12 September 2010

A Few Observations about Teaching, From a Third Year Teacher

1.  I will always have a slight anxiety attack when the bell rings at the start of the day.   

2.  Any lesson can be made better by involving a really great picture book that applies to the concept being taught.  This is something I'm rediscovering after being a bit lazy with literature the past couple of years.

3.  Painting is always stressful.  Period.  It helps to threaten students that they will lose future painting privileges if they act like idiots during painting projects.

4.  With every group of kids, there will always be at least one naughty kid that you completely love AND at least one good kid that will completely irritate you.  The converse is also true.

5.  Fridays are consistently the worst day of the week when it comes to management and behavior issues.

6.  Parents are the hardest part of the job.  (Although, there are many wonderful parents that will do anything to make your job easier.)

7.  The best way to make sure all kids are working on what they are supposed to be working on is to put them into strategically created groups or partners.  Strategy is key here, otherwise you'll end up with kids trying to grab and hang off the American flag hanging in your room.

8.  Teachers are surprisingly funny and inappropriate.  But it takes a little bit of time in the faculty room to figure that out.

9.  Every so often, you'll meet a kid that will completely change the way you think about things.  I got my first job working with kids when I was 21 and am now 26.  So far, I've already met two such kids.

10.  Teaching gets much easier with experience.  But it's still really, really hard.

30 July 2010

The Grand Unveiling

A few weeks ago, my creative and talented friend Lindsay gave me an idea for a new blogging project.  She knew I was struggling to find a focus for my blog and suggested I start a whole new blog looking something like this.  Feel free to take a gander at it.  Ideally, this is something that I'll update nearly every day.  I've been trying to keep the posts short so that it isn't too much of a time commitment, should you decide to stop by for a look.

Again, here is the link to my new page!

16 July 2010

What I Really, Really Need Right Now

Current local temperature:  106 degrees
Saturday forecast:  112 degrees
Sunday forecast:  110 degrees

I could really go for a big thunderstorm, complete with a huge downpour, right about now.

06 July 2010

"I Think I'm Already Getting Used to the Heat"

Well, after 11-ish hours in a hot car, most of it down a one-lane (or is it 2?  You know, when there is only one lane for each direction and your only hope for passing slow moving vehicles is the extremely fortunate combination of a dotted-line on your side of the road and no cars coming the opposite direction?) road, David and I arrived at our parents new home in Chandler.

Actually the drive through Utah was pretty beautiful.  I think this is somewhere around Panguitch or maybe Kanab. 

Arizona was less to look at. Although by the time we crossed into Arizona I was pretty grumpy from the heat, so I might have been a little overly critical of the scenery.

When we got to my parents' house I was very happy to see the pool.  Too bad there isn't any water in it yet.

I decided to let myself be optimistic and believe that I'll be swimming in it by next week.

03 July 2010

My First Finished Project

It's a bit rough in some areas, but I'm really proud of it.  Can't wait to wear it when the weather cools down...

01 July 2010

Arizona, Here I Come

Since I became a teacher, I have thought that it would be so fun to pick a place to go and visit for 2...3...maybe 4 weeks during summer vacation.  Last summer it didn't quite work out.  This summer, however, I am really, really excited to go down to Chandler, Arizona for a couple of weeks.  Sure, it might not be the best time of year to be somewhere that ridiculously hot.  But I have big plans and want to make the most of my time there.

A few things on my AZ agenda:

1.  Spend the beginning and ending of each day sitting by/in my parents' pool.
2.  Read something extremely trashy, campy, or mushy.
3.  Find the perfect summer/beach hat to shield myself from the sun.
4.  Road trip to the coast with the family for a couple of days.
5.  Explore some of the walking and hiking trails in the area.

That's all I've got so far, but I still have a few days to add a few more things to my to-do list.

