Mustard Mondays

I have new clothes to talk about!  Finally – I’ve been somewhat uninspired by the shops lately, so I haven’t been shopping much (for clothing anyway, I’ve been too spendy with the skincare and makeup).  This weekend though, the sales sucked me in.  I picked up these grey jeans (with a high waist that helps balance out my long torso/short legs combo) at Urban Outfitters to $15!!  I love a great deal.  The boots I got at H&M at the start of fall, and they’re really awesome.  Whether or not they will last past one winter, we’ll see.  The sweater is an oldie from my time in Brooklyn (last seen here and here).MustardMonday MustardMonday2 MustardMonday3 MustardMonday4

glasess: warby parker – infinity scarf: american apparel – sweater and jeans: urban outfitters – belt: jcrew – boots: h&m

As far as the whole having-a-life thing is going, we got a week off for Thanksgiving.  I flew out to DC to spend time with my family and I got to hang with my little niece in between naps and fits.  My mom and sister are speaking to her only in Mandarin, so I also got to brush up on my Chinese!  Practically no one in Denver speaks Chinese, so it’s gotten rusty from disuse.  My niece is just starting to talk, so she taught me that her favorite toy (which is a mother fox from IKEA) is called hu-li mama.  My mom speaks 4 different Chinese dialects, so at dinner times, my niece will say “good eats” in 3 of them – Cantonese, Mandarin and Fujian.  hou sic, hao chi, haw jia.


Of course, we also had to take a pre TG dinner family portrait (minus my brother in law).



It’s been frosty cold!  Having a car again in this weather for my commute is just so darn luxurious.  Now if only the heater would work in it…

Again, nothing really new on the clothing front, just new-to-the-blog.  The shirt I picked up at Madewell at the start of the summer (on super sale, as always), and the sweater is J.Crew from 2010.  The shirt is a bit short for my super long torso, so I can really only pair it with high-waisted jeans.  Otherwise, I’d be wearing a crop top and nobody wants to see that at school.

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shirt: madewell – cardigan: j.crew – jeans: bdg/urban outfitters – shoes: corso como via nordstrom rack – lipstick: nars afghan red

Zipping up

It’s been slow on the blog front, because you know…”students first” right?  Students trump sleep, lunch, bathroom breaks, alone time, relationship time, sanity and your emotional stability.  I got this sweater on super sale right before I left New York in the dead of summer.  Denver is getting properly cold finally.  I wore the boots I’ve dubbed my alien boots because they remind me of something Sigourney Weaver would have worn in the movie Aliens.  They make me feel bad ass.  Up until I get an angry mis-informed voicemail forwarded to me by my principal from the mom of one of my mean girls who have been tormenting me.  FUN.  Sorry for the negativity guys, I’m just not feeling it today.  Since I really have nothing good to say about teaching in Denver so far, I’m just going to zip my trap before it gets out of hand.

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glasses: warby parker – sweater: nordstrom rack – jeans: uniqlo – boots: deena & ozzy/urban outfitters


It’s Fall — meaning it’s time to bust out the flannels and the checks!  It was a cool 65˚F here in Brooklyn and I couldn’t be happier with this SF-like weather.  It’s the third week of school and I’m still working on trying to find a nice groove in my work flow.  Student schedules are still changing and I’m still trying to figure out how to teach my Urban Agriculture class (culinary/healthy eating/urban farming).  I’m channeling my inner Brooklyn hipster farmer today.  Also, new fall boots!  I had a very weak moment while browsing at Madewell and am now suffering from wallet guilt.  They’re tearing my heels apart right now as I break them in, but I’m holding out that they will eventually soften up.  Fingers crossed that I can finally stop with the constant blister first aid!




autumnal4End of the day yawns – pretty much par for the course on a Monday afternoon.

glasses: warby parker – shirt: uniqlo – jeans: bdg – boots: madewell


One thing I’ve learned in the past 4 years of teaching (which is not very long) is that you can’t take much personally. It was a hard lesson to learn in my first year (when one of my students stole my laptop and sold it on the street within 15 minutes), and even into my second. Kids are more concerned with what’s going on in their own lives than with yours. This means, if they didn’t do HW, it’s not because they don’t like you. Instead, it’s because they were up late last night with their own real life soap opera. If they take your pencil, it’s not because they don’t respect you. Instead, it’s because kids can’t keep track of their own writing utensils and their back packs are like black holes. You as a person are not even on their radar, let alone significant enough for them to care about potentially hurting your feelings with their careless actions. The same thing kind of goes for teachers. So don’t take it personally, it’s not all about you. Instead, it’s all about the kids. That is all. personals2

On a brighter note, I got NEW SUMMER SANDALS!!! They are taking some breaking in, especially at weird spots on my ankles with slight bony protrusions. I love them and they were a splurge (thanks, tax man for paying out my interest free loan!).





glasses: warby parker – top: anthropologie (soooo soft and perfectly drapey, similar in material) – jeans: bdg – shoes: sweedish hasbeens via madewell


Sadly, my spring break is coming to an end.  It’s been a sweet week and a half.  I took a trip to visit Jojo, my good friend Aimee came out to visit, and B and I enjoyed a day-long stay-cation.  He took off work today and we went exploring in Manhattan.  We started at the very southern tip and wound our way north to Central Park, then headed back down south stopping at my favorite basics shop Uniqlo on the way.  I got B to buy some new pants in a snazzy preppy stripe.  He’ll probably never wear them unless I force him to – which will be often!  Today was all about warmth and comfort.  Spring has sprung, but it was still super windy and cold today.  Perfect for my new favorite sweatshirt from the men’s section of H&M- I’m all about men’s clothing lately.

