Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Tail End of the Semester

I mentioned a little bit in the last post how I wish I had written more during my teaching time, and  I still really wish that I had. I sat down to write down some more details from my time in Kindergarten, and I just realized the same thing all over again. It really is a sad phenomena that when you're busy, you have the most going on in your life and therefore the most you want to record, to write about, to archive. But by the nature of the time, you're busy, which means the excessive gets set aside for the essential. Such is the nature o the beast of busy-ness.

Can you say WOMP?

Now, I might have mentioned before that I"m a big, and I mean big visual person. So when I sat down to write this post and try to review the 3+ months that have been left un-recorded, I jog my memory by looking through my photos. Once I find the photos, I know what I want to write about. So here are some more highlights from the latter part of the semester.

In early November, my family got the sweet treat of travelling to Seaside, Florida, for my cousin's wedding. It was my only cousin on my Dad's side (small family, right?) so it was pretty high on our priority lists, which meant we were all able to make it for the wedding. That's big y'all. That doesn't even happen for Christmas. Our immediate family stayed with all of our (small) extended family in a house in Watercolor for a balmy Florida weekend. We usually do a week in Florida every summer, just down the street from where we stayed for the wedding, but it was so nice to be there in the off-season. If you know Seaside, you know that it is consistently packed to the max in the summers. In November, it was much more enjoyable! No - we couldn't layout on the beach, but yes - we could drive through the square without running over pedestrians. WOOT!

The wedding itself was wonderful. Very elegant, very classy, very simple. It was in the quaint chapel behind the Seaside circle - very cozy, very intimate. It also just happened to land on the weekend after my last week of full time teaching, which made it a wonderful reward for 6 weeks of non-stop hard work.

all the sisters together in the house in Watercolor

the precious little Seaside chapel

Only a few weeks after the wedding, I wrapped up my time in my Kindergarten classroom and had to say goodbye to all of my kiddos. Talk about rough. You definitely don't realize how much you've gotten attached to people until you have to say goodbye. On my last day at the school each of the kids told me their favorite thing that I had taught them. And I straight up lost it. I bawled like....well like a 5 year old. Which then caused one of our more *ahem* sensitive children to start crying too. Whoops. Didn't expect that one. They gave me a sweet gift to help kick-start my classroom next semester as well as a handmade card from each and every one of my students. I cherish those things so much. After all of the tears and the gift giving, we had a pizza party in the room for lunch - the kids loved the pizza and ice cream. It was mind blowing to them - we got to eat the room. WHOA. At the end of the day I got to sit with them and tell them about some of my favorite things from my time with them and I started crying again. I also managed to snag a sweet picture with all of them which I will undoubtedly cherish for decades. They were my first class. And I loved them. 

Now to top it all off, I got to give them all hugs. Strange statement, I know, but ever since the appearance of lice (yes, lice) in our classroom in mid October, we had a strict air-hug policy going in our room. Which if you know me, you know would be a challenge. Above all else, I looooove hugs. Love language? Physical touch. Hands down. Don't get me a present. Don't tell me I'm great. Heck, don't even smile at me. Just give me a dang hug. So the fact that I got to throw out the stinking air-hug policy and give every single one of my little monsters a good squeeze meant the world to me. Some of them even wanted two hugs, or three. The last thing I'll say about that day was a sweet moment when I gave one of our more headstrong girls a hug and sent her out the door at the end of the day. We've butted heads a few times over the months and she's put up lots of good resistance, but of course I still love her. So like I said, I gave her her hug and sent her on her way. Next thing I know she's crashing back into me for another hug. She had gotten to the door, started crying, and ran back to me for a second squeeze. What a gift to know I had some effect on her. This is the stuff that makes my heart beat, y'all. Even as I'm typing this I'm getting amped up about getting back to North Carolina and dropping in on them for a visit.

So, after I finished my teaching on December 3rd, I wrapped up my semester on the 5th with the presentation of my big paper and a farewell lunch at a local cafe with my classmates and professors. Now it just so happened that my sister Caroline was in Raleigh for that week with her musical, so OF COURSE I had to hop over there to see it and her! I got to spend a handful of nights and days with her, playing all around Raleigh and seeing her show - from both the audience perspective and the backstage perspective! My other sister, Mary Catherine had sat in with Caroline while she called on her last musical, but I never did. So, when I came to see her new show, of course I jumped on the chance to sit with her while she called her show. Talk about cool, you guys. She essentially tells everybody when to do everything. She gave me my own little headset and let me sit next to her while she made her calls. To call her shows, she sits in the wings of the stage, so I could see what was going on on the stage and see all the actors as they came on and off. I even met some of them! Now I know this is so typical, boring, everyday for her, but it will never cease to be cool, new, and exciting to me! 

