Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Diaries Day 4: Discovering Pandora

Every once in awhile, the substitute teacher coordinators at the school where I work have a teacher who calls off late, and they don't feel like trying to find a sub can't find a sub. There are three women where I work who are qualified to sub and who don't have a whole classroom of students: the Title 1 Reading teacher, the gifted teacher, and me, the special ed. math teacher/Wilson Reading teacher. One of the three of us will sometimes get pulled from our normal job to fill in as a sub. It would make the most sense for the gifted teacher to get pulled in my opinion, because her students aren't struggling, and could do okay without her. I think next it would make sense to pull the Title I reading teacher, because her students are in the regular ed. classroom without help all day except for the 40 minutes a day that she is working with them. And I think it would make the least sense to pull me, because my students are some of the most severely learning disabled students in the school when it comes to math. I am their only math teacher, and they really need me every day.

Unfortunately, the school does not seem to share my logic on this issue. I am always the first to get called. Not because my students don't need me (because BELIEVE ME, they do). Instead because out of the three of us, I'm the biggest pushover. I don't say "no" to anyone, especially my boss. Next in line is the Title I teacher, and last to ever get called is the gifted teacher. This is because the principal herself went to school for gifted ed. and apparently thinks it's the most important thing that anyone could ever teach. Never mind that my students normally just sit for an hour and a half playing math games on the computer when I get pulled since they can't keep up with the regular ed. math class. They will apparently do better on their own than the gifted kids according to the principal's logic (can you tell it frustrates me?? My poor students HATE IT whenever I get pulled to sub. I feel bad for them).

Anyway, I went off on that little tangent that probably didn't need to be said, but I got started and couldn't stop. All that to say that yesterday must have been a very crazy day, because not one, not two, but all THREE of us possible sub fill-ins got pulled to sub yesterday!!

Normally when I get pulled to sub I hate it. I hate leaving my kids, and I hate being the sub. Kids really aren't easy on subs. It's like a fun chance for them all day to see how much they can get away with. I usually would much rather do my everyday job.

However, yesterday was different. Yesterday I got to sub for the 4th grade special ed. teacher. There are a number of reasons why this was a great thing. First of all, this is the classroom I had worked in the two previous years. It is such a comfortable place for me. I do like having my own classroom MUCH more than I liked sharing that classroom with a somewhat crazy teacher for two years. But it's still fun to come back (especially when said crazy teacher is not there :-P). The second reason I was excited to sub there was because I had worked with all 8 of the students in that room all year last year. They are one of the best groups of kids I have worked with, so eager to please and just plain adorable. I was very excited to be working with them again. And the third reason was because the classroom has an aide. We really get along, and work together everyday since one of her students usually comes to my room for math everyday. I guess we aides have kind of a special bond(yes, I'm considered an aide even though I teach so that they can get away with not paying me as much. I recall mentioning earlier that I'm a pushover). We all know what it's like to be looked down upon, not paid much, and we know what it's like to be barked at like we're dogs by the teachers. (not all of the teachers do that, but there are always those few who do. It is really degrading, and has caused me to run to the bathroom and hide while I CRY more than once). so anyway, all that to say that I really enjoy working with this particular aide.

Yesterday ended up being such an easy, great day in that classroom. Seriously, I probably did about 10 times less work than I do on a normal day (hmmm....and I'm the one getting aides pay. grrr). For half of the afternoon, the teacher's lesson plans said to "color Christmas pictures." Umm okay, I'm not going to argue with that! So the kids colored Christmas pictures to decorate the classroom while we listened to Christmas music put on by the aide. After awhile, I noticed that there were no commercials in the music, so it couldn't be a radio station. I didn't see a CD player anywhere either. I felt silly, but I had to ask where the music was coming from! It was such delightfully happy Christmas music. A good mix of classic old songs, religious songs, fun songs, and even a few pop Christmas songs.

The aide's eyes brightened when I asked her, like she couldn't wait to tell me. She told me the music was coming from the internet, from Pandora. I had never heard of this Pandora before. She explained to me that you simply go to the website, type in the name of a song or artist that you like, and it will create a radio station for you. For example, we typed in "All I Want for Christmas is You" (one of my favorite fun Christmas songs). The website found songs that have similarities in sound, genre, lyrics, etc. to that song. And my radio station was born. I thanked the aide profusely for introducing me to this wonderful website!!

I came home and listened to Christmas music like it was my job. Just from one song I typed in, I got songs on my station by Bing Crosby, Jo Dee Mesina, Natalie Grant, Mariah Carey, Michael Buble, The Ronettes, Chris Brown, I even think there was a song by Britney Spears on there! And so many more. Such a good variety of artists, I could never get bored with it!

Have you discovered this website yet?? You probably have, since Luke told me I was probably the last person on the planet who hadn't heard of it yet. I love it!! I'm pretty sure it has moved itself up to third place on my "favorite websites" list. First place is obviously blogger, and second place is facebook, in case you were wondering ;-)

Let me just tell you some of the things I love about this website. First of all, for every song that plays, a picture of the album cover, and all the song information pop up on your page. After you listen to a few songs, you have a little stream of all the previous songs you've listened to going across your page. So you can go back and listen to a song again if you just didn't get enough (as I did with Baby it's Cold Outside earlier this morning :-)). You can scroll back and see all the songs you've listened to on that station this session, but you can't scroll forward. I love that it's a surprise what song will come on next ;-) Also, if it's a song you really don't feel like listening to, you can fast forward to the next one! You can also pause the music and come back right where you left off!

I'm in love. I will use this website all year round! Now if only I could use it in my car. It's completely free, and you only have to sit through a few ads here and there. Nothing like having to sit through commercials on a real radio station.

So what is your favorite Christmas song? I have so many. But my absolute favorite has always been "O Holy Night," same as my dad's. I think my favorite version of the song is Martina McBride's. I also love every single song on Josh Groban's "Noel" CD. He has the most beautiful voice!

I also completely love Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas music. But I feel like they are in a completely different category than anything else, and will be doing a completely separate post on them when we go to see them in concert for the sixth year in a row on December 20th! It's probably our oldest Christmas tradition as a couple. And our most expensive :-P

I'm sorry that this post is completely all over the place, and really long. I honestly think I've just been writing a lot so I could keep listening to this wonderful Christmas music on my computer! I'm currently listening to Santa Baby...ahh, I love it!!

I hope you're enjoying lots of Christmas music this month as well :-)


  1. So glad you had a great day! I just discovered Pandora about 6 weeks ago when I got a blackberry and I love it!

  2. I can't believe you just found Pandora! Isn't it great? There are a couple of genres that they don't do too great at, but other than that, it is just amazing!

    Sorry that you get walked all over at your school! Maybe this year, at the end of the school year, you'll let them have it!

  3. I know how you feel... Pandora was pretty much the best musical discovery I've ever made. I couldn't stop telling people about it when I first started using it. Haha. Soooooo good.

  4. Pandora is a great website! I discovered it this year, and I'm hooked. I love it.


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