Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's the End of the World As We Know It

I finished my first year of teaching May 18th.  I succeeded in surviving living in the longest and harshest winter this region of Alaska has seen in a long time.

End of the School Year Excitement
  • ABC Days: The last two weeks of school were celebrated in style in my classroom.  I took an idea from TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) of making each day have specific themes.  For example we had ice cream day, bubble day, and even luau day.  Everything we did in class had something to do with the themes of the day.  For the most part the kids loved the novelty of the days.  Each day they’d ask me what the next day would be as they walked out the door. 

  • Field Day: My school celebrated the last week of school with an afternoon of fun and crazy games.  Freethrow contests, balloon relay races, and egg tosses were just a few of the events.  The kids had never done this before.  This shocked me because where I’m from that’s the one day of the year most kids are looking forward to.  Our afternoon ended with the teachers all grabbing an egg and “tossing” it into the group.  It’s always great when the kids can have fun.  The teachers had a bit of fun working the event too.
  • Graduation:  Thursday night was graduation for our school.  We had 3 students graduate, one who graduated in the 4 years he was a high school student.  As surprising as it sounds it was quite moving.  I cried when they walked in during processional, and during the presentation of parents.  In our village it’s customary for the students to take a moment and recognize their parents in the process of getting them to this point of their life.  They walk out into the crowd with bouquets of flowers.  Parents give hugs that last lifetimes and cause a grown woman of 23 to begin crying.  It just reminded me of how far these kids have come since I first met them in August. 
  • Last Day of School:  The last day of school was a relatively calm and quiet one.  We made it a very fun and easy day of movies, cleaning the classroom, and spending the rest of the classroom economy money.  Had lunch with my kids and then sent them out into summer.  It was unreal to know that my first year of teaching is over.  I spent the rest of the day and following weekend packing up and cleaning my house and classroom.

Reflection Questions
1.     What was it like?
Crazy, fun, intense, hard, eye opening, terrifying.  There are so many ways to describe my experiences up here, ones I can’t even put into words.  I must say it was quite the adventure.
2.     Best Memory?
The random moments I would catch myself thinking, “YOU ARE LIVING AND TEACHING IN ALASKA!!!”   More specific memories?  When my students would make connections between what I’d been teaching to the world around them.  Example, I had a student come to me before class started and was SOO excited that her favorite movie Happy Feet 2  used the word food chain.  We’d been studying animal relstionships for quite some time and for her to make that text to world connection BLEW MY MIND!
3.     Hardest Challenge?
Behavior.  Isolation.  Frustration.  Anxiety.  Distance.

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