Monday, June 20, 2016
Sunday, June 19, 2016
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
I've probably already used this title. It's my theme for early June. Another school year has come and gone. My 36th. And as excited as I am for summer, it is difficult to let go. Oh, the 8th graders are ready for high school, whether they know it or not. Some are nervous, some are excited, some are just plain oblivious because a two month break from homework, tests, quizzes, and projects is all they can see at the moment. Exams have been studied for and taken. They've been graded, recorded and the grades have gone home to mom and dad. I've had Alice Cooper's School's Out for the Summer running through my head for a few days. Do any of my students even know who Alice Cooper is??
I am especially close to this particular class. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is because they needed me in some way that others haven't? Perhaps it's because they let me get close to them and I let them get to know a different side of me? I taught them for two years and advised twelve of them in 7th grade. I've watched them fall down, scrape their knees and elbows, literally and figuratively. I've cried with them over the loss of a grandparent or a pet or as they have tried to make sense of a divorce. I've let them know if they have disappointed me, with thoughtless behavior or by not working up to their potential in class. I've celebrated their successes, winning essay contests, having the nerve to get up in front of their peers and visitors to recite their spoken word poems, sing with the chorus, dance with their movement class or act out a Goth version of Shakespeare. Some of them shared what they wrote in response to watching the movie Sarah's Key based on the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay. They shared these thoughts in the school literary magazine but also with the author herself when we met her in Paris. This is Mlle Mer. Her grandmother left Europe as a young girl in wake of the Holocaust.
I will miss her accidentally calling me Mom.
We've gotten dirty in the school gardens, planting, weeding, and picking strawberries. We've traveled to Foster's and Guglhupf cafés just down the street for baguettes, fromage, and macarons, to Washington, DC for the 7th grade class trip, and 23 of us jetted across the Atlantic Ocean so that I could show them "my" France.
The one pictured at the top of the post, Miss Issy, is heading to France this summer to spend two weeks with her pen friend. Paris with her Mum first, then Senlis, Toulouse (or Toulon?), the Riviera and Corsica. She is leaving DA for a nearby public school and I will miss her and her really cool English accent. I can't wait to read the book she gave me.
Not sure what the bad habits are, but I look forward to finding out. Probably won't share that information with next year's 8th graders, though.
What to say about these two?
Monsieur drove me nuts, but I will genuinely miss him. He will grow up to do amazing things when he learns to focus and control his brain. His pal, on the other arm, bought him a planner to help him get through the end of the year with all of his homework assignments completed (and probably so that she wouldn't have to listen to me nag him every single day, truth be told). He should read or watch Le Petit Nicolas. Mademoiselle has become my Pretend Daughter. Unbeknownst to me, she and another girlie had a project this year whose code name was Apples. They kept up with the dates of days when I wore a black dress to school. The sheet of paper I have as evidence only dates from January 26 and there are 28 dates marked, including the one above, June 9. What can I say? I love black dresses. I suppose I am more clueless than I care to believe. And 8th graders can be pretty clever.
It was a very good year. Quite a few tears and many waterproof mascara days. So many laughs and really good hugs.
I love you all. I will miss you, but it is time to move on. I hope that I have taught you a little about life, perseverance, hard work, and the importance of being your best self as well as how to conjugate and use the imparfait. I hope that you have many days when you think "This is the best day of my life!" And that you remember those days when a lousy one comes along.
This sums it up pretty well, n'est-ce pas?
Bonnes vacances! Ne m'oubliez pas, s'il vous plaît.
Today's recipe is one 8th graders would appreciate (well, except for the unfortunate ones who can't eat chocolate- I had four of those, les pauvres). It's from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. I am addicted to her blog. And the mention of sea salt reminds me of our visit to Aigues Mortes and seeing the enormous piles of salt at La Baleine.
Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes approximately 18-24
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. (25 g) granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. (25 g) Turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw- you can use more brown or white if you have this, but the subtle crunch it adds is delightful)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (165 g) packed light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. baking soda
Heaped 1/4 tsp. (technically 1/4 + 1/8 tsp.) fine sea salt or table salt
1-3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 pound (225 g) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, cut into roughly 1/2-inch chunks with a serrated knife
Flaky sea salt, to finish
Heat oven to 360˚F (180˚C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, beating until incorporated and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in fine sea or table salt and baking soda until combined, then the flour on low speed until just mixed. The dough will look crumbly at this point. With a spatula, fold/stir in the chocolate chunks.
Scoop cookies into 1-1/2 Tbsp. (#40 scoop) mounds, spacing them apart on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt. Bake 11 to 12 minutes, until golden on the outside but still very gooey and soft on the inside. Out of the oven, let rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Extra dough- I know, what's that?!- can be formed into scoops and frozen on a sheet until solid, then transferred to a freezer bag. I've baked these right from the freezer; they need, at most, 1 minute more baking time. You could also from them into a 2-inch log, freeze it, and slice and bake the cookies off as desired. The only difference I've note between cookies baked right away and those baked a day or more later is that the older cookie dough is less puffy when baked.
Bon appétit and happy summer to all, students and teachers alike!