Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Midlife Mama: On Not Learning to Clean

Here's my latest column, none of which (for once!) appeared here first. Midlife Mama: On Not Learning to Clean

Thursday, May 06, 2004


all the grades are done. Not submitted, yet, as I'm having a bit of anxiety over a few of them. But I've read all the papers, put grades on them all, and even done the math. So it's really, really close.

I went to the museum with Nick's class today. What a trip! They have an amazing teacher who pretty much lets them loose to sketch in whatever section of the museum they're "doing" at the time. Today it was ancient Greece. Lots of urns, vases, pots, etc. And they really did sketch: pots, details of pots, rams' horns, Medusa's head (very popular), Greek "key" designs, everything. The parents get paper and clipboards and pencils too and the idea is that everyone sketches. You get a little talking-to if you're not sketching what you're seeing--this is not the time for working out your latest Lego design plan, or the Yugi-oh guy you really want next. Some of the kids are really talented, others not so much, but they all drew what they saw and they were all happy to talk about it. The walk back from the museum was the toughest part: they were tired and hungry and tired of paying attention. Still, we all made it in one piece, and then got to see the dump trucks deliver new sand to the sandbox (extra bonus!) while we ate lunch outside. Not too shabby.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

the end is in sight...

Not of the world or anything, of course, but of my grading. 16 more papers and the semester is over for me. I'm almost there. I can taste it. No, that's my decaf latte, trying to tell me it's time to do one or two more before bed. But I'm exhausted, and not sure I'm making sense of my students' efforts to make sense. And often they do, even when I don't, so I should be careful.

I'm pretty sure that paragraph doesn't make sense, but I'll let it stand as a representation of my mental state.

Actually the last several days have been fine--not weatherwise, as it rained yesterday, but in terms of the workload. I've had several very gratifying exchanges with students, the kind that let you know you really got through, that the course mattered, that they found something of value in the time you spent together. Either that or they've gotten better at kissing up over the years, and I'll even take that. This time of year anything helps.

Today was National Teacher Day (part of Teacher Appreciation Week) and in honor of the day I was interviewed by the local drivetime radio show. The interview was arranged by the Cup of Comfort folks, who published my piece, "Mama Mentor" in their new book, A Cup of Comfort for Teachers. So that was fun. Live radio is a little too --raw, maybe?; no, just unpredictable-- for me: the host asked me, for example, why teachers get a bum rap in today's society. Well, since that has nothing to do with my story (which he obviously hadn't read) or with anything I teach (which his producer supposedly filled him in on) I was a bit speechless for a minute. Remember, too, this was drive-time radio, and I had not yet finished my first cup of coffee. But he was fine, moved right on to another question. And in the end I guess it went OK. So that was my radio debut.

And now I really do need to grade some more papers. In honor of National Teacher Day, don't you know.