Subliminal Stretching Messages

Tags

, , ,

It seems that the universe is sending me subliminal messages about my lack of stretching. Three of the blogs I read had posts about stretching in the past week, and two of my students asked me questions about stretching today (even though I teach English, many of them know I dance).

So fine, I confess! Since school reopened, I have been slacking on the stretches. Over the summer, I stretched every morning after a nice warmup, but now, I do nothing of the sort. In fact, the only stretching I get is from the Stretch of Doom exercise we do at the barre twice a week. I’m hoping that when (if!) things calm down at work, I’ll get back into the routine.
In the meantime, some pictures of the current state of my arabesques, since item number 13 on The List requires me to get both sides over 90 degrees. Please excuse the runs in my tights, but it I haven’t gotten around to buying a new pair.

Left Arabesque

The left is my weaker side, so it requires more effort on my part. As you can see, I still have some work to do, and the picture allowed me to see I need to be more conscious of my turnout on both the standing leg and working leg when in arabesque.

Right Arabesque

The right is slightly better as I did not have to lean forward as much, and I was able to hold it steady for the picture. I still do need to work the turnout and get stronger and more flexible so I can get it higher.

I’ll try to get back to more regular stretching and see where it goes.

 

 

 

VAM = Violin Armed Monkeys?

Tags

, , , , , ,

Violin armed monkey! VAM!

Or maybe VAM means Vindictive Asinine Madness? Very Annoying Mess? Or is it an old school Batman-type knockout sound effect? (Boom! Ka-Pow! VAM!)

Nope, it’s the Value-Added Model (or Measure) used to determine teachers’  effectiveness. Basically it decides if I’ve added an appropriate amount of value to your child.

Before I get accused of being a lazy-overpaid-unionthug-who-doesn’t-care-about-children, let me specify that I have no problem being evaluate, after all, I evaluate children all the time. I don’t even mid too much that a large portion of my evaluation is based on my students’ performance on a poorly designed test. However, you would think that the powers that be would figure their system out before tying it to potential employment decisions.

Imagine this. I am you child’s teacher. I tell students that they can choose whether their grade on the final will be based on their score only, or the average of the class. They chose their score. When the final is over, I tell them that I “messed up” the exam they turned in, so they will get the class score, but they should not worry because it is about the same anyway. You show up irate, and demand that I prove to you that my slip-up was not in fact detrimental to your child’s grade. I say, “Sure, see for yourself. Here’s the formula I used to calculate the score:”

Simple, right? No? Well, welcome to my life! (VAM! in your face, Teacher!)

Last week, I was told that there was an error in my VAM score, so my VAM would be based the score of the whole school’s performance in Reading rather than that of my specific students. Additionally, there is no explanation from the state as to what the score means. All I know is that it is apparently determined by the formula above (??) and that it will count for 50% of my evaluation, which will be complete sometime this month. That’s last year’s evaluation, by the way. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I gave your child his or her final grade for 9th grade sometime in the fall of their sophomore year?

It’s just one of those things that make me reconsider my career path every so often.

All things considered, maybe the monkeys would come up with a better evaluation.

New Grade, New Leotard

Tags

, , , ,

The dance studio I attend follows the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) syllabus. Three years ago, when the adult class I used to take moved to a time that was inconvenient, the teacher suggested I join the graded classes instead. I started with Ballet 3 and Tech. I am now taking Tech 2 (since the syllabus changed, everyone is doing a 2-year minimum in Tech 2) and Ballet 6. The big deal about Ballet 6 is that it is the first class to be considered advanced (though I do not consider myself advanced), which means that in addition to a more Romantic style and a lot of directional changes, there is the leotard choice! Instead of the standard navy blue or black of the previous grades, leotards in Ballet 6 and above can be of any color of the student’s choosing. So…

It’s leotard shopping time!

Of course, this presents challenges. First, which color(s) do I choose? Can I find pretty styles that allow me to wear The Harness (aka my sports bra)? How do I resist buying 12 of them?

So far, I have bought a standard style, short-sleeve lavender one.

I’m also considering this one so that I have a dark one to wear on “feeling huge” days, but I’ll need to try it on because I don’t know that it’s high enough to cover The Harness.

Now, because the girls in the class all wear such pretty leotards with intricate back straps, I am totally jealous and would love to wear the leotard below if the teacher allows it (due to the print). It’s so pretty!

If she says it is not acceptable for class, I might have to hunt down this lovely leotard in black or scarlet.

