Saturday, May 31, 2008

How could you NOT love Mo Willems

Mo Willems and Jon Scieszka epitomize the modern era of children's book writers (and illustrators). Their unique sense of humor helps to lure in both child readers, adult readers, oh yea, and blog readers. I've been trying for a while to get a feel for the personality of Maurice Sendak through interviews and biographies...but most leave me searching for more. Luckily for us, youtube can now help us see the personalities of our favorite children's book authors (and illustrators!).

(P.S. I found this on Mo Willems' blog which you should all be reading)

Reattaching myself to the computer

So, I've been apart from my computer for about 40 hours now...obviously this means consecutive blog posts

More importantly, I can always count on NYC Educator to entertain me

Numnut? or my favorite moment from the bee

I watched the Scripps National Spelling Bee last night for the first time, and I have to was quite amusing. Perhaps it was because ABC seemed to have taken control and they had clips of the kids at home, interviews, and side commentary, but when you get down to the nitty gritty spelling...I was fascinated. Watching a bunch of middle school kids spell words I will never be able to spell kept me glued to the screen until finally someone took the trophy. Oh, and this was probably my favorite moment of the night...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wendy Kopp

A few weeks ago, in the mad rush of final papers, I picked up a copy of Time featuring the 100 most influential people in the world. The list includes many people I admire and look up to as I begin to take steps in the real world. Bob & Suzanne Wright, Mary Lou Jepson, and yes, I'll admit it, Oprah. Included in this list of people I idealize is the one and only creator of Teach For America, Wendy Kopp. The Core Knowledge Blog published an email from Kopp that only further builds my admiration for this woman.

People I'm glad I don't teach with...

A Florida teacher has been accused of letting her kindergarten students vote on whether or not a boy with Asperger's should be allowed to stay in the classroom. What? She says it was a behavioral tactic to get the child to change his behavior...but I don't know if I really buy that. Needless to say she has been reassigned, but she is not being charged with emotional child abuse. The child has not returned to school. Honestly, I'm so horrified at this story that I don't have that much to say on my electronic soap box. I just hope everyone takes in this story and realizes that the current state of Autism awareness is not enough. If a teacher, even one teacher, does this, then how do other people treat children with Autism or anything on the PDD spectrum. America at large needs a lesson in Autism awareness.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Literacy Retrospective and Peek Into The Future

Do you see that pendulum swinging back and forth? Slowly but surely it swings between a whole language approach and phonics with educators sitting on the edge of their seat begging, how do I teach literacy today?

I know it's not quite as simple as this. Last night while reading about literacy I realized that whole language approaches do incorporate literacy, and I think back to my own whole-language approach with a little bit of phonics in the mix. I took a class on literacy in college. We dissected children's books, looked at emergent literacy (especially in progressive education), and I personally examined educational television and its effect on literacy. I observed students, took notes on Sesame Streets, and reread Brown Bear Brown Bear over and over.

None of these experiences will compare to stepping into the classroom on day one and teaching real children, who really need my help, how to read. As much as a learn about phonemes, morphemes, consonant blends, and digraphs nothing will compare to a child looking at me confused with the words in front of them. A child will not use the literacy terminology I so pride myself on knowing. How do I make that connection between my studies and the real world?

I have yet to find an answer to that question. I think I'll probably have to wait till September. So I keep studying different word families, consonant blends, and rereading my favorite children's books looking forward to applying it in the real world.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

You are different, so are we...except we were first

With all the buzz about test prep for colleges...some universities are dropping the requirement.

"You are different, so are we" stands the motto of Sarah Lawrence College, one of the first colleges to no longer require SAT scores as part of their admission process. It was a number they rarely looked at in the first place. The backlash was strong by the communities who so admire statistics. The school was dropped from some of the ranking systems for higher education, but applications and admissions soared. Now, Sarah Lawrence College is no normal institution. Their distinctly small round table classrooms, secret grades, and lack of majors set them apart in the first place for being different.

I'm not surprised that a school like Smith followed along in the trend, as I'm not familiar with Wake Forest University I just have to say bravo to them. I understand why large universities need numbers and I don't chastise them for the use of SAT scores and class rank, but I think it is tremendously important for small colleges to look past scores and into the minds of the students who will be participating in round table discussions, creating the community, and making the small legacy a strong one.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Remembering everything you ever learned in elementary school one multiple choice question at a time...

