26 July 2012

What I've learned...

Today I cried in class.  Well it was after, but there were numerous tears that I could not control.  I was talking to Dr. C about the class and most specifically, quiz 1.  It has been a joke in my cohort that we only need a C to graduate.  Who knew the first quiz would jeopardize that C.  It was a funny joke because none of us have made a C in a course yet.  It wasn’t so funny when I made a 26.7 on the first quiz (most scores were terrible, but mine was extremely bad).  I emphasize the .7 so everyone knows that it rounds up to 27.  Well Dr. C said that he was astonished we did so poorly as a class.  Honestly, I’m not sure many of us were astonished, I know I wasn’t.  I bought the book Thursday, before the Friday test.  We were told the material would be on only what we read, not what we discussed in class-which I thought was ridiculous and so therefore I didn’t believe.  I figured the assessment would be a synthesis between the reading and the discussions in class.  Yep, nope, it was purely on Joyce Van Tassel-Baska and memorizing specific topics.  I had taken notes, I had all of the answers…however I messed up the sections.  I put the topic after question 2 as it’s answer.  When Dr. C announced that we could do test corrections/explain our answers to improve our grade my classmates went home and wrote out the correct answers (from the book or notes) and explained why they did poorly.  Some turned in revisions on the test, others turned in four pages of rewrites and I’m sure ass kissing (I love you all, I do).  I looked at my test, discovered my errors and put the test in my notebook.  I deserved my “27”.  I did not study as much as I should have.  I did not memorize what should have been memorized.  However after emails and urgings from Dr. C it was pressed upon me to turn in an explanation. 

My beliefs on education are that not one person can dictate appropriateness for a general population.  I have already expressed this concern in my Common Core post.  I am enamored by the Sal Kahn debates in the Washington Post right now (he is not a king of math, he is just a guy with a good video voice).  I can memorize JVTB’s beliefs, but I don’t believe that me copying them from the book would express that for Dr. C.  I also don’t feel that I was given an outlet for relearning the material.  Remediation and relearning information is a huge platform for me and integrating parts of Rick Stiggin’s Assessment forLearning.  I provide my students newoutlets to learn, guidelines for turning in/showing their new learning.  Test corrections do not do this in their practice alone.  As a teacher, I consider it my job to ensure that students learn and that I have measurable, whether quantitative or qualitative, outcomes to demonstrate their learning.  As the AFL framework suggests, these outcomes are not solely for me, but they are for the students too, so they know their learning objectives and can assess for themselves if they learned them.  I do not know if my learning objectives for this assessment were to memorize JVTB’s work or to explain how this assessment was either appropriate or inappropriate.  When it came down to it, I had higher priorities on my list than rewriting answers.  Good attitude? No. There go those disposition points….

So back to me crying.  I’m not sure if it was the fact that I’m sad about leaving my classmates, embarrassed about my performance in the class or that I’m exhausted with thoughts running through my head.  Dan asked me this morning how my family was handling all the changes in my life.  He emphasized “all” and I knew what he meant.  How are they handling them?  Well it ranges from excitement  for my new beginning, to fear for the lack of children in my immediate future, to complete disregard for any future changes…I started the program married, confused about my educational stance and with a 5 year plan.  I am ending the program divorced, overly confident in my educational stance and no f’n clue what my one year plan has, let alone a 5. 

I entered this program because I needed more in my life.  I wanted to learn how to teach all kids better, especially the gifted students.  I wanted to be a leader in my school and lifelong learning example for my students.  Did I expect all A’s?  No.  If I had known half of the personal and professional ups and downs I would encounter in this process I may have expected less of myself.  I believe that the fact that I made a B in my math class was fantastic.  That was the semester that I taught three preps, coached tennis, lead professional development and moved out.  I spent a lot of time on the math steps and processes, very little time on the journals.  I put emphasis on what I thought was valuable for me, at the time, in my classroom.  I made an A in our Foundations course.  That, in and of itself is amazing, considering I never did the second half of the final exam.  My first half kicked ass (thanks Liz!) and I learned SO much from it, I did not write the reflection of it.  I learned so much in these classes, and I feel that I showed that I learned a lot in these classes, however I also prioritized my learning.  This is a way that we differentiate in our classes whether it is from tiered lessons or unit matrices, students learn what they need to learn, but can focus on their interests through authentic assessment (cough: JVTB: cough)

So let’s Dweck this out.  One thing I have focused on is constantly challenging myself.  I want to build stronger, smarter, me.  I want to surround myself with people that encourage and challenge me to learn more and be better.  So what can I do with this “27”?  Learn from it-reread, and then do better in the future.  I tried my hardest on quiz 2…even though I didn’t follow Dr. C’s guidelines of only using JVTB because I don’t think we can just synthesize on JVTB.  I want to put everything I’ve learned into practice.  I have put a lot of work into our curriculum unit and expanded on my previous matrix skills from Anderson and Krathwohl to a more intense plan.  I’m anxious for the final exam tomorrow.  I’m nervous that I will not show how much I learned in this course.  I’m nervous my over-exuberance in over-citations will annoy Dr. C.  I’m also nervous that I will cry because the waterworks still have not stopped.  I’m sad that I will be leaving some of the greatest professional development I have ever had-the people, the professors and Elon’s resources. 

So think about me around 10 am tomorrow.  Whether you are excited for new beginnings as a masters graduate or worried that all this “smarts” will make me not want to have kids (Gee and Pa) just send good vibes my way.  I’ll make you proud.  It may not be the way you want me to go about it, and it may involve more than you want, but I’ll make you proud.  Or at least I’ll make myself proud. 

