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October 2015

September 2015 entries

Misconceptions in Public Space

Today, after running a 90-minute play rehearsal after school, I found myself in our local Med Express with two sick kids -- one with full-blown strep throat and the other about a day away from it -- and as I was waiting with them, I was grading drama projects.  The news was on the waiting room TV, and a piece about a school district with teachers on strike came on.  The newscaster said something along the lines of "Is the teacher strike a result of greed, or is there more to the story?" 

From behind me came a grumpy voice, "Of course it's about greed.  Teachers are all greedy.  If they were actually paid for the hours they work, they wouldn't make so much money."

(Did I mention I was grading papers?)

I considered his words.  Sadly, people truly think that teachers are greedy and overpaid.  Maybe it's because a few teachers are focused on themselves or on a paycheck.  But, I like to think that the majority of my colleagues in this noble profession are there for the right reasons.  

I really wanted to let this man know that not all teachers are greedy or lazy.  I really wanted to show him the stack of papers I was reading.  I really wanted to tell him about my schedule.  

But, I realized it would be futile.  This man wanted to believe what he wanted to believe.  We were in a public place, surrounded by sick people.  Most likely, my words would fall on deaf ears, and it would create an unnecessary scene.  

So, I let it go.  I suppose it was the right thing to do, but I surely hope that man isn't a voting resident of my school district.  I let it go.  

After all, I had two sick kids and more papers to grade. 

 

 


Parents, Students, Enablers

As I was reading the news on my Twitter feed last night, I came across an article from The New York Times that I just had to write about.  The article encourages parents NOT to bring in their children's forgotten items when their children call or text them from school.  In fact, one school does not allow parents to drop off anything during the day. 

Full disclosure:  I loved this article.  

A few weeks ago, as we were driving to school one morning, my 5th grade son realized he had forgotten his mouthpiece for his band instrument.  He asked me to go back to the house to get it, and I told him that no, our schedule did not allow for that and that I was sorry, but next time he needed to check his backpack.  (I should tell you that before we leave the house, I ask my kids if they have checked their backpacks and have everything they need.  They are in elementary and pre-school, after all.)  Aidan was upset; he needed that mouthpiece for band.  I sympathized, and then reminded him that as a middle school student, these sorts of things were his responsibility. 

Am I a mean mother?  I don't think so.  I believe that if I allow my children to fail in the small things (like a forgotten mouthpiece or a forgotten homework paper), then eventually they will learn responsibility and organization which will serve them well later in life.  

Just the other day at MAHS, I had a frantic student come up to me during her lunch.  She forgot the homework she knew I would be checking later in the day.  She had called her mother several times, but there was no answer.  She hoped I would give her credit for having the work done if she showed it to me the next day.  (My policy is no late homework.)  I told the student that I could not give her full credit, but since she had a decent track-record with me, I could give her partial credit this one time, and this one time only.  (I'm not completely heartless, you see.)  By the time the class came, the mom dropped off the homework and the partial credit option was a moot point, but . . . the point of this story is my guess is that the student's mom had other things to do during the day (probably a job or some other obligation) and had to drop everything to rescue her forgetful child.

Or, did she "have to" drop everything?  I had hoped (more than a little) that the mom was ignoring the child's texts and phone calls, once she realized it was about lost homework.  (I was wrong.)  A little tough love can go a long way. 


We are Not Dead Yet!

What a week. As with any tech week, the last week of Spamalot has been equal parts demanding and rewarding. There are a lot of fantastic people involved in this production, and I am incredibly blessed to have their support as we stage an extremely complicated show on a small thrust stage.

We opened on Friday of this past week, and the show was very well received. We had a break today (I ran auditions for the fall play at MAHS before reacquainting myself with the grocery store) and we have a quick "pick up" rehearsal tomorrow so that we aren't too rusty by our second opening on Thursday. We have 4 shows this weekend, and then sadly, we put Spamalot to bed.

I have found that the Monty Python fans in the crowd absolutely love the show, and the folks who aren't familiar with MP delight in the "new" comedy they have discovered. I have really enjoyed working with adult actors and some students from MAHS and Jersey Shore HS. Some of my closest friends are involved on and offstage for the show as well, which makes the experience all the more rewarding.

I know I will be sad when the curtain falls on what has become one of my favorite shows to direct. But, in typical Denise style, I am looking ahead to new projects, including Aidan's children's musical performance at the same theatre, the fall play at my school, a high school theatre workshop we are hosting, and the spring musical, Once on This Island.

If the rolling stone gathers no moss, I guess I won't either.

We are Not Dead Yet!

We are Not Dead Yet!

We are Not Dead Yet!

We are Not Dead Yet!

