a girl and her boy

. daily life : wool obsession : bibliomania : living on purpose .

Tag Archives: teaching

Real quick…

So, I made my “big” post of the day this morning, but I wanted to share a few experiences and thoughts from the day.

career thoughts

I’ve been working steadily on updating my teaching portfolio and resume for the coming school year. I’m really excited to step back into a classroom! While I’m hoping and praying for a teaching position this fall, I’m also looking at the Boston Teacher Residency program, a part of the Urban Teacher Residency national program. Gabe loves living in a city, and I don’t mind it, so I think going into a program that specializes in urban education, and provides dual licensure in SPED or ESL is on deck. Plus, in this economy, it would be foolish to put all my hopes on a regular classroom position. I’m looking into alternative routes to restarting my career. The program is a 3-year commitment. Through this program, I would earn the following:

  • Master’s degree from UMass Boston (MA #2 on deck?)
  • MA Initial Teacher License and dual licensure in SPED or ESL (this would be sweet!)
  • $11,800 stipend for living expenses (currently earning $0)
  • AmeriCorps Education Award for those eligible (need to figure out what this is)

I already have a MA degree, but getting a stipend, a dual licensure, networking in the Boston schools, and forgiveness of one-third of the program for each year I work in the system after would be well worth the time. I’m going to attend an information session at the beginning of February to learn more.

Alternately, I’m thinking about the Teach for America program. I know some people who have completed that program with great success following.

What do you think?


health thoughts

Stupid cold germs! Gabe was sick all last week with a cold and today it caught up with me. I didn’t notice it until about an hour ago when I woke up from an impromptu nap with a congested chest and nose. The last time I got viral/germ sick, I had to take a z-pack and get chest x-rays. Got to love asthma and allergies during cold season; every cold could be a knock-down drag out fight for health.

Further, I fell off the grain-free path today. I had a handful of gluten-free grain chips. Boy am I feeling it! My abdomen hates me right now. What better motivation to stay on the straight-and-narrow is there?

Other than the cold and abdominal discomfort, all is well. I’m going back to tweaking resumes and online teaching positions database profiles. I use School Spring and Teachers-Teachers, in addition to scouring Craigslist, Monster, and individual district/school websites. Do you teach? Are you applying for positions? What national or local databases do you use?

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I feel good! Wa-hoo!

I did not anticipate my Internet access cutting out for several days when I decided to blog every day. Oy! Whelp, we’ll just go on from here.

I’ve been feeling better lately. Much better.

Read more of this post

Dreaming in Color.

I ❤ Autumn.

I’ve knit four feet on Gabe’s scarf. The colors are intoxicating. Why don’t we weave more color into our lives? Live in full color instead of monochrome? I have a lot of existential questions on my mind. That’s what happens in the fall when the leaves start swirling around my feet. The crisp cool air and the increase of orange in the landscape leads my mind back to the search for knowledge.

This urge to dig into books and steep meaning from the pages has me melancholy. A teaching position just doesn’t seem to be working out, again, this year. Lots of reasons:  the economy is still tough, saturated market, etc. But that doesn’t make being sidelined another year any easier to swallow. So, instead of stewing in my misery and getting depressed, I’m getting mentally active.

I started taking a serious look at grad school again. I have no idea which program(s) I’ll apply to, but I’m looking. I would *love* to do an English lit program. Special Education would be worthwhile, too. But, I always wanted to go all the way with English literature. When I started my Bachelor’s program, I saw myself going all the way to a PhD with it. My roommate at the time, who was also an English major, but later dropped out for a radiology program, always a very practical person, asked me, “So, what are you going to do with it?” I never had a good answer. But I do now:  to enrich my life and my inner world. To give voice to and unleash the insatiable thirst for knowledge that I’ve always had. So I’m looking at schools.

In the meantime, I’m still reading for my blog project of pairing the cryptozoological adaptations with the classic novels. I’m knitting. I’m tidying and organizing the apartment with Gabe’s tireless and cheerful help. I run and plan for road races. And I dream.

That’s what I’ve been doing the most lately. Dreaming. And it’s been wonderful.

This is why I do what I do.

You know I can always get a smile out of you!

