Thursday, October 17, 2013

I've been eating strange things lately.

Here's my "weird food" count thus far:

1. Moose
Fantastic, better than beef, and it's how Max and I are getting paid for our 2 weeks of coaching volleyball!
2. Stink Fish
White fish that has been aged in a cardboard box for at least 3 weeks, and then eaten raw. I tried it while I was sick and couldn't really taste it, but apparently it smells much worse than it tastes. It was sort of greenish in places, but Albert didn't care! He picked it up (with his rubber gloves on) and just started chomping away on it!
3. Seal
Today I tried seal, straight off of the rib. It tasted very gamey, and was very very tender and full of fat. I didn't particularly like it, but it wasn't terrible. They say it tastes just like muskrat. So....

I think now that they think I'll try anything, they're going to keep bringing me weirder and weirder foods. I'm game though, and I'll keep you posted. I think I might be getting offered fish eggs soon, they had mentioned them...

Here is our moose savings thus far

Life in 4th grade has been difficult this week. As you may already know, each year around this time the state of Alaska gives out PFD checks to every resident who has lived here for more than 2 years. It is around $1,000, and regardless of age you get the same amount of money. Many families have up to 11 children, so that ends up being a lot of money. These last few weeks many students have cool new toys, and things which often cause arguments in the classroom, and many families have bought new TVs, snow machines, and other things the kids are all so excited about. I have some kids who haven't been getting a whole lot of rest, and that has made it difficult for them to be functional during school.

Today, either related to this or not, I had a few too many fights, and I got hit by a student a few too many times to me make me feel like I had a good day. It was rough, probably the worst so far. It is really hard to get screamed at, kicked, hit, and lied to by students without having the power to do anything about it. 

With that being said though, a couple teachers walked in to my classroom after school, and were shocked that I had a smile on my face. Actually, they were shocked that I wasn't crying at my desk, and that they had never caught me crying at my desk. They told me tales of teachers past, who had spent a good hour crying at their desks at the end of every single day of school. They asked me how I do it, and I told them the following things:
1. I don't have feelings or a soul
2. I can put it all behind me really easily
3. It's not really my problem, at the end of the day
4. I follow the advice a wonderful coach once gave me, which is to "Fake it 'til ya make it." Meaning (to me), I might not be a great teacher right now, and I might not be able to keep my class under control all the time, but by God, until that's true, I will pretend like I am and like I can. Thanks, Jayme!

So far, so good (enough)

In other news, I changed my school laptop background from Beau (which made me miss home every time I looked at it) to a rotation of motivating and positive quotes. I recommend it, to anyone who often times feels like they never want to go to work again.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

An Update in Pictures

Hiking up to the Airstrip about 2 weeks ago

Pilot from the Airstrip

Population 500 plus

Yukon Baseball

I can smell you. 

Moose nose

Porcupine skin

A moose head

A Cat, from when the airstrip was first built... 

Starting to freeze. Pre-snow

We've been cooking- Moose roast is worthy of licking the plate

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bullying, Snow, and Socialization

These last few weeks have been incredibly hectic.

In my classroom the fights and the bullying have picked up. I’ve been spending a lot of time putting out fires, and teaching lessons to help them be more positive. It seems that I’m teaching them social skills that are very similar to the social skills I was teaching when I was student teaching in first grade in Ashland. I find myself using the term “Use your words” to keep them from hitting each other with shoes, chairs, or whatever else is in their hands. A few of them are catching on, however on Thursday I asked a student if he used his words before he hit, and he said “Yeah! I said Geeze!” so maybe I haven’t explained it explicitly enough.

