bookaddict88: (Default)
I survived my first year of teaching!!!

It's been a crazy and challenging year.  Frankly, I'm not a very good teacher yet, especially in the area of classroom management.  And that led to lots of stress, tears, exhaustion, and even burnout at times.  The year was not without its high points, of course.  Teaching can be fun, and rewarding...even if you're a first year teacher who feels like she has no clue what she's doing and not enough support.  I had a not insignificant number of those happy moments.  And I certainly loved each of my kids individually. 

But I'm incredibly glad it's summer.  This summer, even with my trip to China, will be the most relaxing one I've had in probably 10 years.  I'm looking forward to the chance to relax, rejuvenate, and ready myself for next year.  Because next year will be crazy again, especially since my school is moving buildings and adding a sixth grade.  But by August, I will be rested, and will hopefully have things planned and prepared so that next year goes much more smoothly than this year did.
bookaddict88: (Default)
Not much to report for this past week. The highs and lows have mostly evened out for the moment, and I’m getting into the groove of lesson planning, teaching, and attending sessions. My kids are great (most of the time…), and I’m getting much better at teaching them, though I still sometimes have trouble being consistent with behavior management and with breaking things down to a second grade level. But as I always say to my CMA, “I’m learning!” I have tons still to learn, but at least I can tell I’m making progress.

I suppose the highlights of this week have actually been my breaks from all the TFA stuff. We were surprised on Tuesday with TFA day, or a day with a Totally Free Afternoon. It was great. I spent the afternoon chilling out in the pool, which was free for the day (since I was cheap and didn’t buy a gym membership this summer).

This weekend has also been great. Friday night, 6 other Tulsa CMs and I made our way to Flagstaff, where we hung out in a tiny bar and then crammed into 1 tiny room at the Motel 6 for a night. You do what you gotta do when you have no income! The next morning, we headed off to the Grand Canyon, which was absolutely breathtaking. (I’ve been once before, but it was January, and I couldn’t see much.) We walked around and climbed down onto ledges, before heading back to Phoenix for the evening. Then today, I celebrated the Fourth with about half of my Tulsa Corps by watching the Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks at a baseball game. And we have tomorrow off as well! Though I’ve put off all work so far this weekend, so I’ll have to spend the day catching up on work.

I'm Alive!

Jun. 24th, 2010 08:50 pm
bookaddict88: (Default)
(Cross-posted from my TFA blog)

Yep, there was some doubt as to whether I’d be able to say that by this point in time. But my first week of teaching at Institute, while rough, was something I survived!

With all the lesson planning and such, I’ve been getting no more than 5 hours of sleep a night, which is the main reason why the week has been hard. For the first couple of days, the teaching itself wasn’t bad. That was mostly because I was only in charge of explaining our rules, rewards, consequences, and some procedures the first day, and get to know you activities the second. But it also helps that my 2nd graders are pretty awesome (most of the time), and there are only 12 of them. Still, I was pretty exhausted, since beyond my time teaching and lesson planning (using TFA’s very lengthy and particular template), I still had lots of sessions and workshops.

Yesterday was about my breaking point. Tuesday I had trouble waking up and staying awake during sessions, and yesterday was about the same. Beyond that, though, my first academic lesson plan didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. My read aloud was fun, but I just didn’t do a good job explaining setting and its importance to the plot, because my kids didn’t get it at all. I also ran out of time (which was a problem today as well). I was fairly upset by the end of the period, and almost started crying when talking about my lesson to other CMs and my CMA. It wasn’t even that big of a deal, in retrospect (after all, it was my first real lesson!), but when we’re running on so little sleep, everyone’s emotions are heightened. I walk by the halls, and every day I see at least one person crying. And talking to people, I don’t think there’s even one girl who hasn’t cried over something this week, and often that something was really actually pretty minor.

Today was better though! My kids seemed to get what I was teaching them (though I may have helped them too much on their independent work), and I was operating on slightly more sleep (it’s sad when two nights in a row of 5 hours of sleep makes me feel this much better, since I’d been getting less before that.) My CMA observed the last part of my lesson today, and my FA said as the kids were leaving for lunch that both she and my CMA gave me two thumbs up for the lesson today! Most excitingly, I have nothing to do before tomorrow! I get to go to bed before midnight! I still have to wake up early, because we still have sessions tomorrow, but at least we get up early.

Anyway, that has been my roller coaster week. Hopefully things will just get better from here on out, as I get more experienced (and have somewhat less to do!).

Oh! One more BIG thing! I have a placement!!! Well, mostly. I found out that I am almost certainly teaching 5th grade next year, though I don’t know the school. Hooray! Not only am I staying in elementary, but I get to teach upper elementary, which is what I wanted. My 2nd graders are awesome, and there are definitely some great things about teaching younger kids, but I’m excited for the things I can do with older kids that I can’t do with younger kids.
bookaddict88: (Default)
I've been out of school for over a month now, and things have been going pretty well!  The first couple of weeks, I mostly lazed around, though I did work occasionally.  Then, starting in June, my summer began to pick up. The first few days of the month, I visited my grandma with my mom.  It was nice to be able to spend some quality time with her, which I don't always get to do when I see her with a bunch of other family members around. 

