Monthly Archives: April 2006

Ooo! Ooo!


I got this comment from Vanx, and it made me laugh so that I HAD to post it as an entry in and of itself:

[in voice of Horschak, hand flailing in air] “Ooo! Ooo! Miss Chili! I’m finished!” [in voice of Vanx, hands rubbing together like sandpaper] “Adam vs. Satan, you know what I’m sayin’

So, who else is finished? Who wants to engage Vanx here in a discussion of that he’s sayin’?

(Oh, and I didn’t realize it until JUST now (seriously, I’m that lame) but the whole Welcome Back Kotter thing may be significant to me – I’m applying to teach in the same high school from which I graduated. Huh.)

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A Failure of Confidence

I need to stop thinking about this. I was feeling pretty confident about my chances for getting this job – now, I’m not so sure.

I don’t get any particularly positive feelings from anyone about my chances. One of the teachers mentioned that she’s not sure she’s EVER seen someone hired from within. I didn’t go to a snobby school, which, I gather, is important to the assistant principal. I am a first year teacher with no work experience beyond the internship. No one has come to watch me teach, though I’ve extended the invitation.

I’m trying to keep a “the Universe will put me where I most need to be” attitude. I’m having a little trouble with that right now, though, because I really want the job.

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“Reading” Art

I’m hoping for a lot of comments on this one – especially from those of you (Vanx, Claudia…) for whom art is a way of life.

I had the good fortune to attend a conference on teaching the Holocaust at my university yesterday. While I would have preferred they break the event into two days (eight-to-five of that subject is, shall we say, a bit overwhelming), I learned a lot and came away with the sense that I can be a better teacher because of what I learned.

Part of the conference included a trip to the art gallery on campus, where a number of works by Samuel Bak were being displayed. Bak did a fair portion of his growing up in the Vilna ghetto in Lithuania, managed to be secreted out of harm’s way by his father and spent the rest of the German occupation hiding in a convent with his mother. She and he were the only members of his family to survive World War II, and Bak has only recently begun to paint about his experiences as a Jew during the Holocaust.

Conference members were given about an hour (though it felt like much less) to view the works on display and, if they wished, to talk to the artist, who had graciously made the trip to the university to speak to us. I never managed to get to him, though, because I was completely sucked into his work.

I know about this much about art. I recognize when I “like” something, but much of my art experience has been limited to just that – personal preference. I don’t know anything about technique, movements or trends, who’s famous and why, or symbolism and interpretation. Even with that ignorance, though, I was able to come away from the Bak exhibit profoundly moved and positively stunned at the layers of meaning present in his work. I was seeing meaning everywhere, and feeling confident that I understood it despite my lack of experience and knowledge in the medium.

I spent most of my time in front of this painting. It’s about five feet by six feet, and this photo doesn’t – obviously – do it justice; if you click on the image, you should get a full-screen version, though even that doesn’t come much closer to speaking to the power of the actual piece. I could go on for quite some time about what *I* see in it, and why I think what I see is so profoundly significant to what I’ve been studying with my students, but I’m interested to hear other voices. Please, please comment.



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Reflections on an Interview


I promised to write more about the interview, so here it is.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since Thursday evening, and I’m pleased to tell you that I haven’t had to beat myself up in any kind of serious way. I’ve come up with a couple of things I wish I’d said, but nothing that I wish I hadn’t said. I think that’s a very, very good sign (particularly given my tendency to release the clutch on my brain before it’s fully engaged).

Friday morning, I wrote thank you notes to everyone who was in on the interview and delivered them to the office mailboxes. I met up with one of the panelists at the photocopier on Friday morning, and she told me that she thought my interview “went very well.” Really, all the indications are that I didn’t do or say anything that caused the panelists to chuck my resume as soon as I walked out the door. I remain optimistic.

