Category Archives: Edumacation

J-O-B

People of the Internets, there is big news around here at Casa Flamenco. Big news as in…wait for it…I got a new job! As if that wasn’t exciting all on its own, the job I speak of is a teaching job. Finally! After years of longing and preparation, the time has finally come.

I am teaching 6th grade Language Arts at a new school scheduled to open in just a few weeks. I am so thrilled to have this opportunity to work with students, and I’m thrilled to have found a placement at a school where the administration is very supportive of its teachers. My AP taught for this particular school management company (at a different site), and both she and the principal expressed their belief that I would make a good fit at the school.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be in training classes and working on lesson planning in preparation for the start of the school year. I’ve got lots of prepping to do, and I cannot wait to hit the ground running. Whoo-hoo!

Books, School, and GFCF Stuff

So, I had to put Middlemarch down for the time being. It’s not because I’m not enjoying the book; in fact, I was enjoying it a lot. The problem was that with my teacher certification classes (complete with lots of assignments), studying for certification exams,  and lots of busy days at work I wasn’t really able to give the novel the time and attention it deserves. But I will revisit George Eliot very soon. I am finally starting to like her, after all. I need to give that relationship the warm fuzzies it needs to endure.

Gosh, I am such a dork.

Anyway, I just picked up Wide Sargasso Sea yesterday, and it’s going well so far. I know what you’re thinking: “Well, if she doesn’t have much time to read for pleasure, why the hell did she pick up another book?” And that is a valid question, one for which I have a pretty good answer. I’m not trying to take anything away from Jean Rhys (the author) by saying this, but I don’t find Sargasso as demanding a text; therefore, I am able to read it without feeling like I’m sacrificing much time and effort. In other words, I’m approaching this book in a much more casual way than I did with Middlemarch. Does that make sense to anyone else besides me?

In other news, I passed the first of three certification exams I need to take in order to get my teaching certificate. I’m quite relieved. While I didn’t think the test was going to be too difficult, I still had a bit of nerves as test day approached. I’m glad I got over the first hurdle.

I have also started doing fieldwork in local schools, and I gotta say, I really love it. The kids are great, and I had a real “a-ha” moment on my first day of fieldwork. I looked around at the students and was taking in everything going on around me, and it occurred to me that the classroom is really where I belong. It was exhilirating and scary when that moment of recognition finally happened.

This blog has been seriously lacking in GFCF stuff, and I do apologize for that. There just hasn’t been much time; and we’ve really settled into a rhythm with feeding Zoe this way, so there hasn’t been much new to say. I do have some products to write about that we recently sampled, and I’ll try to get on that ASAP.

So Busy, I Forgot to Give This Post a Title

I finally finished The Social Contract about a day or two after my last post. And all I really care to say about the book at this point is, “So long, Jean-Jacques.” I struggle with understanding Newsweek’s decision to place this book on their meta-list, but at least that puts me in good company. Many people have taken issue with titles on that list. You really can’t please all of the people all of the time, and I’m okay with that.

Anyway, I’ve since moved on to George Eliot’s Middlemarch, and so far I’m really enjoying the book. Unfortunately, I’m unable to keep up with the pace I originally set for myself because I have so much HOMEWORK to do. Yes, you read correctly, I have homework. I started classes on Monday; to be more specific, I started courses for teacher certification. It’s an intensive program for folks like me who don’t have an educatio degree but want to teach. The program is completely in roughly seven months, at the end of which I should be ready to take my final certification exams to get my Professional Educator’s Certification. The courses are set up in modules, and currently I’m enrolled in courses is classroom management and education technology…plus I get to start doing observations in area schools. Exciting!

Not only that, but I have my job which is going very well. I’m still learning the ropes, but I think I’ve settled into a good routine, and I genuinely like the people I work with. That is always a bonus; no one likes working in a place where you can’t get along with colleagues. The folks I work with are very friendly and supportive, always willing to help out a newbie like me.

You Want Me to Read What?

One of my professors offered me a rather interesting and lofty challenge when I sought advice on how best to prepare myself for graduate study. We were sitting in his office, talking about my grad school aspirations, when I asked him for his suggestions. He folded his hands and placed them gently on his desk, leaned towards me, and simply said, “Read everything.”

Now just to clarify, I know he didn’t mean that I should actually read EVERYTHING. I dare say that Dr. G wouldn’t exactly congratulate me for reading all the Sweet Valley High books. I know he’s talking about those books that scholars would consider important books. You know, Literature. With a capital “L.” Okay, that’s all fine and good, but just how am I supposed to go about this task? Do I proceed chronologically? Geographically? Thematically? Stylistically?

When I graduated in December, I decided that I would get started on this task. And I read exactly three books in three months. That is not what I call making good progress. I realized my problem was too many options and not enough direction. It’s like being a kid in a candy store: with so many choices, it’s impossible to make a decision. I ended up wandering the aisles of Barnes and Noble with a glazed look in my eyes, mumbling to myself.

I needed to find a better way.

And that’s when it hit me that I should make a list. It’s the best way for me to get organized when I start a project. I made a list of the books I owned—both read and unread—and thought that would be a fine place to start. But then I realized that I wasn’t satisfied with simply reading the books in my collection. My collection doesn’t even come close to everything, not even by a long shot. I knew that there were many things my own book collection left to be desired, so that wasn’t going to do the trick. I decided that I would borrow someone else’s reading list as a jumping off point.

I consulted a Newsweek article, “Newsweek’s Top 100 Books: The Meta-List,” published June 29, 2009. Newsweek gathered titles from a variety of other book lists to make one, giant, mega…well, meta-list. Since I didn’t want to take on War and Peace immediately—it’s Number 1 on Newsweek’s list—I decided to use a randomizer to pick out the first title I would read. I know what you’re thinking: for someone who is approaching this endeavor so thoughtfully, it seems kind of random to choose a book that way. Well, all I can say is that I am a complicated woman. Don’t try to figure me out: many have tried, most have failed. As luck would have it, the first selection is a book I already own: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. Saves me another trip to the bookstore.

