Thursday, January 29, 2009

8 things about me....

I was tagged by my BFF over at The Ivey League to post 8 things all about me. Although the rules say that I'm supposed to do this and then tag other people to force them into revealing things about themselves, I'm going to just do it for fun! Since I'm sure you're all just dying to read about me here goes.

1. I am a special education teacher while I like my job, I don't want to spend 20 more years in the classroom. I'm hoping to move more into the administrative side of sped which I get to do some since I'm a Lead Teacher at my school. I also secretly think that I'm much better at the administrative side of things than I am in the classroom.

2. Becoming an aunt is one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me. Getting to watch my sister as a mom is one of the most wonderful and inspiring things that's ever happened to me. I aspire to be as good of a mother as she is.

3. I was an Au Pair in Paris for several months, but got kicked out of the country by the government.

4. The above story IS true, but it's not nearly exciting as it sounds. I was there right after 9/11 and the French Government wouldn't give me a visa because the family I was working for weren't French. Still I can now say that I lived in France, and that I got kicked out. It's my "go-to" story when I have to introduce myself along with an interesting fact about my life.

5. The longer I spend at work, the thicker (and more Southern) my accent becomes. Friends from HS and College say that I have a Southern accent all the time, but I don't really believe them.

6. I tend to panic in large, crowded situations. I've actually had to jump out of a car in the parking lot of an outlet mall before because there were TO MANY PEOPLE! My friends and family embrace this quirk and are no longer offended when I simply take off for an open space and air to breath (even if it means ditching them in a crowded store).

7. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis last year 6 weeks before my 30th birthday. I was in constant, mind-numbing pain for 6 months before medications started to kick in. Despite all of that I feel that I have a much better perspective on life now, and am more thankful for the blessing that the Lord has given me. It has also made me feel closer to my grandfather even though he died when I was 16. I think that I have a better understanding of what a wonderful man he was since he lived with RA without the benefit of the meds that I take.

8. During those 6 months of horrible I couldn't sleep at night because it hurt to much (I also couldn't chew or open doors, but that's another story). Instead of sleeping I sat up and watched war movies. When you're watching some poor soldier get his leg blown off in the forest of Bastogne your pain doesn't feel so bad.

So now you know all kinds of interesting facts about me....what about you?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My House of Dreams

Two years ago I found myself in the incredibly lucky position to be able to buy my own house. The house hunt itself was pretty easy because once I saw the House of Dreams I knew that I had to have it. The thing was that the house was absolutely disgusting. There were stains on the carpet the size of a person. The walls were black with dirt (how is that even possible). The ceiling fans had feet of dust hanging off of them (the dust was hanging so low that even I could touch it). The yard was so overgrown that you could barely see the windows. I won't even mention the kitchen because it was to gross for words! The good news for me was that I could see the potential in the house, and I was able to get a LOT of work done on it as part of the deal.
It's been two years and I still absolutely love my house. I love that there are rooms that are still unfinished and empty because I haven't found the right inspiration for them yet. I love that the rooms I have finished were done exactly the way I want them. I love that I can have a completely frustrating and annoying day at work and then come home an instantly relax when I walk into my house!
It is still a work in progress, and one that I love working if only I knew what to do with that extra bedroom.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Compulsive Reader

I am a compulsive reader, I admit it. I'm not ashamed of the fact that I have two shelves full of books that I've bought and haven't read yet. I read all the time. I know for a fact that I read 112 books in 2008. I know that because I keep a list. I started the list because I was curious about how many books I actually read. I keep the list because I'm a wee bit obsessive compulsive. The list is even broken down my months since I wasn't satisfied with my 2007 list that just had a total number of books read

In addition to being a compulsive reader I also love bookstores. And when I say that I love bookstores I mean that I really, really love them. I love the smell, and the sound, and the sight of bookstores. Once in London I went to a bookstore that is 5 stories tall. It was possibly the greatest day of my life (okay maybe not the greatest day, but it definitely makes the top 20). It was what I imagine my personal heaven to look like. There were books floor to ceiling and crammed into corners. I spent the better part of an afternoon roaming the store and didn't even see half of it.

While the bookstores here just can't compare to the magical afternoon I spent at Foyles I still manage to waste plenty of afternoons just wandering the aisles of my local bookstores. I hate shopping in general, and don't understand going to a store "just to look", but a bookstore is the one store that I'm always willing to visit. It doesn't matter if I have money to spend, or time to shop I'll drop just about anything for the chance to go to a bookstore. This afternoon was a prime example; I wasted an hour (and $50 that i didn't have) at Barnes & Noble. I found 4 new books that can join the growing number of books on my shelves just waiting to be read.

I can't say why I keep buying books, or when I'll get through reading all of the books I have, but no matter what at least my compulsive tendencies aren't hurting anything...well except for my bank account.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Writing Test

Now I know that just yesterday I wrote about how I needed to complain less, and remember the good times more. Well today I experienced both a frustrating moment, and a funny one...all in the same period.

