Saturday, September 16, 2006

Funny Kids

Wow. I made it through the first full week of school. It was a mostly good week with just a little stumble toward the end. I'm learning so much each day and having to change so much across to US English in order for the kids to understand. A couple of days I got frustrated by holding up lost property and having no one claim it: "Whose jumper is this?" I asked. All the little kiddies thought to themselves "Jumper? What's a jumper? I don't have a jumper." And so we got nowhere until I remembered they don't call them jumpers, they're sweaters. Similarly, children kept complaining about being thirsty, so I told them to use the bubbler. Turns out they had no idea what I was talking about! They get their water from a drinking fountain! And of course, they don't have rubbish - it's trash or garbage. These are mostly things I knew in Australia, but it's hard to change the way you say things automatically.
When they sing "Happy Birthday" they don't do the Hip-Hip-Hoorays at the end either.
I'm also having to think through how I integrate the Christian side of things. I haven't been able to mention God in the public schools, but now I need to make sure that whatever I say is accurate with what the bible says and not just my personal views or the views I have grown up with. Plus, I don't want to swamp the kids with too much or confuse them to the point that they think God is disappointed when they play with their pencils when the teacher is speaking or so forth. While the little things may be frustrating for me, I don't think God really has an issue with it!
My class has been so cute this week in so many ways. We won "Luis the Owl" for having the tidiest classroom. The kids were SO excited. They have had some trouble with keeping their bags tidy, so I turned Luis to see all their bags and I told the children that Luis was feeling sad. I said that he looked like he was about to fly off. They all panicked and cleaned up the bag area. One little girl asked me how I knew he was about to fly off. I said that I could see it in his eyes! Another said, "He can't really fly, can he?" To which I replied, "Can't he?" I love it...they're so funny.
Another day, at lunch time, two children were arguing over the pronunciation of 'tomato', but had never heard the song "Let's call the whole thing off", so I intervened and showed them the song. They thought it was great!
I also heard the famous line from a Seinfeld episode "These pretzels are making me thirsty".
I'm having a ball and the kids are hilarious.
John is sorting out job options and has a full-time job at his disposal now. It's not quite what he had in mind, but at the moment, it's a job.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Central Park

The weekend has been really great. We've got through a lot of cleaning and jobs that just have to be done, but have also had time to play. Yesterday we went to Central Park and had bickies with salami and cheese. When we bought the groceries, we used the self-serve cashiers which was pretty cool.
Today we saw a movie in Times Square and are undecided about what we will do for dinner.
Just thought I'd throw in a couple of Central Park pickies. It's just so beautiful and great for people watching. There were some boys with waterbombs playing near us and it was very amusing.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Just a little training

I realise that my job as a teacher is to teach/train students to do new things. I guess that is why the first day is so hard. They need to be taught how to do everything my way. If it's not explicitly taught, they possibly won't do it. So, today was MUCH better. They generally new what to do. I also knew what needed more focus. I even knew what WOULDN'T work in my favour.
I took the class to Central Park today for the gym lesson and we stayed for a play afterward. We didn't take lunches, so our hands were free. And I gave them two simple rules: 1. Keep up. 2. Stay in line. The walk went much more smoothly and I maintained the structure for the play time - being the first day and all. I had a line for the slide and then four lines for the swings. I like a bit of freedom usually, but it seemed to work much better with the structure today. The school is very structured. Check out our ice-cream party. The kids sat in rows to eat and some of mine gathered in a circle!

We went out for happy hour after work which was really great. It's so nice to catch up with everyone since we hardly see each other during the day.
I'm feeling really positive today (even though I had to pack up my classroom for the weekend). John's job finishes tonight so I'm really looking forward to the weekend.
We've hardly seen each other this week as John has worked past midnight most nights. Last night he was kept back til about 3:30am. It seems like he's really quite keen to get into the film industry as a gaffer. (I'm not real sure what it is yet - but you could always google it!)
Life's good, and I'm in New York City!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