You know I can always get a smile out of you! Image from mactastic on flickr.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

— Leo Buscaglia

[Teachers], teach your children to express themselves. Teach them to be in touch with their emotions, to speak honestly to people, and to maintain integrity and stick by their principles in all they do. This is perhaps the highest morality you can instill.

— Jeffrey Bryant (b.1965); author

I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time – just one, one, one. So you begin. I began – I picked up one person. Maybe if I didn’t pick up that one person, I wouldn’t have picked up forty-two thousand….The same thing goes for you, the same thing in your family, the same thing in your church, your community. Just begin – one, one, one.

—Mother Teresa (1910-1997), founder of the Missionaries of Charity

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
—E. E. Cummings (1894-1962); poet, essayist, painter, playwright

I seek to employ these words in every way I can in my classroom. I got into education for the kids, to be a positive force in their lives which are all too often filled with demons and monsters.

May we all live these words and make life wonderful!

(Mactastic’s Flickr Stream)

First Sick Day of the Year

Is going to be tomorrow. Yup. It’s official, I’ve got a bug. And it’s not nice at all. I’ve become one of those teachers that would much prefer to be in the classroom even when sick than to make sub plans and leave my kiddies in someone else’s hands for a day. Not that I don’t trust subs, I was one for a while, but subs just don’t have the same investment in the material, naturally. But the bug I’ve got isn’t one that is very pleasant to be in the classroom with…

It took me 3 hours to get my sub plans together, including preparing materials, making copies, cleaning off my desk to make sure nothing important got disturbed, etc. Plus I like to leave my subs with real plans. And by real plans I mean actually teach something instead of having them watch a video or something. That’s lame.

In other news, I’ve been knitting quite a bit but I have yet to recharge my camera batteries. It’s been close to two-weeks now. One of these days I’ll remember.

It’s flurried three times in the last two days that I’ve witnessed. The high has been 33 degrees. Winter is really here. It’s time to finish the new season’s woollens.

Making Connections and Break-Throughs

One of the hardest things about teaching is knowing how to let go.

As an educator I really want to “save” all of my students:  help them see the importance of school, improve their grades and classroom performance, and become a better citizen. However, this is not possible. As hard as I try, I can’t reach them all and I can’t make a difference for them all. And learning when to let go and not feel responsible for their failures is difficult.

The last few weeks were hard as far as my schedule goes, but it was also hard in that I was going through a lot of mental and emotional struggle over one class in particular. This one class is of low-achieving seniors who just want to slide by and graduate. Unfortunately, they got me for senior English and I actually expect something of them (how dare I make them *earn* their grade!).

I’ve been unnecessarily beating myself up for their failures and for the obstacles that I have to overcome to educate them and discipline them. My poor friends had to listen to me berate myself for an hour after a lovely dinner over this class. (I’m better, honest!)

And it wasn’t just this class either. I was concerned that my best wasn’t good enough, that I need to be the educator I’ll be in 10 years *now*. I am very hard on myself and impatient. I want the best for my students and I want to be the best teacher I can be, but I haven’t been very good at allowing myself the process of becoming a good teacher. Every mishap, I brood over how the mistake came about and how to fix it. And instead of moving on, I glumly go about my business upset that I made the mistake in the first place.

So all of this mental angst was going on during two of the busiest weeks I’ve had this year.

And I finally made some progress. I woke up this morning thinking, “I’m going to have a good day no matter what. All I need to do is get through the day!” And it helped. And then later on in the day I decided that my best right now is going to be good enough for me. So, after a year in the classroom, I’ve finally given myself the room to breathe and grow without feeling the intense pressure I put on myself.

It feels great. I feel freer and more in control, which ultimately means I’ll be a better educator, friend, and wife.

In closing, I was flipping through my teaching journal (I’m a very reflective educator, I journal every day many times a day about what’s going on) and I came across a quote I copied down:

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” (Lao-Tzu)

That’s my new life motto. Do the best I can whenever I can whereever I can and call it good enough.

Breathing Deep

Two huge weeks have passed and I am facing an easy week of a holiday and a half-day. Not bad. I go to school tomorrow, show movies because the students are not going to be paying attention because the following day is a holiday and the day after is the half-day, and I get to come home and knit some more.

I did so much knitting this weekend. It was wonderful.

