Monthly Archives: September 2009

So I have this Professor

named James Dean. And he is just a teeny tiny, HUGE BALL OF INSANITY. And I mean insanity in the weird sense, not the crazy sense. Par exemple, that means for example to all of you non French speaking people, he will just sort of space out in class. We don’t really know what he is thinking, but a good 30 seconds of silence goes by before he resumes his thought. The girl who sits next to me seems to be the only other one who finds him absolutely hysterical, even though he isn’t trying to be. I mean, we generally spend 3/4 of the class laughing at him (in kindness, mind you) and 1/4 the class learning. He just has a unique way of phrasing things that can either sound really absurd or really inappropriate.

He also really, really loves medieval literature. I mean, he teaches an entire class devoted to Chaucer, who we are studying right now. The stories we are reading in class are written in our textbooks as they originally appeared which means original medieval language. We then have to read the story, get online, find the translation he has provided, and sort of try and figure out what the story is about, as the translation isn’t all that translated to begin with. Good times. We just finished the Miller’s Tale from The Canterbury Tales, and I’ve got to say that James Dean mentions the fact that this is “THE MOST BRILLIANT AND WELL WRITTEN STORY IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.” I mean the man only says it every other second. But the thing I like most about this medieval language (which isn’t much) is when James Dean reads it aloud to us.

Now, he is a very white, very old, very American man. But put a page of medieval english in front of him and he becomes this very energetic, very ancient, VERY BRITISH man. It is like this accent takes over his body and you would swear someone else had come into the class to read to us. Knowing this about himself he likes to show off and the other day he decided it was time to show how horrible we were at this. He had us split into groups and pick a few lines from the text and elect one person to read them aloud. He came by each group and helped (as much as he could) with the accents and which letters to pronounce, but it was still a big old mess. The group before us actually chose our lines so we switched lines about ten seconds before we were called on and we only messed up one consonant pronunciation! Huzzah!

Other than that thrilling story my life at University has been quite horrid. While James Dean is a hilarious teacher he isn’t a fantastic grader. And meeting with him during office hours is a whole big awkward situation. I had a group presentation (I hate those so, so much) where we had to teach subject-verb agreement to 19-21 year olds and that was interesting. My group was one of those only communicate by email type groups, so I ended up typing every thing out as far as the lesson plan went and the handout for the class. THEN! The girl in our group who had the game we were going to play in class got extremely sick and wasn’t there on the day of our presentation. And she didn’t email us, so we had to make up a game on the spot BUT we got a good grade because sometimes being a teacher requires you to do things like that.

Also I failed my French quiz (and I don’t mean take pity on me I think I failed, I mean I REALLY failed… we got our grades back today) so that was encouraging. Apparently the section I did the worse on, the majority of the class did terribly on, so he is letting us do a make up quiz for that part. But I do have something good concerning French… today I was at the store and I was looking for a certain type of a hand wipe things. I picked up said item and looked at the package to see if it was what I wanted when I read the description and put it back. Then I sort of did a double take and looked back at the thing, and turns out I was reading the french description! Without realizing it! And I knew what it said! That definitely made up for the quiz.

Well holy frick would you look at the time! I have to get up trés early to go to my field observation. Oh the joys of being an education major.

GOODNIGHT INTERNET.

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Bouquets of sharpened pencils.

In my grammar class my professor asked us to bring in a book we really liked for some little project we were going to be completing. I decided to bring in the book Naked by David Sedaris, because that book is the epitome of awesome. I swear, even if you don’t like reading you will like this book; each “chapter” is a short story about an event that took place in the author’s life. These events range from speech therapy when he was in elementary school to hitch hiking his way from Ohio to California and let me tell you, he met some INTERESTING (read: insane) people along the way.

Anyway, the point of the exercise was writing a descriptive poem. We were asked to pick two short passages from the book and create a poem using words and ideas from the quotes we chose. I liked this exercise so much I can’t wait to use it in my future classroom. And now I will share with you what I wrote because you knew it was coming.

Passage 1: “Driving pas the iron gates and up the winding driveway on my first day of work, my mother offered me a series of last-minute alternatives.” (pg. 74)

Passage 2: “The road to Hobbe’s orchard wound past a dairy farm where several dozen speckled cows passed the time grinding wet grass with their blunt teeth.” (pg. 163)

My poem:

On my first day of work

Driving past the iron gates,

My mother pleaded for me to turn around.