29 June 2010

Golden, CO

As hard as it can sometimes be to be away from home (the uncomfortable mattresses, meal-after-meal of junk food, etc.), I've really been enjoying vacationing this summer.  Being free from work for the summer is great, but I have a hard time functioning without a routine.  The exception to this is when I am off on a vacation somewhere.  I was raised to believe that when you are on vacation, it's okay to have no plans and to be free to do whatever you feel like doing.  Being out of town has made it much easier for me to live freely, which I appreciate.

This last weekend I found myself in Golden, Colorado.  My cousin got married on Saturday, so we all made the journey to the Denver-area to celebrate with her.  I have always loved Colorado, and Golden is a great little city.  In the hours before the ceremony, my parents and I explored downtown Golden, stopping at a farmer's market on the way.  We also found time during the weekend to go to downtown Denver.  We wandered up and down the 16th Street Mall and had dinner at a brewery across from Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play ball. 

Hopefully it won't be too long before the next Colorado trip!

23 June 2010

I'm Kind of a Big Deal

Okay.  This post is going to make me seem incredibly vain, but I felt the need to share.  Sitting on my sofa this morning, watching music videos, drinking coffee, and checking my email, I decided to do something I haven't done in a couple of years.  I googled myself. 

There are a lot of people out there that share my name, which I always think is kind of cool.  I would love to actually meet one of these people some day.  Anyway, I discovered that my twitter account is fourth in the search results.  As you can imagine, I feel pretty important.  (Nevermind that my account was nestled in between myspace pages of people with the same name.)

Of course, being the sort of person that prefers anonymity, I'm thinking that it might be time to look into privacy settings for my account.

21 June 2010

Bear Lake

Since before I can even remember, I've been going to Bear Lake to vacation with my family and their friends.  Bear Lake is a gorgeous lake on the Utah-Idaho border and is famous, in Utah at least, for it's delicious raspberries.  Last summer we never found the time to make the vacation up there, so I was happy to find myself at Bear Lake this last weekend for a couple of days of summer fun.  Isn't the water the loveliest shade of blue?


17 June 2010


One perk of having summers off, is that I have a lot more time to visit friends in faraway places.  Okay, I guess Provo isn't THAT far, but it does take some time to get there.

Today I took the 45 minute trip to Provo to spend some time with my friend, Libby.  We ate burgers, played with her little boy, and honed our skills at a new hobby.

Hopefully in a couple of weeks I'll be the proud creator of a stylish new scarf.

14 June 2010

Let's Do This

About a year and a half ago I went through a phase were I watched House a lot.  It was frequently on TNT or USA or one of those stations that replays old episodes of popular shows over and over.  One night, while watching, Dr. House said something on the show that really struck me.  He was talking to Cuddy and said something like, "You're not happy unless everything is perfect.  This means that you're good at your job; but it also means that you'll never be happy."

When I heard that I had one of those moments where I felt like the universe was speaking to me through my television.  It might not seem like it, but underneath the surface, I am a perfectionist.  While this can be good in some aspects, it can be really negative in others.  My tendency toward perfectionism makes me give up when I shouldn't.  Sometimes I won't even try at all just so I don't have to deal with not being able to achieve at the level I expect of myself.

Enter my blog. 

I have a really hard time really committing to writing on my blog.  I'm not the greatest writer and many of the things I write about are totally cliche.  Several times in the past, I've seriously considered getting rid of my blog all together.  This might not seem like a big deal except that I really like having my blog.  I like being able to tell stories or vent about life or express a profound thought (hahaha).  Why would I give up something that I actually really like having?

I decided that I'm going to put myself out there a little bit and stop worrying about the fact that my blog isn't as creative or well-written or interesting as others.  I'd like to write on my blog more regularly and not worry about being judged by readers.  I'd like to find a niche for my blog because I think that having a focus would really help me.  And I would like to revamp the look of it.

This might seem silly, but I've really been inspired by some of the blogs I subscribe to.  They are the sort of blog that make me feel happy and positive about life.  I'd like to have that with my blog, too.  Not necessarily for others.  Rather, I'd like it to be a source of happiness for myself.  When I started this blog, I did it for me, so that I would have somewhere to express myself.  I want to get back to writing for me without worries of what other people think about it and without being scared off by perfection.

