I took a group of my jouralism students down to the elementary school today and we read to the special needs students. It was such a great experience. We went into two classes at the elementary school, one for grades K-3 and the other 4-6. We also read Christmas stories and sang to the special needs/severe unit at our high school. It was wonderful to see my little journalists reaching out to the special needs kids who ate up every moment of it! And the teachers loved that we were entertaining their vacation-restless students. I really feel full of the Christmas spirit tonight.
Merry Christmas everyone! May your holidays be bright.
I received a really cool compliment from my administrator yesterday. He said I work really well with the at-risk students. He wants me to consider getting my ESL endorsement (paid for by the district) because of how well I work with that demographic. That just made me feel really good because I do work really well with at-risk students as well as ELL students and I feel a lot of accomplishment and feel success in my ability to help kids who are having a really hard time academically and in life. I am happy that that is something that is known about me as a teacher! He said I am known as a good teacher and that feels great.
The funniest things happen when you are not even trying to have fun. A group of friends and I went up to Temple Square to see the lights last weekend and we had this funny idea to make fun of peple who kiss at Temple Square while seeing the lights, so we posed for fake kissing pics. Then we decided for the first pic to think of captions and came up with: Suddenly she noticed his two, very long, very sharp, white teeth. Haha, I call it the Temple Square Twilight Picture.
Broaken: the way this English teacher spelled broken on the white board this week. Embarassing? Not really. Yes, but no. I am almost incapable of being embarrassed anymore. But yeah, very embarrasing for an English teacher. It happens on occasion. Here is the deal. I am a visual learner and learned to spell by reading. So now that I am a teacher I read all sorts of awful spelling and I absorb a little bit of it on occassion - but just momentarily. I catch myself, but gosh knows what my spelling will be like in 30 years! Here is an example of what I read this week while reading student journals. Look at all of the creative spellings this one 10th grade student had for the word Journal:
Save me now. i think I need a new job before the kids think spelling is not important because even their English teacher cannot spell (only on occassion, but always when I am on the spot!)
"All-in-all this is a very good book and should be on the top 100 books to read before you die. So learn that this book should be cherished by all, with a blanket by a fire and a nice big glass of apple juice."
The Crucible by Arthur Miller is one of my all-time favorite pieces of literature. I read it every year with my 11th grade students. I talk it up by mentioning that it is (and it is) on the 10 ten banned book list for public schools. It is banned because of sexual reference, swearing, religion, witchcraft, murder, hatred, slavery, and disturbing content.
After we finish the play I have them write persuasive essays about why the work has merit and should be read. I recieve arguments about how we learn repentance, forgivenss, about peer pressure, pride, to listen, about our history, the early court system, self-worth, integrity, and my favorite, redemption. But if those reasons alone cannot get you to read the book here are a few of my favorite arugments from my students:
"What comes to mind when you think of a great American love story, with withcraft, murder, crappy court hearings, and real jerks? That's right, one of the greatest books in America. No, not Harry Potter, The Crucible you crazy. Now pay attention, this could change your life: 'This book should be read in class,' said Chuck Norris of The Total Gym Commercial." (Male student)
"If I had my choice I would read this book again; I would totally go for it. It was a good book and made me almost cry. The passionate kiss at the end was among the top three most passionate kissess ever in my book." (This from a boy!)
"This book should be read by everyone because it shows that, I know it's hard to believe, but there are some bad people out there. Also is shows there are a also a lot of good people that are willing to die to save others. And last but not least it shows us discipline. "You will keep your seat." (84) And sticking your neck out could get it cut off." (Need I say it again?)
Anyway - sometimes grading student papers is not boring, and sometimes we welcome these responses only because they make us pause to laugh out loud in the middle of a public place.
My pitch for reading the book is that it forces you to take a look inside yourself and ask yourself if you believe in yourself, in your name, in forgiveness of self and others, and in redemption. You cannot read this book and not be changed.
