Friday, December 19, 2008
Blah. I can't wait for 12:30.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
We are squinting because my ring is so shiny, obviously.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Last Friday I was scheduled (at the very, very last minute) to be observed as part of my formal "I'm a new teacher so I need to be observed several times each year to ensure that I'm not destroying the literary competancy of my students" obsesrvation. The only period available for observation? Fifth.
Here's the deal. My fifth period is kind of crazy. Like, monkeys in a banana factory crazy. They are loud and off-task and goofy and immature and generally pains in my rear. They are sweet kids but, good Lord, I would pay so much money to just get them to be quiet and let me teach.
So. Formal observation during fifth period. On a Friday. With only one day to prepare. Awesome. This is totally going to go so well.
So I cobbled together a lesson plan involving a reading quiz, a Think-Pair-Share activity, a worksheet about parallels and conrasts in Of Mice and Men, and some independent work time to let them get caught up in their reading packets.
I prayed for a fire drill. Or a real fire.
Friday rolled around and the kids came in from lunch, sat down, and did their opener - quietly. I passed out their quizzes and they took them - quietly. I collected the quizzes and reviewed the questions. Several students raised their hands to answer and the rest? They sat quietly. We started talking about parallels. I gave some real life examples, and then one or two obvious examples from the text that we have already discussed. I then asked them to think for a minute and write down one more parallel. When they were done, I told them they were going to share their parallels in pairs and then we were going to share them with the class (See? Think. Pair. Share.).
Surely, I thought, this will not go well. This activity will, as numerous activities before, instantly devolve into madness. I stood back and watched....
My students thought quietly for a moment. Then, they turned to their pairs and shared briefly. Then they all looked at me and waited for their turn to share with the class. And then they raised their hands to share! And they shared! We had an amazing discussion, everyone was engaged and participating, and no one spoke out of turn.
It was a little creepy.
When I gave them time for independent work, I reminded them about one page in their packet called the "Chronolog" which was designed to help them review the plot of the story. Victor raised his hand, "Is it in chronological order?"
"It is," I replied. "Does everyone remember what that means from the first week of school?"
And then, as though inspired by angels, the entire class chorused in unison, "The order that events happen in time!"
My post-observation conference was today, after I threatened to rip the gum out of a fifth period student's mouth if she blew another bubble while I tried to teach and made another student sit outside for the duration of the period because he couldn't just sit quietly while we watched the end of Of Mice and Men.
"You are doing an incredible job," my VP said. "I don't have a single recommendation for you."
Oh, come on.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Obama's speech... I don't have words for it. I am excited at the prospect of change. I do not think Obama has a magic bullet to fix all of American's problems, but I do believe that he desires to make positive change in our country and, as I told my students this morning, begin sewing up some of the gaping wounds from the last 8 years. We don't need a Band Aid, we need major surgery. I am disturbed by the tendancy that Obama opponents have to demonize our new leader just because he is different and represents change. How can anyone not realize that what we desperately need right now is change?
McCain ran a good race, but in the face of an economic crisis I believe that America is reluctant to trust another Republican. We saw this with the presidential race, but also with the House and Senate races. As one of my students pointed out, all the blame will fall on the Democrats if something goes wrong, but I don't know what else the Republicans could have done to secure this election when the Dems made such a concerted effort to turn the big swing states blue and McCain focused mainly on shoring up his own defenses. In the end, it just wasn't enough. When economics go south (especially as a result of a war that many do not support that was started by a Republican), it is hard to concede the leadership of our contry to another Republican. I believe that McCain did all that he could do, but the situation was against him. Do I think he would have won without the depression we are in right now? I'm not sure. But I do think it would have been a much closer electoral vote race.
So while I am proud to be an American today, I am disappointed to be a Californian. Although I'm not shocked at the Prop 8 ruling, it still makes me sad that, as many of my friends have already pointed out, right now we care more about the rights of farm animals than those of our actual citizens. How sad that we live in a state that can elect an African-American man as our president but cannot get past our own ignorance and close-mindedness to allow people to live their lives the way they choose to.
As a human being, I believe that we all deserve to be treated as equals. No one should have their basic rights as citizens taken away because of a lifestyle choice, because they are different. Who do we think we are to tell somone that because they are different from us, they deserve to be treated as "less?" It literally makes me sick to my stomach. Gay marriage is not about education, nor is it about religion. Gay marriage is about treating people like human beings, with the dignity and respect and fairness that, as human beings, we deserve.
As a Christian, I believe that we are instructed by Jesus, first and foremost, to love. I do not believe that it is my place to judge the lifestyle choices of someone else, nor do I believe that I have any right to tell someone that they are living their life incorrectly until I fix all of the junk that is in my own life. I think that we need to be a little more concerned with love and a lot less obsessed with legality. I cannot believe that Jesus would actually want me to tell someone that they are not good enough to share the same rights that I have just because they are living a lifestyle that is more openly taboo than some of the more private sins that I personally deal with. It's sometimes hard for me to wrap my liberal Christian mind around it, but in the end I always come down to love. Prop 8 passing has nothing to do with love and everything to do with ignorance and judgement. I am a sad Californian and a sad Christian.
