Monday, February 15, 2010

10 Things On My Winter Vacation To-Do List That Will Help Make Me A Better Teacher

Well, it's Day One of Winter Vacation. Most of the kids at G House didn't even realize that they had this week off when I told them last Friday. From the looks on their faces, you'd have thought I told them they were getting out of the clink early. "You know, you get a week off of school every February," I pointed out. They remained incredulous. I think that so many of these kids have been either incarcerated or truant for so long that they have lost that certain intrinsic rhythm that goes with the public school year.

I have to say that I am every bit as psyched as my students are. I felt this thrill this morning when my eyelids fluttered at 7am, a full two hours later than my normal Monday morning waking time. "Ahhhhh....yesssssss!!!!!" I thought to myself. Vacation week. I closed my eyes, smelled the coffee that the hubs started brewing (normally my task), and made a mental list of all the battery-charging things I will do this week that will, I tell you, WILL make me a better teacher once this week is over and I return to my third floor classroom to fight the good fight and teach my students how to become better readers.

And here's that list:

1. Olympics, Olympics, Olympics. It's all about the Olympics, baby!!! I am an Olympics addict, and this condition started when I was three years old and I watched the 1972 Munich games on a little black and white TV in the house I grew up in in New Jersey. I loved everything about it then, and I have watched every Olympic Games broadcast since. My first job after college was with CBS Sports, where I worked as a runner at the '92 games in Albertville. I didn't "run" as a competitor; rather, "runner" is/was a term that CBS used for temporary hires who worked for the duration of the games. I worked in the videotape archives. CBS housed us in a little ski resort called Valmorel. When we runners weren't working, we skied. There was a little pub at the bottom of the slope, and another one at the top. By the end of the games, Valmorel had been dubbed "Val-immoral." In '98, when I was pregnant with my first son and went into preterm labor at the end of January, I was thrilled out of my mind, because it meant that I would be able to watch each and every second of the Nagano games! The baby ended up being born past his due date. Uh, anyway, I'll be watching as much of the Vancouver 2010 games as I can. Thank goodness for DVR's.

2. Snowshoeing. If there's snow on the ground, I want to put on the 'shoes and go! I am lucky enough to live adjacent to conservation land and a state forest in western Massachusetts. When I want or need to be invisible, commune with nature, and get an excellent workout, opportunity is at my back door. Snow is forecasted for tonight and tomorrow. In the spirit of Napoleon Dynamite, I say yessssssssssssss.

3. Yoga. Why? It's simple, inexpensive, and centering. Plus, I can supervise my kids while practicing my asanas. Om.....

4. Spend time with my kids. I want to do lots of stuff with my sweet little red headed sons: read to them, play games with them, make popcorn, play outside in the snow, make indoor blanket forts, watch movies. I love having more time to do this kind of stuff, because the work/school week is always so darned structured that we tend not to get time to do the fun stuff.

5. Go see the new Percy Jackson movie. My older son is an avid reader, and he devoured the Percy Jackson/Lightning Thief series as soon as each book was published. Some of my students who were formerly reluctant readers have been really turned on by this series. So I'll take the kids to see Percy, and I'll consider it professional development (I'll need to preview this film in order to use clips in my classroom...some day).

6. Watch Season Two, Disc 1 of the HBO series "In Treatment" with Gabriel Byrne and Dianne Wiest. If you haven't seen it, it's a must for your Netflix queue. I could listen to Byrne's Irish brogue all day long.

7. Continue my nightly PTI "date" with the hubs. PTI stands for Pardon The Interruption, which is a show on ESPN that airs at 5:30pm Monday thru Friday evenings. Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon review the day's athetic events in a mock-debate format, offering their colorful commentary and critical insight. The Mr. and I are both lifelong jocks and, I guess you'd say, scholars of the connections between sport and culture. Eww, that sounds so erudite. Mr. Tony would probably tell me to SHUT UP if he read that.

8. Get myself to a museum. I've been wanting to hit Mass MOCA for a while now. I'll take the kids and load us all up with a bit of cultcha.

9. Do a few pedis. As some of you may know, I am indeed a licensed nail technician. Long story. But it's something I do on the side, and I have a few steady clients. And they pay me well. So I'll continue this little moonlighting gig, saving up for that sick mountain bike I've got my eye on...

10. Make my birthday cake. I turn 41 at the end of this week. I want a cheesecake for my birthday cake, dammit. So, over the next few days, I will peruse a few cookbooks and foodie blogs in search of the penultimate cheesecake. And then I will make one. And it will kick booty. And mine will get larger as a result.

There's nothing standing in the way of my accomplishing every task on my Vacation Bucket List. I know that completing each one will make me a better teacher, the way that students become better readers when they have more life experiences to draw from in building that necessary background for richer comprehension. I wish the next week would take a month. Even though it won't, I plan on making the most of every moment during my vacation week. I hope you do, too.


  1. Season 2 of In Treatment is unfortunately not out on DVD just yet.
    Much to my disappointment, HBO will probably not release it until right before Season three starts.

  2. WHAT?!? This officially sucks. Fortunately, I still have disc 3 of season 1 yet to watch. But that will take all of about 2 1/2 hours to complete. And then there I'll be, wanting more of Gabriel, and unable to have him. Curses.