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.