Saturday, July 24, 2010

Preparation and School Supplies

I was once told that writing a paper has three steps. I am not sure of the wisdom of such advice, as it turns out that writing is dependent on an unbelievable network of nuances concerning grammar, orthography, phrasing, vocabulary, style, organization, voice, and many other things. Regardless, I am going to go ahead and follow this directive: "Tell them what you are going to say, say it, and tell them what you told them." RIGHT.

This posting is going to be about my manic-obsessive need to plan, and my semi-unsettling fascination with school supplies.

I recently have had a lot of free time, owing to the change in my job situation that is basically awesome-ness in all facets. Regardless, I spent much of this free time concentrating on things that need no thought- hours on Facebook, for example. I worked more on my Romanian language skills, now the master of such phrases as "I speak a little Romanian." And finally, I began to plan for the coming school year. Right.

There is time every summer that I spend just detoxing from the previous year, and the time frame for such a rest is completely dependent on the stress and intensity of my activities during the year. This summer, it took me a longer-than-normal 39 days to recharge and jump back in. But last night, June 23, 2010 at around 6:45 pm CST, the instinct struck with a vengeance. Right.

I started making lists and doodling brain webs and sending emails and compiling ideas. It hit hard this year, my friends, regardless of the fact that I know shockingly less about my job than ever before, and nothing of my students. I have no idea what my classroom will be like, what the school culture allows or promotes, or even if I will be allowed to do what I want. I have no grasp on the technology available or the supplies accessible for me or my students. But I am planning. Right.

One of my most favorite and cherished ideas began with one email and quickly spiraled (almost) out of control. I thought about the possibility of "adopting" a classroom in the States to partner with, sharing letters and emails and cultural learning. For ELL (English Language Learner) students, it is imperative that they have authentic interaction with other students and the language. So I sent out a few (okay, 30) messages... and things are looking good. I probably cannot express the immense amount of excitement I feel about these possibilities. So I won't try. Those who know me well probably can picture the expression on my face, accompanied by much jumping and arm flailing and random squealing. Those who don't know me quite as well... count it as a blessing. Right.

Despite being reminded by D~ (jokingly, I hope...) that we agreed to "wing it" this year- I cannot resist the temptation. And so like every other year, I will probably be forced to make room for standards and customs and circumstances and timing that I know little of at this point- but the planning itself is almost as fulfilling for me. Right.

Secondly, I went school supply shopping today. The more I think about it, the closer I come to realization that I have a problem. And while recognition is the first step to recovery, this is not a condition I seek to cure. Right.

Around this time every summer, stores begin to run school supply sales, and my brain shorts out a few times and my bank account rapidly depletes itself, seemingly without my knowledge or control. Today was the first of these instances, but probably the only one this summer. Why?

Because this year, unlike every other year, I cannot just load up the front seat of my car with a few more bags. This year, my school supplies will have to fit into a suitcase, which will be checked and then loaded and then transported from Chicago to Rome to Bucharest. Right.

So I balance the crazy with my desire to travel as "lightly" as possible. I think about what they might have in Romania that I could easily (and probably more cheaply) purchase, and talk myself down from the possibility that they DON'T have binder rings or highlighters or binder clips or index cards- and buy it all anyway. Don't worry, I didn't completely lose focus. I might not have room for a spare pair of pants or some extra socks, but at least my space is being used for something USEFUL. Right.

This posting has been a humorous and charming account of the neurotic nature of my personality, with significant focus on planning and the purchase of school supplies. Because of this posting, people will both understand me more deeply and find me even MORE likable. Riiiight?

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