Restaurante Los Ticos: A Friday in the Life

6:30 am
“You have five minutes to get out the door, Keely!” I’m still in bed, struggling to lift my limbs, exhausted from a marathon week:

Wednesday, we went to Memphis and picked up food from the restaurant supply store for the fundraiser dinner we’d planned for Friday. The restaurant supply store was awesome: it had a room the size of a normal grocery store, but refrigerated! They provided jackets by the door and kept 40 lb boxes of chicken on the shelves. By the time we’d unloaded everything into the refrigerators at school, it was 10:30 and we still had a long drive home.

On Thursday we prepared Mexican food in the home ec room. Two of my awesome juniors came to help. That part was a lot of fun, but kids have curfews and sometimes pork cooks slower than you want it to and you leave the school at 11:30 and still have a long drive home. When you get there, you have two messages from unhappy parents who’ve just gotten report cards.

Then suddenly, it’s Friday morning and I’m pretty sure I can’t make my body move, but I do it anyway and throw on a dress and brush my teeth and make it out the door just in time.

7:00 am
“Crap” I say aloud in the car: I’ve forgotten to put on a bra, and that ship has long-since sailed.

7:35 am
“You guys know you have a mariachi band in my room, right?” Vanessa says to Paige and me. We stare at her blankly (see aforementioned exhaustion). “Yeah, W has been coming in and working on it during his free time since Wednesday. It has a cutout to stick your face through.” We look at each other in wonderment. He’d suggested it at the Spanish Club meeting, but we hadn’t thought much of it. I guess I said “Make it happen, W” and he did. Some kids are too cool for school.

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DSC00898 8:45 am
I am suddenly so glad that I got the better of the sandman and made it to school today: a group of my students has completed a rigorous linear functions project entirely in Spanish. They’re all over smiles.

9:30 am
I spend my prep period talking to the woman who runs the cafeteria about how not to burn down the school during the Spanish club dinner.

All morning long
teachteachteachteach. My 12th graders complete their video projects, and they’re awesome. We had a heck of a time figuring out how to send video from cellphones to the computer, but the results are pretty good. Some are outstanding. My 9th and 11th graders suddenly seem to be understanding linear functions, and they’re having fun doing creative math while I monitor and facilitate: a good formative assessment day, and not too demanding for an exhausted Ms. O.

1:19 pm
I receive the following communication from my superintendent:

High School Teachers:
I am sorry that I have to send this email; but it seems that many of you are taking a very laid back approach to the job description of teacher. I am seeing way too many kids not engaged in the learning process. I am seeing way too many kids on cell phones, way too many TVs on in classrooms,  way too many kids in the hallways and way too many kids sitting in groups talking while the teacher is sitting at his/her desk looking at the computer.
The bottom line is this: THESE KIDS ARE NOT LEARNING BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT TEACHING!!!!
I expect you to teach bell to bell from 8:00 a.m. to 2:58 p.m. for 178 days beginning in August and ending in May. If you can not do this or choose not to do this, please come see me.
I told you at the beginning of school, we do not have “free days” or “just find you something to work on” days. We have student engaged learning days-178 of them.
We only have one chance to teach our students-please make sure that they are receiving the education that they deserve…..the quality of education you want for your own kids.
Please ignore this email if it does not apply to you.
Thank you for your time.
Keep in mind that this man pulled teachers out of the classroom to work a baseball tournament last spring. If that isn’t the definition of hypocrisy, I haven’t ever seen it in action.
All afternoon long
teachteachteachteachteach. More awesome work from 9th graders and more fabulous videos from 12th graders. I’m proud and impressed, even if I am steamed over the email from he who must not be named. I eat a lot of chocolate during classes.
2:30 pm
Band and Cheerleaders are dismissed from my 7th period. That’s about half the class, so we have fifteen minutes of chaos while the remaining students struggle to understand that they’re still expected to work on their projects.
2:50 pm
Pep rally! The cheerleaders look grumpy: nobody’s getting excited for these things anymore. Frankly, everyone knows we’ve had a terrible season and there’s just not much school spirit left in these parts.
3:00 – 7:30 pm
Kitchen time with high schoolers: We used every dish in the cafeteria, I think, and made a tremendous mess, but the food was, by all accounts, muy delicioso. J made a delightful and energetic host, and all of the servers had a blast. W was a committed kitchen helper, always there when needed and unafraid to take on a challenge. A and C were devoted sous chefs, hollering over the fans and the hustle and bustle to Sean “Chef! what can we do now?” Morgan and Mallory turned up and joined the enchilada express line, and I finally took off my jacket when someone gave me an apron to wear.

WOOO!

Chef Chef!

pork tostadas

pork tostadas

chicken enchiladas

chicken enchiladas

7:31 pm
We officially closed for the night. A had to go to be the drum major for the marching band, so we sent him with a message for the halftime announcements: $5 takeout trays available in the cafeteria! Somehow, by this point, all of the kids had vanished. They are involved kids, so they aren’t just in Spanish club, they’re in band or in cheer or color guard. Only W stuck it out with us. My love for this kid is totally boundless. He packed up all of the food in takeout trays and loaded them onto a cart, then got down to the business of dishes with me.
9:30 pm
W left and Paige rolled the cart out to pick up some business from the fans leaving the game. I joined her after a while, and we did a steady trade in chicken enchiladas, even after the lights on the field flicked out with a quiet hum and we suddenly felt shady, hawking unmarked boxes of Mexican food just outside the gate of a sporting event.
10:00 pm
He who must not be named is one of the last to leave the game. He stops by our cart.
“You girls still trying to sell this stuff?” He didn’t come to our dinner.
“Yes sir,” Paige says, ever cool in the face of naked evil. I force a smile.
“well how much are they now?”
“Five dollars”
“Still?!” He chuckles and walks off.
Asshole.
10:30 pm to 12:30 am

Dishes. Mopping. Putting stuff away. It’s not fun. By 11:30 I have salsa all over my face.

