided to do it myself with her nearby in case I needed back-up. It wasn’t bad at all! I hit my right big toe (of course!) and it was weird but I was fine. See? It’s all in my head, and I know that! But I’m glad I was able to do it by myself because I know I’ll need to a lot more in the future until I no longer need bandages. I have an appointment tomorrow and I’m hoping the doctor takes x-rays to see if any bones have started to fuse together.

But for today, Tom is traveling out to Long Island from Brooklyn to spend our actual anniversary together, which is sweet of him. It’s a long train ride and I know he’s had a lot on his plate at work, so it’s nice to be put above that for the day. I’m not 100% sure what the plan is, but I’m thinking Schafer’s in Port Jefferson (where we ate dinner before he proposed) and then maybe watch the sunset at West Meadow Beach (where he proposed…after watching the sunset). Maybe we’ll reenact the proposal, just for fun!

We have some engagement “photo shoot” pictures; if you’re looking for a good laugh, you can look through the outtakes – there were more of these than “good” pictures that day. Although we took these almost 2 years ago, they still make me crack up. Here’s a preview:

love

That’s true love right there! We also have our wedding photos if you’re interested to see those.

So yeah, we’ll see what the day brings and hopefully my feet can withstand a little fun!

“Why are NYC people so rude?”

New York City is known for its tall buildings and late-late-late night life. It’s known as the “Big Apple”, interestingly because of its history with horse racing. It’s also, and for more obvious reasons, known as “The City that Never Sleeps”. As soon as you mention that you’re from New York, people from out of state automatically assume you mean NYC. It’s America’s melting pot, holding 8 million residents of all different backgrounds, nationalities, races, religions, sexual identities and preferences, etc and so forth.

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And among these familiar names and characteristics, New York City is highly known for being home to a lot of rude people. When NYCers step foot outside the city, they are astounded by how friendly people are in other places (especially Upstate and The South). They realize that people in other towns smile as they pass one another, usually throwing in a greeting, and seem so genuine while doing so.

Now, coming from a small town in Upstate/Western New York, I get it. People back home are friendly. When taking a leisurely walk down the street, everyone tends to smile and say “Hi” to one another. Things are much slower-paced, allowing for time to stop/slow down and smell the roses.

But the thing is, people are rude in small places, too. I worked at Walmart back home – believe me, rude people are everywhere. Plus, people in small towns and/or cities have less interactions with others on a daily basis. While they’re in their cars driving to work, maybe cursing at other drivers for poor driving skills, we don’t have that luxury (well, most of us don’t).

On the same note, friendly people are in large places. I’m on a first-name basis with the two guys at the deli I go to every weekday morning for breakfast. They greet me by name, ask how I am, and know my usual order. My co-workers are lovely people. The ladies at the laundromat are friendly; although their first language is not English, they still give me a smile and tell me to have a nice day.

So, sure, there are rude people in New York City, but there are also wonderful people, too.

Plus, not to defend jerks with outright disinterest for other people’s well-being, but I can kind of understand why some people are rude here in NYC (to an extent). I was thinking about this the other day after an older gentlemen sitting next to me on the subway told me to have a nice day. I smiled and said the same to him, kind of hanging back before putting my book away and getting up to leave the train. I didn’t want him to notice that we had the same stop. I didn’t want him to try to strike up a conversation.

After living in the city for 2 years, I’ve realized that no interaction means no bad interaction. I understand that it was 7 a.m. so there were tons of people around. If he tried any funny business, after dealing with me there wouldn’t be a lack of people around to help if I needed it. Not that the presence of a lot of people guarantees safety, but that’s another can of worms.

So anyways, I stayed 10 feet behind this older man to ensure that we wouldn’t cross paths again. But then he looked back and noticed me and as I walked by him, he made some comment to me with a smile. It was not a rude, sexualized, or otherwise uncomfortable comment; it was something like the coincidence of us meeting again.

