Don’t Blink

Don’t blink. Life goes faster than you think.

And institute has done just the same. I remember my first day of teaching this summer and how nervous I was. I remember my second day of teaching and second 5:00AM wake up call and dreading getting out of bed. I remember my second week of teaching and thinking that Friday would never come. But where did the past three weeks go?

I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with a few amazing students this summer in their English Language Arts class. Not, only have I seen relationships grow between my students and myself but I’ve seen their understanding of literature grow as well. We started off the summer session reading Holes and learning some basic literary terms like setting and characterization.

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from Skyline’s Opportunity Fair we hosted for our students!

However, this past week we moved on to working with short stories including Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour and O. Henry’s Hearts and Hands. I’ll admit that maybe I didn’t choose the best texts for my students, these stories were a tad above reading level. BUT, we worked through them as a class to understand the plots and the meanings of the stories.

Last week, we hosted an Opportunity Fair for our students and each of us created a poster board about where we attended college or another opportunity we were involved in post secondary school. Since financial aid was such a vital part of my own college education I worked with a girl named Kate who will be teaching in New Mexico to run a table about college applications and financial aid. Even though most of our students are in middle school and have a few years before they can apply for college, it’s never to early to plant the seed that they can succeed! There students have inspired me so much and have shown me that I’ve chosen the right next step for my own life. It’s crazy how much someone can change in as little as a month.

I didn’t grow up wanting to become a teacher, but this summer has really taught me so much about how important teachers are to kid’s lives. I know that I’ve had certain teachers really impact my own life but it’s crazy to hear how you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life.

While I am very sad to be leaving Skyline and Phoenix – I certainly won’t miss the 120 degree weather – I’m excited to return home and then officially move to Oglala, SD at the end of July!

Saying institute has been a roller coaster is like the understatement of the year, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. I’ve learned so much, had so many amazing experiences, and made so many incredible friends.

If you were at all worried, know that I will be spending the next two years with the most amazing people in the world and have lots of support out there in SoDak.

Keep an eye out for tales from my 4th of July weekend that will be spent at Lake Havasu and also stories from my trip home with Alisha! Enjoy your holiday weekend 🙂

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Becky and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Well, I taught for a whole week! And surprisingly it went very well 🙂

I only had between four and six students every day which was nice, but I know it won’t be the same in the fall. We’re really just covering basic literature terms like plot, setting, characters, and the like. So, it’s been fun applying these concepts to Holes. My students informed me that they haven’t read a novel in class (they’re entering 7th grade) so I’m excited to read one of my favorites with them.

So, far it seems like they’re enjoying the story. Most of them have seen the movie, so there won’t be any major plot twists for them. BUT, it’s still wonderful to hear them read aloud from a real novel rather than just short stories.

I spent the weekend watching Finding Dory and swimming at the pool near campus. The heat was intense (apparently the hottest it’s been in like twenty years), but it is a dry heat so it wasn’t much compared to the hot, humid summers of NC

So, maybe you’re wondering why the title of this post is what it is…

Well, let me tell you about today. Oh, Mondays.

I didn’t sleep well and then when my alarm when off at 4:51AM I woke up with a stuffy nose and a sinus headache. I didn’t want to go to school, but I knew it wasn’t really an option. I went and ate breakfast, I loaded the bus, and then I arrived at Skyline around 6:45AM.

When I got to school I was reminded of the student survey we’d be required to give in class today – cutting our (already short) instructional time. Not only did we need to take time to let students complete the survey, but we had to read EVERY question and EVERY multiple choice answer aloud to students. It took awhile to say the least….

I was NOT feeling well and I was NOT in a good mood.

BUT, then my students reminded me why I’m here. I only had two students today – probably because of the excessive heat and the fact that many of them have to walk a mile to get to their bus stop – but these two students showed me why as a teacher even coming to school on one of your “bad days” can turn into a positive situation.

My two seventh grade boys and I worked on comparing and contrasting characters. First, by comparing and contrasting them and then applying it to Holes. There were laughs shared and we had a good time while also learning the concept.

It was really in PE class the next period that I had my A-Ha moment. You see, every Monday I have “PE assistantship.” I was watching my two students play basketball with the other seventh graders and they were smiling and excited. And I was reminded why even on my “bad days” I need to come to school…

My students, even these ones I’ve just met a week ago, count on me. They’re counting on me to be here every day. So, I’m going to take short trip to Target and buy some sinus relief medication and hopefully feel better in the morning. And hopefully this will be the last of my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

While, I’m sure that there will actually be more in reality – especially come August – I now have a new outlook on my bad days and how unimportant they are to my student’s learning

You Can Call Me Chaco

The first week of institute is over and I’ll actually start teaching on Monday (tomorrow!) #NervousButExcited

But, I want to detour from tales of TFA to tell you another story…

There were two roads diverged in the woods and WE took the one less traveled by.