I think Prop 8 is largely a generational issue and I do believe that in coming years we will start to see a definite shift.
There's more but.... I'll get off my soap box now.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Do you dream that the world will know your name?
So tell me your name
And do you care about all the little things,
Or anything at all?
Do you believe in the day that you were born?
Tell me do you believe?
Do you know that every day's the first
Of the rest of your life?
This is to one last day in the shadows
And to know a brother's love
This is to New York City angels
And the rivers of our blood
This is to all of us, to all of us.
-Thriving Ivory, "Angels on the Moon"
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Today I gave a mini-lecture about the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl to set the backdrop for Of Mice and Men. And they were rapt with attention. They were fascinated. About the Dust Bowl! They wanted to know about the stock market and why it crashed and what did people do if they didn't have money. "Where did the farmers in Oklahoma go, Miss G?" they asked. "What did they do when they couldn't farm their land anymore because of the drought?"
"They moved to California, young scholars. They moved to California and California said, 'We don't want you either. We don't have any money to pay you.' So they were kind of screwed."
"But then what? What happened? Where did they live?"
I slapped a picture of a Hooverville up on the overhead.
"Whoah. People lived there?"
And in one class: "Isn't that what happened in The Grapes of Wrath?"
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I would post the reply I wish I could have sent, but to be perfectly honest I am still too flabbergasted that she actually suggested this in the first place to even begin to form coherent thoughts.
My department chair wanted to know if the school was planning to pay me to teach our new teacher how to teach properly. Indeed.
Don't worry friends, I'm still 80% compatible with Obama and the Democrats will, as usual, be receiving my vote (and to be fair, McKinney used to be a member of the Democratic party).
The kids are benchmarking today. I'm getting so much done for once!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Yesterday AM I slept in, then walked up to a coffee shop, rocking out to my iPod in crazy blustery windy weather and planned for the next two weeks. Major breakthrough! I have really enjoyed having the time to really plan out what I will be doing in my classes far enough ahead of time that I don't feel like I'm running around like crazy at the last minute. Brian and I had lunch after his class and we headed out to ANOTHER coffee shop, where I made about a million worksheets (but it felt so good!). And then I cleaned out my closet, putting all my summery things in boxes and unpacking my sweaters and corduroy pants and fleecy PJs.
With my luck, it will be 90 degrees this week. Damn global warming.
This morning we started the Old Testament Challenge Part 2 at UCC with the book of Joshua. It was serious good times. Brian and I had a sweet talk on the drive home about the Old Testament and what I believe as far as, like, what the heck it all means. After some lunch, Brian and I did MORE grading/planning/worksheet making at Tupelo and then took a nap. Well, Brian took a nap. I may have done some more planning. I can't help it! Sometimes I just get so into what I'm going to be teaching that I just can't stop prepping! It's weird, I know.
And now, Brian is at Alpha at UCC. I have taken advantage of this glorious alone time by making a Carribean Chicken Stew and.... more worksheets. But really good ones!
- Beth H
- Katie S
- Katie G
- Beth M
And I'm sure there are more.
The number of ultrasounds on my Facebook friends page is simply astounding.
This would all be OK if my students would just stop telling me that if I don't hurry up and get married/pregnant, I'm going to dry up soon.
I mean, really.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
I think tomorrow we will finish our short stories and have a community circle day. I am behind in my grading, but can't really find it in myself to be too concerned about it.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
My job has been really hard lately and this week, for the first time since I started teaching, I actually didn't want to go to work. I realized yesterday afternoon though that I was allowing a select few students really ruin it for me, and that most of my kids are pretty awesome, even if they do drive me crazy and refuse to stop talking. Teaching in the Academy has been great because I have the support of three other teachers who are all having the same problems, but it also means we have a lot more meetings to deal with those problems and I feel like I am not getting enough prep/grading time most days.
It's frustrating, to say the least. Which is more critical - the management piece or the curriculum piece? Does the curriculum even matter if the management isn't there? Doesn't management kind of depend on keeping kids busy and thinking critically through well-planned curriculum? At the end of most days I feel like my head is about to explode.
And I'm still not getting enough sleep, but the main annoyance there is that I am too tired to go running when I get home and I'm feeling.... squishy.
This weather annoys me. 92 degrees? Still?
I am taking Brian to The Kitchen for his birthday next weekend. We're both really excited - me probably more than him because I've been dying to eat there for years. I think I'm also going to buy him a Carnivorous Desktop Plant Set. You know, because I can.
Brian and I have been talking about weddings lately, which actually does not terrify me for the first time in my entire life. I am rather taken with the idea of a late fall/early winter wedding, the colors evergreen, lavender, and shades of brown, the great outdoors and other rustic accents, a chuppa, a homemade cookie buffet, these seating "cards," and these invitations.
More to come - Brian and I are hitting the town tonight! (Mostly because this is the first Friday since school started that I haven't needed to take a nap)
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
To start, our freshman class this year is.... more trouble than usual. We seem to have a lot more gang-related activity than last year and behavior management (which I've never really struggled with) has been an issue for all of us in the Academy. We chalked this up to immature and squirel-y freshmen but... we were a little off.