I think next to paper clips and staplers my favorite invention is the sticky note. You can remind yourself of anything at anytime and you can stick them anywhere! They even come in bright colors so you can organize your colors according to urgency. They even make them accordian-style now so you can more easy rip them off the sticky note pad.
Jane Austen would probably roll over in her grave - but read it - it is halarious. It is like reading a movie adaptation of the novel. I picked it up out of curiosity, but it is so fun! My only caution - it might give you bad dreams. The first night I started reading the book I dreamt I scratched my face and the flesh of my cheek fell to the floor followed by the flesh of my upper body. :D
You don't have to like zombies to like this book - part of what makes it so funny to me is the self-referential humor - the book makes fun of itself - or I should say it would make fun of itself if it was written by Austen herself. Nevermind if you don't follow what I am trying to say - you can enjoy the Austen feel while also making fun of the Austen feel.
My favorite part of the book is actually the co-author's bio that says the following: "Jane Austen is the author of...masterpeices of English literature. Seth Grahame-Smith once took a class in English literature."
And for those you who won't ever pick up P&P&Zombies, A Thousand Splendid Suns may be more your style. This is a heart wrenching book about two womens' lives in Afghanistan - but the take home message to me, is the beauty of life and indominable human spirit.
I cried this morning. Good thing it was during my prep hour. I have put in 3 - 12 hour days this week at work. I'm flying out to my grandfather's funeral right after school - I hope I don't miss my plane.
I try to keep it all together. I work full time as a teacher - don't kid yourself - the work is not done at 2:30 p.m. I grade papers a couple of hours a night, take on the extra responsibility of the school newspaper, am an advisor of the Hope club, am the school PR person, and end up being asked to chaparone dances, participate in spirit rallies and it seems like a million other things. I also just started my reading endorsement program where I take graduate education classes one full night a week on Tuesdays which requires me to read about 30 + pages of research writing a week and write a 2- page paper each week. I try to go to the gym everyday and have some sort of a social life, go to the temple and church and fill my church callings.
Last week I missed two days of school because I finally broke down. Sick. This weekend I found out my grandfather died and I will miss a day of school this weekend as I attend a last minute funeral service in Columbus, Ohio.
Things fall apart. I have 150 + essays to read, I didn't get my visiting teaching reports in, the student newspaper is now over a week overdue and not finished. My brother and sister think I am ignoring them, and I started my period yesterday. I finally cried this morning.
Last week was homecoming. I was asked to participate in the school's Super Star Ralley as a member of the faculty team. I brought my brother with me to participate in the relay races. The next day at school all the students could talk about in my classes was who that hot guy was with me, and was he my boyfriend? Just tell us who he is Ms.E, just tell us who he is!!!! My cute brother said I could lie, so I neither confirmed nor denied anything. I did however tell them I would be bringing a different guy with me to the homecoming game on Friday.
Friday rolls around and I show up at the football game with my friend S. He put on a show for the kids that they can't stop talking about today. We walked in holding hands and then when we entered the bleecher section and walked passed the student section and S being the slightly cocky and funny guy that he is dropped my hand, threw his arm around my shoulder and waved to the student section - which then broke out in an erruption of "E's got a boyfriend!" followed by cheering. S continued to do the head-tilt and walk with his arm around me passed the faculty and family section of the bleechers and now all my students can say is "I saw you with your boyfriend Ms. E!" and "Have you kissed him yet?" and "That obviously wasn't a first date!" and finally, "He's handsome."
A former student came to visit me today after a month of USU. He was a student in my journalism class for two years, and during that time I saw him grow, change, improve in writing skills, as well as step up and become the student body president, play three sports, and lead in the school musical all the while his parents went through a painful divorce; good kid. He came into the faculty room to tell me that he(as a freshman) is a staff writer for the student newspaper at USU which is quite an acoomplishment! He was given the sports beat, and it doing a great job! He covered the Lodi bike race last weekend and has a 1200 word article online as well as in the newspaper. He came to my room during 4th to give me the link so I can read all of his articles online!
