...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hope it works out better for you than it did for me

I derive no end of mirth from the fact that the vast majority of my blog referrals come from people searching some combination of Teach for America Final Interview Advice. For some searches, I'm the number one result--even ahead of Teach for America's own website! TFA applicants, best of luck to you, but don't take my advice: I was rejected!

(Of course, in reference to the title of this post: it did work out for me. I found a great job teaching at a private preschool and get to spend more time with my wonderful boyfriend and friends from college, and live in a city that I come to appreciate and love more and more each time I bike over the Steel Bridge or down NE Alberta. Getting rejected was a blessing in disguise, although it sure didn't feel like it at the time. So really, I guess I can say: I hope it works out exactly as well for you as it did for me--which is to say, very well.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Unchurched

I spent about an hour and a half in the Powell's reading room this afternoon. I brought three books in with me. The middle-aged man across the table kept staring at me in a way that was slightly discomforting. As I gathered my things to leave, the man noticed the title of one of the books: The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs. "What's that book, about living biblically?" he asked. I moved the book so that he could read the title. He smiled at me. "What church do you go to?" he asked.

The way he asked it, and the way he smiled, made the question seem like the preface to either a pick-up or an evangelization. I wasn't interested in either. "I don't go to church," I said, and left.

As I walked out of the reading room I realized the weight of what I had said. It's true: I haven't been to church since early May. The past few Sundays I've thought about visiting one of the churches in my area, or checking out Imago Dei, but have ended up staying home and reading Christian or feminist blogs instead. Being a practicing, church-going Christian used to be such a huge part of how I defined myself; now, I'm honestly not sure whether I still consider myself a Christian.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

...And when it's bad it's horrid

Little Boy C makes me feel inadequate and ineffectual as a teacher, and then I come home and lay in bed and think about things and worry and cry.

(Edited to add: Oh, how I relate to this post of Mizz Marvel's: say hello to your symbol of childhood ocd. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I know more about the Baby-Sitter's Club than I do about any other single subject. And right now, I think I'm going to go take a long bath and read Welcome Back, Stacey and eat a caramel apple and drink red wine. Take that, C!)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Confidential to an acquaintance from high school, with whom I am now Facebook friends

You don't get to say that Fight Club and Garden State sucked if you list Forrest Gump (ode to anti-intellectualism) and Independence Day as two of your favorite movies. As Amy could tell you, the "Q" in "Randy Quaid" doesn't stand for Quality.

(That said, I do still think that Indpendence Day would be a fun movie to get drunk and watch all together...and I did used to have a crush on Jeff Goldblum (shut up).)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hitchens is not great

Man, if there's one self-professed public intellectual/professional curmudgeon I can't stand, it's Christopher Hitchens.

Yesterday morning the Powell's Review-a-Day service sent me a review of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens. The review was written by Richard Dawkins. Yeah, like that's going to be an objective review.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

When it's good, it's very very good

Teacher Cara and I are beginning an octopus exploration with the kids. We're reading books about octopuses (didactic side note: "octopi" is a common but incorrect pluralization) and squid and talking about how we can convert our classroom loft into an octopus's garden. We spend our days singing "Octopus' Garden," listening to the kids' amazingly creative sea creature stories, and tossing around ideas about papier mache-ing a giant octopus for the loft. It's strange to think that at this time last year, I was killing myself over ancient Near Eastern apocalypticism, Lazarillo de Tormes, and Judith Butler.

(Of course, the opposite is true too: teaching preschool full-time has convinced me as could nothing else that I really do want to go to graduate school.)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Whiplash is a Five-Point Calvinist

Stinker and Piglet, our classroom guinea pigs, died late this week. When my co-teacher Cara went to take them out of their cage Thursday morning, they were huddled together in their little house, cold and stiff. It was very sad, and of course the kids had a lot of questions about it. For some of the kids this was their first experience with death; others have already lost beloved pets, grandparents, cousins. The school director came in and led a circle with the kids and allowed them to hold or pet the guinea pigs one last time. She asked what the children thought we should do with the bodies. "Put them in Heaven!" E piped up. S suggested we flush them down the toilet. Whiplash wanted to bury them in a pile of dirt by the tree outside our classroom, and J started crying. He sniffled that he didn't want dirt on top of the guinea pigs--he wanted to just set them down on top of the ground by the tree.

We talked about how when something is buried in the ground, worms go through it and turn it into soil and then it becomes part of the Earth and helps living things grow. We all agreed that burying them would be the best, and the kindest, course of action. (After S suggested flushing them down the toilet, the director said, "Hmm, would that work? Would guinea pigs fit down the toilet?" Whiplash exclaimed, "Let's chop them in to little pieces!" "Hmm, that doesn't sound very kind," the director responded carefully.)

After we decided to bury them, E raised his hand again. "What about putting them in Heaven?" he asked. The focused energy of the circle was breaking apart by this time and Whiplash was getting a little worked up. His Five-Point Calvinist began to emerge . "No!" he answered loudly hotly. "We don't get to put them in Heaven! We don't get to 'ecide! Only God gets to 'ecide!" A pretty clear exposition of the doctrine of of Limited Atonement coming from a four-year-old! Based on past experiences I know that he's got Total Depravity down. I'm hoping that during circle next week he'll explain Unconditional Election.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

For Daniel

Happy one year! I wouldn't have rather spent it with anyone else.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Shameless self-congratulation

So, the preschoolers are currently doing a penguin unit. We've been talking a lot about rookeries, penguin creches (which we call "penguin preschools"...they love looking at a picture of a creche, finding the one adult penguin tending the dozens of chicks, and shouting "There's Penguin Eduardo!"), penguin food chains, and the penguin life cycle. Each day for our learning circle we read a story about penguins or look at pictures or something. Once a week or so we write a question related to the study up on a sheet of poster board, ask it to the kids, and record their exact responses. For instance, once the question was "What's a predator?" We write down exactly what they say in response, including "ums" and "uh"s. The idea is that the child gets to witness an adult taking their idea seriously, writing it down, seeing how the letters are formed and the words sounded out, etc. Up on the wall near the circle-time carpet we have several sheets of poster board with the kids' questions and responses, the penguin paintings the kids did with their accompanying stories, a penguin poem we all worked on together, and a chart we made of the penguin food chain. There's a lot of written word stuff all over the classroom. We also have large photo documentation boards of the kids doing various activities, like playing with the musical instruments. All of this is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education, one of the philosophies around which the school is centered.

So, here comes the shameless self-congratulation.

1. I have found one of the school's directors to be a little reticent to give praise. But she was in our room the other day, and was like, "Your guys' room looks really nice." Although she said it to me, I'm sure it was directed to our whole teaching team (I have two co-teachers). But since I arranged all of the penguin stuff and the other displays, artwork, and did the photo documentation boards, I'll go ahead and pat myself on the back.

2. All of the parent orientation meetings were held in my room, since it's the largest in the building. After the other preschool class's orientation, the parents of J, a child from the other preschool class, talked to my co-teacher Eduardo about trying to switch J into our class--they liked all of the written word displays we have, and felt that our class was more pre-kindergarten and science-y than the other preschool class, which has more younger kids.

3. A parent a child in the other preschool was showing a friend of hers (I assume) around the school. They popped in to my class while a few kids were looking at books on the carpet and I was washing some paint trays at the sink. "This is the more academic preschool class," she said to her friend.