Friday, August 30, 2013

I'm alive!

Well, my first week of teaching is complete!

Let me just tell ya, student teaching in Ashland schools did not prepare me for being up here in Alaska. I didn't know that kids actually punched each other, let alone on the 3rd day of school, as hard as they can, for almost no reason!

I'm completely exhausted, I don't have many new pictures to show you, and I'm not going to write much, but I'll give you a quick rundown:

First day of school went pretty great, the kids were on their best behavior and I was running on adrenaline all day. By the end of the day I was so exhausted that I fell asleep at 7:30. The kid I was most worried about behaviorally turned out to be a very sweet kid that had a major transformation over the summer. Another kid I was worried about is the same kid I was expecting, he hasn't written his name on a single paper and I don't even think he's picked up his pencil yet. There's only one way to go on that one, and that's up! We all (except one student) did a cool art project where we answered questions based on the color that we used on each letter of our name. It's proudly displayed in the hall.
Sorry, It's all backward again... 
Second day also went pretty good, it was an early release day so we got out an hour early and I got to send them home before they got really tired. We did a super cute art project... 
The colored pencil project focuses on the students eyes.
On notebook paper they wrote 3 goals they have for the year,
and it looks like they are holding that paper out in front of them...
at least I hope! 
The third day of school, Thursday, not such a great day. Kids were super squirrely, they were breaking rules left and right, and we ended the day with a swift punch to the kid that doesn't even talk. I lost my voice, I wrote a referral, I made them sit with their heads down on their desk for 15 minutes, and I had kids that were being majorly sneaky. No bueno. 

Today, Friday, was a lot better. It was about as good as a day can go when the teacher doesn't have a voice, it's Friday, and there's a fire drill. I'm still alive at least! 

Our language arts curriculum has been giving me some trouble. There is too much to teach in a day, I am required to spend 120 minutes every day on it, and it is wayyyy over the kids heads. They are so bored, and I am too. I'm required to teach it with "fidelity" and I can't seem to teach it because they are so bored that they are acting out and upset because they don't understand. I'm a little disheartened by that, but I'm going to put in a lot of work this weekend to try and figure out what I can do to make it more accessible for them. 

For those of you that know me, you probably wonder how math is going for us. It's going great, I can relate with the 90% of my kids that hate math, and we're working through that. The curriculum is great, the kids are busy busy busy, and I wish I had more time to teach it because we're not getting it all done everyday. But in that realm, all is well. Who knew I would actually look forward to math everyday! 

Monday is Labor Day, so I'll be sleeping in and trying to recover my voice. On Tuesday my new teacher mentor is coming to town and he's staying with Max and I. He's offered to cook us pizza, and I'm looking forward to meeting him. He used to be a Social Studies teacher, which is wonderful because I got the short end of the stick here and I'm the only teacher without a Social Studies curriculum to use this year and the only resources I've got are the ones that the teachers here have given me. Hopefully him and I can work out a plan so that by next week I'll have some sort of a plan, and something to teach... Because I tell ya what, there's no way I can teach Alaska state history with the knowledge off the top of my head. No way. 

Thats all for now, I'm so happy it's the weekend, and I look forward to getting prepared for next week! 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gone Fishin'

This last week was busy busy, getting my classroom all set up, since school starts on Tuesday. I told myself I'd actually have some fun this weekend, since from here on out I'm sure I'll always have some papers to grade or something of that nature. Friday night after school, Basil (the maintenance man at school) asked in a very Yupik way, if Max wanted to go fishing. He did that by mentioning he might be going, and then after a 30 minute conversation, Max said he'd love to go. Basil asked who else might want to come along, and I chimed in that I'd love to go if I wasn't intruding on a man trip. Basil sheepishly told me that he'd love for me to come along, after a bit of joking around saying it was guys only and that women can't fish up here. We'd be going out on the river fishing for something I think is called a chee-fish (that might be in Yupik, Max says they're called white fish) at 1:00 the next day.

Since people around here run on "native time" Basil called at 1:30 and we were out on the river by 2:00. Sara and Anthony joined us, and the 3 of us hadn't fished since we were kids, and the 4 of us had never been out on the Yukon. Talk about taking a bunch of newbs out! Basil took us about 30 minutes up the river so that we could gather an herb called Iyuk, which he likes to turn into a tea sort of concoction. We gathered a ton of it, and then headed a little further up to start fishing, while Basil fired up his Coleman stove and boiled some Iyuk for our tea. After a little casting refresher, my roots caught on and I was casting like a pro, and I think I might be hooked. Well, I was only hooked once in the literal sense, but I like fishing. My dad will be thrilled to hear that.

By the way, it's been foggy and rainy for like 2 weeks straight with just a few breaks in the weather, and today it is raining like crazy... but yesterday was absolutely beautiful. ALL DAY. I got a good sunburn.
These are the three MOOSE we saw while out on the river.
One bull and two cows. Those things are seriously huge. 

Moose again. 

The Yukon, from Basils favorite Iyuk patch. 

Fishin' in the sinking mud. 

