Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Sorry for the gap there, folks. Ryan and I had a wedding in Missouri, and I have been swamped in making sure all of my goals are met by the end of the school year. I have four weeks left, and I wish there were so many more (though the students would definitely have a different take on the issue). I wouldn't mind another one-week off, and a return to the classroom. I certainly need a bit of a break, though I am going to miss being in the classroom so much. I think a lot of people in the cohort would agree with that statement--this feels right. I absolutely love the challenge of getting up in front of the room and making sure I balance needs and approach lessons with differentiated instruction.

(The wedding, which was Ryan and my former room mate's, Dan Jones', was lovely. Jen Anderson, a good friend since middle school, got married the weekend before, and it was tons of fun. Congrats to the two new couples! I'm so happy to have been able to witness both events.)

Monday was my first full-day workshop, and it was interesting. We spent the morning looking at goals, which was great. It was interesting to see both how the whole school sets goals as well as individuals. I know I have so many of my own individual goals, but it is such a different thing when you have to officially turn in forms regarding those goals. Maybe I should spend some posting just rambling on about my own goals (maybe this summer, when I have time, but right now the day-to-day and week-to-week seems most important to get down--it's immediate and compelling). The focus for the specific workshop and entertainment was African-American culture. I think it's interesting considering I grew up in the south... went to high school in Green Bay (a half dozen black classmates in my class, if that?)... then to college in the Twin Cities. My class on the Poetry of Rap may have made me wince a few times (only because Professor Pate taught a few poetic concepts incorrectly), but I met Mandy there (my partner in so many things with the cohort--she has a job already--woohoo!!!), and I learned so many things about my own views on race. It's ironic, but I think I might have felt more uncomfortable talking about race in that classroom then I had before. It made me more afraid then years before. Was it because I was a little kid and didn't have the social understanding (the innocence)? Is it the awareness we have as we reach college-age? To tell the truth, I was nervous about teaching a text like To Kill a Mockingbird to African-American students. I have three in that class. I never took them aside, but we did a lot of talking about racism and whether or not we "forgive" Harper Lee for using the n-word. (I also explained that it's probably because of my upbringing, but I could never say that word out loud, nor oculd I write it.)

Obviously the staff development has gotten me thinking and will continue to do so. We learned about how to teach for African American and other minority students, which kind of speaks to the heritage unit I plan to implement in the next few weeks.

I also found out that Kathy has received a second interview with the Lakeville district--congrats! I actually thought I would be more upset then I am... And yes, I wonder why I didn't make it (which would be helpful for improvement), but I also respect the fact that Kathy is a highly qualified candidate. If I have to lose a job to someone, I would be completely fine with losing it to Kathy (or Elisa, who went for the Drama position). Whatever school hires both of these people from my cohort is very lucky!

I had a great time getting prepared for the interview, and I feel pretty good about how I did at the place I am at in my life. I haven't done as many professional interviews as others might have... I did an interview with Fargo and one with Lakeville. Yes, I definitely had a thousand things I wish I mentioned or I wish I was asked about, but that's just practice. And Amy pointed out something that made me feel a lot better--these people haven't seen me teach. They don't know how good or bad I might be, in the eyes of the district. Schools unfortunately only see how we appear on paper and in interviews. I wish there were more time and ability for these interviewers to observe some classes, though I know that is impossible. It's unfortunate that budget and time won't allow that kind of thing. Because I think I could fit well in many school districts, and I think I have great relationships with my students, which helps motivate them. It's tough to see that on a piece of paper and in a board room.

But the process is what it is, and I need to use this sort of rejection (???) to inspire me to try harder and apply to more places. Tonight, I have applied to Winona Middle, LaCrosse, Stewartville, Roseville, and ... more? I hope to do some serious work on applications tonight. That's something that has always worked well for me--yes, I have always taken rejection more to heart then I should (good thing I found out about Kathy's interview eight minutes before class started--I wasn't allowed to feel sorry for myself), but I also use that to become more motivated. Kathy is an awesome teacher. That definitely helps. But it also helps that I so want to be the best teacher I can be. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Nothing more, nothing less.

(Well, I would eventually like to be department head, though let's not get ahead of myself... and I would like the opportunity to teach a variety of classes and be a supervisor for a variety of activities, but really. Job first. Inflitrating second.)

Oh, and one thing that's not yadayadayadada related to JOBS!

I was thinking about how it would be really fun to start a book club at whatever school I taught at. Yes, I realize that isn't one of those common positions, but I am seeing some kind of need with my students. I have given my English 10's an opportunity for extra credit in reading books outside of class and giving me a book talk. I have had one give one already and two more are reading and all three are on the same book. I also have a student in my Journalism class that has the same tastes in literature (whenever I see my students reading a book outside of my class, I ask about it... in case I might like it! but also to let them know that their teacher is a reader, and it's a great thing.. and one was reading The Kite Runner, so I recommended The God of Small Things, and she loved it, so I gave her a list of my favorites, and she was so excited and said, "Oh, I have some books to read over the summer!" OH! As an English teacher, that is such a WONDERFUL thing to hear... Books! To read! Over the summer! At what point are we allowed to exchange email addresses so we can chat about books we're reading? When the trimester is over? She has great reading taste, I read as much as I can... Anyway, that kind of thing always makes me happy!) So I was thinking about how literature can be taught, but sometimes it needs to be approached in an interesting way for the students. I think it has the potential to take off at Roseville, so since I'm applying for the .58 position, we'll see, but where ever I end up, that's something I would be happy to advise, if there seems to be interest. Encourage kids to read in a low-pressure situation. Reading is an enjoyable activity and they should understand that reading can also be a community activity!

Well, cross your fingers... both for me and everyone else in the cohort. I think they're going to be great and deserve jobs. It's too bad the economy is in the state that it is in.

Cross your fingers for me and for the rest of us who don't have jobs quite yet. We're dedicated, compassionate, creative... once we get a job, we're going to be great. :) GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF YOU! I wish we had a better situation...

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