Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Writing a new chapter in my life.....

After an exhausting two days worth of moving, I don’t think there’s a better way to relax my body than to blog. The past three weeks have been jammed packed with so many events and deadlines that I just haven’t had time to blog like I want too! I promised my faithful followers (more like two of my ls’ (my ace and 9 lol)) that I would do a better job of updating. I’m a woman of my word, so I’m updating you on my hectic, yet exciting life.

The week before graduation, I had my first job interview. My laid-back personality doesn’t get nervous about much, but for some reason this interview had me on edge. I got the call on a Thursday and I think I was a nervous wreck until Tuesday right before I walked into the room. I was home for my cousin’s senior prom, and drove back to Fayetteville that Monday. Due to the flooding, I had to take the extended route to Little Rock which added forty-five more minutes to my already four and half hour drive. When I drive back from home, I like to listen to all of the local radio stations before they go out; this is usually very enjoyable. I tried not to think about the interview at all that day, but it seemed like every radio commercial had something to do with an interview. One commercial was giving interview tips, one was an actual interview, and one kept advertising the biggest job fair of the year where you sign up for interviews. After six commercials, I decided to get my money’s worth and listen to XM radio. Made it back safely to Fayetteville, and I was fine the rest of the day. Early Tuesday morning around 3:00 am, I had these stomach pains. I mean they were really bad. I kept going back and forth to the restroom…..NOTHING changed! An hour and four trips to the bathroom later, I still didn’t feel any better. Around 5:30 am, the stomach pains went away. I figured it was something I ate, but it was nerves. Getting about four hours of solid sleep, my body’s natural alarm clock decided to wake me at 8:00 am. I closed my eyes and rolled over….tossed….turned to the left….turned to the right….laid on my stomach….NOTHING helped me go back to sleep. So, I just decided to wake up! I went ahead and rehearsed my facial expressions and talked to myself for about an hour in the mirror! I wish yall could actually see me doing it! It’s quite a hilarious! I decided to pick out my clothes and eat breakfast. The hours seemed to go by so slowly! FINALLY 1:00pm, I put some last minute touches to my make-up and headed to get my fall English unit bound. It’s now 1:15 and I’m headed to my interview. I arrive around 1:35. I hate to be super early for anything, so I sat in my car and listened to some music that would calm my nerves, yet still keep my energy level up. I decided at 1:45, I would walk into the school. I give myself a last look over in my car mirror…yep…I look good! (lol) So, I’m walking to the front door and my shoes somehow rub each other too closely, and I tripped. I mean I really tripped hard! It was hilarious! Luckily no one was outside because that would have been bad…real bad! Haha I check in and wait which felt like an eternity….and finally the interview was happening! It took all of fifteen minutes. I felt really good after it! Along with the good feeling comes the waiting….at times, I can be impatient! I would rather them just say no you don’t have the job or yes you have the job after the interview.

After a week of waiting and wondering, I get my official letter saying I didn’t get the job! I knew others were interviewing for this position, so I knew ahead of time that I may or may not receive the position. Still when I received the official word, I was in some sort of shock. At this point I’m in a panic because now I have to figure out what’s next. Do I apply for other schools in the area, or do I just go home where I know I have a high chance of getting hired…… I think about it for a couple of days, and I know for a fact I don’t want to move back to West Memphis. Don’t get me wrong, I love my hometown and I’m glad I was raised there, but I just don’t want to move back. Second, if I went back home, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much. Although I know I’m capable of holding my own ground and I could get a job based on my own credentials, I still have that feeling that I’m being hired because my mother is well known in the district. I’ve always liked to challenge myself, so I decided to do some more jobs searching and apply for other positions in the NWA area before submitting things to West Memphis.