The winding driveway stretched on for miles,

The dairy farm was up ahead;

My mother offered better opportunities as I passed the speckled cows,

Mouths chewing,

Teeth grinding

On the dew covered grass.

The road to Hobbe’s orchard was a long one,

But I had made my decision.

I got out of the car and closed the door

On my mother’s cries.

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Fun for all ages!

This is a special blog bulletin informing YOU, dear Internet, to go check out the latest from Sam Greenspan, aka 11 Points, aka the best 11 point list website you are ever likely to find. I bring special attention to today’s post (I say special attention because the website has been linked over on the right side of my blog since… forever) because I am an English Education major (this is nothing new to you avid readers) and once again 11 Points has cleverly crafted a list devoted entirely to BOOKS of a banned nature. BANNED BOOKS! What more could excite you?!

Probably a lot more. But seeing as a few authors I like have been banned, or at least challenged (Looking for Alaska by John Green the first to come to mind) I advise you to go and give this list a chance. And then check out the rest of the lists, because they are that awesome.

11 pts

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Let’s call this one… Exciting.

For my Psychology of Education class I have to have 18 hours “in the field.” This is just another way of saying I have to go to a high school conveniently located in the next state over (even if it is just 20 min away… next state over sounds more dramatic) and observe a teacher. I have to continue to go back until I have a recorded 18 hours of field experience. I’ve done this before so I (kind of) knew what to expect. I mean, the teacher I had before had recently been in the ARMY and now he was teaching 6-8th graders. Let’s just say the man knew how to yell. I should also tell you this is the same man whose best piece of advice for a new teacher was, and I’m not even kidding these words were straight from his mouth, “Don’t date the parent of one of your students. Or a colleague. Don’t date someone you work with.” Words of wisdom, words. of. wisdom.

So yeah, I was pretty anxious to see who I was paired up with. I was put in an English classroom so I knew I was on the right track. (Last time I was put in a history class while the history major was put in an English class and they wouldn’t let us switch.) My teacher is freaking awesome. I won’t mention her real name, so let’s call her… Mrs. Adams. And I have been emailing her back and forth and figuring out a time to meet up with her and she seemed nice. Well I met her Tuesday and she is exceptionally nice. I have come to realize that she is my teaching twin; very similar to the kind of teacher I want to be. Is is crazy, fun, sarcastic at times, jokes with the kids but still hold’s their respect and she really makes learning fun.

When I first got into the classroom the kids weren’t there yet, she was just showing me around the school and her classroom. She stepped out to make some copies before all the kids came in, and I took a moment to take a few pictures of her classroom to show you how AWESOME she is.

First, she has LITERARY ACTION FIGURES. Snape, Shakespeare (with removable quill and book!) and Jane Austin:

Action figures!

Next she has a poster of STEPHEN COLBERT:

Stephen!

And the last (and the absolute best) thing I took a picture of was…. A BOBBLE HEAD SHAKESPEARE:

Billy Shakes

Yes, I know. I could hardly believe it myself. So the class filed in and she introduced me and they looked a little disappointed because I think they all thought I was some sort of special guest coming into class to talk to them about something, but when they found out they would still be doing all of their original work and stuff they got sad. Oh well! The first class I am observing is 10th Grade Honors and they are pretty much your typical honors students except ohmygosh they are SO TINY!!! I couldn’t believe they were 10th graders! And let us just discuss a select few of these kids for a moment. First I should say I don’t think there is any sort of dress code other than you must be wearing clothes and if you wear a skirt it has to reach the bottom of your fingertips. That is it. No more rules. So there is this one girl with (I’m not going to lie) kind of a bad perm (I can’t tell if it is naturally frizzy or just a bad perm) and her whole head is HOT HOT PINK. But that isn’t even the oddest thing about her okay… So she has no eyebrows. Completely shaved them off. Instead of normal eyebrows she has some sort of (semi?)permanent tattoo of a design above both her eyes. It threw me for a second. Then, then we have this kid who I don’t know his name yet, but that is okay because I prefer to call him Van Halen. He looks like he could walk onstage during a Van Halen concert and just fit right in, no problems, no questions asked.

