Vegas 2012

Vegas 2012
Standing in The Paris. My favorite hotel!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Overdue Update!

    I thought it would be a good idea to update the world on Daniel and I :) Things in our house have been very busy. In a way its been good for us, I can't believe that we are already at the end of October! On the same token, it has been not so good because I feel like I just can't keep up with time... Just a little stressful.
   Daniel has gotten his first interview for dental school. University of Las Vegas, Nevada contacted Daniel last Monday asking him to come for interviews. It came as a real surprise to D and I. Originally we applied to UNLV because we really wanted to go to Vegas. However, as we applied to more schools and thought about it we decided that staying in Oregon was going to be just fine. Plus, UNLV was the school we thought we would NEVER hear from because it is an extremely competitive and difficult Dental school to get in to. So, we were quite surprised to not only hear from them so soon, but to also find out that they want D for an interview. I had very mixed feelings at first, I cried, I laughed, I was in shock. Haha, I am extremely proud of Daniel. The more I think about it, the more it I think of what an adventure it would be, and it would be kind of fun. My mom was not too happy, but D has invited her and my dad to come and move to Vegas with us. Makes me laugh, but I can't imagine having kids without her around her... I also do not mind living close to my parents. AND, my parents could use an adventure too.
    I informed one of my professors at George Fox about Daniel's interview, the next time I saw her she had a newspaper clipping for me that talks about how the Clark County school district (the 5th largest school district in the nation) is hiring like CRAZY! It's kind of funny, cause the more D and I talk about it, and the more I look at our options, the more Vegas sounds like fun. One of the big drawbacks - UNLV is very expensive. However, Daniel is really liking the idea of specializing (orthodontics) and the Dental school at UNLV is pretty new with a lot of nice equipment etc. and they are great at helping students specialize. At the end of the day, there are several drawbacks and advantages, and I guess we will just have to see what happens.
   We are still waiting to hear from OHSU, we have heard through the grapevine that we should hear from them sometime after Christmas. OH! And Daniel's interview with UNLV is scheduled for January 12th... Woo Hoo!! Weekend in Vegas!
   I got to go and spend some quality time in the urgent care this week. I took some Advil Monday afternoon to help with a toothache, and 20 minutes later I was feeling terrible. Lots of pressure and sharp pains in the top of my stomach, it was difficult to breathe and made my back achey. At times I even felt like I was going to throw up. I drank some water (and yes I did take the Advil with food) went home and took a late nap. I woke up feeling worse then when I went to bed. My mother took me to urgent care where I was informed that I can no longer take Ibuprofen. GREAT! I'm allergic to Acetaminophen and now Ibuprofen as well. The doctor was worried that I had put a hole in my stomach, but it looks like that is not the case. He was also concerned that the pain/aches/nausea might also be connected to my gallbladder, but that also does not look like the problem. Basically I have gastrointestinitis, and the next time I have any pain I have to either tough it out, or take a narcotic. (Sweet!) Currently, I am doing better, I have 3 prescriptions, and still have some pressure and pains, but overall am MUCH better than I was Monday night.
   I think this pretty much sums up the current happenings and activities in the McMaster household.

2 Weeks before Halloween!!

            This week I got to spend time with just Karen, there were no students because it was parent-teacher conferences. It was really great to be able to spend time talking with Karen about my WS, and learning more about students/situations within our classroom.
            The first very important thing that I learned in parent teacher conferences was how to best deal with parents. Karen is very straightforward and to the point. She does not sugar coat situations, but I feel that she did a fantastic job at making sure parents knew how important their student was to her; Karen had nothing but good, kind and wonderful things to say about her students to their parent’s. Something I really liked was that prior to conferences, if a student was missing work in her class, Karen had made sure that she had sat down and talked with that student, this way there was nothing within the conference that would surprise the student/catch the student off guard. It also allowed time for the student to go home and discuss with their parents what they might here in conferences before hand as well, again, no surprises.
            It was really difficult to see how many students come from broken homes. I feel like since I have been in elementary school that number has really climbed. There were also quite a few moms that couldn’t have been very much older than I am now. To be honest, that really freaked me out. I can’t imagine currently having children old enough to be in elementary school. There were also a lot of situations where students come from homes that are unstable, diverse (living with relatives), and even scary. It’s amazing how strong these kids can be, and are.
            I have also decided that I am going to put an emphasis on becoming fluent in Spanish. We had 11 students in our classroom that required a translator for their conferences. There were times when we would have to postpone the conference and wait for a translator to show up, and other times when we wouldn’t have one at all and another family member would have to translate. It was 1. Stressful, 2. Impersonal, and 3. Who knows how much can get lost in translation. I don’t want parents to feel a disconnect with their child’s teacher, and I think that it is SO important for that parent-teacher relationship. It was just so sad to watch, because I felt that it was so impersonal between Karen and some parents, where as with other parent’s she could just have a conversation for minutes on end about anything/everything. I also think that becoming fluent in Spanish would make it so that I was a little more valuable, because as much as some teachers would like to deny it, the amount of non-English speaking parents is rapidly growing.
            The rest of the day went fine, like I said, it was great to hang out with Karen and some of the other teachers. I feel like I am really learning a lot. Karen does such a great job at including me in SO much, and I really feel like I am a vital part of her class and McKinney. 

