Saturday, August 27, 2011

Labels and Lesson Plans

As I have checked my friends' blogs over the past couple days, I have noticed a trend.  I'm calling it the "No, I haven't abandoned my blog" trend.  And I am following in their footsteps.

This past week, I spent a good portion of my time at school working in my classroom.  We finished labeling and organizing the 6+ centers, sorting through the math cabinet (finally!), cleaning, and beginning lesson plans.  We checked out how lunch and dismissal work - though it will change slightly once school begins.  Right now, College Heights is hosting "summer camp".  Basically, the Pre-K program was cut from 180 days to 160 days (thus why I'm starting next week), so CH offered summer camp for the four weeks that other elementary schools in the area were in session.

Monday is the Meet & Greet, and I'm hoping that a lot of our students and parents are able to make it.  I've met one little girl already, and can't wait to meet the others!  School starts Tuesday.  On the agenda for the first week is teaching them how to....line up, go through the lunch line, handle materials - crayons, blocks, books - wash hands, use the bathroom, eat snack, play on the playground......  And the list goes on! We'll be doing some "academic" instruction and lots of stories.  However, we don't even know our math curriculum yet - the training isn't until September 6.

I had a bit of a personal crisis earlier this week as I realized - I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing!  I'm a paraprofessional, which is essentially a teaching assistant.  But do I write lesson plans?  I have written a couple for the first day (which I am a bit rusty on after 4 months on vacation).  I find that I have formed some very specific ideas about how "my" classroom should look and operate...then I remember that I have to defer to Kelsey.  It is ultimately her decision.  It's her classroom.  For four years, and especially the last 2, I have been planning on having my own classroom.  Where I am the lead teacher.  I am envious of my friends who have their own classes.

But I don't want to leave the school district I'm in.  It's such an inspiring group of teachers, staff, and administrators.  I'm hoping to ride out the next year and learn as much as I can (especially about all the paperwork!).  I'm lucky that Kelsey - the lead teacher - wants us to have more of a partnership.  She just graduated as well, so we're learning about all of this together.  In the meantime, I'm going to continue checking the jobs posted site for Decatur and hoping that a lead teaching position will open at one of the local elementary schools.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mac vs. Mac

If you were to ask me, I would tell you that I love my MacBook computer.  I've only had 2 problems with it in the 4 years I've owned it.  (1) Cracked plastic around the screen and keypad and (2) Crashed hard drive.  Granted, a crashed hard drive was frustrating, especially since I lost several papers I had worked ahead on.  But, because it was a faulty hard drive in the first place, Apple replaced it for free - a HUGE bonus to a broke college student! As far as the cracked plastic, I've had it replaced twice now - also for free because it is a "known problem".  Great!  Apple's on a roll here.  They've created a quality product and the service is incredible.

I've always known that Macs and PCs don't talk well, but most of that has been taken care of or made easier over the past few years.  Also, the school district I'm in now is all Mac-based, so I feel like I'm ahead of the curve.

If you were to look at my computer now, you would never be able to tell that it was four years old.  Sure, the design is slightly different and I still have an actual apple on the command key, but it still looks pretty good.  I didn't even realize my computer was getting "old" until I went to have the cracked plastic repaired a couple months ago.  The "genius" from Apple took one look at my computer and said, "'ve had this a while."  I was thinking to myself "A while?  I've only had it four years...".  I didn't think much about his comment after that until today.

I wanted to video chat with Amanda - my sister - and see what her dorm room looked like and how college was going for her so far.  First we tried Skype, but I couldn't hear her.  She couldn't set up iChat and doesn't have Gmail (shocker, I know!).  I tried to download Facetime...only to find out that I had to have the Mac App Store to do so.  But I can't get the app store because the software on my computer is too old.  To upgrade the software would cost me $29.99.  So, Amanda recommended Oovoo.  I ran into the same problem there - I needed to have Mac OS X 10.6 or newer.  I have Mac OS X 10.5.8.  Really? 5 different video chatting methods, and not a single one was working for us.  I am quickly realizing that my 4 year old computer just isn't up to speed with the brand new technologies that are emerging daily.  The problem MacBook is such a quality product that I don't want to even consider having to replace it anytime in the near future.  I guess I may just have to splurge for the software update.  But that will have to wait for another day and a paycheck...

Friday, August 12, 2011

To move or not to move...that is the question

When I tell people that I'm working an hour away from where I'm living (which you've probably heard me bemoan several times already), they always ask why we don't move.  That's a good question...why don't we move?  My response has been that we can't break our lease, which isn't up until next June.  In March, when we signed all the papers, we chose the beginning of June because the school year would be over and I could facilitate moving at that point.

Well, Sunday, after returning from graduation, I pulled out our pages upon pages of paperwork to check about ending our lease early.  I found the section that detailed the fees and penalties associated with early termination, and they included giving 60 days notice, paying an extra month's rent, and paying "market value" for the months we have already lived here.  We signed the lease when there was a special for $125 off monthly rent.  Once we calculated the fees, they amount to nearly $2000.  Then we had to take into account moving costs.  To make a move worth it, we would have to lower what we pay each month in rent despite the fact that we'll save money on gas.

To my surprise, we found several properties online in Duluth - where Davis works - that fit our parameters.  I spent Monday and Tuesday visiting different complexes, looking at apartments, and gathering more information.  I also used (a nifty tool if the local police departments participate) and  to find even more information.  (One of the complexes we looked at only had a 7% recommendation rate!)  And I came to a conclusion.  I don't want to move.  I LOVE the complex we're in now.  For the space, price, quality, and safety of the apartment, it just can't be beat.  If we were to move, we would be compromising on safety and quality.  I told Davis all of this, and he agreed.

So, this is the saga of how we decided NOT to move.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Graduation Thoughts

Tomorrow marks a day that will be bitter-sweet.  Graduation.  It is the official ending of my 4 years at The University of Alabama.  It is the closure that I didn't have in May.  And as much as I yearned for that closure just 3 months ago, I am almost sorry to see it come now.  I am glad that UA postponed graduation.  It is supposed to be a happy time, and in May - even now - we're all still dealing with a tragedy.

Throughout May and much of June, I felt like I was blowing in the breeze.  I felt as though, come August, I would be returning to UA, just I had the previous 4 summers.  I even had dreams that involved me being late for classes and stumbling my way through student teaching - typical "back-to-school" dreams.  By mid-July, training for my new, grown-up job began, and it was then that I felt a real change.  I realized that I am no longer just a student, but a teacher.  I have a classroom and a roster.  I get to help my lead teacher plan and execute lessons - though it seems as though I will be doing a bit less as far as lesson planning than I did as a student teacher.

In just three hours, I will be on my way to Tuscaloosa.  But this time it is to say goodbye.  I know - it's never truly a goodbye.  I will always have the memories, friends, and Roll Tide spirit (even though I'm in the heart of Georgia territory).  But I am still sad to see this chapter come to an end, even though I have already begun another.  It's like when you finish a really great book.  I always want more from the author - maybe another character's point of view or a second book in a series.

My hope today is that I don't lose touch with the friends I made.  That those who attend graduation tomorrow will celebrate not only their time at UA, but also the time of those who can't attend and the lives of those who died in the tornado.  That the spirit of Tuscaloosa shines proudly.

Roll Tide.