Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Going Back: The First Day With Students

Yesterday was my first required day back, though I had been going in sporadically for the last couple of weeks to make sure my classroom was in order, to plan, and to generally brace myself for the gargantuan transition that is the start of the school year. Except for the occasional musical phrase that escaped an open door as teachers rocked out to in their own classrooms stapling up bulletin board paper, arranging desks, and sprucing up the stale summer classroom atmosphere, the school was quiet yesterday. It held its breath.

Yesterday about 60 teachers and 25 or so administrators, office staff, and custodians populated the campus.

Today, approximately 1300 teenagers joined us.

It's awe inspiring how a school seems to expand, like a balloon, when full of high school students. Everything is bigger, louder, more important, funnier, more amplified.

Today was a good day.

In the few minutes my rear made contact with a chair today, I scarfed down a lunch of plain yogurt mixed with chopped, juicy-ripe peaches and I crunched on slender raw green beans. Yogurt with fruit or jam is my go-to work lunch, as it doesn't leave me exhausted when I still have hours left to perform, but it gives me enough energy to get through the afternoon. Also, it is a breeze to put together the night before work.

Does it get redundant? Yes. Do I care about the redundancy? Usually not, but I am hoping to mix it up this year with other simple lunch possibilities, so I'm looking for your ideas. A work lunch for me has to have the following qualities:

1) It must have at least a little protein.
2) It must be very quick to put together in the evening (or morning, when I'm forgetful).
3) It must be relatively "light"--not heavy on anything that would slow me down for the rest of the day.

Any suggestions? I make no guarantee to actually eat the lunch you suggest, for I have been known to completely forget to eat my lunch when I'm running around between meetings or helping a student with an essay; however, I'll do my best to put it together and remember to bring it to school.


Anonymous said...

Let me think a little bit about lunch ideas for you. But in the meantime, let me thank you for your story of the first day of school. I taught for a number of years. That first day is filled with excitement and promise, as you have so simply and eloquently captured here. I'm glad there are teachers like you on duty.

Wendy said...

A lovely post. :)
Afraid I don't have any lunch suggestions for you. I make soup on a Sunday evening and have that or leftovers for my lunches. It's usually a hearty lunch too. Always famished by 1pm!

Anonymous said...

Here's one lunch thought: Peanut butter and a sprinkling of raisins on some whole grain bread--or on the wonderfully satisfying new Light Multi Grain Thomas English Muffins. The peanut butter has protein and the good kind of fats, and the bread [or muffin] has fiber--together, they'll stick with you through the afternoon, in addition to being just plain good for you. And the raisins add a nice touch of sweetness.

westie said...

Hi Christina, I enjoyed your first day of school, thanks for sharing.
I live and work here in so. cal and very rarely get to sit down, let alone enjoy a meal. I found that if I pack several small snacks that it helps. For instance today - baggie full of baby carrots / banana / nectorine / baggie full of cashews (trader joes) / and container of left over soup from dinner.

I snack throughout the day when I feel hungry (usually 5-10 minute breaks).

I love to cook and will think on some healthy lunch choices to suggest.

best regards, "westie"

Christina said...

Terry: I always forget about peanut butter, and I sure do love the stuff. I think I'll try this idea in the upcoming week, spread on some homemade oat bread. Yum. That sounds like a very, very good lunch.

Wendy: It isn't that I'm not hungry at lunchtime; instead, it is just that if I eat a hearty meal, I'm down and out for the count, especially since my quiet conference period is immediately after lunch, and I have to be able to work during that time. The soup is a good idea come winter though--perhaps a good veggie soup with some beans or other good protein.

Westie: Thanks for the compliments! The snack bags are a good idea, as are the nuts. I always forget the wonder of nuts, how just a few of them are so satisfying. Thanks for the suggestion!

Grover20 said...

I'm a big fan of stocking a few protein options at school... jar of peanut butter (or sometimes almond butter which is wonderful on bananas), some nuts, etc. I also have started bringing a bag of prewashed lettuce and salad dressing on Monday and storing in the school fridge, then each morning I bring some cooked chicken, nuts, cheese, etc in a tuperwear to toss with my lettuce each day at school. I also often keep a tuperwear of rice crackers to mix and match with cheese, peanut butter, etc.

Anonymous said...

Tossing cubed chicken with feta, lemon juice, olives, olive oil, s & p, mint, oregano, cucumbers, and possibly bell peppers is surprisingly fulfilling. And a large batch will last for a few days. I eat it plain, as a sandwich, or over lettuce.

And nice post... Ahhh... the first day of school evokes so many memories. :)

Laurie said...

Just found your blog because it's blog day. I'll be back too. Throw in some almonds. They always seem to help. Personally, I like a little crunch. It's satisfying. Maybe raisins too.

Julianna said...

Here are a few things I often bring for easy lunches:
veggies and hummus
cottage cheese (2%) with either fruit or cut up veggies and some pepper
Wasa crispbreads and thin slices of lowfat cheese (trader joe's has several good kinds)
And, even though it's smelly, a pouch of water packed tuna is very versatile and very filing.

Christina said...

Grover20: I love all these ideas. I keep forgetting about the fact that I have a refrigerator at my disposal, and I can keep food for the week in it! I'm a huge fan of peanut butter, but I've never had almond butter--I'm definitely going to have to give it a try!

Nina: What a great-sounding recipe! Thanks for the yummy suggestion.

Laurie M: I'm so glad you stopped by and look forward to seeing you around A Thinking Stomach again. Keeping almonds around is a great idea.

Julianna: I always forget about tuna--thank you for reminding me. I can stock my cabinet at work with some of these non-perishables and keep other items in the refrigerator. Great idea!

Erin S. said...

I know I'm a bit late with this comment, but i'm struggling with the same thing as I head back to grad school--particularly b/c I'm trying to be as cheap as possible and I'm often on campus until early evening.

Anyway, I'm a fan of making a big grain-based salad on Sunday night and parceling it out in individual containers for the week--you could do barley, couscous, wheatberries, etc and then mix in whatever veggies you like, a few nuts, a bit of cheese and a vinaigrette of your choice. Though my basic formula stays the same, I can entertain myself with new "mix ins" every time.

Christina said...

Erin: Great idea! The grain salad is a wonderful, easy idea that allows for quite a bit of variation. I did something similar with lentils this week. Next week, I'll use grains.

Thanks for the inspiration everybody!