On Tuesday afternoon, there was a gang-related shooting at Campbell Park. We stepped up security on Wednesday, especially after we received news of an assault at the continuation high school. On Thursday, there were two incidents during lunch that were quickly extinguished by our VPs and the heightened security on campus. Nonetheless, were concerned about the rally that we had scheduled for Friday.
On a completely un-gang-related note, two students were suspended (expulsion pending) for having a gun and brass knuckles on campus last week as well. So things have been feeling a little out of control lately.
On Friday morning, my students came into 1st period asking about the bomb threat. I told them that there had been no bomb threat, so settle down. Then they wanted to know if I knew about the hostage situation downtown. I didn't, but I quickly got on my computer to see if I could get some details. This was unrelated to our school, but still had the kids upset, and definitely added to the chaos later in the day.
During 1st period, I received an email that the rally we had scheduled for 4th period had been canceled because of rumors that "something" would be going down. It was probably nothing, but as a precautionary measure we postponed the rally to keep our kids safe. Half the school in the gym with limited means of escape if something were to actually happen? A bad idea.
My students were bummed and when second period came in we had a brief discussion about the events that had been going on in the community and whether they felt safe or not (they didn't, big surprise). Halfway through second period, it was announced over the PA system that we were going into a Code Yellow (precautionary) lock-down as a result of the hostage situation downtown. It was really because students had been texting each other that someone had a gun on campus (my students told me). Normally, we would have chalked that up to just rumors, but with everything that had been going on, we wanted to be safe.
About 45 minutes later, I received official word via email that there might indeed be a gun on campus. I had my Advanced kids and we played Sudoku and did crossword puzzles and ate Dum-Dums. I allowed them to call/text their parents because we were releasing students (escorted by security) to their parents if they came early to get them. About half of my kids ended up leaving early.
Meanwhile, the office pulled in and searched several students who they believed might be the main culprits, but found nothing except drugs (awesome). During this time, they also heard (through students again), that since we canceled the rally and were keeping the students in the buildings, there would be a drive-by after school. We decided to release the students early, building-by-building, starting at noon.
In the end, the remainder of my students got to go home around 12:30. I escorted them to the office, not allowing them to go to their lockers or any other parking lots, and monitored them to make sure they met up with their parents or walked down the block to their houses.
When we finally got all the kids off campus, we had a huge faculty meeting to debrief and, rightly so, be outraged. Our police officer liaison explained that there has been an increase in gang-related activity in the entire city because a large number of Nortenos who had been arrested several years ago have recently been paroled back into the community and they have been recruiting hard to increase their numbers. She also told us that, unless we started changing things soon, we were on our way to a school shooting.
The main problem we have is that it's almost impossible to expel students in our district. High expulsion numbers look bad so we put students on stipulated expulsions in which they are eventually allowed back onto campus if they behave. We also have teachers who get in the middle of fights, but don't know the names of the students who are fighting, so the kids don't get documented. We also have teachers who do not report students for dress code violations (color-related), because they are afraid of the repercussions from those students. I disagree with this wholeheartedly. First, the kids really don't care about the teachers and are not going to reciprocate if we send them to the office for wearing blue. Second, by letting them sit through a full day of classes out of dress code we are telling them that A) it's OK, we don't really care that much or B) they have more power than we do. And neither of those is true.
I have a lot of really strong feelings about what has been going on since school started, but mostly I'm angry that my students feel so unsafe that they can't learn and that I have been so busy policing these little 14-year-old boys who think they are hardcore that I haven't been able to focus on my teaching. I entertained the thought of quitting yesterday if I didn't see changed made at both the site and district level, but I think it's more important that I'm there and advocating for the 99% of my students who are kind, sweet, and hardworking.
But I can't make any promises for next year.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Speaking of 5th period, I just emailed myself new "Operating Instructions" for my benchmark English 9 classes. They are as follows:
1. Raise your hand and wait to be called on.
2. Be quiet when it is time to be quiet.
3. Stay in your seat at all times.
4. No arguing.
Seems simple but... you'd be surprised. My classes are a handful this year, made more difficult by the loss of class-size reduction, so I have 35 fourteen-year-olds in class at one time. After lunch, no less. Joyous.
I'm in the process of grading my Advanced 9 summer assignments. It's taking forever because literally every single student did the assignment. Grading takes a lot longer when everyone does their homework. Funny how that works.
All in all, though, it's shaping up to be an eventful year. I like my students and having all three levels of 9th grade English is a fun challenge. I also feel more productive, more organized, and way more on top of my game than I did last year. It helps that having two blind students forces me to stay a week ahead in my lesson planning so I don't get stuck without a worksheet in Braille at the last minute, although I've been spending too long after school getting things ready for the Braillists this week. I need to remedy that soon.
Also, I'm all moved into the new house in Sacramento, so now I have a new neighborhood to learn and a sunny yellow bedroom to organize.