The teaching is getting easier because my students seem to slowly be getting back into school mode. I don’t know if I’ve explained this clearly enough though, up here literacy rates are incredibly low. One of the main factors of literacy that we don’t often take into consideration is that in the lower 48 we are constantly reading road signs, billboards, menus, as well as BOOKS, especially over the summers when there is no school. Up here, students don’t have any of this. There is nowhere for them to go to get a good book, and one teacher told me that she gave books to her students for Christmas one year, and then realized that those books were used as fire starter. The kids I know in the lower 48 are always practicing reading, whether they know it or not, but up here there is nothing to read. There are no menus in this whole village, there are no road signs or billboards, and there is no library outside of our quaint school library.

This is also a Title 3 school, which means about 90% of the students in the school are considered English Language Learners, even though they’ve all spoken English since birth. They speak a different dialect though, “village English”, which is the polar opposite of the academic English that we teach in. They ask things like “what time it is?” and “there practice?” and when they’re kidding they quickly follow their joke with “I joke.” It’s quite funny, because so many words just get dropped, and Max and I have started picking it up also. Just wait until we come home for break.

Last week, to help me be a better teacher for my specific students I attended a Constructing Meaning workshop, which is a program similar to SIOP or Sheltered English Instruction, but a tad bit different. I think it will really help my class to be more successful. The most important thing I learned is to use sentence frames when I want my students to speak or write, so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel everything they work, and it shows them the English they should be using in the academic setting, with correct syntax which is often difficult for my students.

Alright, enough teacher talk…
The full moon up here was beautiful

So are the sunrises (at around 9:15)

This weekend has been great. We’ve been much more social that normal. We’ve got 2 Netflix videos waiting for us, and we haven’t even had time to watch them! On Friday night we ate dinner with our neighbors Sara and Anthony, and then drank non-alcoholic beer and played scrabble. It was a wild night, and we all reminisced about our college days.

Real Snow! 

Yesterday we woke up to a few inches of snow, so of course Max and I walked across town to the store for the heck of it. It was pretty chilly. It continued to snow and then rain for the rest of the day. We got Internet of our own, which is sort of a big deal, so maybe you’ll be hearing from me more often on here. We also cleaned the house, and took our loads of trash to the dump. I drove the school truck, so that was the first time I had driven in over 2 months. Pretty exciting. While at the dump we saw some pretty gross things. Moose season just closed, so there were tons of moose parts everywhere including moose racks that people in Oregon would kill to hang on their walls. We also saw a dead dog that someone had tied up at the dump and shot, that was incredibly sad but I had to keep my cool and not make any connection with the fact that it was someone’s pet, because that’s what they do up here. Dogs live outside and are fed when the people want to feed them. They aren’t loved like a family member, dogs are just animals and at times are as disposable as the animals they hunt for food. It’s definitely a different mentality up here than in the city, you don't see people taking their dogs outside for a potty break in the middle of the night, because dogs don't come inside.

Last night we ate with Sara and Anthony again and another friend, Tom, who teaches 2nd grade. Max and I made a moose roast and biscuits, and we played Apples to Apples and stood outside in the rain. It was a great time, and we all ended the night sitting around talking about things we wanted to do with our lives, and at midnight we sent Tom home with my book of 1,000 Ultimate Experiences and I don’t doubt he’ll pick something great and do it this summer. I look forward to hearing what he’ll pick.

Max has been working really hard too, coaching wrestling and we’ve both been coaching volleyball, and he’s been subbing almost everyday. That leaves a lot of cleaning and catching up for the weekends, because we don’t usually get home until around 8:00 and we’re exhausted from playing volleyball (which I can’t complain about). It’s definitely been a bit of a roller coaster up here. There have been really great times, in the classroom and at home, but there are also terrible days. Those terrible days are generally Mondays, so keep me in your thoughts tomorrow. The kids come into the classroom after 2 days of roaming around and staying out late. They bring problems from home into the classroom, and it is often very hard to get any teaching done on a Monday. I have really been working on spending a few hours after school settling down, so that by the time I come home I have convinced myself that I had a pretty good day, and I can be happy and relax.

I saw some wildlife on my walk to the school last weekend.

I have some more photos that won't load today, so I'll post again soon with all the photos I've been wanting to post!