Camping by Sophie Johnson

Dad, Alexis, and Sophie, circa 1995. This was just before we saw a rattle snake, and just after Alexis was like, "Yeah, I think I'll wear this sick drop-waist dress and patent black Mary Janes on this hike."

Dad, Alexis, and Sophie, circa 1995. This was just before we saw a rattle snake, and just after Alexis was like, "Yeah, I think I'll wear this sick drop-waist dress and patent black Mary Janes on this hike."

It's Spring Break, so I am camping. Even though New Orleans heard that it was Spring Break for most teachers here and promptly decided it was time for Second Winter. I don't care. I'll wear wool socks.

See you Monday!

Leave The House by Sophie Johnson

Yesterday started out hard. I won't go into detail here -- mostly because I am pretty sure that 90 percent of my blog is some kind of descriptive variation on "I'm feeling sad" -- but just know that I was in a bad mood. 

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Passover by Sophie Johnson

I met Leah in an elevator. I'd seen her picture in the paper Teach for America Look Book (you know, just to make the already-sketchy organization a little more like a dating website), and she had been impossible to forget. Most of the TFA Corps members in the book (self included) looked like photocopied images of each other: toothy, buttoned down, and with an expression that somehow managed to say, "I gave the speech at my college graduation. What have YOU ever done?" Leah had chosen a picture where you could see her tattoos. She was wearing a cupcake-themed apron and holding a tray of baked goods, while she stuck out her tongue like she was on the cover of a Bikini Kill poster. So I was obsessed with her before I even met her. 

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Spring by Sophie Johnson

Spring technically started on March 20, but there have been plenty of cold days since then. There were several nights in the interim between March 20 and now where I had to turn on the electric blanket (like an old person), and whine over the steadfast cruelty of the universe for being so, so cold. Now, finally, I can whine just as loudly that it is so, so hot and muggy. At last. In New Orleans, it is spring. 

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Unlearning "Don't Reinvent the Wheel" by Sophie Johnson

Of the hundreds of professional development sessions I've been to in the past six years, I could count on my fingers the ones that didn't utilize the phrase, "Now, we don't want to reinvent the wheel here." When you hear someone say that, you know they're about to launch into a diatribe about a method someone else has come up with, and they're going to give you the tools to commandeer the method for yourself. This is obviously a godsend for teachers: using resources and ideas dreamed up by other teachers saves valuable planning time, and ensures that you're incorporating a method that has worked for someone else along the way.

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Unlearning "These Kids Need You" by Sophie Johnson

My senior year of college, I had my mind made up about what I was going to do, but no idea how I was going to do it. I was going to move to New York and become a journalist, somehow. I had spent some time working at The Nation Magazine the summer before, and i wondered if maybe they would rehire me to do some kind menial task (after all, I'd been a diligent fact-checker, and I wore such quirky outfits to the office). So there I was, perched on the edge of the vast unknown of a freckly job market, determined to succeed at find a profession in a dying industry, when I got an e-mail from Teach for America.

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Unlearning "Never Make The Activity The Objective" by Sophie Johnson

I am terrible at science. I know that lots of people say they are terrible at subjects and are just being modest, but lots of people did not accidentally spill titration mixtures all over their lab partner's faces. You know how in chemistry classrooms there are those eye-flushing faucets that you're supposed to use in case of emergencies, but you've never seen anyone actually use? Yeah. I am the reason those are there.

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Unlearning "100 Percent Compliance" by Sophie Johnson

When I look through the folder of photos on my computer from the past five years, there's this one that is especially sad. At the time it was taken, the picture made me happy. I even had a big print made of it, and I hung it up in my classroom. It was a picture of "100 percent compliance" -- a Doug Lemov teaching strategy that had been reiterated to me throughout multiple professional development sessions to the point that it had basically become part of my personal dogma. ("I believe in peace, love, equal rights for all, that salted caramel is the best flavor of ice cream, and that children should always demonstrate 100 percent compliance.") 

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Laurel, Mississippi (Part 2) by Sophie Johnson

Early-on in our travels across Laurel, I got lost. That's normal: I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever. Just, none. Once I was traveling from New Orleans to Tennessee and I ended up in Texas. On the train going back to Laurel, I got lost on my way from the observation car back to my seat. (Like, actually lost. Like, I had to talk to someone about it, because I could not figure out how to get back to my seat.) Not only am I bad at directions, I also always insist that I know exactly where I am going. I know what you're thinking, but no, I am not a stereotypical man on a sitcom. This is just the way I am.

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Fyodor Dostoyevsky Pitches Television Pilots To Cartoon Network by Sophie Johnson

Title: "Adventure Time and Its Inevitable Existential Consequences"

Logline: This show will focus on the existential crises and inner anguishes of Finnikov, a childlike adult man who plots many violent and reckless adventures (primarily murder) just to see if he has the ability to feel anything. Episodes will shift perspectives between Finnikov and his dog, Jakeovich, who may be a figment of Finnikov’s imagination.

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Author Postcards by Sophie Johnson

In lieu of a full post today, here are some watercolors of famous authors and some quotes they have said. Can you guess all of them? 

I'll be selling these soon, to raise a little money for Neutrons/ Protons. Be on the lookout. 

Enneagram by Sophie Johnson

A few years ago, my roommates introduced me to the Enneagram, which is a little like the Myers-Briggs, but with less of the fuzzy science nonsense and more of this kind of spiritual pagan thing going for it. So, in other words, I'm basically obsessed with it and I want it to be my husband.

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Swamp by Sophie Johnson

I like to tell this story whenever I go to the swamp, about how a friend and I used to go there in the depths of summer to draw the alligators. Once we went and sat down to draw this alligator that wasn't so far from us, and we'd look down to draw, and then look up at the alligator, and every time we looked back up, the alligator was a little closer to us than it had been before. Nothing had seemed to have changed; the alligator had just gotten closer.

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Individually Together by Sophie Johnson

If you haven't seen "The Lego Movie" yet, drop everything you are doing and go see it. I'm serious. It's the best movie I have ever seen in my entire life, and all of mankind should watch it, internalize its many messages, and make the world a better place by application. Ignore that Lego is kind of a shitty corporation, and that the movie has a stupid name. Just ignore those things. Everything else about this film is extraordinary.

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Dear Cats by Sophie Johnson

I have two cats. They are (adorably) named after jazz musicians (Satchmo and Coltrane), and they basically dominate my life. There was an article in The New York Times this weekend about how cats should not be allowed to go outside, because they are murdering birds, and spreading disease, and for lots of other reasons. This article successfully made me feel like a terrible person, but I am never going to make my cats live indoors. That would be like inviting your boyfriend to move in: the relationship would deteriorate almost instantaneously. 

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Racist by Sophie Johnson

Five years ago, I sat in an old, falling-apart high school, not teaching two 19-year-old boys about reading. I was supposed to be teaching them about reading, but the other six kids in the class had failed to show up that day, and morale was low. It was incurably hot, and the room we were in didn't have air conditioning. After going through the motions of phonics exercises, we had stretched out in front of a jangly plastic box fan and were talking about the rapper Juvenile.

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Family Math Night by Sophie Johnson

Last night I ran an activity table at Family Math and Literacy Night at one of the schools where I work. I set up my go-to project -- collage making with tissue paper (it never looks bad, but simultaneously, no one is ever really all that good at it) -- and sat down at my station with a New Yorker. I didn't really think anyone was going to come to my station. Most of the kids who go to this school don't know who I am, and "art station" sounds like it has about as much to do with math and literacy as "whale station" or "popcorn station" might. (Although, I would absolutely go to a "whale station" if such a station existed.)

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