Quick, what are the laws of thermodynamics? The difference between a metaphor and a simile? The difference between mRNA and tRNA? The purpose of the 6th amendment? What does this painting signify? Which vitamin does this? What war made that happen? How do you go shopping? Invest money? Work well with others? Hygiene? Children's literature? Ecosystems? Everything you ever learned?

Feel overwhelmed? Well, I sure do. Liberal arts are just that, liberal, and they prepare you to live in a box as a starving artist or join the ranks of graduate school students with loans growing by the minute. I chose the path less taken by my classmates, teaching, and not that progressive education I was spoon fed but hard and fast public school education. No extra charge for a side of government bred standards and my own multiple choice tests to get in the door. Oh dear. The last time I picked up a science text book was my senior year in high school (unless the sociology of computer science counts) and my social studies skills tend to revolve around South African politics and education policy. I couldn't name the layers of the sun off the top of my head right now, but I will be able to soon. I'm reviewing about 20 years of education in a compact study guide hoping that come test day I will remember the difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, the difference between onset and rime, and a variety of other facts that have eluded me in the years of essay writing.

I have an urge to shake my fist at this test. It is doubtful that I will teach all of this material to my young students as I did not learn thermodynamics in lower elementary school. But rules are rules and I continue making flash cards and studying material I will surely forget again later. I might have graduated yesterday, but as I prepare to become a teacher I guess the learning never ends. So here I go down the rabbit hole of memory hopefully ending up with a passing score.

(p.s. As much as I have been blogging about this test my excitement for the actual classroom has not waned)

Friday, May 23, 2008


Today I graduated from my undergraduate education and no one played "Pomp and Circumstance".

I started writing out a few weeks ago what I thought I might want to say about graduation. But two very important things have changed in those few weeks. First, all of the references to dirges and fiery deaths have disappeared. Whether I'm still in adrenaline shock or too tired to be scared the real world couldn't come a moment sooner. Second, in what I wrote I talked about that song, pomp and circumstance, and I certainly couldn't lie to my readers.

My school can't do anything that other schools do, for fear of being called a follower, so I walked towards my seat to a classical song that I "knew" thinking about how to smile and avoid tripping all at the same time.

The speaker at my graduation kept talking about living in the present. That you have to take stock of what you have write now and run with it. It is a lesson I desperately need to take. In a see of worrying about my final papers, finding an apartment, and dreams of publishing I forget to stop and think about the fact that quite soon I will be in the classroom. So instead of focusing on the future or the past I chose now to focus on the present: becoming a great teacher, updating this blog, and writing.

I wish I could have more answers, but for now I'll have to settle for the present, diploma in hand, ready for whatever life throws at me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Top ten best gifts for college graduates

Today while buying a graduation gift for a relative the store I was in offered a list of gifts for grads...but something about the cheesy mugs and interesting jewelry told me the list was not for college grads. So without further ado I present to you the top ten best gifts for college graduates.

1. Gift practical places, not itunes
2. Furniture...bedroom set is a plus!
3. Cold hard cash...we will not judge you for lack of creativity
4. Technology...such as the new computer so many of us so desperately need
5. Cook books, home recipes, and cook ware...because in the real world there are no meal plans
6. Grown up clothes...suits, ties, and sweater sets
7. An apartment/condo/home with mortgage payment included (hey a girl can dream)
8. A meaningful career
9. Insight to a liberal arts education
10. A plan for the real world

I'm hoping to acquire at least a few of these in the next couple of days

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A lifetime of learning or arcade games?

Sorry for being slightly absent lately, as graduation approaches I've been busy busy busy packing and getting ready to embark on the world of teaching.

Yesterday I was faced with the choice of attending a lecture on "A lifetime of learning" or to go have lunch and to an arcade with my friends. As I walked towards the lecture, my teacher certification study guide in arm, I decided that this lecture would not help me learn the properties of thermodynamics, which vitamins do what for your body, and aid me in remembering the details of each war I have ever learned about. I was, and still am, trying to remember a lifetime of learning.

