30 March 2013

Grown up vs. Mature...that is the question

I’ve been blogging for a year now.  It was a year and two days ago since I sent my Director this email with the subject line :Challenge Accepted::
Hi!  I would be honored to work for Bayan.  I look forward to the next few months of planning and then our future collaboration together.  Thank you so much!
On April 1st I told most of my people, on April 4th I posted my first blog on here.  Not a lot has changed in a year. 

Just kidding…

But seriously…

I was so nervous to move, but SO excited at the same time.  I knew that the new culture would be difficult and that I would miss people like crazy, but adventures are so amazing.  So a year in to the process (and 7+ months of living overseas) I am still excited for the journeys ahead.  I have a lot of fun things to look forward to, and in general keeping my eye on the prize. 

I do not have seniors for the next two weeks while they take their mock exams so I am planning on being the best damn teacher there is for my 9-11th graders.  2 less classes a day will definitely help with that.  At the end of this two weeks is our holiday too; these two weeks will fly by for sure.  Just like time always does when you are really looking forward to something.

Just kidding…

But seriously…

John asked me yesterday if I was to the point in my life that I was “done” growing up.  It was at brunch, so I am pretty sure my reaction sounded something like “phssshhhhhhh”.  However, it is a legit question.  When I look at my parents I think “wow, they have their shit together.  I wonder if I will ever be like them.”  When I look at my friends like Sara and Jamie who have amazing husbands, beautiful kids, I wonder “how the hell do they do it?  I can barely balance my coffee and muffin in one hand, let alone my life.”  

So then John and I had a conversation about growing up, or being “done”.  This was at brunch, so I mean, it was probably the most intellectual conversation we could have ever had, that neither of us my perfectly remember, but you know, I remember the main points. 

First of all, I hope I am never to the point where I stop learning.  I am a bit of a know-it-all (and ass kicker at Trivial Pursuit) but I know I really do not know it all.  I want to be a life-long learner.  I want to know more about politics and choose candidates not just for social views, but economic ones (my Dad just put his fist in the air a la Judd Nelson in Breakfast Club).  I want to know more about psychological happenings of children so I can better teach my current kids, and raise my future ones.  I want to embody the meaning of tolerance and be a good person to everyone, all the time.  I have a lot still left to learn!

Secondly, and this one is so weird for me to be saying, we have to remember to be silly.  Joan used to say that Minnesota was my kid zone because I got to hang out with kids younger than me and be on their level, instead of peers my own age and adults and be on theirs.  I have been pretty mature for my whole life.  I never enjoyed being silly, or foolish, not a huge fan of practical jokes, fart noises or general goofiness.  Apparently though, my silliness has exploded here.  However, it’s not new found silliness, but it is just that I now know that I do not have to be mature all of the time, and that a silliness is a good balance to have.  My birthday in Minnesota is evidence that my parents have shown me that you have to balance “grown up” with “silly” every now and then.  I am not going to call out our adventures, however, I hope when I am “grown up” Deanna and Joan are who I am like J 

When I teach my students I want them to learn the math.  I need them to know how to multiply, plug into equations and when to use the right equation.  I want them to be polite, engaged and use correct vocabulary and examples to support their conclusions.  I want them to be mature.  During break, I want them to run and scream and push each other on the soccer field.  We can’t expect them to be all work, all the time.  We can’t expect adults to be either.  The problem with adults, is that we consider a lot of what we do as work.  We have jobs (I love mine, some do not), we run errands to pay bills, grocery shop, take dry cleaning (I do not, but that is what Bahrain delivery is for), and we clean the house and keep everything in order (I do not, but I should).  I have lived my life before where this consumes my time and it feels like you are working all the time.  Being here, I have realized, silliness is needed and should be encouraged.  This is a statement that I would have never said 3-4 years ago. 

So now, don’t expect me to like costume parties, or think that spongebob is funny,  but take pictures with a balloon hat?  Ok I’ll do that now.  So by making this discovery about myself and life in general, does that make me a grown up?  Or just freaking awesome?

Just kidding…

But Seriously…

28 March 2013

Lucky Rabbit's Foot

So blogging everyday isn't for me…obvi.