Week of October 8-15/2011

This week was really short. Only one day with the kiddo’s. I miss them terribly, and every time I get to see them it’s like the best day ever. I was really surprised to see Karen, she hurt her leg about a week and a half ago, and was told by doctors to be at home on bed rest. She came in to class anyways, we had a guest speaker, she spent the whole day at her desk, and I got to teach. It was AWESOME! I got to teach math, re-teach and etc. At first it was a little nerve racking, but I did my best to step in to the role, and to relieve Karen’s stress. I was so mad that she had come to school; she couldn’t even get up without hobbling around looking like an old woman.
I had the most wonderful experience of meeting a holocaust survivor. It was probably one of the most amazing moments in my life. He talked to the class about what it had been like for him, and all that he had learned and has achieved in his life. It was really interesting listening to his point of view about how people who believe the holocaust is false are unbelievable. I had never thought of what it might be like to actually be a holocaust victim and hear those kinds of words. I was also interested to see if students would understand or get what it was that Alter was relaying to them. I wasn’t sure that 6th graders would appreciate his message, but I was surprised. I saw some students cry, and I witnessed student after student thanking Alter after his presentation, telling him that his message had changed their lives. It was really neat for me to witness as a future teacher – to understand what students are capable of appreciating.
I am looking forward to this week. Just one day again, and this time with no children. I have parent teacher conferences all day. This will be my first real interaction and witness of the parent/teacher relationship. I am really hoping to learn a lot, since this is one area that stresses me out the most. I have dealt with parents before, but I am excited to learn and grow and witness new experiences and interactions with parents. 

Update on the Zoo

           This week was great. I was really dreading going in to the classroom this week… I think that part of it was the stress carry-over from the first 3 days of the week. However, once I got in to the classroom. It was like I was meant to be there – and life was like it should be.
            Class went by so quickly this week. One minute it was the beginning of the day, the next it was already lunchtime. It continuously amazes me how little time there is in the day, and how much we have to cram in to the day as teachers. Thursday I was able to run reading stations again. It was really great for me. I realized that part of my problem with stepping up in Karen’s classroom is my struggle to be like her – to teach as she does in her classroom. What I have come to realize is that Karen and I are very similar, and very different at the same time. She is okay with me teaching in my own way within her classroom – she WANTS me to be a teacher, and she wants me to feel comfortable, and she has done such a great job at this, and I just haven’t been able to recognize this. So I ran reading stations my way – the class still got the same information out of the way I taught reading stations, and when I was finished, I heard a group of students talking about how much fun they had just had during my teaching. It made me feel so amazing!
            Thursday afternoon I got to sit in on my first IEP meeting. It was a really great experience for me, especially since the mother of this student is such a powerhouse. She is very concerned about her son’s transfer from 6th grade to middle school, and that was what most of the meeting dealt with. One of her big concerns was that her son was not in Karen’s class for math. Her son Connor has been diagnosed with a form of Autism, and though he is extremely smart, he is not quite ready for Karen’s math class – her math class deals with a lot of abstract thinking, and understanding why we do what we do in math. Mrs. V really wants her son to be prepared for middle school, and she is concerned that if he is not in Karen’s math class that he will not be prepared for middle school math. It was great to listen to Karen talk to Mrs. V about her concerns about Connor in her math class, as well as the reason for placing him in the math class he is currently in. I really learned a lot. IEP meetings are long, and very involved, and as a teacher I need to be prepared, and knowledgeable about my students.
            Friday, the whole school participated in the “fun run”. A fundraiser where our students ran laps around a “track” and collected money for every lap they ran from people wiling to sponsor them. It was really fun, I enjoyed giving my students a hard time, and cheering them on as well. I had a lot of fun with Connor in particular, he would come to me every lap to pick up his popsicle stick, and when he finished his 10 laps (the required amount) he was done. It made me laugh. He was so cute!
            Karen had visitors in her classroom from Pacific University, they are currently in the student teaching program at PU. I DID NOT LIKE HAVING THEM IN MY CLASS. They were only there to work on some reading tests, but it still stressed me out, and it also forced me to step up my game. It made me laugh later however, thinking back on it now, I guess it was a little childish. Karen made me feel better about it that afternoon as well, by telling me that she believes I am going to be a great teacher. I told her it was very kind of her to say such things, she laughed and told me that it was not kind, but that it was just the truth. It made me smile.