09 June 2010

A Passion

When thinking about ways to spend the summer, one of the first things to pop into my head is to read more.  I love reading, but have a tendency to get lazy during the school year.  It's so nice to have the extra time and energy during the summer to catch up on the books I've been wanting to read.  The book on the top of my list this summer is The Golden Compass.  This is a hard book to find in public libraries in Utah, probably because of the author's atheistic viewpoints...a discussion for another day.  But in my quest to acquire this book, I got to thinking about how much I love reading children's literature and how I would like to work on whittling down my list of kid-lit books I've been wanting to read.  And then I started thinking about something else.

A couple of months ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about what kind of business we would start if we had the business know-how and finances to make it a reality. I think this is a very important question for people to ask themselves because it can be very revealing of their passions in life. We were at Barnes and Noble at the time, hunting down a book we had read in 6th grade, The Cay. We had been talking about how that book had really resonated with us at the time. That was when we decided that, if we had all the necessary ducks in a row, we would open a children's book store. This book store might also feature a cafe that served things like cupcakes and hot cocoa. And naturally we'd be tight with J.K. Rowling and she would do readings of Harry Potter, like, all the time. Teen lit would have no place in our bookstore, as it is usually mind-numbingly lame. (I didn't even like it when I was a teen. I spent my teen years reading Star Wars novels in between required reading for school.  True story, Andy.)

It sounds silly, but children's literature is sort of a passion of mine.  I didn't know it until I read the Chronicles of Narnia, but kid-lit can be really smart.  In fact, some of these books probably offer more to adult readers, who can identify underlying themes, allegories, and plot devices, than they do to kids.  (If I had a nickle for every time Amy and I discussed the themes of racism and censorship in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix...).  Plus, I'm a real sucker for happy endings and the triumph of good over evil.  Sometimes grown up books end in a really depressing or unsettling manner that I don't always need in my life.

I guess I kind of have the perfect job for a person who loves reading kid books so much.  I spend about 10 minutes a day reading aloud to students from children's books that I love.  It's fun to find how timeless some books are.  For example, both years I've taught I have read The BFG and Because of Winn Dixie.  Both years my classes have loved them.  I also use my class as a barometer for new books that I haven't read yet.  After I've read a new book to my class, I know whether or not I'll read it to future classes.  I realized The Magic Tree House was a winner when my whole class started checking those books out from the library after I read the first one to them.

As usual, I don't have a very sophisticated way for closing this blog entry.  Maybe my loyal readers (all three of you) wouldn't mind sharing their favorite kid-lit book.  I wouldn't mind adding a few books to my list!

17 May 2010

Isn't It Beautiful?

When I was a sophomore in college, I taught myself how to knit.  I loved scarves and I was inspired by my friend, Libby, who had spent the summer knitting a scarf for one of our good friends.  It was a hobby that I really enjoyed, but I felt really limited in it because I only knew how to knit one thing and didn't really have the resources to make anything really cool, like socks or a hat.  So, I set my sights on learning how to crochet.  I thought it would be so cool to make a blanket and crochet seemed to be the easiest way to go about it.

Well, years after I decided that I would expand my needle-work horizons, I finally learned how to crochet.  I went to the book store, bought myself an awesome book called The Happy Hooker (haha, love the name), and set to work with a crochet hook I stole from my mom a few years back and left-over yarn from the first scarf I ever knitted.  And after a lot of getting used to this strange new technique, I had my first little crochet "swatch." 

It looks funny, I know.  But I used probably four different kinds of crochet stitches in it because I wanted to try all of the basic stitches and see how they looked.  My favorite that I've learned so far is the half-double crochet stitch.  It creates a pleasant, roundish shape that I think would be very cute in a blanket.  Anyway, I've learned the basics and I'm ready to get started on my first project--a surprise gift for a friend. 

Here's one last picture of my lovely creation, in case the first one wasn't enough.

06 May 2010

Don't Let the Sun Excite You

Is perpetual coldness the price I have to pay for it being a not-so-snowy winter?

That blows.

