Monday, July 7 – Wednesday, July 23: Schoolin' School Part DeuxWhoop, there it is. Onward and upward.
As soon as we returned from Texas, I launched into the second session of Schoolin' School. The first session consisted primarily of lectures and the like held in a schoolin' -school classroom. We—the Mathies, together with the Science and Special Ed folks (the other much-needed teacher-types)—learned generalized teaching strategies, classroom management, and other schoolin' goodness. But for the second session, we broke out into our specific subject areas, and our groovy lil' math team (lead by my new hero, Dr. T) spent almost all our time in actual classrooms at an actual school, John McDonogh High, working with actual students. Each morning we observed, tutored, and taught. Each afternoon, we converged in the school's library to review and to learn slick tricks for actually making math education interesting and effective. (Who'da thunk?!)
(I could say plenty more, but when I started to collect my thoughts, I quickly found myself writing the first chapter of Mr. O's Tractatus-Pedagogus, so I think I'll save that for another post.)
Saturday, July 12 – Friday, July 18: Mr. Mom
Sarah and the other Rock-a-fellas were whisked away for a mad-dash tour of the East Coast, meeting with all sorts of low-income housing bigwigs and viewing various splendors of urban redevelopment. I held down the fort, doing my best to make sure the kids didn't starve or devolve into a mire of their own filth. I was marginally successful. (How do single parents do it? God bless 'em.)
Friday, July 18: I Got a Job!
After a few weeks of dazedly shopping my newbie-teacher skills around the current stunningly complex array of New Orleans public schools, I finally found my new schoolin'-home, McDonogh City Park Academy. (It's the old McDonogh #28 on Esplanade Ave, and it has nothing to do with the aforementioned John McDonogh High School which, confusingly enough, is also on Esplanade. (Several of the city's public schools have "McDonogh" in their name.)* And don't be fooled by the "Academy" either. As our post-Katrina school-scape has gone all topsy-turvy charterized, even decidedly downscale schools have upscaled their names, and we now have more "academies" than you can shake a stick at.)
As with so many of the city's schools, its current incarnation is a very new entity, still gelling into what it's going to be. Newness presents its own challenges but also its own opportunities. And I got a very good feeling from the principal and lead teachers, which is critical. It should be interesting.
Saturday, July 19: Birthday Girl!
Darling Sh-Boo-Boo #1 turned seven (Good Lord!), and we hosted a giddy little gaggle of gals for a birthday shindig at the Mid-City Lanes Rock 'N Bowl. Fun, fun.
Sunday, July 20: We made a record!
La Famille Brusier trekked to the piney northshore woodlands outside (papermill-a-licious) Bogalusa, LA, where we recorded a dozen-ish tracks (live-style) at the fantabulous Studio in the Country under the kind and professional guidance of Ben Mumphrey. It was both extremely gratifying and extremely exhausting. (It ain't easy spending hours and hours on end trying to make sure your finger don't go a tiny bit the wrong way and your voice doesn't warble a tad off pitch.) And don't ask me how it sounds yet. For a good while after recording anything, all I can hear are all the things-that-might-possibly-be-wrong-with-my-performance. I'll give you the upbeat promotional blurb later.
We ate dinner at the (decidedly dicey) Western Sizzlin', the only place open in Bogalusa on a Sunday.
Monday, July 21–Wednesday, July 23: Geek Fest 2008!
For the final three days of our aforementioned Schoolin' School Part Deux, we attended the Mathematical Sciences Institute, a local middle- and high-school math teacher geek out (picture lots of frizzy hair and corny math-pun t-shirts: "Chicken Pot Pi", "Fear Factorial", "Enter the Mutrix") where we spent the day messing around with protractors and "manipulatives" and talking about things like "the best way to guide students towards a correct intuition of imaginary numbers". Good stuff. (And I won a raffle for free admission to next year's geek fest!)
Saturday, July 26: Meet and Greet
Saturday, my new school had its meet-and-greet, where I dished out chili cheese nachos to my future students, then retired upstairs to the library where I met and gret (you know what I mean) my new fellow teachers (including several even-wider-eyed-than-me fresh-off-the-Ivy-League-Boat** Teach For America newbies) who will be my partners-in-pedagogy for the coming year.
Now: A Respite
And now I have a little break, a week-and-change to breathe deeply, put in some coffice hours, and just generally get my head screwed on straight before reporting for duty on August 5. (Actual classes start August 18). Ahh...
* Double parenthetical—whooh!
** Sorry, the hyphens are a little out of control. In the absence-of-blogging, I've been denied my regular hyphen-fix. O-bla-di.