Category Archives: Mex I Can!

Mex I Can Teach Steinbeck!

I’m in the middle of teaching Of Mice and Men to my tenth grade advanced English students and it seems that they are not able to fully comprehend the depth of the text unless we read each word aloud.  I am grappling with the tedium of teaching since to make progress I want to make it together therefore we all sit patiently and listen to each other read the words on the page…but this experience can be so much more.  Seavey_MICEANDMEN_000

The novice reader only reads the words and will miss the nuances of language.  The average reader probably can comprehend the text and even its subtleties but may not be mature enough to grasp the relevance of the literary connection to their own lives.  Now the more advanced teenage reader can surprise you with their awareness while other young geniuses sit disinterested in the discoveries because they lack awareness which makes me wonder can a person lack awareness but have the ability to feel compassion or empathy?

There are those students that capture the attention of every person in class.  They have something to say and the confidence to say it but they are not always the most intellectually advanced…just the most endearing.

Tomorrow I shall pick up where I left off in my English classes.  Attempting to awaken a thirst for knowledge and the passion to understand the importance of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Miserable Today With a Chance of More Misery

I’m definitely miserable today which is weird since the government is up and running.  Sure most of my problems are the first world type like my neighbors yapping dogs or my other neighbor has to park their car in front of my house cuz they’re too lazy to walk five more feet.  Anything to avoid exercising.  (Hm note to self: EXERCISE.)  Oh and then right before I was going to sit down and write I got into an argument with my husband.  You know the kind of argument that I am pretty sure I’m right and he’s pretty darn sure he’s right.  And he refuses to come to the table and negotiate.

I miss being a kid.  The only conflict in my life was how many sheets and blankets would I need to build my next backyard “tent city” and will I have enough rope to make my new make-shift fabric architectural  design sturdy enough?  Instead as a grownup I need to do the dishes, tidy up the house so we don’t live like slobs, put the dishes away, I need to do the laundry and put it away otherwise I will not have any underwear.  That kind of situation can be disastrous if mishandled.  (Or surprisingly fun!)

The lame “To Do List” goes on:  Read my emails promptly, water plants so they don’t die, wash more dishes, clean the toilet, wash another load of laundry, pay some bills and keep my life organized.   Call a plumber, make a doctors appointment, look for eye glasses, call eye doctor to replace eye glasses.  It is all so daunting.   What a drag.  I hate everything.

Breathe, breathe, breathe.  Perhaps a glass of wine and a long puff of pot will do the trick.  I’ll let you know.

Teenagers Say the Darndest Things!

I have already completed the first three weeks of school.  I’m exhausted most of the time but  I feel like things are pretty under control with the exception of a few “incidences”.  You know what I mean:teenagers behaving like teenagers.  (Unpredictable, self-centered, endearing, funny, high maintenance, supportive, caring, rascally, obtuse, boisterous, thoughtful, hardworking, intelligent, and frequently crazy.)  Perhaps hormones and their brains not being fully developed may be a contributing factor to their behavior.

I have one kid “Lexi” who never speaks.  I marked her absent the first day until a sweet student came up to me and said, “Lexi is present but she never speaks”.  What?  A kid in an English class never speaks.  I have never heard of such a thing.  “Lexi” has no special educational needs noted in her personal file and no parent or guardian has contacted me.  “Lexi” seems perfectly normal with the exception she won’t speak…or will she?  “Lexi” has attended my English class for three weeks not uttering a word unless urged and then maybe a grunt or nodding of the her head but beyond that one would swear this kid is never going to speak.

Turns out “Lexi” speaks.  It is a miracle.  If she doesn’t want to do something “Lexi” actually finds the words to speak.

Wow.  Imagine sitting in a classroom day after day pretending that you do not have the ability to speak and every one in your life gives you a pass to never speak.  It is genius.  “Lexi” is a genius.

Get Over It?

Last week I began my adventure with a bunch of ninth and tenth grade students.  And when I say “bunch” I mean one hundred and eighty teenagers.  Of course I do not teach them all at once that would be ridiculous.   So as a favor to teachers we only instruct approximately 36 teenagers in 55 minute class intervals five class periods a day.  This oughta be a snap right?

I began sharing a book with my students entitled The Hunger Games and how I loved Katniss Everdean the female protagonist.   Just when I was about to share more about this novel this freshmen kid says, “Get over it.”

“Huh?  What did you say?”  (I really didn’t think a student the first week of school would be so bold.)

“Get over it,” muttered a not so confident freshmen girl.

“Oh, you did say, ‘Get over it’.  Well you have me confused with another person because in this room we are going to work on being a supportive community.”

And then I turned to the class and said, “If she has the courage to be rude to me imagine how she will treat you.  The class was silent.   A brave freshmen attempted to be rude and It became clear immediately I had bionic hearing and I wasn’t going to let “snarky” energy seep into the chemistry of our class community.   I’m not sure why that student chose to be rude and there is a good chance she doesn’t know why she was rude either but her error in judgement helped this class get to know my expectations of how this classroom community can thrive academically.