Of course, the problem with new leotards is that they make me want new tights as mine are discolored and full of holes. Speaking of holes, my ballet slippers seem to have sprouted some too, as you can tell if you read this post. I’ll be buying the same style I currently use, which is the Bloch Pro Elastic Canvas Split Sole. They are awesome! They make my flat feet look like they actually have some arch, and there are no annoying pull-stings that rub against my foot when I tuck them in.

Good thing I just got some retroactive pay for my Master’s, or I’d be risking a shopping-induced fast!

Cook ALL the Things*

Tags

You may have noticed that numbers 27-31 on my list are all cooking related. I absolutely love to cook, bake, and entertain. From an orange blossom cake from a Barbie mini-book to a rehearsal luncheon for 20, cooking has always been a comforting hobby for me. There’s something special about having the ability to nourish oneself, and something very satisfying in watching others enjoy your creations.

I’m busy, so I occasionally do have to take shortcuts, but the true pleasure for me is in taking a bunch of ingredients and creating a feast from it. I love baking bread and knowing exactly wheat went into it, instead of looking at the package and seeing about 26 (!) ingredients. Whatever happened to flour, water, yeast and salt?

Since I already do cook and bake a lot, I wanted to set a few challenges for myself by picking up a few recipes. After all, as a child, when I thought about being a grownup, I always pictured myself having signature dishes that I could execute from memory and that would be impressive. That will never happen if I let myself fall into a rut, so I think that a fancy cooking class, 5 new desserts, 5 new entrées, and 5 new breads should round out my repertoire. As for hosting some friends for a fondue night, that’s just plain old fun.

Food is fun

*Random interwebs allusion

Outfit of the Day x5

Tags

, , ,

This week was the first week of school for my students. I always try to look extra nice then, and this year I decided to wear a “new” outfit each day. I consider it part of tracking my progress as far as owning my style (#32 on the list), so I took a picture each day.

A few aha! moments from the week:

  1. If I do something cute to my nails (like the newsprint manicure I did this week), I will inevitably break a nail right as I leave the house.
  2. Somehow, every year I forget that I spend too much time on my feet while teaching to comfortably wear heels, so I always wear a pair on the first day.
  3. My brain is only half-functional in the morning, as evidenced by the fact that it took me until Friday to adjust the lighting before taking my picture.
  4. Styling my hair every morning when it’s out and natural is actually feasible.

Speaking of pictures, my face isn’t in them since I am still debating whether I should keep this blog semi-anonymous or not.

Monday: Gifted JCPenney dress and old Naturalizer heels (that I deeply regretted wearing – ouch!)

Tuesday: JCP dress from the back to school haul and some old brown croc-textured flats (since my feet were killing me)

Wednesday: Maxi dress from Target (bought on sale for $18) and jeweled sandals from Payless

Thursday: Dress from Target (clearance for $13) and brown wedges from Keds

Friday: Really old dress from Target and blue top from New York & Company. I actually put the two together, because separately, they let my bra strap show (not good for work), but together they make for a comfortable casual Friday outfit. Worn with blue flats from the back to school haul.

Number 9 – Make a Big Career Move

Tags

, , , ,

 

Reading the title, you might think I hate my job. Actually, the truth is the opposite; I absolutely love teaching. I work at a great school, which has won awards and been featured in magazines and newspapers. I think my students are great, and I truly enjoy teaching literature. Unfortunately, there is progressively less space for that in today’s education landscape.

Each year, literature is squeezed out in favor of more technical and informational text. Of course, we need students to be proficient in understanding these texts, but there seems to be an underlying message that literature no longer has a place.

At the same time, the standardized testing beast grows larger and more powerful every year, which means additional paperwork, whether it’s mandated minutes of data charts, charts of students, logs of standards-specific remediation, the beats needs to be fed. This leaves me feeling line a data analyst or more accurately, like a secretary.

Then, there are the all of the non sequitur. More accountability for me as far as producing higher test scores, but more interruptions to teaching time for endless weeks of testing. Tying my evaluation to students’ test scores, but not releasing them until well into the following school year. Claiming all of these changes are meant to compete globally, yet ignoring best practices from other countries.

In brief, I see teaching becoming more like a factory assembly line job, and I don’t like it. So as much as I love teaching, I don’t want to stay so long that I become one of those miserable teachers who make students pay the price of their own disappointments.