I felt like a huge waste of space last weekend.  I did very little, which in actuality was quite nice.  Weekends here are busy.  I’m not sure if it is because my friends are the people I work with everyday, or if it is because the island is so small, but it feels like I never leave school.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t work on the weekends that much, and I have a lot of fun, but it just doesn't feel like I get away from BBS.  So this past weekend I went to bed at 8pm on Thursday night, caught up on ALL of my shows on Friday (thank you Grey’s for being good again!) and then got sick on Saturday…that’s what doing nothing will get you I guess. 
So when Sunday rolled around I took my first visit to the hospital by myself.  I have had a never ending cold for about 3 weeks and this weekend I had a swollen, red eye that hurt.  So here is how it went at the hospital. 

Walk in…look around…realize you do not know where to go so continue walking…no one stops you because there are very few “security clearances”…I proceed to “Check in” where she asks me what doctor I want to see.  I told her I had never been and didn't know what was really wrong.  She asked what hurt, I said my eye, she told me optometrist.  She then asked my name.  I told her.  She said “you aren’t in my system.”  I had already told her I had never been, but I repeated myself (I’m a teacher, I’m used to that).  She got my CPR card (like a SS card for Bahrain) and saw that I had been here since August.  “You’ve NEVER been here?”  This is where, if she were a 9th grader, I would have cocked my head to the side, stamped my foot and told her to sit down, but since she was an adult, and already sitting, I again, repeated myself, that no, this was my first time. 

After finishing check-in I went to the optometrist, who tested my eyesight…I read everything they gave me perfectly (thank you Dr. Cayton).  He felt my glands, he stared into my eyes (not in a good way) and proceeded to tell me I had an infection and it would take me 7-10 days to clear up.  I asked if it was viral or bacterial and he said “both.” I asked for a doctor’s note to take to school and he said “Yes, would you like 7 or 10 days off?”  I told him I just needed a note saying I visited the doctor and he said, “Ok the rest of the week off then.” 

Then I left there, went to insurance, paid my 5BD ($13) copay and went to the pharmacy.  She handed me my two eye drops (free) and I left. 

So in 45 minutes I checked in, saw a doctor, got 5 days off of school (which I didn’t take) and 2 prescriptions for 5BD.  My eyes cleared up about 2 days later and my cold symptoms are gone too. 

Monday, I got a surprise phone call from John.  I tutored until 7:30 and then met up with him.  I had amazing days at school (the kids were really good this week), tutored lots, and went shopping for dapper men’s clothes.  This week kicked butt. 

This weekend will be busy.  I’ll post pictures on Facebook of all of us looking uber-fancy at Eimear’s birthday brunch tomorrow.  You may have already seen John’s fancy-ness.  Ezza and I have been debating dresses all week.  I can’t decide if I’m going to wear my spice girls dress or be somewhat more sophisticated (and classy).  Ok, I’ll go classy. 

So last week ended in such a good way so I blogged, this week was pretty great too, so I’ll blog again.  Maybe weekly blogging is my good luck charm…


21 March 2013

No Day but Today

I love Rent-no secret.  However these lyrics are so appropriate right now:
"There's only now
There's only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today"
Just in general life, you have to do what you have to do, and you have to do it now.  Don't wait, don't dwell on yesterday, don't fret about the future.  Make it right today.  So this week has been all about that!
I’m the mean teacher.  My students have (all) claimed that I am becoming mean.  Or am already mean…or just a bitch.  I’m not quite sure what the final verdict is, but I feel it too.  I am stressed.  Not that life is stressful, but I think it is because I am jealous of all my friends working towards Spring Break, when mine is still so far away, ok two weeks, but still!

Two weeks ago I was so sick.  I stayed home one day with a fever and should have stayed home another day, but I hate being out two days in a row.  Then last week was my big presentation so I was working hard on that.  This week has been an amazing week.  I feel on top of my teaching, actually taking the time to plan activities again.  I had fun afternoon outings to occupy my time and put me in a good mood.  My apartment is not COMPLETELY disgusting, although it is still messy.  So with a positive atmosphere around me, today, I made the conscious effort to be happy at school-"no day but today".  I tried to be positive in all of my classes and not yell, or go off the edge when a kid asked the same question that I had already answered 5 (million) times before.  What did I get?  A great day that is leading me to blog!