Here are my ground rules:

 I must read a MINIMUM of 50 pages per day. As an English major, that should be a piece of cake. The fact that I am currently studying for the GRE and the teacher certification exams is not an excuse.  

No Sparknotes or Wikipedia allowed. No offense, but I’ve always felt that consulting these sources is a form of cheating AND it deprives one of the sense of accomplishment that goes along with seeing something through to the end.

After I finish reading the book, I will post remarks within 48 hours of completion. That gives me time to ruminate a bit about what I’ve read, and it gives me a self-imposed deadline for sharing what I think about what I’ve read.

Not bad, right?

Faulkner’s work is 265 pages (my copy, which is by Vintage), including the editor’s notes, so that puts my ETA for finishing the novel at about 5 days; this means that my remarks will appear here in 7 days. Sounds like a plan!

Oh, I almost forgot: I have no idea what I will read once I make it through the meta-list. I’ll open the floor to suggested titles or other book lists to work with. I’m thinking the Newsweek list is going to take me a good long time, so I think I’ll leave those decisions for a much later date. Besides, the list I’m working with has some pretty intense titles on it: http://www.newsweek.com/id/204478/?q=/name:0/type:0/range:0/page:1. Go ahead, check it out.

It’s a Celebration

Zoe successfully made the transition from elementary school to middle school with virtually no drama at all. She had a day or two during that initial warming-up period where she had a bit of a meltdown (a very noisy gym made for a difficult session of P.E.), but it’s been a smooth transition for everyone involved. Before the switch to the new school took place, however, some much-needed partying was in order.

Yes, that is my daughter, getting her boogie on. She had a fantastic time at the party, which was held for all the fifth graders as their official send-off from elementary school. I made it to the party a bit late, and that was a real shame because I got several eyewitness accounts from teachers, parents, and students informing me that at one point Zoe jumped onto the stage and was dancing while all the kids were shouting “Go Zoe! Go Zoe!” Sadly, there is no photographic evidence to speak of, but this picture says it all…the girl was puttin’ on her “A” moves.

Here is Zoe and her BFF Kaitryn. The girls are in different schools this year, which meant that each of them was flying solo in a new school, but they remain very close. We’ve had several visits with Kaitryn and her family, which is really great. The girls have been thick as thieves since the end of the second grade so it was tough to see them separate; Zoe is glad she still has her BFF even if they aren’t in the same school together.

This milestone was, of course, bittersweet: it’s difficult to accept the fact that my little one has moved on and is growing into a young lady. At the same time, words cannot convey how much I marvel at Zoe’s accomplishments over the past several years. She is a fighter, and her commitment to never giving up on herself  is something I find truly amazing.

“Go Zoe! Go Zoe!”

You’re Not There

So I arrive on campus this morning, pretty pleased with myself because I actually did all my assigned reading for today, and I stroll into my first class. And when our 9:30 start time arrives and my faculty advisor walks in instead of my teacher I figure my professor is out sick for the day.

And then the advisor tells us that our professor will not be back. Because Dr. Morris died over the weekend.

And then I realize that I’m about to hear the same awful news in my next class, because he is the instructor in my next class too.

Dr. Morris was a lovely person; and he seemed far younger than his 83 years. He was still teaching into his eighties–it was what he loved to do. He had a brilliant mind and was well liked by all the students at the university, a university where the Professor had just commemorated 45 years of service.

Teachers come into our lives from the time we are young children, and we sometimes forget that they have lives that extend outside the classroom. It’s almost as if we think our teachers exist in some kind of vacuum, never to change, grow old, or die. I, for one, still have an image of my kindergarten teacher in my mind: she’s sort of preserved in that moment in my life. And in my naivete, I seem to ignore that she has grown and changed just as I have–just as all her students over the years have.

Many times we forget to thank them for the hard work they do and the personal sacrifices they make to serve as educators, mentors, advisors, and (sometimes) psychologists. Thank you, Dr. Morris. I’m sorry I didn’t have more time in your classroom, but I am grateful for the time I was able to benefit from your wisdom and knowledge.

Lots of Random Stuff

Oh, hello there. Today I looked at this blog and realized that the last time I posted on here was, oh, sometime in JUNE?!!! Naughty, naughty blogger. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write, but there’s just been so much happening around here lately that it’s hard to get myself to write about something. I just want to go on and ramble about all kinds of stuff. So, to shake the cobwebs off I thought I’d give a few brief updates about what’s going on at Casa Flamenco.

Zoe started middle school, and I’m proud to say that I didn’t cry. Go Flamenco Mom! And Zoe’s doing really well. She had a mini-meltdown in P.E. during the second week of school, but she’s been doing really well otherwise.

I submitted my application for my degree last week. Yes, the end is near! Sort of. But I am graduating in December. Next stop, graduate school!

We’ve tested out all the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Mixes, following the no-butter instructions available on the Betty Crocker website. What do I think of the mixes? Well, here’s a hint: if Betty Crocker were a real person, I’d kiss her full on the mouth as a show of my gratitude. I might even let her get to second base.

I booked our family vacation this week. We’re traveling in October–to Disneyworld. I know, it’s not what I would typically plan for our autumn trip–I usually like to take the family to someplace more remote, a la the woods. But we got a free 3-night stay at a resort in Orlando, so we figured it would be a good time to hit some theme parks. Besides, Ayden’s never been to the Magic Kingdom. I suppose it’s about time we took him: I think it may be a law that if you live in Florida, you must take your child to the House of Mickey at least once.