Caroline doing her calls, me loving my headset, and my view from the wings of the stage

Another highlight of our time in Raleigh was that we went on a Segway tour! Now, touring Raleigh has never really been at the top of my bucket list, but I've sort of been itching to take a Segway for a test run! Luckily, Caroline tolerated me and agreed to go for it. Y'all. It. Was. A. Hoot. First off, kudos to Caroline because she was much more stable and skilled on the Segway than I was. Ya, I could go forward, backward, right and left, but I had some issues with inclines and bumps. So when we would take the ramps from the sidewalk to the street and the street to the sidewalk I encountered some difficulties. To say I wobbled a little would be generous. I eventually got the hang of it and wheedled some serious swaying down to a little teeter each time I hit a bump. But it was so so SO fun! The way the Segways are controlled was a bit mind boggling, but obviously really cool. I'd definitely love the chance to jump back on one sometime again in the future!

Look - no hands!


Of course, now that school's out that means one thing - CHRISTMAS IS HERE! So of course it's time to deck the halls! Before leaving school, I did manage to put up one tiny lovely Christmas tree in my apartment. And that was just the beginning. When I came home to Texas for Thanksgiving we went out and chopped down our Christmas tree. Along with decorating the tree, we also put up the garlands, the wreaths and the manger scenes. Here's where it gets interesting. Over Thanksgiving I set up my favorite manger scene in our den. As is our family tradition, we set out the whole scene including the manger, but then we take baby Jesus and hide him in a drawer. On Christmas morning, when we come downstairs to the Christmas tree, we get to put baby Jesus in his manger. He can't be out before then because he hasn't been born yet! The point is that I set it all up over Thanksgiving break and when I got home for Christmas, I noticed that the manger was missing. And not only was the manger gone, but baby Jesus wasn't in his hiding place either. I'm convinced someone in the family took them and hid them. Who knows when they'll reappear. Maybe magically on Christmas morning? Point being, the question around the Walker household right now is "who stole baby Jesus?"

the little tree in my apartment

Dad measuring the height of the tree

so. so. excited.

the crew. thanks to Em for taking the picture

pre and post Thanksgiving.

Delilah all ready for Christmas with her jingle bells

Finally, my latest excursion was a trip I took out to Fort Worth where my sister has been working at Cook Children's. A few days after getting home I hopped on the train and choo-choo'd out to see her for a day and a night. The big news around here lately was the icemageddon that had moved through here a few days before I came home. Y'all. There was ice. Everywhere. It started melting throughout the week, but overall it was still fairly present. What with the temperatures staying low, the ice would melt during the day and then re-freeze overnight. By the time I made it out to Fort Worth we had made it to the extreme melting phase of a post-ice-pocalypse. The roofing on my sister's apartment was that over under Spanish style, so when the ice started melting up there, it would slide off slowly chunk by chunk. We could hear it dragging and ka-thunking down the roof and ker-plunked onto the already ice covered patio. All through the evening and all through the night we could hear the little avalanches on the roof and the soft thud when the bricks of ice landed on the porch. It was pretty funny and entertaining, until we woke up Friday morning and found that the piles of ice had actually broken off the back of a chair. Oops. 

MC looking all professional in front of the hospital

just a portion of the ice that fell off the roof. you can see the broken chair back on the left.

Now I'm officially home for the holidays, enjoying the cozy house, coffee by the fire, wrapping presents, and quality family time. There's some exciting stuff coming up in my very near future and I hope to post about it before too long. 

Until then, Merry Christmas and ciao!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Teaching is a Full Time Job

This post is one that's been in my draft box for the past month or so, waiting to be polished and published. Since I wrapped up my student teaching yesterday,  I figured  I need to get back on top of this blog. So I'm posting this, and will post again soon updating on my life for the month that this skips over....cause there's a lot that happened!

One month ago...

