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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Random bullets of moments so far.

- Due to being closely located near several forms of loud and/or inconvenient forms of transportation, (who know it was possible to get stuck in airport traffic on the highway, and then get stopped by three different train tracks once getting off the highway?) this school will be called Transportation Central Elementary, TC Elementary for short. I have yet to figure out a convenient way to get to TC Elementary, seeings as how it takes me anywhere from 25 to 65 minutes to get there in the mornings. Traffic is quite unreliable (which is a big change from my rural student teaching placement, wherein my big traffic worry was getting stuck on a one-lane road behind a slow moving tractor).

- I was finally told I was “pretty” and “beautiful” (by a kindergardner) on my fourth day at school. I was first told I was “too beautiful” on my first day of student teaching. I must have lost my appeal. Or College State kids are more easily impressed than Home State kids. (I was told that I was “very pretty” again by a different student on my seventh day here at TC Elementary.)

- On my second day as I was leaving school I walked past a custodian and said goodbye to him. “Goodbye,” he responded. “You know,” he continued “You look like you could be a student here.” I agreed. “I hope I didn’t offend you,” he added. Oh, whatever, I thought. I’m used to it. And I am. (Though it is a bit irritating, nonetheless. So if you have a tiny young colleague, please don’t tell this person that they look like they could be a 10 year old. It’s not a great way to boost their self esteem.)

- In the computer lab with one class, two boys started chatting in Spanish. “Habla en ehngles,” interrupted the teacher in oddly accented Spanish. “I don’t like them talking in Spanish because I don’t know what they’re saying,” she explained to me. (I, maybe inappropriately, added, “Oh, he was just telling the other boy to do X with the computer.”) This provoked PTSD-type flashes back to my student teaching experience.

- In one class the teacher had the students watching a totally and completely non-academic video. If a teacher had done that at Student Teaching School, he or she would have been tarred and feathered on the spot. The principal would have found out and the teacher would have gotten into huge trouble. Apparently, it was not inappropriate here. (I need to comment, I am not judging this action on the teachers part - just commenting. From what I've seen, this is a very competent teacher. I was just a bit shocking coming from the school I had come from.)

- Connecting with the above comment, the school seems so much more productive than Student Teaching school. The schedule is so simple (It runs on a 5-day cycle, just like real life! The kids have the same teacher all day, except for specials or pull-out help).

- I’m not used being called Ms. Grownup. I’m having a really hard time responding to it. When I was student teaching I officially went by Ms. G., (due to my cooperating teaching and I sharing a surname) although in reality the kids usually just referred to any adult as Teacher. At TC Elementary, I officially go by Ms. Grownup, and some of the kids actually do call me that. Though many of them get lazy and just call me Ms. Grown or Ms. Gr…what’s-your-name-again? (Well, actually they call me Miss or Mrs. Lastname, but that is one thing that I don’t fight.)

- There as a magnet on a teacher's desk that said, "Miracles are made in the classroom" or something along those lines. I don't know why they bother me so much, but sayings like that truly offend me. Nothing that happens in the classroom is a miracle. It is the result of a lot of hard work on the part of the teacher and the students. There is no "miracle" there. The teacher plans an effective lesson, the students interact well with the lesson, the teacher, and each other, and then, yes, good things can happen. But what is happening should by no means be considered a miracle. It is the result of a series of deliberate actions made by the teachers and students.

- Hopefully some day soon I’ll find the will/energy/initiative to write something real instead of random bullets. (Or, even more optimistically thinking, maybe someday I’ll find the energy to apply to jobs for next year. Um, that’s my main goal right now.)

Monday, January 14, 2008

They hired me.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Now I wait by my phone.

I forgot how bad I am at interviews.

(Especially when I am too nervous to sleep the night before, so despite going to bed with the possibility to have 8.5 hours of sleep, I ended up only sleeping for about 2.5 hours. Not a great way to start it all off.)

I look really good on paper.

I look pretty good in action.

