Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Random Goodness

So, student teaching is over. Kaput. Gonzo. Finite.

Wo-hoo! I celebrated all weekend and shockingly enough, the Pittsburgh weather cooperated. It was gorgeous and sunny and I have my first tan lines of the season. Of course, I have to get rid of them since the bridesmaid's dress my cousin wants me to wear in October is strapless, but...

Now that I'm officially unemployed, I have been enjoying my free time (although it's only been two days) and biting my nails about finding a job. If you want regular updates, you can follow me on Twitter. I joined last week and am obsessed. My favorite thing about it is that I can do it from my phone - I can easily text 140 characters multiple times throughout the day, and also keep up with the people I know on Twitter, b/c I can get text updates from people if I want to.

(Yes, I just saw that I can evidently update my blog via my phone...but it's a little tougher to do, methinks).

I do have a few interviews set up in a couple of weeks. Not sure if I mentioned it, but I did interview in New Orleans in March. That went well, and I actually got an offer of sorts, but I turned it down since I have some prospects on the East Coast, which will make my sister happier.

My first upcoming interview is with Horry County School District, which is Myrtle Beach, SC. I actually interviewed with an HR rep at a job fair here in Pittsburgh, and now I'm going to visit a few schools and have a district-wide interview next month. Then, I'll drive down to Savannah, GA and interview with their HR department. They don't know exact openings yet, but they should have a good idea by the time I interview, so keep your fingers crossed that they are able to set up meetings with a principal or two while I'm down there!

Some funny things that happened my last day of school:

~ My CT had my classes each sign a "Thank You, Good Luck" card for me in their Math class. One of the students wrote that she wanted me not to remember her for always being late, but to remember her b/c she's a good student. If she was a good student, I might - but she wasn't! Oops. Another kid wrote: "Good Luck...'cuz your gonna need it!" I laughed at this but was a little hurt b/c this is from one of my good students. Then I saw him and he was genuinely sad to see me go...so I think he meant "Good Luck because the students will possibly be evil." LOL

~ I scrambled at the last minute to create a "bulletin board" out in our hallway. It was a requirement of my student teaching but I treated it almost as a joke for two reasons: 1)I'm a secondary teacher, not elementary. My advisor and supervisor did not put a lot of importance in this. 2)There was zero space in my classroom. So we post student work in the hall, but we couldn't keep it up during PSSAs or for weeks afterwards. At any rate, I finally put some poems on pretty Word stationary and hung it up in the hallway. Based on my CT's and the teacher across the hall's reactions, you would have thought I altered constellations. They were really excited.

~ I let my second class ask me personal questions which I would decide whether or not to answer. This was hilarious. They debated whether or not I had any kids - Thursday was "Bring Your Kid To Work" day, and half the class was missing, so they didn't know if I brought a tot in with me or not. One student told another I was only 20 (ha!) so I was too young to have kids yet. Another said people can have kids when they're 14, so I could have had a kid. The funniest, though, was when they were trying to guess my first name. Jasmine, Jessica...the guesses were awesome. Finally, I told them the first letter, and the first girl guessed "Sarah" immediately...then didn't believe me when I told her that was right. They said it didn't sound right with my last name. Hee hee hee.

So I just re-read this post and it's really stream-of-consciousness, so forgive me! Also, I'm still getting caught up on everyone else's blogs, but I should be doing that this week :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Break

So, all last week I was on Spring Break from school, which was fabulous and which I had been looking forward to since January. Yes, these vacations are DEFINITELY more for the teachers than the students!
At any rate, the term "spring break" still takes a piece of my heart to the crazy beaches of Panama City, FL and Cancun, so I really wanted to take a trip. I toyed with visiting my cousin in Orlando, FL, but I waited too long to look into flights so by the time I did they were outrageously expensive. Finally, I talked to my dad and asked him if he just wanted to go north for the week.

Let me break down the terms: Camp vs. Cottage.

Camp - my dad's side of the family (my Pappap and ALL of his brothers) bought an old farmhouse in the 1950s to hunt at. It's in Pleasantville, PA, which is near Titusville. History buffs will know that Titusville is where oil was discovered - yup, that's right. PA, not TX!

At any rate, the property is now owned by misc. male relatives, including my dad and uncle, cousins, great-uncles, etc. When I was growing up, we spent all of our holiday weekends at Camp, sitting around the bonfire outside and walking in the woods. In the early 1990s, they tore down the original farmhouse and rebuilt a smaller cabin with primarily just bedroom space and a huge kitchen/eating area. It's primary function has always been a hunting camp and guys don't care if they share a loft with five other guys.

My family and my dad's brother's family were always together at Camp, and we always had a blast. We have some fairly ridiculous traditions, including tramping through the woods, climbing deer stands, and singing "Skinna-Marinki-Dinki-Dink, I Love CAMP" at the end of every trip - while my uncle filmed it. But we loved it, and I think it's a big reason why I'm so close to those cousins today.