On Tuesday they worked in groups dissecting a poem and whatnot then presented in front of the class. Pretty basic stuff. I go in the mornings from 7:30 to 9:05 than race (but not speed mom!) back to campus for my 9:30 class. Then I go back to the high school from 12:50 to 2:30ish and then race back to campus for my 3:30 French (ugh) class. I will be doing this every Tuesday and Thursday for like… the next 18 hours of observation time. HA.

The second group of kids I observe are actually in an inclusion class. What this means is they all have some form of a disability anywhere from ADD to Autism to CP to anything really. Because there are more than five of these kids in this class the state requires a specialized teacher to work with Mrs. Adams and help out around the class because they can be a little unruly at times. I have to say these are the most hilarious kids ever, but you can’t really laugh at what they say because they are being disruptive. But you just can’t help it! Looking at the class you would not be able to tell any of them suffered from any type of disability. There is really only one kid in particular that I can tell, and that is from the way he talks. They all, for the most part, get along quite well however Tuesday was a “good day” meaning a lot of the kids have emotional and behavioral disorders and can be really mean or have attitudes a lot. They were all quite well behaved for the most part, though I was told that three of the absent students were absent due to suspending, and they will probably be back today. As they are the most troublesome of the group I’m quite interested to see how today will play out.

So that is just a basic overview of what a large majority of my posts will be about in the near future. I already have a few funny stories of things said in class and things that they have done, but this post is already way too long, so I will save them for another time!

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Hey Internet. I haven’t forgotten about you.

So the thing of it is, I have a lot of homework. A LOT. More than ever. Hours and hours of psychology reading. French paragraphs to write and read in front of the class because my professor is a douchebag (sorry mom, but it is true) and LAUGHS IN OUR FACE when we tell him we are having a hard time translating a story about some boy and his sandwhich. At least I think that is what it was about, I don’t know, I can’t translate some pretty keywords.

Anywho, the thing is I haven’t budgeted a lot of time for things like my blog. You are here for the stories! Remember when I used to tell stories? I know, I know. It has been a while. BUT! If you will just hang in there for like, another week, and let me finish all these appointments I have with advisors and doctors and things, I promise promise promise I will be back to full on blogging mode.

But the point of this post is that it sort of sank in today. The whole New Zealand thing. I know, I’m sorry if you are one of those who hates hearing about this type of thing. I’m not here to brag, to say OH LOOK! I get to study abroad again! At least I really hope not brag about it all the time. But y’all… I AM GOING TO NEW ZEALAND. I freaking love traveling. LOVE it. Sitting in airports, landing in a new place, completely wiped out and all I want to do is sleep yet all I can do is go out and explore. It finally sank in that I will have a whole new world to explore for a month. I can’t even begin to explain how much I love my parents. I’m not just saying this because they are letting me go out of the country yet again. I really, really love them for sacrificing their wants and needs so I can have these opportunities. Not every kid gets an amazing set of parents like I have, and I just hope that they know how much I love them. I don’t think I say it enough.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Can you feel it?

“Don’t you just love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies.”

Oh, yes Joe Fox. I do love New York in the fall. I love everything about the fall; the weather, the smells, the atmosphere… it can’t really be explained. You just have to feel it. For as long as I remember my family has been making annual trips to Heritage in Charlotte, NC. (Yes, that Heritage. Jim and Tammy Fay Baker Heritage.) I have very random, very vivid memories of being a child and walking down main street, looking up at the hotel windows that seemed to magically hover over the shops. The colors were so bright and beautiful, looking like doll houses I only dreamed about. I wanted to stay in one of those hotels more than anything.

I would walk down main street, holding either my mother’s or my grandmother’s hand, looking into the shops as we passed by, hoping I would get to go in one and try on beautiful dresses. After trying on dresses came ice cream. Now, this was no ordinary ice cream. This was a shop set up like an ice cream parlor straight from the fifties. I’m sure it was nothing special, but when I was younger I was convinced it was the most magical place on earth. Then there was the water park and the Snow White (or what I remember being a Snow White) ride, and light houses and we stayed in a tree house… yes, a literal tree house. There were two or so bedrooms, a living room, bathrooms, a kitchen, everything you would need and it was built into a tree. Everything was just insanely magical.