I finished (finally!) my first Snapdragon sock with the purple, lime green, and orange stripes and am half-way through the second. It’ll be done by lunch time tomorrow guranteed with all the movie induced knitting time tomorrow. And I finished (finally!!) my father-in-law’s first sock in the lozenge pattern and have the second cast on. I’ll have photos of all these fine projects as soon as I remember to recharge my camera’s batteries. I am so glad to have made some knitting progress as it seems like eons ago that I started these projects.

The last two weeks have been awful and so this weekend of knitting and election day celebrations was much needed.

I had five nights (W-Th, and then M-T) straddling the close of the first marking period chock full of 3-hour SAT Prep training sessions, complete with homework, and grading. It was lovely, I tell you, lovely. I nearly called it quits on this profession. But I didn’t. Not every school springs SAT training on its staff, just mine. Luckily, my new colleague in the English department was right by my side to commiserate with. We had a helluva time those long days.

The long days and little sunshine exposure has been getting to me. I have a therapy light but I get up so early as it is to get to school that I haven’t been using it regularly. To use it consistently, I’d have to get up at 4:30 each morning! Yikes. That’s not happening.

I realized after grumping around, knitting, and watching movies today, that part of the reason for my recent bouts of melancholy has been the feeling of displacement. I realized that a year ago this weekend I moved from Orono to Winthrop to take the job in Monmouth and I’ve been nomadic ever since with weekend trips to Orono, moving in May, and then moving again in July. No wonder I’ve been feeling agitated. I haven’t had a chance to get my bearings! I’ve been uprooted for nearly 27 years and I’m ready for my hobbit house, but it’s not time for it yet.

I’m in my second year of my career and Allan has to finish his master’s program. When he does, we’ll be looking for a new job near a college that offers a good MA English for me and a teaching certification program for Allan, which means another move. None of the schools within striking distance of our area offer decent programs, if at all, for either. We’re looking at another 1-2 years before we can even consider buying a house and settling down for 3-5 years or longer. And with this, the possibility of high-maitenance pets (dogs) and children are on hold, too.

No wonder why I feel stressed out so much lately; I feel like I’m just getting going and my entire settled domestic life is still on hold. I crave a house of my own, a garden of my own, a puppy or two, and children so much but it’s not to be for a year or so at very least.

We’ve definitely considered settling down in the area we’re in but we can’t afford the property values on one beginning teacher’s salary. In order for us to buy property in this area we’d have to take out a ridiculous mortgage or buy a fixer-upper, which we’re not enthusiastic about. In order for us to purchase a home in this area, both of us would have to have a teacher’s salary, at very least, and then we’d still be scraping by.

Sigh. At least I like where we are right now. The rest of our life will figure itself out. I’m working on being content in the here and now.

Beyond all this, I’m pleased to say that Patty over at Fibreholic has given me my first blog award! I’m thrilled and honored! Thank you, Patty!

I first started blogging back in 2004 but it never amounted to much. I was pretty self absorbed as a young twenty-something still. It wasn’t until about two or three years ago that I matured enough to realize that nodding to the reader is a must when writing in public like this. I’m pleased that I’ve reached the wide audience that I have and that people have found something worthwhile here. Again, thank you, Patty!

The acceptance rules for this award are as follows:  (1) the winner may put the award on his/her blog, (2) add a link to the person who nominated you if you don’t have one already, (3) nominate at least 5 other websites or blogs, (4) provide links to the nominated websites or blogs, and (5) send the nominees a message letting them know.

I’d like to give this award to the following bloggers:

1 – My dear friend Amy of The Lawsons Did Dallas is one of the funniest bloggers I’ve come across. She’s been blogging since she moved to Texas and she’s been keeping me and her vast audience rolling for about two years now. She recently had the unfortunate life experience of having a miscarraige and so her normal humor was set aside while she related this life-changing experience. She has since reclaimed her humor but her depth and breadth of writing prowess has been demonstrated fully due to these fluctuations.

2 – I’d like to nominate Amber of Berlin’s Whimsy next. I’ve been reading Amber’s blog for a year solid now and there has never been a day when I didn’t feel better for stopping by her space. She, too, has been through many life experiences which offer depth and heart to her writing. Her crafting and photography are nothing short of inspirational.