First day of kindy

Want to get down some thoughts about the first day but also conscious that I should be using this time to better prepare for the second day, so hopefully this will be brief.
I got up at 5am this morning to fit in a quiet time and a run before school. 5am is not early enough. I made it there just in time, but didn't have any time in my classroom to prepare for teaching. I had done most preparation yesterday, however I prefer some time to get my head around what I'm doing.
I met up with my class and we had a fairly good morning. School starts at 8:20am and goes through until 3:00pm with no real standard times for eating. Teachers supervise throughout this time. So, as you don't really get a break (except for when someone takes the class for art, music or French) it is vital to have EVERYTHING organised at the beginning of the day. For those of you who know me, this is not my strength. I am used to collecting materials and photocopying throughout the day.
Anyway, the morning was good but filled with the standard cheery kindy teacher voice explaining how wonderful our routines are and just how we do them, and making it sound like an adventure at Disney World! The kids bought it.
Then we threw in a trip to Central Park for lunch. "Wow," you say, "how cool. Lunch in Central Park." But as it turns out, it is even more difficult to walk 15 kindergarten children to Central Park than it is to walk the dog! They wanted to look at the buildings and some had very little concept of a line. As they had to carry their lunch boxes, they struggled a bit. Crossing at the streets is pretty difficult too - the lights change quickly so there is no room for error.
By the time we got there, ate and cleaned up, it was time to go back to school. So the kids didn't even have time to play - poor dears. One little girl tripped over and grazed her cheek when running back from the bin. And one of my boys threw a tanty because he didn't get to hold hands with the partner he wanted (his fingers were coated in chocolate and he hadn't proven to be the most respectful of students throughout the day).
By the time we got back to school I was well and truly ready for rest time. We dumped our lunch boxes, grabbed rugs and lay down. Kids took off their shoes and really got into rest mode. I turned out the lights and tried to put on a fairytale story but the cassette player wasn't working. I think it must have been something to do with the lights being off because it worked again when the lights were on!
The little girl with the grazed cheek came back from the office with an ice-pack but was in quite a bit of pain. Being a Christian school, we prayed for the little girl but before long she was crying (not wailing - Chapman staff) and couldn't be settled. My phone had no signal and I couldn't leave the class to take her up to the office again. I decided to send her up with a responsible boy (still wasn't sure he'd make it up two flights of stairs and find it okay - but he did). We packed up the classroom (another drama in itself with loose shoes, lunch boxes and rugs to be folded) and then finally I took them to art and had a bit of a break.
Kindergarten is always such hard work. I guess I had just forgotten! Having said all that, they really are a great group of kids.
The day improved again at about 6:30pm as I was walking home from the subway. I bought myself something I cannot name or even really describe that was fatty and cheap. I also bought myself a 75c Frosty cone. The streets were hustling with people and there was plenty to see and make me chuckle.
Now, to prepare for tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

School starts...

When I took Colby for his run this morning there were kids everywhere, heading off to school. The yellow school buses were out, clothes were clean, hair tidy, new school bags on backs... I love this time of year! It's so exciting with so much anticipation for all that lies ahead.
I met my kids today and their parents, but school doesn't start for me until Thursday. I had orientation where I explained the logistics of the school year to the parents and asked them to provide information about their children. It was scary as always - I don't like talking to adult groups - but I made it through and covered mostly everything.
For all the teachers reading this blog, I'm very exciting about how I will be teaching writing at Geneva. I'll see how it goes and let you know more details if it seems to work well.
The kids I met are bright, mature and quite intellectual. It should make for a year of huge progress. Can't wait.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Up-and-down week

Last week was an up-and-down week. The weather was mostly wet and a lot colder. I didn't feel very motivated and started to get the grumps a bit! Mid-week John got an unpaid job helping out with a movie shoot which was really great because it got him out an about and gave him something to do. One of his friends from Australia also arrived about the same time, so I picked him up from Penn station and helped him back to our place. His travel mate also came, but arrived by plane. So we went out for dinner a couple of nights and made the most of happy hour another night! John's job has been keeping him busy full days - 8am til 10pm, so I've had to entertain myself and take a bit more responsibility for meal preparation. Yesterday I found a great supermarket with nice fresh food, so I cooked one of John's favourites. I also got strawberries and icecream for dessert! I've been doing a bit of exploring of Manhattan. I've done some general wandering and window shopping - trying to figure out where to get stuff.
The weather cleared up this weekend. Yesterday I went to church in the morning and then went up to Central Park. I walked up the east side, soaking in all the natural beauty. I realise that it is a man-made design, but man still couldn't make the trees, birds and squirrels. While I wandered, I thought it might be cool to get a book about the birds of New York City and being a bird spotter for a year. Something to break away from the hustle and bustle of city streets. It was really enjoyable walking through the park and probably took me about an hour. Then I caught a bus back down 5th Avenue and enjoyed looking at all the shops and buildings. You miss out on a lot when you travel by subway. The underground all looks the same and it's not very pretty!
Today (being Labor Day holiday) I ran with Colby up to Central Park again (I wanted to show him how cool it is!). He struggled a bit toward the end because he was thirsty. Once we got there we found some water and he was like a whole new dog! He was very excited and keen to sniff things and splash in ponds. He rolled around on the grass and lay in the sun. I think it was as revitalising for him as it was for me.
By the time we ran home, we'd been out for about 4 hours. Needless to say, we were both pretty tired. So since then we really only ate and snoozed! I haven't done all the teaching preparation I hoped to do, but I may get some done this evening.
I was really sad to hear about Steve Irwin dying in Australia. While I wasn't a big fan of the "Crocodile Hunter" I was a big fan of Steve Irwin the man and father. I was impressed by his genuine love of animals and the way he loved and related to his family. He seemed like a really caring and passionate person. It's good that he died doing what he loves, but it's a shame it happened now!
Please remember to update me with things like this as we only get the major news items.

Coney Island

Last weekend we went to Coney Island, which isn't actually an island. It's on the edge of Brooklyn. It has a little bit of beach, some fake palm trees and a stack of rides and carnival stalls. I don't know whether it was really worth the long train ride out there, but it was a bit of fun and it's one of those places we felt we should see. We had a meal of cheesy fries (fries coated in cheese sauce) by the 'beach'. It wasn't an ideal day for the beach! Very cold and windy. We also went on a cool rollercoaster that had very steep drops. It was great! I had planned to have some cotton candy (fairy floss), however forgot until I was on the train home! Oh well, there are plenty of cotton candy opportunities here!