Sunday, September 5, 2010

TSS: Labor Day Weekend

September has not started off well at all, and it continues to become more difficult with each passing day.  I take comfort in knowing that "it is always darkest before the dawn."

Kind-hearted people offer the advice of "taking care of myself" in the midst of this, but I have always struggled with that.  Two weeks after giving Cesarean birth to my eldest daughter I was taking the subway to a business meeting.  From the time she was three weeks old I was working from home during her nap time, putting in about 30 hours a week.  I have always viewed taking time for me as being "selfish" - which is admonished; selfless is the noble character trait. BUT....I think I have reached my limit.  I am so very frustrated and weary that I just want to run away.  However....I am so sick and tired of hearing myself talk about my mother and my job (I can't imagine how bored you must be), that I have vowed to keep quiet on those two subjects for a while. This blog was initially started as a book blog, and so that it is what I will choose to focus on for the time being.  

This may mean, of course, that there will be fewer posts, as I do not seem to make the time to read much anymore.  I am hoping that Carl's RIP V Challenge will rectify this problem.  I have always enjoyed the thriller genre; this is actually my "go to" book when I don't know what to read, but I also want to concentrate on some of those novels that I am reading for my own "work in progress"

I plan to complete Marie, Dancing over this long holiday weekend.  I have enjoyed taking notes on character development, plot arc, and language used for this particular subject matter.  I plan to re-read Dancing for Degas and Luncheon of the Boating Party and follow this same note-taking pattern.  I have already discussed this kind of 'reading for writing' with my Creative Writing class, and I hope that this personal exercise can prove to be a model for them.  They have already discussed several movies in class and I have encouraged them to bring in videos so that we can watch certain scenes and discuss how the screen writer's script and the director's point of view have effectively held the viewer's attention.  I look forward to learning as much about writing from these gifted students as (hopefully) they will learn from me.

I only have two classes this year that focus on literature:  7th grade and 9th grade.  The other courses I teach involve mostly writing and/or grammar: English Comp - iWrite - 8th grade and High School grammar.  I simply did not have enough students to sign up for British Literature this year, which saddens me even though it frees up quite a bit of time - but hopefully the numbers will be higher next year.

The 7th grade class has just learned about the elements of fiction and this week I will introduce the Fairy Tale unit.  Students will first read The Three Little Pigs and discuss the story as it relates to these elements of fiction.  I want them to get used to using the terms when discussing literature, and I think that doing that with simple narratives such as fairy tales is a less intimidating way to accomplish that goal.  The following week we will read several variations of this Fairy Tale, namely The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Three Little Javelinas and discuss how the writer has changed a portion of the story to make it his own.  That will segue into their first writing assignment which will involve "fracturing" their own fairy tale.  This is always such fun to read and the students usually enjoy this exercise.  This sets us up nicely to read Tuck Everlasting where we will really begin to delve into literary analysis.

In the 9th grade class we are also reviewing the elements of fiction (although these students learn about twice as many definitions as the seventh graders) and they are learning this terminology by reading several short stories.  This past week we read and discussed Marjorie Daw by Thomas Bailey Aldrich; next week we will read Dr. Heidegger's Experiment by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the following week we will read The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant.  At this point the students should be well acquainted with the terminology, as well as the expectations of class discussions, and we will begin to delve into Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

I have some wonderful Teacher Aids this year and I am trying very hard to hone my delegation skills and allow them to do some of my initial grading - particularly in the lower level classes.  My goal is to have at least one hour at night that I can devote to personal reading.  I'll let you know how that goes!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend as we say good-bye to summer, 2010 and welcome the cooler fall season.


  1. I feel like all I do is whine about my kids' schedules and the chaos of my day. It feels good to rage about it for awhile! So talk away, it's not boring me. This is your life right now, and is what is occupying your energy. I agree, you should make time for yourself, even if it is a book in a bathtub. Maybe a glass of wine.

  2. Oh, Molly, how I wish I could be your student right now, especially in your 7th grade class. Tuck Everlasting was just on one of our cable stations and I had been thinking then I really needed to read the book. You have inspired me to hunt it down on my next visit to the library.