Then, 6 years ago, my parents bought the Cottage - never, EVER to be confused with Camp. The Cottage is in Linesville, PA, on Lake Pymatuning. I know I've written about the Cottage before - that's where we went for our grand wine trip in the fall. The Cottage has much more modern amenities and is more of a home than Camp. Camp is more primitive.

Since the Cottage, we generally go there for all of our holiday weekends. My dad's sister and her family own a house across the road from ours, it's on the lake, there's slightly more to do...we even manage to convince my other aunt, uncle, and cousins to come over for at least a day during the holiday weekends. So we're all still together and slightly more comfortable.

The long and short of it is that I haven't been to Camp in a few years. And I love the Cottage, but haven't been there since last fall. My sister was off of work until Wednesday, and she wanted to go to Camp, too, so we decided to go there for a few days and then my dad and I would head over to the Cottage (about a 45-minute drive).

Little did I know that this is what would great me on Tuesday morning, after waking up at Camp for the first time in years:

This was the view looking into the woods in the back yard. My sister, Pappap, and I took a walk through the snowy woods. There was about a foot on the ground. And it wasn't there on Monday when we got there (although a layer had spread on the ground by the time we went to dinner at about 7:00 PM).
This is the view looking back towards Camp from the woods. I was playing around with the color on my camera :) Sepia tone!

Pretty snow-covered branches on fallen trees. I did also climb up my Pappap's tree stand but I was dumb and didn't take my camera up with me.

The front of Camp. It was actually snowing really hard when I took this picture, but you can't see the flakes for some reason - must be too small. We were in a hurry to leave by this point (early afternoon on Tuesday). My Pappap's truck is rear-wheel drive and the ground under the snow was mud, so he was worried about not getting out. Oh, and there was no hot water. So we all were ready for a hot shower!
These are my feet, covered in snow. I am so glad I brought my rain boots up north with me! I was expecting mud, not snow, but got both.

I am not a snow lover, but I didn't mind it this time for once. I was on vacation, so I didn't need to be anywhere. And I wasn't driving, so I couldn't be ticked at my stupid car for sliding on the slick roads (which it does). It was really nice to walk in the woods through the snow and hear the sounds of nature. The entire walk, Robert Frost's "Walking Through the Woods on a Snowy Evening" was floating through my mind:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Obviously, it wasn't evening, but what can I say, we had just finished a poetry unit with my kids!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Back to Life

Wow. I had no idea when I wrote that last e-mail that it would be more than a month before I would be back to the blog-world. I've missed it!

So, some necessary updates. First, the reason why I've been gone so long - I'm pointing the finger solely at student teaching. The lesson plans totally got in the way. At the beginning of my assignment, I tried valiantly to be as prepared as possible, spending at least a day each weekend creating lesson plans for the week, blocking out my classes and trying to determine when I'd be covering each topic in the unit.

But of course, things never go the way you plan! After a half dozen or so lesson plans were written and completely thrown by the wayside, I started writing them later and later...until I was usually writing the lesson plan the night before the lesson was taught. Not an ideal situation, but my CT never even glanced at the work I had done aside from asking if I was prepared or felt ready for the day. I kept with my block plans and altered those instead of my 3-4 page detailed plans.

It has actually worked out this way pretty well - I've found that I'm more flexible, I am able to adjust to what we didn't get done during the previous lesson (which caused some plans to overlap) but overall, it worked.

So picture it: every night, I'm parked on the couch in my apartment, laptop on, papers spread everywhere, pretending to write the lesson plan and correct homework but really...catching up on peoples' blogs. So I would stay up later and later...you get the picture.

Something had to go, and unfortunately, it was my blog world. But only temporarily! I am still shocked I've stayed away this long. Anyone on Facebook can see my much more regular updates there, but it's much easier to read a one-sentence status than it is to read a multi-paragraph blog.

At any rate, student teaching is winding to a close, and you will see me here much more frequently. I'm currently on spring break for the week, and then I only have two weeks - TWO WEEKS! - until student teaching is over.

So here is my promise - I promise to go back and read every single blog post I've missed, and I'll probably comment on most of them. So check your old posts for new comments! I promise to not stay away so long, and hopefully at least update my blog weekly until student teaching is done. I promise, I have missed you more than you have missed me!!

Another quick update is on the job front - I have had a few interviews, and I'm narrowing down where I want to live. I went to New Orleans for an interview, I also had interviews with Horry County, SC (Myrtle Beach) and Palm Beach County, FL (West Palm). And I've applied to Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. I want to be on the coast in a fairly urban area...I can't deal with anything too rural. So keep your fingers crossed! Everything happens for a reason, and I've found this to be true with jobs more than anything else.

So, welcome back, me! I'm so excited to return, and I can't wait to find out what everyone's been up to!