Now, this guy was friendly, polite, and didn’t approach me in a threatening way. BUT. Hearing stories of how women (and men) get sucked into uncomfortable and dangerous situations has me on high alert most of the time. I’ve tensed up when someone approached me (male or female, any color) just to ask directions because I’m not sure what they are going to ask or potentially try to do to me. I know this sounds so dramatic and like I’m making up crazy stories in my head. But these things happen!

One morning before work last year, I was once getting a Metrocard from the machine in my local station when I felt someone grab my butt. And I mean grab. It wasn’t just a brush of someone’s hand or someone’s bag bumping into it. It was a full-palm-and-fingers-curled-around-the-left-cheek grab.

Joey Friends shocked gasp gif

Stunned and flustered, I turned to the first sign of movement to my left and yelled with lots of attitude, “Excuse me, please don’t ever do that again!” Who knows if that was the culprit? I don’t. But either way, that person felt like it was okay to grab me and make me feel vulnerable. I held back tears because I was mortified, embarrassed, and scared. Has this person been watching me? Did they know I would be here at this time? Will they try it again?

I wasn’t even wearing anything revealing or anything that might lead someone on – I was wearing a pair of flare jeans (not skinny, not tight), sneakers, a plain black t-shirt, and my hair was up in a ponytail. That is like the most “leave me alone, don’t talk to me” outfit.

And that ruined my whole day. I was worried about coming home that night because I still wasn’t 100% sure who the culprit was and whether they would try it again. What if they brought a friend or two along and cornered me? My station is pretty busy all the time, but still. They have their ways.

So anyways, long tangent, but same point. I think a lot of people are more cautious than they are rude. It may be a different story in Manhattan during morning and evening rush hours, but in my case I have a trust issue. Especially as a white female – the looks I’ve gotten from guys of all ages is enough to creep me out forever. The things that have been mumbled to me on street corners as I’m taking my laundry to the laundromat in broad daylight amidst a large group of people is not appropriate for my blog. It’s disheartening and frustrating.

So for those of you that are not from NYC or have only visited and were put-off by the rudeness you’ve experienced, just remember that you don’t know where that person has been and what they’ve been through that day or in life. There are a lot of high-stress jobs here in the city. Their home lives may not be great. Their train could have been delayed, making them late to work. You never know.

Also, just a heads up that tourists can be very annoying to residents going about our daily lives. Now, believe me, I’ve been a tourist in the city. I get it. You’re excited, you’re in a new place. I’m just asking that you be more aware of your surroundings like you would anywhere else. We rely on public transportation which can be unreliable, smelly, and cramped when all of your luggage, book bags, and fanny packs take up excess room. There are hundreds of people walking down sidewalks, so we appreciate it when the flow of foot traffic is steady. Please don’t stop abruptly to look up at the tall buildings, take a picture/selfie, look at a map, etc. We have places to be while you have sites to see. Keep it moving and stay to the right.

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Anyways, that’s my two cents on why people in NYC seem rude. I hope this sheds some light for those thinking that everyone in NYC are asses. We’re not all bad. Occasionally, we might let our stress get the best of us, but that’s a universal thing we all share as human beings, whether small-town or big-city.

My tips for healthier hair!

Guys, I’m really excited about this post. I’ve had a long-standing love/hate relationship with my hair since I was really young, but I’ve come to understand my hair and have learned how to work with it over the years. I’ve had some really rough times [read: years] with the health and appearance of my hair BUT I’ve [finally!] come to realize WHY and HOW to fix those problems. Well, most of them anyways.

I’ve gotten more compliments about my hair in the past year than I have in my entire life. (Not counting my mom’s, of course…you’ll see what I mean in a bit.) I can personally see and feel the difference, my husband Tom has told me multiple times that my hair looks great (not that he didn’t before, but he can even tell that it’s gotten healthier), and friends, co-workers, and even students have been asking me about my hair. Woot!

For all you visual and auditory people, I made a video about all of this, so you can check it out!

If you’re more into reading, though, keep going!

Let’s start by (not so) briefly talking about my hair type.