We are Not Dead Yet!


That's My Girl

Miss Ellie and I went out to eat the other night while Aidan was at his children's musical rehearsal and Liam was with Mike. We caught up on how she thinks the beginning of the school year is going (GREAT!!!) and how she thinks the rest of the year is going to go (GREAT!!!) and how she thinks Spamalot is going (GREAT!!!). Since she is my unofficial Junior Stage Manager, she even helped me work out a "to do" list for my next rehearsal ("Mom, if it's on your to-do list, then it's on your tah-done list!") . . . after she finished her wood-fired pizza and homemade ice cream, of course. The girl has her priorities straight, after all.


That's My Girl

That's My Girl

That's My Girl

That's My Girl


I love Spam -- a LOT!

We are almost to tech week for Spamalot, and I truly have loved this experience. For starters, I get to work with some of my very best friends (like the gorgeous woman who brought me a #Director coffee the other night) and several of my students -- in addition to meeting new people and furthering my craft through creating with them. I am so happy with how the show is shaping up, and I can't wait to add the costumes and lights and mics --- and of course, the audience!!

Did I mention I really love theatre?

I love Spam -- a LOT!

I love Spam -- a LOT!


The Countdown Begins

Remember the time Liam announced, "I want to be five. Who's with me?" Well. When I told him last night that his birthday was on Thursday, he couldn't believe it.

[Personal Goals: 1. Stop referring to soccer practice as "rehearsal." 2. Stop referring to soccer uniforms as "costumes."]

The Countdown Begins

The Countdown Begins

The Countdown Begins

The Countdown Begins

The Countdown Begins


My Normal

Today, Aidan and I were together running some errands. The first stop was to the theatre because Aidan is in a children's musical in October, and he had to be costumed. Next, we needed a few items at Target.

While we were there, Aidan and I had our usual conversations about life, middle school, the pumpkin mania sweeping the nation this week. As we turned down the juice box aisle, we caught sight of an older woman with three (I assume) grandchildren in tow. A middle-school aged girl was trying to herd an older elementary boy out of someone's while while a preschooler howled in the cart. The grandmother talked loudly on her cell phone, pausing only to shout, "Shut up!" to the kids. I had to nudge Aidan to stop staring.

After they passed by, he turned to me with a scandalized look. "What is wrong with that woman? Why is she so mean to those kids? You would never be like that to us." I explained that not everyone hit the mom jackpot and got me, so he really ought to start Christmas shopping.

No, wait. I'm paraphrasing.

What I actually said is that it is too bad that those kids (who looked like they were walking on eggshells to avoid being screamed at or swatted) weren't able to talk like us and just enjoy a trip to the store.

We finished our shopping, and wouldn't you know it . . . the same people were in line in front of us. The woman was rude to clerk and told the kids to "shut up" again. She rudely answered her phone while the clerk was ringing her up. The clerk had pretty much the same look that Aidan did back in aisle 12.

I greeted the clerk with my usual, "Good morning!" after the grumpy grandmother departed. She looked relieved to be interacting with someone with manners again. Aidan, as usual and without my having to ask, began to load our groceries onto the belt. Once they were rung up, he gathered the bags and put them back into the cart.

I remarked to the clerk that I was sure she saw all kinds of people in her line of work. She emphatically agreed and said that she felt bad for kids that come through the store like the ones we just saw. I told her that I am a teacher, and I shared with her something our principal had told us at the beginning of the year. He reminded us to be kind. We never know what a kid is going through at home, who is screaming at them, who is insulting them, who is ignoring them. They should be able to come to school and feel safe and like they belong. Scenes like those in Target today remind me of that reality. The clerk said that she figured that I am the kind of teacher the kids want to be around.

(Maybe that's why I set up a "living room" sitting area in the back of my room this year. Yeah, safe to say the kids like to be in B206.)

As Aidan and I left the store, I was thinking about the fact that he (and all of my children, really) is so polite and well-behaved. And I rarely yell at them. I was thanking my lucky stars for either hitting the kid jackpot three times or perhaps being kind of decent at this parenting gig . . . . when Aidan saw a praying mantis.

He (naturally) picked it up as I (naturally) searched in my purse for a ziploc bag. Aidan showed it (biggest one of the season!) to passersby. We stopped by Petco for some feeder crickets on the way home.

Now that the bug terrarium is set up, and I've had some time to reflect, I am ever so thankful that my normal includes treating my children like the miraculous gifts they are, being loved and helped by those awesome children, interacting with polite strangers, and rescuing beautiful bugs from disastrous deaths on the windshields of cars. It might seem odd to some, but it's normal to me.


My Normal

My Normal

My Normal