a girl and her boy

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Tag Archives: reflections

This post is brought to you by…

…my home internet connection! I’m back online!

After being mostly off-line for a month, it’s nice being back, but I can see myself missing the distraction-less existence I had been living in until today. It’s odd how accustomed we can get to an alternate state of being in such a short time, especially one so alien to a digital-native like me.

I was thinking about my technology experience last night as Allan and I were talking about the generations and their traits. For instance, Generation X is generally those born between 1965 and 1979 and have experienced (as a generation) the Challenger explosion, the Iran-Contra conflict, social malaise, Reaganomics, AIDS, the safe sex movement, and single-parent families as the baby boomers began to experience family strife. And Generation Y is generally those born between 1980 and 2001 and have experienced the rise of the internet, September 11, cultural diverstiy, and two Iraq wars. I’m definitely a Generation Y’er. My students are … something else. They are not only digital natives, they are pretty close to cyborgs.

In relation to this, Allan and I were talking about our first home computers, our introduction to the online world, and how different it is for the new generation that is currently unnamed. When I was in fifth grade, my family purchased our first home computer, a Tandy, and this began my migration to the internet. I was young enough that I consider myself a digital native, whereas some people a few years ahead of me are digital immigrants. Even some of my peers were digital immigrants. I was one of the first among my peers to have my own email address (not a family address or using my parents). I remember what it was, too: ozma20@juno.com. And eventually it became ozma20@hotmail.com and various other addresses through the years as my personality, interests, and contacts changed. I remember when listservs were actually informative and a link to the world outside my doorstep.

And now, nearly 15 years later, my digital acumen increased with the technology and tools. I’m a hip blogger, Googler, social networking user, and instant messenger. It’s like I’m plugged in to the internet.

All of a sudden, I was cut off from that world for a month.

I went through withdrawal for a week, whining about not having access to my email, my social networking sites, my book lovers’ sites, and instant messenger. And then, a strange thing happened. I suddenly didn’t miss it so much anymore. I focused in on my curriculum planning and churned out document after informative document, read five books, and spent more time outside running, picking berries, and taking long leisurely walks. I spent more time in the kitchen trying out recipes. I spent time drawing, something I hadn’t done in three years.

And now that I have the internet back, I’m going through withdrawal again. I’ve spent the last four hours today, nearly five, getting reacquainted with the digital world. And you know what, I didn’t miss it as much as I thought. Sure, I certainly appreciate having access to my email, being able to post on my blog, being able to check for updates to blogs I read, and being able to do instant research; I don’t miss the time being online absorbs from my life and how I often have no idea what I’ve actually accomplished in a day. I think I’m ready, after all these years, to strike a healthy balance between digital and real life.

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Reflections and Decisions

The last two days have swallowed me whole emotionally speaking. All the stress that has been building up from being separated from Allan, from my first year of teaching, from being sick for a month, and dealing with huge snow storm after huge snow storm broke yesterday when I was out to lunch with some colleagues from the Master of Arts in Teaching program at UMaine. We were checking in over sandwiches at Harvest Moon in Orono, and when it came to me, I spilled all the troubles I’ve bottled up for months and nearly started sobbing on the spot. It was not fun. And then, of course, I was very confused about everything in life: my career, my relationship, my current trajectory in life, all of it. I was ready to cash in my chips and quit. But I didn’t.

After lunch, I went to Fiberphilia and got in some fiber therapy. I caressed the Noro and dreamed of the Rowan. And I swooned over the alpaca silk. Then I sat down in the sun room, with The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, flipped through, and spilled my troubles all over again. This is the first time I’ve talked out all my current stresses and it happened twice in one day. And both times, my listener(s) were wonderful, caring, and supportive.

I have to say that knitting is what has kept me sane and alive all these years, and especially in my current situation. I had a very troubled childhood and I knit my way through it. And now, with my current challenges, I’m finding the same strength through knitting. It allows me an opportunity to achieve a zen-like state, meditate on my troubles, and find a solution. The one I’ve come to is this: be patient, be firm, stay where I am.

My relationship is wonderful. I was shaken simply because my past has not given me experience with solidity. Whenever things have been shaken up everything, literally everything, changes. My friends, my living situation, my occupations (outside of knitting and reading), and at times, my personality. And now, I have this firm foundation in Allan, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I was very confused. But through journaling and meditation, I’ve come to realize that I have everything I need and want. I just need to learn to trust the stability.