I didn’t have enough hair to say so until I was about two years old [picture below shows me at the age of 2; I still enjoy donuts!]. Since then, I’ve always had fine hair and a lot of it. In case you weren’t aware, there is a difference between fine (diameter of strands of hair) and thin (amount of hairs). I don’t have thin hair, bald patches, or have to use those little clear, baby rubber bands for pony tails. I usually have to loop hair ties around my hair about 3 times (4 when they get stretched out).

Holliday 1991I also haven’t been able to get my hair super long since elementary school [picture below is from second grade]; like, it always seems like once my hair gets to a certain length, IT JUST STOPS. I understand that trimming is important to keep the ends healthy, but at that point when my hair stops, trimming it just makes it shorter, and it’s time for a trim when it reaches that gosh darn point again.

Holliday 1996

My hair has always been curly/wavy and, for a long time, I absolutely despised it. My mom always used to point out and coo over the baby-hair ringlets around my face when it was really hot and humid during the summer. And I hated it. Damn it, Mom. So when I was a teenager, I literally would try to plaster my hair to my head so that no hairs were sticking out like antennas, horns, or payas. I would use ALL the water and ALL the clips to tame my hair [picture below is my school picture from 7th grade – holy eyebrows, Batman!]. I still get some frizz when humidity is above 50% or I get sweaty, but it’s gotten a lot better.

Holliday 7th Grade

Finally, if you’ve read my blog before or are a real-life friend, then you know that I started going gray when I was 15 years old. It sucks, big time. Needless to say, I’ve been regularly coloring my hair since I was about 17 years old. Think of all the money I will have spent over my lifetime dyeing my hair…cue Debbie Downer music. I’m gonna say that if I didn’t dye my hair and was au natural, I’m probably 40% gray. At 25 years old. Vomit.

Debbie Downer face

Okay, moving on, I’ll begin with nutrition. In any post about how to get healthy hair/skin/nails/body, there should always be a focus on nutrition. To start off, I have Crohn’s and during my two flare-ups between 2010 and 2012, I was practically starving myself because I was in so much pain. Not only did I lose 10+ pounds (and literally lost my butt, which is most shocking), but I was also starving my body of essential nutrients. The quality of my hair and nails was awful – my nails had pock marks and ridges, and my hair was so blah.

Now that I’m 2+ years in remission without any flare-ups, I’ve obviously gained weight (which I’m always working to tone) but I’ve also gained healthier nails and hair. I also know that I was eating less than I should in the months leading up to my wedding – because wedding dress, duh – so I have since noticed that eating more than just yogurt and granola for practically every meal has positively affected my hair’s appearance and health. So make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet so you can work on improving your hair from the inside out!

Okay, so now that we’ve covered that, let’s talk about the fact that I only wash my hair every 3 or 4 days. Back in college, I used to wash, blow dry, and heat style my hair every single morning. Since I’ve stopped that, I’ve realized just how damaging it was to my hair. Now, I still shower every single day, but on days that I don’t wash my hair, I clip it up and put on a really flattering shower cap. Cute!

I have also been showering at night instead of in the morning because this allows me to sleep in a bit, only worrying about styling my hair in the mornings versus washing, drying, and styling. This also spreads out the use of heat on my hair, allowing it to rest a bit between blow drying at night and heat styling in the mornings. More on that later…

Next, let’s talk about products I’ve been loving and how I use them.

  1. Tresemme Smooth and Silky shampoo and conditioner: This was in my Empties/Favorites post a couple months ago and I can’t stop raving about it. I shampoo like normal, lathering it up and letting it sit in my hair as I wash my body. Then, before conditioning, I squeeze out excess water from my hair. In my mind, I think that this allows the conditioner to really do its thing without getting washed away by the excess water…but that’s not scientifically proven.
  2. Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque: Once I put on a thin coat of my Tresemme conditioner, I also apply some of this on top of it, from the scalp to the ends (but really focusing it on the ends). I let this combo sit on my hair as I shave and wash my face.
  3. It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product: I’ve gone through like five bottles of this stuff (both original and the keratin one) and I love it. I spray this in my hair a few times after I let it towel dry for about 30 minutes.
  4. Tresemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray: I use this right after the It’s a 10 and then brush the two through my hair with a wide-toothed comb.
  5. Batiste Hint of Color [Dark & Deep Brown] Dry Shampoo: I use this on days that I don’t wash my hair. I spray it on my roots, let it sit for a minute or so, rub my scalp/roots with my fingers, and then brush my hair through with a brush.

