I sort of disappeared off the face of the planet after last time. I’ve just been, well, busy, as usual. It’s like it never ends. I’m not complaining, just saying.

Yesterday, my brother’s wife gave birth to their second kiddo. His name is Jorgito and he weighed 8lbs 1oz, rather exciting. She wasn’t supposed to have him for another week, but she was losing fluids so they were forced to go through with a C-section. He kept saying how he’d wished she was going to have him while I was there so I could see him, and sure enough.

So yeah, I’m going to El Paso this weekend. I’m going to read at the Great Southwest Book Fair. I’m pretty psyched. Here are the details in case you happen to be in El Paso:

Date: September 29, 2007
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: El Paso Public Library
Address: 501 N. Oregon, El Paso, TX 79901

Tomorrow is parent night. One of the veteran teachers came into my room and said, “I love the way your room feels. It’s so bright. I think you’re ready for tomorrow.”

All I did was slap up some student work this morning. I’ve been having them do a ton of projects with the novel we’re reading (My Father, the Angel of Death). Currently, they’re creating their own wrestler. It’s been pretty cool. Today, my appraiser walked into my room. The kids were working on their wrestler and I was organizing some folders. One kid came up to my desk to ask me a question and said, “Mrs. W is in the room.”

She walked around and talked to the kids about their wrestlers and went along her merry way. Yesterday morning, she also walked into my room as I was telling the kids that they had to read their own book (we’d just finished reading a chapter from the novel). The kids were begging for me to read them another chapter. Then they asked if they could read another chapter on their own to which, I of course, said yes. Then someone near the front told her how great the book was and I heard her say, “Yeah, I know, I’ve read it.”

I used to worry so much about the walk-thru’s and observations my first year. Last year, I stopped caring so much, and this year, I just don’t care. I have so many great kids, and I’ve become so much better about keeping them busy and entertained. There’s still the whole issue of finding fun assessments for parts of speech, but hey, I think I’m in this for the long run so maybe this coming summer I’ll focus on parts of speech.

I’m off to pack and prepare my fancy outfit for tomorrow. If you’re in Houston this weekend, don’t forget to go check out the Latino Book Festival at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Bueno, have a good weekend.


Good Day

Today I met with mom from previous post. She okayed for her kid to read two novels A Long Way from Chicago and The Watson’s Go to Birmingham—1963. She said her daughter didn’t feel comfortable reading any of the other novels. That’s fine.

In the meantime, my students are begging me to keep reading to them from My Father, the Angel of Death. Today, I had them do this activity that helps them learn to draw connections. I typed up a list of names, words, etc. from the text. Then, I had them cut out all of the words and glue them onto a large piece of paper. Tomorrow, they will have to draw lines to the words that have something in common. Some of the kids were able to start on that last step. I heard many of them saying it was fun and I even had to go over and take away an assignment from a student because we had to leave for the library.

Then, in the library, I completely lost track of the time one period. One student came up to me and said, “Ms. Baeza it’s already 1:18.”

I gathered up all my kiddies. When we were standing by the door, I said to the student who reminded me about the time, “Thank you so much. I was having such a good time I forgot about the time.”

“I know, I was having fun, too,” he replied.

It made my little teacher heart smile. I love our new librarian. I love my job, too. I like being around these kids. When we go the libaray, I dismiss from there. So I end up in the 8th grade hallway and I love standing there. So many kids say hello to me. And yesterday, the 8th grade boys had their first game (they were my students my first year) and I was so proud to see so many of them in their jerseys.

Last teacher story of the day, I promise. I have a student, who came to me about a week ago, and he’s been in all sorts of trouble. Apparently, he’s got a past or whatever. Monday I was out for a GT meeting and the sub left me his name, so I gave him detention. Anyway, after lunch some teachers asked me for his name because he’d apparently had a confrontation with another student. Earlier that day, I’d asked him to fix his pants and shoes (they like to leave them untied and show off the front of their shows; the untied is a problem b/c they might fall and the other stuff I don’t know why they tell us to tell them to fix it); he fixed them right away.

When I get everyone working, I pulled him aside. “What’s the deal?”

“Nah Ms. It’s just that the sub…”

“Look, do you want me to change my first impression of you? That first day of school, I went home and talked about you because you were so respectful and I was so impressed. You know teachers talk don’t you?”


“When they say stuff about you, I always say you’re great in my class. I don’t want that to change. Can you please be the guy I remember that first day? For me?”

He looked back at me with his eyes shiny with tears and nodded his head yes. I really hope he stays out of trouble. He’s a bright kid who has it.

I write all this because this morning, I went by the store to get some flowers for my friend. Today marked the 7th anniversary of her mom’s death. On my way to and from my car, I got soaked. My shoes were wet, my pants soaked up the water up to my mid-calf, and my shirt got wet. I felt so icky. My feet hurt and the blisters on my feet from the shoes I wore on Monday were killing me. I also didn’t have a chance to get breakfast because my shopping trip took longer than planned. But I was rewarded, I made my friend smile, the cafeteria manager prepared breakfast for the staff, and I felt like I actually made somewhat of a difference today.


Parents and the New Addition

If you know me in the “real world,” this will probably all be old news to you. Nonetheless, I still want to talk about it.

School has been going well. Talking with one of my good friends at school, I realized what it was that seems so off about this year; I don’t have a class that I dread. I really hope it stays that way. It makes the days go by so much faster and I think I do a better job. There are a couple kids that are difficult, but it’s all about staying calm and sticking to the consequences I’ve laid out.

I am having trouble with one parent though. Our school asks that each kid have a permission slip for each novel that we read as a class. It’s a pain in the ass, but it has to be done. After having to chase after kids all of the time last year, I decided that this year, I would send home a letter with the novels and films for the whole year at the beginning of the year and we’d be done with it. The novels we will be reading this year are My Father, the Angel of Death, A Long Way from Chicago, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, The Westing Game, and we’ll be watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Selena.

I got back most of the letters right away and almost everyone’s parents were okay with my choices. There, as always, was that one parent that just couldn’t do it. She marked no on every single novel and yes on both films. When I asked the kid why, she said she didn’t know. I was pretty upset because well, it sorta threw off my plans. I had an idea of a backup, but I didn’t think I’d have any opposition until The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. And I could handle a novel or two, but all of them. So I had to call mom.

She told me she wanted to meet with me in person to talk about it because she felt that the novels went against her teachings. I told her I’d be available after school and she was more than welcome to stop by my room so we could talk. In the meantime, I talked to the assistant principal and grabbed a copy of all the novels for her to take if she desired.

So mom comes by after school and I try to explain a little more what the novels are about and the whole process of selection and yadda yadda. And she says, “Es que esta niƱa tiene una imaginacion. Aveces me asusta con las cosas que me pregunta.”

Now mind you, this kid is pretty bright and she’s a good kid. She’s one of the brightest in that class. So I don’t think that the things she’s coming up with are terrible.

Anyway, mom keeps talking and saying she’ll think about it. In the end, she takes the novels. I haven’t heard from her. I’m going to call her sometime next week and see if anything has changed. I doubt it.

At first, I was really upset. I thought, fine, if she wants her to get that kind of an education whatever. But now, that I’ve had some time to think and reflect, I can’t let the student have that kind of education. She loves to read and I need to continue to inspire her and most importantly, I have to help her keep her imagination alive. Sure it’s going to be extra work on my part, but I have to do it if I want to be half of the great teacher I aim to be.

The other thing I wanted to share is that we’ve made an addition to our little family. He came to us about two weeks ago and his name is Smokey.