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Archive for May, 2010

Bodily injury

May 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve made a few good decisions during my recent packing/moving/storing adventure. My best decision was to abandon my attempt to carry the dresser by myself. I got one stair down the 40 or so steps leading to street level and realized, “this dresser is going to knock me backwards, tumble on top of me, and crush me at the bottom.” Wisely, I brought it back inside to wait for a second set of hands.

I’ve also made a few bad decisions during this move. Among them, slamming my left hip against the car mirror so hard I lost my breath. No blood, but there is a big, raised bump and the beginning of a nasty bruise.

Based on these experiences, my goals for the last 4 days of packing are simple: no scars, no dying. I really hope that’s a bar I can clear.

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Categories: Choices, Goals Tags: , ,

Moving, always moving

May 25, 2010 1 comment

Since I graduated from college eight years I ago I have moved all of my things 11 (about to be 12) separate times. I’m very good at it, but predictably, I’m also very tired of it. On the move currently in progress, I live two (very tall) floors up and a long sidewalk away from my car. Once the stuff is in my car, it has to get loaded back out at the storage unit and carted down the facility’s interior hallway, at which point I need to wrestle it into place in the unit, always keeping in mind when I’m likely to need it again and how that timing compares to when I’ll probably need the things around it. It’s taking its toll. My back hurts, my legs are bruised, and emotionally I’m spent. I’ve taken so many trips up and down the stairs in the last week carting things out of the apartment, yet looking around my almost-bare bedroom, I still have at least 18 more stair treks before it’s cleared out – and then there’s the furniture in the living room and kitchen.

As a veteran of many packing cycles, I recognize this moment as one of the low points on the moving-to-a-new-place roller coaster. I’ve grown used to the highs – “look how fast this is going! This move is going to be a breeze!” – and the lows – “I have too much stuff. I’m never going to finish. I should just throw it all out and live in a tent.” I know that this too shall pass, but for tonight I’m going to take a break, rest my back, and enjoy living in my apartment for one more day before I go back to packing it all up.

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Categories: Hobbies Tags: , , , ,

Details, details

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment

When interviewing, it’s best to support grand statements of philosophy with concrete examples of implementation. It’s one thing to say you think differentiated instruction is swell and another thing to talk about how you’ve integrated it into your planning.

I know this, but sometimes I still forget to provide these examples – it’s one of the interviewing skills I simply haven’t mastered. I think part of the reason I forget to illustrate my points is because I find it difficult to come up with examples on the spot – like many people, I am far more likely to remember the perfect supporting story on the drive home than I am sitting across from an interviewer. And sometimes I leave out examples because my internal interviewer clock (honed through years of admissions work) warns me, “you’re taking too long. Wrap this answer up, NOW.” So I weigh the risk of being too vague against the risk of rambling and almost always choose vague as the lesser evil. Once I’m driving home, however, I care less about the timing of my responses and more about the substance of them, so I make a mental list of all of the stories I could have shared but didn’t and I wonder if the interviewer got a good sense of my abilities based on the limited information I provided.

I try not to obsess about this, though. No interview is long enough to cover all of the things that I – or any other candidate – believes or can do. In the end, we hire on first impressions, best guesses, and a leap of faith. My job is to share myself as honestly and fully as possible in the time allowed. Hopefully that will be enough for the interviewer, but if it’s not, I can take what I learned from that interview and try to do better – giving more examples, illustrating more ideas – in my next one.

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Safety nets

May 19, 2010 1 comment

Every now and then I wonder what life would be like without the incredibly large, strong safety net I have under me. What if I didn’t have parents happy to help with anything I need or want, or an extended family I knew I could count on in any emergency? What if, as so many people are, it was just me on my own in the world? All I really know is that life would feel way scarier.