After washing my hair and spraying my It’s a 10 and Heat Tamer spray, I use a round brush and my Revlon hair dryer on warm heat to smooth out my bangs/fringe – otherwise, I get some weird kinks in the front of my hair. I then flip my head over and roughly dry the rest of my hair until it’s about 50% dry. I won’t lie, my hair is unruly looking and frizzy, but luckily it’s nighttime and I don’t see anyone other than Tom.

Mornings after washing my hair, I spritz some more Heat Tamer spray before curling my hair with my Ultra Chi Flat Iron (in Sapphire Chrome – I love it!). I have perfected this process, so it literally only takes me 10 minutes to curl my hair. It’s fantastic. On second and third day hair, I can usually get away with just using dry shampoo and brushing it through – my hair still has some wave to it from the day(s) before. [Side note: Tom says he prefers my hair on the second day, probably because it’s more of a relaxed wave versus a curl and the natural oils make it shiny.] If I’ve worked out or have sweated more than usual, I’ll usually wear my hair in a ponytail on the third and/or fourth day.

Now, let’s talk about the dyeing part. During my last couple years of high school and first year or so of college, I didn’t dye my hair really frequently. Whenever I found a gray hair, I would pull it out. I know, I know, the old saying of pulling one and growing three more…but I was so embarrassed and frustrated with the fact that I was a late-teen and already had grays.

I then began to dye my entire head with box dyes from drug stores every 6-8 weeks. I’ve had light brown, dark brown, blonde highlights, red highlights, and lots of colors in between. But all of that dyeing was killing my hair. I always had split ends, it was always dry and super prone to frizz, and it felt thin and looked unhealthy. I had a couple times where I cut my hair short because that was the only way to get rid of the split ends – they were that intense and high up in my hair.

Early last year, however, I decided to try going to a salon regularly instead of using a box dye. I’ve always heard that box dyes were so unhealthy for your hair because they were pre-measured and super intense so that they could work for anyone’s hair type. Plus, I wanted to stop coloring my entire head, so when I found a salon here in Brooklyn, I asked her to simply cover my roots. I noticed my hair started feeling healthier, and the scalp massage was always amazing. She gave me highlights a couple times too, giving my hair some dimension. But that gets pricey! Plus I would get a trim every couple visits, so with the trim and coloring, it was about $200 a pop.Hair coloring Clairol Professional Ion Brilliance

After about 8 months of visiting this salon every 7ish weeks, I decided to try my hand at getting a color and developer from Sally Beauty Supply. I paid less than $10 (about the price of a box dye) for the necessary materials (including color, developer, mixing bowl, and application brush), and I couldn’t be more happy. I have now dyed my roots twice using this method and I’m so happy I took the plunge and did this because, aside from not dyeing at all, it’s much better for my hair.

Whew, I know that was a lot of information, but I’m hoping it was helpful to someone out there in the vast universe. If you have tried any of these products, let me know how they worked for you! If you know any others that you like, leave it below to help the next person!

Writing Teacher Reflections

I started reflecting on my teaching (and school days in general) back in November. Two of my coworkers and I went to a professional development seminar at a Day School in Manhattan to hear Rick Lavoie speak. This guy is awesome. After spending the day listening to his stories (both humorous and heart-breaking), my colleagues and I agreed that we would love to have him speak at our school because it would benefit our K-12 faculty a lot.