I assume most people recognize these words from Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” While this poem is definitely my favorite and I always try to apply its message to my life choices, I must admit that literally living it out is not quite a fun experience…

Yesterday, a small group of us decided to venture out to find this natural pool that was about an hour and a half from ASU’s campus. After our drive, we arrived at the entrance and parking lot. We saw a good number of cars, lots of children, and a few dogs on leashes.

We noticed there were two separate trails from the parking lot and foolishly went to the right trail (meaning the direction, not correct). This trail took us on a trek an hour into the woods with no “real” path. This is where I earned the nickname “Chaco.” Apparently, simply wearing Chacos while the rest of the group was in flip-flops and Toms made me the leader of the pack and the chosen one to go ahead and check for an actual path. After hiking in the wrong direction for about an hour and running into more and more difficult paths we decided to turn around and go back out the way we came because we had obviously chosen the wrong way (lesson #1: learn when to admit you’re wrong).

After what seems like multiple hours to get into the woods, it only took us a few minutes to find out way back out to the parking lot. We then chose the right (correct) trail to the left and after about a half mile we found the Water Wheel water falls and enjoyed relaxing and cooling off after such an….adventurous….day.

This trek really taught me a cheesy lesson about life. We chose the road less traveled and it turned out to be hard and not nearly as fun as the correct trail, but the whole time our group was lost in the woods we leaned on each other for support and affirmation. It would have been very easy for one or all of us to become frustrated and get angry with someone or the whole group. Instead, we kept our heads up, we followed the river, and eventually made it to our final destination.

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As I’m embarking on a new two year journey with thirty (used to be) strangers, I’m blessed to know that I can lean on them for support. Yesterday’s adventure was (to me) a foreshadowing of the next two years:

We’re going to face challenges inside and outside of the classroom

We’re going to get lost

We’re going to take a few detours

But, in the end we’re all here for one another and hopefully will continue to be for the next two years. The end goal of educational equity in our country is not something an individual can tackle alone. It’s not something our South Dakota core can tackle. It’s not something TFA can tackle.

BUT, the fight for educational equity is something that I am proud to be a part of and I’m very honored to be working for that common goal with everyone surrounding me

I’m excited to begin my time in the classroom tomorrow and I’ll be sure to update everyone with how the actual TFA process is going!

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Travel to Phoenix and the Summer Ahead

Hey y’all! I know it’s been awhile (again) but they really have kept us busy since I got to South Dakota on May 29th. I got to Phoenix, AZ on Sunday after spending a week in SD.

We left SoDak on Friday to begin our journey to Arizona and we were fortunate enough to make some amazing stops along the way. We stopped in Denver, CO Friday Night where we ate at a local restaurant called Linger that actually used to be a mortuary.

After spending the night in a IMG_0299very…sketchy…hotel we got back on the road and made a pit stop at Garden of the Gods. This place was truly incredible with beautiful views, pictures really don’t do it justice but I included some in here anyways to give y’all a small glimpse into what I saw.

After this stop, we got back into the car and drove all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico to stay the night. We had dinner at a restaurant called El Patio and it truly was the best margarita and the best (New) Mexican food that I had ever eaten. Sunday morning, we woke up to finish the last leg of our drive to make it to Phoenix, but of course we had to make one more stop: The Petrified Forest (this is also where the Painted Desert is located). Once again, I was completely awestruck and blown away by the beauty of our nation and just astounded at how far I could see without a tall building coming into view.

Moving back to TFA related things, I found out that in the fall I’ll be teaching at Loneman School in Oglala, SD in the Pine Ridge Reservation. For the summer, I’ll be teaching 7th grade literature at Skyline which is located within a reservation in Arizona. I’m excited to be reading Holes by Louis Sachar with my class! I wrote my first lesson plan today (woohoo!) and I’m excited to use this piece of literature to teach my students important ELA themes.

If you have any tips/tricks/suggestions to teaching middle school or Holes please e-mail me or contact me on Facebook! I’ll take all the help I can get 🙂

Till next time!

Little Bit of Catch Up

So, I know it’s been awhile but unfortunately I haven’t had wifi for a few days…I’m going to try my best to catch y’all up without writing a crazy long novel

We spent the first day of induction at CAIRNS where we spent the day learning about Native American culture, the Lakota language, and some history of the surrounding area. This day really was a whirlwind, but I learned so much and I look forward to learning more as I continue my time here in South Dakota. IMG_0267.JPG

On Tuesday, we traveled out to the Health Administrative Building and learned some about the TFA mission. Later, my group traveled to the Boys and Girls club in Mission, SD. This was truly an amazing place (undergoing a lot of renovations) where kids can go after school and get a healthy meal and academic help is needed.

What has really preventeIMG_0292 (1).JPGd me from updating this blog was Tuesday night a girl named Allison and I traveled to Oglala, SD for an interview at a school. We spent all day Wednesday exploring the surrounding areas, including The Badlands, and connecting with community members. It w
as so nice to actually meet members of the community and kids in the area. There really is something special about the way kids love in these communities and I get more and more excited every day that I get to be a part of it.

Tomorrow afternoon we start our journey to Phoenix, AZ where I will have the chance to get some classroom experience working summer school. Check back for more 🙂