"looks like, sounds like"

Among my new teaching skills in the TFA bag of tricks is a popular new exercise called “looks like, sounds like.” It consists of a t-chart (graphic organizer, to reach more learning modalities) with a description of what things look like, and quotes which may ‘sound like’ a certain situation. For example:

A respectful classroom…

Looks like everyone sitting in their desk, on task.

Sounds like “Yes, Alicia, you may answer the question. Thank you so much for raising your hand.”

As part of my new life here in the big bad apple, I thought it might be fun to do a “sounds like.” I’ve noticed lately that the biggest changes which I’ve experienced are best illustrated by sound, which is odd considering that I’m not really an auditory learner. Or maybe I am?

In any case, close your eyes and picture if you will quiet classrooms of Corps Members scribbling notes, 75 pairs of heels and dress shoes click clacking down the hallways of JFK High to sign in at the Faculty Lounge, the groan of yellow school busses struggling up hills in the South Bronx, and the sometimes unsettling peace of a closed (and barred) campus like Fordham, and…

July 3rd

Absolute Chaos

It’s Saturday morning, my first real day off of Institute. I walk out of Fordham’s verdant sanctuary complete with black sqirrels, and begin my sojurn into Manhattan. The sidewalks of East Fordham Road are jammed with street vendors blaring music and shouting on bullhorns, families shopping and running errands, yelping dogs on leashes, and small children laughing about italian ices. I can hear at least 3 different languages within 5 yards, and every storefront has lifted up the graffiti-crusted steel shutters to display their wares. I continue my quest for the 4 train, bombarded by the bright sunlight and crush of people out enjoying a summer afternoon.

In Manhattan, things are slightly less chaotic; the subway is at least mildly familar, and chatting with Morissa down at the seaport soothes my darting eyes and ringing ears. Midtown shopping, once we left 5th Avenue is relatively tame, and I shut myself deep within my silent room that night out of sheer exhaustion.

July 4th

“The bombs bursting in air…”

There are rockets outside tonight in the Bronx, but I wouldn’t know if they’re glaring red or not; I can hear the grand finale of someone’s neighborhood show just outside the iron bars of Fordham’s campus, and I’m sure that the grand spectacular on the East River is over and done with–it was too far away for me to actually hear. The distance accentuated my lack of involvement in the festivities that evening, as I sat at the computer, but it also reminded me that there were other sounds less peripheral that made my 4th a good one.

For one reason or another, okay, maybe several, I wasn’t up for work on Sunday morning, so I opted instead for a walk through the New York Botanical Gardens, a mere 3 minute walk from my dorm. Again, once inside the gates and walls, my entire perspective changed. I was completely relaxed, and the sounds of “the City” were far away. Instead I concentrated on breezes ruffling the maples, buzzing insects, and the occasional snippet of conversation from other erstwhile plant enthusiasts such as myself. There wasn’t even the click and whirrr of my camera to distract me, because the digital accompanied me on my journeys South and North this summer, and it’s been a wonderful tool to have. I spent two full hours pacing the trails and getting lost among the waterfalls in the “woodland” section, amazed that I might just be hearing the exact same thing that Dave would be at that time. Then I saw an old motorcycle tire in the river, and heard blaring horns from traffic outside, and I woke up. It was nice, if surreal, while it lasted.

Another sound breaks my botanical idyll as the phone rings to remind me that the collaborative needs organizing, and there are lessons to be planned. Once a teacher, always a teacher?

July 6th

First Day of School

Chalk scrapes against the blackboard during my first day as a teacher; thwap, thwap go my hands all day as I try to brush it off of my clothing and skin. I can see this becoming a habit…

July 9th

Friday Thea = =( Thea

Any sound at all is absolutely excruciating circa 2:30 pm on Friday afternoon. I’m in the midst of my first migrane headache since the 4th grade, when I used to get them so often that they sent me to a shrink (yeah, and I only went once, a lot of good that did me). I stumble off the bus at 4:40, fall into bed at 4:45 and mute out all other traces of the world until some unidentifiable noise awoke me at 10:00 pm

July 10th

more adventures in Manhattan

As we hop on the NRQ uptown from shopping in the Village, my phone rings, then goes dead as our subway car enters a tunnel. “Unknown Number” it flashes at me, spiting me with its silence. I know D. is on the other end, on a satellite phone somewhere in northern Canada. We finally connect outside of Macys, and chat for a while, me on 34th and Broadway, he on a riverbank. Modern communication is odd sometimes, but the sound of his voice made me so happy.

Later on that evening, digitized clicks of the self-purchase ticket machine in the Village AMC, Time Square Lowes 18 and AMC 25 theaters scream “denied!” to Mary and me as we search in vain for a place to see Spiderman 2. All I wanted to do this weekend was see a movie, those bastards.

Luckily, we are saved by another processed sound: the Mr. Softee jingle. We both grab a cone before heading back on the D train to the Bronx. At least we got a full night’s sleep.

July 12th

Week 3

begins auspiciously with a good lesson. The last few nights of working have been touched with echoes of a familar sound: “a low, dull, quick sound–much like the sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton”. “The Tell-Tale Heart” has been our theme of the week, teaching literary elements, and I am back (as they say) in MY element, feeling much more confident about this whole “teacher” thing. My hour of class winds down to a close, and separating itself from enthusiastic but faltering English speakers, and one or two lathargic scholars is my own voice, in the thrall of Poe’s words.

The finale of my lesson today was a dramatic performance of the last two paragraphs of the essay, accompanied with rhythm and percussion (various ‘heart’ sounds) from Braulio and LaTonia. My striding footsteps stomped across the room as my voice rose with the narrator’s ire:

I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die!–and now–again!–hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!–

“Villains, I shrieked,”[and I did indeed shriek] “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!–tear up the planks! here, here!–it is the beating of his hideous heart!”

I ended with a flourish, pointing guiltily at the floor beneath one of the students’ chairs. It may have been my imagination, but I think some people were actually going to look for the body. Okay, so I wasn’t like Lawrence Olivier, but at least I was scary. I mean, they *looked* scared. Whatever =).

As I gathered up my papers and notebooks to move on to the rest of the sessions at school that day, I noticed that it was finally raining; a cool, steady, drizzle was audible outside the grated windows of the 5th floor classrooms, so even though I couldn’t see the refreshing precipitation, I could hear it nearby. I went for a run this afternoon despite the incessant wetness, and it felt so good, so cleansing, especially after my less than coherent last week. The halfway point is near, and I can feel it starting to become just a teensy bit easier. In bed by 11:00 pm was my goal tonight, and I can just make it if I hurry. The rain outside our window tonight will lull me to sleep; those drips and occasional torrents should be the ambient noise for the next few days, according to the weather reports.

“Sounds like” I’m doing okay, for now at least =).

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