With my recent move to Brooklyn, it goes without saying that I’m on the search for a new school to call home. The job search process here with the NYC Dept of Ed has been a stressful, ego-busting and confidence-questioning experience. I suppose that is the usual experience with every sort of job search, and I know that finding a school that would be a good fit both ways takes persistence and patience, but I’m finding that as an outsider, it’s especially difficult to break in to the system. First up, people don’t know me and I’m not very great at selling myself. Secondly, there are about 4,000 potential openings for the coming school year and 10,000-30,000 applicants. Thirdly, there are significantly more Teach For America and NY Teaching Fellows (fresh from college and backed by their programs) here competing with me.
I know SFUSD – I have a network, I know what the hot issues are and what counts. I know that I’m a pretty good teacher, and with every passing year I get better. Coming to NY though, I am a little fish in a really really big pond. There are so many high schools, each one of them small (>300 students) and with their own philosophy, expectations and vision. It’s no longer just “preparing students for post-high school success”, it’s now “infuse curriculum with green experiences, applied mathematics and teaching our students to be independent life long learners and critical thinkers with the skills to make solid career choices”. These types of missions are great and all, and we have those too in SF, but here, with these small schools, they actually stick to them. At TMAHS, our vision had a focus on social justice. I personally included social justice topics within every unit. The school as a whole did not.
I’m learning quickly though. Surprisingly enough, nobody cares about test scores. Considering the fact that teacher evaluations are dependent on test scores, and that 24 schools closed due to low test scores, I expected more conversations about how to raise them. Instead, each school I’ve visited or spoken to focuses on learning through inquiry and experience rather than relying on direct instruction.
While I’m all for it and would advocate for more inquiry/exploratory based lessons, I find myself in somewhat of a panic. Are my lessons, the ones that I feel so good about and have worked well for my students in the past, actually just total crap? Do I have enough inquiry in my lessons? Am I even creative enough to come up with a way to teach evolution without actually teaching evolution directly? I’m doubting myself and my lessons… I’m really great at direct instruction. Ask any of my students and they will tell you about all my PowerPoints and notes followed by some activity that supports what they just learned. So therefore, I’m a shitty teacher who propagates the memorization-regurgitation method, without teaching my students anything long lasting.
Designing a good inquiry-based lesson is incredibly hard. It takes a lot of brain power, creative juice, innovation and time. Imagine you need to teach 30 high school students the next day (and it’s now 5pm) that “Evolution does not necessitate long-term progress in some set direction. Evolutionary changes appear to be like the growth of a bush: Some branches survive from the beginning with little or no change, many die out altogether, and others branch repeatedly, sometimes giving rise to more complex organisms.” How are you going to do this without lecturing about it, and in a way where students can discover and reason out the answers an their own, therefore making it an authentic learning experience? This is just one day out of 180.
I had a 2.5 hour interview and demo lesson with a panel of 9 teachers/administrators yesterday at a small high school here in Brooklyn (they are all small, really).
Outside I tried to look like this:
but inside I was really like this:
I have until september before I give up and find a McD’s job, though I would settle for Walmart.
There’s my favorite horsie shirt again.
B and I live in Brooklyn now, about 3 (Avenue) blocks from Prospect park, which I would say is roughly
the size half the size of Golden Gate park in SF. We’ve been in and out of this park already, checking out the farmer’s market and riding around the loop on our new bikes. B snapped these photos the last time we strolled over to the Farmer’s market at Grand Army Plaza. The park is such a nice reprieve from the noises of the city (even with the 200 family BBQs that happen all the time there, and the crazy screaming little kids on their razors). I’m thankful to have an apartment close to park. I plan on getting a lot of use out of my new super awesome park ready timbuk2 bag.
By the way, Saltwater Sandals are seriously the best summer sandal ever. Super comfy, never rubs, never pinches, lasts forever and super affordable. Same can be said for these new Native shoes that B and I bought. They’re like crocs, but way cooler looking. And, they’re beast free, which I know would please a few of my friends. They’re squishy (absorbs impact), waterproof (perfect for the NY summer rains), breathable (lots of holes for ventilation) and grippy (great for bike riding).
sunnies and tote: f21 – horsie shirt: urban outfitters (hella old) – shorts: j.crew – my shoes: saltwater sandals – b’s shoes: native
I’m thankful to live in a city where marriage discrimination hasn’t existed for the past year. What’s up Cali? What keeping you so backwards? People are people so why should it be? Anyways, B and I checked out the NYC version of the Pride parade yesterday, and these are a few pics off his camera.
After escaping the crowds, B and I headed over to the Bowery Hotel‘s rooftop bar, where we caught a set by my hometown faves, Geographer. I’ve gushed about them already here. I found out about it last minute, from their FB page. Good thing! The show was intimate (only about 50 people, max!), fun and all around awesome. Cool venue too. I was soo excited to see them play. I’ve been missing SF loads lately, so their set was a welcome reminder of SF. I was major SUPERFAN.
It was the perfect cap to our weekend. So was this awesome mural B and I happened upon while walking over to the Bowery Hotel. It was fate, these shorts matched perfectly.
sunnies: f21 – v-neck: threads for thought – shorts: unknown/forgotten brand from tobi.com – bag: freitag – sandals: sweedish hasbeens for h&m – lipstick: nars heat wave (appropriate name considering the new york weather lately, no?)
B and I went hunting for the elusive SF style burrito last last Friday in Williamsburg. We didn’t find it. Not even at Taco Chulo on Grand St, where they have a “Mission” burrito on the menu. Not even close. On the bright side, the Metropolitan Ave station has awesome mosaics.
