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First Year Problems… A Reflection on my first year teaching

“Being a New Teacher is like trying to fly a plane while building it.”

~Rick Smith

1st year teaching

As my first year of teaching comes to a close, I have found myself reflecting on many of my experiences. It has been a whirl wind of a year. From moving to Florida from NC to teach at a weekend notice, to learning all about how to teach 1st grade, only to be moved to Kindergarten after the first month. I tutored 3rd and 4th graders in all subjects, was temporarily reassigned to 4th grade to help teach writing for a month, and worked everyday trying to make sure my Kinders would be successful and become life long learners.

This year has really been about surviving each day. I have met everyday ready for a new experience and challenge. I did the research, took the classes, listened to other teachers’ advice. Yet it isn’t until you are in the trenches with your students, probably covered in marker, paint, glue, stickers, and various bodily fluids (there will be a whole other blog about THAT topic) that you really see what it means to be a teacher. I can safely say that not ONE of my Education classes prepared me for the true realities of teaching.
1st year teaching 2

I have questioned myself and my teaching at almost every turn. Am I cut out to be a teacher? Do I have the patience for Kindergarten? How could I have been better prepared? How could I have made that lesson more exciting? What can I do to help the students who just don’t get it? Am I going to fail my students in some way? Could I have been more emotionally supportive? Should I have waited to give those treats until the end of the day? (Always yes) How the heck did that kid get paint THERE?!

 

But just as I am second guessing myself, wondering if this is the right career for me, one of my kids gives me a hug and tells me they love me. Or the kid who didn’t know a single letter when they came to me, can now read at a level E. Or I see my students light up with excitement when they learn something new. Or when my students make a connection to something we are learning. Or when that kid that never seemed to pay attention in tutoring and has always been considered ‘difficult’ gives me a note thanking me and telling me he appreciated all my help and for caring.

letter from gavin

I may have been the teacher, but in the end I learned more from my students and my experiences regarding teaching, myself and LIFE in these last 180 days then I ever did in the years prior.

I really wish I would have taken more time this year to write and reflect about many of these experiences. I blame the complete exhaustion I have felt at times (especially during those first few months), the need to just relax and have a social life,  and the desire to give my brain a break from thinking after being in school all day. But I have truly missed writing, and over the next few weeks I plan to take the time to recount as many experiences and lessons learned from my first year as I can 🙂

~Elizabeth

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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Read it again, Sam…

Read it again, Sam…

“Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.”

~Stephen King

books

I have always been an avid reader. Since I was a small child I ALWAYS had a book in hand. I was in fact that kid that not only got in trouble for reading in school, my Mom would punish my bad behavior by taking my books from me! Presents were (and still are) book related. I also admit to having quite the book collect! I can rarely stop my self from buying a new book, whether it is for personal library or for my classroom one. My apartment is currently overflowing with books I have acquired over the years.

So it is safe to say that yes, I love to read.

But it has gotten more and more difficult to find the time (and energy) to read.

Now that I am a teacher, I actually get to enjoy some of the perks that go along with it. Like having Winter Break! 2 weeks off to do nothing! I have spent 10 years of my life working in retail and last year I worked hospitality. Meaning the Holiday’s were the opposite of a break for me. But this year I realized I had nothing but time.

The first few days of break I spent winding down, watching tv, hanging with friends, sleeping (LOTS of sleeping) and doing tradition Holiday activities. But today I realized I had absolutely nothing to do, (ok I am sure I could have found something) and I wanted nothing more then to settle in with a book.

I have a ton of unread books I have picked up here and there, and I am also admittedly behind in my book club readings. I spent quite sometime contemplating which book would hold my attention for a portion of the day. While I went back and forth debating which new book I should start, I instead felt my attention being pulled to my book shelf of what I consider my ‘hall of fame’ or favorite books and series.

This self has series like ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘City of Bones’ (well every book by Cassandra Clare), The Percy Jackson Series, and quite a lot of my other favorite YA series as well as the few romantic writers I enjoy such as Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Janet Evanovich and Sophia Kinsella, and some of my favorite stand alones like ‘The Help’ and ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’. When I moved into my new place, this was one area I set up first.

While I know I have so many books that I have yet to read, sometimes there is nothing better than rereading a comforting old friend. At first I felt a little guilty as I chose one of the dog eared books (which I couldn’t even begin to make a guess on how many times I have read). I should be using these precious hours exploring a NEW world! Yet as I began reading I was once again absorbed into this world I had visited many times, and while I knew what was going to happen, I still looked forward to every turn of the page. I smiled at my favorite parts, teared up at some of the sadder ones, laughed at the funny ones, discovered a few secrets I missed before and grew sad as I came to the end.