Long story short: Rick served as an administrator of residential programs for children with special needs for 30 years. This experience has provided him with a “living laboratory” in which he developed and refined his methods and philosophies related to the education of children and adolescents with special needs. He has now delivered his message to over 500,000 parents and professionals throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Rick’s main focus for this day was Strategies that work (and those that don’t) with struggling kids. I have 4 pages worth of notes from his presentation and still remember how much of a story-teller he was. Anyways, some of his strategies were…

One that I personally liked that would benefit my students and myself was the one where I would write daily reflections. His story for this strategy was that a teacher came to him for help because one student (student A) would come to her English class some days and be completely off the handle. There wasn’t a pattern that the teacher could notice – it wasn’t during certain times of the day (the schedule was the same every day) so it wasn’t that he just had a candy bar for lunch or anything like that.

The teacher started writing daily reflections in hopes that this might show a pattern, but no pattern seemed to come out of it. However, when Rick checked out the reflections and compared the days where the student was especially a handful, he realized that another student was absent on those days. It turns out that the two boys were partners in Science, the class right before English. They were in the dissection unit and student A hated dissecting things, so he always relied on student B to dissect while he took notes. On the days where student B was absent, the teacher forced student A to perform the dissections himself and it caused him to get really anxious and it would throw off his mood into the next class – English.

How cool is that? That you can find a pattern from just a reflection and note of who was absent a certain day!

It’s difficult to remember to do it daily seeing as my free-time and prep periods go to (duh) prepping. Or talking to and/or venting with co-workers. But it’s so helpful and calming, especially when it’s been a particularly difficult or stressful day. I recommend teachers try it out, recording positive and negative interactions between students, their own interactions with students, and how their lessons went.

The reflections don’t have to be essays or epic sagas; it’s actually better to keep them as bullet points: short and sweet. Who was absent? What was the lesson on? How did it go? Is there anything you will change the next time you teach it? What are some positive or negative interactions that occurred during the class?

My Invisalign Journey (13): Almost done?!? + Photos

Hey, hey! It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my Invisalign and I’m pretty sure I’m nearing the very end! My next appointment is less than a month away and I think it’ll be my last, so I don’t really know what to expect.

Since my last post, I have gotten into the habit of smiling at myself in the mirror more when brushing my teeth because they are so stinking straight! I’ve taken a couple pictures of myself (and I’m not one for selfies) to show the difference and of course I’m hypercritical of myself and can point out the fact that my right canine tooth is longer than the other, and my top teeth kind of slant in terms of how long they are yada yada yada. BUT, comparing what they looked like almost 18 months ago in my initial photos to now is phenomenal.

Like I mentioned in my last post, I haven’t needed to use rubber bands, so it’s been a lot easier dealing with the aligners these past couple months. One of the pictures below is with my aligners and the other is without…can you tell which one is which? It’s probably easier having pictures that are up-close and personal [don’t mind the nose hair – we all have it. At least it’s clear of foreign stuff.]. I’m sure if they were farther away you wouldn’t be able to tell.

Smiles

I will say how awesome it is that no one can tell that I have braces. There have been so many times at school when I have to run to the bathroom to brush my teeth and students ask why I have toothpaste. When I tell them I have braces and need to brush after every meal, they’re surprised because they couldn’t tell. Score!

The aligners haven’t been too uncomfortable on the first couple days of each new set. But I have noticed that my teeth are kind of sensitive when I remove the aligners; it’s almost as if the repeated motion of pulling them off the same way hundreds of times has worn down some of the enamel, causing some sensitivity upon removal. It’s like the discomfort when you drink something cold and your teeth hurt for a few seconds afterwards. Make sense?

That’s all until my next appointment in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed and thumbs up that I’ll be finished with getting new aligners and will only have to use them at night as retainers!

In my classroom this week: FoodBank NYC, Conferences, and Good Feelings

This week was a weird one. And (do I even need to tell you?) an exhausting one. But it was also very fulfilling.

We started the week off by traveling up to the Bronx to volunteer at the FoodBank of NYC. Seven adults and about 30 students all helping an organization that feeds millions of people every day. Seriously, millions. We were shown a video before we got to work at the warehouse, giving us an idea of just how much FBNYC gives and helps the people of New York City – 1 in 5 New Yorkers are helped by them. And they don’t “just” provide food – they also help adults file taxes for free, provide families education about healthy meals on a low budget, as well as helping families file for the food assistance program (SNAP).