Of course if you know anything at all about Jim and Tammy Faye you will know that this magical place did not have the best of luck. After the embezzlement charges Heritage was put up for sale and one bad deal after another left the place in shambles. The tree houses ended up being sold as actual homes. The tennis courts were soon covered with weeds. The water park shut down; the shops on Main Street closed one after the other. The light house where they used to put on plays for the kids became old, rotten, and worn down. Now as I think back, it reminds me of that Robert Frost poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay:

Nature’s first green is gold

Her hardest hue to hold

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

The years went by and we came back to Heritage here and there, but nothing really came of it. Until one Thanksgiving. I can’t really remember it to tell you the truth. We went to Heritage for Thanksgiving and my grandmother had a timeshare. We stayed in a log cabin and have done so every year since then. I can’t tell you how much I love this place. I really believe it is magical.

There is an amphitheater not five or so minutes from the cabins and a local church would put on Christmas productions. Every year we would bundle up in shirts layered with sweatshirts, winter jackets, scarves, gloves, hats, three pairs of socks, warm shoes, and blankets and we would STILL freeze our butts off. Hot apple cider provided a quick relief during intermission. The play was the same every year and even though we knew what was going to happen or what the characters were going to say (FLY DONKEY FLY!!!!) it was just something we looked forward to- a tradition that simply could not be broken. But nothing gold can stay, and a few years ago was the last performance the company put on.

Then would come the Thanksgiving feast and my grandmother and mum would wake up early and start cooking. We would dine like royalty with the most amazing dishes you could ever think of, after which we would watch the end of the parade and start Miracle on 34th street while silently asking ourselves WHY did we eat so much?

Then came black Friday, aka go to a GIANT shopping mall and get lost in the crowds and lines and many trips taking bags to the car so you don’t have to lug them around with you all the while looking at whoever would listen and shout “WHY DID WE COME ON THE BUSIEST DAY?” Again, a tradition that couldn’t be broken.

During these celebrations we would often pick my father up at the airport in time for him to celebrate Thanksgiving and do the annual coloring contest before he had to go back to work. And yes, I did say coloring contest. We have the same picture every year of two pilgrims which we have to color and the best one wins a prize. It gets VERY, VERY competitive. Sadly we would return home, exhausted from the travels but happy to see our cats, who we missed very much.

And then this thing called college happened. All the family were in separate states (except for my sister, she was in Florida with me) and we didn’t make it up to Heritage. I still got to bake the dishes with my grandmother at her house, the parade BOOMING on her television while my grandpa watched the football game in his office. My sister ended up having to work and didn’t get a chance to come over. I was really, really sad because I love my family so much and these special times we had during the holidays mean so much to me. And then last year I was in England for Thanksgiving and it really goes without saying that they don’t celebrate it over there, so the food was all wrong and I missed everyone.

It is finally fall here in Delaware. The weather has changed; there is a constant breeze reminding me the pumpkins will be out soon and the carnivals and fall festivals are just beginning. There is also a different smell to the air; the scents make me feel as though I am back in Heritage, reciting Romeo and Juliet out of the top of the moldy light house window. Reminding me of seeing a movie on Thanksgiving night, of baking pies and turkey and mashed potatoes. Of making biscuits from scratch and forgetting to take my rings off, accidentally filling each nook and cranny with dough and flour. I walk around listening to “Believe” by Josh Groban because during the parade one year he sang it and my grandma and I replayed it over and over at full volume. I’m homesick for a place that is much, much more than a home to me. It is when everyone in my family was happy; we laughed and talked and didn’t have the circumstances life has thrown at us. For one week I (really, really) tried not to fight with my sister but instead walk with her down the abandoned railroad tracks.

But this year is different, in a good way. We are all heading back to the same exact log cabins for one last Thanksgiving before my grandma’s timeshare ends, where we will eat the familiar dishes and watch the parade and sing and listen to Kenny G play christmas tunes while we fall asleep. Sure we wont be able to shout FLY DONKEY FLY! along with the cast, but Main Street has opened again! And you better believe I am going to look at all the old shops, hotels, and darn it all, I am going to have another scoop of ice cream.

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Smiles all around.

Today I was attempting to do some homework that isn’t due until Friday, although ultimately the “you have all day Thursday to do it” battle won. Anyway, the homework required me opening a book that I ordered off of half.com. It was a little old book about teaching grammar to secondary students, no big deal, but when I opened it up (I hadn’t until this point) I saw this little note from the seller stuck inside the book:

Note!

I can’t tell you how much it brightened my day up! Thank you Sarah!

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