Yes, reading a new book can be amazing. But that doesn’t change the fact that rereading a book is just as amazing.

There are definitely books out there that I have read once and that was enough. Not to say the book wasn’t great, I just have never felt the pull to reread it. And there have also been books that in the end I didn’t like, maybe I didn’t even make it through. For those books I have no problem parting with. But for so many others, they are a part of my and I couldn’t bare getting rid of them anymore than I could getting rid of a dear friend.

Some of those books may sit on the self for years, doing nothing more then collect dust and holding other books up. But one day I will feel the pull and lose myself in its pages once again. And I will love every minute of it.

~Elizabeth

books 2

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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When Life Gives You Oranges…

When Life Gives You Oranges…

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”

~Gail Devers

For those of you who don’t know, I started my first year teaching this year. At the beginning of the year I was teaching 1st grade. After a month, I was switched to Kindergarten to help balance the numbers and I was pretty shocked at the difference in developmental level. Sure, I was prepared to teach them their ABCs and 123s, but I was not prepared to teach them how to use scissors. Many basic skills, knowledge of procedures and how things work you just assume a kid has, yet they need to be taught. I can’t tell you how many shoes I tie, name tags I clip, and things I open during the day.

The kids have a fruit or veggie snack everyday. Usually it is something basic and easy to eat, like a plum, apple, carrots. But today, it was oranges. I hate orange day, although to be fair I think this is only the 4th time we had them. So why do I hate orange day? Well besides the fact that they are sticky, peeling oranges can be a pain. 2 of those 4 days the oranges were precut which made me happy. Last time they got oranges that weren’t precut, I happened to be giving them their snack at the end of the day, and just told them to take them home. Today, those pesky uncut oranges resurfaced.

At this point many of you are probably thinking “What’s the big deal?” If you are asking this, it is probably safe to say you probably also haven’t watched a kid eat something very questionable…

As the kids began to dig in, the pleas for help peeling began. I had no desire to walk around and peel 16 oranges, so I appealed (seriously I could do bad puns all day) to them to try peeling their own oranges. Many were getting frustrated and saying it was too hard and they couldn’t do it. I told them they needed to try. They looked at me like I was insane. About 3 gave in and I complimented what a good job they did. This encouraged a few more tries. About 3 of the students were looking at their oranges as if they were going to peel themselves, or holding it and softly tapping at the peel as they continued to tell me they couldn’t do it.

After some more encouragement, and compliments on how impressed I was at their efforts, every student started to peel their own orange. I listened to their exclamations of excitement as they made progress. I was pretty surprised at just how excited they were that they peeled their own orange. Literal shouts of joy as they made it past the peel. Even as they discovered how to open their orange, they continued to be entertained as they discovered other parts of their orange. From the squishy feeling, the orange color and the white lines, to the fact that it has little slices that can be eaten, and especially the seeds, which they compared to the pumpkins seeds we had been working with.

So what made me sit down and share this? I guess because in that short snack time, I learned something I believe is very valuable. In the area of academics, I encourage the kids to always try, even if they fail. But what I realized today was that I was failing at encouraging them to try at EVERYTHING they do. As I encouraged a roomful of 5-6 year olds to TRY to peel their own orange, I provided an opportunity where they could accomplish something and feel proud of themselves. It seems so basic, easy and insignificant in the grand scheme of things (I mean I am trying to teach them to READ!) It was just an orange! Yet it made them feel so happy and proud, and isn’t that what is important? I can’t guarantee I will remember to always allow the kids to try at everything (it is really hard to sit for 5 minutes while they try to tie their shoe and you are trying to get the class to lunch), but I promise that I will try 🙂

~Elizabeth

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Things I suck at…

Learn to… be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not. 

~Henri Frederic Amiel

I know, it has been quite a while since I wrote on my blog. I can’t even say I have a great excuse, just a bunch of excuses, which are really that…excuses. Since I last updated, I completed my Master’s in Reading Education and moved from Western NC back to Eastern NC around mid July while I applied all up and down the East coast for a job. I was offered a job in Florida at the beginning of August, and moved here within 3 days. I started teaching 1st grade, and was switched to Kindergarten after a month and had to essentially start all over. (Not every teacher gets a re due of their first year lol). I feel as if I am finally at the point where I am almost settled into my new life, although that is as always a work in progress.

