Friday, June 10, 2011

Moving Forward

I graduated from grad school about three weeks ago. It was a rough road in the spring semester. There was a lot of stress about the enormous piles of work that needed to be done, and the deadlines we were under, especially towards the end, when everything was due at once, but since I expected all of that, it wasn't that big of a deal, except for scheduling. Really, the hardest part was inter-personal. My spring mentor teacher and I are very different people, and it was a rough go on a lot of levels. The thing about experiences, though, is that you can learn almost as much, if not more, from hard ones as from those that are more enjoyable. I got along really well with the other teachers in my department, though. They were lovely people who knew what was going on, and who volunteered to write me recommendations that they descibed as 'glowing'. They actually all took me out to lunch the other day to celebrate my graduation. They couldn't have been kinder to me through everything that happened in the last few months, and I definitely wouldn't have made it if I hadn't known that they were all down the hall, rooting for me. They truly are my friends, and I am so grateful.

Now I'm at the waiting point to find out if I'll get a job. I've applied to the local board, and also to a few private schools in the area. I almost would rather do a private school, even though the money is less, because the class sizes are smaller and you're not as much at the whim of the state and local governments insofar as whether you will be furloughed or laid off or whatnot when budget time comes around. I know I have at least three really good recommendations in my file, probably a decent one from my advisor, and who knows what from my final mentor. At the very least, I'll continue to sub, and that could lead to something else eventually. If not, it will still pay the student loan bills. The sunny side of subbing-only is that there would be no evening work to do, like lesson planning or grading, unlike having my own class. It will be really hard to watch classmates of mine get a job if I don't, because it will probably feel like a personal rejection, and I will have to figure out how to deal with that if it happens. I love my classmates, and will be lifelong friends with many of them, so I'm genuinely hoping that they get jobs. I don't want to be left behind when I worked so hard and wanted it so badly, although after the last semester I have to admit that I'm not sure I want it as badly as I did when I started the program. I have to focus on not taking it personally, staying positive, and trusting that what is meant to be, will be.
I'm taking it one day at a time while I get some perspective on the entire program, and planning my next move.

Not sure if I'm going to return to this blog or not yet, but I do miss hearing from everyone, and I've been lurking on a lot of your blogs for awhile now to catch up. I have no idea whether anyone is still looking here or not, and that's OK, too. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I am SO stressed out. I have a million things to do for school, my home life schedule is crazy now, and on top of it all, my mother is coming tomorrow through Monday. PLUS, we just found out that sometime soon DH is going to have to go to NE for two weeks. Holy shit.

Being in the school is awesome, though! I love being in the classroom, and the kids totally accept me as Someone. I've definitely seen Some Shit, though, and it's only been four days. I'm in the closest thing to am inner-city school that we have around here, and there's a lot of poverty, a surprising amount of homelessness, and all the stuff that goes along with it. On the one hand, it's hard seeing it all, but on the other, I love being in the middle of it, knowing that the time I'm with these kids could really make a difference in their lives. So, it's all good from that aspect.

The only stressful thing so far is all the requirements I have raining down on me from my university. We have to be evaluated six ways to Sunday, and we have to turn in lesson plans for everything we teach, whether we're the ones making up the lesson or not, in the school-approved software format, meaning I'm going to have to take everything I touch and re-do it in this awful format that no one in the real world uses. On top of all that, my mentor teacher has been doing these lessons long enough that she doesn't USE the lesson plans anymore, she just goes with what she knows, so if she can't find the actual copy of the lesson, I'm going to totally have to re-create the wheel every time I do anything. Since I'm taking over one subject a week, each week I'll have to re-create five lessons (after the first week, we don't have to put it in that format anymore, but we still have to turn them in, so I'm going to have to have SOMETHING to turn in, although I'll be able to use an easier format) each week. Plus the work my classes are still assigning. Plus actually doing the teaching, plus running the study group for my community service project one before-school morning a week. Yeah. Holy crap.

So, I have ton of work to do, and my mother is going to be here all weekend. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle that, really. I honest-to-God don't have time to have a houseguest, even one that I'd actually enjoy, never mind one I don't want to be here. She hasn't even gotten here yet, and she's whined every time she's called to whoever answers the phone about how she 'feels bad' that DH has to drive all over creation to get her, and she knows how busy we are, etc. If she feels so damn bad, why is she still coming?! She invites herself here every spring and fall, parks herself on the couch, and does nothing but wait to have someone tell her to do something. I wanted to tell her to just stay home, if she feels so bad, because I'm not going to lie and tell her that we're thrilled that she's coming, but I bit my tongue. I'm so stressed out, though, that if she pulls that crap while she's actually here (which is almost guaranteed), I'm not sure I'm going to be able to hold it together. So, stay tuned, there may be fireworks a-comin'.