I received the letter last Tuesday; the following day, Wednesday, I went to visit my students from the first semester. It felt so good to be back on team silver and stars! I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was having one of the normal conversations with my mentor teacher and another teacher on the team. It was like I had never left. I was so happy to see my students! They’re still awesome and well-behaved! At the end of the day, I was talking with some students, and got a special message that there was a co-teaching language arts position open if I was interested. I had a semester’s experience of co-teaching, and I loved it. I got the contact information for the person who was hiring for the position, and I set up an interview with her. I interviewed this Tuesday; I received my official call Wednesday, and signed some paperwork on Thursday! I’m officially employed in Rogers Public Schools. I’d have to say the most exciting part about Thursday was taking my id picture, and it had teacher, not intern, under my name! I wanted to take a picture of it, but I left my phone and camera in my car!

It’s kinda hard to explain to people what I’ll be doing next year if they’re not familiar with teaching. I’ll be teaching at two different schools. I’ll be teaching at Lingle Middle School 1st, 2nd, and 3rd period and Oakdale Middle School 5th, 6th, and 7th period. 4th period will be my planning, traveling, and lunch. The schools are a block away, so it’s not a bad commute between the two. Here’s the last twist to the puzzle, I have to go back to school because co-teaching requires a regular English teacher and special education teacher. I’ll be the special education teacher. I have to take five classes so I can be certified to teach special education. I’ve always said I wanted to teach small classes, and God gave me my prayer. With special education, I can’t teach more than eight students alone in a classroom. It’s going to be amazing! The weird part is…. I’m actually excited about taking the classes! I’m a nerd; I swear!

It’s so hard to believe that I’m about to start my career, or in my friends words…my big girl job. I was laughing in my head Thursday when we were discussing insurance plans. REALLY! INSURANCE PLANS! I’m about to have my own insurance plan! It’s even more amazing how God works in mysterious way. After the first interview, I was praying for direction if something didn’t go right. I wanted to make the right decision and not just an impulsive decision that I would later regret. I kept praying for a sign or feeling to let me know that this is the job for you. One unexpected talk led me to a new position and interview that I wouldn’t have known about without help. It was God’s way of showing me this is it by putting me in the right place at the right time.

I’m gonna close with a few pictures of my testimony house that is now officially empty! I’ve had some amazing times in this house this year! I can’t believe it’s already time to move into my own place without a roommate. I’m excited about living by myself, but at the same time it’s gonna be weird because I won’t have someone inside the house with me to talk too.

Until next time….

no table :-(

empty kitchen!

a few spots but no couches

my empty closet

my empty bedroom :-(

prom picture!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Is it really over?

Is this real life?

Am I dreaming?

These are the thoughts going through my brain as I sit on the couch watching TV without one inch of guilt. The MAT is finally over, and I can’t be happier! This year and a half has been an amazing and challenging journey. Would I do it over…….ummm…..NO! BUT, I can say I've grown not only as an educator but also as a person.

I’m more reflective. If you wrote a reflection about everything you did and why for a year, you would be more reflective too. Because of the MAT, I’ve taken reflecting to the next level and incorporated it into my….. personal life! As you can see…it’s getting out of hand. For instance, Thursday, I went to the mall, and I instantly fell in love with this ring. (if you know me, you know I have a slight obsession/weakness for shoes, purses and jewelry.) Since I wanted it, I was gonna buy it. I get half way to the register, look over the ring, and I pondered for like 5 mins whether or not I really needed the ring. I made a list of pros and cons in my brain….then I came to the conclusion that I had a ring that resembled it, and I put it back. So, my new reflecting skills kept $20 in my pocket, but it’s starting to ruin the rush I get from shopping. (lol)

2nd, I’m more confident. I’ve always been confident in my abilities and myself. I’ve never doubted that I couldn’t do anything. I was raised in a family of driven and hardworking people who didn’t take I can’t or no as a possible answer. My parents, grandparents, and aunts taught me that I could do anything as long I put my mind to it and believed in God. They also taught me the importance of never settling. Those were areas I didn’t have issues with, but I did I have a problem voicing my opinions. I use to keep a lot of things in because I was afraid that I would offend someone, or my opinions would be misinterpreted. I really hate hurting people’s feelings. (I know my best friends are saying…whatever) I’m a little softer than people believe, so when I hurt someone, I feel bad about it for a long time. During my second internship and the second semester of classes, I noticed I really didn’t have a problem voicing my opinions about things I didn’t agree with, or asking for further explanation when I needed clarification on tasks. I was speaking up for something one day in class and kept defending the topic. When I thought about it, I shocked myself. I see this as a gain because now I know I won’t back down when I’m passionate about something.

