So I'll make an obligatory update. ^_~ What's happened in the past 11 months? SO MUCH!
Being a teacher, and having the gift of summer break, I always try to make the best use of it. Every summer, I always aim to go to somewhere different, and learn something new. Aruba, Hawaii, Beijing & Shanghai, or even if it's close by. I also learn something new and different, such as martial arts, scuba diving and snorkeling, and modern calligraphy.
In terms of going somewhere new last summer, I was able to go to Philadelphia for the ISTE 2015 conference. It was great! Although many of the workshops showcased things we already did at our school, I still learned things here and there, and had a great time with my colleagues. I did miss the women's soccer game, as one of the other teachers, Melissa, and I were caught in a sudden thunderstorm. I had to run out and hail a cab, so I was drenched anyway, heh heh, so I opted for a warm shower instead that night. However, I love how much history is on the East Coast, and was able to see buildings and places that have been around for hundreds of years, which is always amazing to me! I also got to run up the Rocky steps. You know, how Rocky Balboa runs around in Philly with the Eye of the Tiger song going on in the background? Heheheheheheheheh. I even got a fellow teacher, Kerri, to run with me! ^_^
As for learning a new skill, I worked on modern calligraphy, instead of the traditional type that I've known since middle school. I also tried brush and watercolor calligraphy, and have only worked on that a little since then. I think I like the metal nibs and dipping them in my little inkwell a bit more. There's something satisfying about using the correct pressure and strokes to create letters that flow on paper!
So anyways. This past year, I had joined the PL team, and have changed the way I teach in so many ways. At the same time, it's still me and the way I teach - but I've learned new strategies, used more technology than I have in the past (and hey, not to boast, but I've always been ahead of the tech game. This past year though, we've had so much support to go forth and go crazy with whatever ideas we may have, it was great!), and have been testing out lessons to support the NGSS that are going to become mainstream soon enough. I also had the toughest class I've faced in a long time. You would think 14 years of teaching in the area and school I teach at would pretty much allow me to handle anything. Nope. No matter what strategy I tried, new or old, it didn't work. Nothing did - positive, negative, encouragement, support, forming more solid relationships....nothing. My 6th period made me reevaluate my career choice for a while, and I would go home feeling like a pathetic first year teacher whose soul, purpose and hopes felt meaningless, and drowned a little bit in tears! I know. I'm a little dramatic here...but it definitely felt like "the depths of despair", of Anne Shirley would put it. However, I had a lot of support from my friends, fellow teachers, and family - and was reminded that:
1) I can't save everyone. As much as I want to, I have to come to terms that it doesn't always happen. Most of the time, I don't have management problems because I have such strong relationships and positive rapport with my students, and there may be a few here and there that I don't feel like I make too much of a difference for. But never has it been pretty much a whole class.
2) "Did you have a bad 5 minutes? Or did you have a bad 5 minutes that you milked all day?" That saying reminded me that though the last hour of my day made me feel like the whole day was worthless, I had 5 other class periods that were really, normal - which means wonderful. I had amazing students and classes the rest of the day, and shouldn't go home feeling like I hadn't achieved anything.
And the year ended well - my 6th period started shaping up around December, and by the end of the year, though they weren't the best ever, they were much improved, and there were more than 5 that actually paid attention and tried anything. Hee hee, I used to joke that NO WONDER GOD DESTROYED SODOM AND GOMORRAH. Because he couldn't find even 5 righteous souls in those cities...and in the same way, that's how I had felt about my 6th at that time. >_< But in reality, so many of them came from broken homes (more so than my other periods, actually! There's tracking that goes into which classes students are placed in, and well, that wasn't a good group to put together. We need to fix that educational system, by the way, somehow!), and what do you expect a 13, 14 year old teenager to respond like when things at home are so messed up? Most of the time, their priorities aren't for their education, understandably. They need to be shown that they matter, and that someone does love them and care about them. But sometimes they don't get that at home, and that's so sad! But teaching them has taught me much. Meanwhile, it also forced me to update my resume and CV (I've not applied anywhere else. It just made me think about it and get that taken care of!).
I also had absolutely AMAZING students. Even many more than normal this year that ended up calling me "mom" and that I "adopted". ^_^ I did the Catalina trip again this year, except it was in March, so the weather was a little colder than usual, and also took a group of students to Disneyland as we had extra funds! We had an insane amount of field trips it seemed - besides the two just mentioned, we took the 8th grade academic trip to the California Science Museum, the usual Cove Waterpark field trip, and took the PL kids earlier this year to the Bodies Exhibit. The school year ended with lots of love: hugs and laughter, long conversations, water balloons and glitter. LOTS OF GLITTER. ^_^
On the home front, my dad had gallbladder surgery not too long ago. He's mostly recovered now, but the events leading up to that were scary. My brother's family finally moved out of my parents and they all live near us now, with Diana's mom moving in with them from Asia.
Aiva has finished Kindergarten, with lots of awards for achievement, attendance, effort, and all that good stuff, with the highest marks on her report card. She loves to read so much that at night, I'd catch her reading by the night light - which is bad, but good that she's reading so much. She had advanced to 2nd grade sight words months ago, and continues to read whatever she can get her hands on. Penny is starting to take an interest in reading and writing more, though her 4-year attention span isn't too long, and her fine motor skills are continuing to develop so she can write/draw more details. She's more intelligent than she lets on though, memorizing the name of the planets, knowing many Spanish words, and facts about Obama, hee hee. Whatever they talk about in preschool, she picks up and retains. She's still tiny though - most people think she's about 2 years old, but are always surprised when she says she's 4!
Both girls are also dancing at a new dance studio (Aiva's classmate's mom actually owns the studio!) nearby, so we don't have to drive as far, and they love it, of course. They also just finished their swim lessons for the summer - Aiva continues to be a natural mermaid, diving for things at the bottom of the pool really well, and jumping in the deep end happily with me. Penny will swim simply because she must. but can swim really well. She doesn't LOVE it just yet. And both have been crazily into My Little Pony for the past year. I've learned so much MLP Lore that it's insane, lol. >_<
I ran my first 15K at the Hot Chocolate Run this year! It's a goal I had, and was glad I was able to do it well. Next goal? A half marathon. Don't know if I'll do that this year or next though. We'll see. =)
Oh! I also have seen some amazing musicals this past year:
- The Little Mermaid (that "If Only" song is still stuck in my head)
- Beauty and the Beast (Ugh. So good!)
- If/Then with Idina Menzel (who SLAYED it)
- Carrie (a totally-different-from-the-norm-musical)
- The Book of Mormon (OMG. It was so hilarious! I died laughing and came back to life.)
This summer, I hope to run more. Craft again. Cook and bake again. I'm currently learning the guitar - just started, and I think I am actually doing pretty well. Slow, but going good. ^_^ I might take Jiu Jitsu classes! I'm just debating because of the cost; I'm not sure how consistent I would go once summer is over, and I don't want that to be a waste. We're traveling to one of my favorite countries and visiting some places I've not been to in Canada. I'm hoping to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter because it's Harry Potter! And we're going to a Conan taping! And paddleboarding! And seeing old friends and family that I've not seen! I know. It's a lot of goals. But I have a couple months, right? =)
Right. Hopefully, I add a few more entries in here before another year goes by. ^_~