    Your plate is so full these days and I can empathize with your feelings. There was a time when our life was at its lowest and all seemed so grim. On the way to work tears would roll out as I wondered "what next". One day, I just prayed "please give me the strength to get through the next hour", then the next and it helped see me through. Best to you Molly.

  3. How can you not talk about your mom? I know she's an important part of your life and this has got to be hard on you as well as her. We're going through some tough times with my dad these days, but I'm far away, so I miss the day to day trials.

    With your personality it is hard to take care of yourself, but it really is important to. You can help others more if you refresh yourself from time to time.

  4. You sound like a very inspiring teacher...if only there were more like you!

    My school days had very few such instructors.

    But you have a lot going on, so if you need to rant, it's your blog and you can do anything you want here! For those of us who follow your posts, we can relate to the feelings, even if the situations are different.

    Hope things fall into place for you.

    Here's my salon:

    Click name for URL

  5. I always love to read whatever you write, so please continue to share with us whatever is on your mind:) And here's something fun I just watched that might inspire you:

  6. I had to take the child-rearing years off from teaching. I knew I could not do both well. Financially it was a struggle, but, for us, it was a good decision.

    Now that my sons are grown, I happily can work on job-things and read, too.

  7. I should probably add that I know our decision would not work for everyone.

    My Sunday Salon is here:

    Hope you will drop by!

  8. Teaching can be so satisfying yet frustrating too. You won't believe that we take 4 classes and each class has 65+ students. We barely have time to grade everything but we do..

    Here is my Sunday Salon post!

  9. I went through this question of how much personal life to blog about myself. On the one hand, it's nice to have a place where one can let off steam and personal posts do tend to get many more comments than book related posts for some reason.

    On the other hand, it's very nice to have a space free of everyday strife where one can talk about books, just books, without having to worry about everything else that is going on.

    I choose to go with the later option, except on Sundays when the Salon lets me rant and rave or sing songs of praise, whatever fits my mood.

  10. Vent if you need to--focus on other stuff (such as your novel's progress) if you want to. We'll read/listen...
    How I wish you had been my teacher; you are really giving those kids all the tools they will need not only for literary analysis, but for getting to the heart of any printed piece. A necessity in this world.

  11. I really hope things ease up for you soon! And I don't think anyone is going to get tired of hearing you complain - it's just real life stuff, and we all have our times where we do our best to trudge through.

    Your classes sound like so much fun! I don't know if I would have appreciated them as much when I was a kid, but as an adult they sound fantastic!

  12. What a joy for your students! :The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" and "The Three Little Javelinas"! I'm so glad you will be joining R.I.P. V., I find myself drawn to dark fantasy for that challenge.

  13. I wonder what time I would have to get up to drive down there and join your 7th grade class?

    I'm not good at delegating either so I know how hard it must be for you. I used to do initial grading for my dad when I was in high school (he taught h.s. American History) and it really did free up a lot of his time. Writing classes would be a little more difficult but if you can make it work, it will be a godsend.

  14. Hi Molly,
    I'm just back from my blogging vacation so I'm late hearing about your mom and the start of your school year. I will keep both you and your mom in my prayers. Talking about your real life is not boring. It's who you are right now.

    I noticed on your RIP Challenge post that you are considering The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. I read that last year and really enjoyed it.

  15. Molly, may God provide the time you need.

    YOU KNOW HOW I LOVE ART, don't you??
    So your titles totally rock for me.

    Are we FB friends? I post ART BITES monday through friday. Drop in...when you have...gulp...time!!


  16. Molly...I never tire of your posts about life. We all have our ups and downs and venting has a was of easing our stress. At least that is true for me.

    Have a great week and enjoy Labor Day for you.

  17. Hey, if it helps you to relieve some stress by writing about your life and frustrations, feel free to do so.

    And I'm glad you're making time for RIP Challenge. That kind of reading is just fun and I think you need that right now.

  18. Gosh, looking at your reading list for class makes me wish I'd had a teacher as literary-minded as you. :)

  19. I don't mind if you vent about the same things over and over. I can certainly relate and it is good to know we are not alone out here. Sorry you aren't finding much time to read but with your busy life it isn't surprising. And I will say again, take care of yourself, even if you only find 5 minutes a day to do something for yourself, do it.


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