I’m thinking about safety nets because my graduation and job search are making me realize how much I take mine for granted.  For instance, my lease is up in a week and a half and I’ve made no plans for where to live after that…but I’m not particularly worried about it.  I’ll find a friend, find a sublet, or stay with mom and dad for a few days while I keep looking.  I hope and expect to find a teaching job this fall, but I won’t be panicked if I don’t get something for the start of school.  I know I won’t be homeless – I should be able to increase my freelance work enough to pay my rent, but if I can’t, I trust that my safety net will be there for me until I get things settled.

And speaking of finding a job, if I do get one it may be my mother who deserves much of the credit.  We’ve spent the last four school days driving all over our county so I could hand-deliver resumes to area principals.  Mom spent 5-6 hours behind the wheel each day, plugging the next address into the GPS while I was inside each school.  Even though I woke up each morning thinking “oh god, I don’t want to do this again,” mom approached each day of driving with a cheerful sense of purpose.  I feel confident that something good will come out of the contacts I made this week, and there is no way in the world I could have done it alone.  Life is so much easier when there are people who support us.

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Resume drop

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

I left my resume and cover letter with a lot of principals today. In many ways it feels empowering – I’m doing something to directly support my job search. In other ways, it is terrifying. At each school I briefly wonder, is this the place I want to call home? Is this the administrative assistant I’ll befriend? Will some of the students in the hallway be mine next year? These thoughts sometimes feel overwhelming, but I try to remember that almost all abstract possibilities are overwhelming. I think back to the weekend before I started student teaching – before I’d been inside the school, before I’d met any of my students. We stood outside the school grounds, just looking, and I thought how old the building looked and wondered what my kids would be like and whether I’d like anyone and if I’d ever feel connected to this place I was a stranger to.

And a few months later I stood in the hallway of the school saying goodbye to teachers, students, and parents. Every window I’d once looked at from the outside was now connected to a room, and every room connected to the people who fill it. I wasn’t a stranger – I could barely remember a time before I knew these students and teachers. I try to hold on to these memories when I start getting overwhelmed with the job search. I may not know much about any of these schools right now, but I’ll learn what I need to about one of them this fall. Wherever I land, I’ll make connections. Wherever I land, I won’t be a stranger for long. It may feel overwhelming now, but the reality won’t be nearly as scary as the questions.

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Categories: Career, Choices, Location Tags: , ,

Commitment

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been actively pursuing full-time jobs since the fall, but now I realize I’ve been quite passive in that active pursuit. I apply to counties and to agencies and I accept any interviews that are offered, but I balk whenever I’m offered a job – or even asked to express interest in a particular school or location. With graduation looming and a growing sense that teaching will be vital to my happiness next year, I’m finally conducting a real job search. As of today, I am expressing genuine, proactive interest in specific schools and specific geographic areas. Specifically, I spent today dropping off resumes at 16 Northern Virginia schools and will hit another group tomorrow. I haven’t given up entirely on living in Austin, moving overseas, or staying in Charlottesville, and I’ll still actively-passively pursue those options, but I think my best odds for a job I’ll enjoy are in Northern Virginia. After months of vacillation, I’m finally willing to commit and try to make a job happen.

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Giving thanks

May 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I finished my last graduate school class yesterday. Looking back on my two years in the program, I realize I have a lot of people I need to thank for my experience. From the very beginning I have worked with remarkably talented, passionate professors. These women shared their love of their fields – reading, curriculum development, literature, writing, mathematics, instruction – and their commitment to good teaching. Their unabashed enthusiasm for research and teaching nurtured my own enthusiasm and helped me feel comfortable sharing it with others.  They focus on different areas of learning, but they all work towards the same goal – improving students’ lives and helping them learn.

After my two years at the Curry School of Education, I know that I have a rich network of brilliant, caring professors to call on as I navigate the ups and downs of classroom life.  I think we often forget that there are people who dedicate their lives to teaching our country’s future teachers.  As I wrap up a life-changing two years and prepare to head into my own classroom, I think it’s a good time to say thank you to these master teachers – and their colleagues at education schools across the country – for everything they do.

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