No, that's not a baby's hand. Those moose tracks are enormous. 

We fished for about 5 hours. My arm is sore today. 

So proud, that little guy is in our fridge. 

The mud up here is no joke. 

While we were out we also saw another bull moose,
Which we mistook for a brown bear for a few minutes...
and we also saw a bright orange fox, chasing ducks! 

Pilot, from the river. 

Basil's two huge fish. 

Unfortunately I didn't catch anything, but I'm hoping we'll get to go again before the river freezes up. I'm determined!

Happy Sunday... we're back in my classroom again and I'm going to continue attempting to write my weeks lessons plans. My room looks good though, it's about ready for some kids! 


See ya on the other side!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's MY Classroom!

Well folks, 

It's all starting to come together! I just finished 2 days of training from 8 to 3:30 for our brand new reading curriculum on video conferences with the other 9 schools in the district. It's great that I don't have to leave Pilot to get that done, however, there is something that beeps about every 30 seconds in the room where the video conference is held... I might be borderline crazy. Even better though, I will be in the same room on video conference for our PBIS implementation for the next THREE days, also from 8 to 3:30.

Aside from all of that, I have learned a TON and I'm also starting to really make some headway in my room! It's not finished by any means, but the bulletin boards are done and my desk is clean!

Here are some pictures, however, I took them from my computer because I forgot my camera at home and it's raining... so all the words are backward. The teacher in me is leaving it that way so that you all can work your brain out a bit and try and read them anyway!

Word wall and awesome student work wall!
I've got 3 apple computers, 2 of which have power cords. 

Class jobs, student of the week, happy birthdays...
and my language arts and science curriculum! 

No repeated directions! (I WISH) Thanks to!

I just made the flags, and I'm very proud :)

Calendar, behavior clip chart, and an explanation of student consequences...
Apparently I've got some kids who will need those consequences. when they throw desks.

SO proud of my clips- Clothes pins and washi tape! 

Here's the front of my cute little desk :)

My TV which will HOPEFULLY be replaced with a smartboard
by the end of the year.. and our class rules and my objectives :)

My supply cabinet which I have been advised to move because of sticky fingers...
but I'm stubborn, and I have faith. Maybe too much. 

Writing process clip chart which I am SO proud of. 

Cubbies with book files, and my exit ticket strategy,
"What stuck with you today?" and kids answer with post-its! 

Good luck reading all of those. But they're behind my desk.
Mostly pump-ups for me, rather than the kids... 

Me and my desk. I've been at the school for 12 hours now. 

My daily schedule! I am in charge of recess and PE.

When you enter this classroom... you are....

Welcome to my FIRST CLASSROOM!

I can't believe it's all mine... (for now) and soon I'll get to share it with 16 4th graders who are so excited and have been peeking in and tapping on my classroom window ALL week!

That's all for now, T-7 days until the kiddos come!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


It's starting to sink in, that this is home for a while.

I miss my family and friends, but it's still very exciting that we're actually here, and in a little over a week I will be a real teacher and will have a class of my very own. I have met a few of my students around the village. It's amazing how different their dialect is. I have spoken to some of my students that, according to their test scores, have the strongest english in my class, and it is still difficult for me to understand them sometimes. It will be an interesting first week, of misunderstandings on both sides, I'm sure.

Some of you requested house pictures... and with that comes an update of an interesting predicament we were in for the last week. Because of increased enrollment, there are more teachers now at Pilot than there ever have been, so with that, there are not enough houses. We almost got relocated to another school because of a grievance that was filed because some staff had to be moved in together to make room for Max and I. Because Max and I aren't married, that makes us lowest on the totem pole, so when the superintendent makes a decision on the issue it is still possible we could be moved but not likely, but we're not entirely sure what could become of our living arrangements. I'll let ya'll know if anything drastic happens!

Max's office and/or the spare bedroom

Master bedroom

Master bedroom looking toward the living room

Living room, with a comforter covering the nasty couch. That window looks out toward the village.

Kitchen and dining area, with a large storage pantry to the left. The house is slanted, so the fridge is propped up on a stick (a branch, basically) to make it level. 

Fridge and freezer, and the pantry

Mudroom and future Arctic entry

Nasty bathroom, because our cleaning supplies STILL haven't arrived. 

The red house is the opposite side of our duplex. 

Our front porch :) 
It's nothing like the home we know, but it's beautiful, the culture is new and exciting, and it's a big step outside of our comfort zones. 

This whole experience sure will make us appreciate living within driving distance to everyone we know, and being able to buy beer whenever we walk into a grocery store, and have food when we buy it, rather than more than 2 weeks after we order it... I also really miss fresh fruit and darkness. 

This was taken at 11:30 last night. Still not dark. 
Here's our view of the river from our house. 

And again. The weather has been a lot like Florence, always changing. 

And here is my school, viewed from the trail I take to get there from our house. This is the back. 

My next post will probably be an update about my classroom. It's coming together, and I'll post pictures once I finish the decor and getting organized. The school year is rapidly approaching!

See ya later, alligator.