I remember reading Howard Gardner and him talking about how it's not what children remember from their elementary school education, but how they were learning it. Children forget half of what they learn. I no longer know all about the ocean from my second grade ocean project, I cannot tell you the details of Saturn from my third grade science project, and I certainly could not tell you the laws of thermodynamics from 8th grade science. But I could tell you what form the projects took place in, the fake news report, the ocean collages, and the songs my friends and I made up to remember thermodynamics linger softly in my head.

Am I nervous about teaching? Sure, but I'm way more nervous about a certification test where I am trying to pull out a lifetime of learning from some dark hiding place in my memory. So I resort to flash cards, something I have not used in my liberal arts education, and push towards the finish line remembering that thousands of people take the same test as me and most of them probably are recalling a lifetime of learning themselves.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Important questions....?

While studying for a certification test I came upon the following question...

A table tennis game is scored to

A. 15 points
B. 15 points, with a margin of two
C. 21 points, with a margin of two
D. 21 points

I really hope next year that my students ask me about table tennis. I now come fully equipped with the answer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Educational Television!

I am a huge fan of educational television and I could not be more excited for the new PBS version of The Electric Company. While I am far too young to ever have watched the show I am quite excited for a show with this educational intent and the creative team. (thanks to This Week In Education for the tip!)

Places I wish I was right now...

As I sit in my dorm, contemplating doing something productive, I continually wish I was arriving at the Ed in '08 Blogger Summit. However, I am finishing my last week of undergraduate classes. So instead, I'm going to blog about my year as a blogger...

When I first started blogging I wanted to write about education policy and theory. I wanted to have a cutting edge perspective on charter schools and merit pay. I wanted to emulate the experienced voice of NYC Educator and the expert position of This Week in Education. But alas, I am neither experienced nor and expert. I was not completely put off, and couldn't really stop as my blog was for a class, but I had to find a new avenue, my own voice. The closest I can guess that any college student is really an expert on and experienced in is wasting time on the Internet. So instead of wasting my time like most college students watching youtube videos and images of cats with funny phrases I spent my time reading blogs, websites for children, sifted through podcasts, and exploring new ideas in education.

I don't think I knew quite what I was getting into, blogging is addictive. I found that there were some things I could write about in my own voice from something close to an expert perspective, children's literature, and I could write about psychology from a strong base of knowledge. Where most bloggers write from a perspective of knowing I decided to write from a perspective of questioning, contemplating, and exploring my own thought process.

I ask a lot of questions, because I know I do not have the answers. I stand on my electronic soap box from a naive inexperienced standpoint hoping that my voice can burst into the blogosphere asking new questions, hopefully with a little bit of an answer hidden in my pondering. Today I put to rest my blog as a class project and bring it into my own life. Nothing is really going to change in how I post, but as I graduate and enter the real world I do anticipate some things to change within me. Hopefully as I continue to blog my voice will grow stronger and next year I will get to attend an education blogger summit.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Spring Cleaning

This video gives parents tips on how to get children into the spirit of spring cleaning...many of the tips oddly don't involve cleaning at all

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Evolution of the Sick Day

When you're little, a weak cough, a touch of a fever, or too much congestion lies you in bed with fluids for at least a day or two. As you get older the standards get more rigid. In order to stay home you must have a fever, a cough alone no longer is enough. But it's okay, because as long as you are a kid you have a grown up who takes care of you. If you are really lucky mom or dad takes off work to make you soup, read you stories, and make sure your fever gets checked every few hours. Even as you age out of that, round the corner where you can stay home alone, there is always the lunch break which delivers soup and magazines. When you are a kid being sick means that you are taken care of, and what you miss out on in school and the real world can always be made up.

As an adult, sick days induce frustration. A touch of a fever is okay, unless it's over 100 what's the point in staying home? A cough, that's nothing. Just place a fist full of cough drops in your bag and the you are ready to take on the world. What happens when you do miss work? Vital meetings pass away, you don't get payed, and for teachers the substitute applies the lesson plan...hopefully the kids learned something. It is not as easy when you become an adult to take a sick day. When you are sick enough to actually take off work you can't catch up on chores or work on your writing because you are probably in a feverish haze. No one brings you soup and no one tucks you in. As an adult the sick day is a painful experience.

