Category Archives: Teaching

This is Not the Life I Planned (Part 2)

 

not the life I planned

 

In the spirit of vulnerability and keeping things real over here, I feel like I need to do an extension of a post that I wrote a little bit ago.

Yes, it’s 100% true that this is not where I pictured my life going.

And yes, most of the time, I’m ok with that. I trust that my life will turn out as it is meant. This isn’t to say, however, that I don’t have moments of doubt, worry, and absolute panic.

I worry about where I’ll be next year when my service commitment is over. I worry about where I’ll be 6 months from now in the midst of my second year of teaching. Heck, I worry about a month from now when I’ll be into the school year and hanging out with my students and doing grad school stuff at the same time again.

I sometimes doubt that I’m in the right career.

I doubt that I’m taking the right steps relationship-wise that will lead me to be the most fulfilled.

I wonder if I really can have it all.

I panic when I think about 5 and 10 year plans. (Spoiler- I don’t have one!)

What I mean is that this is all a part of it. Despite the worry, the panic, the doubt- in the end I have to tell myself that it will all work out as it should.

I may not have my life planned out. I don’t have a timeline.

But I have hope. And dreams. And goals.

And faith that it will all work itself out.

Somehow. Someday.

It’s all going to be ok.

This is Not the Life I Planned

This is not the life I planned

I’m not where I thought I’d be by now.

But that’s ok with me.

Throughout my teenage years, I had a few different versions of where I thought I’d be at this point in my life.

There was option A:  The one where I get married young.
I’d stay home with the kids for a few years. This one is what is common where I grew up in small town Idaho and it works out great for some people.

Option B: The one where I traveled.
See, at 18, I didn’t know what it meant to stay in the United States for more than a year at a time. Post-college, I saw myself continuing this pattern.

Option C: The one with the fancy job.
I’d be working at a big important job by now as a leader in some big industry.

Along with each of these options came a similar timelines. Get a job, get married by 27, baby by 30. Stable. Secure. Settled. 

The thing is though, I didn’t plan for setbacks or mistakes. I didn’t plan for life to get in the way. I didn’t plan on learning more and having my eyes and heart opened to new possibilities. It’s funny, because we can plan and plan as much as we want. In the end, the universe gives us what we need and takes us down paths we never imagined.

I never saw myself where I am now. I never thought I’d be single for over a year, much less by choice (another post for another day).

I never saw myself feeling so fulfilled by my work that seems so simple from an outside perspective, but means so much and matters in this world so much to those of us involved.

I never saw myself living in Chicago. Alone.

I never knew I’d be this content with NOT knowing what comes next. And that’s the thing I’m learning most- it’s ok. Not too long ago, I would have been terrified of not knowing what comes next. Now, though, I know that things will turn out as they are meant to. I know my life will go down the path it is supposed to, because I will continue to grow and learn just what it is I need to get down that path.

This isn’t the life I planned.

This isn’t where I thought I’d be by now.

But this is exactly where I’m meant to be.

And it is good. So good.

Their Success is my Success.

Co-teachers

These aren’t, of course, my students. Confidentiality, you know. But these are my co-teachers for the 4th grade and who pretty much got me through this summer.

As many of you know, last week I finished up summer school for my 4th graders. It was a roller coaster process. I taught summer school at a different school than where I’ll be during the school year, so I didn’t know these kids before and will likely not see them again unless they reach out. All of that is to say, establishing classroom culture takes time and that’s one thing we were short on in our quick month of summer school.

There were days when I didn’t think they learned a single thing. There were days when I cried on the drive home because I was sure I failed them as a teacher. There were days when I was pretty sure I wasn’t good enough for this and wanted to throw up my hands and apologize to the kids for not being a better teacher and give up.

But then,

There were days where we laughed together throughout the day. There were days when their observations and connections were so on point that I cried tears of happiness on the way home. There were more days when I was absolutely sure that I am in the right profession and that they learned so much during the lessons. There were days that ended in hugs and excited conversations of what was to come tomorrow. And there were days of bright, shining successes.

Last Friday, our last day, we gave a post-assessment to our kids to see how much they actually learned during our time. A way to measure if I taught well enough more than measuring their scores for perfect correctness.

My kids passed with flying colors.

Grading those was the happiest feeling. The days I thought I had failed and the kids learned nothing? The kids still used the skill/ strategy I tried to teach that day to think about and solve problems.