Foodbank NYC logo

For about 3 hours, our group of teachers and students unboxed pallets full of donated items (food and non-food), sorted out the opened and unusable items, replaced the acceptable items into FBNYC boxes, and reloaded those boxes back onto the pallets. It was a great time and I think the students actually enjoyed it.

I have a bunch of great pictures and would love to post them, but that’s what sucks about being a teacher is the privacy issues that go with pictures of students. I mean, I understand the reasoning and all, but it stinks that I can’t share their work and how awesome they are! So that’s why I will only use the one someone took of me (I wasn’t posing 😉 I swear) while we were there. Anyways, we had some great conversations when we returned to school, talking about our experience, what we enjoyed, what surprised us, etc.

Tuesday was a regular day of school. Algebra II started a review packet on linear inequalities – they may be having a test this coming week before spring break, we’ll see. My MIEL students continued rounding to practice for their test on Wednesday.

Wednesday was a half day of classes, with the other half dedicated to parent-teacher conferences. I saw all three of my math classes, Algebra I doing more function stuff, Algebra II working through their review packet, and MIEL taking their rounding test. We had an hour between students leaving and conferences beginning to eat lunch and get ready for our meetings with parents and students. I really only had one very stressful meeting and the rest were all pieces of cake.

My last one was the best and it made me remember how much I love my job. Actually, a few of my students told me I was a really good teacher and they really liked math this year in comparison to years before because I make it fun and understandable.

Aww Lauren Conrad reaction

When I finally got home around 8pm, the sheer exhaustion set in. I showered, ate, and went to sleep, just to go back to work bright and early Thursday for more conferences. But I can’t complain because it was a really easy-going day. Students were required to come to their conferences, and I think they really benefited from that one-on-one time for me to tell them how well they were doing and then what they should try to work on. I only had a handful of conferences between 8am and 3pm, so the enemy was boredom and sleepiness.

I worked on some crosswords and Sudokus to keep myself awake between conferences and decided to workout during my long 4-hour gap from 11am to 3pm. The weather was pretty crummy, so I was hoping that my last conference would cancel, especially because they were heading in from Staten Island. I didn’t have anything other than good things to say about that student anyway, so when I got the notification that they canceled, I was pumped.

My co-worker and I worked out pretty hard; like, I haven’t sweat that much in quite awhile, and it felt amazing. Then, I went home and crashed. Hard. One more day. That’s it, one more.

Friday was a surprisingly easy day; Algebra I worked on determining function rules and whether a table actually represented a function or not. No Algebra II on Friday. I started working with number bonds with MIEL students so we could start working with making change (example: What number would you add to 20 in order to make 100? 80.).

This week is our last before a two-week spring break! Woot! I don’t have any plans other than going out to Long Island to see my in-laws, Tom’s cat Finster, and some friends out there if they’re free (yay!). I also have a couple doctors’ appointments, and, oh, I’m getting my taxes done. All super riveting stuff. No trips to any exotic or warm places for me. But that’s alright because I’m ready to just sit and relax and see people I haven’t had the time to see since Christmastime!

Do you have any spring break plans? Let me know so I can live vicariously through you, pleaseandthankyou.

In my classroom this week: Frustration, Budgeting, and Basketball

This week was seriously never-ending and super frustrating. But thank goodness it ended on a high note and I can’t complain too much. So I’ll complain just enough.

You know when you spend a bunch of time on something only to realize that all of that hard work (physical, mental, and emotional) was a waste? That happened a lot this week.

Students and adults alike who don’t want to/can’t be helped even after spending so much effort on doing everything in our power (within reason, duh) to get something accomplished. That’s the most frustrating of everything that happened this week, and I was ready to pull my hair out. It didn’t just start this week either; it’s been culminating since September, but this week just exhausted me beyond belief. I mean, I was physically drained by Monday afternoon, each day becoming more and more drained.

