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10 Weeks as a Teacher

Well, as a student-teacher, anyhow. I've hardly posted anything in ages, and I feel bad about that. I seem to never have any time. I loved working at F5 this spring and summer, but since it was supposed to be a short-term contract, I just kept putting things off until the job was over. And then it kept rolling along until the very last day of the summer, when I had to quit so I could get on with the student teaching business.

I've spent the last 10 weeks as a student teacher in a 3rd grade class. 28 students. For the last 3ish weeks I've been the teacher pretty for 90% of the day. This is exhausting work, and even though I spent heckalotta money on really good shoes and worked up to standing all day, I still have very-sore-feet days. Also? I lost more weight in my first 6 weeks of teaching between September and October then I did in 6 straight weeks of daily 20-to-30 minute works outs in July and August. Yup, that's right, I lost more weight by teaching than I did by intentionally exercising. If only I could afford to go out and buy new pants!

Also? I'm doing pretty good at this beginning teaching thing. I don't hold a candle next to my mentor teacher, of course, but she does have like 10 years on me. But I have high hopes to actually impressing the principal when she comes to observe me the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. And I'm extra excited that she's coming to observe math, which is possibly my favorite subject. For math, students switch classes, and I am teaching 6th grade math to 20 kids regularly in the 3rd-5th grades. My biggest challenge is managing behavior, but that's a bit less of a burden during math, since the older kids are a bit more mature.

Also? My least favorite thing to do during the day? Walk in the hall. Dear god, it kills me every day how bad our kids are at walking in a straight, silent, trouble-free line. My mentor teacher has got them walking in 2 lines, and somehow they manage to spread from wall to wall in the hall, which is quite a wide hall, and they are like a herd of elephants on the stairs. So there you have it, the secret worst part of teaching: trying to make kids walk in a straight line.


Thoughts from a Job

Ya'll may remember back when I was employed, before I was laid off. I had a job, and I didn't hate it.

In April I got hired for a short-term contract as a Technical Writer at F5 Networks. The pay was mediocre compared to other contract jobs, but it was "only" supposed to be for 5ish weeks, and it paid more than daycare costs. So I took it.

And you know? I'm still here, at F5 Networks, writing process documentation.

This isn't the only contract I've had since leaving the University, but it's the only long one I've had, and I'll be honest. I really like F5. I really like the people I've worked with. If they had a full-time position here, I would totally take it.

It has been really informative to compare my experience at F5 to my experience at UW. Work environment. It"s so important.Collapse )

I'm actually rather sad that my position is ending in a couple weeks. I could possibly have stayed longer, at least by a few weeks, but I'm quitting on the 31st so I can start student teaching on September 4. And I am excited about the student teaching... but I will seriously miss this job a lot, too.

Random Tristan

Tristan has finally started to speak actual sentences over the last couple of months, and a couple weeks ago he surprised me with what seems like the first thoughtful abstract expression he'd ever really put into words, which was (as we were driving in the car), "The air has music in it."

This week he topped himself in random thoughts by telling me, as we were driving home yesterday, "Mama tall. Can reach light bulbs. Put new ones in it." Because, you know, changing a light bulb is THE most important thing you can do when you're tall. And I have changed a couple light bulbs lately 'cause a couple in the low kitchen ceiling have burned out this year, but not for a couple weeks. What got him thinking about light bulbs in the car? Alas, I'm sure I'll never know.

More on the ceiling; and BY SELF.Collapse )


Teaching Cursive

This seems a bit like a random post, even from my perspective, but I've been mulling over the idea of teaching Vivian cursive. Mainly because (a) she keeps asking me to; and (b) she's developed some weird bad letter-writing habits that would be nearly impossible to do in cursive.

In the mean time, my latest coursework wants me to make up a presentation on teaching handwriting, including recommendations on selecting a handwriting program. I started doing some random net reading and it didn't take long before I came across pages advocating for teaching cursive earlier. Well! Apparently I'm not cracked after all. According to some site called The New American Cursive, cursive was taught in the 1st grade in the 1940s, and prior to 1920 (says some other source I've now lost track of), cursive was taught before print, or even exclusively. After all, it's faster to use, and I think the argument that many letters are harder to mess up probably has some strong support. I certainly think that would be true for Vivian.

