Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Got Class!

I finally found out which classroom is mine.* Would you like to meet it?

As with everything else in the building, the room is nice and old fashioned (the way I like things).

It's on the third floor, and the back wall is lined with giant westward facing windows which let in lovely light (and if they weren't so clouded with age—or some other mysterious clouding-force—you'd be able to look out of them onto grand old Esplanade Avenue).

And I have a desk. A desk! An honest, plain desk. I like it.

Thank for indulging my dork-out. Now I just have to figure out how to organize the thing. And how to decorate it. And how to fix up the raggedy whiteboard. And the raggedy black(er... green)board. And how to teach. And all those other details.

Onward and upward. (I think I'll be saying that a lot for a while.)

* As I said, the school is in the midst of reinventing itself. There's been a great deal of room shuffling, but (with the contribution of a bit of geeky know-how by yours truly) we finally figured out how to migrate the computer lab to its desired location, and all the other pieces fell into place. (What do you call the puzzles with the grid of squares and one square is missing and all the others get strategically slid around until they finally arrive at the correct configuration? It's like that.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Slimbo, Slimbo, what do you see? I see a Junie looking at me.

Junie, Junie, what do you see? I see a vague impressionistic blur of what I suppose to be my papa looking at me.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A (Not So) Brief Attempt to Synpositize the Recent Events of My (Delightfully) Overcrowded Life

Okay, so what the hell have I been doing with my time? Let's see if I can remember:
Monday, July 7 – Wednesday, July 23: Schoolin' School Part Deux

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...
Whoop, there it is. Onward and upward.

* 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.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fortnightly Fun!

flyer by Mary T.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Ooh, Lordy. The supernova continues. One of these days, I'll actually find the time to tell you about it. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Slang Sling: Fancy-Pants Edition

I like the expression:
"putting on airs"
I can't say why, but it seems to perfectly capture the idea of someone getting too big for their britches.*

What expressions are you liking?

* Another great expression. ("Fancy pants". "Too big for britches". What's the connection between high-falutin'-ness and legwear?)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Take the Long Road Home

We finally closed out our Road Home claim today. Whooh! And gosh, it only took just-shy-of-three-years. Yes indeed, brutally efficient bureaucracy at its finest. (Though late-money is better than no-money.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Fortnightly Fun avec les Brusiers!*

The usual deal: Band starts at 8:00. Nonsense starts at 8:05. All hell breaks loose around 8:30 or so. See you there.

* I wasn't lying.

Monday, July 07, 2008

What's his deal? (Extra credit: What's his sweater's deal?)

I Don't Want to Ride on My Motorsickle...*

So, in Schoolin' School, we were talking about the various sorts of positive reinforcers teachers can use to reward good behavior from students. We discussed the usual fare: stickers, pencils, etc. Then the professor said, "You know, I have a teacher friend who swears by pickles—the big ones you buy in the giant jars."

I immediately thought, "That's so weird. That's exactly what Wheeler said." (He once, for some reason, had a pickle-in-a-bag with him. It was one student's birthday. Wheeler gave the kid the pickle, which much to his surprise, caused an immediate furor from all the other envious students who hadn't gotten pickles on their birthdays.)

And since then I've heard—literally—something like half-a-dozen different teachers all independently say things along the lines of, "You know, it's weird. The kids will do anything for pickles. They go crazy for them."**

Pickles? Pickles. Is that a local thing? (I'm thinking it's got to be.) Far-flung pedagogists, please edu-ma-cate me.

Pickles. Huh...

* Hopelessly obscure? Reasonably transparent? Please tell me.

** I sympathize. I'm rather fond of pickles myself.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

So, what's her deal? (I'm liking this game. Y'all're good.)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Bullsh*t 2: The Return of Bullsh*t!

The fun continues. Four of the following eight statements are true. Which ones?
(A) I have webbed toes.

(B) My chin stubble is asymmetrically graying (on the same side as my white eyelash).

(C) I drink more white wine than red.

(D) As a young boy living in Kenya, I got caught in one of the baboon traps. (Don't try eating the corn attached to the little string.) It took nearly two hours and the assistance of several soldiers from a nearby army encampment to find me. (Fortunately, I had the corn, so I didn't go hungry.)

(E) I am equally proficient at whistling by exhaling or inhaling (the whistling equivalent of circular breathing).

(F) Once, while mowing the yard as a teenager, I ran over a nest of yellow jackets and was stung five times. (Yellow jacket stings really hurt.) My mother made me finish mowing the yard, which I greatly resented. (Those farm ladies are tough.)

(G) I secretly like Air Supply.

(H) My cousin invented Raisin Bran.
The winner will be awarded an Air Supply box set and a lifetime supply of Raisin Bran. (Now there's a party!) Happy hunting.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Birthday, Uncle Sam

We're in Texas, an appropriately star-spangled locale for the holiday. To honor the occasion, our New-Orleans-conditioned-selves will spend the rest of the day ducking from fireworks-mistakenly-perceived-as-gunfire. Whooh!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Alright, so what's this guy's deal?

Rocket Science

Marco's comment reminds me: Many of my friends possess the vague misbelief that I used to work for NASA. Not quite.

True, a while back I did work at the Stennis Space Center whose primary occupant is NASA—they tested the space shuttle rockets*—but it also housed many other federal-ish entities, and I worked next door at the Naval Research Laboratory, which didn't do anything with rockets but did do all sorts of stuff with robots and computers and littoral dynamics and buoys and whatnot. (At the time, digital mapping was my particular corner of governmental geekery).

But that's kind of hard to explain. And my job was already hard to explain. And I did eat lunch in the NASA cafeteria, which is almost like working for NASA. So sometimes I let it slide.

There you have it: I almost worked for NASA. And "almost" is good enough for government work. (It's just rocket science.)

* Sometimes I would be sitting in my office and would feel a deep subsonic rumble vibrating through the floor. I would go outside and see a massive billowing white rocket plume billowing up beyond the South Mississippi pines and hear a massive roar in the distance. Kinda cool.

p.s. I think that guy is me, in fifteen years, if I hadn't switched careers.