I’m human, so I’m not perfect either – you wanna know how many times I created a lesson, typed up the note/worksheets, and made copies only to realize that I had made some sort of mistake that wasn’t easy to just have the students make small edits? Too many. For example, in Algebra II, the coordinate grid I included on the word problems didn’t work with them (totally Desmos’ fault because why, oh why would they only put 3 grid lines between 0 and 5?), so then I had to re-make the grids, re-print, and re-copy the notes. I know it sounds like I’m complaining about stupid little things, but as a teacher without much time to spend doing something more than once, it’s annoying. I just made so much extra work for myself because I wasn’t careful and instead I hurried through. Dumb-y.

This week was all about introducing functions to my Algebra I class – we talked about what functions are, practiced filling in function tables given a function rule, and on Friday we learned how to create the function rule given a full table. They’ve been doing really well, and even those students who struggled in the beginning have improved so much!

Algebra II focused on solving, graphing, and answering questions about systems of linear inequalities word problems. They’ve been really disliking this mostly because each problem is very involved and takes quite awhile to solve. But they’ve also liked it because they get to use colored pencils to color in the shaded regions.

My Math in Everyday Life (MIEL) students finished their budget component this week; I asked them to each choose two jobs: one was a job they really want to do in the future, and one in a fast food restaurant. They chose movie actress, veterinarian, TV sports broadcaster, ASL interpreter, and surf-lesson instructor for their desired jobs. For fast food, they chose places like McDonalds, Starbucks, and Five Guys.

They were asked to find the average salary for each of their two jobs, and from there we calculated the monthly salaries. I then gave them a list of expenses they could choose from and the corresponding prices (estimated, of course). They could choose things like owning a car versus buying a subway ticket every month, owning a pet, having a cell phone, having cable TV, and other things.

When they added up their expenses, they then were to calculate the amount left over every month when subtracting expenses from their salaries. They quickly realized that they were spending way too much, even with higher salaries at their “desired” jobs. None of them could afford their desired expenses when working solely at fast food (which we calculated came to about $15,000/year or about $1250/month).

My student who wants to be an actress realized that with the starting salary, she would not be able to afford her expenses, so I asked about where she thinks the term “struggling actress” comes from. She made the connection that usually actresses are also waitresses, and that’s because they can afford their expenses if they work two jobs. This was true with her acting and fast food salaries combined. It was really cool for them to see all of this and realize that they can’t always have everything once they’re out on their own.

Finally (FINALLY!), yesterday was Friday. We had a student-faculty basketball game after school to raise money for an organization in Red Hook – people had to pay to play and to watch. I signed up to play but was actually quite nervous because I’ve never been good at basketball. I’m better at the endurance portion necessary for running back and forth, bursting down the court to knock the ball out of students’ hands. I don’t think I played horrible, but I didn’t play amazing; I did a good job on defense, and also almost made a basket.

But it was really cool being in a different setting with students, seeing their talent up close, and having fun with them while also getting to be aggressive with them. Teachers won by about 5 points, still holding the championship 2 years running now (it started last year, so teachers have had it from the beginning). We also had a great crowd including a bunch of awesome teachers with signs and other paraphernalia to cheer us on. It was a great time.

This week is going to be crazy – we have a volunteer project Monday, regular day of school Tuesday, half-day with parent-teacher conferences following Wednesday, full day of P/T conferences Thursday, and a regular day on Friday. Only 2.5 days of lessons to prepare, but P/T conference days are exhausting. I’m just hoping it’s not as frustrating as this week was.

I hope everyone had a great week; what was the most (or least, we can be positive here!) frustrating or fun thing that happened to you this week? It’s good to let it out, get it off your chest, and seek help of others – I’ve learned that big-time this year working at my school with some amazing co-workers acting as my rocks to vent to and lean on.

In my classroom this week: Good news!