07 July 2012

if you are at all sad I'm moving...don't read.

So I am quite sad to move.  I am scared out of my mind and do not want to leave a lot of this behind.  However, on that note, I am also incredibly excited.  I have constant knots in my stomach-the nervous butterflies are fighting the lumps that keep sneaking my throat making me want to cry.  I then also have a constant feeling that I’ve consumed too much caffeine because I’m jittery with excitement. 

When I want to cry the most is when Bakerloo is being a snuggle bug.

baby bakey

terror loo
So if you have never had the pleasure of meeting Bakerloo then you are missing out.  This dog was the cutest puppy you have ever seen.  Seriously.  When Canden and I got her people thought we were crazy.  We were seniors in college and, in all sincerity, probably didn’t need a dog.  However, it took one look at our Bakerloo and people would go…”oh that’s why you got a dog-she’s freakin’ adorable.”  Then this damned dog turned 1 and 2 and she was a terror.  Not really, but she was full of energy and cuh-razy.  Well this now almost 7 year old dog is quite possibly the sweetest, cuddliest, princess puppy ever.  She is so well behaved, still has a little crazy streak in her but calms down instantly.  I love her.  The thought of leaving her behind crushes me.  She wouldn’t live with me if I was in the country, but I could visit.  Seriously, if you haven’t met Bakerloo, you should.  Her number is 555-SNU-GGLE.  She responds well to treats, cuddles and the Family Guy theme song.

Can you take Bakerloo to Bahrain with you?
Legally?  Yes.  Dogs are allowed to travel to Bahrain and there is no quarantine time.  Real answer?  No. They are not supposed to travel in the summer months.  It is too hot and they do not acclimate the extreme heat well.  If you are taking an animal it is advised that you bring them in winter.  So if I wanted to bring her, it would have to be then.  But let’s be honest, just like when I was a senior in college, I do not need a dog in Bahrain.  And if we are being really honest, I’m a crappy mom to Loo.  She will be in much better hands with her Dad.  Hard to believe she will be nearly 9 when I come back. 

Another time I get sad is when I think about how my life will be on pause for two years.  I worked really hard to unpause my life in the past year.  I want to move forward professionally and personally.  I’m not sure if a two year stint where I throw my stuff in a storage room and have it chill until I come back is really “moving on.”  I have no freakin’ clue what I will learn in Manama.  I have no clue who I will meet.  But right now, as I pack up (or talk about packing up) my life it revolves around keeping things intact for when I move back in two years. 

Can you stay longer than 2 years?
Yes, if I’m hired.  You get a pretty big bonus too. 

What happens if you don’t stay for 2 years?
I don’t lose money, but I don’t get money. I get paid 12 months, but the 12th month is received when you come back…so if I don’t go back, I don’t get it.  If I resign AFTER January (after either 1 or 2 years) then I do lose summer checks.  Basically, unless I completely despise it, I’m planning on staying for two years. 

Will you be safe?
Do you trust me in American schools?  Then yes.  Honestly, the island is safe.  But for those of you that want to see for yourself you can visit the UK travel site.

Some things that I am getting excited about are scuba diving, traveling and teaching again!  I want to seek adventure and live it up!  I want to come back to America, smarter, wiser and even more excited to teach! 

Can you use more exclamation marks?
YES!!!!!  YES I CAN!!!!  (this is quite a spicy post-right Katy?)

06 July 2012

Let's recap June and move on....

Dear life,
Why are you continuing to happen here, when I leave in1-2 months and need you to slow the hell down? 

Summer is freakin’ flying by and I cannot even begin to discuss how much has happened in the month of June.  I started and finished my Master’s Portfolio (most likely why I will have to restart and finish it in July, but whatever).  I created a camp class, put on the camp and recapped the camp with the amazing help of my favorite cohort member Liz.  I realized that I love middle schoolers…but not for long periods of time.  I realized that elementary school kids make me want to go “Squeeee”, as in “You’re so cute, get away from me!”  I realized that I miss teaching.

Dear current and future employers,
I am feeling completely jaded by the current state of education and think I need a change.  Will you be completely heart-broken if I leave?  Can you offer me my dream job?

I managed a ton at Da Vinci’s Table with the help of Will and the rest of my favorites there.  We went out for two weekends in a row to celebrate Stephanie’s birthday and her leaving.  I blended DVT family with teaching family at a pool party saying goodbye to Bob and Ramsey before they set sail for Arizona.  It was the first time I had seen Leigh Ann in forever.  I realized I missed all of my friends, even the ones I just saw five minutes ago.

Dear friends and family,
I love you and know that you will support me through whatever I do.  Will you still be here when I get back?  Will you be completely heartbroken and forget about me before I even leave?

I put my heart out there, and then pulled it in real quick before it could get taken, or stepped on.  I laid out my feelings, in my own incoherent words and then blamed myself for being stupid.  I played games because they were easier than anything else, until it hurts.  

Dear future love interest,
I believe in love and want to have the best relationship ever.  How do we move forward?  Where do we go from here?

I fell in love with Bakerloo all over again and cannot imagine saying goodbye to her, let alone the humans I actually love who will know I’m leaving.

The ultimate conclusion of June?  Leaving the known is easier than leaving the unknown.  Leaving securities and sureties is easier than leaving questions and confusions.  Constants will still be somewhat constant when I return.  Sure things will change, but all in all, the people I know and love and the places I value will still be around.  The questions, concerns and knots in my stomachs are what I’m scared about…

I know that I will miss my friends, family and opportunities here.  That is a given.  However it is the unknowns that I will miss that scare me.  I know I will have different opportunities abroad, but are they what I want or need?  Are the opportunities here what I want or need?