The day after I came back from that trip, I left for orientation at the summer camp I'll be working at.  We were kept REALLY busy, being trained in all we needed to know for the rest of the summer! But I still had a chance to start to really get to know the other staff members, both the ones I'll be working directly with, and those I won't be seeing so often. It was odd, though, because all of those staff members who would be working with children had camp names. So someone would introduce themselves to me as Michelle, and I'd have to introduce myself as Azalea (the camp name I ended up choosing, after my first two choices had been rejected because they'd been recently used).  It took some getting used to! Within my specific camp area, we had a rule going on that if you said someone's real name, you had to put a quarter in a jar (we'd use the money to go see a movie sometime during the summer).  I didn't have too much of a problem, because I had never met most of the staff members before, and while I knew their real names, I had never really called them by them.  The harder part was referring to myself by my camp name! At any rate, orientation was packed, but fun.  I still don't know everything I'm supposed to be doing, but I guess there are some things we just have to figure out as we go along.

I left orientation two days early, so that I could go to New York.  I spent an afternoon packing and spending time with my family and my best friend, then left the next morning for Colorado, where I visited with some family friends.  The morning after that, I flew on to New York! I've now been here for about five days, and am having a blast.  I'm here for a history program centered on Abraham Lincoln, so we've taken tours of the city, heard lectures from some prominent scholars, and are working on a mini project. On my free time, I've also walked around the city, visited the Met, seen a free violin concert, and seen the NYC Ballet perform A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

I especially loved the ballet. While I like dancing, and watching people dance, the only full length ballet I'd seen before was The Nutcracker (which I've seen more times than I can count).  So A Midsummer Night's Dream was awesome. Not only was the story fun and the dancing spectacular (or cute, in the case of the really young dancers), but I also loved the music and costumes.  Plus, I only paid $15 for my tickets, because I'm a student!

Another thing I've loved is visiting the Strand Bookstore. I'm staying at an NYU residence hall only a block and a half away from the bookstore, so I've gone to visit it three times. They have so many new and used books, and at such great prices! I've bought 5 books so far, but if I didn't limit myself, I would probably have bought 100.

Well, I have a discussion in about 5 minutes, so I better go now. Hope you are all having as great of a summer as I am!
bookaddict88: (Default)
I finally know what I'm going to be doing this summer!  Last summer, I worked two weeks as a counselor for the high schoolers at a summer camp I've been attending in one shape or form for years.  That was fun, but ever since I was little I've wanted to work there for a whole summer, preferably with elementary age kids.  Well, I've finally got my wish!  I applied to work there as a counselor for the 3rd-5th graders in late January (since I was there last year, my "application" consisted of letting them know I wanted to come back and what job I wanted).  I didn't get interviewed until mid-March, and it wasn't until today  (when I'd almost given up hearing from them) that I heard I got a job.  It's not the job I applied for, but it should still be a lot of fun!* At any rate, I'm excited to finally know which of my several tentative plans for this summer will be actually carried out.

Speaking of summer, in just over two weeks I will be done with this semester! We only have 6 more days of classes (tomorrow is  "Diadeloso", where my school has a bunch of fun activities planned), and then I have all my finals in three consecutive days.  It's going to be quite a push getting through it all, but it's good to know it's almost over!

*Unfortunately, this camp is a non-profit and doesn't pay well at all. But you can't have everything, I guess!
bookaddict88: (Happily Ever After)
I'm a Gilder Lehrman History Scholars Finalist! Basically, what that means is that I get a week-long, all-expenses-paid trip to New York City in June, where I'll get to study about this year's theme (i.e. Abraham Lincoln) through lectures by eminent historians and visits to historical sites, museums, and archives. The actual Scholars (rather than the Finalists like me) get to go for five weeks during the summer, but I never even considered that I could be chosen for that.  I did, however, think that maybe, possibly, there was a chance I could be selected as a finalist, and I've been on pins and needles this last week waiting for the letter that would tell me the results.  I found out late this afternoon that I was chosen as a finalist, and I've been SOOO excited ever since! I mean, New York City is such an interesting place, and to get to spend a week there studying history?  Awesome!

Now, though, I need to figure out what I'm doing the rest of the summer...

bookaddict88: (Default)
So, since the first two days of classes are over, I decided it was time for a summer roundup. Over the summer, I kept a list on the "Extended Info" box on Facebook of books I've read, movies I saw in theaters, and places I'd been. I may have missed a couple of items, but it's a pretty good summary of my summer. Since I'm going to remove those items from Facebook soon, I thought I'd post them here.


