What’s Andrew Reading Update

While I have not been reading as often as I would like, I am ANXIOUSLY awaiting the arrival of Angie Thomas’s new novel ‘On the Come Up‘.

In the meantime, if you need any YA and adult book recommendations, check out the What’s Andrew Reading tab that I’m committing myself to updating on a more regular basis.

If I’m not going to be working on my fiction and blogging as regularly as I have in the past, the least I can do is share what I’m reading.

Also, be sure to check back weekly as I intend to start sharing some of the work I’m writing with my students. Although I’m not writing with them on a daily basis as the reality is they need my help, by the end of the year I would like to say that I am able to write with them for an entire Do Now.

Still Hibernating, Still Happy

When someone asked me about my writing the other night, I gave an honest answer: I’m not.

Not now at least.

Why?

Well, as I mentioned in “On Hiatus Till December,” I’m fully committed to my new position and in providing ALL of my students with diverse learning opportunities.

What does “diverse learning opportunities” mean?

Engaging activities that get kids out of their seats.

Chances to explore and uncover on their own.

Assignments beyond the critical response and an essay to culminate the unit accessible to ALL learners.

New texts across genres.

Less talking at the kids and telling.

The past four-plus months have been as challenging as any in my educational career. I had forgotten how much work goes into starting anew somewhere else. I took for granted all that goes in to being a good teacher, including unit planning, teaching for understanding, and collecting data to inform instruction. And only now am I beginning to get my feet under me as I continue to build positive relationships with my students and push them to realize their potential.

And I can confidently say that’s happening.

I’m professionally happy for the first time in a long time. I’m personally happy too. Living my best life, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. While my wife and I have no baby announcements – and don’t expect to have any anytime soon – I definitely have refocused myself on being the most supportive husband I can be as my wife has been tackling a new and even more demanding position at work. With this has come my sacrificing some of my writing time, which I can’t say has always been the case in the past – whether it be chasing the sun with friends or devoting an unreasonable amount of time to my writing and my work overall. As strong as my foundation is, everyone also needs support. And it took me a long time to realize that.

Even if I’m not writing my fiction, I know I will come back to my edits on ‘Knowing When You’re Too Young to Grow Up’ the second the school year ends. And then I’ll finish my edits on the comprehensive outline I put together for ‘The Heroin Times’ and get back to completing a manuscript. Finally, I’ll edit my units of study and come back to school at the end of August ready to give a new group of students THE eighth grade ELA experience.

So, there’s my plan.

Now, it’s back to putting together this new unit and grading and differentiating instruction, and being the best teacher I can possibly be.

For my students – students, overall – deserve no less.

Throwback Thursday: The Last Christmas in Manhattan

As we prepare for our first Christmas in our new home, I thought it appropriate to set it up with a Throwback Thursday. Originally posted on December 29, 2017, The Last Christmas in Manhattan recounts all of the emotions conjured this time last year. With reality setting in that we were going to move after our lease expired, my wife and I became sappy and nostalgic. We were coming to grips with how many memories we had made at 1737 York Ave. even though that particular unit wasn’t her first choice (and was really only mine because I’m economical). 

Anyway, I don’t want to spoil it. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Manhattan bustles in the holiday season with its mesmerizing storefronts and bright displays and deals that really aren’t deals at all, with its teeming streams of shoppers and sightseers, with its luminescent lights down Park Avenue that shine in the night.

I thought maybe we would get a little pristine snow and gander it before the machines taint it in grime. But, alas, that wasn’t the case. Just the sub-20 degree temperatures as my father-in-law sends me pics of the pool he’s next to in Florida.

This year, as my wife and I were about to set up our Christmas tree and decorate for the holiday that seems to come upon us quicker and quicker each year, we had a realization. This will be our last Christmas in Manhattan for the foreseeable future.

But, why would we leave the only place my wife has ever called home, a place where our closest friends and my wife’s family reside? Because most have to leave eventually, unless of course they want to rent their whole lives away or they have indispensable cash or are willing to buy and bet that Manhattan real estate value will continue to go up even if it appears it can’t go any higher. I think that’s called a bubble.

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On Hiatus Till December

Regretfully, I am taking a hiatus from blogging and writing until December.

Why?

Well, I’ve started a new job that is a huge adjustment – and not in a bad way. When you have grown accustomed to a certain way of teaching and a certain way of functioning at a job you have been at for a while overall, there are bound to be some bumps in the road.

And that’s okay.

I will continue to grow, adjust, and eventually flourish. I am a teacher before I am a writer, after all.

Until I get a system down and achieve a level of comfort, I would be doing my students and myself a disservice if I weren’t giving my new position my undivided attention.

So, I’ll check back in December.

Or hopefully sooner.

And then, it’s one more round of edits on KNOWING WHEN YOU’RE TOO YOUNG TO GROW UP (thanks for the help KMW Editorial ) + continuing writing THE HEROIN TIMES (thanks for the help Foday Samateh).

