About Me

My photo
BLOG REVAMP! I am moving to Arizona and starting a new job as a 5th grade teacher in Phoenix with 65% ELL, 95% Hispanic population, and almost 100% living below the poverty line. I hope all are still interested in hearing my wonderings as I begin my career in my own classroom.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

First job application!

I applied for Teach For America today. It's a crazy feeling, knowing that I potentially could have a place to go next year! Although I'm definitely not sure if this is what I want to do, or even if I'll get an interview, it's great to get the job hunt process started. The initial application included basic information, a resume, and a letter of intent, among a few other things.

My top 5 region preferences:
Greater New Orleans
Las Vegas Valley
Las Angeles
Mississippi River Delta

There's no rhyme or reason for my region choices, I just want to go somewhere new and somewhere I'll be needed. I'll keep updates posted!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sprinting a marathon on a balance beam

The reason why I say that teaching is a marathon, is because it is a long, 180 day journey, and doesn’t exactly come to a neat conclusion during the summer months, with preparation, planning, and professional development thrown in. You have to push yourself not only through the entire year but through the entire day. When you trip halfway through the marathon and cut your leg, you have to keep going. This is not an optional marathon. You are the chosen one to lead your kiddos to victory. No matter where you are mentally, whether you fought with a friend all weekend, didn’t get much sleep, or found out that you got rejected from a program and your scholarship was revoked, you have to have tunnel vision and block it all out. Because anything that sneaks in, your kiddos will notice.

The reason why I say that teaching is sprinting a marathon, is because you have to be quickly, precisely, and fluently changing plans, modifying lessons, and allowing for flexibility. It’s all about the speed and the pure adrenaline that pushes you farther. After grading 120 papers, having been told by your class that you aren’t their favorite teacher (and that your hair is messy) and that your order didn’t come back from the print shop (while you needed it today) you as the ‘sprinting a marathon’ teacher are pushed to the falling point. The breaking point where you are gasping for your last breath with desperation, only to realize that you have no choice, you have to continue on and do everything. And do it well.

Sprinting on a balance beam for a 180-day marathon is the cumulative description of my profession. So many people depend on you (students) you have to please so many others (parents, administrators, peers) while balancing a home life (roommates, family, others) and your day-to-day responsibilities (laundry, grocery shopping, dentist appointments) that the balancing act of holding your sanity until the end is an indescribable feat.

I don’t know how millions of teachers do it every day. I do know why though. Because it’s the best, most selfless, most changing and growing and learning profession in the world....and for the select few that do it, props to you!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

link for massai dancing!


Try it yourself!

I was showing a video about the Massai jumping dance (youtube it!)to my classroom while my mentor teacher stepped out of the room, and suddenly I heard some giggling and mimicking from students at the front of the classroom. Others followed suit, and suddenly the whole class was in an uproar.

Since we are studying Africa, this video was a great way to represent the Kenyan Massai people's culture and dance. However, my 8 year old students thought that their 'costumes' and 'silly jumping' was a joke. I gave them a few words of caution to be respectful, but let it go for the time and continued playing the videos I had planned to show.

When my mentor came back in, we decided to take it a little further. Describing the athleticism of the Massai dances, we spoke of the incredible talent it takes to complete a dance like this. We also talked about how important it was to their culture.

But most importantly, we made them jump. And after thirty seconds, they were gasping for air, collapsing on the floor, and saying how cool it was that the Massai people were able to jump so high and for so long. Teachable moments make me :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

ms. allen, i don't have a culture

When my mentor had to leave early on Monday for a meeting, I conducted a social studies read-aloud and discussion with a sub also in the room. It went very well. We were taking our time on each page to point out the wildlife (it was a book about the baobab tree) and discuss ideas. We talked about how the native people name each individual baobab with a specific name that always starts with ‘um’ meaning mother. At this point, we talked about how unique this was and I noted that the people’s culture was different than ours. 

I then realized that perhaps not all of my students understood what culture meant. We started discussing what my students thought culture was. They didn’t really have any ideas, so I explained that a person’s culture had to do with how they lived, what they ate, what kind of music and dancing they liked, their religion, and many other different factors. I explained that everyone was part of a certain culture and that there were many cultures in the world. Obviously, I was flailing to come up with a wholesome definition for culture, but I thought I at least gave them an idea. However, one boy’s hand shot up and he declared “I don’t have a culture. Some people don’t have one. Me and my mom and my dad choose not to have a culture.”

I was silenced. What in the world do you say to a child who thinks they don’t have a culture?! He felt very strongly about it, so I didn’t want to contradict him, but I also wanted to make sure the rest of the class understood what culture was. AHHH! All I did was nod my head and try to explain a little better what culture was, but then decided I would probably just confuse everyone more. We moved on to talk about bugs and birds, and boy was I relieved. I wonder if every teacher has those moments where you don’t really know what to say or how to react. Helppppppppp!