There’s nothing new going on here fashion wise. Same same, but different. B picked out my shoes, old faded blue Converse. Waiting for the bathroom that night, some girl complemented me on my dress, pointing out that the shoes went well with the outfit. I looked over and B had the biggest shit-eatin’ grin on his face. He was so proud of himself.
Well, three burrito fridays later, and I think we’ve found the closest thing (so far) to a Mission style burrito, at The Original California Taqueria (horrid reviews. ouch!) over in Cobble Hill. Seriously, that’s the name of the place. It’s ok. Not bad.
A couple weeks ago, while all the Automattic folks were in town, we went out for drinks. It was the end of the night (which is 4am here in NYC!!!!). B got a snazzy new Canon point and shoot camera for Christmas from his brother Kai, and Hugo (designer extraordinaire) directed this shot.
cardi, belt and bag: j.crew – dress: madewell – booties: Nordstro BP (old)
I really should be enjoying this hot weather while it lasts. I would more, if my apartment wasn’t permanently hot. We live above a grocery store, and their refrigeration or air conditioning directs the heat back into the building…floors 2 and up. So our apartment is at least 10 degrees hotter inside than out. With little tiny windows to boot. It is 86˚F in here right now and I can feel the heat radiating from the floors.
I’ve been here living in Brooklyn for 15 days now. We still have unpacked boxes, and no couch. $3500 in Amazon and Ikea purchases later, we have a semi home. These pictures may not be horribly exciting, but this is how it all began.
Crate truck rolling down the street, circling 3 times before it’s parked on a neighboring street. Guy then drives the pitchfork carrying our crate to us. We have 30 min to unload. Good thing we had the help of these guys, also in town for Blogword Expo and NYC Wordcamp.
High tech stuff going on in our building. This is how the bad guys get caught.
Everyone has pesky neighbors right? Our neighbors are all religious. On one block, we’ve got one arabic Jehovah’s Witness kingdom hall, one “Templo Unido” and one Catholic (I think) church. At least our building is secure.
More than a few weeks ago, when B and I were still in SF, we went out one friday night. Surprise surprise. This time it was a send off for his friends Ryan and Rani, who were moving back to Texas. We ended up at a bar over on Broadway and Powell called the Hancock Room, an offshoot of SIP. With all the prohibition era trendiness going on lately, like Burbon and Branch and the Rickhouse (both of which I like) in SF, the Hancock Room tries to one-up them by featuring artwork of the founding fathers in all their awesomeness. Art work like this and this and my favorite being Ben Franklin facing off with Zeus made us all atwitter over the decor that also included presidential busts and a vintage 13 colonies flag.
I love this type of cheeky yet historical and modern, all at the same time art. Jason Heuser is the name of the artist (from SF!!!), and you can find him here. I’m pretty blown away by his series on the dead presidents. I’m seriously contemplating buying a set of the prints to hang….somewhere.
On the way to chinatown, Beau snapped a few shots of me and my beet red soft and cushy cords. I felt the need to throw in a ka-ra-te pose. It was necessary.
Now here comes the sensitivity part. I am now more inclined to call it the sensitivity part as opposed to the &*#%ing-sexist-@$$wipe part, now that it’s been a good month since the event. I was having a grand ole time at the Hancock Room, when the bartender (owner, actually, I think), made an incredibly off-putting sexist joke. It started with another patron at the bar mentioning to the bartender how the place had an old gentleman’s club like feel and how they should incorporate cigars and such to make it feel even more manly. In retrospect, I should have kept my mouth shut. But I added in that they’d then need to add some feminine touches to balance it out, something for the girls. Again, I should have just not said anything. (I’m no design czar and I have no idea about bar decor. With casual banter and chit chat though, I put in my comment). The response from the bartender totally caught me off guard. He said, “There is a place for women. Right here beneath the bar.” It took me a while to register what he had just said and in the meantime, my knee-jerk reaction was to give a weak laugh.
I proceeded to get even more and more pissed off and upset as the night went on. When B and I left, we ended up in a fairly dramatic disagreement. He didn’t think it was a big deal and that I shouldn’t care what other people say. I was all worked up because I had just finished teaching a unit on sexual harassment and rape culture in my health class, and I tend to bring my work home with me. Initially, I was mad at B for not saying anything. It is known that bystander intervention is most effective when the bystander is of the same race/gender as the offender. So thus, as a man, I felt that B had an obligation to be the bystander on my behalf.
Not actually realistic, as it turns out. First of all, B can’t read my mind and was oblivious to how strongly I reacted to the sexually objective comment made by the bartender. Secondly, B may very well not have been trained/exposed/learned about the importance of bystander intervention. (note from B: “I wasn’t, at all. I was never explicitly taught anything about sexism or standing up for wormen or anything else like that. I’ve picked up a lot since I was a kid, but had never heard anything about bystander intervention specifically until you mentioned it.”) So ultimately, I was really upset that I didn’t say anything. That I have been trained to brush off these types of sexist jokes with weak laughs. I was more pissed at myself for my inaction than at B for his, and even at the bartender for his perpetuation of gender roles and the sexual objectification of women.
So now I’m chalking it up to my sensitivity issue. If I am sensitive to something said, then it’s ultimately MY responsibility to react to it. I should have said something. I just wish I had someone always there to feed me lines, since I always seem to think of the best comeback well after the moment had past. In the end, I was more sensitive than productive.
It’s been almost a month since my last post. I’ve been distracted, and blogging hasn’t exactly been at the top of my priority list lately.
So to ease myself back into it, here are the iPhone snaps I’ve been taking as of late. Some are new, some are old, some are really old. Some you’ve seen on Instagram already, some you haven’t. Whateves. Hover over the pic for a description.