Off to do my TWO assignments for my hateful literacy instruction class. All the other classes have stopped giving us regular weekly busywork, but not her. On top of everything else, we still have to watch online videos and answer questions that are just like the ones that come in the back of those useless textbooks (How did you know that the students were engaged in the lesson? Explain.) from when we were kids. They're easy, but time-consuming!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I just got home from my last student session for the semester! I am officially through with sitting through boring powerpoints and dealing with egomaniac math professors! I'm FREE!!

I had an exam today in my science instruction class, which seemed really easy so I'm not worried about it (plus she adds a bunch of extra credit to the scores to give us credit for all the busywork junk we do in the classroom, so I already have about 7 points added onto a 50-point exam, nice). I barely studied for it, because I was so burned out after nailing myself to the wall over the second math exam. I spent all last weekend and a chunk of Monday staring at my endless stack of flashcards with math facts and theories.

BUT, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT, because I got 267 points out of 270!!! Woohoo!!! If that's not the top score in the class, it's close enough that I don't care. PLUS, that totally makes up for how badly I did on the first exam (213/270), and along with the one other grade we've gotten back (professional journal article reviews, almost everyone got 80/80, total cheesecake assignment) I'm up to a 90. YES!!! My 4.0 may be salvaged after all!!! As long as I get any kind of A at all on the rest of the assignments, which are a case study, a math center, and a lesson plan, I'm still in line to keep The Number. I'm not really worried about getting As on those, because projects are a lot easier to do well on for me than exams and we have to go over what we're doing with our classroom mentor teacher, anyway, so it's not like I can totally bomb.

As of today, I get to start doing the fun stuff! Lesson plans and centers and actual child interaction, oh, my!!! I haven't had time to even think about those until now. :) I can't wait!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back Again

Hello there! I haven't been here in quite awhile! I've been so swamped with things to do that I can barely even look at my computer unless it's to do schoolwork lately. I've wanted to come back, but just couldn't. With our new schedules, I get up at 5:30 to get everyone ready and off to school, and by the time I finish reading with Josie at 9:30 or 10, I'm ready to fall into bed. DH and I generally meet in our room when I'm done, and don't even come back downstairs anymore.

My school is going pretty well. I have As in all my classes except math instruction, which is like hell on earth. The professor, S, had us buy a book that isn't a textbook at all, but rather a collection of math activities that we could conceivably use in a classroom one day, but which has no bearing on the material we're supposed to learn in class. He spends about six hours a session vomiting math garbage on us, while we furiously write down everything he says. The problem with this is if we miss a class, or he stumbles or misspeaks, we have almost no recourse because there's no book to look things up in, and whenever he feels like it, he renames a method after himself!!! I'm not kidding - so far we have the S method for factoring, two that he's named after his wife (the J methods), the S method for solving story problems, and so on. This makes things even worse because if we're confused after we get home, we can't look it up online, either! Also, his exams are the kind that are made to purposefully trick you, for instance if we don't have a definition written exactly the way he thinks he said it in class, it's wrong and we get points off for every word he changes. We've had one exam so far, and most of the class got Cs or below. In grad school, a C is pretty much like failing. I got a 79, which almost made me even more mad than if I'd gotten something lower, because it was so close to a B. We have another exam on Tuesday, and I've been furiously studying, but I'm not sure how much difference it will make, because I studied like mad for the last one, too and it didn't do me (or most other people) any good.

Really, the best news is that after this week, I'll be back to student teaching! I can't wait to get out of my classes and into the school again. I have to do a community service project, so once a week for the rest of the semester (or year, if it goes well) I will be holding an after-school story and activity time for first and second graders. I'm a little nervous about whether I'll get enough children to make it a real success, but we'll see what happens; if there aren't enough, I might open it up to other grades as well, although that would be challenging. My mentor teacher said that the principal and VPs had a really good opinion of me, which makes me feel happy and confident about going back.