Did I mention that I was also in the midst of a my second solo week while all of this was going on? Well, I was. I’m actually glad that I was so preoccupied with the work ahead of the interview; I’m pretty sure I would have worried myself to a pile of ash otherwise. Kizz asked me the other day what grade I’d give my second solo week. I’m thinking it’s probably a solid B+, maybe even an A-. There were a couple of rough spots (I actually threw two kids out of my classes at varying points in the week, and one of them ended up in a conference – into which I was called – in the assistant principal’s office. Of course, this was a little more than two hours before my interview with same said assistant principal. I wonder what kind of impression that made…), but overall, I’m pleased. CT is not-so-secretly hoping I’ll take over a couple classes for the remainder of my internship (which, OH MY GOD, is only two more weeks! Watch for a post on THAT!) and I’m more than happy to take them. I love the work, I love the kids, I’m having a great time.

And I hope I get the job….

(oh, and the graphic? I couldn’t find anything “interview-ish”, so I went with a spring motif)

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Check In, Please


Dear Frankenstein Readers:

I’ve never done this sort of thing before – this “book club on a blog” thing – so please forgive if it’s seeming a little choppy and disjointed. I’m doing the best I can in uncharted territory.

My question to you is this – where are all of you in the novel? I’ve asked my kids to read through chapter 15 for Monday, and I may give them a “reading day” on Monday, to boot, just so they can catch up if they’re behind. I’ve got a couple of blog readers who are trying to figure out what they can comment on; they don’t want to give away anything that others haven’t read yet, so I want to get a sense of where we all are in the reading.

I also want to know if you would like some guiding questions. I’ve refrained from offering discussion suggestions for a number of reasons; I do it all day in school and I often don’t feel like doing it at home; we’re all adults here (well, MOST of the time!) and I’m really interested in what you think is important or interesting enough to talk about without any input from me and finally, I recognize my tendency, as an English teacher, for overanalyzation of literature – I often just can’t help myself – and you might not be so inclined. If you WANT me to throw out a question or a topic for discussion, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to oblige. Please know, though, that YOU can throw topics/questions/comments out for general consumption, too.

In a couple of days, when we’ve had some more conversations about what we’ve read thus far, I’ll post an entry about some of the conversations I’ve had with the AP kids. I’ll likely be looking for advice about keeping those conversations going, and about what a meaningful tactic for assessment might be, so please keep those questions in your mind as you continue to read.

Happy Saturday!

-Mrs. Chili

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SO?! How’d it Go?!?

Not having had any experience with this sort of thing, I will tell you that my interview yesterday didn’t go badly. No one asked me any questions I didn’t understand, I didn’t babble too much, I didn’t use any inappropriate language (those of you who know me know that I’m sometimes prone to use the more, shall we say base?, figures in our language) and, when it was all over, the assistant principal, who showed me out of the room, said that it “went well.” When I mentioned that this was my first-ever interview, he seemed mildlly surprised. I’m taking that as a good sign.

I’ll write more tonight – I’m on my way out the door right now and I didn’t have a chance to write last night because I was called in as an emergency substitute for a sign language class at the university and didn’t get home until pretty late. I was exhausted by then and only wanted to go to bed.

Thank you all so much for your support. I promise to keep you apprised of everything that happens!

Cheers!
-Mrs. Chili

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Scrabble


Seventh period, the last of the day, is what’s called a literacy lab. It’s a remedial class for kids who scored very low on some standardized language test. Our lab consists of five kids – three girls and two boys – and we try to spend some time each class working on some of the basic structures of English. Some of the kids do better with the basics than others.

True story:

Today, after the lesson, I left them with a half an hour in which to read. Two of the students – both of the boys – asked me if we could spend the time playing Scrabble. It’s one of my favorite games, so I said “sure!”

One of the boys is a little frustrating to play with, though, because he insists on asking me if a collection of letters is a word. “Mrs. Chili, is ‘g-a-m’ a word? Is ‘l-o-c’ a word?” He does this all the time. He did this today.

We were about fifteen minutes into the game when this boy turns to me and says “Mrs. Chili, is ‘y-o-u’ a word?”

I looked at the boy and said “ask me again?” Which he does. I had ALL I could do to keep a straight face.

“Sweetie,” I said, “if you don’t know, you can’t use the word.”

He didn’t.

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