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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Israel Photos

Some of my friends are in the Holy Land now and I am deeply wishing that I were with them. For now, the closest I can get is posting some pictures from my last visit... Enjoy! (Besides the first, these are all unedited...the pure, unadulterated scenery of Eretz Yisrael exactly as it came off the camera)

I have many more favorites, but they take so long to upload, so I'll save them for next time...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Prayer of a Yiddishe Mamma

OK, maybe I should have gone into graphic design. Or accounting, programming, OT, architecture, pharmaceutical research, nursing, or one of the other fields that drew me when I declared "Education/Special Ed" as my major.

That said, it's too late to turn back now, at least until June.

No, it's not that bad. I'm just tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, and feeling incompetent though I know it's not my fault that 'they' didn't give me enough to work with in advance. Now I just need to pull through until Succos and then I get a week to relax and prepare my game plan so we can start fresh after vacation.

No amount of college courses could have prepared me for how very difficult and heartbreaking special education is in action. Just the same, no one would have been able to make me believe -- before -- that I'd start feeling "nachas" so soon. I feel like throwing a party every time one of my kids does something that was hard for him or learns something new. Then I come home and beat my head against the wall until an idea falls out for what I can possibly do tomorrow!

OK, now for the story. I do (usually) have a reason for my titles, you know:
....So it's Wednesday night and to say it's been a hard week wouldn't do it justice. There's only one day left but I don't think I can make it that far. I want to prepare so I can get some sleep already but every time I think about having to go back in the morning I just start crying helplessly...
....So I come in on Thursday sketchily prepared, at best. Guess what? My lil' Nightmare (Dreamer -- you like this better than Mr. Attitude?) is absent. My day goes great (relatively) and all the kids get full marks on their behavior charts for the very first time! At least now I know it's not just me, all those other times...
....Still on the verge of collapse, I practically float into the house and yell out the news I just told you: "GUESS WHAT?! My Attitude didn't come to school today!" It may be the first time my family's seen me smile since August.
....Mom doesn't look surprised. Instead, she calmly says...
...................."Oh, good. I davened he should be absent today."
Keep praying, Mom. Only nine months left...

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen: The pictures you've all been waiting for!
Sorry about the crummy quality. I didn't have a real camera handy.

Anyway, as you can clearly see, the sign on the door says "Miss Melech's class: Where every person shines" and each kid's name is written on a star.

And here is the famous, theme-coordinated behavior chart. Each student has his name on a rocket and is trying to "Reach for the Stars."
And on the way, they have plenty of opportunities to earn... get this... ready?

How cute is that? The kids totally don't get it but the point is that it cracks me up. I wish I had a picture to post, but I'm sure you can imagine the idea...

Anyway, when/why did this start turning into a personal chat blog? That was SO not supposed to happen! Oh well. Let me know how you like it. And by the way, vote in my poll on the upper right. I refuse to accept that I only have 6 readers with an opinion...

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Sorry, no real post. I am too tired and have too many other things that must get done.
But meanwhile... check out my cool new toy. It gives me all my blog stats, including which cities my visitors come from! (Hey, Venezuela, are you listening?) Much easier to use than other site meters I've played with, the site layout is great, and I think there's more you can do with it but I haven't had a chance to do much except sign up.

Anyway, here it is.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

When...? (Continued)

After reading my previous post, I realized that it probably gives the idea that I was wondering "When" one becomes experienced. Or "When" "They" will invent a quicker way to do so. However, that is not the case at all. I already know what it takes to become experienced. Whether I will still be sane at that point is a different issue entirely.

No, my real question is "When" do all these other teachers find time to both prepare elaborate lessons and decorate their classrooms? After finally receiving my class assignment (more on that later iy"H) and curriculum two days before school, I went into a frenzy of planning, while the other teachers sat around calmly discussing their "themes."

Now, this is the first I'd heard about classroom themes. As far as I was concerned, I'd reward the kids for being good and punish them for being bad, and spend most of my energy getting some learning done. Suddenly, I found myself thrust into competition with these party planners lest I become the boring teacher (gasp!) Their behavior plans sounded like a very complicated board game involving points, cards, rewards, tokens, "menchies," and professionally designed posters, for starters. If the kids can understand and follow that, don't try telling me they're learning disabled!

Anyway, to make a long story short, I walked into the first day of school like a zombie, but it didn't matter because my classroom looked beautiful. Maybe I'll post a picture after I take some.

The other question my objective self asked after reading my last post was, "How do you know the veteran teacher has green eyes?"

I will tell you how I know. Because the veteran teacher, being experienced, was already teaching back before whiteboards became the mandated standard in schools, and she had to match the chalkboards. Now, I think I am the only person who ever noticed this, but most of my good teachers had those grayish eyes that could turn any color -- Whether you were in a classroom with a green board or a blackboard, she looked like she was created for the scene. And when those gray eyes stared you down, they looked like ice and made you freeze.

Now, my theory doesn't mean that you can't be a perfectly good teacher with brown eyes, but I definitely think blue and green-eyed teachers have an edge. Don't try talking me out of this one. (My eyes, of course, are like mud.)

So, how did my first day go?
Actually, that was a trick question -- you all know now that I spaced through it because I'd spent the whole night before designing my "theme."
Anyway, you'll just have to stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


There has got to be an easier way.
My only coherent thought on the eve of my first major teaching assignment.
I would like to go to sleep now and wake up in a year or so to find myself a tough, experienced professional. With a look that can kill.
I simply cannot believe that after 5,757 years of human innovation, no one has come up with an alternate route to becoming experienced. It is my new goal in life. When I accept my Nobel, I will let you, my faithful readers, know so that you can proudly say "I knew her when..."

Until then, I sit quaking in the corner of the teachers' room, marveling at the Veteran Teacher. You'd know her in an instant: The poised woman clutching the gallon-sized coffee cup in one hand and practically untouched curriculum guide in the other. When she turns her green eyes toward you, you want to disappear and find it difficult to resist a sudden, irrational urge to apologize. Finally, after the student who had been standing behind you slinks away, you are astounded to see her gaze soften and the wicked smile turn friendly: You are one of us now. It must be true because she said so.

(Possibly to be continued. First I need to go whip the kids... um, prepare lessons.)