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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Getting into the Swing of Student Teaching

The first few weeks of student teaching have been a total blur! I'm starting to see how hard it is to manage life as a mom of 2 with a husband who doesn't have very flexible schedule while teaching essentially full time. It is exhausting to say the least!

I have really enjoyed working in both of my placements so far, although I am also becoming more aware of my own weaknesses as a teacher. One of my biggest stressors has been trying to fit all of the content into the lessons that I've planned. As a teacher, I really enjoy connecting to the kids and being able to have 2-way conversations so that they can share their own thoughts and feelings.

There are definite positives to allowing students to share, is it helps me to understand them better, and allows them to become more invested in the lesson. It also has the benefit of activating whatever background knowledge a child has on the topic that we will be discussing. My problem as a teacher though, is that I get caught up in the conversations and lose time that I needed to spend on working through new content or time that they needed to spend writing to show what they learned. Language Arts is my favorite subject to teach, as I'm able to weave in a lot of social studies and engaging literature with the kids.

I'm in a 3rd class this year, and am definitely struggling with how academically challenging the math content that we are using is! We're using the math lessons from Engage NY, with some adaptations, and there are so many pieces that were mostly unfamiliar to me. Now I'm becoming more competent teaching using tools like number bonds, tape diagrams, and arrays. I was skeptical at first, and there are still some elements of the lessons that aren't really developmentally-appropriate for our class, but I am seeing how the different visual representations connect with different learners in the room.

This week I'll be co-teaching more math with my Cooperating Teacher, as well as having my first observation in my ESOL placement. Its a busy week, so I'll leave this post short for now.
Thank your kids' teachers for all they do, its definitely the most challenging job I've ever had, and I get to leave the take-home parts of the job for my CT, such as grading and planning assessments!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Student Teaching. . . Exhausting, yet Exhillirating

Its been too long again since I've posted anything. The end of summer was super busy with me finishing my last round of summer classes, taking a trip back to Minnesota to visit family and friends,and my last round of pre-service tests before getting my teaching license.

I passed all my tests, including the Middle Level Language Arts and ESOL, so now I am officially a student teacher. Yay!

The program I'm in is unique in that it has 2 semesters of student teaching. One is part time, and the other is full-time. My part-time is also combined with my ESOL endorsement practicum, so it really feels full-time to me! During our second semester we also have to do an EdTPA, and are the first year of students to do so in Oregon, boo!

I'm split between 2 different schools, so I spend 3 full days at one school, and one full day at the other. The 2 schools are quite different from each other, but they're both full of great kids who I'm honored to be getting to know and being trusted to teach. I'm also blessed to have 2 amazing CT's (Cooperating Teachers), so I know that I'll be equipped with what I need to be successful by the time I finish this semester.

My elementary placement is in an elementary school on the outer fringe of the Portland metro area, in an area that is culturally mixed between more rural and suburban. For this reason, it definitely has the benefit of more parent and community connection than many of the other schools I've spent time in. So far, I can also see that the staff have good relationships, and it feels like a very positive work environment in my experience so far.

I'm in a 3rd grade class that currently has 36 kids in it! Fortunately, the teachers were just informed by the district that they will be adding a third class that will be a grade 2/3 blend, which should take my classroom down to less than 30 students.

It was the students first week of school, so I got to see how they're adjusting to a new teacher, routines, and procedures. They're a great bunch of kids, so we didn't have anything out of the norm as far as behavior is concerned (as you might imagine, 3rd graders love to talk!).

One of the highlights for me this week was coming for a meeting with my CT and University Supervisor right at the end of the school day on a day that I wouldn't normally have been there. Most of the class said hi, and a couple of the little girls ran over and gave me a hug-and this was only after spending one whole day in their class. Kids are amazing!

Another thing I really enjoyed was being able to help my CT make some time to get the kids started with an art project in the middle of a busy week.
The kids read Nasreen's Secret School, and connected it to a standard about books and reading around the world.

