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!

Living in Brooklyn forever?

I like living in Brooklyn. I like my job in Brooklyn. I like being so close to everything and that most places are still open at 10 or 11 at night. I like that there are parks nearby and that we’re a 30 minute subway ride away from Manhattan. I like that it’s busy and city-esque here but not as touristy and annoyingly crowded as Manhattan.

BUT Brooklyn is flipping expensive!

According to a recent Bloomberg report, Brooklyn is the least affordable city in America to buy a place to live (followed by San Francisco and Manhattan at #2 and #3). Like, what????

The article also mentions that 70% of Brooklyn residents rent and that the median rent is over $2800. No wonder people are being priced out of Brooklyn into other boroughs (or homelessness!)…

Rent is too damn high SNL Kenan Thompson

I mean, that median number makes me feel a bit better because we pay about half of that for our 2 bedroom at the moment. Our lease is up soon (so the featured image is almost a year old!), and therefore Tom and I have been discussing what we want to do next – do we renew our lease for another year or do we want to look at moving elsewhere? We are ready to stop putting that money into rent every month, knowing that we’re not getting any of it back when we decide to leave. So obviously, a house or condo would be the next step.

But it’s practically impossible to find decent places within a decent price range without maxing out our entire bank account and signing the next 10 years of our income away to a mortgage. Going back to that Bloomberg article, the median price to buy a place is $615,000. Who can afford that? Not a couple of mid-20’s newlyweds (one with a student loan from Columbia, might I add), that’s for sure!

Plus, neither one of us wants to live in the city for the rest of our lives. When the time comes, I really don’t want to raise a child in the city. And we both agree that we really don’t want to spend such a large amount of money on a condo that’s not much bigger than our current apartment. We want space to grow into, we want a yard, and anything close to what we want in the city would be a couple million dollars. For real. It’s disgusting.

We’ve been searching Zillow for about 2 months now, seeing what’s out there and how much we would need in order to buy something. The low end of what we’ve found has been around $300,000 for 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom condos with no decent amenities (elevator, dishwasher, on-site washer/dryer, etc.).

Zillow Brooklyn Prices Zillow Prices Brooklyn

The criteria that we have settled on is 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, and preferably all the mentioned amenities, plus close proximity to the subway, and in a good neighborhood. Oh, and they need to be okay with pets because MAMA WANTS A CAT AND/OR DOG!!! For all of this, we’re looking at around $650,000. Ouch.

So we’ve decided that we will continue to rent for another year and then see what happens. Whether that means moving towards the outskirts of Brooklyn, out of the city, or out of New York State altogether, we’re both on the same page in that we want to be smart with our money. We started a budget and are going to keep better track on how much we spend and where our money is going every month.

We definitely know we want to stay on the northeastern part of the country, thinking as far west as Illinois and as far south as the Carolinas. Anywhere will seem like a steal outside of NYC, so we’ll feel like millionaires! But, no matter when or where we move, we’ll be together, and that’s what matters. (Cheesy, yes. You may either ‘aww’ or gag now.)

So here’s to another year, Brooklyn. (Unless I lose my job or something else unfortunate happens, then that’s a whole other can of worms…). Ending on a positive note. *thumbs up*