I remember having substitutes in school, and it was never the same as having your regular teaching in front of the class. I wonder next year, what will be my barometer for taking a sick day, and how exactly will I get myself better fast enough to jump back into the classroom. Most of all I keep thinking about taking a multi vitamin or airborne, hey, didn't a teacher create that?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Classic Canon

When I asked my friends, young adults who do not spend anywhere near as much time in the children's section of the library as me, for children's literature recommendations the interaction went something like this...

Me: Hey guys, give me a good book to recommend on my blog?
Young Adult 1: What about Good Night Moon?
Me: That's far too common, everyone knows that book.
Young Adult 2: But it's such a good book.
Young Adult 1: It's like one of the best books ever.
Young Adult 2: Yea, you should talk about Good Night Moon.

I could blog about Good Night Moon. I could talk about the repetition, the soothing muted colors, the use of the toys in the book that are often transition objects converting the book into a transition object. I could talk about Good Night Moon for a while because it is one of those books with layers, and identification, and a whole mixed bag of psychological uses for children, as are many of the best books from the classic canon of children's literature. So, this is my tribute to my top five favorite books from the classic canon of children's literature. They are probably books you have read, and books that your children still snuggle up with at night.

1. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
2. In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
3. Whistle For Willie by Ezra Jack Keats
4. A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss (illustrations by Sendak)
5. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

(ps this list was way harder to make than I thought it would be because in my mind old books are from the 1980s apparently, and then I realized that was probably not old enough at all to truly be in the classic canon of children's literature)

Universal Pre-k

When I was studying in South Africa, and looking at the country's education policy, I noticed a lot of murmuring about creating a pre-k program for the country. All of the writing seemed to indicate that they felt that starting early would close some of the educational gap early and build strong foundations for children. I'm not sure these murmurings in South Africa ever got turned into much of anything, due to money, but I wonder if America will get the hint.

My young and hopeful spirit truly believe in pre-k for all. I'm not sure if it should all be public, because this might hurt the quality of education, but all children should have the opportunity to a pre-k program with high standards. Could the pay be on a sliding scale? I don't know, economics are not my strong point. I do know pre-k education and the benefits I see in the minds of young children who are building pre-literacy skills and sometimes literacy skills at a very young age. It doesn't have to be a little school with little desks. In progressive education the kids play a lot and learn a lot with the careful guiding of professionals who KNOW psychology and education like the back of their hand and understand the individual needs of each child like, well, the needs of their own child.

Ezra Klein lays it out beautifully and simply, universal pre-k works. Most of the people I interact with on a daily basis tend to agree with this view point as well. I'm not arguing that children in private pre-k programs should move to public programs, but shouldn't all children, especially those whose parents can't afford pre-k and probably need to be working that time, get a little help? Not only will the children be at school but they will be setting the foundation for breaking the cycle.

Oh, and didn't

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Another shameless self plug!

I am now featured in the mega blog Jacket Flap as a book review blog! This is a great resource for anyone interested in children's literature. It features blogs by publishers, writers, illustrators, and fellow book lovers like myself.

On that note, a book review to come soon...any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Like A Lion Ready to Pounce...

Ever feel like this? I have less than one week till all my work is due, less than three weeks until I graduate, and very little time until I become a real live full time teacher. Scary? Yes. But today, as I sit and look over study materials for my certification tests, I think to myself...I'm ready. I'm ready to pounce into the real world head on and do what I've been preparing to do for a while now, teach, mold, and shape the mind of young children.

What creates motivation? What makes teachers want to get in front of this classroom? What makes us want to pounce into the tumultuous field of education. For this lion, if my memory serves me correctly, I'm pretty sure he saw a bird, or maybe he got sick of all the people taking photos. It was something innate inside Naka that said, "Must eat bird, must pounce." Is it the same for teachers?

I have been around children for what I would consider, a large majority of my life. My mother is in education and the obviously reaction to that was my original avoidance of the field. When I found education, and subsequently psychology, again in college I quickly gained that feeling of being ready to pounce. After I wrote my first essay on the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear I knew that I wanted to work with children, and it's surrounding fields, for the rest of my life. A week into college and I was ready to pounce.

Now, four years later, I have a new feeling in the pit of my stomach, pouncing with the theory and experience ready to back it up. I'm in position, chalk to the blackboard and handouts in place, ready to pounce.