These are the moments teachers teach for. Not that he wouldn't have blossomed in these skills under another hand, but nevertheless it was rewarding for me to mentor this student and then to see him succeed in an area that I helped train him in. Similarly another one of my students is at BYU and she proudly facebook-ed me to tell me she helped the students in her writing class change passive voice to active voice in their writing assignments like I had taught her!
I created a bucket list for the next year of my life - August to August. This weekend I accomplished #6: Hike the Virgin River Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah. And here is what I have to say about it:
Don't be scared. The hike is easy. It's only called a hike because you need to wear hiking shoes or tennis shoes, carry a back pack and use a walking stick.
Yes, you need a walking stick. Probably 70% of the hike is through the Virigin River, and at times it is above the waist and swift, but if you have good shoes and a walking stick, it is more like a "nature walk" through the water.
The views are amazing! But this is not a "hike" for people who hate being wet.
P.S. Who said it was okay for 65 year old men and women to hike in their bathing suits only? Oh, well, good for them for having no inhibitions, I guess? :D
I am disconcerted that the school district I work for didn't allow Obama's speech to be viewed in school today. I'm not an Obama lover or hater, but I think not allowing it to be shown in school is sending a message to our students that they should not trust or respect our president.
My friends called up two weeks before school started and said let's go to L.A. I said okay! We went to Disneyland, stayed with my friend Krista in Hunington Beach and got fake tattoos, and laid out at the beach, ate gelato, checked out cute boys, and went window shopping. It was such a fun weekend away!
My tattoo is of a Roman gladiator (I have been penchant for all things Italian ever since I kissed a cute Italian man in Rome, but that is another story!) My friends got little tattoos on their backs, but I said, go big or go home! :D It was only a couple of dollars and we got them right on the beach. It felt fun to feel a little wild and scandalous. Ah, the secret life of the conservative, Utah school teacher! :D Oh, and the water was so warm and beautiful! Too bad I'm back to work now!
One fall fashion I cannot fall for this year is plaid. Do you remember all the plaid and flannel we wore in 8th and 9th and 10th grade? Did we want to look like loggers and farmers? (No offense to farmers since I come from a farm family).
All over Macey's and everywhere else everything is coming up plaid, plaid, plaid. Sure the cuts are a little different, but I just cannot do it! My evidence that it is just too soon to bring back plaid: I flipped on the t.v. today while grading papers and Stephanie on Full House is wearing a plaid farmer shirt with a black ribbon chocker. It's just too soon!
I love the church's old ad spots from the 80's where "it's about time."
I have been thinking a lot about the languages of love lately because of an article I read about the challenges in the various stages of marriage. The author said one challenge that occurs in the newly wed stage of marriage is figuring out how to love one another. He said it is typical human nature to love someone the way you want to be loved, and not necessarily the way they need to be loved. The challenge then is to find out the way your spouse needs to be loved and love them accordingly - which he said in turn is cyclical and will lead to you being loved the way you need to be loved in return.
I have been experimenting with a few different guys and trying to find out what works. I tried to identify the way they treated me - to see if that is the way then that they want to be treated. It has been interesting and I have a few stories.
But what I really have been doing I think is identifying the ways I need to be loved and I have figured out I am a verbal, but also, a "time" person. I have spend a lot of time with different people this summer and recently with my family, and I think that just spending time with someone/people I care about is what makes me feel loved and what makes me love them more. I don't necessarily need gifts or to have people do service for me, but when someone spends time with me, listens to me, and we enjoy ourselves even doing "nothing" together that is really fulfilling for me. And I think that although we all have our different love languages, gifts, praise, service, touch, ect., I think spending time with one another is so important if at all possible. It does seem to be, at least for me, about time.
On an ending note, one of my favorite songs from Keith Urban has this line in it: "I'll earn your trust by making memories of us." Romantic right?