The days I cried on the way home? The kids wrote about how they knew their teacher cared about them because of how I talked to them and pushed them.

The days I thought I would never be good enough? All pushed away.

My kids learned. They grew. They knew I loved and cared about them.

After the math part of the assessment, the child I had the most struggles with was chatting with me. He talked of baseball and books, his brother and mom. Then he paused and said, “I know sometimes I don’t think I acted like it, but I really do like you. I’m going to miss you.” And then continued on talking about other things 9 year old boys like. Such a simple thought and sentence for him. A HUGE win and impact for me.

As we got ready to say goodbye, it was a simple hug, high five, and wave as we walked out the doors. Inside, it was so much more.

It was a sign of success. Of their success. Of how much more prepared they are for next year because of summer school. Because of me.

It was my success, too.

Week’s End.

Wait, but it’s just the beginning?

I know, but this week I’m mixing up my normal Monday blogging and trying out a new weekly link up. I figure it’s time for a little something new. I’m sure at some point I’ll go back to Weekly Wishes, I just want to throw in a little something different.

So, without further ado:

weeks end

 

Katherine, my co-teacher for the summer. We had a lot of good times in room 205!

From a training session, some ideas involved in living out our core practices through teaching.

Roommates and friends, on our last weekend living together and marking the beginning of our post-training Chicago lives. We are all SO happy to be moving out of the dorms that we’ve been in these past few weeks, but we’re definitely not looking forward to living separately. Of course, we’ll all still be seeing each other regularly, it just won’t be the same as living together.


 

Oh friends, this weekend was wonderful. Absolutely full of fun times and relaxation. Friday night I spent celebrating the end of summer school with my group of teachers at dinner, and Saturday night after finishing grad school classes for the term we all went out to celebrate with dancing till our feet hurt and our faces hurt from laughing so much.

Today started with a long walk by the lake with my roommates, running over to Chinatown for Dim Sum and to walk through the festival happening today.

At some point of course I had to come home and finish up some last licensure requirements for my Special Education certification, and now I’ve just had a relaxing evening spending time with my roommates and chatting about the days to come. We have one more week of intensive training until I’ll be free for a month!

3 things I’ve been thinking about lately:
– The idea was planted in my head today that I might want to go home for a couple weeks, but money sucks and that might not quite be possible. It’s worth checking out flights though.
– I think I want to redo my “about” page. The one I have now is outdated and not as fun as I’d like it to be
– I am so excited to be able to get back to blogging more now that the bulk of summer training and summer school are over! I’ve missed keeping up with blog friends and sharing things with my readers!

3 posts you might have missed:
Oh hey, Friday!
Top 3 Travel Destinations (and my future plans!)
Dear 17 year old me,

3 posts from other favorite blogs:
Why You Should Book That Ticket byt one of my favorite travel bloggers.
How to Beat Writer’s Block from a new bffl who’s both super nice and super smart.
A Coffee Date post from a friend who I wish I could sit down and chat with in real life too.

I’ll be linking up today with Oak and Oats! If you’re stopping over here from Madison’s blog, welcome! I’m so glad to have you here today. Follow along and say hi!

Oh hey, Friday!

Friday Color Run

This picture really has nothing to do with anything other than it makes me incredibly happy. So there’s that. I miss this girl!

1) Today is my last day with my summer school kiddos and I could just about cry. I feel like we just barely started and have gotten to a point where we understand each other and things work well in my classroom. Now I have to send them off into the world and that makes me sad. I know they will be fine but I’m just going to miss them!

2) Tomorrow is my last day of grad school class for the term! It’s so weird to think how quickly it has gone by. Masters degree, here I come!

3) I’m still super excited about this post about where I’m heading next. Solo travel has such a huge space in my heart. I just can’t wait to get to planning and setting up for another trip. My heart needs a good adventure and Vietnam just seems more and more like the place to go that the more I think about it. Now that’s in writing and out in the world it seems so much more real.

4) I am absolutely the MOST grateful for the sweet friends I’ve met since arriving here in Chicago. I’ve written about it before but the relationships I’ve formed thanks to Teach for America- I wouldn’t change them for the world. They are such amazing and kind people and I just feel so overwhelmingly lucky that this is the life I’m living.