Ed in '08 Blog Awards (aka vote for me!)

I'm on the final list of nominees for Ed in '08's blog awards. Excited is probably not strong enough of a word to describe how I feel. The other nominees include some of my favorite bloggers and I feel honored to be included in this group of excellent voices in education. I am going to take a moment to plug myself now...

Vote for me!
(just click on Education Maze and then hit vote)

If nothing else, and especially for those of you who found me from the list of nominees, stay and read for a bit. I am always interested in hearing feedback on my musings.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Procrastination in the Maze or Savouring the Moment

Procrastination is a word thrown around loosely on college campuses. Ask any college student if they procrastinate and the answer will probably be a defiant 'yes'. I find procrastination to be a relative term. Some people wait till the tenth hour to start research papers, others prepare for presentations only minutes before they must speak, and I do almost all of the work and put off my final edit until the night before. I might even be tempted to call my blogging an attempt at procrastination, but alas, it is for a class.

So, I'm not your typical procrastinator. I do not spend hours on youtube, but instead loose chunks of time surfing the web for interesting blog posts and newspaper articles. My procrastination so called procrastination with papers is often laughed at by my peers, but they do it to. It can be hard to get out that last reference, a conclusion, or an abstract because as much as each student avoids saying they like the work, they don't want it to be over. I might be tempted to call procrastination "savouring". Nobody questions when an adult slowly ready the last few chapters of a good book or keeps that last slice of chocolate cake for later. They are not procrastinating to read or eat, but savouring the special moment.

It is special when you finish an essay, art piece, and especially the kind of large projects that come with a senior year in college. I spent the last week with my thesis slowly editing and rereading portions that were finished, avoiding the end of my conclusion, because I didn't want it to be over. What is the difference between procrastination and savouring? I'm not sure. Surely those people who write 20 page research papers at the last minute are procrastinating...yet, those who do well were often thinking about them for days and weeks before. Who is to say that they didn't want to savour the writing? I find that with artistic work people tend to work in bursts of creativity. They think about the idea for a while and then work for hours on end painting, building, writing, and so on and so forth. Are they procrastinating or savouring the creative process? Again, I'm not sure.

Okay, so when my friends are on youtube for hours on end I tend to expressly place them in on the side of procrastination. But when an individual writes a page, watches a youtube video, writes another page, checks their email, writes a third page, reads a blog, who is to say that they aren't savouring the moment. That the individual is not procrastinating, but merely loves working on the essay. We just have to get college students to admit just how much they love school and writing.

"The Autism Spectrum" a blog with answers

I was really pleased to come upon a blog today that not only looks at controversial topics in ASD but with the background and knowledge to really give great answers. Check out "The Autism Spectrum", a new blog at Psychology Today. I look forward to keeping up with this informative new blog.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Playing games and winning in life (or school and testing)

A recent study found that improving memory, through using an evolved version of the child's game Concentration, was able to improve intelligence in adults. The experimental groups, who practiced these games daily for different periods of time, had significant gains on fluid intelligence tests. Fluid intelligence refers to a person's ability to solve new problems without background information or experience.

Okay, so that's great for adults and all. Intelligence, something once thought to be inherent, can be molded. Why not start young? Ever wonder why some kids, often those who also excel in class, loved playing memory games? Memory games, pattern recognition games, chess, and even card games that involve logical thinking all build a certain processing of thought in developing children. Much in the same way the adults were able to do well on new tasks or problems, children who play such games will be able to use their logical reasoning, awareness of placement and ideas, and general thirst for completion in order to tackle new concepts. There increased ability in this logical reason aids them when factual information falters, and it certainly aids them in standardized tests.

One of the first things many children learn during test prep, or so it seems to me, is how to eliminate answers. Which answers logically do not answer the question. A lot of test prep is teaching children this logical thought process, and teaching them patience. Children's games, which the child playing usually wants to win, can instill patience in children that others do not have. In order to win they must slow down, think, and reason.

I'm not advocating replacing school or test prep with a memory game or a chess club, but as adjunct methods of training they might do well. Games are fun, why not let children have fun while building their fluid intelligence.