3 – Next, I’d like to nominate Laurie at Everything in Blue, also the owner of the Ouou shop on Etsy (is it open yet, Laurie?). I first found Laurie through Etsy via her brilliant art and then followed along to her blog where she posts her art in progress and life experiences. I’ve been honored to blog on Laurie’s behalf over the last year.

4 – My dear friend since middle school out in Utah has been blogging about her family and adventures and it’s been a great way for me to keep in the loop. Leanne, you, too, deserve an award.

5 – Last, but not least, I’d like to offer this award to my dear friend Holly. Holly and I have been friends since grade school and have only recently reconnected at my second wedding reception. I’ve really enjoyed keeping up-to-date on your family through your blog!

Phew. This is a long post. I think I’ll call it a night!

One More, with Pictures This Time

I haven’t said a word in months about little Clarence. Here he is!

Clarence the Hamster

Clarence the Hamster

Little Clarence has been just fine. He eats his pellets and seeds so well that we call him the Ferocious Fuzzy Little Monster. He terrorizes those seeds! 🙂 He still loves his wheel and ball. And he likes to climb still. And he’s still really little!

I also took photos of my new office space for the world to see.

the desk in its messy glory

the desk in its messy glory

My new office space has a great view out the window. We’re going to put bird feeders in the big pine outside the window so I can watch the birds come and go, one of my favorite hobbies if you remember last fall’s posts. I can’t wait to see the chickadees and nuthatches get chubby. It makes me happy to know that they’ll be all set for the hard winter.

the stack of papers and books to read for this coming week...

the stack of papers and books to read for this coming week...

And here is the pile of papers I’ve got to work my way through by Nov. 6 when grades are due.

Feeling Calmer

This week was incredibly busy and stressful. The quarter ended yesterday and students were cranky with me for enforcing my grading policy. It’s 10% of the assignment off per day late and if it’s not in my hands by 2:15 on day 5, it’s a zero. There are some kids who missed stuff a month ago trying to pressure me to give them some credit on the assignments. No dice.

And on top of getting a mound of assignments in, I had SAT training 3 nights in a row from 4-7. It was insane. I hate the pressure to teach to the test. I won’t do it but I will help give kids the confidence they need to feel like they’re playing on home turf. But I will NOT do an entire unit on SAT skills. Little mini-lessons here and there, and after school workshops are fine. But I will not, I repeat, will not teach SAT skills as a unit in my classroom.

I have done absolutely no knitting. I have done no housework. I have done nothing for myself in the last 10 days and it shows.

However, I did take last night for myself (and Allan). We dressed up and went to a Halloween party and it was great. I haven’t danced since high school and it felt nice to let loose a little and groove to the music.

I wish I had more time to knit. I have so many things I want to make and so much wool I would love to have, but I have no time at all. Even my 40-minute lunches have been usurped by dealing with school business in the office lately. I’ve gotta stop that. I need those lunch periods for myself. And I need to knit for at least 20 minutes every day when I get home.

And I need to start running again, too. I think I’ll try morning running, even if it’s just 2 miles; 2 miles is better than no miles a day. Allan’s worried because I get up early as it is. He doesn’t want me to wear myself thin. And it’s cold in the morning. But I haven’t run in the afternoon when it’s warm in 3 weeks because I’m so mentally exhausted that I can’t get myself out the door. I figure a short run each morning will jumpstart my metabolism and boost my energy and mood. And it’ll build miles so I can do long runs on the weekend. Come spring when it warms up and grows lighter, I’ll probably run in the afternoon and tack on miles again. For now, I’m simply looking for maitenance of my conditioning and waistline.

That’s it for now. I’ll write about seeing Michael Pollan later today or tomorrow. That was such a life-changing experience that I simply have to blog about it. But later. For now, I’m going to work through a huge pile of grading and planning.

What the eff?

What am I doing spending the hours I should be in bed sleeping doing math?? Oh, that’s right, I have SAT training and I foolishly signed up for BOTH sections thinking it was required and now I have not only planning for 6 courses (7 classes) and grading (because the quarter ends on Friday) but also MATH HOMEWORK.

I mean, really. Tomorrow is going to be so sad. I was scoring 10 out of 10 today on the ELA stuff. Tomorrow I’ll be lucky if I get 1 out of 10.

Ok. I’m off to do a math assessment. Yippee skippy.