Friday, November 26, 2010

The Ups and Downs

Teacher Musings:
I've always said teaching, as a job, brings with it the highest highs and the lowest lows. The last two weeks are a case in point. Last week my students started reading A Lesson Before Dying and also wrote draft responses to an essay question about racist labeling. While I have ideas about how to adjust the roll-out of the novel and writing assignment next year, I was pretty pleased with their responses. Most students were using reading strategies we have discussed in class, and were asking thoughtful and authentic questions about the novel (rather than just simply saying "I don't get it"). Their writing is interesting, and their use of evidence and reasoning is much improved from their previous first drafts of other assignments this year. I believe that this is partly due to the improvements I made to my weekly writing assignments, which is exciting. So, last week I was feeling pretty good about things, and I was even thinking about blogging more about the successes I am seeing in regards to my students writing.

Then Monday hit - and I mean HIT. My first period was asleep, my third period spent most of the period talking about baby mama drama, my fourth period almost resulted in a book burning and my last period . . . well, I can't even write about that without using really inappropriate language. To top it off I was being observed in two of these classes. Now, I know part of this was my fault. My lesson plans weren't as tight as normal because of the short week, and I was exhausted myself and just focusing on make it though the two-and-a-half days. But still . . .

I guess it was a reminder. Just because you think you have your act together a little doesn't mean you can be lulled into a false sense of security. It was also a reminder that, as much as a I can control my classroom (or not, as Monday and Tuesday demonstrated) I can't control the rest of my student's day, which was likely filled with similarly crazy classes, a few movies and all the excitement and anxiety that comes with the holiday week. So, lesson learned. Next year I will either have a really tight and solid lesson plan or a movie. Now its just back to hoping that next week comes together a bit better.

Yummy Stuff:
Thanksgiving dinner is always fun for me, although it is just me, my husband, and now our 8 month old. This year we had Butternut Squash Timbales (Vegan Table), Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Caramelized Onion and Garlic Mashed Potatoes. This was all followed by the AMAZING Pumpkin Cheesecake from Sinfully Vegan. Probably my favorite for our savory dishes was the Roasted Brussels - of course, these are one of my favorite goodies any day of the year! However, with the caramelized onions they were spectacular - thanks for the inspiration Colleen Patrick-Goudrou (author of Vegan Table!)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Caramelized Onion
1 lb Brussels sprouts
3 medium onions
about 1/4 cup olive oil

1) Pre-heat the oven to 425
2) Prepare the Brussels Sprouts by cutting off the knobs/stems at the bottom and then slicing them in half length-wise. Wash them thoroughly and then pat-dry them with a towel
3) Toss the sprouts in a bowl with 2 TB of olive oil and about 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Then, spread them out on a greased cookie sheet
4) Put the sprouts in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes, flipping once.
5) Meanwhile, cut the onions in half and then thinly slice them.
6) Pour the rest of the oil in a saucepan on the stove and heat it on medium. Put the onions in and stir them around to separate the slices. Cover and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until caramelized.
7) When the sprouts are done, turn the oven to warm (about 170) and when the onions are done, mix them in with the sprouts. Add more salt and pepper to taste, and keep them warm until ready to serve!


Jackie Smith (the other one) said...

Your week sounds like mine. Many of the schools around here have gone to having all Thanksgiving week off--I think they're on to something!

Ms. L-P said...

Seriously! My old district did this and it made so much sense. Plus it made it way easier for me to go to the NCTE Annual Convention - didn't make it this year, but hope to next year!