This week was a short one, but it felt oh. so.  l   o     n       g. Most schools in New York had this week off for their “February recess” or what-have-you; we had it back when I was in high school. However, my current school only had two days off, and I think this is because we get a full two weeks off for spring break every year, whereas all of those other schools don’t.

We had Monday off for Presidents’ Day and then Tuesday was dedicated to professional development; overall it was a great PD day. We had a child psychologist come in and talk about recognizing the signs of ADHD and how to teach students with ADHD. Then we watched a really great documentary about bullying called Reject which made me kind of emotional; hearing these families and friends of victims of bullying talking about their unfortunate experiences was difficult. I started thinking about the possibilities of any of my students or even my own future kids being bullied to the point of hurting themselves and/or others. Let’s squash bullying!

On Wednesday, I reviewed Circles with my Algebra I class, continued systems of linear inequalities with Algebra II, and continued working with money in Math in Everyday Life (MIEL). That afternoon, my group of advisees and I went to read to a group of elementary school students from our school system. It was cute watching my five junior boys reading to pairs of 4th and 5th graders. It really shows their character when they get to work with younger kids; it takes down their “I want to be treated like an adult while still acting like a kid” and “I’m too cool for everything except basketball” walls and replaces them with enthusiasm and sincerity. They get to be like cool older brothers for 20 minutes, without the real-life responsibilities of older brothers.

After work, I got to hang out with one of my co-workers whilst checking out a venue for our all-faculty end-of-the-year party. It was great getting to talk for a couple hours, chatting about our pasts, presents, and futures. However, by the end of the night, I could tell that my voice was starting to get weak from talking all day at school and then talking over the music at the venue.

When I got home, Tom noticed that my voice was a bit raspy, but I figured it would be fine after a night’s sleep. Thursday, I introduced word problems for systems of inequalities in Algebra II and continued with money in MIEL. My voice started out okay but progressively got worse. By the time I got home, my voice was super raspy and squeaky, cutting out every other word. And trying to speak with inflection? Forget it.

And Friday, I had no voice. I started out the day whispering. It was great because it really made them stop and listen to what I was asking or telling them. It was also funny because I found that students ended up talking very quietly, even to the point of whispering, because I was unable to talk so they followed suit. I told them they could talk normally, but they still were weirdly quiet.

I had the help of Read&Write for Google, an extension that can be used for text-to-speech on Google Docs. It’s also good for speech-to-text, translating to and from different languages, defining and suggesting words while writing, among other things. My  MIEL students got a kick out of it, asking me to change the voice of the computer, to type their names so they could hear them on the speakers, and wanting to hear my message in different languages.

I was supposed to lead the lesson in Chemistry, but I wasn’t able to because I had no voice. After lunch, my advisees along with 2 other advisories got together and made posters for a food drive we are running at school. This coming up week, we will be collecting goods to donate to a local food pantry or soup kitchen to supplement our volunteer work at the FoodBankNYC. My last class of the day, Algebra I, took their Circles test. And then it was Friday afternoon and I was going home to relax the weekend away!

Although out of order chronologically, I had my supervisory meeting Friday morning, and this is where the good news from the title comes in. I know there is a bit of anxiety among teachers at my school because “contract season” is upon us. April is the time when people are either offered a contract to teach next year or are politely (and with difficulty) excused.

Private schools don’t have tenure, so even after three or five or ten years, your job is still not entirely secure. This is actually a great thing because this keeps teachers much more accountable (education buzzword!) than those in public schools who are protected from losing their job that they totally suck at. They might get lazy knowing that they can do [practically] no wrong in terms of their ability to teach their subject.

Good news though: she said there is absolutely no doubt that I will be given a contract to teach again next year! When I acted somewhat surprised and extremely happy, she asked if there was any indication that I wouldn’t be offered the position again for next year.

Well, I mean, I think I’ve done well since starting in September. I think I have good rapport with students and coworkers. I absolutely love my job. However, I’m “only a teacher” and I don’t have the power to make contractual decisions on behalf of myself. In the realm of teaching, you just never know. So as long as I don’t do something royally stupid between now and June, I have a job next year!