Friday, August 15, 2008
- Phelps is 6'4", but has a 6'7" arm span
- His hands are the size of dinner plates
- His ankles, knees, shoulders, and elbows are double-jointed
- His size-14 feet are so flexible, he can lay flat on his back, arch his feet and curl his toes to touch the ground
- His legs are the length of a 6'-tall man, but his torso is the length of a man who is 6'8"
- He can burn up to 4,000 calories in a single workout
- His heart pumps 8 gallons of blood a minute - twice that of a normal 23-year-old man
- He swims nearly 50 miles a week during peak training phases
- He consumes nearly 4,000 calories per meal. And he doesn't cook. Ever.
- For breakfast, Phelps eats three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise, two cups of coffee, a five-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar and three chocolate-chip pancakes.
- For lunch, a pound of enriched pasta and two large ham and cheese sandwiches slathered with mayo on white bread and about 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.
- Finally, for dinner Phelps can put away another pound of pasta, a whole pizza, and another 1,000 calories in energy drinks.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I want to believe that I am above the iPhone. That I am not that materialistic and that my Nokia 6126 works just fine (it's only 7 months old!). But to be perfectly honest, I would give just about anything for an iPhone.
And what makes it worse is that I can afford it. I can totally afford it. There is nothing stopping me from making this purchase except the inevitable shame I will feel for succumbing to such a ridiculous piece of technology.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Brian and I are leaving in one week for a whirlwind tour of the west coast, starting in Davis, cruising down to Santa Cruz, and then heading all the way up to Oregon for the Shakespeare Festival and finally ending up in Medford for wine tasting before coming back to Sacramento to start teaching. I can't believe this summer is almost over! But I am also really looking forward to the coming school year, my new house in Sacramento, and not being a full-time or even part-time student!
Until I decide to post again, keep my dear friend Tammy, her husband Frank, and their brand new baby in your thoughts and prayers. Baby Sam was born 2 1/2 months early about a week and a half ago and, if the blog they are keeping to document his progress is any indication, he is a serious little fighter. Keep it up, Wartas! I love you all very much!
Monday, June 30, 2008
Jealousy and I first met in high school. She sat in front of me in fourth period Chemistry, her long perfectly blonde ponytail snaking down her back. Jealousy borrowed a pencil from my boyfriend and returned it at the end of the period with a sweet smile accompanied by a whiff of perfume. It suddenly became impossible to avoid her. She has stayed with me ever since that day - sometimes leading, sometimes following, but always close at hand.
Jealousy is fickle; a best friend on Thursday and a mortal enemy by the weekend. Her mood swings are unpredictable and volatile. It takes little to provoke her and much to calm her down. In the early stages of our relationship we would not speak for months only to become inseparable shortly thereafter. While green is the color most often associated with Jealousy, I know her as red - rash and aggresive.
Jealousy works at the coffee shop on the corner. The lattes she make have a distinctly bitter aftertaste, but for inexplicable reasons she remains the most popular barista there. She has also been known to frequent the park a block from work, the gym, the post office. She moonlights as a waitress at my favorite restaurant and I swear I saw her just last Tuesday in the lobby of my apartment building. She was wearing the same dress I wore out last weekend, but looked better in it.
Jealousy collects my sharpest memories and reveals them like treasures at parties and family gatherings, reveling in my discomfort. Jealousy loves to be the center of attention. She tends to repeat anecdotes that have the greatest impact, sometimes even years after the original hurt has passed. Opening up old wounds is her favorite parlour trick.
I've known her for years but I still don't know how to deal with Jealousy. I dread confronting her because she loves to argue, but if I try to ignore her, to push her to the back of my mind... well that's where all her strength comes from in the first place.
Friday, June 27, 2008
This week has been lazy (not that I'm complaining). I've passed the time with my writing class, cleaning my apartment, and doing yoga. It's been nice. My writing class has ended up being a pretty great experience. I thought I would spend the two weeks working on a few pieces that have sat unfinished on my computer since before I started my MA, but instead I've been playing with some new work and it's just been really fun. I've also never had other writers read and critique my work before and so while I was a little unnerving at first, it has been really helpful. I'm looking forward to next week and will be sad when it's over!
In addition to reconnecting with my writing, I've decided to get back into my music and theatre interests as well. Yesterday I had an audition at UCC and it looks like I'm the newest member of their contemporary service worship team, which is pretty fun. I also have a few auditions for musicals lined up in July and I think I'm going to start giving voice lessons to a few junior high girls in Davis. Fun stuff!
As promised, some pictures from Saturday's festivities with sorority girls:
Me, Aubrey, and Rach at Crepeville.
Something was funny...
I love these girls!
And I miss my big sis, but am so excited that she finally gets to move to NYC!
Later, I headed out to Annie's bridal shower, only to meet up with more ADX girls.
This picture took several takes, and unfortunately one of us looks bad in each one!
Stephanie and I recreated tender moments from the past.
And I made a new, 7-week-old friend. Don't tell Brian's mom, but I fell in love with him the moment I saw him and had a hard time giving him back to his mommy!
If you're a Davis-ite, come to UCC this Sunday to hear me sing! (and learn about Jesus too, of course.)