But in interviews? I kind of suck.

Now I have to wait a week to see if I suck more or less than the other candidates.

(And, I know you're supposed to have questions prepared to ask. So I prepared six questions. And the principal answered every single one before I could ask them. She's too comprehensive. I had to kind of re-ask things she'd already told me, but with a slightly different focus so that I didn't look questionless.)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I hate new shoes.

I have an interview tomorrow and I'm totally freaking out. I even bought new shoes. And I hate shoes. (I'm probably the only female ever to say that.)

I'm not sure how to deal with the interview because it's for a teaching assistant job, but I have experience being, and have been (in the student teaching capacity) a full teacher. So I'm not sure what I'm going to be asked and how I should respond to it. I don't want to sound too much like a regular teacher, because well, then won't I sound overqualified? But I don't really know how to respond otherwise. So...we'll see?

(And this makes me wonder again, am I underselling myself? Should I be going for something else? But I don't want to think about that.)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Accepting where I am.

In December, as I was driving through a hundreds-of-miles-long heavy fog to Hometown from College Town, for the last time, I was talking with a friend on the phone (which was slightly dangerous considering the driving conditions), lamenting about how I felt kind of lost or without a place. For the first time since I was two years old, I was not on winter break. I was just...done. Coming home to come home, with nowhere to return to. As I said at the time, "I'm not on winter break, I'm just on...winter..." A break indicates a return to something, but I had nothing and nowhere to return to.

This idea was unsettling to me. I couldn’t (still can’t) really fathom the idea of this finality. I am embarking on something entirely new to me. Student teaching, though different in many ways from college itself (I spent 9-10 hours a day at an elementary school nearly an hour’s drive from College Town, where I was living) was still just an extension of the college “experience.” And College, well, that was just like high school (only, I was in a different state and I lived without my family). And well, High School was just like middle school, which was just like elementary school, which was just like pre-school.

But now, I’m temporarily living back in Hometown. For now I can just pretend it is winter break. If I were returning back to a school somewhere, I still would be on break right now. However, the reality is, I am not on break.

At the time, on my transitional car ride, my friend had suggested that I think of myself as simply being on hiatus. I laughed at the idea at first, but actually, being on hiatus is kind of a comforting way to think about it. It takes some of the guilt or pressure away from me to make these few months action-filled and one-thousand-percent beneficial to my future career and life. I’m on hiatus. On hiatus, I need a job, and I will get one. But it doesn’t need to be the best job ever. It doesn’t need to lead to many amazing and wonderful things. It needs to get me a paycheck and a reason to wake up and get dressed in the morning.

In the in-between hours, I can work on fulfilling my future life plans. I can apply to teach at International Schools starting in the fall. I can study for the GRE. I can take the GRE. These things will advance my future self. It’s okay, acceptable, that I am not doing great things right now.

Maybe I’ll be a teacher assistant working with students who are English Language Learners. Maybe I’ll be a substitute teacher. Either of the two have benefits (unfortunately though, not necessarily health insurance-type benefits). The former would give me the opportunity to work with students who are learning English – this would give me additional experience to talk about in my applications to teach abroad, and additional experience to refer to when I eventually apply for jobs in the US (which could be sooner rather than later if the International Schools don’t work out). The latter, substitute teaching, would give me experience working both in a variety of grades, and a variety of schools. This would be beneficial in giving me an overview of the ways things are done in different places.

So really, either path I end up taking, I will be helping my future self. I am not just wasting time. I’m simply on hiatus.

It’s like when your favorite television show is on hiatus, and they show a really bad reality program for a few weeks, and you don’t love it, but you watch it anyway because you’re used to wasting that hour each week. That’s what I’m doing now. Maybe it’ll be a really good hiatus; maybe it will be just that – a hiatus. Not amazing, but something to fill my time.

