Slice of Life #17

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Is there a saint in charge of naps? Because that’s who I would like to celebrate today. 

One more week until spring break. I know it is an early Easter so I should just be grateful that spring break us early…..but oh my goodness it can not get here soon enough. I’m exhausted! I can’t wait to sleep in a bit, hike in the morning (not just at the end of the day), and binge watch some guilty pleasure TV. 

It’s almost here! This time next week I will be on break!

Slice of Life #16


My life by the numbers:

  • 74 essays
  • Shortest essay- 2 pages
  • Longest essay- 7 pages
  • Average essay length- between 4 and 5 pages
  • Average amount of time spent giving feedback on each essay- 20 minutes
  • Days I spent grading- 4.5 
  • Average number of essays per day- 16
  • Number of hours spent assessing and providing feedback each day-5 hours and 20 minutes 
  • Average number of hours of sleep this week- 5 (to be fair, that’s not drastically different from my normal time spent sleeping)
  • Average number of steps per day- 10000 (below my normal average)
  • Magnitude of how glad I am to be done providing feedback on draft #1? Infinite. 

I’m done!!!

Slice of Life #15- Rough Drafts


Every year around this time I drown in rough drafts.  My research paper assignment is process-based so it’s pass/fail.  However, much to the chagrin of my 9th graders, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy assignment.  Because my students tend to think that the writing process consists of draft, spellcheck, and turn in the final draft, I force them to slow down and write more.

I ask my students to write an argument essay focused on who or what is to blame for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet.  Instead of a literary focus the students approach it through a science lens.  The students research adolescent brain development and the biochemistry of love and decide if either of those is an excuse for the decision Romeo and Juliet make in the play.  I love the assignment and in the end my students usually do, too.

What I don’t love is reading 74 rough drafts in 3-5 days.  Oh my goodness.  After working through drafting a thesis statement and prewriting (extensively) the students compose their first rough draft.  I then read all of the essays and provide extensive feedback.  I also assess the papers based on a rubric that doesn’t have any scores on it. Once the papers are returned (thank goodness for Google Classroom!) the students revise based on my feedback.  Then they will submit a second draft which will be peer-edited.  They will revise a second time based on that feedback.  Then they will submit a final draft.  It’s a long process but so worth it in the end.  I firmly believe my students learn more from the process than they would just writing and submitting a paper.  As 9th graders they have a lot to learn and this is the best way I’ve found to do that.  Coupled with their daily NYTimes writing and their blogs they write constantly in my room.

But oh my goodness has it been a long few days.  Every moment I’m not doing homework or walking the dogs or teaching I am reading rough drafts.  I have about 25 left and I want to finish by Thursday morning.  So I’m off to read 1-2 more before bed….


Slice of Life #13

Sunday is errand day at my house. I tutor in the morning, Chris goes to the gym or has a race, then we do all of our errands for the week. Today was no different. 

I tutored this morning while Chris ran in a local St. Patrick’s Day 8k. After we both got home we took the dogs on a 3-mile hike at the county park down the street (because we were out most of the day on Saturday). That took about an hour. 
Then we headed out to the stores. We went to Lowes for garden supplies (Chris has seedlings already growing in the basement). After that we stopped st Whole Foods and discovered they opened a ramen shop inside! We bought our St. Patrick’s day bangers and some breakfast yogurts before leaving. 

We finished our food shopping at Stop & Shop. That’s where we picked up our corned beef (and cabbage. Ugh). A totally Americanized meal but I do love corned beef!

Once we got home Chris did some gardening while I cleaned the kitchen and made Irish soda bread. The rest of the night was spent catching up on SNL, Life in Pieces, and Big Bang Theory. Oh, and two episodes of the new season of House of Cards.

Before I knew it I was working on homework and falling asleep!

Slice of Life #12- She Loves Me

Today was a Broadway day!


Chris and went into the city to see She Loves Me at the Roundabout Theater. The show stars Laura Benanti; she is a national treasure. While the show is old-fashioned and the music is a bit forgettable, the cast is stellar. Laura Benanti had me laughing so hard I was crying. And she was performing with bronchitis! Her show-stopping voice sounded perfect, despite her illness.

Jane Krakowski,Gavin Creel, and Zachary Levi rounded out the cast and they were all fantastic. I was especially impressed by Levi, who carried the show brilliantly.

After the show I convinced Chris to stagedoor for a few minutes (seeing as we didn’t win the Hamilton lottery). It was a great decision! Zachary Levi came out and was such a sweetheart. He brings out his cell phone and a Bluetooth speaker to blast music while going down the line.