I will stick with my school and with teaching; the school through the end of the year, and teaching for at least five years. After that? Who knows.

I’ve done so much thinking and journaling while trying to figure out how I feel and what I want. I keep breaking it down to the following:

  • I want to be loved.
  • I want to love.
  • I want to be in a stable relationship.
  • I want to be in a stable living situation.
  • I want to be able to express my creativity freely.
  • I want to be able to explore the capabilities of my body through exercise.
  • Some day I want to either own or participate in a tea house/fiber store/book nook.
  • I will make changes if I ever find myself truly unhappy in my living situation.

All of these things are possible and/or present within my current relationship and life trajectory. I’ve found more peace than I’ve had in several months after realizing this. I am content despite the daily challenges of a temporary long-distance relationship and a difficult career.

Irish Sharfik

This is not the most flattering picture of the Irish Sharfik, but its the best one I’ll have for a long time. One of the things I dislike about living alone is that there is no one to help out with photo shoots. I may attempt some shots of the scarf outside tomorrow if I get out of work early enough.

I really enjoyed creating this scarf. It has so many memories knit into it. I have the memory of Katherine and when she presented the yarn to me at Governor’s after breakfast. The memory of hand winding that huge skein and knocking a glass of chocolate milk of the shelf and onto my books. The memory of knitting this on the plane to and from Florida this past holidays vacation. The memory of all the people who commented on it in the airport in Orlando. The memory of knitting to sooth my stress at work during lunch. The memory of finishing the scarf at my fiance’s new home in Orono this past weekend and smelling the chicken soup he made for me. I love knitting because each item has these kinds of memories attached. Knitting is not a solitary act. Nor does it stand alone. Knitting holds life together.

Reflections on Teaching

My first quarter as a teacher has drawn to a close and my grades were submitted today at 10 am. At this juncture, I think it is important to reflect on the things I am proud of, the things I’m not proud of, the lessons I’ve learned, and the skills I have as a result of this experience.

First of all, it wasn’t as hard as I thought to step into the position at the beginning of the second quarter. The teacher in the position before me resigned his position after some legal trouble and the students had a long-term sub for the intervening weeks. The faculty and staff welcomed me with open arms and made me an instant “insider”. In particular, several teachers have gone out of their way to welcome me to the school and to make my transition as a new teacher easier. They have become my friends, my mentors, and my confidants. I thank them sincerely for their time and anecdotes. I couldn’t have done it without them. In particular, the teacher I share a room with (both of our desks are in the same room) has been immeasurably helpful. He put up with all of my questions as to the day-to-day running of the school, the finer points of the grading software, and many other questions regarding the climate and procedures in the school. He is my hero.

I’m proud that I was able to keep my spirits up during the quarter despite the difficulties. I walked into the position the first day of quarter two with no preparatory time. I had to familiarize myself with the school, students and material simultaneously while jumping right into it. Luckily, the long-term sub stayed on that first week and helped make that transition easier. (Thank you, Michelle!) I put in 18 hour days my first two weeks and it paid off by making the rest of the quarter easier.

I’m also proud of the connections I’ve made with the students. I have a regular gaggle of students frequent my classroom just to say hi or to talk over some new development in life. I had several students write me letters revealing some things that I don’t know that I’d be brave enough to share when I was in high school. The students know that they can talk to me about anything without me judging them or treating them differently for it. I allow them to be a different person each day when they walk in the door.

I’m also proud of the methods of differentiation I used this quarter. Some of the projects worked. Some didn’t. But I differentiated and the students “got it”. I’m thinking primarily of my two Mythology courses. My two junior courses have been much bumpier.

I’m not proud of how things worked out at first in Prep 11. I didn’t do anything very interesting with the material that came out of the textbook. And it was first thing in the morning. I lost them and it took me the whole quarter to gain their trust in my skills as a teacher. We’re doing things differently right now, but there are definitely some kinks in the system still.

I’ve learned to be confident in myself and my knowledge. I have also gained confidence in teaching in my style. When I first started, I was so concerned with the expectations of me as a teacher that I didn’t do things my way at first. It took me a few weeks to figure out just how much room I had for creativity and experimentation. Things are much different now and the students are starting to respond.

I’m sure I’ll post an addendum to this entry later on when I think of more to say. Until then, this is what I’ve learned second quarter.