3rd- I’m more sensitive towards people and their problems. Working with seventh graders has been a humbling experience. They truly don’t have a problem expressing themselves and letting you know if your intentions are good…or in their words STUPID! JI appreciate that; some people would be offended, but it makes me more aware. A lot of the times, I’m not aware that my actions upset others. I would never hurt someone intentionally. That’s not my goal in life. It’s another reason why I appreciate seventh graders. They don’t have a problem telling you that you hurt them. Now, I’m more aware of my facial expressions and actions. (I’ve been told that I have deadly facial expressions, but I don’t notice them because it’s just a natural thing) I can really say that my students have made me a better person. Although most of them have problems that twelve years should have, some of them have adult problems. Most of those students who have a lot of responsibility in their lives are striving and beating the odds. Their actions have taught me to stop complaining over minimal things, and just be thankful for what you have. So many people would die for the life I leave, and sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough. Now, I know I’m blessed beyond measure. I thank God daily for my life and experiences. They’ve made me who I am, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Since I haven’t blogged in forever, I don’t think I told you guys about my second internship; if I did it wasn’t much. Leaving Kirksey was so sad for me! I literally cried from Russellville to Little Rock on my drive home after my last day. If you drive forty, you know that’s not a short distance. I had a great team and amazing students. So, when January came around, I wasn’t expecting a good experience at all. In my mind, my new school experience would never measure to my Kirksey experience.

Holt and Kirksey are different as night and day. I learned to accept the differences between the two schools. Even if I didn’t agree with the way they were doing things, I had to go with it because they had a reason for doing things the way they did them. I also had to get adjusted to teach a new subject, Social Studies. At first, I was nervous because I didn’t know if my teaching strategies were effective or not. As time progressed, I learned strategies from my university classes and my first and second mentor teachers. I just took a little from their teaching strategies and made my own.Then…Social Studies almost became second nature. At times, I felt like I had been teaching the subject for years. Creating Social Studies lesson plans/projects was really fun. I got the chance to read about the different historical figures and wars to help me plan and make learning relevant to my students.

I guess I’ll keep my topic on my students. I started the semester off w/o a mentor due to the Sugar Bowl. I’m not gonna lie….those first three days were rough! I got more attitude and eye rolling that first week than I did my whole first semester. Looking at it now, I know they were testing me; they wanted to see how I rolled and were shocked that I meant what I said and I didn’t and wasn’t going to budge. As the year continued, things progressively got better and by my ending day they were perfect. (too my standards anyways J)

Every day in Social Studies with them was a great adventure. Whenever I taught, they made me feel like I was the most amazing person in the world. They just looked with so much interest and were so attentive. Sometimes it was scary how much they were paying attention and not gazing in another world. I realized that I was possibly doing something right when one my popular female students, who gave me a rough time that first week, volunteered (w/o being asked) to talk about a personal connection with the materials we were learning and even had a complex questions for me to answer….ALL IN THE SAME PERIOD! (my mouth hit the floor in my head)

They also got so excited about all the different projects we created and different learning stations they worked in. They created some amazing projects that I plan to keep for my future classroom. They were even bold enough to accept me implementing writing in Social Studies. They did question me at first, but after we did it for about two weeks, it became second nature to them.