11 April 2010


As part of the 2nd grade content curriculum, students are supposed to learn about life cycles.  I think this is one of the most exciting things that 2nd graders learn because it has such hands-on potential and students love to learn about and see how different kinds of plants and animals grow.  This year I have made it a goal of mine to work on making my life cycles units a little more interesting for the kiddos.  We learned about pumpking life cycles in the fall and students sprouted their own pumpkin seeds.  They had a lot of fun with it.  This gave me confidence to take life cycles a bit further this spring with teaching them about butterfly life cycles.  So, I did a little research on how one might possibly acquire caterpillars to grow in the classroom, put in an order for a "butterfly kit," and yesterday...


They are pretty gross.  And it has taken some getting used to.  I'm keeping them in my brother's room because I knew I would have nightmares about giant caterpillars crawling all over me if they were in my room.  (I had them delivered to my house just in case they arrived on a weekend and I'm glad I did.)  So far they are just kind of crawling around and producing some sort of silky material.  They will supposedly begin to enter their cocoons in a few days and then should emerge as butterflies about a week later.

I admit, this whole caterpillar business is a bit Silence-of-the-Lambs-y, but it's completely fascinating (if a bit yucky).  Plus, I know this is one of those things that my kids will always remember doing which makes it worth it.

Aren't they cute?

22 February 2010

Life's Rough. Get a Helmet.

It's been a really long time since I've referenced "Boy Meets World" but I felt that a quote from the show (although I'm not sure it's the original source) made the perfect title for this post.  Like many people, I have moments where I just have to whine about my job.  Yesterday, talking to my friend Amy, I was complaining about how sometimes it's just really hard to be a teacher.  The hardest part for me is definitely dealing with difficult behaviors.  And it really frustrates me when I see parents who don't think it's their job to discipline their kids or teach their kids about good manners.

This led us into a discussion about how so many parents can't stand to see their children uncomfortable, or sad, or frustrated in any way.  Amy brought up a very good point about how we live in a "feel good" culture.  We think we are always supposed to be happy, or at least be happy most of the time.  We can't stand sadness.  When we feel sad, we think something is wrong with us.  So rather than dealing with our emotions, many people start to think antidepressants (or worse) are the answer.  To paraphrase Amy:  Sadness is not necessarily depression.

It hurts to see people we care about hurting, so it's understandable that we try to push them out of their sadness as soon as possible.  But sometimes sadness needs to be acknowledged and validated.  I hate that I only have a couple of people that I can talk to about my sadness because I know that they can handle being there and listening...but being there is the most important part.  When I feel sad, the worst thing that people can do is tell me to move on, it will all be fine.  I know that.  I think most people do know that most things turn out being okay.  But in the meantime, I think it's important to let people feel however they need to feel at any given moment, even if it is sadness, or anger, or frustration.

It's the same with kids.  I think people need to find ways to be okay with their kids having to go through difficult situations.  They need to listen to their kids when they are hurting, but they also can't block their kids from ever dealing with painful situations.  Life is hard, and it only gets worse as you grow up.  This shouldn't be some big secret that we let them find out as they age.  Rather than "teaching" kids that when they feel sad their parents will magically take the pain away (with candy or a toy or yelling at their teacher), I wish parents could teach their kids coping skills for when life is rough.

I wish I had better coping skills.  It would have been so much easier to learn them as a little kid than it is to figure it out now.

17 January 2010

What Makes Me Smile

A short time ago, I found a good blogging idea on my friend Jenny's blog. Her idea was to write a list of the different things that make her smile. I think it's a positive thing to reflect on what makes you happy, especially when your life has slid into a rut. So here is my list of things that always make me smile:

Seeing the ocean

Puppies (or baby animals in general)

Lazy days spent at a park


Listening to live music

Stargazing (I don't really mean of the movie-star variety)

Wave running at Bear Lake

Getting flowers

09 January 2010

The Dine-o-Round Blog

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Lindsay had a brilliant idea to start a blog specifically for a monthly tradition we have with our friend Libby.

Check it out!