Josie just got her first middle school report card, and she got a special certificate with it because she got all As in her merit classes! She's doing better this year than she ever has, and has almost perfect averages in four classes. I love that the teachers at the school she's at send weekly emails with the scoring updates for all her work, so there are no surprises, and if she's missed something when she's sick we immediately. She's been sick a few days, I suppose because of the new mix of kids is introducing new germs for her to fight off. The other big news for her is that we let her get contacts on Friday. She's been wanting them for a long time, and I decided to let her get them because she can't wear her glasses during karate, and I know from experience that that stinks. We were planning on not having her wear the contacts to school, but the acclimation schedule that the eye doctor gave her really means that we have to let her wear them there while she's getting used to them, and while I was nervous at that idea at first, she's taken to them like a fish to water! She has no problem getting them in and out, and the solution they gave her cleans them for her, so there's no scrubbing or anything. They're two-month disposables, but the pair she has right now is a free trial pair; we'll go back on Friday to get her actual prescription (I don't understand how that works, that they gave her some approximation or something? she can see fine with them now, so I don't know what they're going to do) and buy a supply to have on hand. I was shocked at how much less expensive they are now than when I wore them in my 20s - $15 a box! That's less expensive than glasses, for heaven's sake! We still got her a new pair of glasses, because her prescription changed, but hopefully we'll be able to use them more as a backup and not get them updated every year anymore.

Patrick is liking his new school a lot. He goes to aftercare, which is working out nicely - they go on field trips once every couple of weeks! He's going to be in beforecare once I start student teaching, but only for a short time, like 15 minutes or so, because I'm technically supposed to be at my school at the same time as when he can be dropped off now. My mentor teacher said that I don't have to worry about it, but I don't want to be The Intern Who Was Always Late. I'd rather be The One Who's Always Around when it comes time to apply for jobs, you know? :) The curriculum in his magnet program is great, and he seems to be really challenged now. They have palm pilots (which they call little computers) for each student, and they use them a lot at their seats, and he has spelling words like stingray and jealous.

Dh finally got hired at a new company, and starts next week, on the same day I start student teaching. He got a raise, but best of all will be able to work from home a few days a week. This will cut down on the rushed feeling a *lot* because he'll be able to pick up Patrick right after school on karate days, or at least that's the plan.

That's all the basic news. Next time (tomorrow, hopefully) I'll talk about the upset that's been going on surrounding my IL's 50th anniversary planning. I think it's OK now, but who knows.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dear School Non-Information Professionals

Dear Patrick's New School Secretary,

When I called the other day to find out when back to school night is, you informed me that I hadn't gotten a letter with 'important information' because his old school hadn't sent you all of his paperwork yet. Hmm. Number One, I kind of think that the fact that you're missing paperwork on my boy IS important information all on its own, don't you?? You maybe could have called me about that. Second, he's registered there, he's got a teacher, he's been doing summer homework - I would say he's already a student there; why on earth do you need some piece of paper from his old school to trigger your sending me this VIP info? Is it super-secret, all-forms-filled-out-only information? Do I need a secret decoder ring to read it? Don't worry - I definitely didn't spend last night awake worrying that somehow my boy wasn't registered ANYWHERE anymore. Also, I like how you're secure enough in your job that you could take off the Friday before school starts, and leave someone who knows NOTHING about your job sitting at your desk to greet me when I come in, as directed, to fill in whatever presidential paperwork needs to be done. It's good that in this economy, you're able to say, screw it, all the parents dealing with last-minute Important Paperwork can just take a number. When your startled replacement finally finished stemmering repeatedly that she had no idea what she was doing, and actually LOOKED, she found the list of kids in magnet, and found my boy's file, and from what we could figure out, it looked like you had been missing the HEALTH FORM from his old school, which is now in there (the check mark on the file list was in a different color than the other items). You needed a HEALTH FORM in order to send me the first day of school info?! I hope you were out today so you could take a prioritization class, or maybe seeing some sort of mental health professional yourself.

Thanks for the wasted gas,
Why Do I Bother

Dear School Transportation Department,

One of my goals today was to find out about Josie's bus schedule. I looked online, but the local paper had the information link wrong, and when I finally got to the school site, the school had a list of thirty bus numbers to wade through with no identifying information/searchable content. Yes, I could have clicked on every single link, but if the first one was any indication, each bus has several routes it runs, and it was tremendously confusing. So, I called the phone number you helpfully provided on the website. When you answered, you asked if I had looked online, and I explained my dilemma. You then asked if I had driven over to the school and looked. I replied, 'No; I suppose I could drive over there rather than asking you on the phone right now.' Your answer: 'That would be good, because we're busy.' Wha??? Let me get this straight: you gave me your number so I could call you, and then get told to get in my car and drive across town, rather than simply looking in your computer and answering my question? By the time we went through all that, you could have probably looked it up twice over! What do we pay you for, again? You should talk to the school secretary (see above) - she may have information on a prioritization class for you. But only if you've sent her the correct forms.