I have at many times come up with a good blog topic, but always failed to follow through. Sometimes it was because I was just so exhausted or busy, other times I became sidetracked by something else I wanted to do. But I feel that if you really want to do something, you will make it happen. So here I am!

I have to give full credit to this blog update to Christina Taylor, who is far better then me at updating her blog. She posted a similar post, and I started commenting on her blog, and decided “Hey! Why don’t you just write your own blog post.” So Christina…this post is dedicated to you!

Check out her post here! http://brokenmusings.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/things-i-suck-at/

If anyone is familiar with Jenna Marbles (a youtube personality…she is quite hilarious) she created a video highlighting things she sucks at. This made Christina sit down and think of somethings she sucks at, and in turn made me think of things I suck at. So here is my list of (some) of the things I suck at.

This could be an ongoing list…but off the top of my head:

1) I suck at singing.

I am AWESOME in the shower and in my car. But no, I prefer singing SOLO. So Low no one should ever have to hear me. I like to teach my Kindergarteners songs as they learn and always dread when I have to actually sing. I am not the worst singer ever…but I am definitely not good lol

2) NOT procrastinating…

I have at least 3 different things I should be doing, and yet here I am. I always wait until the last possible moment to do anything, even though every time I do I always get mad at myself. I will find anything to do so I can put of doing something. My house was always at its cleanest when I had a paper due. I will go through and alphabetize my book/dvd etc collection to avoid doing something that in reality probably wouldn’t have taken me that long to begin with. I will spend hours on pinterest pinning ideas for my classroom, instead of actually doing something like lesson planning.

3) This is a bit embarrassing…Telling the difference between effect and affect and then and than.

I am a certified teacher with a Masters! Why can’t I figure this out! Good thing I am currently teaching Kinders hehe. Maybe once I get to the intermediate grades I will have the instruction to teach the kids and finally be able to figure this out. I like to think I get it right 50% of the time…also, please don’t try to explain it to me lol Good news…I understand your and you’re and their, there, they’re, even if sometimes I am typing fast and make a mistake haha

4) Finishing/ following through on stuff. I have a LOT of interests and hobbies and have the tendency of starting things, but rarely do I finish them.


~I have countless art and crafts projects that I will work on nonstop, until I stop. (have incomplete needle point projects, scarves, scrap booking..the list is endless)
~I start video games, will play for hours and hours, then (then/than I am so confused!!) I am done. I love playing the games, I am so excited to purchase the game and begin playing, but I get to the point where I get sidetracked and never complete the game.
~Started a blog,(well I started 2) was really into it, then stopped updating.
~If I don’t finish a book in one shot, or at least in a week I rarely complete it.
~Have started many creative writing stories, always complete the beginning, have a decent outline for the plot, never finish it.

The list could go on. I will often pick up some of these again, but I rarely complete anything.

5) Saving my money. I don’t even understand why I bother with a Savings account sometimes.

 

6) Being tall…and by this I mean I am short.

I am 5’1 (and a half!). I have to climb on things most of the time to reach, I have been told to stand up more then once (I was already standing), even step ladders are sometimes not enough for me to reach things, most pants are too long, people often feel as if they have to squat to be in pictures with me, the last set of pictures I was in, my head was on the same level as my friends boobs…

7) Making my bed.

I HATE making my bed. Maybe because my logic is I am just going to mess it up again later. I like the way a nicely made bed looks, but my bed is only made up like this when I am on a cleaning mission. I admittedly sleep on top of my covers using a blanket most of the time so my bed stays made up.

8) Folding my clothes.

I blame working too many years at Old Navy, but I despise folding my clothes. I hang just about everything possible, and that is only if the clothes make it out of my dryer, which I often just keep restarting to dewrinkle everything.

9) Giving up control.

This covers many areas of my life. I often feel better ‘doing things myself’. Not that I don’t think others can do just a good of a job, I still would rather do it myself if possible. I have an idea of how something should be, and want it done that way. I also dislike giving up control of myself and my surroundings. If I drink (which isn’t often), it is only enough where I am still completely aware of everything around me and I still feel in complete control.

10) Making and keeping scheduled appointments.

For some reason these make me feel trapped in a way. If I HAVE to be somewhere at a certain time, it bugs the heck out of me! Especially if it is something weeks away for like a haircut or something. I don’t know what I have going on tomorrow, let alone in 6 weeks! Stop pressuring me! I am much happier being that person who walks in.