(If you want to see more pics I have a folder of different pics on my facebook).
1. Riding donkeys along the cliffs in Santorini. 2. Eating Greek, Turkish, & Italian food in little resturants. 3. Trying to zip all over the little island of Myknonos, Greece on a 4-wheeler. 4. Avoiding the naked men at Super Paradise Beach, Mykonos. 5. Smoking a water pipe (really just water)in Istanbul with the locals. 6. Stand up toilets in Turkey. 7. Hearing the calls to prayer, and seeing the covered women in Turkey. 8. Shopping for pottery at the Grand Bazar. 9. Seeing the Parthanon, Ephesus, the Coliseum - favorite historical sites. 10. Pompeii. 11. Almost missing the boat in Turkey, and the subway breaking down in Athens. 12. Riding on a pickpocket's motorbike in Napoli. 13. Real Italian pizza in Napoli. 14. Going out to dinner with good looking Italian men in Rome. 15. Jumping on the bed and flooding the bathroom/bedroom in our hotel room. 16. Being asked if I was from Russia or China, being called Amy Lee and Ginger Spice, and men proposing to me on the spot for my red hair. 17. The blue tiles in the harem at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul. 18. Witnessing the ceremony/celebration of a 10 year old the day before his circumscision. 19. The warm, blue Aegean sea. 20. All the people we took the time to talk to, have show us around, eat with, and learn stories from; you really learn about a country from its people.
My old passport served me well: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Mexico. Now it's time to break in the new one! I won't be posting for a few weeks (not that I have been very regular lately) because I will be in Greece and Turkey! I'll post pics when I get home! I promise I will keep my money safe and not get kidnapped and sold into white slavery. :D But if I do--I'll have some good stories for you!
I had a little mini-Christmas miracle yesterday and I thought I would share. I bought a new/used car a month ago (his name is Pete) and it is was just a few miles under its manufacturer's warranty when I discovered the air conditioning sporradically would decide not to work. I rushed it to the dealership 25 miles inside the warranty and they insisted nothing was wrong with it. Every time they turned on the air conditioner it worked fine. So after 3 days of having my car on their lot they said, sorry, it is working fine. After asking my dad to call the dealership because I was sure they didn't believe me because I am a female - and they kindly extended my ticket/warranty for 2 days. Monday I drove my car 150 miles up to SLC then to Park City, all around hoping it would break and that I could drive it to the dealership broken so they would believe me and fix it for free. Nothing happened. It wouldn't break! My parents kept telling me to have faith and pray and I thought - pray for my car to break down? This is a mechanical machine, is the Lord going to make my car break down? So after an entire day of driving knowing my warranty would expire the next day I sent a few frustrated prayers to Heavenly Father. I hate when I break down in frustration and feel like a Laman and Lemuel. Well, Tuesday I got up and drove to the temple to do a session in AF because Provo is closed for cleaning, resloved that the Lord was just not going to answer that prayer - wasn't going to make my car break down at will. A few miles from the temple in AF my air conditioning broke again and I prayed all the way back to Provo on the freeway it would stay broken until I reached the dealership. And it did! The mechanic was able to bring out another guy and they looked at it and in amazement realized I was right. 5 minutes later after they wrote up the work ticket it starting working again. The Lord made my car break down for me just long enough....and you might be skeptical, but I call it a Christmas miracle in June!
Love the line from While You Were Sleeping: "Do yourself a favor and remind yourself you are single and just end the conversation!" So -- I am going to give you married people some advice. Remind yourself you are married and feel blessed today - despite the money issues and the diapers and carpets that just got spit up on. Remind yourself you are married and enjoy it.
Why do I feel like passing on that bit of advice? D-T-R. Remember those? How about premature DTRS from crazy boys who should realize that dating me would basically change their world forever? :D Okay, toning down the sarcasm. But really, seriously, I know being married is not easier than being single - you are right - it is probably harder, but think for me, just think, just go down memory lane and remember for me the feeling of D.T.R.