Sunday, June 22, 2008
We left Sacramento at 4pm on Saturday afternoon. Our flight was delayed because of mechanical issues (that didn't make me nervous or anything...) and we missed our connecting flight in Phoenix so... impromptu Phoenix vacation! Unfortunately, my camera was in my suitcase which was who knows where between Arizona and Colorado, so no pictures exist of our thrilling evening at the Clarion and the delicious dinner at On the Border that followed. We finally caught a flight out of Phoenix at 8:45 on Sunday morning and rented a car in Colorado, finally arriving at UCCS around noon. We had hoped to get Brian's computer checked in and then go to the zoo, but it turned out that he had to install Autodesk Inventor which takes like a billion hours, so I investigated Old Colorado City and Downtown Colorado Springs by myself until around 4. I then picked Brian up from the university and we went hiking in Garden of the Gods.
The next day it rained, so I lounged around and read a lot. We drove out to Seven Falls that evening and paid a lot of money to climb up a bunch of steps. It was too late to hike past the falls, which was a bummer, but the view from the falls was really pretty.
The view clearly inspired some romance...
Bridal Veil Falls was my favorite,
But leave it to Brian to be goofy:On Tuesday, I woke up early, slathered on the sunscreen, charged my digital camera, bought coffee, and headed out to the zoo!
I was excited, OK?
The giraffes were first (and really, my primary motivation for flying all the way to Colorado. I mean, besides Brian, of course):
I got to feed them - I was fascinated with their tongues:
There are about a million more pictures here. By the way, if you are as enamored with giraffes as I am, the zoo has a Live Giraffe Cam. Sweet! You can also adopt one! Awesome!
After I had my zoo fill, I drove to the top of Cheyenne Mountain to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun.
It was a GORGEOUS clear day, so the view of Colorado Springs from 8000 feet was pretty impressive. Little did I know that I would end up at a much higher elevation later in the week.
Brian and I did a longer hike in Garden of the Gods on another evening and maybe got a little lost... but I took the opportunity to take this sweet picture of my hot mountain man boyfriend:
Oh yeah, and the park is really pretty too:
As our week drew to a close, I decided to drive to the top of Pike's Peak (but not in a covered wagon).It took nearly an hour to drive the 19 miles to the top (14,110 feet!), but it was totally worth it. It was even snowing when I arrived at the summit! I stayed for a few minutes, took a few pictures, considered buying donuts (apparently they are world famous?), and then started the trek back down the mountain.
After I left the Pike National Forest, I stopped to take this picture of the Ute Pass:
It's now Highway 24, but historically the Ute Pass began as a bison trail that connected the prairie with the mountain meadows and then became a wagon road and in 1888 the Colorado Midland Railway put in tracks to service the mining operations in mountains to the west. And I drove on it!
For reasons completely unbeknownst to me, we flew home on a red eye on Friday night. No pictures exist of that glorious occasion, but I'll give you an idea of how I felt about it:
Yep. It was awesome. We found ourselves home in Sacramento at the delightful hour of 3am and then woke up at 7:45 for breakfast with Brian's parents and sister, just returning from their road trip through Oregon. A superbly long day followed, including sorority reunions, bridal showers, bathing suit shopping, gazpacho, and fighting with my apartment AC, but those are all stories that will wait for another day (hopefully when I have pictures).
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
While we would all like to earn more money, I think good teachers tend to be less motivated by financial incentives than people who go into most other professions. Someone who becomes an insurance agent, for example, probably has making a lot of money as an important goal. People who want to be good teachers don't think that way. They go into teaching because they want to work with kids and do something worthwhile. Quite frankly, the teachers I've known who have been most interested in higher salaries usually haven't been very good teachers. Some of them end up going into administration. -From the Trenches of Public Ed.Interesting...
Monday, June 09, 2008
Saturday, June 07, 2008
I would promise to be better but... you know me.
Friday, June 06, 2008
This is the first summer since I turned 13 that I am not working and it is amazing. I have so many fun trips and activities planned for the summer that I know it is going to just fly by, but I am looking forward to visiting some new places and spending time with good people. Here is my summer run-down:
- June 7-14: House sitting in Woodland. I am anticipating lots of reading, running with the dogs, and working out. Woot! Also, I am offering Nick cooking lessons in exchange for guitar lessons. Sneaky, I know.
- June 14-20: Colorado Springs with Brian. He will be attending an Engineering Conference while I hike, mountain bike, and feed the giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo!
- June 23-July 3: Area 3 Writing Project Summer Writing Workshop for Teachers. My district is paying for me to take this awesome class where all I have to do is write and revise my own writing for two weeks. Hooray!
- July 4-6: Lindy doesn't know it yet, but we are going to have a fabulous girls' weekend, hopefully complete with wine, pedicures, and sunbathing :)
- July 7-11: AVID Summer Institute with Scott, Katie, and Riki. Fabulous! I am actually getting paid to hang out with my favorite colleagues and learn how to teacher better!
- July 11-18: Maui with the parents. Gotta love a week of free pool-side lounging!
- July 19: Annie and Colby's wedding in Clarksburg!
- July 20-25: I haven't decided if I'm going yet, but the district is offering to pay for me to attend a 40-hour training for HOLT materials which will not only train me on how to make my teaching more accessible to all students, but might actually give me enough professional development hours to bump me up another step on the pay scale!
- July 26: Jessica and Robbie's wedding in Newcastle!