Read more... )
Quite a full summer!
bookaddict88: (Impossible)
I'm having an absolutely AMAZING time in Spain! I've been here for less than a week, and I'm already bemoaning the fact that I can't stay longer than a semester. Of course, we'll see if that changes once classes start tomorrow.

Cut for detail and a few photos... )
bookaddict88: (Home Again)
Well, after a week and a half, my family vacation is finally over.  On Friday the 15th, we flew to New York. We spent a couple of days there, then drove a rental car up to Boston, Montreal, and then finally back to New York. We then flew back home to California on Sunday the 24th, and celebrated my upcoming birthday that night with my aunts. Finally, we went to Disneyland today, since a couple of my mom's patients work there and gave us complimentary tickets. Then we went out to dinner with my dad (who couldn't go to Disneyland b/c of work), and sort of celebrated my birthday tonight, since I won't be home on my actual birthday.


And now, in just a few hours, I'm headed off to Spain for a semester abroad. I can't believe it's time to leave already! I'm a bit nervous. I've never traveled to a foreign country alone before, and despite 4 and a half years of Spanish classes, my Spanish is still not very good. Plus, it's been a year since I've really used it.  Also, I'm still far from being packed, and I leave in less than five hours! Thankfully, I'll be able to sleep on the plane, since I'll be up all night.  But even though I'm a little nervous and a bit stressed (though not too stressed to write this, apparently...), I'm still WAY excited to be going to Spain!
bookaddict88: (Default)
Well, in less than 12 hours, we'll be on a plane heading back home from Morocco. These two weeks have just flown by! And of course, my daily posts stopped after only three days...

I have mixed feelings about leaving. On the one hand, it'll be good to get away from all these bugs. I have over 50 bug bites, some of which are quite big. It's almost like having chicken pox! Also, I'm glad not to have to deal with my unruly class anymore.  You know how I said they weren't a bad class? Well, starting Thursday, they just got out of hand.  Individually, I still think they're great kids, but all together, they're very...difficult.  We had little control over the class, and the fact that we had no way to punish them except by withholding their break made it worse. It got VERY frustrating, especially today. It was the last day, and everything we had planned was not too hard and pretty fun, but they still couldn't contain themselves. I'm going to miss some of the individual kids, but not teaching the class.

On the other hand, I feel like I was still getting to know Morocco and the kids, and I would love to stay to get to know it all better. Plus, I really like being here, especially in Casablanca near the beach where it's not very hot.  I'm also going to miss the members of my team. A couple of the other members were book geeks like me (with a lot of the same reading tastes), so I'll miss especially miss our book conversations. Oh, and the dozens of Speed Scrabble games our team played! Still, at least I'll be able to see them at least occasionally once we get home, and there's always Facebook.

Anyway, I should probably get packing now. Thankfully, we're not leaving at 4 AM like we did on the way here!
bookaddict88: (Default)
Summer school went quickly again today. We had a new student today, Youssef, which brings our total up to 12, a nice, even number that makes splitting into pairs or groups easy. Some of the activities we had them do today, such as looking up dictionary definitions and writing a description of their own fantasy world took a bit longer than we expected. Also, the CD player we were using to have them listen to the next chapter of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe kept losing it's place (esp. after we had it on pause for a discussion). So we didn't get everything done that we had planned.  Overall, though, I still think it went really well, and it should only get better as we learn what works and what doesn't and how long it will take the students to do certain tasks. The students really are well-behaved, especially since they aren't getting graded for this course. We had some problems with talking and laziness, but no real attitude problems. We'll be assigning the students seats tomorrow, so hopefully the students will stay even more on task.


After class was over, we visited a mosque.  It's the only mosque in Morocco that non-Muslims can visit (for a fee, of course). It's the third largest mosque in the world, and has the tallest minaret.  It was absolutely beautiful! I took a ton of pictures (though not all of them turned out, as it was kind of dark inside), and I was going to post them here for you, but I don't have time since my mom wants to use my computer soon. Maybe I will later...
bookaddict88: (Default)
I keep meaning to write here more often, but well, obviously I haven't. Oh well...

bookaddict88: (Happily Ever After)
I'm FINISHED with all 6 of my finals! It's officially summer!

...Although I had a scare today. I woke up early to study for my dance final, and made the mistake of studying on my bed. I fell asleep...and woke up 5 minutes after the final had started. Thankfully, I live on campus, so I threw on shoes and a sweatshirt (easier than changing out of the large t-shirt I was wearing as a night shirt), pulled my messy hair up into a ponytail, then ran to take the test. I got there 10 minutes late, but it was all good. And then I was out of there in 20 more minutes, finished with my last final!

I also just discovered I got an A in my Combinatorics and Algebra class, which was REALLY exciting. That class was hard!

So now I have just over 48 hours to pack and clean and just do whatever I want.  Then I pick up my dad from the airport and we start driving home!

ETA: Woah, I'm halfway done with college. How'd that happen so quickly???

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January 2012

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