Friday, March 23, 2007

Breathe out....

Spring Break is here just in time.
I don't think my body could handle another week of stress. It's definitely break time. As soon as my last class was done today, my body started reacting physically. My nose suddenly started to drip, my throat hurt, and I felt achey all over.

This week I accomplished my goal of FINISHING MY WORK SAMPLE! If you don't know what that means, it's a huge notebook full of an entire unit of lessons that I taught, written in very thorough detail, including assessments, pre-tests, post-tests, analysis of everything (with bright colored graphs and pie charts to go along with them), adaptations, summaries, reflections, school/class demographics, and on and on. We are required to turn in two of these during the course of the MAT program. I turned in my first one last November, a unit on US Geography, and then turned in my second one TODAY!!! (This one was on the Civil Rights Era).

This is definitely cause for celebration. That and the fact that the week after Spring Break is the half way point for the semester! (And it means 1 1/2 months until graduation!)

The other focus I had this week was job applications. The job hunt in the world of teachers has begun a little earlier than usual this year (which means NOW), and I was up until past midnight for the first time in months finishing an application.

To give you a glimpse into the teacher application world, and in case you want to empathize with me over the next several weeks and months,here are some sample essay questions taken directly off three school district applications I'm applying to:

1) Please elaborate on teaching strategies or techniques that have worked for you in the classroom. Specifically address strategies for special needs students and English language learners.

2) Describe ways in which you meet the definition of "culturally competent". Include any diversity training in which you have participated and how it changed your thinking.

3) What teaching techniques do you prefer?

4) Provide examples of success in improving student achievement.

5) What classroom management strategies do you use to effectively focus on instruction?

6) What led you into the teaching profession?

7) What challenges do you see facing public education in the immediate future?

8) What are your professional goals?

9) There are a number of contemporary issues in education. Please describe one, your understanding of how it applies to your area of teaching or work, and your beliefs about the importance of the issue.

Unlike writing essays for college applications, I can't reuse my answers to these questions (well, maybe parts), because these questions are all looking for different answers.

My plan is to take a few days off from school-related "stuff."

(Disclaimer: Paula H., if you read this, I'd like to apologize for the number of ex!cla!!mat!ions!! I used in this blog, and the NUMBER of words that I CAPITALIZED! I'M NOT REALLY SHOUTING, I'm just EXCITED!!!)

Monday, March 12, 2007

The process begins

First teaching job interview tomorrow!

Wish me luck!

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Good Teacher

Last summer I received a book, "Everyday Prayers for Teachers," as we were leaving Twin Rocks and heading to Salem so I could begin Grad school.

I want to post one of the prayers every once in a while.

Here's one:

The Lord is my teacher,
I shall not lose my way.

He leadeth me in the lowly paths of learning,
He prepareth a lesson for me every day;
He bringeth me to the clear fountains of instruction,
Little by little he showeth me the beauty of truth.

The world is a great book that he hath written,
He turneth the leaves for me slowly;
They are all inscribed with images and letters,
He poureth light on the pictures and the words.

He taketh me by the hand to the hilltop of vision,
And my soul is glad when I perceive his meaning;
In the valley also he walketh beside me,
In the dark places he whispereth to my heart.

Even though my lesson be hard it is not hopeless,
For the Lord is patient with his slow Scholar;
He will wait awhile for my weakness,
And help me to read the truth through tears.

Weekend Away

Michael and I are headed to A Weekend to Remember. It's a marriage conference that is taking place in Sunriver, Oregon. We've heard a lot of great things about this retreat, and are really excited.

Good friends of ours surprised us by telling us to keep this weekend open, and booked it and everything! We are blessed with wonderful friends, and are excited for a weekend to enrich our marriage.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

On a Positive Note...

I thought I'd add that one of the really enjoyable parts of my days lately has been Coaching Track. I am really enjoying getting to know a group of kids in a different environment than the classroom. Somehow it is helping me feel more confident around school, and that carries over into the classroom. It helps that I'm having more fun and feeling more relaxed in the classroom and at track.

A lot more of my students are saying hi to me every time they see me (I think Cranium had to do with this!) and I can't help but feel a sense of belonging when every where I go I hear a "Hey Coach," or "hi coach Chapman," or "Hi Mrs Chapman."

That reminds me of something funny the lady who works in the front office told me today. I have noticed that there are some students who don't quite know my name. Yes, it's been almost 6 weeks and I've learned over 100 names, but they can't learn one! (I don't know what the implications are to that...)

Anyway, the other day a couple students started calling me "Chipple," which is a combination of my name and my supervising teacher's name (Whipple).

Then, the lady in the office told me today that she's been hearing some funny comments as students give her homework and make-up assignments to put in my box. One student asked for Mrs. Whipple, (you know, Mr. Whipple's wife, obviously!). Another asked for Mrs. Riley (The permanent sub for Whipple is named Mr. Riley).

Oh Kids...Too funny.

1/3 done this week!

Another week of rollercoasters. I had a great moment today connecting with a student who is behind in my class, and then I received an email a few hours later about another student who is struggling. grrrr....

This week I received a couple emails from friends who are currently teaching and/or recently went through a similar MAT program, and each email had the same theme. I was actually surprised how similar they each sounded: (Paraphrase)

God doesn't call us to something that he doesn't plan on equipping us for.

Basically, God has called me to be a teacher, and He will provide me with the strength, stamina, and skills I need to do this and do this well. Something I realized to add on to this thought is that I need to be seeking after God in all I do, and giving him a lot more credit for what happens during my day, and just inviting him to be a much bigger part of my day/life.

God, remind me to stop and talk to you throughout the day, so that your Light shines through me. Continue to remind me that I cannot do anything on my own strength.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


6 Week grades are this week. I can't believe how fast time is flying. I am graduating in a little over two months.

This last week was a good week. I am starting to feel a lot more comfortable in my classroom. On Friday I gave my class a test, and then I needed to come up with something to do with the last 30 minutes. It was a Friday, and we are starting a video research project on Monday, so I didn't really have a lot of "content" that I wanted to cover.

So, we played Cranium! I justified it because I have been feeling like my personality hasn't really been coming through in my class. I find myself coming across rigid and not relaxed. So, I wanted to do something that was low-key, and also gave my students a chance to interact and go crazy. In fact, I made all my students participate, and after a little while, everyone was into it: the kids that were "too cool" at first, and all the shy kids. Everyone was into it. It was awesome!

I am finding myself enjoying my students more and more, and that's what I needed to have happen this week.