I particularly loved all the memorials down in the south end, especially the Merchant Marines Memorial.  I also found a Schenck on the WWII memorial, an electrician from Kansas.





sunnies: ray-ban – scarf: topshop – sweatshirt: h&m – jeans: f21 – socks: uo – sneaks: converse – bag: frietag


Today was progress report day.  I gave each and every student a print out showing learning targets and their progress towards meeting them (aka did you do your assignments).  It was a huge hubbub and I’m now officially the most unpopular teacher at school.  The kids were in a tizzy and I even had 2 students storm outside for a break in the hall to collect themselves.  It’s appalling to me how many students come to school every day and still manage to complete absolutely zero assignments – no classwork, no lab, no quizzes, and most definitely no homework.  For some reason or another (I’m still mulling it over), this quarter has been an especially bad one.  In one class out of 30 students, only 7 have a passing grade or higher.  That means even if I “discount” students who never show up, I’m maintaining a 30% passing rate.  I have an abysmal HW return rate – they just don’t do it.  I also expect students to not only do their work, but to do it well and according to the guidelines of the assignment.  I don’t give credit for “effort”, meaning if I ask about osmosis and they scratch something out about Osmosis Jones, I don’t take it.

So this begs to question, “What am I doing wrong!?”  By the end of my third section of Living Environment class, I’d fallen into a pit of self-doubt.  After all, if so many kids are failing, it MUST be me and NOT them.  I’m doing something wrong, I need to change something.  Is that true?  Or have I been brainwashed by all the anti-teacher rhetoric floating around out there?  These grades (or lack of grades, rather) has weighed heavily on me all day, so I went searching for answers.  I gave my classes time to air grievances and make comments, I conferenced with my co-teacher and I even sought advice from my administrator (“let me think about that one…”).  This is what I learned today:

Student #1: “You grade too hard miss!  I struggle in all my classes, but yours way more than others!”

Student #2: “You’re too strict!  I worked so hard on this and you still only gave be a 2.1 (we use standards based grading where 1=not meeting the learning target, 2=approaching the target, 3=meets the target and 4= excels at the learning target)!

Student #3: “You give too much work!”

Student #4: (to another student, right in front of me) “I can’t even listen to her talk right now, I’m too pissed.  Ugh, she needs to just shut up!”

Student #5 “WHAT? This is mad f-ed up!  I do all my work!”

-I should have other teachers grade my lab reports and compare scores.  Maybe I am too strict with grading.  I use a rubric, which the kids have a copy of.  Maybe I need to ease up on sticking to it.

-I need to ease up on assigning homework, and/or I should not count all of them, just some.

-The kids thought I was laughing at them sinisterly when in fact I was trying to force a smile while they were all voicing their discontent.  My uncomfortable smile apparently = evil I’m-out-to-get-you laugh.  Crap.

-I just need to ease up in general.

In my defense, this is how I help support my kids academically with their work:

-I scaffold the shit out of every assignment I give by outlining reports for them, giving them graphic organizers, vocabulary instruction, etc.  I practically hold their hands through every assignment.  My co-teacher even created a “fill in the blank” lab report for my SPED (special-ed) and ELL (English language learners)!

-I give written feedback on every assignment I hand back.

-I’m available at any hour of the day for tutoring or help in person, over email or even by phone.  The kids have all my info, for real.

-I allow practically unlimited time for turning in assignments.  I accept any and all late work up until the day before grades are due.

-I allow for revisions: If a kid is not happy with his/her grade, they can revise their work (based on my feedback) and re-submit it.

-I assign work that is within their reach with realistic timelines (I think), such as “write a paragraph on whether or not the BRCA gene should be patented, using my given topic sentence”.

So, what do you guys think?  What do I need to change?  How can I up my passing rates without compromising my ethics and just pushing kids through?  My grade team had a discussion around broken grading practices and how to fix them last monday.  I need to continue the discussion.  Please help.

In the meantime, here’s what I wore today, pencil in hair, sinister smile and all.





shirt: madewell – belt: j.crew – jeans: bdg – socks: juicy couture (gift from my sister years ago) – boots: steve madden – necklace: my popo via mommy

Thinking aloud – the teacher outfit

Thinking-aloud: a strategy used by teachers to teach reading comprehension or problem solving.

I’ve never tried the “think-aloud” strategy in my class.  I saw a teacher model it once and it felt awkward, silly and uncomfortable.  Then again, that teacher was generally awkward, weird and uncomfortable socially anyways.  Go figure.

