Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Blessings of Being a Teacher

I have taught High School now for two years. The funny thing is that I always swore to myself that I would NEVER, EVER, EVER EVER teach High School. I had some rough experiences in High School, struggled with some of my teachers, it just was not my most favorite experience- so I promised myself I would never go back to High School, to that kind of atmosphere. High School-ers also scared and intimidated me. I knew they were all going to be bigger than me, they would have attitude problems and hate being at school, so I asked myself, why would I want to work in an environment?! 

But still somehow I ended up teaching High School- to begin with more out of desperation than anything. I got home from my mission in January. When I got home, I got a job as a substitute teacher and began looking for a full time position for the next school year. However, despite all my searching I was not seeing anything that was really catching my attention, either it was too far away or a position that was not for me. However, one of my good friends from grad school knew I was looking for a job. She heard that there was a sudden opening and she asked me if I wanted her to pass my name on to the people interviewing. Within a day, they had called me. They told me that the position was for a resource special education teacher at one of the high schools in their district. For a second, I seriously thought about saying no, what about all the promises I had made to myself. Then the more logistical side of me took control and said you would be an idiot to turn down this opportunity, especially in this economy. You just don't say no when someone asks you interview for a position. I interviewed and the next day they called me and offered me the position. This may not seem like it was out of the ordinary but all this happened the week before school started, so the day they offered me the position, was two days before school started. The next day we had meetings and trainings so I actually didn't even get to see the school or my classroom until the day before school started. I somehow managed to at least get my classroom set up for the kids coming the next day. However, I still really didn't know what I was getting myself into or how to do High School. However, I have come to LOVE my job with ALL my heart. Here are the blessings I have come to see from being a teacher.

1. My kids: Although I am not a mother, I truly have come to view my students as "my kids". I worry about them and care for them. I come home with them on my mind, thinking about what I can do to help them, what they need and how to help them have a successful experience at school. I wake up with them on my mind, excited to see them, excited to teach, excited to see how their day is going, with ideas on what to do for specific students. I have come to know that the quote that says "no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care" is SO true. I have come to care so much for my kids because during my High School teaching career thus far, I have learned to push aside the fear that I had about what my kids would be like, them being bigger than me or having attitude problems and have tried to get to know them as a person, and do what I can to show them I care. A lot of these kids have no one to really stand up for them, support them or give them a second chance. I LOVE each day being able to teach them how to express what they need to their teachers, to their bosses etc.....I love being able to help general education teachers "catch the vision" by helping them see those students like I do and helping them think outside the box in how to help their students.

2. My team: Special education is a very collaborative adventure. There are eight teachers that teach special education at my school. We have a lot of the same students in our various classes. We collaborate on what we can do as a team to help those students we all have. Because we spend so much time together we have become very close. I have two best friends, but other than those friends, they are my closest friends. We have gone through so much together and I learn so much from each of their teaching and examples in their own lives that I truly am a better person for being able to work with them.

Basically, I have the best job ever! I won't lie, there are definitely days when I wonder what I've gotten myself into, but that's what makes the funny things my kids say, the moment when something finally clicks with them, spending time with my AWESOME team even more sweet and precious. I honestly can't imagine doing anything else!

Funny quote of the day: One of my students who usually really struggles, was having an AMAZING day, he was following directions, getting his work done, one of the other special education teachers came into my classroom to borrow something, while she was in my room, I told her what an amazing day this student was having and she said, "Way to go, you are a math tiger, roar!!" to which our student said,  "no, I more of a meow", it may or may not have taken me several minutes to recover from laughing so hard!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Best Trip Ever!!

I had the HUGE blessing of serving a mission in the New Hampshire, Manchester mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from August 2009-January 2011. Our mission covered 5 states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. The first area of my mission was West Port, New York. I served there for seven and a half months out of the eighteen months of my mission so it was a very important and special part of my mission. The first companion you have on a mission is called your trainer because they show you all the ropes of being a missionary. To this day, my trainer, Megan Swan, is one of my closest friends. Megan has been working back east for the past year and had the opportunity to go back and visit the mission. She invited me to come with her and we decided we would go back and visit West Port just for the weekend, since both of us needed to be back for work and school on Monday.