This week for Daniel and I... We had to take the Zoo to the Vet. All 3 needed their 6 month check up. Both Choxie and General checked out fine. Sugarplum, she's getting on in years, and so she had to stay over night at the vet. The vet informed D and I that she does not have cancer (which is a huge relief), however we now have to buy her fancy food because she is at the beginning of having problems with her kidneys. Very sad. She has been in my life for so long I can't imagine life without her... But so dar everything is okay, and so we will be monitoring her closely. Other than that, life in the McMaster household is going swell :) 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ta Da! 10/3/11

 This week in class has been very eventful! I feel like I just keep learning and learning, and learning some more. I have really grown to love the kids in my class, and I am starting to already feel heartbreak towards having to leave in the next few months. I wish that we were able to do all of our student teaching in the same class, or at least the same school. I have been talking with Karen, and I think that I am going to try and make it work this spring to be able to attend outdoor school with her class.
            This week is the first time that I actually disagreed with something that Karen has done within her classroom. Friday Karen taught her class how to do a mathematical word problem, and the steps required to do them. She walked her class through a very difficult word problem, step by step, and then proceeded to have her class complete a word problem individually. There were SEVERAL students within her class that were unable to grasp and complete the word problem individually. It was very stressful for many students; there was a fair amount of tears as well. Karen refused to let me give to much aid to students, I wasn’t allowed to help them, just simply point them in the right direction. On top of that, students that had already been talked too, were not allowed to receive any more direction. I did not find this method very fair. Considering that there were so many students within the class that still didn’t understand the concept, I would have stopped the class, and gone over (AGAIN) the mathematical word problem, step by step. Karen just kept going, and whatever they didn’t get done, they had to finish at home. Since there are so many students within her class that are English language learners, I think that going over the process one more time (during re-teach time) would be severely beneficial for her students success.
            I was able to teach a lot this week. Several times I was even in the classroom by myself, as Karen had errands to run around the school (briefly). I taught re-teach math fractions, I got to read aloud to the class, I was able to teach a vocabulary lesson, and run a vocabulary game. I am really enjoying my time in Karen’s class. I am having a hard time stepping up to teach her class, and she likes to give me a hard time about it. I’m not quite sure why this is. I don’t have a problem teaching, and I’m not afraid to do it, I just think she is such a big personality within her classroom, it makes me nervous to take her “place”. Maybe I’m just over thinking things, and I should just jump in with both feet. I sometimes get a little jealous of my peers who have been able to run their classrooms all day. Sixth grade is a big grade to teach, it’s not as simple as first grade; we do SO much within the day.
            I was able to see how Karen implements art within her classroom. I know that there is so much required of teachers to implement within their classroom, and rarely do students at the elementary level get exposure to art and poetry. Karen makes a point to do at least one art project a month, as well as one poetry study a month. I really find this commendable. There are many students within Karen’s class that are very artistically inclined, and I think that it’s great that she works hard at making sure she allows these students to express themselves within her classroom as well. I’m really excited to see how their art projects turn out.
            Lastly, next Thursday, at 2:45 I get to sit in on my first IEP meeting. I’m really excited for this. I feel like I am (and have been) getting a lot of exposure within Karen’s class that many people probably will not, and I feel really honored/blessed. I have no idea what to expect at this meeting, but I am looking forward to it, and to learning a lot. 