I was so excited that the program was ending, but I was so sad to leave my kids. These students really didn’t show much affection towards me. I mean let’s be honest as humans we all want to be liked, but when you’re teaching you have to put that in the back of your mind. It’s all about having control and making the best decisions for all of the students. So, I wasn’t expecting much expression from them when I left.

My last day was really eye opening. As soon as school started, I had students coming in hugging me, and asking why I had to leave. I think I hugged each of my students three times on my last day. I was even more surprised when I was thrown a surprise party. It was too sweet! I was just in awe that whole day.

Last semester, I gave each of my students a Christmas card. I wrote each of them a personal note. I made each on them original. When I talked to my mentor from the first semester, she told me that several of the students kept their cards and used them as bookmarks and so on…. So, I decided to try it again this semester. I didn’t know how these students would respond, but it was worth a try. This semester, my classes were so much bigger! I think my smallest class had twenty-three. Last semester, twenty-three was my biggest class. So, I wrote 100+ notes. My hand was about to fall off, but it was so worth it. I passed all of those notes out, and the students really liked it. It was the first time I’ve handed them something all semester that wasn’t left on the floor. I guess my second and third periods talked about their notes so much that when it got to fifth and sixth period, that was the first things that came out their mouths when they entered in the room! I was ecstatic that they enjoyed it; they were so impressed that I actually handwrote them and made them all different.

Giving those notes was one of the highlights of my day. Just seeing them smile made me feel like I accomplished something. Even if they didn’t learn anything about Social Studies the whole time I was there, I was glad to see them smile and realize that I cared about them, and I only want them best for each of them.

2nd highlight- one of my favorite students approached me at the end of the school day while I was on dismissal duty. This student is such a gentleman and model student; he’s very popular amongst his peers and starts for the 9th grade varsity b-ball team (remember he’s a 7th grader) with the junior high kids. 7th grade boys don’t show much emotion. They try to be cool and act like nothing bothers them. I guess he didn’t read his note until after class. When he was going home he stopped, in front of all of his friends, and gave me the longest hug in the world; he also thanked me for teaching him and making him do his best work all times. I was shocked! I expected this from my girls, but not a boy. His actions made my day, and reassured me for the 100th time that I’m in the right profession!

I’ve subbed at Holt twice since my last day, and it’s so great to see my kids. They make me feel like they really miss me! It was so cute to come back to sub and have notes on my desk from so many students. That meant a lot to me. They probably broke all their class rules writing those notes. They wanted to write me notes because I wrote them one! It was so sweet!

So all and all….this semester was a great one and I’ve learned tons about myself, my teaching abilities, and so much more. Currently, I’m really enjoying my free time! It feels good to actually do things like cleaning, reading, and watching TV and not feel like you have 100+ other things that need to be done.

Since graduation was yesterday and everything is pretty much official, the real world has slowly but surely made her appearance in my life. I’m applying for jobs all over. I would love to stay in NWA and work. I had an interview at my first internship rotation school, Kirksey, Tuesday; I’m confident about it. I interviewed for a sixth grade language arts position; Kirksey would be an amazing place to begin my career. I’m familiar with the school and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Hopefully, I’ll get the job, but if not I know that God has something else planned for me.

I’ve been writing a while, so I’m gonna wrap this blog up! I’ll leave you with pictures of my 7th yellow all-star babies!

This first picture is of my 3rd hour students! I miss them dearly!

My 5th period class! Boy they were a handful! I have never seen a class with that much energy in my life! They always kept me on my toes! I enjoyed it!

My favorite class of the day!! My sixth period! They were a breath of fresh air everyday!
1st pic- Spirit Week with two of my favs!
2nd pic- typical day in sixth period! hahaha

CPR! (their initials)My favorite boys! They were up to something! They crack me up on a daily basis! The one in orange shirt was mentioned in my highlights!

Typical day with Mr. Johnson!

some way or the other he ends up having to move by me every time we present presentations! I guess both of us were glaring into space during this one presentation! lol

Spirit week again with my fifth period girls! I love them!