5) That’s really all I can think of. My brain can only go as far a field day this afternoon and trying to think up ways to keep Popsicle stickiness off of kids’ clothes. Yeah… right. In my dreams, I know. I’m off to get one more day’s learning into these kids and then off to celebrate making it through summer school with some fellow teachers.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! I have a really fun post coming up on Monday that I’m super excited about, so I hope you’ll come back and see what’s going on!

Weekly Wishes!

Weekly wishes

Isn’t D’s little niece the cutest? I had a blast hanging out with her this weekend!

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! Mondays are never fun and especially a Monday after a holiday weekend leaves a lot to be desired. However, I’ve got high hopes for this week despite having work and class all 5 days (plus again on Saturday). I start my classes on teaching math this week and I definitely need them. Math has never been my strong suit but I am determined to still be great at teaching it by the end of this.

This weekend was spent celebrating and enjoying time with D’s family and exploring the city a little bit more. We had a blast spending a day on the beach and then a day out and about walking and seeing what we could see. I LOVE fireworks, so seeing them was definitely a plus! D and I have already made plans to go back out to Navy Pier next weekend to see more fireworks!

Last week, my goals were to incredibly similar to what I want to keep doing this week. With that, I’m going to keep my goals from last week and roll them on over to this week.

1) Have a better week. I definitely did this, teaching wise. I feel like I was more clear on expectations and my students responded well to that. I tried a few new things to help adjust to their learning styles and it all seemed to work out! I really want to keep this momentum going and build better relationships this week.

2) Blog more! Well, um, ya know. I tried. This one is going to be a continuous goal throughout this summer. By time I get home after 14 hour days, it’s all I can do to text my mother, much less write blog posts. But I’m trying!

3) Keep on, keeping on. This week has been a bit of a roller coaster with low lows and high highs. I think that’s kind of the deal with summer training. Everything is multiplied. It’s so hard to remember that life outside this little TFA world exists sometimes, until something happens that makes it all too real. We lost my sweet Capone this past week and it’s hit me harder than even I thought it would. That baby dog had my heart and was the best dog he ever could have been. Though I know he’ll still be with me, it’s unbelievable how much I miss him.

I’m set to have a great week this week. This weekend I get the FULL weekend off and I couldn’t be more excited! Plus during the week I’ve got some great lessons planned for my kids that I think they’re going to really like.

Here’s to a great week!

Weekly Wishes!

Weekly Wishes

My 4th grade classroom for the summer!

Y’all, institute is so REAL. We’re 2 weeks into it now and even though I’ve started settling into a rhythm, it’s a very jumpy, unpredictable, and fast paced rhythm! It’s hard to believe that 2 weeks ago I hadn’t even met anyone yet and now we’re as close as you can possibly be with people you’ve only known a short time. Then again, we all live, work, and study in the same buildings and are all going through the same struggle right now. It’s amazing how quickly you form such strong relationships in times like these!

I had a great weekend spending time with my dad and his visit couldn’t have been timed better. I was definitely in need of some family time and there are things you just can’t get from anyone else. We laughed and loved and I was comforted beyond measure. Plus having both my Daddy and D in the same place was such a heartwarming sight!

Last week, my goals were to:

1) Be the best teacher I can possibly be for these students. I’m trying. So hard. These kids are breaking my heart every single day and every day I come in fresh with something new. And I will just keep trying things until it works!

2) Plan out days with my colab group. I really got lucky with my group. Their support and encouragement has been key. We’ve been good about planning and working together!

3) Keep a positive attitude throughout the week. Trying. It’s hard, of course. But it will all be worth it.

4) Enjoy Chicago! This one I’ll keep working on. I just haven’t had time to explore yet! Hopefully over the long weekend I’ll do this!

5) Do laundry and normal human stuff.  LOL NOPE. Overrated. Who needs to be human, anyway? haha.

This week, I’m really going to try to:

1) Have a better week. Last week was ROUGH. They really aren’t kidding when they say summer training will push you to your very limits in every way.

2) Blog more! I managed to write 2 whole posts last week, so now I’ll shoot for 3!

3) Keep on, keeping on. Friday I wanted to throw my hands up and give up. Saturday I grieved over a loss that took place far away. Sunday my best friend from high school suffered a loss that blew us all away. This summer training is hard, and real life is still going on outside of it. I need to keep that in mind and just know that continuing right now is the best thing I can do for myself and everyone around me.

That’s all for this week! What are your goals this week? Let me cheer you on and distract me a little from this wildly busy life! I miss hearing about all that’s going on!

