Thursday, August 29, 2013

Teaching Junior High.

I teach ninth grade.  That's what I tell people.  I let them assume what that means.  Based on their own education I let them determine where they think I teach.  Why? I actually hate telling people I work at a junior high.  I know that sounds quite odd seeing how I do in fact teach at a junior high.  But I hate it because there is no question that what the reaction will be.  Each and every time I tell someone I teach at a junior high it is followed by a negative response.  Sometimes that negative response is towards me like, "Oh you aren't cool enough to teach at a high school?" or a negative response towards the kids, "Oh that is such an awful age.  How do you do it?  I think all junior high teachers are going straight to heaven."

Either way.  I am not fond of either reaction.  I feel like a lesser teacher for it.

Each year I give a heart to heart to my students about why I teach ninth grade.  It is their favorite heart to heart of the year but really I don't tell it for them... I tell it for me.  Repeating it 7 times is my way to try and convince myself and remind myself why I teach 9th grade.

The heart to heart goes like this: I tell the story of a student I had my first experience teaching where I had the hardest student you could possibly imagine.  At 18 years old she still couldn't read, she had already been to jail numerous times for drugs, violence, and grand theft auto.  Her life was a wreck.  But through time and a lot of work I was able to somehow get through to her (my own Freedom Writers if you will...)  Long story short, one day when I had a sub the sub tried to get her to do her work, she punch the sub in the face, being on parole she went back to jail.... and one year later when she got out, she hunted down her mom, shot her in the face, and will be in the mental health hospital the rest of her life.

Back to 9th grade.  I honestly believe it's the year when kids to decide the rest of their life.  Kinda dramatic I know.  But I honestly believe it.

But I'll tell you what.  It's hard.  And sometimes it's really comforting when I am reminded how hard it really is.  We have a veteran teacher that transferred to my junior high this year from a local high school.  She's taught juniors for 22 years.  You can imagine the confidence in which she walked into our school the first day of school.  I listen to her every day at lunch talk about how she had no idea how ____________ (hard, dumb, crappy, annoying, stinky, needy, whiny) ninth graders are.

Now I know this might sound terrible but listening to her gives me so much comfort.  When my cute student teacher got a job teaching seniors and came back and talked about how easier it is in comparison to my situation, it makes me feel good.  Why?

Because it reminds me that what I am doing is not easy.  It reminds me that it is freaking tough.  It reminds me that I shouldn't be ashamed to say I teach junior high.  I'm not a lesser teacher.  It's not that I'm not cool or hip enough to teach high school.  It's harder.  Which means I am tougher.  And every once in a while it's nice to remember that.

This post was inspired by a blogger I love to refer to as Miss Susy Sunshine who just had her first week teaching at middle school and her post last night was titled, "sometimes i want to quit at life."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Here we go again...

This morning marks my 9th first day of school as a teacher.........

And is it weird that today I might be the most scared?

Is it because I know what I am getting myself into more than ever?

Is it because I have 41 students crammed into each class when I only have 36 desks?

Is it because I am teaching an early morning PE class that I have NO idea what I am doing?

I honestly don't know what it is.  All I know is that I laid out my new school outfit last night to make sure I get dressed... (I had a nightmare two nights ago that I had nothing to wear on the first day)

All I know is I woke up at 4:30 this morning ready to get it over with.  The day where the kids stare at me like I'm crazy.  Or worse glare daring me to teach them.  The day where I meet 293.  Yes I have 293 students.  293 impressionable kids that I have the power to help or hurt.  It's a scary thing being a teacher.  When we all look back at our childhood and think of the most helpful or damaging influences in our experiences... often both can be said for a teacher.

I guess I'm most scared because this year.  I want to be great.  I haven't said that the past few years.  I've just done what I had to to get by.  But this year I want to be different.  This year I want to be different.  I want to be the best teacher I've ever been.  And I think that's why I am scared.  I know what that takes.  And it isn't easy.

So wish me luck.  Off to change the world.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Conquering a Mountain.

I have marveled at the beauty of Mt. Timipanogous as long as I can remember.  When I was about 8 I was traveling with Aunt Raine to Idaho and she told me the legend of the Indian princess who's body is outlined in the mountain and her heart is in the cave.

In other words.  I've always had respect for that mountain.

I have never. ever. ever. had any desire to conquer her summit.

Then my awesome cousin's husband Paul suggest we do it.  

I was pretty nervous about it.  I get nervous about a lot of stuff.  But I got really nervous when Paul said, "Yeah I ran a marathon straight up American Fork Canyon last week.  I think this hike is harder."  Followed by, "Yeah I'm completing in a half Iron Man next week."  This guy clearly is in great shape.  

That being said.  I thought the climb up was fantastic!  Amazingly fun.  I'd do it a couple times a month.... if I didn't have to climb back down.

That being said, it was an awesome trip and Paul is hands down the funnest person we've ever hiked with!  He is just straight up awesome.

Yes that hair.

Yes, clearly so happy I couldn't even open my eyes.

Sadly my only picture of Paul!
Still trying to get over getting up at 4:20 on a Saturday...

Even better than the hike?  Meeting Jayann at Los Hermonos for a huge dinner and messages.  What a great day! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Being the Freshman.

As I walked into teacher training this morning it was like a breath of fresh air.  Everything was in it's proper order.  The admin were busily trying to figure out how to connect their Powerpoint and hook up their microphone as the secretaries piled up all the first of year handouts.  The veteran teachers congregated around their usual back tables.  The PE teachers made sure to get to school on time for the only time of the year to ensure their seats on the soft cozy leather couches.  The eager beaver over achiever teachers took their seats in the front two tables with a blank note pad, two sharpened pencils and smiles from ear to ear.  I took my usual seat in the middle closer to the veteran but clearly not at their table.... but I'll get to that in a second.