My tenth graders are, by far, the smartest group I’ve ever taught.  Not saying they are individually the brightest, but as a whole, they work together to accomplish great things.  So when a couple of them mentioned that I was being snippy I thought I really should get myself in check.  Today I had a whole plan and threw it out the window when my quick little intro into the Unit Circle ended up getting so many great questions that I just went through and explained the whole thing.  They were amazing.  I said something off the cuff that tan(225)=1 and I heard clicking of calculator buttons and then “HOW DID YOU KNOW?!??”  So I showed them.  They did amazing.  We proved tanx=sinx/cosx.  This isn’t “hard” stuff, but it is very abstract.  They took notes for 40 minutes straight asking great questions.  At the end of class I thanked them for doing so well in the lesson, I felt like we learned a lot and they agreed!  Ugh, teaching moments like that will make you stay in the profession forever. 

I haven’t been mean to my IB 12 class because I never freakin’ see them.  These kids just go to whatever class they feel like it seems.  I only have a week to review with them before their mock IB’s and they are all saying they will do fine.  Literally, none of them came to class yesterday.  I don’t think they will be fine on the IB exam.  I think they will all make 3’s and 4’s (out of 7’s).  But really I cannot do anymore-if they do not show up, I cannot review with them.  Well anyways, today almost all of them were here and we were reviewing functions (some had already done part of it).  So I sat back and said “finish this worksheet” and they taught each other.  It was good teaching too.  Ok, maybe they will be ok. 

My ninth grade class is one of my trickiest classes ever.  I have students who have EXTREME (undiagnosed because you don’t do that here) ADHD.  I have students who were in higher level math but dropped because they did not want the work load.  I have students who are so sweet and a few who are extremely spiteful.  When I see this group 1st period I love them all.  I want to give each a hug and kiss and walk them through step by step.  That only happens one day out of six.  The other five days I pull my hair out, yell, scream, and hit (ok, only in my imagination, but it’s so good) all of them.  Today I thought “I’m not going to raise my voice”.  Well that was a lie.  The class is 75% boys and they dominate the atmosphere.  I’m good with boys (insert inappropriate joke here) but my poor girls suffer in this class.  Today wasn’t bad though.  They worked hard.  They got right answers.  There was definite yelling going on, but overall, it was 9th grade appropriate and they left smiling.

For my last class, I made a scavenger hunt to finish up quadrilateral properties.  This is a group of seniors who seriously just need to graduate…a long time ago.  They are done.  Done-er than done. So the fact that they all worked, the last period, on a Thursday, was phenomenal.  The math was correct too.  It was not perfect but there were no complaints from me or them.  Mission Accomplished.

I didn’t see my 11th graders today-which is the group that really hates me recently.  They are not my all time favorites right now either.  Anyone from high school remember when Ms. Corey came running into Mr. Roeber’s room and said “I’m not a lesbian and I don’t deal drugs!”?  I know why she was so mad.  It was because she “trusted” us.  Not that she gave us secret information, but she thought that we were a good enough group to not gossip, spread rumors or just basically have ill-will towards her or any other teacher. 
A couple of years ago I was going through a lot of personal life stuff and I know it reflected in the classroom.  110% I know it did. I had a class that met 90 minutes a day for a whole year (most only met for a semester).  When you spend that much time with students you have to create a bond with them.  Most I did and still share that bond with them.  However, about February, students were starting to talk and I sat on a table, stone faced, and said “I’m not a bitch. Stop calling me one behind my back.” I think we moved past that point by the end of the year, but I remember being so hurt and betrayed by that group. I'm feeling that way now with this group.

My current 11th graders are with me for the long haul. I teach them for 2 years (it is a two year course).  We have to make it work for 55 minutes a day for two years.  That is a lot of time to be studying one topic together.  This group used to be great.  Individually, I still really like them.  However, some have started lying, scheming, cheating and being rude and it is super disappointing.  I really held this group on a pedestal when we first met (wrong I know) and now I just expect the worse from them.  Yesterday we gathered data in the gym on their basketball abilities.  It was fun.  I lost, badly, but overall I had fun with them.  I think it is an important thing to remember that they are kids. I’ve heard parents say it before too…you forget how fun your kids are sometimes.  It’s not always about the rules and regulations, sometimes it is about teaching them more than that.  I still have some hurdles with my 11th graders, and some have lost their entire account in my “trust bank” (reference to the best/worst parent talk Jessalee’s Dad ever gave) but I think in the next two years we can earn it back with interest. 

So today was a good day because I set out to make it so.  So here is to more good days and weeks.  Thank  you to everyone who has suffered the past couple because of my attitude…I gave myself an attitude check…hopefully it works!