11) Staying focused…

Sometimes I get so focused everything else fades into the background. I can read a book for 8 hours straight for instance, barely remembering to eat and drink. But most of the time, I multitask like crazy. If I am watching something on TV, I more than likely have my computer out and am either playing around or attempting to do something productive, probably both. Since starting this post, I have checked FB a few times, texted some people, started looking at quotes to add…When I am cleaning, I am really bad at finishing one room at a time. I will start cleaning my room, find something that belongs in the bathroom, go to put it away, and start cleaning something in there, where I decide I am thirsty, go get a drink of water, start cleaning something in there…It is ridiculous.

12) Self restraint on hobbies and interests…this is a big problem for me. When I get into something, I get really into it! It should also be said that when I want something, or want to do something, I want it right at that moment. 
~If I am starting a new TV series that is already out, I will watch every episode back to back until I am done or caught up.
~If it is a book series, I will buy the entire series and read straight through (I read Harry Potter books 2, 3, and 4 on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when I finally got into the series, even called out of work sick and for the following books, I was at the midnight releases).
~If it is something I am into, I have to have it immediately. If the newest book in my series comes out at midnight, I have to have it at midnight! I will visit stores, ebay etc to acquire whatever it is I want as quickly as I can.
~A new art and craft project, I buy everything I need for it.
~I like to have completed sets of things, like every book in a series or every season of a favorite tv show. If a movie is a trilogy or a set, I want them all.
~I have been struggling with the desire for a new phone. If I wait a month I can get the one I really want. Or I can get one right now, it just isn’t as good, but at least I will have my new phone ( I have decided to wait, but man has it been back and forth).

If you have made it to the end of this post congratulations.  You did better than I would have! If it was me, I would have become sidetracked around example 8, started surfing the web, started a new hobby, cleaned half my house, and took a nap on top of my covers.

This is by no means a list of things I am planning to change about my self. I am 28, these things I suck at are here to stay! I am curious, what do you guys suck at?

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Midnight Premieres

Last night I attended the Midnight Premiere of Hunger Games 😀 I am a huge fan of the books, and have been eagerly awaiting the movie. While I feel that movies based on books are rarely as good as the actual book, I had a good feeling that the movie would in fact be enjoyable and I couldn’t wait to see it. Not wanting to wait any longer than I had to, I decided to join the other fans and for the Midnight launch.

This is by far not the first midnight premiere/ launch I have gone to. I have waited in line for many books, games and movies. There is just something I love about going to a midnight premiere or launch. I remember standing in line at midnight for the 5th Harry Potter book many years ago. The excitement and anticipation leading up to that final moment when the book is securely in you hands and the knowledge that you are one of the first with your hands on it makes all the waiting for its release worth it.

Besides the enjoyment of receiving the book/video game first or getting to see a movie at the earliest moment possible, I think for me the enjoyment of attending midnight launches is more about the environment.

Generally, the people in attendance of midnight launches are one of two people.

1) The REALLY dedicated fans. Whatever names you want to label them (nerds, geeks, fanatics, fangirls/boys, twihards, Potterheads, obsessed etc). We are the people that have been waiting in anticipation. This is what we have been waiting for. Of course the level of dedication varies.

2) The drag-alongs. The friends and significant others that honestly could careless and probably know next to nothing of the movie, book or game, yet are there.

So when you go to a midnight launch, you are surrounded by people that are there because they REALLY want to be. They share the passion and excitement for the book, video game, movie in the same way you are.

Leading up to the final countdown is always fun. Depending on the venue and the target audience you can sometimes attend launch parties. People come dressed as characters, sporting merchandise, various party favors and games maybe available for those waiting (and trust me, you have to wait because you more than likely want to get there early). Even if there is little in the way of a venue launch, the people standing around waiting are filled with the thrill, anticipation and excitement of midnight, barely able to hold onto to their patience.

People clap and cheer when the doors open, the previews start, the musical intro that plays…

I just love the feeling a midnight launch brings with the countdown and excitement filled atmosphere of everyone waiting. I look forward to attending more midnight premieres in the future.

~Elizabeth

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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My Year in Review

My Year in Review

 “Another fresh new year is here, another year to live!

To banish worry, doubt, and fear- To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me, to live each day with zest

To daily grow and try to be- My highest and my best!”

