The Term 4 grades are done. The portfolios have been presented. The final exams will be graded soon. The end of the year is upon us. About two weeks ago I mentally finished with this school year. I definitely had plans for my classes, but they were loose. We were at the point where the students needed to perform, be it through presentations or tests, and I mostly supported students one-on-one or in small groups while they prepared for these assessments. But after school, on the weekends, during my son’s naptime, and in every spare moment, I have been working furiously on my plans for next year. I have ideas for revamping the way I teach reading, the way I assess writing, the way I grade classwork and the way my students organize their work. I am in love with my future classroom, that glorious paradise of 2011-2012 that holds students writing thoughtfully, reading deeply and discussing intelligently . . . in my mind.
At the end of every school year I make this shift from thinking about this year to thinking about next year. This shift involves countless hours of reflecting, planning, making course materials and searching for texts. Every year I do this, and every year I think to myself “Yes! Next year is going to be THE year! THE year when I get it, THE year when my plans work magic, THE year when it will all work!”
Well, I’ve never had THE year, and, if I’m honest with myself, I don’t think I ever will. If I have THE year, it will mean I figured teaching out, that I’ve pretty much learned what there is to learn, and that all I have to do is cruise and tweak my class a bit. It is never going to be like that because teaching is a journey, a process of growth. Every year I’ve gotten better at some things and worse at others. I’ve implemented new ideas that both succeed and fail, and I’ve forgotten to do things that worked before. Yet, on the whole, my students advance more each year, my understanding of my content improves and I add to my teacher-bag-of-tricks.
So I will continue to plan away this week, writing the course syllabus, developing my new rubrics, writing assignments for the first unit. I will do this with that perfect classroom in my head, not because that is what will happen, but instead because that is the classroom I aspire to have, and that act of aspiring will get me a bit closer to that unreachable ideal that moves me forward on my teaching journey.
We have been seriously enjoying our Enterprise CSA box so far. Last week we received a ton of onions and bell peppers, which practically begged to be turned into fajitas! We picked up a couple portabello mushrooms at the store, and then were ready for a fantastic Mexican food night. I made salsa rice, I prepped the veggies, and then I thought to myself “hmmm . . . I wonder if we have enough tortillas.” We had two tortillas left. Considering I usually pack away 2-3 fajitas, we knew that this wasn’t going to work. Rather than run to the store, we went ahead and made our own flour tortillas; they were DELISH and super easy! We used Rick Bayless’ recipie, and it worked really well. So, you can figure out the veggies on your own – here is the vegan flour tortilla recipe!
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the tortillas
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening, (we used Earth Balance shortening)
3/4 teaspoon salt
about 3/4 cup very warm tap water
1. Make the dough. Combine the flour and shortening in a food processor. Pulse for 10-20 seconds until all the shortening is incorporated. Dissolve the salt in the water, pour about 2/3 cup of it over the dry ingredients and run the processor until the dough starts to clump. The dough will be in large clumps rather than a homogeneous mass. If all the dry ingredients haven’t been dampened, add the rest of the liquid (plus a little more, if necessary). Scoop the dough onto your work surface and knead until smooth. It should be medium-stiff consistency — definitely not firm, but not quite as soft as most bread dough either.
2. Rest the dough. Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each into a ball. Set them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes (to make the dough less springy, easier to roll).
3. Roll and griddle-bake the tortillas. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat. We used our cast-iron skillet.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough into an even 7-inch circle: Flatten a ball of dough, flour it, then roll forward and back across it; rotate a sixth of a turn and roll forward and back again; continue rotating and rolling until you reach a 7-inch circle, lightly flouring the tortilla and work surface from time to time.
Lay the tortilla on the hot griddle (you should hear a faint sizzle and see an almost immediate bubbling across the surface). After 30 to 45 seconds, when there are browned splotches underneath, flip it over. Bake 30 to 45 seconds more, until the other side is browned; don’t overbake the tortilla or it will become crisp. Remove and wrap in a cloth napkin placed in a tortilla warmer. Roll and griddle-bake the remaining tortillas in the same manner and stacking them one on top of the other.