- August 7-9: Oregon Shakespeare Festival with Brian in Ashland! 3 plays in 3 days!
And then school starts on August 20! It looks busy, but it's probably better that way. Without any structure to my 2.5 months off, I am in danger of sleeping until noon every day, drinking nothing but coffee, getting sunburned on a daily basis, and shopping too much (not that any of those are horrible things)!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Again: so freaking happy I could just about cry.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
First year is now over for BTSA. You seem like a wonderful teacher and we are lucky to have you in the District! By the way, I was raised a bit different than many by a wonderful grandfather, but I must pay a compliment when they are due. You are a beautiful woman!!! My grandfather is a smooozer! Please don't think of me weird, just a compliment to you!
The good news is that BTSA is over and there are only 11 days of class left!
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
Graduating from junior high school and making the "big decision:" high school soccer or basketball? Yikes!
2) What are five things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
Well, today is basically over, but my non-teaching to-do list for tomorrow includes:
1. Dinner with Erica
2. Read Markus Zuzak's The Book Theif
3. Buy bananas
4. Celebrate with Brian because he got a job today at the California Aerospace Academy!
5. A run. Maybe?
3) Snacks I enjoy:
Yogurt. Apples. Dark chocolate.
4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Continue teaching. But for free :)
5) Three of my bad habits:
1. I still bite my nails when I'm nervous
2. I don't pay attention to people's names when I first meet them so I forget them almost immediately. For example, I cannot, for the life of me, remember Brian's mom's name, but I'm too embarassed to ask him what it is because I've met her and I should know these things.
3. I hate cleaning my bathroom.
6) Five places I have lived:
Los Altos, CA
7) Five jobs I have had:
Meat department person for my dad
Receptionist at a mortuary (no joke)
Youth Program Assistant Director at COTW
Curriculum Development Assistant at the Mondavi Center
Teacher (my favorite!)
8) Six peeps I wanna know more about:
Peeps? Like the kind they sell around Easter that you can make explode in the microwave?
Friday, April 25, 2008
I'll boil it down to this: My life has finally stabilized. And not stabilized in the sense that for the last two years everything has been really up in the air and it has all finally settled down with the completion of graduate school, but stabilized in the sense that life has finally settled down, period. For the first time I feel like I have actually arrived at something that might actually resemble my future. I received a stellar education, have a fantastic job, am dating the most incredible man in the world, and I'm happy.
And again, not happy in the sense of like, yay I have a job and a boyfriend, but happy in the sense that I am doing what I love and what I want to do for my whole life and have found the person that I want to spend that whole life with. For serious.
My life has always just felt like getting over one hurdle after another, always anticipating what was coming next and knowing that something else was always coming next. I finished high school and looked ahead to college. I finished college and looked ahead to student teaching, I finished student teaching and looked ahead to graduate school. And now I'm done with graduate school and I have a career. Like, this isn't going to change in a year because I'm moving or because I'm graduating or because I get into university. I'm a teacher. It's my job and I love it and I'm not leaving.
I'm still not quite used to it. I still feel a little bit like a kid, or at least an undergrad. But I'm 24. 24! I have my own health insurance and I pay my own rent and when my car breaks down, well crap, I have to take care of it. But it's life now. My life. Not the life I live with the generous aid of my parents. Not the life I live while I'm figuring out what to do with my future. My own, real life. And it's good.
Sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve it all, but I figure I'd better not push my luck.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Friday, April 04, 2008
Today is the last day of school before spring break. It is finally here! All of my classes (except for EL) are watching "Ferris Beuller's Day Off" (ha!) so I can catch up on grading before leaving for LA. I am so excited for this spring break and can't wait to spend time with my uncle and see Stephanie and Kevin and read the stack of books that I have been accumulating ever since buying my plane tickets.
Yesterday I attended an IEP meeting for a particularly difficult case. The student himself is very well-behaved and works hard in my class, but his learning difficulties are great and I know it's a struggle for him. I recieved this email from his mom today (student name has been changed, of course):
Hello Megan I wanted to make sure to send you a quick note prior to you’re
leaving on break. In preparing for the IEP meeting, Chris and I talked
about the questions the team would ask us. When I asked him what was his
favorite class I was surprised for him to say English. I would have guessed PE
or ART (smiles). Chris has never liked to read or write and I am so pleased to
hear he is reading aloud in class. Kudos to you, on making your class
enjoyable as well as a great learning environment for the students. Chris
and I also discussed he has learned more this year than the previous two or
three years in your class. Going to school to get your masters and keeping
up with all of your classes I know is very challenging and I wanted you to know
that I truly appreciate your efforts and support.
After being sexually harrassed by a different student yesterday (a story that will have to wait for another day because I'm still too upset to really discuss it), that was a nice note to get. It's important to be reminded why I love my job so much, especially as we near the end of the year.
This afternoon I'm getting my hair cut (yay!) and then attending the cast party for the children's musical (aww). Then tomorrow I'm meeting Brian's parents for lunch (yikes!) and then flying to LA (hooray!). Lots of exciting things ahead, including my 24th birthday in a mere 15 days!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I almost fell over, I laughed so hard. Completely unprompted! Thanks, Dalia. :)
Then, after school, Francisco came into my room to pick up his skateboard like he does every day. As he was leaving with his friend he says:
"Oh, Miss G. I forgot to ask you - how was your soccer game last night?"