So let me explain. The reason that I have not written in so long is because I am currently heading into the 5th of 6 weeks of full time teaching.That means that everything those little nuggets do from the time they walk in the door at 8 to when they walk out at 2:50 is created, crafted, and executed by yours truly.

Lordy that's a lot of work.

Before I started full time teaching, I had plenty of time to journal about my experiences and to blog about what was going on in my life. And now, that there's infinitely more happening and so many things I want to write down and remember, my time for doing so is sparse at best. So I'm carving out some time now to catch you up on the highlights of working with Kindergartners.

Highlight 1: FIELD TRIP
We had our first field trip with our class a couple of weeks ago. And think about it - it wasn't just our class' first field  trip. For a good majority of these kids, we had the joy of taking them on their first field trip ever. EEP! SO FUN. We all loaded onto a bus to truck out to Charlotte to visit Zootastic: an informal, interactive zoo/wildlife center. The kids got to pet a ferret, a snake, a macaw, a opossum, and even a baby kangaroo. They got to scurry around, feed the animals, eat outside, and play zookeeper. They were crazy happy. And it was a really good day.

feeding the animals

feeding the animals

A couple different times now, we have taken our classroom outside of the classroom, for things like a living/non-living scavenger hunt, or a leaf hunt to make our leaf wreath. Can I just say, it is a joy to watch these kids scatter across the field, electric with excitement, actively engaged in the learning, and loving it. Talk about happiness. I hope with all I have that they have fun learning in the classroom, but it's wonderful to watch how much fun they have when they're learning outside.

Highlight 3: APPLE SAUCE
To celebrate the beginning of fall, we made apple sauce. The kids each got to hold an apple, tell us what they saw, what they felt. Then my teacher whipped out one of those awesome peel-and-core-the-apple contraption. Y'all. I had never seen one of those before. It was so cool how it just whipped out the apples and you end up with this long string of curly apple. Then we simmered it all together with cinnamon and brown sugar and we had warm apple sauce by the end of the day. Anything that is different from our daily routine is exciting to the kids, and if it's different and involves food, you know they're going to be all over it.

cranking out an apple!

Highlight 4: PUMPKINS
When Halloween rolled around, of course we had to carve a pumpkin. The kids got to vote on which face I carved into the pumpkin and once we got past that, we had to talk about how to give me directions to carve it. I told them the story about how my 2nd grade teacher Mrs. Craig asked us to give her instructions to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and how that resulted in her doing silly things like scooping and spreading peanut butter with her hands instead of her knife. The kids loved it. Each of them also got to stuck their hands into the pumpkin and squish the guts and the seeds around. But that wasn't the best part. I promised the kids that the very last thing we would do in class on Halloween before they left for the day would be to sit down, turn off all the lights, close the blinds, and light a candle inside the jack-o-lantern and and look at it all together. And we did. And y'all. It was such a sweet moment with those kids. As I held the pumpkin in my lap I could see the light on all of their smiling faces. The loved it.

Highlight 5: A HAPPY KID
This is hands down my favorite teaching moment to date. One of our little boys came into school gripping his pencil with his whole fist, and consequently his handwriting was barely legible. We decided to break his pencil down to a little stub and introduce him to a special pencil grip. I was worried that he would get frustrated, that it wouldn't work, or that he would complain that the grip was hurting his hand. But oh my. He started using it, and after only a few minutes he comes bounding over to me shouting "Ms. Walker, Ms Walker, it works it really works!!!!" I hope I never forget that moment. He was so happy, so very very happy.

Non teaching highlights of the past few weeks:

I went to the fair. The Dixie Classic fair. It's the local fair here in town and it is precious. After being here for four years, this was my first year to actually get to go. We ate fried food, people watched, and did one ride. I'm convinced that as long as I go to the fair, even until I'm old and using a cane, I will always always go on this ride. Do you know the one? Its the swing ride. Dang I love that thing. It was such a joy to get to leave kindergarten where I'm the "adult" and get to go to the fair and be the kid. I've missed that.

My parents came to visit, which is always a highlight. We had a quality weekend just catching up and spending time together. They are so fun. It's also always sad to see them go. Thankfully though I'll be heading down to Florida in about two weeks for my cousins wedding and I'll get to see them again, along with all of my siblings who I haven't seen since August! WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!!


Now that I've caught you up on all that, like I said, I'll be posting again soon to tell all of the wonderful tales from my final month of student teaching.

Ciao and Merry Christmas!