Reschool Yourself

Latest Posts

Feelin’ Rough in 3rd Grade

Lately, I’m having more trouble than usual with balance. It’s after 5 a.m. right now, I haven’t gone to bed yet, and I’m supposed to be at school in three hours. There simply isn’t enough time for me to go to school, work part-time (as I’ve been attempting starting yesterday), document my experiences, AND take care of myself with enough sleep and exercise — much less to have a little downtime and fun.

The most frustrating thing is having almost a full notebook of ideas and no time to share them on the blog. I have posts from my first days in kindergarten — and posts from the education conference before school even started — that I have yet to generate. I might just have to save some for the book.

I’m in 3rd grade through Wednesday, and I’ll start 4th on Thursday. I’m averaging three days in each elementary grade and will spend a bit more time in each of my middle and high school classes.

I keep reminding myself that it’s important to sleep enough so I can get the most out of my classroom experience. When I’m tired, the kids’ constant stories about their pet dogs and their grandmas and their sparkle pencils just aren’t quite as entertaining.

This week, I also have an extra motivator: Looking decent for my 10-year high school reunion this weekend. Right now I look like something the cat hocked up. Let’s hope this changes before Friday.

Politics: A Whole New Can of Worms

Politics is part of my reschooling trifecta, along with personal finance and technology. These are areas where my lack of knowledge has limited me — in conversation, in attainment of my goals, and in self-confidence.

I’ve never identified myself as “political,” though I’ve chosen friends since college who took a particular interest in what was happening in the world. Through them, and by absorbing snippets from passing headlines and TV satire, I developed a passable knowledge of who was who (from Kim Jong Il to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) and what they were up to. I went through phases where I’d listen to NPR or BBC news for weeks on end and then burn out, burying my head in the sand once again. I felt overwhelmed enough by my own issues and those of people close to me that I chose not to take on those of strangers.

This approach has kept me protected from feeling outraged every time I open a newspaper, but it has also limited me. I’ve felt ignorant more times than I can count when talking with people who assume I have a basic background in world affairs. When traveling abroad, I’ve met many foreigners who know more than I do about the history and politics of my own country. I’ve largely relied on the opinions of my informed friends — or publications I trust — when voting. Ultimately, my unwillingness to stay informed has disempowered me. If I want to make positive change in education, which has always been my passion, I need to be aware of who makes the rules and how they do it. Even more, as someone with the privilege of being an educated, middle-class American, I feel the responsibility to work for social justice and must start by becoming socially conscious.

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Reschool Yourself in the News

There’s an article about Reschool Yourself in the Sonoma Index-Tribune today. Thanks to reporter Emily Charrier and photographer Robbi Pengelly for capturing the spirit of the project so beautifully.

For those of you who are new to Reschool Yourself, welcome! Here’s how to get to know the site:

1. Get oriented.

  • Use the menu across the top of the site to browse pages. The content of these pages is updated occasionally.
  • The left-hand column contains blog posts about my reschooling experiences in and out of the classroom. The most recent posts are at the top of the page, and the blog is usually updated daily. Make sure you click on the red link to read the rest of a given entry.
  • The middle column contains a project summary, a link to my fundraising page, a list of recent comments and posts, and a link to my online photo album.
  • The right-hand column contains tools for finding older blog posts by topic. Categories organize posts by general subject. Tags organize posts by specific topics. Clicking on an item, such as “Reschooling Tools” or “busyness,” will bring up a list of posts on that topic.

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Hot lunch!

For the first few days at school, I got to know the teachers at my elementary school by eating lunch with them in the teacher’s lounge. They’re a fun bunch of people who exchange stories about their students and their lives, and they welcomed me right away. As I’ve mentioned, a handful of them were teaching at the school when I was a student, but none actually taught me. (My teachers still live locally, however, so I’m in the process of getting in touch.)

When I moved on from kindergarten to first grade, I missed the kindergarteners and thought it would be fun to start eating lunch with them in the cafeteria. I also thought it would be only fitting for me to buy “hot lunch.” When I was a student, the only day I’d buy hot lunch every week was Friday: Pizza Day. It just so happens that Friday is still Pizza Day, so I paid my $3.50 for an adult lunch and stepped up to the lunch line.

The crates of milk were just inside the door as they always have been, but as I mentioned, chocolate milk is now available every day instead of just on Wednesdays. As you can see in the photo, the chocolate:regular milk ratio is 2:1, and I’m  surprised that any kid would choose regular. I certainly went for the chocolate myself, though an ill-advised sneak at the label revealed that it contained corn syrup. Dedicated to “method lunching,” I decided to drink it anyway.

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New Forum, Video Hiatus

1. New Forum

If you’ve wanted to share your own classroom memories, the things you’d still love to learn, or ideas for Reschool Yourself, you’re in luck. The Reschool Yourself forum is finally up and running. Thanks to Stephen for helping shape the forum topics, and to Darren for prettifying the page.

I intend for Reschool Yourself to be not just about my experience, but about all of us grown-ups who find ourselves limited in any way by our schooling. It’s for all of us who still want to learn and do challenging new things — like learn to do a cartwheel at age 28 (yes, I plan to do this) or travel to Egypt after age 70, like my friend Sally. To share ideas and memories, please post your comments on the new forum. I hope that by developing an online community, we can inspire each other to process our experiences of education and move beyond them.

See the Forum page for full descriptions:

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Second Grade, Here I Come

I’m entering my third week of elementary school. So far I’ve spent:

  • 3.5 days in one kindergarten class, beginning with the first day of school
  • 5 days rotating through five first grade rooms, spending the morning in one class and switching to another in the afternoon

I’ll spend this Tuesday through Thursday in second grade, and Friday through next Tuesday in third. (Yes, I’m moving quickly! The teachers think I may be a prodigy.) There are a couple of major changes I want to make:

1. Participate in the kids’ activities more than teaching them as a volunteer. So far, I’ve been experiencing my return to the classroom from an adult perspective, whereas the point is to reconnect with the joy, wonder, and intuition I had as a child. I can go volunteer anytime, anywhere, but this is my chance to learn to be a kid again. I plan to roll Play-Doh, read kids’ books, run around at recess, and build with Legos.

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Exchanging A’s for Cash Money

I’m feeling a bit queasy after reading the ABCNews.com story “Some D.C. Students to Be Paid for A’s” from 8/26/08. Here’s an excerpt:

Will middle school students hit the books, show up on time and be on their best behavior if they’re getting paid?

As Washington, D.C. students start back to school this week, that’s the thinking behind a new program just launched in the district. As early as October at 14 of 28 D.C. middle schools, students will get paid to perform as part of a pilot program that rewards kids for good grades, attendance, and behavior.

Kids could rake in up to $100 per month, getting paid every two weeks through the program.

Behind the program is D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who’s getting a lot of press for her new approaches to old problems. I’m all for new approaches, if they happen to be better than the old ones. Here’s the comment I posted on ABCnews:

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