"It was alright," I told him. "We played pretty well, but just totally fell apart in the last three minutes and ended up losing-"
"Miss G doesn't play soccer," his friend (who is not one of my students) interrupted.
"Yes she does!" Francisco insisted.
"Dude, she totally does! She plays every Monday night. She even played in high school, right Miss G?"
"That is correct."
"Dude, yeah. Miss G is a savage. She's like the coolest English teacher here."
I love my job. Love, love, love it.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Brian informs me that I probably could have paid someone to do this for me, but where's the sense of fulfillment and accomplishment in that, really?
In other news, Romeo & Juliet is going swimmingly with my freshmen (better than last year - practice makes perfect!) and there is, apparently, an "unplanned" Senior Ditch Day on Friday, so I may get an extra free period. And this weekend is my last graduate class, as well as the Children's Musical Performance and Nick's fire academy fundraiser. Joy!
Monday, March 03, 2008
Days until my MA Exit Interview: 19
Days until Spring Break: 34
Days until my birthday: 48
We were told to put a big X through February so that we could adequately focus on our thesis and to tell our friends and fmaily that we would see them again in March. Well, March has arrived and with it the beautiful weather and all sorts of free time that I can't remember having since March of 2006. Maybe I can finally focus on me again. That would be a nice change. I feel like I've climbed Everest. Or given birth. Or lived through a tsunami. Or something.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
1. Slept in until 10. Glorious!
2. Had coffee with Brian at Peet's and sat in the beautiful sunshine and watched puppies and talked about going camping and did not once mention my thesis
3. Photocopied my handouts and cruised onto campus 10 minutes early.
4. Presented like a pro and now I'm done!
The really, really, really cool thing is something that Steve told me when I was done with my presentation. Let me preface this by saying that I was really scared of presenting for Steve because I never had him as a professor and I have heard that he is really tough on MA candidates. Plus, Steve is like a master teacher researcher. He has done tons of his own research, he reviews research literature, and is the School of Ed's PhD. chair. When you need research, you call Steve and he's your best friend. When you present with inadequate research, Steve becomes your worst enemy.
He frightens me and I was scared he would say my research was crap.
Instead, he told me that it was a pleasure to get to know me and my work and that he thought it was so great that, get this, I had done something with vocabulary research that he had never seen before!
There's tons more, but for now... Celebrate!
Friday, February 29, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
There are only 4 days until Symposium and I am totally freaking out, even though Brian has promised that we will spend this evening working, grading, and planning since he is equally freaking out about, well, just teaching in general. I am trying to assure him that he is a fantastic teacher, but my assurance-ability seems to be a little wonky since I need so much assurance myself that I am going to do well this weekend at Symposium. Dear God, please just let this program be over!
I haven't talked about Brian at all because it's sort of a delicate subject and I'm not 100% sure how to even start talking about it, but it will just have to wait until later because my ELs are almost finished with SSR (I may or may not have let them read for an extra 10 minutes today. Shhh) and I actually have to teach something to them before lunch.
Despite all the freaking out, I could not be happier about sunny weather and red patent flats and skirts (even though my shins are still badly bruised from last Monday's game). I am trying to remind myself that, compared to actually writing my thesis, Symposium is not that big of a deal. But because it represents closure and I so desperately need closure on this whole experience it is still making me really nervous. I must finish my slides tonight. Why have I put this off until today? Gah!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I am bruised and battered from last night's soccer game and limping around on a twisted ankle. BTSA is tonight (blech) and I am already busy every evening this week. I'm getting more tired just thinking about it. Hopefully this weekend will consist of going back to the Bay, finishing my research presentation, and a visit to the MOMA. There is a new exhibit that I've been really wanting to see, and it will be a nice break from all the work I've been doing.
I have some revisions left to complete for the thesis, but by and large I'm done and that's a beautiful feeling. I sort of have all this time now to do things like cook, work out, grade papers, go on dates, and prep for my classes. It's amazing how much less anxiety I feel now that all the major writing is out of the way. I can't really believe that I've done it, that I've spent the last six months working on 150 pages of research and now I'm done and will be given a Master's degree. I still have a difficult time believing that they let me graduate from college, let alone have my own classroom and now get a graduate degree. Am I really an adult now? Is that what all this means? Do they know who they are dealing with here? Yikes.
And holy crap, I just got an email from Elk Grove asking for an interview for the upcoming school year. I repeat: Holy. Crap.
Quote o' the Day: "I can't decide what color your eyes are. They're like... green, and blue, and brown. Kind of like looking at the Earth. Ha! Bet you've never heard that one before."