We are about to become a pumpkin patch and this kitchen still ain't clean, y'all.

We are about to become a pumpkin patch and this kitchen still ain’t clean, y’all.

Somewhere in there, we count the money and discover that we have made five hundred dollars, which is pretty crap if you think about the time and effort that we put into it, but pretty good if you think about the kids having a blast and the fact that we really needed the money to make our next payment on the Costa Rica trip.

12:31 am
We still have a long drive home.
When we left the school at 12:30 am, we found this dirt-graffiti on our ride.

When we left the school after midnight, we found this dirt-graffiti on our ride. Makes everything a little better.

Madhouse

School has been a madhouse lately. Baseball and softball regionals were in Palestine starting on Friday and running through today. My ninth grade students were preparing for their big state test, and I had to kick up a fuss to keep them from getting pulled out of class to work on the field. Teachers were assigned to work at the ballgames during school hours, which left the kids feeling, fairly, that they were kept in school for no good reason.

P was playing with sketchup in my classroom during my prep on Friday while everything was crazy because of regionals. He made this awesome tractor!

P was playing with sketchup in my classroom during my prep on Friday while everything was crazy because of regionals. He made this awesome tractor!

I’m cautiously optimistic about the Algebra test. I had been feeling really discouraged after my mock EOC returned disappointing results, but I’ve remediated a lot since then, and I think that, though the percent of students who score proficient might be lower, I’ll have more of my students score advanced. It starts tomorrow. The main obstacle keeping my students from blowing it out of the park is morale, so I plan to write them individualized encouragement cards tonight. I already hung some posters.
I wasn’t this concerned about scores last year, and I haven’t been thinking about them this year until recently. I guess I’m afraid that if my students don’t top the charts again I’ll lose any leverage I may have with the district. On the other hand, my “leverage” hasn’t earned me any favors this year: I first submitted a request for a new projector bulb last May, and when Sean came to observe my class last week he was surprised to find that I haven’t been exaggerating about teaching in the dark all year. On top of that, I found out today that the 8th grade Algebra class I wanted to create next year has been nixed. I’m pretty crushed. I had hoped to leave my mark on the district by kickstarting a group of students who could realistically pass an AP test, but, apparently, 8th grade Algebra would make our scores look bad. There are a lot of things wrong with this rationale, but let me just acknowledge the obvious (scores are more important than educating kids!? WTF?!) and ask the burning question HOW ON EARTH COULD THIS MAKE US LOOK BAD? Our scores for next year are going to be incomprehensible anyway, since we’re switching to common core, so this is a great opportunity to try something new. I’m hoping to have a chat with the Great Naysayer sometime soon to have my concerns heard. I am convinced that I will not be able to make a difference with the GN, since he’s the one who laid down the No Fieldtrips mandate (because they take away from learning time, apparently in contrast to baseball pullouts), approved the purchase of classroom printers but won’t approve ink, referred to sanctioned student murals as “graffiti”, and attacked a colleague’s personal values during a conversation in his office about a school-related conflict. I like my job and I love my kids, but I need to stop being compliant when I feel that people, myself included, are being abused. If this guy makes my life a nightmare, I’ll just take my mad math teacher skillz elsewhere and bite my thumb on the way out the door.

This weekend was rad. We gardened and gardened and gardened.

There was all this lettuce

There was all this lettuce

Sean made a glorious Sunday brunch. Everything was home grown: a fried egg on salad, English peas sautéed in buttah, and pork sausage.

Sean made a glorious Sunday brunch. Everything was home grown: a fried egg on salad, English peas sautéed in buttah, and Pinkie’s pork sausage.

On Saturday, we went to Palestine to help the Spanish Club with their bake sale. I’m planning to accompany them on their trip to Costa Rica next summer, so I like to help out when I can. Here’s a link to the gofundme page if you’re interested in what the kids are up to. If you want to make a donation, do so here so that 100% of your donation goes to the trip. Gofundme takes a cut.

The Spanish Club couldn’t set up at the baseball field, which was a bummer, but they parked themselves at an intersection nearby and did some business. It was hot and sunny, but the kids are always hilarious and people were generous with us. Sean, Roma and I walked down to the field and watched a very little bit of the boys’ game, but missed the girls’ game entirely. As we were walking back to the bake sale, Roma and I and two of our friends stepped right over a baby copperhead without seeing it. What good is a dog that’s oblivious to snakes? Sean had his foot poised over it when he spotted the little bugger and launched himself balletically into the stratosphere, wailing “Weeeaaaah! Snaaake! Snaaaaaaake!” Sean doesn’t care for snakes.

We had dinner in town (mmmm fried pickles) with Mallory and went to the square for Arts in The Park on Saturday night. We sat on the grass listening to the band, visited with friends we don’t see often and shared a lonely waltz.

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Easily the best part of the weekend was visiting our friends Butch and Linda on Sunday evening. Butch helped us slaughter our barbeque hog last spring; he’s an expert on all things critter. Linda is the lady behind Arts in the Park. We chatted for a couple of hours and made plans to get together for dinner and a tour of their farm sometime soon. I can’t wait! One of our summer goals is to spend more time with our neighbors.