Friday, September 14, 2018

Our New Bed

Let me tell you a story about a mattress. This story begins eight years ago, but I'll keep it short. Way back then, Dan and I moved into his parents' house. They were moving out, and they left several pieces of furniture, including their bed. This was really convenient, and we were grateful.

As the years went by, the second-hand mattress became less functional. It's an old Sleep Number job, and it started deflating at odd times. In general, it wasn't ideal. Lucky for us, Dan's parents offered us a like-new organic cotton mattress from a guest bed they weren't using in their condo. They've become our mattress suppliers. Plus: "It's organic!" my mother-in-law said. I guess non-organic mattresses are basically environmental and health disasters. So, that's something to consider.

In any case, we emptied the miniature van and went over to Dan's parents' place to get the mattress. We lugged it to the car and then up the stairs to our room. I made the new bed, and then I lay down on it, ready to bask in its luxury environmental-friendliness.

You guys.

It's rock hard. I'm talking ROCK. HARD. It's like camping in our bedroom. There's no way my wonderful in-laws have ever tested that bed. Or, they have tested it and found themselves high-fiving as we removed it from their home. Dan has had to take Advil to deal with the effects of the mattress. While I used to look forward to retiring to my bed, I'm now happy to stay on the couch longer, as I can sink into it. Mac ran into our room the other day, ready for a story. He leapt on the bed, only to find himself the victim of a dull thud. "Whoa!" he said.

Whoa is right. I googled the benefits of a very firm mattress, and it's true there may be some. But, this weekend, I'm buying a memory foam topper. It probably negates the environmental health benefits of the organic mattress, but I fear my hips and shoulders are becoming bruised. There's only so much I can take.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Back to School Status Report

We're in Week 3 now, so I'm quite experienced in third grade. At the very least, I now know how to get the students to lunch and back again. Their quietness in the hallway is another matter, but I'm taking my wins incrementally.

Lesson Planning: The trickiest part is not actually designing the instruction. That transfers well from one division to another. The hardest part is figuring out how long things are going to take. "This'll be a solid 20 minutes," I think to myself; and then it's either 10 or 40. It might be a good 10 or 40, but it wasn't what I was expecting.

Vocabulary: Sometimes I use words the students don't know, and they look at me like, "What?" These moments surprise me, but I just find a synonym and move on with life. Recent examples: insightful, problematic, and expedient. No worries here: studies show that using big words with little kids is a solid vocabulary-building technique.

Math: Of all the disciplines I now teach, math is the one I've never taught before. One of my students told me he's especially excited to be in my class because I'm a middle school teacher and certainly capable of challenging him in math. He thinks it might be his best year ever in math. I think positive expectations are key to success.

Sitting upright: While I've had to remind students of all ages to maintain posture during lessons (it was a always a rule, for instance, that you couldn't put your head down on your desk in my classroom), it's especially a thing in third grade. While we're having instruction time on the rug, I prefer that you're not rolling around. I also prefer that you're not dancing on the sidelines of the instructional space. It doesn't matter how cute you look while you're dancing; it's just not time for that right now.