The adventure started on Thursday when I embarked on my journey back east. I arried with plenty of time at the Salt Lake City airport to fly to Washington DC and then would fly to Burlington, Vermont. Right as it was time to begin boarding our flight in Salt Lake, we were informed that there was awful weather in DC so there were no flight going in or coming out and thus our flight would be delayed for at least an hour and a half. Right off the bat, my stomach sank because my connection in DC was only an hour to begin with. I approached a representative at the desk and asked them what my realistic chances were of making my connection. They told me not to worry because all the flights going out were going to be delayed as well. I called home and asked my dad to monitor the flights while we were in the air to see what was going on. Finally, a good spot of weather opened up and we were able to take off. However, as we landed in DC, I found out that my flight had taken off about 10 minutes before our flight had landed. Luckily, my dad had managed to rebook me on a flight later that night. I called my companion and told her I was going to be much later than I had thought. I was originally supposed to land in Burlington at 7 and now it wasn't going to be until midnight. So, I found the gate we were supposed to leave from and stood in line to double check that I did have a spot on the flight. When they tried to pull up my information, it turned out that I had been booked on a flight in two days, not that night. This began about an hour and a half of phone tag with my dad and the united representative my dad had spoken to, me and the lady at the information desk. Eventually, everything got worked out and I was able to get on the flight that night. Again, right as we were about to start boarding, it starts pouring, thundering and lightening. They tell us that our flight will be delayed another hour, hour and a half. We don't hear anythign for quite a while. Then, at about 11:45 we discover that even though the weather has calmed down, there are now not enough crew members to be able to fly. Finally, after about another hour, they were able to find a flight attendant and finally were able to board at about 1:00 Friday morning. We landed in Burlington, VT at about 2:30. From the airport, it was a two hour drive to where we were staying. We finally pulled into the place where we were staying at 4:30 Friday morning. We literally just rolled into bed.

The next morning we went up to Montreal, Canada to go to the temple there and to see what Montreal is like. The Montreal temple was gorgeous and we really enjoyed the opportunity to visit. It was beautiful to hear both English and French. After we finished in the temple, we went to old town Montreal to tour. We spend a couple hours walking up and down the main street. We saw lots of street art and street performers. It was VERY European feel, and quickly became my new favorite city! After we crossed back over the border, we stopped in at the county fair where the daughter of the family we were staying with was competing in a talent show. We watched her perform, where she advanced to the finals the next day. After the talent show, we walked around the fair and ate lots of junky, delicious fair food.

Then on Saturday morning, we woke up and had a very delicious breakfast with the family we were staying with. AFter that, we drove all the way to very southern part of our area. It took us about an hour and a half to get there. From the very southern part of our area, we just started from the bottom and worked our way up, visiting people that we had taught as missionaries and members of the ward we had served in. As we were out and about visiting, it was very deja-vu-esque where we remembered where everything was, all the people we had talked to and various things that had happened in the places we were visiting. It was one of the funnest days ever, and it was SOOOOOOOOOOOO fun to see everyone again.

After Megan and I left the area while we were on our missions, the area actually ended up closing. The branch that met in Westport now meets with the ward in Middlebury, Vermont. This is about a two hour, $26 commute from West Port to get to church. We went to church with everyone and stayed for the ward's linger longer. After we had had some food and finished visiting with everyone, it was time for me to head back to the airport. I flew from Burlington, VT to Detroit, Michigan. From Detroit, I flew to Salt Lake. Everything went about a million times smoother than my trip out there until we tried to land in Salt Lake. As we were beginning our descent, a HUGE thunderstorm hit Salt Lake. There was lots of big lightening, VERY close to our plane, it was quite the experience. It took us about an hour to land. We began our initial decent, but then had to pull back up and circle back around and then try and land quite slowly again to let the thunderstorm run its course. But all was well, and everyone landed safe and sound and home in one piece.

Me and Megan at the Michies, where we stayed

Main Street in Old Town Montreal, where we had lunch

Cites from tour of Montreal
This past weekend was one of my fondest memories. I cannot convey the sweetness of the relationships that there is between a missionary and their investigators and ward members. They really are some of the people that I love the most! Having the opportunity to go back and visit and catch up with everyone, was one of the sweetest blessings of the opportunity I had to serve a mission.