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!


  1. Hey McKenzie, I just love checking in on you and reading your blog. Thank you for sharing your adventures. Best to you tomorrow (it will be Monday)

  2. The SIOP model will help you SO MUCH!!! We did lots of practice with that in So. Cal. with our ELL's. I love following your blog. So fun. Keep up the great work :) Have you tried on your Mondays giving them some time to share about their weekends? Or would they think that was dumb? Maybe if Monday mornings they got to do something super fun, they would look forward to it and be better behaved for you? Just a thought. I'm sure you've tried it all. It sounds like their most stimulating environment is your classroom. Thanks for sharing all your stories :)

  3. Thanks for following Jenni :) They don't seem to want to contribute much, and when they do we get ranting stories that most of the kids have already heard (since there are only 17 4th graders in the village!) but on Mondays I give them word searches, because that seems to be the only thing that every kid will sit down and do to the finish, which I find sort of funny... but hey, whatever works!