Well here we are. The ending of one year and the start of a new. For many people, this is a time for change and reflection. A time to evaluate life up to this point and look for areas we would like to improve in the coming year. While I do not put much stake in New Year Resolutions, I do support the idea of looking at your life and seeing something in it that you feel can be better and making a commitment to improve it. At the same time don’t focus so much on what isn’t great and take the time to appreciate what you have. Even as we embrace the good we see in our lives, we should strive to learn and grow everyday and realize that there is always a way to become a better you, no matter how perfect you may feel you are 😉

 In order to determine where you want your life to go, you have to reflect on where you have come from.

So here is my year in review…

My family saw many milestones this year

     My nephew Liam Finley (Fin) was born

     My nephew Ayden started Kindergarten

     My Mom turned 50 (She may hate that I shared that shhhh)

     My Sister decided to go back to school

          She also overcame obstacles that not everyone could have handled and I am proud of her

I learned to appreciate and treasure each moment with my family

     I spent my first Christmas away from my loved ones

I made some Amazing friends

     Rediscovered new friends (Thanks Facebook!)

     Kept in contact with friends. May not sound like much, but it is so easy to lose touch these days, so             holding on to friendships is a treasure.

                                And unfortunately, I also lost a few friendships along the way

     I saw friends marry, finish school, start school, start families,

               and I was honored to share their lives with them

I feel as if I have grown more as a person

     I am living in a new town completely on my own

          I have experience what is like to live with snow….and quickly learned to hate it 😉

I switched to the Reading Education field and I am excited to be in school and preparing for my career. I feel this is the perfect career for me.

I achieved my goal of getting in shape. After making the commitment, eating healthy and exercising, I am proud to say I went from 175 to 120 in 6 months.

     I have recently started to believe in myself

          Have grown more confident

               Found my voice to speak up

I started to teach myself how to play the guitar

Started writing again. Fiction, poetry, nonfiction and decided to put my self out there and create my blogs

     Even as I write this, I wish I had this blog a year ago so when I looked back I would have had as reference for the important parts of my life

I have learned to appreciate who I am. Can I improve myself, sure and I will continue to strive to be better. But at the end of the day I am me and I am ok with that

     I have chased Waterfalls

           Danced in the rain

               Appreciated the true beauty of the world around me. Sunsets, sunrises, stars etc

Learned it is ok to feel pain. It will hurt for a time, but that pain will fade. You move on and learn from it.

I have tried new things

     I have failed and I have succeeded

I have discovered new books, revisited old favorites

     Rediscovered my love of video games

          Saw the musical Wicked finally!

I Learned it is ok to show others you love them

I Learned to dance when no one is watching, and to sometimes say the hell with it and dance anyway

          I have let go of some dreams

               and I have made some new dreams

I Learned it is ok to ask for what I want and believe that I deserve the best and I am worth it

My resolution is to hold onto the things that make me smile, the people who make me laugh, the things and people who bring joy to my life, the things I do not want to live without. I will continue to learn and grow and strive to be the best me I can be. I will live each day to its fullest, even when it scares me.  I will let go of the people and things that bring me pain but I will not regret those moments because even the pain shapes life.

So where will my life take me this coming year? I have no idea. But I sure am going to enjoy the journey.

Some days are going to suck. Really suck. But I will get through and move on.

Then there will be those amazing and awesome days where I remember why Life Is Beautiful.

~Elizabeth

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

 How can I control my life when I can’t control my hair?”

 ~Author Unknown

Recently I decided I wanted to change up my hairstyle, something different from my usual. For whatever reason I decided that change involved getting bangs, something I don’t think I have worn since I was in Elementary School. Luckily for me, the change seems fairly successful, at least in my opinion.

But really, why am I talking about a haircut? Trust me; it isn’t the haircut that is the big deal, but the association I make with haircuts.

Getting a haircut can be a way of being in control and having the power to change something when you feel as if you have no control over anything.

For me, the desire to drastically change my hair is brought on by a feeling of not being in control of something in my life. Not to say every time I get a haircut I am unhappy. I frequently get my hair trimmed at reasonable intervals. It is when I chop a portion of it off, or completely change the color that I know there is a something deeper going on. When I start feeling the urge to change my hairstyle, I start looking inwards to find out why.

When I get the haircut (which is hopefully a good one) it is almost therapeutic. Finally I have some control over something. Having that sense of control frees my mind up so that I can evaluate whatever it is that I am unhappy about in my life, even if I may still be unable to change it.

~Elizabeth

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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