Every year certain grades are required to take a state mandated writing test. Today was writing test day which equals no fun for teachers, although come to think of it I did get a bunch of work done. Anyway during the writing test students are given a topic on which to write (pretty self-explanatory). They have a set amount of time to prewrite, draft, edit, write final copy, and proofread. Since I have special education students we get a bit more time but still have to take the same test. I thought some of you might enjoy this recreation of an actual test**....

Writing topic: Your principal is thinking about changing the length of class periods from 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Write a letter to your principal explaining if you would rather have 50 minute or 60 minute long classes.

Here is the response that one of my students spent 9o minutes working on.... (spelling mistakes are his not mine).
Writing topic: Your principal is thinking about changing the length of class periods from 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Write a letter to your principal explaining if you would rather have 50 minute or 60 minute long classes. I love middle shool. I want to get 100 on the witing test.

End of Example

Oh yeah that's right, he just recopied the writing topic and then added two sentences at the end. Now the real kicker is that I know that he can write a letter. I'm not saying he could write a perfect letter, but he does know how to start letters and how to end them. He also knows better than to just copy the topic!! Arg...............

**This is not the actual writing topic that my students had today, but you get the idea!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Classroom woes

As a teacher I often get bogged down in the annoyances of daily classroom life.

Kids who won't work.
Parents who refuse to answer my phone calls.
The government officials who say that a test is the ONLY thing that matters all year.
A schedule that is impossible to keep.
A to do list that never ends.
Being a counselor, social worker, teacher, disciplinarian, and parent.
Getting bogged down school politics.
Students who just don't care and will make your life as difficult as possible.
Curriculum that needs to be modified so much that I practically have to rewrite the book.
Parents who don't support the school or their child, or who just don't care.............

To often I let all of these things drag me down, and forget why I decided to get into this business! But today I was talking to a high school student who is thinking about going to school to become a teacher. She just seemed so excited about the idea of teaching. I made me remember how thrilled I was when I first started. How exciting it can be to get into a classroom for the first time. Honestly it made me feel old and tired that I wasn't as excited or happy as she was.

I feel that excited about teaching about once a year, at the beginning of the year. That is the only time of year when everything is fresh and new. New kids, new school supplies, new possibilities. I love, love, love the beginning of the year. A lot of teachers disagree with me on this one. At the beginning of the year the kids don't know the rules or routines of the classroom. You have to 'break in' the class and get the kids back into school-mode. But it's still my favorite time of the year. So now I need to try and think back to August and remember how I felt then...maybe then I'll have less complaints and more fun!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our 44th President

Let me start by saying that I'm not an overly political person. I have my opinions, and I generally keep them to myself because people often go a little crazy when it comes to politics. But I did, and do support Barak Obama and was thrilled today to see him take the oath of office. The last 8 years have been full of ups and downs and I truly believe that the country needs this change.

On that note I have been annoyed today by the negative reactions from some people about the inauguration. I actually heard people say today that "this is no different than any other inauguration". Really people? How many other black presidents have we had? Oh yeah....NONE. And you know what, if the other side had won we would have watched that too because it would have also been a historic moment.

It was not to many years ago that a black man wasn't allowed to eat in the same restaurant as a white man. Black students were not allowed to attend schools with white students. It was illegal for a black man to marry a white woman. The nation was quite literally divided by race. And today, this amazing country saw a black man become the President! We have gone from a nation that had separate water fountains for blacks and whites, to a nation that could look beyond race to elect a young senator from Illinois to the highest possible office. The crowds in D.C. today were enormous and full of people of every race, and you know what...there were NO reported arrests. People who were there have commented that they saw no fighting. It was truly a giant celebration. During a time when the news is full of depressing reports on war and the economy isn't it nice to have something to celebrate?

My niece is from China so the idea of discrimination based on race is a real concern to me. I don't want her to grow up in a nation where the color of your skin can dictate the job you can hold. I want her to know that anyone, regardless of race, can achieve anything if they work hard at it. And I want her to know that the freedom this country provides allows me to celebrate today, and for others to complain.

So if you're happy today then I celebrate with you. If you're not happy today then I'd ask that you at least have the presence of mind to acknowledge that today history happened on the steps of the Capitol Building.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What can you do with a B.A. in English?

Ah the eternal question, asked my English majors (and their parents) all across the world. While the actual answer to that question varies from teaching to writing to editing to law school, the practical answer is…not much. Deep down inside every English major dreams of writing the next great American novel, but few actually do. Many, like myself, end up going back to school to gain an actual skill and their English degree sits inside their brains gathering dust. Well I’ve decided that it’s time to bring mine out and dust it off. After all I’m still paying for the thing so why not start using it. The blog world seems to be the best place to start exercising my B.A.!