On a lighter note, I just hiked Angel's Landing last weekend in Zions and it was so scarey and I made it! And I am proud of myself, and if I can climb that high, scary mountain - I can handle anything a boy or two can throw my way, right? Right.
Graduation this year was bittersweet. My first set of kids that I have seen all through their high school career - that were sophomores the first year I taught and then I taught again as juniors and a few that I have taught as seniors graduated last week. I will miss those kids. They were the ones excited about me when I was their brand new teacher and were still the nicest kids to me in the hallways this past year. I think I went through a little withdrawl the last week of school when they were not there!
Anyway - on their exit survey 5 seniors said I was the teacher that had made the biggest difference in their lives. This is what they said (anonomously):
"I had her English class she pushed me on my essays and perfected them. She believed I had a lot of potential. I wrote the best essays ever, learned a lot."
"For teaching me that even though it may be hard, honesty is always best."
"Had been both a great teacher and a great friend."
"She always pushed me to become my best in a positive way. She helped me learn how to express myself through words. She is a great teacher."
"Was a great teacher and friend I loved being around her, she's great."
Five might be a small number of lives to change, but I really was touched by these comments--it was a rewarding moment for me as a teacher!
I am outside my house checking my oil and the hottest man in all of Provo comes over and asks if I need help and I don't, but he helps anyway and while we are standing there chatting (me holding up the hood of my car), a big old bumble bee comes flying around me and won't leave me alone and must like my deoderant because it is flying around my arm pit / area and I'm trying not to scream, and am whimpering a little and trying to hold still and said hottest man in the neighborhood says with a chuckle that he would swat the bee away for me but it is in a precarious position (which it was): Embarassing Moment.
Okay--not quite, but close enough. Yesterday I had one of the weirdest experiences of my teaching career, or one of the most devious anyway. So I was caught after lunch in the hallway by a group of boys all dressed up in suits and ties. They were doing an assignment for the TV Broadcast class about dating. They said, "Oh, here is Ms. E, let's interview her!" So I stoped in the hallway, smiled for the camera, and answer their questions, 'Yes, I think dating is an important social skill to learn....' and I didn't realize what they were doing until they asked me if I was dating anyone and I was like oh,no! They proceeded to ask me how I felt about the single male teachers at the school and then to make a long story short--they caught me on camera saying, yes, I would go on a date with Mr. W if they set me up with him and paid for it! WOW. So yeah, caught on camera saying I would go out with Mr. W. that was a whole new level of deviousness from my students. They have tried daily for the last year + to get he and I hooked up. Turned out they were not dressed up for TV Broadcasting but their soccer game. And then they took their "evidence" that I would go out with him to Mr. W. Yeah. Wow.
As I have gotten older I have realized something. It does you no good to hide your imperfections and the trials you are going through from your close friends--because we all have hardships and we need the comfort and help we receive from sharing with each other.
It's funny how when you are younger you think if you never let anyone know your trials everyone will think you have a perfect life. And maybe they will--but most of us know we are all seceretly going to things~. And it can be easy to see the successes of others and feel like we have gotten a bum rap in some ways. But I love how Elder Maxwell says we are all given trials relatively equally--they are just different. And I love how Elder Holland says that just because God is smiling at one person--does not mean He is therefore frowning at you--.
I have tried my whole life to hide my imperfections from others--but guess what? I know you can all see them--and love me anyway. And my current huge issue of getting old and single--guess what? Not something I can hide. Is it hard sometimes, yes. Am I still happy about my life? Yes.
I read a funny Hallmark card the other day that said "Friends are the people who know everything about you and love you anyway!" So true.
I think women are a gift to each other because we have the sensitivity to share and help and genuinely care about one another. I'm thankful for all of my good friends--and here is to being good enough friends to really talk to each other and share and help one another!