Only 175 school days to go.



Back to School Blues

I remember when Back to School happened in September, you know right after Labor Day.  See it worked out perfectly.  We began the school year right after Labor Day celebrations which clearly indicated summer was over.  Bummer.  But now the people in charge have decided that the school year needs to begin earlier.  How much earlier you ask?  Well I began the new school year yesterday.  EGADS!
That’s right I began August 12th, 2013.  Can you believe that?  Why not suck all the fun out of summer.  I think it is a conspiracy to destroy childhood memories and replace it with a feeling of despair and angst which is a perfect way to begin a school year.
You know the real reason why we are beginning the school year so much earlier?  The bottom line is: TESTING.  That’s right this all has to do with TESTING (cuz we know how important test taking is in the real world).  So if students attend school two or three weeks sooner they will have more time in the classroom prior to taking the state standardized exams.  Unfortunately the state of California’s test scores have dropped.  How can that be when instruction has begun so much earlier?  I have a theory.  As I review my class rosters it is painfully apparent that I am expected to instruct my students in a meaningful and purposeful manner aligning my instruction to the Core Standards but there is one glitch: class size.
I have over 175 students enrolled in my English classes and that is on average about 37 teenagers every hour.  How can I realistically instruct in a meaningful manner as well as provide rigor to prepare them for higher thinking?  How will I get to know them by name?  Listen I have taught for over 20 years and I just don’t think my brain can handle 180 more names.  I’m at my “name limit”!

Hello America! How is Your Democracy Hangover?

Dear America, you’ve done some pretty great things in the past so many I can’t even recall.  But these last ten or so years have been brutal.   America, don’t take this the wrong way but you’re just not up to snuff.  Seriously.  Have you taken a good look at yourself lately.

First you’ve lost all sense of the phrase: Freedom and Civil Liberties.  Practically ignore the numerous abuses we’ve committed against foreign nations not to mention ongoing hunger strikes at GITMO cuz Brian Williams can’t stomach real news nor can the rest of the American public and now your very own Supreme Court is divided about pretty much everything except that corporations are people too.
And now, the summer of 2013, our almighty Supreme Court has decided to keep up with appearances to maintain the1965 Voting Rights Act…kind of.  The Supreme Court’s decision kept pretty much the shell of the 1965 Voting Rights Act but gutted its key provision.  Ginsburg (a lady Associate Supreme Court Justice) wrote, ” the sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the Voting Rights Act has proven effective.  The pre- clearance provisions, now eliminated, are what made the law so effective.”
So, people of color in America, don’t worry about all this gerrimandering stuff going on.  Just be open to long lines — that take hours to get through– the next time you’re lucky enough to exercise your right to vote.  Thank god racism is dead in America.
By the way, The Voting Rights Act was necessary in 1965 and remains so in the 21st century.  That’s what Paula Deen said…I think.

My Mother Gives Me Advice…

“All of a sudden you’re fifty, then sixty, then sixty-five, then…I really don’t want to discuss this.  Getting older is a real disappointment.”

I get it.  I just turned “Hollywood Forty”.  I am not sure quite what age that makes me but somehow “forty” sounds rather “romantic” right?   My friend Renee, she live in Queens with her snappy linen dressing actor slash husband and beautiful daughter in an apartment that is seconds away from the subway station reminds me, “Forever Twenty One” is demeaning to women.  I’m not twenty-one.  I’m…” and I quickly covered her mouth before she unttered the truth too loudly.  Sure you can go online and pretty much “Finger Google” anyone, not sure if that’s the correct Norman Cllature. I am not even sure if Norman Clature is the correct Norman Clature…whose to know?

The point is that getting older is something that sneaks up on some of us.  Take me for example.  I have just survived a landmark birthday with hardly a whimper.  It came.  I enjoyed it in the most unlikely manner and celebrated it with my mom and sister.  I think I invited them to my private backyard birthday happy hour because they’re both older than me and that always feels good to be the youngest.  Voila.  Happiness comes in the most ridiculous ways.

“Desperate Mexican”

From “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry and star Eva Longoria bring to Lifetime a show that stars a cast of Latinas. Finally.  Viva!  At long last.  The new series is all about a bunch of “Devious Maids”.   Wow, it is so nice to know that in the 21st century the stereotypes of the Hispanic population are alive and well in Hollywood.

Some people say to support “Devious Maids” otherwise it will take longer for executives to embrace diversity in future programming.  While others say this show is nothing more than a humiliating depiction of Latinas who are left to play two-dimensional characters that are either over sexed or over sexed.

Can we help it that we are curvy sexy women who like to clean homes and care for the dominant cultures babies?

I look forward to the day when I’m cast as the hilarious female that just happens to be Mexican and the only cleaning up I do is removing my make up after a day on the set.