New American Cursive (they have such a nice concise summary of their argument) claims that learning cursive later slows down production of writing in the 3rd grade and maybe longer.
I can easily see this -- it is tough to learn a new script and consequently, kids will have to devote more thinking to how they're writing that would be better devoted to what they're writing.

What really caught my eye was that New American Cursive claims that cursive is "easier to learn for children with learning challenges... such as Attention Deficit Disorder." And that's just Vivian all over. She's impatient, for one thing, and I know her brain is working about 1000 times faster than her hand when she writes. Why not teach her cursive now? It won't significantly impair her writing speed right now because her writing speed is already fairly slow. And she's going to be bored during 3rd grade cursive lessons in school either way. AND if she can learn to write faster in the meantime, perhaps she will be less frustrated with her own writing abilities.

Incidentally, I'm 4/5 of the way through my handwriting correspondence course and my own cursive is rockin'! Now if only I have the willpower to actually practice writing cursive on a regular basis after the course is done I could possibly maintain lovely handwriting for life. But I know me, and writing cursive is so far down on my list of daily priorities, it will just never happen. Sad, that. But at least I know my own failings in advance so I don't have to be disappointed with me later.

Vivian anecdote

I had larposcopic surgery today, intended to remove an ovarian cyst that wasn't budging on my last ultrasound... except that between then and now, it totally went away. Super! But I digress, because I wanted to post about Vivian. This is, you recall, the child who a previous evaluator rated as "borderline autistic"... as in, low empathy for others.

About an hour ago she came into the bedroom, where I've been propped up on pillows on the bed half-watching Hulu.com. (I managed 1 episode of TV in, like, 2 hours.) "How are you feeling, mom?" she asks me, so I tell her that my shoulders hurt (from the gas they pump into you for the surgery) and my belly button hurts (because they sliced it open). "Oh," she says. "That's too bad, mom." She disappears for a moment and then comes back and tells me, "When my stomach hurts sometimes it helps if I rub it a little bit. You might try that." I tell her thank you and she starts to go, and then she comes back and says, "But you can't rub your hand up, just down and then down some more. And don't worry, mom. I'm leaving my bedroom door open just a crack while I read so you can call me if you need anything. I'm just across the hall."

(Of course, when it was time for lights-out she used this same idea to insist on leaving her door open a crack when I tried to convince her to close it, so now I can't watch Hulu.com or it'll keep her awake. But oh, well. But that's ok because Law & Order was boring me and I can't think of anything better to watch and my parents got me George Takei's biography for my birthday so I can probably out last her.)


On another note, this surgery business seriously dried me up like a prune! This morning there was some question about whether they'd do the surgery because I am on the tail end of a cold and had some congestion. Since the surgery, I have not had one sniffle. Not ONE. It's like they disappeared my cold entirely. Which is good because all that coughing would seriously hurt right now. I also seem to have misplaced my saliva; crackers and pretzels are like chalk in my mouth.


Want One!

So I actually thought to check in and read some updates on Facebook for the first time in, I don't know, 2 months? and saw this super-awesome TARDIS cat house. I want one in the worst way. I mean, we NEED a cat tree, and wouldn't that be the coolest cat tree ever? Why yes. Yes, it would. (Only it really should be taller, 'cause cats like sitting on/in tall things best of all. The one here appears to be only about 4' tall and maybe 18" wide.)

I wish I owned a jigsaw. And a router. And a bunch of plywood and blue paint. This design actually looks easier in some ways to construct than the last home-made cat house we had, because it doesn't require carpeting any weird shapes.


Having been reading about Vivian lately, with the most interesting, relevant, and worthwhlie single item being Different Minds: Gifted Children with AD/HD, Asperger Syndrome, and Other Learning Deficits. More.Collapse )


Rejected / Submitted

* "Let Us Pray" rejected from Analog's, um, awhile ago.
* "Spirit Husband" rejected from BCS

* "Let Us Pray" to Clarkesworld
* "The Spirit Husband" to Daily Science Fiction

...and Rejected:
* "Let Us Pray" from Clarkesworld

Toddlers. So tiring.

Vivian, in the hallway with the cat: Ooooo, you're so cute and fluffy! Look how cute and fluffy you are!
Tristan, on the changing table: TRISTAN CUTE N FLUFFY TOO!

I have to say, people, that Tristan has excellent creativity and problem solving skills. Just let me give you a run down of our day today:
One day"s worth of Tristan antics!Collapse )

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