This means I need to:

  1. Make an inventory of my skills
  2. Decide on an approximate timeline
  3. List other jobs I would consider
  4. Decide what I want out of a job
  5. Find the best location for those job

 

Ballerina Size Equations and Doom Stretch

Tags

,

Item 14 is “Get my frontal splits back,”so today I have some “before” pictures for you. Before you see them though, I must warn you; I am not ballerina-sized. In fact, if we were to put this in an equation, it would look something like 2b = E (2 ballerinas = 1 Elle), or on a really bad day b = 1t/E (1 ballerina = 1 thigh of Elle).

Here’s a visual aid:

Okay, so now that you’ve been warned, here is the current state of my splits.

Left split

Right split

As you can see, I have a good bit left to go, especially on the left) which of course frustrates me since as recently as two years ago, I could do my splits without even needing to warm up.

Incidentally, this year’s ballet classes include the Doom Stretch. Why do I call it that? Well, it just may bring about my demise.

It begins simply enough, facing the bar, with one leg up on the bar (on the low bar for now, but we’ve been warned that such largesse from our teacher won’t last).

Once in position, you bend and stretch the standing leg, then rise to relevé (rise to the ball of your foot) and lower. Next, bend at the waist toward your leg and then away from your leg. After that, slide across the bar and recover. Each item is done twice, and then you rotate to face forward (in the direction of your leg). Then you repeat the previous steps in this position. Next, you rotate to arabesque (leg is still on the barre) and repeat. Next, you lift your leg off the barre and (attempt to) do a penché, then recover. It still isn’t over. Once you have done everything twice, you slide into a split, then bend forward at the waist and back. The whole thing is done to painfully slow music, and then of course, you have to do it all again with the other leg.

I will be doing this twice a week in ballet class, so I have a feeling I will either meet an untimely end, or I’ll have my splits back much sooner than I expected.

Keep Your Hands Off my “Good Hair”

Tags

, , , ,

So, I was not going to write a rant-about-Black-hair post. Ever. Not even after the whole hoopla about Gabby Douglas’ hair. Not even after Lil’ Mama was told she looked like a “shocked slave” for posting a picture of herself with her natural hair out. Not even after seeing endless FB posts about people being told their kinky hair is ugly and unprofessional. Nope. Never. Of course, I should know that resolving never to write this post pretty much guaranteed I would.

What made me change my mind? After all, in the ten years since I stopped relaxing/perming (aka chemically straightening) my hair, I’ve heard my share of interesting comments: “Do you hate White people?”, “Are you a lesbian now?” (when I wore it shaved), “Are you a Black Panther?” (when I wore a big ‘fro), “What are you gonna do for interviews?” The list goes on, yet I never felt the need to rant beyond commiserating with a friend or two. It was well before the current natural hair “movement”, and I just figured people didn’t know any better.
However, last week I went to a training workshop, and had the most surreal, ridiculous, can’t-believe-this-is-really-happening episode with a fellow teacher. She managed to throw in every offensive, silly stereotypical hair comment in the history of Black hair in one conversation. Bravo!

As you watch the reenactment, keep in mind that the lady is actually touching/grabbing my hair every time the character reaches out.

The Hair Incident

*Identities have been changed to protect the not so innocent.

Love Shopping. Hate the Mall.

Tags

, ,

This is my back to school (aka back to work) mall haul. As the title indicates, I love clothes, shoes, accessories and cosmetics, but I hate, hate, hate going to the mall. That’s my confession for today. It’s always too crowded no matter how wide the hallways, someone is always walking slowly (and preferably in a zigzag pattern) in front of me, and it’s a great place to catch a whiff of the scent of humanity.

With that in mind, I try to shop online whenever possible, or at the local outdoor mall, so that I don’t feel trapped. Unfortunately, that mall does not have an H&M, and I was looking for a specific item from there. I survived, and I made out pretty well. I had a budget of $120 for new pieces to refresh my work wardrobe now that worn out items have made the move to my wear-at-home drawer, and items I haven’t used or rarely used have been donated. I came in a bit under budget, which is always nice, and I am pretty pleased with what I found.

  • Black T-shirt w/ lace detail: H&M $8 (reg. $10. I had a 20% off coupon)
  • Purple fabric flower hair clips: H&M $4
  • Mini blue and purple hair clips: H&M $1
  • Turquoise and brown bracelet: H&M $6
  • Blue flats: Payless $11 (reg. $15. I had a 30% off coupon)
  • Turquoise belted ruffle dress: JC Penney $17 (reg. $35)
  • Black/white polka dot skirt with belt: JCP $12 (reg. 24)
  • Orange maxi skirt: JCP $12 (reg $25)
  • Tan striped slacks: JCP $25
  • TOTAL: $96 for 9 items

I’m excited to start mixing these in with old pieces and see how many outfits I can create.