Life lately!

Life lately

This is my bed and view for the next six weeks! Full time working and full time grad student time!

I swear I’ll be back to a regular posting schedule soon- just not quite yet!

I’ve entered into 10 hour training every day and it’s exhausting to say the least! Next week, on top of the long training days I’ll be starting grad school, so things are about to get really wild!

However, now that I’m getting used to this whole being constantly on the go thing, I feel like I’ll get into more of a groove and more into blogging like I used to!

In the mean time, I’m working on becoming the best teacher I can be. Summer school kiddos get here next Monday and I want to be ready! The exhausting days and long nights spent studying and planning will be so worth it once the children are learning and I’m able to feed off of their energy. I know I truly love being in front of the classroom so I’m looking forward to that! I’ll also be co-teaching next week which is new for me. I think it will be so much fun to have another teacher to bounce ideas off of and work with to create a great environment for our kids.

Anyway, tonight I’m off to bed. Hopefully I’ll have time to give a better update soon. Stay tuned for some more exciting things coming up!

A HUGE announcement! And taking my life on a whole new Journey!

If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably already know this, but I reached a huge dream of mine yesterday. Something that I’ve been working toward and hoping for for years. I got an email. THE email. This email:

TFA Acceptance

Tears and tears of joy!

A new job, a new city, a new adventure. I am SO excited to be moving on to this stage in my life and could not be happier with my placement. I wanted so badly to be placed in special education and have been lucky enough to be placed in Chicago, a city I’ve never been, but after traveling this much, I’m an old pro at making a new life for myself. Plus, the boy will be moving there this summer for a job so I know the transition will be easier with the both of us there! 

While I can acknowledge the shortcomings and controversy surrounding Teach for America, I know that this program will allow me to follow my passion and make a difference in the best way that I can. I will be earning my Master’s degree at the same time, and I know it will be a lot of work but I am more than ready for it. I really feel that TFA will allow me to become the best teacher that I can be.

For now, I have 3 months to tie up loose ends here before I make my move (my THIRD cross country move in the past year!) I need to be saving money, preparing myself mentally, taking certification tests for Illinois, and reading up about everything I will need to know before I start summer training.

I still feel like it’s all a little bit surreal, but I’m slowly coming to terms with everything. I’m beyond excited and blessed to be able to do this. This also means there will be some changes to this blog over the coming months, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!

Thanks for all your support through this process and as I make this transition into yet another job and city!

My experience with MOOCs via Coursera

For those of you who may not know,  a MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course.

I’ve been taking a couple recently just to boost my education and keep my brain working. My current job, while wonderful, doesn’t exactly require a lot of academic brainpower and I’m afraid to lose what I worked so hard to gain in college.

For me, Coursera has turned out to be a godsend! It has classes from actual professors of prestigious colleges and universities and has classes in just about anything you might want to study! Biology your thing? Anthropology? Fine Art? Neuroscience? They’ve got it all.

Coursera Classes

Yep, That’s Johns Hopkins and Princeton on that list, among others!

And the best part? IT’S COMPLETELY FREE! Yep! You can participate as much or as little as you want but it’s really an incredible experience to do it along with the other class participants.

I’m just finishing up one called  Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms. It’s been a fun class for the teacher in me and has really had me thinking about my own classroom strategies and how I can expand from the skills I used in the classroom to skills I can use in my current position. Right now, my course page looks like this:

Coursera

 

Since I’m almost to the end, you can see all the course materials to the left that I’ve gone through in the past and the things class is currently discussing to the bottom right. It’s a fun way to get my brain going and continue doing school work without actually being in grad school yet. I appreciate that it keeps me growing! 

If there’s a class you see that you want to take but then realize you just missed it or it’s not going to start for a few more months, you can also put it on your “Watch List” and they will email you when a new section opens up. If it doesn’t start for a while, you can still enroll in them ahead of time and it will remind you when it’s closer to time. I’ve got quite the lineup for the coming months and I’m really excited about the courses to come!

Coursera Classes

This is my list! Looks incredibly interesting to me!

I’ve had a really great experience with my classes and will definitely continue to take courses as they come up. The online format isn’t my favorite but it’s definitely better than no class at all!

Have you ever taken a MOOC? How did it go for you? Did you take it from another site? I’d love to hear recommendations for other ways to go about it!