Sunday, August 14, 2011

Alaskan sunset... 11:30 at night.

I've been spending most of my time this past week either in training or working at the school.  It has taken me over 3 days to finally get the set up of my classroom the way I want it to look.  I decided to use the cooperative learning set up with desks in groups of 4-5.  I also decided to set up the room based on learning centers.  I have 3 Mac computers for my technology center, 2 tape players for my listening center, a very small library, and a writing station.  I promise to post pictures soon.   I want to finish with the decorating before I do show everyone how it looks.

Some days I forget that I am here in Alaska... and some days it's really apparent that I'm "not in Kansas anymore".  I was brought to this realization today when I finally took the time to really think about all that has happened in the past month.  It's unreal that I am beginning my first year of teaching this week.  It's unreal that I'm living in my first apartment that sits on stilts.  It's unreal that I live in a town of less than 300 people.  My life in Indiana was quite the polar opposite.  Back home I would just drive down the road to pick up my groceries from the local store... here I either fish, hunt, or the food online.  At school, I was one of many... now I'm one of 100.  

Our school year starts on Wednesday.  Unbelievable if you ask me.  It'll be my first year of school, where I'm not the one sitting in the desk looking up at the person at the whiteboard.  I can hardly believe it sometimes when I think about it.  I spent the better part of my life trying to get to this point.  Now it's here, I find myself wondering if I can do it.  But then I have moments where my undergraduate training comes into use and I feel like I'm right where I should be.

I had one of these great moment during the district wide inservice that almost felt like an out of body experience.  During one of the sessions we were discussing the SIOP model, which is essentially "best practice" put into specific use.  We began to do an interactive activity called 4 corners, which I am quite familiar with thanks to RA interviews and training.  For those who don't know, during this exercise the moderator poses a general statement that you can either "Strongly Agree", "Agree", "Disagree", or "Strongly Disagree".  These were mainly about the benefits and drawbacks of using cooperative learning in the classroom.  At some point our district superintendent came into the room to observe.  One of the questions left me standing in a corner all on my own, which meant I would have to voice my opinion in front of the whole room.  The statement was about the noise level that is caused by cooperative learning.  I gave my opinion, stating that the noise level increases, but with proper procedures set in place... the noise doesn't have to be a distraction, but rather constructive and useful.  As I was making that statement I kept thinking that all of my answer has come from the training, the experiences, and my own inner understanding of a classroom.  And I couldn't believe it was coming out of my mouth.  When I was finished I looked up and noticed people's reaction and a nod from the superintendent.  :D

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