The Return of The Creature from the Measles Lagoon

Measles outbreaks are being reported in America. There are a variety of reasons, some children are too young, still waiting for their first vaccination. I have one thing to say to the children who are of age and not vaccinated because of the "autism correlation".

Vaccinate your children. If the reason you aren't giving children MMR shots and other important childhood vaccines is because you are scared your child will contract autism, well, I have news for you, there is no proof. I know not all of these cases are due to this problem, but it certainly cannot help.

I'm vaccinated, are you?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A tribute to my thesis

Once upon a time, and a variety of other cliches later, I wrote a senior thesis. I almost titled this as a memoriam to my thesis, but I know when I say that I'm finished I only refer to the fact that I'm finished studying the topic at my undergraduate institution. For bibliotherapy, the subject of my thesis, will always be a part of how I think, write, and most importantly for the next few years, teach.

Giving an overview in bibliotherapy is harder than it seems. Take the books in biblio and tack therapy on the end for a rousing fun time. Bibliotherapy is at the same time one of the most accessible and intricate forms of therapy around. How do I condense 135 pages of writing into a blog post? I can't, but I will continue to incorporate it into my book recommendations and I can tell you, the teachers and people within the education community who I'm hoping read this, why bibliotherapy can and should be used in education.

Books are used in classrooms, that's a given. Children are constantly reading, learning, and studying. What's the harm in carefully choosing a book and creating a simple follow up activity that additionally soothes the soul? Well, there isn't any harm. It's as simple as choosing a book about a child with growing independence for children breaking free or a book about divorce for that kid going through a rough time and then, talking about the book. Books serve as abstractions from children's own emotions. The monster lurking through many books is a step away from the real monsters, or the power struggles, in children's lives. The divorce or death on the paperback pages is far enough away for children to talk about the issue, gain some catharsis and insight, and not have to publicly announce their problems. One of the keys to bibliotherapy with children is follow up activities, which range from discussion, art projects, dramatic play, and more. Is that not what already happens in the classroom? One of my arguments in my thesis is that if the books are there, the teacher should consciously be looking for books for individual children that touch on their developmental, social, emotional, and behavioral needs.

Okay, so this is a just a part of bibliotherapy, but a very important one. In order for bibliotherapy to move from an adjunct to taking center stage more adults need to use books therapeutically. When I talk of "need" I talk not just of the need for adults to use books in this manner but the need children have for the soothing pages of a book. Books have served a therapeutic purpose hundreds of years, but the now formalized method allows more children everywhere to be served by bibliotherapy.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Space Between Lesson Plans

I'm not completely new to lesson planning, but in my years of experience most lesson plans have consisted of single day activities. These activities, while often educational, were not aligned with standards or testing. As I prepare to teach full time next year I ask myself, how do you create a year long lesson plan?

Here is what I have come up with.

Before you do anything, before you pick up a book or create a math problem, you have to set goals. Not just any goals, but in order to be a truly effective teacher you should be setting big goals. This means the over arching goals for the year with quantitative and qualitative renderings.

Next you have to break down the big goals, say getting a certain level of proficiency in a subject, into smaller bite sized chunks. Create small goals for the year that align with specific parts of the necessary curriculum.

Finally the actual lesson planning occurs, and this is where I sort of get a little lost. So I have my small goals, but they mean nothing if they aren't in the right order. What comes first in blending, 'pl' or 'br', or does it even matter? Then the word 'innovation' starts banging on the door telling me to be creative, be different. I can start to feel the panic swelling inside of me, worse than that graduation panic, and I question my right to be in education and if I'm really going to be able to do this. So I breath, and I keep reading, blogging, and practicing.

Yet, how does a teacher manage. Under paper work, creating daily lesson plans, testing, and the day to day woes of public school education how much can you really do? I might be part optimist, but I am also a realist. My zigzag lesson planning is not enough. I need to think about the arc, and the space between lesson plans.

I've settled on the fact that my first year teaching will probably not be perfect, and surely will not be my best, but I won't give up. I think that is the key. Not every lesson plan can be innovative and perfect. No one will care if I teach one phoneme before the next. I may not always know exactly what my lesson plan will be. As long as I keep going, my young naive liberal arts educated optimism included, it will be okay. The space between lesson plans might be tight, but I'll be okay, and more importantly, so will the kids.