Hopeful for the future,

Andrew Chapin

 

Throwback Thursday: Free to Wear Sunscreen

Originally posted on October 16, 2017, “Free to Wear Sunscreen” is Andrew Brown’s last night in Italy where he must confront a past he’s avoided for too long, a past that might break him apart from his best friend Pete Goodman. 

See the ‘Knowing When You’re Too Young to Grow Up’ tab for more information on the project. As always, feedback is STRONGLY encouraged via the contact tab or comments section.

I staggered into the single, unisex bathroom ready to float away on the Arno in my drunken mirth. It was our last dinner on our last night. And I was finally content – finally – with Ant, Pete, with myself, with all of it. For once, I smiled in the mirror, I felt like I was ahead of the curve. Before I heard a stirring whimper behind me.

I turned to the craned back heaving over the edge of the toilet seat, spindly arms shaking, her whole frail frame shaking, meek face in between. It was Becky. I didn’t even notice her when I walked in.

And I stood stuck like a stroke in a place I knew existed but could never fathom, the difference between knowing about and experiencing, the difference between staying young and growing up. So lost in her own sickness, in not eating, in sticking her finger down her throat, she looked like an exhibit in the Museum of Natural History.

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Throwback Thursday: A Reintroduction: Chapter 1

Originally posted on August 23, 2017, in “A Reintroduction: Chapter 1” protagonist Andrew Brown begins to tell the story of his trip to Italy with his closest pals. The real story, however, is his failing relationship with his best friend Pete Goodman.

The reason?

Pete’s affair with their art teacher Ms. Benevo.

See the ‘Knowing When You’re Too Young to Grow Up’ tab for more information on the project. As always, feedback is STRONGLY encouraged via the contact tab or comments section.

Based on what I’ve heard about past travel studies, from the partying and the sneaking out to the straight up orgies, I’m going out with a bang in my senior year. Sure, we’re a real traveling circus of American allure from Balaam Academy and I’m surrounded by plenty of people who flat-out suck. But, in a place I know absolutely nothing about besides that I love the food and the women, who gives a shit? At least I’ve got my friends.

So far, though, the trip I’ve been counting down the days for, for months hasn’t gone as smoothly as I planned.

First, after my parents kicked me to the curb at the airport – couldn’t wait to get the hell away from them anyway – I saw my best friend Pete Goodman who doesn’t have time for me anymore standing at our predetermined meet-up spot with our art teacher and chaperon, his main squeeze Ms. Benevo. That’s right. Pete’s taken her down the river. A lot.

Can’t say I blame him, though. Sure, I’d just as soon slit her throat, but she’s something to look at. Not thin, not fat either – voluptuous is more like it – she’s got these curves and a little chub that’s more than compensated for by her enormous birdfeeders. If he only knew what I do.

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Billy Joel Kind of Weekend

It’s not a fantasy. The wife and I are seeing our annual Billy Joel concert this weekend in a tradition that started when our close friends gave us tickets for our wedding.

As a Long Islandite, I’ve long been a fan – how can you not be? – but seriously if you haven’t seen this national treasure, do yourself a favor.

Even if you’re a hater who thinks he’s a hack. For a hack he’s still got it.

Even if Elton John is better.

Maybe.

Throwback Thursday: The Excuse of All Excuses

Originally posted on October 23, 2017, “The Excuse of All Excuses” bemoans the lack of accountability from students and their parents nowadays. 

I’ve always said – and I’ll reiterate it here – that I have much more respect for the student who owns his/her behavior and choices; that’s the first step to understanding and improving. 

If only all kids were given that chance.

I remember the days when a student misbehaved and you reprimanded him or her. Maybe you made a phone call home. You might’ve even made an example out of the student and kicked him or her out of class. Lessons were learned. Respect was commanded through action. Insubordination and disruption were quelled. And that was that.

Not anymore.

Teachers pretty much can’t talk in a stern voice or give detention to a wayward kid. They’re not allowed to demand a student stay on task when working on a laptop or stop disrespecting a classmate they’re trying to talk over because I guess their point is that much more profound and important – trust me, it’s likely not.

That’s obviously a bit played up, but I recently heard an obtuse account of a parent’s complaint pretty much about me because nothing is ever direct from the source where I work. Anyway, what I gathered from it was that this woman felt her son was being bullied by his insensitive teachers.

So now we call being kicked out of class bullied.

Why was he excused exactly?

Oh, because he disrespected a classmate in the midst of an explanation by interrupting him and proceeding to talk until the other student stopped. When called out on this overtly rude behavior, the boy laughed.

That’s when another student looked at him and said, “You’re dead,” as I told him to get out in no uncertain terms. Forget about disrespecting me, which I neither accept nor take lightly, but there’s no place for that lack of concern for peers in a positive learning community.

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