For their art project, they each created a self-portrait using painted paper on a background that depicted our own environment here in the Pacific Northwest. They made accordion-folded pages that looked like books, and created their own symbols above the book to represent the things that they had learned from reading.

It was fun to see the uniqueness of ideas that some kids had, and note how some of them struggled, and chose to copy an idea from a peer (so many of them chose to represent math symbols after my CT used it as an example).

The projects were a success, and I'm so glad that they'll have something to show the parents for the open house next week.

In the coming weeks, I'll have to start planning lessons with the curriculum and teaching instead of being more of an assistant, so now is the time for me to believe that I can do it and make it happen!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Blog! (still not giving up on this one though)

I was looking through my old posts on this blog and getting nostalgic. Does anyone else remember how much fun we used to have blogging and commenting? I enjoy other social media, but I miss the thought process that goes into blogging vs. the immediate sharing on Facebook or Instagram.

I just wanted to let you guys know that I started a new health and fitness focused blog. I'm setting it up mostly for my Challenge groups that I run on Facebook to give them information about workouts, meal plans, and my own recipes. I'd love you to visit me there, but stay tuned on this page for more frequent updates!

AlluringBody Nostril Pin

As I get older, I find that I care more about the quality of my jewelry. In the last few months I've gotten some nice older jewelry that belonged to my grandmother and great-grandmother, which made me think about the fact that I don't own any jewelry of value other than my wedding rings. I've had my nostril pierced for quite a few years now, and I'd been thinking about switching from a nostril screw to a nose bone or pin. The downside I've heard about these is that they can be difficult to remove because the ball at the end is a slightly larger gauge than the body of the pin. My old nostril screw was just a generic CZ in an 18 gauge stainless steel setting. It was ok, but I didn't like how high the bezel setting stuck up on my nose.

I had some other screws that were sterling silver, but I didn't like how quickly the metal became tarnished and was afraid that it would cause staining on my skin. I'm also completing a teaching degree this year and want to have something that looks professional and is of high quality and practical for basically all occasions. I decided that I was looking for a 20 gauge nostril pin in 14k white gold with a diamond setting, and came across Alluring Body. They have a lot of different gemstones and several sizes of colorless diamonds. The smallest is a 1.2mm "tiny diamond." I opted against this one because I have some large pores in my nose that are probably close to a 1.2 mm! The next size up is the 1.6mm "perfect diamond," which I think was a great choice for my situation. Granted, $85 is a lot to spend on a small piece of jewelry, but I love the idea that I can basically leave this in and not buy another for the foreseeable future. To be honest though, I'll probably be buying an emerald or a bigger diamond at some point.

Alluring Body is a small business, and I was really happy with the quick shipping. The packaging was also just beautiful.

As you can see, the nostril screw was HUGE compared to the pin. I was glad that I had an 18gauge in, the pin slipped right in, but now that it has sat for a couple of days, the pin is tight enough that there's no way it would fall out. I love the difference in feeling, I don't notice the pin at all, but sometimes the nostril screw would bother me because it took up so much space inside my nose!

Here's the final effect. I'm really happy with the size, its small, but sparkles enough that you can still notice it. The workmanship is what makes it worth the money in my opinion too. It has a prong setting, but I haven't had a cotton ball or towel get stuck to it, unlike my cheap prong settings from Claire's!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Creating a Fitness Habit

I've tried and failed so many times in life to create and maintain a habit or commitment to my health and fitness. I've had the best and most consistent results in the last 3 years or so, even during my last pregnancy. So, what worked for me?

There are so many different ways that you can accomplish this. One that I've liked is to be a part of a Challenge Group. It is so helpful to keep company with like-minded people, or people who have similar goals. On those days you don't feel like working out, you know that someone from your group will notice your absence, or that your coach might give you a call or text to check in! If you are having problems or feel like you're failing, let your coach or partners know, that's why you're a group!

Many programs also come with a Workout Calendar, or you can create your own. I love having a physical calendar where I can cross out my workout for the day and see those X's adding up over the course of the weeks! When I consider skipping, my obsessive personality is bothered by the fact that the day will have a blank.

