Monday, December 3, 2012

Student Teaching Musings

First and foremost.

It's obviously the most important thing in this post.

I had such a great time cheering the Cats on all year, especially last week in very close proximity to two great friends.

I'm working on getting my family to Arizona. It's a completely necessary, reasonable request, really.

In the meantime, I am startlingly close to being done with student teaching and done with college as a whole.

Countdown to graduation: T-5 days.

This time comes with overwhelmingly mixed reactions.

The first is relief.

I did it.

I am done with undergrad. It feels nice to know that have been successful in my endeavors to become a teacher. I have passed all my classes, passed all my tests, even passed my portfolio (I think! Update 12/4/12 I officially passed). And it feels fantastic. I can actually get a teaching job in a month if I wanted to.

Which inevitably leads to: “Holy crap. I can actually be a teacher. Someone would actually let me teach in front of kids. Alone. With no real teacher there to bail me out.

And the scarier part is after, I think, “I might actually be able to pull that off. I think I might be ‘ready’” Certainly, I don’t know everything, and I will make many mistakes. But I’m as ready as I can possibly be.

And then I feel relief I am not looking for a job next semester and get excited about going to Italy again.

But the prospect of leaving my students half way through the year is so sad. I get this ball of melancholy tight in my chest whenever I think about them going on without me. I work with such great kids that I genuinely want to see them through their freshman year. And I was not expecting that, at all. At the beginning of the year, I thought I would be dying to leave.

But I’m not. I love these kids.

No semester is perfect, but they are genuinely good, smart, inquisitive people who could really do great things with their lives if they choose to. I really believe that every single one of them could do something spectacular with their lives. Maybe that’s the naïveté that accompanies being a new teacher, but I don’t think it’s wholly a bad thing. Everyone needs someone who believes they are special.

Part of the reason these kids are so well behaved and great is because I had the chance to work with a fabulous cooperating teaching, Kathie Bartlett. She was such an exceptional model for me all year.

She reaches this fantastic balance of being strict with the kids and loving them. She sets high expectations but is there every step of the way to help the kids reach them. I saw all semester just how much she genuinely cares about the kids. She does such great things with her students, making them feel comfortable sharing ideas and not always being correct. She always tells the students “it’s okay to make mistakes as long as we learn from them.” And I always felt like this applied to me too.

She was always there to encourage me, help me, and make me better. I am so grateful for everything I learned in her room.

Under her careful guidance, I taught my unit on propaganda. I taught it during the election, so the timing was perfect. We spent the time studying the way propaganda is used, researching each candidate, and making our own propaganda. They were so creative. I was really impressed with the work they made. 

And even though I am looking forward to sleeping to a reasonable time in the morning again, waking up wasn't so bad because I every day I experienced something exciting and interesting. 

For all these reasons, I look to my last few days with a heavy heart. I don’t want to go. 
I know I have to. I know I’m moving on to a new adventure. But part of me will be with these kids at Manhattan High East Campus. Go Indians!

K-State Grad Taylor Mali is a spoken word poet and has two interesting/funny videos about teaching and “The the Impotence of Proofreading.”

I think every teacher and education major ever has had to watch this but for good reason.

Just as a warning, this video has innuendos and should be watched in a controlled context. But it’s highly hilarious. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

An Introduction

I’m jumping on the bandwagon. I’m going to another country, so common decency says I must write a blog so I can brag tell you all about my adventures through Europe. This is my first-ever attempt at keeping a blog. I thoroughly enjoy writing, so I hope I can update it regularly. But I make no promises. I do feel pressure (which I think is entirely of my own invention) to be a great writer because… I’m an English teacher, so I must be, right? Not quite. I have friends who write beautifully, whereas I write how I talk. I’ll send you to their blog if you’re looking for great pieces of prose. And so I’ll start.  

This blog starts as I say the first of many goodbyes.

I hate goodbyes. Or as I keep telling myself, goodbyes for now. I am very bad at them. So if I just disappear, sorry. It’s nothing personal. But I’ve likely saved you from waterworks. And I’m definitely coming back to visit, so I’ll see you soon.
On Saturdays, we wear purple.
I think what I’m most sad about leaving is Manhattan and the K-State family as a whole. I’m sure if I was a better writer, I could write an entire blog dedicated to everything wonderful about K-State and Manhattan, but I won’t. If you’re a part of it, you know. I don’t need to explain it to you. If you’ve never experienced it, I couldn’t do it justice. (I know because I tried.)
It took me a few months of living here to realize what an incredible place I was blessed enough to live in. I had no idea when I packed my bags and went to a school that I had sworn to hate, I would grow to love this incredible K-State family with all my heart. It makes me sad to think that, despite all the amazing places I want to live in the world, I may never live here again.
I’ve realized the best solution to this problem is to become fantastically rich and have at least two houses—one in Manhattan and one elsewhere. Being a teacher, my best hope is marrying rich. Ha. Or if you want to donate to my cause or have a house with me, let me know.
In spite of this reluctance to leaving the place I’ve called home for 3.5 years, I am ecstatic to start my European adventures. Before I can do that, I have to move “home.” I put it in quotes because I think home for me will really always be Kansas, and I’m going to Chicago, or to be more specific Grayslake, to live with my wonderful family until my departure on February 7th.

A quick itinerary of my coming months:
Dec 8 10:30 a.m. Graduation 
Dec 15 or 16: Move to Chicago
New Years in Kansas
Feb 1-3: International Teaching Convention at UNI
Feb 7: Leave for Paris (arrive the 8th)
Feb 16: Head to Italy
May 29: Return

I will be spending 9 days in Paris before heading to live with my host family in Italy. My “job” will be to teach them English. I don’t know exactly how this will work out, or what exactly I will do when I’m not working with them, but I supposed that’s the adventure.
            The family lives in a town called Turate, which is a Providence of Lake Como. (George Clooney lives there, and the Pope’s summerhouse is there; naturally, I’m going to become best friends with both of them.) From what Google Images has shown, it looks absolutely gorgeous. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of pictures when I get there.
Random Google Image of Lake Como
            My program ends about May 16th, and I’m not 100% sure what I’ll be doing before I return. I have several thoughts that revolve around places like London or Prague, but if you have any suggestions, let me know.

            I’m sure this blog will also feature the occasional book review or recommendation, not to mention any fantastical poetry, thoughtful quotes, and random Internet finds. I expect it to be a hodge-podge of amateur photography (because as a student once told me, "words with no picture are sssssssooooo boring") and stories of my adventures stitched together with literature I love.


        If you’re wondering where the title of the blog comes from, it’s from one of my favorite poems by E.E. Cummings, who, contrary to popular belief, never changed his name to e.e. It was his editor. He always wanted to be E.E though I suppose that’s neither here nor there.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

          I have my own thoughts about this poem and reasons for choosing it as my title, but I’ll let you form your own opinions. Poetry is intensely personal. I find it most powerful when you let the words wash over you and uncover what the poem means to you. So I’ll leave you to it.