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
About halfway through this arduous year, I began to wonder what exactly I had gotten myself into. Between EL curriculum piloting, BTSA, lesson-planning, and adjusting to their first classroom, what self-respecting first-year high school teacher decides to conduct teacher research and write a thesis anyway? I used the excuse, “But I like research” whenever anyone asked why I decided to continue into this final year of graduate study, but let’s be honest – that was a bold-faced lie, or at least it was at first. I made it through four years of undergraduate work with what was inside my head, and that alone. I prided myself on being able to think critically and not rely on anyone else’s ideas to inform my academic decision-making. This experience, however, has taught me that I must inform my teaching with the findings of expert practitioners, that everything I have done this year has been supported by research that other people have done – we do not teach in isolation and it would be foolish to try to do so.
I have lived and breathed this research for the past six months and I’m sure my family and friends will be glad to see me finish. They will be proud of me, yes, but they will also be glad to have me back. As a goal-oriented individual, I have lost sleep and a bit of myself in the completion of this thesis. I simply could not let it rest until it was done. Vocabulary squares littered the backseat of my car just as much as the importance of cognates for non-native speakers littered my conversations with everyone from my roommate to my little brother to the barista who makes my latte at Peet’s every Friday morning. I lamented that I had forgotten who I was and what I loved in the wake of this research until I realized that this is who I am and what I love. I have become close to my research because it is meaningful to me and it helps me remember why I became a teacher in the first place.
I love English, but I love my students more and it hurt me to see them struggling. My closeness to my research was borne out of a deeply rooted desire to see my ninth graders succeed in something they thought was impossible. I am proud of myself for making it through this year, but I am even more proud of my students who began making connections to words they had heard in other classrooms and in other languages and who learned how to construct truly meaningful sentences out of words that at first made them say, “This sucks, Miss G!”
I learned that I can do this, whatever “this” might be. For the first time, school was actually hard for me, and I made it through with relatively little incident. Amazingly, this has been the hardest section of the paper to write. How do I conclude a year of academic research? What should my final thought be? I am more exhausted than I was a year ago, but I am also more experienced, more informed, and more ready for whatever comes next. I’ll go against every fiber of teacher-researcher in me when I say that I suppose it’s not necessarily about the outcome at all, but everything that happens along the way.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I found a great article this morning about Georgia schools paying their students to study so I've been asking my students to read it and journal about it and we've been having the best discussions. They actually are critical thinkers, they just only want to think critically about certain things! Sometimes that's hard for me to remember when I read some of their superficial, shallow, mindless writing. Today has been a nice break from the norm. We'll see how sixth period does.
I realized yesterday how much better my classes (sixth period especially) are doing. I gave out my first referral of second semester yesterday during sixth to a student that just transferred into my class. As his behavior was ramping up, leading to the referral, the other students started shooting him looks and whispering "Stop. You need to stop. She'll kick you out. You have to be good in this class."
It's not that my students are afraid of me, I think, it's just that I have made my expectations clear for their work and their behavior and they know there are clear and consistent consequences for their actions. My new students don't know that yet and are pushing my limits to see how much I'll tolerate (not much, as they will soon learn). The best part of it all is that I don't even have to tell them to stop - the other students do it for me! They don't like to see me upset anymore than I like getting upset.
Teaching has gotten easier and easier this year and I feel really confident about myself as an educator and a role model for my students. One of my EL's is writing his firsthand biographical essay about me, and was trying to describe why I'm not like other teachers in his broken English. I think what he finally concluded was that I'm "different" because I "sit on the tables" (don't tell the administration!) and I talk to them about what they did over the weekend and what TV shows they watch and, basically, treat them like real people.
My biggest problem with working in a big school, incidentally, is that I don't feel like the students are treated like real people - they're numbers. It doesn't help that we're in Program Improvement and in danger of getting some funding cut. I don't want my kids to be successful so my numbers look good - I just don't care about that. I want them to do well because they're learning and because they are getting excited about something and... I just don't feel like that is highly valued because that takes time and the numbers can't wait for the time I need to accomplish that kind of success with a lot of my students.
I have a "date" tomorrow night which is pretty exciting. It feels nice to have something other than finishing my thesis to look forward to. :)
Monday, January 28, 2008
Ringing like a bell
Tell me this is paradise
And not someplace I fell
'Cause I keep on fallin' down
Just push me 'til I have to fly
I've shed my skin, my scars
Take me deep out past the lights
Where nothing dims these stars
Nothing dims these stars
I wanna let go and know
That I'll be alright, alright
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Although with as often as I talk about my thesis, I might as well take pictures of that and post it on my Facebook. I guess it's sort of taken on a life of its own at this point... I kind of feel like I'm in labor. A long, painful, 20-week long labor.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Last night my mom made me watch The Notebook with her and I almost vomitted from the sappiness. Is the book just as ridiculous and predictable? And I wonder, Is it that I don't believe in love like that period or I just don't believe it will happen to me? It made me feel terribly depressed and wonderfully self-sufficient at the same time. Whatever the case, I started rereading The Time Traveller's Wife (for the 4th? 5th? 63rd time?) last night, which is far more my style anyhow. It helps me believe that supremely disfunctional people are destined for great things and great love and it also makes me want to quit my job and move to Chicago and become a librarian at the Newberry.
No matter. Data triangulation, ahoy!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Today I told myself, "I will come home from church and do my writing and make graphs!" but all I've accomplished so far is assembling the bookcase from yesterday and writing this blog.
Gah! Let it be March already!