As the Principal started making the same introduction speech I've heard 7 or 8 times I began to slouch down in my seat with a smile on my face because I knew I brought everything I needed to survive this 8 hour day: my phone, my laptop, snacks, water, and a map of LA county to plan out Joan and I's entire Fall Break vacation.  Things were going according to plan until while half listening to the first day back presentation with the same voices, the same jokes, the same concerns from the same teachers.... it happened.  Something new. Something different.  I perked up in my seat to see how in the world this happened.  Maybe I was mistaken?  I looked left and then I looked right.  Could it really be?  Did a brand new teacher really just make a comment?  And not just make a comment, actually raise her hand and tell a story with some type of confidence that people at that meeting actually wanted to hear it?  All sorts of questions raced through my head as I squirmed in my seat, "Where did this girl come from?" "Who does she think she is?"  "Where did she grow up?"  But really the main question that kept running through my head over and over again as I watched her mouth keep moving and I can assume words coming out but I'm not sure because all I could hear over and over in my head was  "How does she not know????"

The rest of the meeting I was in a state of total shock.  I just couldn't wrap my head around this idea.  The idea that this brand new teacher.... a teacher that clearly has had some type of formal training.... that clearly had to have some type of qualifications and some type of social awareness to get hired...  The idea that this girl did not understand or wasn't going to follow the unspoken but very important rules of being a freshman.

I thought everyone knew the proper etiquette and rules of being a Freshmen but clearly this girl.... well maybe she didn't play high school sports??? or maybe she was homeschooled??? or the worst, maybe she attended a junior high as a freshman???  I mean really those are the only logical explanations on how this catastrophe could have happened.  So just in case you, like this girl, never learned the proper place of a freshmen here are the rules.

1. Never sit where it looks popular to sit.
2. Never speak in a group unless spoken to.
3. Never think your opinion matters. ever.
4. Never assume that anyone cares about you.
5. But always care about others.
6. Be super nice, let the veteran teacher in front of you in the snack line or hand him the last Diet Coke.
7. Once you've formed a friendship quietly ask he/she lots of questions because
8. Knowledge is power.

But the most important thing a freshman can do.... well don't do.  But same thing.  Anyways, whatever you do, don't suck up to the admin in front of the group.

Now I am sorry if these rules sound harsh.  They kinda are when written out.  But someday you'll thank me.  So the next time you get called to a new calling or move to a neighborhood or have your first day in prison.... by knowing the rules.... at least you know you won't get shanked. :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I'm always a little melancholy this time of year... this morning especially because I had this great idea Monday during my workout to run a half marathon this morning.  Ya know just run 13.1 miles for fun.  I even mapped it out on my bike yesterday.  But my poor bootie is way too sore from my workout on Monday.... I have no idea why.... to do it this morning.  So instead I'm sitting here reading blogs waiting to go to my gym class in an hour.

Speaking of blogs... another reason for my deep, pensive, and long-lasting sadness I looked it up, that's what google says melancholy means.  I know I probably shouldn't talk about it because well it's kinda straight up creepy, but Hungry Runner Girl, my favorite blogger ever, who blogs twice a day and I read twice a day religiously.... And I did actually talk to her a few times and attend her classes at the gym (that is to make me feel better, like I actually know her) Anyway, she announced on her blog a couple of days ago that she filed for a divorce.  It's ridiculous how sad that made me.  I can't stop thinking about it.  Craig and I couldn't stop giggling yesterday when we thinking of different ways I could find out what happened to her marriage!  I even considered messaging one of Craig's long lost kinda ex girlfriends who I've seen on Hungry Runner Girl's blog multiple times since moving to California.  As we giggled at my ridiculousness I fabricated a message to this girl that sounded so ridiculous I almost sent it.  Or I considered texting my friend that I know is friends with Hungry Runner Girl.  I just was so sad and wanted to know what happened.

And at that point I realized.  It might be time for me to get a life.  I have very mixed feelings about starting another school year tomorrow.  Due to the classes it took to get endorsed to teach P.E. my summer felt a month shorter.  BUT on a happier note I get to teach an early morning P.E. class this year!  That's right, I know that doesn't sound appealing to 99% of you night people out there, but to me and the other 1% early birds, it sounds fantastic! This year I'll be teaching a P.E. class from 7:15-8:00 every morning before school.  Then school starts at 8:15.  And of course the extra money when I already have to be at the school at that time... doesn't hurt. :)

What a boring post.... so for anyone who just wanted pictures... Here are two pictures from this weekend we spent in Cedar.
Scum.   It's what my family lives for these days.

Craig's second birthday pie I made him.  With Drew who is obsessed with blowing out fire.

Monday, August 12, 2013

I Miss Disneyland

There I said it.  I've tried not to.  I've even tried to convince myself that my year with an annual pass ruined me.  That I never care to go to Disneyland when paying for 1 day again...........

But then I went to my school and my favorite bubbly secretary called out from her office, "Kristin! Get in here! I'm dying to hear how many times you went to Disneyland this summer."

Not. Once.

I've been missing it so much that I've been watching the Firework Show on Youtube.   So pathetic I know.  But for fun as I have been reminiscing about Disneyland I went through every single picture I have of Disneyland.    Yes, I realize I'm kinda pour salt in my wound.... but to make myself feel a little better... what's that cheesy quote, "Don't be sad it's over, be glad it happened."

So here are some of my favorite pictures throughout the years of my favorite place.

This pictures perfectly illustrate how we do Disney.
With the characters:


The selfies:

The super cool people:
Oh the food....

 But let's be honest......... nothing will ever compare to the castle.




 Oh Disneyland How I Miss You.