Combine Fitness with Nutrition:
 This one is HUGE for me! When my workouts are in line, I am less likely to fill my body with things that aren't going to fuel me for my workouts and specific goals. I'm not talking about deprivation, but making sure that you're choosing wisely. I've always felt that I eat healthy, but realized that I often come up short on vegetable and protein portions when tracking them for my workout goals. I have also been using Shakeology for several months now, and have noticed a huge energy boost and reduction in cravings for junk!
Solomon and I enjoying our Greenberry
Create and Use Incentives:
One of my favorite incentives is to choose the workout that I will accomplish next and buy it for myself as a reward.

My reward for finishing Insanity Max 30 this Friday is 21 Day Fix Extreme.

People often choose to buy a specific piece of clothing that they are hoping to fit into by the end of a particular workout program.

Another incentive that works well for me is to have workout outfits that I enjoy wearing. Rather than throwing on those old running shorts from the bottom of the drawer, choose something new to go with a new workout, or reward yourself with a new pair when you've stayed on track for a set amount of time.

It is hardest in the beginning to develop a new habit. When I started Insanity Max 30, I decided to switch my workouts from evening to morning. I am most definitely NOT a natural morning person, but I love the feeling of accomplishment when I've finished something of worth so early in the day.
It was extremely hard to make myself do my workouts when I felt so lethargic, but now my dependence on caffeine is gone, and I feel strange if I have a schedule issue that makes it impossible to work out in the morning. Creating consistency takes the most work for the first few weeks, but with the other steps, you will have a habit that becomes as normal as making that morning coffee!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Favorite Workouts

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, post-baby changes were one of the more minor things on my mind. After my daughter was born, I started walking any day that it was above 30 degrees and doing some yoga when she was a few weeks old.

My first introduction to intense at-home workouts was Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, which I completed in summer of 2008.

I was very happy with the results from this workout series. Most workouts marketed to women weren't nearly intense enough, and I wanted to get good results!

I stuck with Jillian after this, and have done her Ripped in 30, 6 Week Six-Pack, No More Trouble Zones, and Yoga Meltdown. Yoga Meltdown and Ripped in 30 are my favorites of everything she's created.

 I still do some of Jillian's workouts occasionally, but I've found some new workouts that I love even more. A friend of mine had gotten some awesome results doing Turbofire and invited me to join one of her Clean Eating Challenge groups on Facebook. I needed some accountability to get eating healthy again after having my son in 2013, so I joined. She was recovering from a knee injury at the time and couldn't do workouts with any jumping, so she posted about a new Beachbody workout called PiYo. Its a Pilates/Yoga hybrid strength workout with Chalene Johnson, and let me tell you, its my favorite workout series ever! It includes the same kind of strength/yoga combinations as some of Jillian's programs, but Chalene is such a fun trainer! The program also includes so many more workouts that Jillan's program, so its a lot harder to get tired of it!

I still felt like I needed to make some gains in the muscle department, so when another friend started posting about Insanity Max 30, I decided to do something crazy and order the Challenge Pack with Shakeology. I'm finishing the 60 days this Friday, and the results have been amazing so far! I can do pushups and burpees like nobody's business!

What's my favorite overall? I'd have to say that PiYo has been the most fun, its the workout I most genuinely look forward to doing, and my flexibility has improved tremendously too! I was also inspired to sign up as a Beachbody Coach, so that I can inspire others in their journeys toward wellness and a full life.

What are your favorite workouts? Are there any challenges to your health that you would like to improve through better fitness and nutrition?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Monthly Meals Week 2

These are actually a bit out of order since I haven't posted in awhile, but these are the meals that I will make starting on Friday. 
Maybe you'll find some new favorites!  

Mon: Alfredo Pasta with Sausage
Wed: Salmon Burgers (from Costco)
Thurs: Beef Hot Dogs and Mac & Cheese (from Costco)
Fri: Creamy seafood pasta or pesto pasta
Sun: leftovers