Again With the Wasted Gas,

Monday, August 9, 2010


DH has been looking for a new job for awhile now. It's not that his current job is in danger, at the moment, but that they're total asshats. Three times they've promised him bonuses of varying sizes, from the $10k one that turned out to be $500 (which they then bumped up to $1k because his manager threw a fit), and two other ones that never appeared at all. It's not just him, either - everyone is treated the same, and as a result, people are leaving in droves. On his project alone, two people left the other week, one is in final negotiations with a company, and DH and another guy are looking. The only one who is planning on staying is the guy who was only hired about six months ago, because you're kind of stuck for at least a year.

So far, DH has had three serious bites from companies. One fell through, and I was kind of happy about that, because I just wasn't getting good vibes, but two others have been strong. He's had two interviews with one, and three with the other. The second with #1 and the third with #2 were both last week, and both with senior VP-type people. Since then, silence.

On the one hand, it's not bad, because at least it's not a No. But on the other, WTF?! It's been a week. Hauling someone in for interview after interview, I think, increases your responsibility to them, because they've repeatedly taken time off to come over there, aka used vacation time to see you rather than family. I think that deserves at least SOME kind of follow-up, especially when the entire time you've spent with the interviewee has been with everyone saying how impressive the person is and how much everyone has said they like him.

More, though, I think my frustration is broader than just this scenario. No one seems to feel beholden to anyone anymore; there's no common sense of dignity. When I'm out shopping and say have to pass by where someone is looking, I always say 'pardon me' as I pass by, but 90% of the time, the person doesn't acknowledge me at all. Very frequently, someone passing in front of me will stop RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME to look at what I was looking at without saying a word, like I'm not even there! Cashiers wait on the person behind me before I even finish signing the receipt. Even at my church, there are people who do exactly what they feel like doing, regardless of how they make other people feel, or allow their children to be incredibly rude (what is it with people speaking for their children all the time? When I say 'hi, that's a nice dress' to a 6yo child, I want the child to say hello back, not the mom to answer for them or start making conversation with me to cover up for the fact that they haven't taught their kid basic manners!). Companies think it's OK to screw over anyone they want, and outright lie to employees.

I know this is nothing new, really, but most times I can grit my teeth and do my best to ignore all the taking-advantage-of. Maybe it's the heat finally getting to me, like the last straw.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Unicorn Poop

First, let me say, I am DONE with school for THREE WEEKS! Hooray!!! I got all A's this semester, and I'm thrilled and all, but woohoo!!! Time off!


We finally had to break down and buy the dogs hypoallergenic food. Delilah is trying to get another ear infection - this would be her fourth - and the vet said if she got another one we should try her on a different food, because recurrent ear infections can be a sign of a food allergy. Great. You all know that there are no normal dog foods that have no grains in them, right? We had to go to the pet store, not the grocery store, and not only that, but we had to go to That Aisle of the store. The aisle where dollar signs drip from the shelves like chow from a torn bag. Crap-a-doodle.

It turns out that all the foods are about the same price once you get to that echelon of pet food - approximately $50 for a 25lb bag. Oh. Mah. GAWD. We go through about 20lbs of chow a week between the two dogs, and there's no way we can feed them different things. Dog food just became its own line item on my imaginary budget.

We settled on Blue Buffalo brand, which I believe is made out of golden geese, the loch ness monster, and little brown pebble things that I think are unicorn poops. At this point, the dogs may be getting better nutrition than we are. It's certainly more magically delicious.

To make it worse, there was a peppy sales person who was actually FROM the Blue Buffalo company stalking the aisle, and I swear she's related to that woman on the Progressive Insurance company, you know, that crazy bump-haired woman in white? She stalked us with wide-eyed sincerity, and even loaded the bag we eventually bought into our cart. It was weird and annoying. I mean, it was bad enough that we're spending our life savings on dog food without a perky woman practically taking it out of our wallets right then and there.

However, I do have to say that after eating their first meal of the Blessed Chow, both dogs are running around the house like they've just eaten rocket fuel. Unicorn turds are tasty, apparently. Also, it's supposed to make them poop less because there are no fillers in it at all. Less dog logs sounds good to me - do you have any idea how much 170 (combined) pounds of dog can serve out? They're like log cabins for moles.

If these new platinum crunchies cure Delilah's ear infections, the money will be worth it, and probably financially come out in the wash, if you figure in what we were spending on vet visits and medicines, not to mention that she still runs and hides when she sees me come into the bedroom at night because I've had to put so many drops in her ears at bedtime. If it doesn't, we'll be meeting you back in the regular dog food aisle, where my debit card doesn't burst into flames upon entry.