Regardless, this is where I am. I have to accept that, not obsess about what I am not doing. No, I do not have a full time regular teaching job. That’s okay. It will come. No, I do not attend grad school. That’s okay. It will come. I will make these things happen, in time, just as I am making myself take advantage of the opportunities available to my right now.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 - Year in review

I have read so many people's postings of this list, or a similar one. I decided to participate.

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?

-I graduated from college.
-I student taught.
-I bought a car.
-I lived all alone (no roommates, just a borrowed pet).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't make New Year's resolutions. I don't make resolutions in general because I tend to break them, and then I get upset about not following through like I wish I had.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

A cousin.

4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What countries did you visit?

Just the US.

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?

I don't think I can really compare this upcoming year with the last in this way. I'm going to be in a completely different place (mentally, emotionally, developmentally, financially).

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I actually don't remember the date, but the day of my college graduation, maybe?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

-I graduated college.
-I survived student teaching.
-I wrote the longest paper I have ever written.
-I gave an hour-long presentation with a question-and-answer session.

9. What was your biggest failure?

My relationship with my cooperating teaching.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing more than a cold, knock on wood.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

-Best? A new laptop.
-Most expensive? A car.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My professor. For not throttling me when I whined so much about my student teaching situation, and for actually sympathizing with me.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Not necessarily appalled, but depressed? My cooperating teaching. We had issues.

14. Where did most of your money go?

My car. I bought a less-than-five-year-old car, and paid in full. I have no interest, but I also have no money left.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

-Returning to Undergrad College after studying abroad.
-Living with the two coolest people (aka, my closest friends) at Undergrad College, for a semester.
-Student Teaching.
-Ending student teaching.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?

I listened to After All by Dar Williams a lot driving to and from my student teaching school. I hadn't listened to it a whole lot before.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

a) Compared to this exact time, I'm a bit happier. I was going through some uncomfortable reverse-culture-shock upon returning to the US after studying abroad which was keeping me pretty upset throughout January of 2007.
b) Oddly, substantially thinner.
c) Poorer. Though hopefully richer once I find a job.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

More writing following intense bouts of thinking.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?


20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I don't celebrate Christmas, but my family usually congregates at my grandparents' house, since everyone is off of work and everything. We actually celebrated a late Hanukkah on Christmas.

21. Did you fall in love in 2007?

With Vygotsky? Yes. With a living person? No.

22. How many one-night stands?


23. What was your favorite TV program?

Good Eats on Food Network.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I don't like to hate anyone. There is a person toward whom I have strong negative feelings, that I did not know at this time last year.

25. What was the best book you read?

Growing up Bilingual by Ana Celia Zentella.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Not so much a discovery, but I realized that I really like Dar Williams.

27. What did you want and get?

I didn't really want it, but I needed a car, which I got.

28. What did you want and not get?

A perfectly positive student teaching experience. (Though I do value what I had, and learned tremendously from it.)

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

I don't enjoy movies.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I heard a presidential candidate speak. I turned older than 21, but younger than 25.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I was pretty satisfied with my year, overall.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?

Don't forget to brush your hair. Don't forget to zip your zipper. Don't forget to tie your shoes. (I don't so much have a fashion sense.) Maybe... Ann Taylor Loft Sale Rack.

33. What kept you sane?

Being able to talk to friends. Having people who would listen to me talk and rant about the things that were bothering me.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?


35. What political issue stirred you the most?

I don't know.

36. Who did you miss?

-My host mom from Mexico.
-My two roommates from last spring semester.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

My 50 wonderful students. They helped me realize where my passions and beliefs as a teacher lie. Without them, I wouldn't be the person/teacher I have developed into.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.

-Sometimes, institutional politics are not fair. Sometimes, life sucks.
-Communication is so, so, very important. People cannot get into my head, and therefore I have to explicitly say what I am thinking.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

(January began with me having just left Mexico.
May had me leaving Undergrad College.
December had me leaving Student Teaching.)

"Me Voy. Que lástima pero adios."
(I'm leaving. It's a shame, but goodbye)