Conference weekend, is my most favorite kind of weekend. Daniel and I spent a lot of time in pajamas on the couch, doing NOTHING! It was awesome! Plus, all of the talks were amazing, and I have felt amazingly spiritually fed. (If that even makes any sense.) 
This weekend, was also great because Daniel and I got to spend it painting pottery, and hanging out with family. We went to the Cerami-Cafe. We both painted mugs, and it took forever! Turns out, painting pottery is not as relaxing for Daniel and I as it may be for some. Hopefully our mugs will turn out really awesome, we'll find out on Wednesday. As for spending time with family, I got to go to lunch with my cousin's Jessica ad Sarah, and then hang out with Brian and Jessica last night. I discovered last night that I thoroughly enjoy spending time with my Aunt Sue, she is so amazing, and hilarious, and cute. Daniel and I had a lot of fun playing games and just hanging out. 
This week... Daniel and I have no big plans, we are still waiting to hear from Dental schools, the delay is killing Daniel. He's feeling pretty good about his chances of getting in to OHSU... Hopefully, he's right. I miss my house! Having the Holidays come around makes me sad, I miss being able to decorate and bake. But I'm pretty sure that even if I was in my house, I wouldn't have time to do these things. 
I'm glad that it is that time of year, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas... I LOVE the holidays. Hopefully this year will be great! Also, I can't believe that we're in October... Where has the time gone?!

Monday 9/25/11

          This week was crazy. Thursday was a REALLY long day. We had our back to school night at 6 – so overall it was a 12-hour day. Courtney and I were talking about that new movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It” about the executive business mom, who manages to successfully do it all. The movie should really be about a teacher. Even on regular days teachers have mounds of homework to grade, lessons to plan, meetings to attend, work for a teacher NEVER stops!
            I have been to many back to school nights, but never to one that is so formal. Most of the back to school nights I have been to usually involve a bouncy house, pizza, ice cream, as well as visiting each teacher in their classroom. For McKinney’s back to school night, we had an opening assembly, and then 2 sessions for parents to meet with their student(s) teachers. In each session, the teachers presented a power point presentation to parents informing them about what would be taking place that year in their child’s grade. It was really exciting to be able to see and participate in back to school night. Courtney and I were introduced to the parents in the assembly, as well as introduced to the parents within our classrooms. I was able to meet, and talk with some really interesting parents, and learn more about their students.
            Things that really stood out to me this week: Mrs. Lawson’s honesty. She doesn’t sugar coat things, tell kids what they want to hear, she really talks to them like adults, and gives it to them straight. Example: One little girl Sammi has been very passive-aggressive, and refusing to do her homework. Her teacher, Mr. Cumpston, has had a difficult time getting her to turn her homework in, or to even care about her homework. Both Mr. Cumpston and Mrs. Lawson sat Sammi down and had a discussion with her about her lack of responsibility. Karen informed her that if she did not begin doing her homework, that her grade would drop, she would not be able to participate in fun Friday, and that ultimately she would not be able to go to outdoor school. Karen made it clear that she would not keep Sammi in for recess, or punish her, her only punishment would be that of her own doing. It was really interesting to listen to Mrs. Lawson and Mr. Cumpston talk to Sammi, many tears were shed on her part, but no pity was doled out by either teacher.
            I participated in my first one teach one observe lesson. It was a little nerve racking, it also didn’t help that I was new at working the SMART board, and that one of the kids had to get up and help me. Talk about embarrassing! I was able to go through and help the students correct their math homework, as well as run their vocabulary/hang man game later that afternoon. One thing I’m not 100% sure about is the surround sound system in the classroom…. I don’t think I am a fan of having to hear my own voice, and many of the classrooms that I have volunteered in have not had this speaker component. Other than the speaker, everything went great. Karen was very helpful, and patient.
            I really enjoyed this week; it was really a lot of fun. I was also able to pick up the lesson plans/materials for my WS… I’m pretty excited to be teaching science, and a little nervous at the same time.

Daniel started school again this week. I am really thankful! (I know that sounds silly.) I'm just glad that he will have homework now too,  and that my guilt of "abandoning" him will lessen. Saturday night Daniel got really sick, thankfully it didn't last too long, but it was sad to see him sick, since it happens so little. It's also really funny when he's sick because he's SUCH a BIG baby! I'm excited for next week. Jessica and Brian are coming in to town, and I'm really excited to see them.