Gritty Details

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday's Storyteller: "It all started with the escape from the zoo."

by Belinda Roddie

It all started with the escape from the zoo. It ended when they took Coffee, my beloved panther cub, away from my quaint little condo on the corner of modern suburbia.

I had named her Coffee because I liked them both black. She liked to play with the loose strings of my tweed jacket, as well as any hair strands that snuck away from my fiancée's head. I made enough money to buy her raw steak every day, stripping it into ribbons so they could eat them easier. After all, she had just been weaned from her mother, and so she was eager to do some hunting of her own.

She was my little panther. My beautiful creature of the wild. And as she curled into my lap while I watched "Rottweilers and Rescued Souls" reruns, I adored her.

Coffee's real name, according to the zookeeper, was Lucy, which wasn't nearly as fitting. And as they caged her up and loaded her into the van, the older man asked me if I was willing to go to federal prison for this.

"Why?" I demanded. "Is it really a felony to adopt an adorable wildcat?"

According to United States law, it was. Coffee was considered "exotic." Meanwhile, I was just a nobody who wore bad suits and had a spouse-to-be who was already considering returning her ring.

Needless to say, I decided against jail and bought a year-long ticket to the zoo the next day.

This week's prompt was provided by Chris Morton.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tonight's Poet Corner: Introspection

Wow. It is the first day of school at my new job on Monday.

I will be working with over 120 students this year, teaching four sections of English Language Arts 10 and, of course, one section of Yearbook.

I have used so much paper printing out syllabus after syllabus, class contracts, and first week assignments. I have structured my English curriculum for the first semester and begun designing skill-building sessions for Yearbook. I have even started tidying up my classroom (though I'm definitely going to get my students to help "create the space"). I am taking a no-nonsense, yet loving, approach to my Yearbook class, and while I will certainly include some of that in English, I will also have to be mindful of the many sophomores who have IEPs and Section 504s in my classes.

I am so anxious that this first week will turn out to be difficult, dramatic, and out of control.

But I am also so, so excited.

Again, I have a circle of support as I navigate my first official year teaching at public school. And again, there has not been a consistent Yearbook adviser for the past five years. These students need consistency, and I have to prove to my students, colleagues, and admin that I am worthy of sticking around for longer than a year.

There will be so many challenges ahead as I settle into a new school, with a very different style of classes and a different (and much, much, much, much, much larger) student body. I might trip and fall on my face, and I might be metaphorically bruised and scraped up by the time I pick myself up. Some lesson plans will fail. Others may be absolute successes. I know I am entering strange territory, and I know what obstacles could stand in my way.

Thank God for my staff. Thank God for my family and friends. Thank God for my wife.

And thank God for the students I've gotten to know so far.

A Yearbook student of mine today, as I was just leaving campus after a day of prep, called out my name and ran over to greet me. She's a freshman with two years of middle school yearbook under her belt. As I showed her my classroom, I knew she was ready to tackle the very intense and difficult project we need to complete in that class. I have confidence in her to do well, and I hope she has that confidence in me.

I hope you all have that confidence in me, too. I'm going to need it. For now, of course, I'm going to enjoy my weekend; Sunday, a friend and I get to be in a luxury suite at the Giants-Phillies game in AT&T Park. So that's certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Wish me luck in my new teaching gig, folks. And Go Panthers!

Have a great night and a great weekend, everyone.

Friday's Ten Word Tales: Drink Up, Teach!

Drink Up, Teach!
by Belinda Roddie

The first day of school is Monday. Time for beer.