A small town girl takes on the world

Thursday, January 21, 2010

...On subbing a whole day by myself & ARTS NIGHT!

This would be a long post if it weren't limited by my need for sleep. Here is the excitement that has happened in the past week, during which I believe I have taken a huge step toward becoming a "REAL" TEACHER:

Subbing: My mentor teacher was unexpectedly really ill, and at the last minute I found out that I was going to be in charge of our entire 1 - Biology, 3 - Biology, 5 - Chemistry day myself, which is really intense. I ended up having about 4 people come in to observe me that day, too. But I rocked it. Seriously, it was great! Of course, I will post photos later, but I managed to do some really cool stuff in my chemistry class, thanks to the advice of a certain genius mentor Melissa. I'm going to post that this weekend though, because it's 11 and I HAVE to write about Arts Night before I go to sleep. The moral of this paragraph, though, is that I can totally handle being by myself, even if I'm still shaky and a little bit unprepared, still, for TWO different preps (classes). Feeling good...

So, on to the really exciting stuff: ARTS NIGHT!
This was basically a night for all of our Arts Core students to show off the skills they had learned this semester in their Arts Core classes. Since we're an arts themed school, this is a big deal. There were yoga demonstrations, break dancing sessions, choreographed dancing, band performances (one by students who had only played for 5 weeks!) and short skits performed. The entire event lasted about 1.5 hours, and was accompanied by an academic display of student work at the back of the gymnasium. Families were invited ----- and the gym was FULL. People had to stand. It was, in a word, inspiring!

I hear so much about how our students' families "don't care" and "aren't there" but they were there in full force tonight to support their students. Watching the kids perform with big smiles and, quite honestly, the passion in their hearts for what they were doing showing through on those smiles - it really gave me quite a start. I realized that this school has really become a part of me, and with only 5/6 weeks to go, I'm going to have to start letting it go a little. I've really put my whole self into this student teaching internship...and by doing that I've fully invested in these kids. I realized that I have to start talking soon about when I leave, so that I'm not abandoning them...because I really feel that I have become a part of their schedules, their routines, even maybe their lives. They have certainly become a solid part of mine.

Tonight, I really realized the power of the community my students come from. It's the type of community that I've always craved: a bunch of people who are SO different from each other, but united by SOMETHING. They're not always united, but the possibility exists, and tonight I saw that. There were no fights, no teasing, not even any drunk kids showing up (that I saw). This was a night relatively devoid of high school debauchery. These students took PRIDE in their work. Like I said, I was inspired....

On the other hand, it really made me sad to think that I won't get to see these particular students through their high school years. I won't be able to teach at this school, but I can hope for a community like this one. I'm really going to miss these kids, but I know that I will carry a lot of them in my heart and mind for a long time, since they are the ones who have really been teaching me how to teach (along with my mentor teacher, of course). These are the people who are shaping how I do things as an educator, and these are the students that I will think back on and be motivated by for quite some time.

In other words, I love my experience thus far, and it really floors me that things are this great. I want to bottle up this enthusiasm for the hard times that I'm sure are to come in my remaining weeks here...but I know now that the highs and lows are part of the job, for me. Tonight, I'm floating high high high, and I am so proud of both the work my students have done and the pride they are taking in it.

They have SO MUCH to be proud of!

Signing's past 11 now....must sleep!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Here are some photos you can enjoy.

1. The type of vitamins I have to take now, sitting on top of a pile of grading that is beginning to require its own "INBOX" on my desk.

2. The attempt I made to explain "atomic radius" to my chemistry students. They hated it. "Ms. Kramer, no offense, but that's.....well it's just weird. It doesn't have anything to do with chemistry!" Bad representation....bad analogy....but I got to use the school copier to print a worksheet that said, "rollin' on dubs" :)...

I've been sick, and barely getting by with planning and such. So I'm going to go and keep working on that...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

...On never writing on your blog

Well, I guess I should start by apologizing to the 3 people that read this blog since I haven't updated it since....well, it's been awhile.

I go back to school tomorrow, and I only have 2 1/2 months left.
In the spirit of the new year, let's run through the good and bad stuff that's happened since I left you hanging (all 3 of you).

Here we go:

We got to do some cool experiments in biology with eggs. Basically, Devin (the other science teacher candidate) and I put eggs in vinegar and let them sit for a few days, then rubbed the shells off. This leaves only the membrane behind, and provides a really cool model of a cell for showing diffusion and osmosis. Of course, this makes the rooms smell like vinegar and eggs, so there's that. Devin and I had a great 2 hour session of rubbing shells off eggs and just catching up; it was quite a treat in the climax of last quarter (the quarter from HELL). The students thought the eggs were totally nasty (they were RIGHT) but they had such awesome ideas about what was happe
ning to them, and got really into designing experiments and talking science. It was great.

I bonded rather strongly with one of our biggest "troubled" students in our biology class. He informed me (this is the conversation in which we bonded) that he has 2 assault convictions, 1 residential burglary conviction, and 1 theft conviction. He is currently facing 2 more assault charges. Doesn't sound like the nicest guy, does he? But.....he really is quite a cool kid. He left for winter break, however, declaring he couldn't wait for the "party at his house tonight". After a few warnings from me about being safe and smart, he said, "Don't worry, Ms. Kramer, it's in an apartment complex. No one gets caught having parties in apartment complexes." Uhhhhh, yeah, kid, you have a lot to learn. :)

Major highlight: A student who normally sits back and feels intimidated by other students totally took charge of his lab group, "Well, we aren't going to get anything done unless we do what we need to do. So you have to listen to
me now." It was amazing to see him take charge like that. Go, little science leader, go! :)

I have only been in our 5th period chemistry class on Fridays, since my fall class schedule (UW) didn't allow me to be there M-Th. The last week before break, I was able to go full-time to my school. On Monday, when I walked into 5th period, one student said, "Ms. Kramer? MS. KRAMER'S HERE, GUYS!" and EVERYONE in the class cheered for me. It had been a particularly hard day, and I had to fight from crying it made me so happy. Ahhhh, juniors and seniors. So much NICER than freshmen and sophomores......

The week before break unfortunately resulted in several suspensions and some expulsions for our students. Apparently this is normal in, at least, our school, to have chaos right before the breaks. One student attacked another in the hall, seemingly unprovoked and kept hitting her even though she wasn't fighting back. Another robbed a student before school of his backpack, iPod, wallet, and WINTER COAT. It was probably about 25 degrees that morning. Those two have been expelled, and it's really too bad because even though they obviously have trouble making good choices, they both had lots of potential. Especially the boy who robbed another student. He was so good at science, but just didn't see it as something that was worthwhile to him. These are the students who motivate me to teach. :)

A student came up to me after our last class before break and whispered, "Ms. Kramer, when are you going to teach us again? I really like when you teach."

An ELL student who I speak Spanish to the most (and badly) gave me a Christmas card. He wrote in Spanish AND translated it to English, and there might be a little "Spanglish" (Naviday). SO cute, and warmed my heart just in time for winter break because I have been working hard to encourage him to use English in class.

In my "non-teaching life" (which, let's face it, doesn't really exist), I have been snowshoeing, visiting, relaxing, enjoying local jazz shows, concerts, and just spending time with the lovely people in my life that I never get to see (read: my boyfriend and my roommates......pathetic, right?).

Things are starting up again, and I'm heading into the new quarter (UW) teaching chemistry this time. More on that later..... :)