Like a good teacher should, I thought that maybe I should at least try this strategy at least once before throwing it off as gimmicky.  So here goes: Think-aloud – the teacher outfit version.

Damn – hit the snooze 2 too many times.  panic!  brush teeth, wash face, pee and’s overcast outside, and my app claims it will be 48°F out today – warm!!  Oh crap it’s late – panic! what do I wear, stare at closet, WHAT DO I WEAR? panic!  coffee. I’m going to need 11 cups today.  cooooooffffeeeeee.  load the thermos.  what do I wear?  oh eff it, same old black jeans on!  oh yeah…I like that t-shirt and it’s dressier than just a t-shirt, it has “leather”!  edge!  k. k. k. k. k. now what else do I need…belt, shoes.  I’m tired of boots and it’s “warm” out – yay favorite oxfords!  I’ve missed you.  crap, they dont match all the black….uhhh…sweater!  solved.  warm, soft, brown, present from an ex-boyfriend.  slap concealer on spots brought on by burrito and beer binging in SF last week, where’s my grape soda flavored lip balm?  coooooffffeeeeee.  shit, if i dont leave now, I wont have time to organize before classes start.  grab puffy coat, throw bobby pins in hair, keys! bag! cooooooffffeeeee.  hustle.

the edge

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glasses: warby parker – sweater: j.crew – t-shirt: zara – belt: gap – jeans: bdg – shoes: gh bass – watch: fossil

Every lesson needs an assessment, so here’s the exit ticket:  Using evidence to support your answer, predict which item from friday’s outfit will most likely be incorporated into the look for Ms. Schenck on monday.

Yup, think-aloud still feels silly, awkward and uncomfortable.

Nerdy Stress

Today was one of those extra anxiety ridden stressful days, the type that make you feel like you just ran a mental marathon.  I had visitors in my class today – 7 adult visitors.  These visitors were administrators, “school designers” and various instructional specialists from the network (whatever that means), all in my class to observe literacy elements in the science classroom.  Of course, I was told that the visit was “in no way evaluative”, and in fact, “don’t plan anything special, just do what you would normally do”.  Yeah right.  Lets be honest, every visit is evaluative – especially when the focus is on common core literacy: reading, writing and speaking (not to mention science).  So I planned a lesson where the kiddos would be writing analytical paragraphs about the results of the lab they just finished (the conclusion, essentially).  The lesson was all set to go, when I panicked and decided it wasn’t good enough.  So I re-planned.  They needed an example of a decent paragraph and a checklist, so I made one.  They analyzed the example conclusion I wrote and critiqued it.  Then I gave them copies of paragraphs written by their peers in other sections to analyze and critique.  Finally, they revisited their own conclusion paragraphs that were written last week from a previous lab (which were abysmal).  All this went down and I tried to split myself into 37 pieces, monitoring every single kid and watching how each of the adults interacted with my kids.  It’s a controlled chaos.  Multiply this by 2 classes, and then add on top of it all an afternoon school wide “presentation of learning” where I had to create a visual representation of the course I teach and man my table with students from my classes (fingers crossed that they didn’t embarrass the hell out of me and were able to articulate what they learned from my class).

Here’s the thing I hate most about these lessons – while these lessons are absolutely necessary, I find myself forced to teach more English than I am teaching science.  I don’t like teaching English, I like teaching science, darn it!  The kids want more doing, more lab time, more fun stuff, less reading, annotating and “rigor”.  But instead, I’m forced to do all this literacy stuff with them, the same stuff they do in English class, history class, etc.  They hate it, I hate it, but it’s necessary.  Necessary because these kids can’t write a decent paragraph to save their lives (these are 15 year olds), and you know, “it’s not evaluative or anything”.

The best evaluation I got today?  A comment from a student on how my style is always changing.  “You know, one day you’re all ‘classy’ and the next day you’re all nerdy looking.”  Ummmm, thanks?  Here’s my “nerdy” look.






sweater: cö via uo – shirt: levis – tank (underneath): alternative apparel – jeans: bdg via uo – flats: old old old nine west (these live in my class for days where I wear my bean boots to school) – bracelets: mainsai (present from b) and unknown chinatown jewelry shop (present from my popo when I was a kid)

frenchie french

Brooklyn is having a warm couple of days – it’s practically a winter heat wave at 55˚F!  This ‘warm’ weather comes right on the heels of about an inch of snow just 2 days ago.  I’m just happy to have a break from my snow/rain boots.  I just bought this dress online from Urban Outfitters.  It came out a really long time ago (a year maybe?) and I loved it right away when I saw it.  I did not love the price tag on the other hand, so I waited.  And waited. And waited.  Just about everything goes on sale eventually at UO, especially if it’s an ‘online only’ item like this dress was.  When the price finally dropped down to one I was willing to pay ($50) I ordered it right away.  I’m glad I did too!  The dress is made by Sessun a french line carried by UO stateside, but also available through ASOS.  I love this brand – so frenchie chic.  This dress garnered many compliments, including “Your dress looks like it’s slinging Pepsi!”.

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Sessun frenchie french

dress: sessun via uo – cardigan & belt – j.crew – necklace: f21 – tights: uniqlo – boots: steve madden