That’s me, hanging out with Zachary Levi.

Just laughing with my friend. 😉

This kid blew me away, too. He’s a senior in high school. A senior! Brilliant in the show and a sweetheart at the stage door.

And here’s Zachary Levi signing my playbill.

She Loves Me is a limited run but if you are in the city I hope you get to see it. The cast is brilliant, the sets are gorgeous, and the book will have to laughing out loud. Plus, there are lots of shout-outs to books and their power.




Slice of Life #11


Tonight was  Coffeehouse and Teacher’s Pet at High Tech, two of my favorite events of the year.  Coffeehouse is an opportunity for students to share their fine arts talents with the school community and it never disappoints.  Tonight’s performances included dance, jazz, pop, rock, and much more.  Even a Weird Al performance got everyone laughing!  I’m always amazing by the talent at HTHS and tonight was no exception.  Kudos to all of the current students (and alum!) who performed tonight.

My second favorite part of the night is Teacher’s Pet.  I still remember the first Teacher’s Pet competition during my days as a student at HTHS! Inspired by The Newlywed Game, Teacher’s Pet matches students and teachers in a great game that always leaves everyone laughing.  This year I competed with Emma, our school president and my mini-me.  We have so much in common that we didn’t even practice!

It worked out.  Because we are the Teacher’s Pet champs this year!

I’d like to thank Kenny Chesney, Dublin (Ireland), BASH, books, and sunny-side up eggs for helping us win.  😉

Slice of Life #10


Did you know that if Fedex loses your package they don’t take any responsibility for it?

I did not know this until today.

On Tuesday I checked the tracking for an order that had recently shipped.  I ordered a new bed cover for the dogs from MollyMutt (an awesome company) and thought it was due to be delivered.  When I pulled up the tracking information on Fedex’s website I was happy to see that the order had been delivered earlier that day.

It all seemed too easy, so I should have been suspicious.

When I got home the package was nowhere to be found.  Ok, I thought.  Maybe the cleaning company brought it inside.  But I couldn’t find it anywhere inside the house, either.

No big deal, I thought.  A quick call to Fedex should take of this.  So I called and spoke to a lovely woman who set up a trace and told me that most likely the driver had misdelivered the package. This was not unheard of so the next morning he would go back to the home and retrieve the package.  I was annoyed that I had to wait another day to get my package but I was happy with the way Fedex was willing to help me.

It all seemed too easy, so I should have been suspicious.

When I got home from work the next day there was no package.  I checked my phone and there was no call from Fedex either.  After walking the dogs I called Fedex again and was told that the company was a experiencing a system failure but I could expect an update on the situation within 24 hours.

When I got home today there was still no package.  Now I was annoyed.  The bed I bought was on sale so I wanted to make a claim with the shipper before it sold out.  I placed another call to Fedex and after speaking to an operator and being put on hold I was disconnected.  I attempted to call back and the situation repeated.  And it happened a third time.  Really?!

Fourth time is the charm, I guess.  Someone finally called me back and I was excited to get some resolution to the problem.  Maybe the driver had found the package and would be delivering tomorrow.

Yeah, not exactly what happened.

What did happen was a Fedex representative told me that the driver said he delivered it so there was nothing they could do.  I must have lost it or someone in my home must have stolen it.  Yes, they accused me of lying.  Really, Fedex? When I explained that someone was home when the package was supposedly scanned and delivered the representative said there was nothing to be done.  She was closing the issue and Fedex was not responsible for the lost package.  “Our driver delivered it,” she said.  “What happened after that is your responsibility”.

I wanted to punch someone.  So for the record, Fedex doesn’t take responsibility for the actions of their drivers.  They stand by them and don’t require them to retrieve packages when they make a mistake.

Thankfully, my experience with MollyMutt was much better.  The customer service representative who answered the phone was duly horrified by Fedex’s callous attitude and immediately set to work getting my order shipped out again.

While getting that setup he noticed my address and said, “Freehold?  As in Bruce?”

When I said yes, that Freehold, he was very excited.  “I’m seeing Bruce this Saturday!” he exclaimed.

We chatted about Bruce Springsteen for a few minutes and when the conversation trailed off he told me my order was shipping out that hour.  Yes, my new order is already on its way!  And they are filing a claim with Fedex.

I loathe poor customer service and I love great customer service.  A nice customer service representative can save the day!