and this is...


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ten for Ten… with Ten More on the Side

So I continue to await my official regional placement in Spain (fingers crossed for me finding out in the next two weeks even though the newsletter has rained on my parade with the announcement that we shall hear sometime in mid-May---I am remaining determinedly obtuse and still hoping for a miracle). I really just want the regional placement because that makes the decision final. It means that there is no turning back. It means that when I tell people that I am moving to Spain next year that there is actual truth behind my words, not just me claiming it to the Universe and praying for things to come together. *I would also like to pause for the cause and give myself a mental pat on the back—and I will go so far as to high-five myself—because I have actually been miraculously calm about it all and I have not once doubted my decision or questioned whether or not things would come together. It’s really been more of a when at this point. Faith-based superstar, yeah!!!*

So in the spirit of being all hyped for this next chapter, here are some lists of ten (kind of a mental check of my expectations in a cliché new way)

10 Things I’m Looking Forward to in Spain:

1.     Tapas
2.     Siesta-ing
3.     Becoming fluent in Spanish
4.     Learning to Flamenco
5.     Trying to survive an all-night botellon
6.     Semana Santa
7.     Carnival in Cadiz
8.     12 hour work weeks
9.     Sangria y cervecas…midday lol
10.  Travel potential—Hello, crappy RyanAir!!!!

I hear these botellon gatherings can go on until the sunrise...time to start to the nearest bar!!!

10 Things I Will Miss About the States:

1.     My people-- family, friends, her [you know who you are], my god-babies, and yes I will count my doggies in this one]
2.     Clothes dryers – I do not look forward to crunchy pants
3.     Sushi and Subs—How will I live?!
4.     A car—I have never been known as “The Girl That Walked”
5.     Sunday Funday, Group Therapy Tuesdays, Wine Down Wednesdays, Random Family Cookouts/Crab Boils/Recovery Days, Cabin Trips---basically all the excuses that my friends come up with to see each other throughout the week and toss back a few
6.     Carpet
7.     Movies in English—Even if I knew Spanish better, I couldn’t imagine myself enjoying dubbed films.
8.     Eavesdropping—I will have to actually put in effort to be nosey.
9.     Theatre—Again, my Spanish is not such that I could see myself on too many stages
10.  Baked Goods—In my best Bernie Mac voice: “Where da cookies and shit?!”

C'mon...I mean...Really...Admit it...This group looks something like amazing...

10 Places I Must Visit Before Leaving Europe
1.     UK—London, Ireland, Scotland
2.     Prague, Czech Republic
3.     Poland- Aushwitz and Birkenau camps to lay flowers
4.     Paris and Nice, France
5.     Milan and Venice, Italy
6.     Lisbon, Portugal
7.     Amsterdam, Netherlands
8.     Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
9.     Vienna, Austria
10.  Mykonos, Greece

So, lots to do and so little time… I’m just itching to get my short little tail on that plane and fly off into something stellar. But I acknowledge the bitter-sweetness of it all and am trying so hard not to worry overmuch about everything that I am leaving behind….*le sigh*

I guess it’s true what they say: It’s never as sweet without the sour.

Any great travel plans on the horizon? Do share!

Hasta Pronto!!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

DC Days...Teach Me Patience...

This past week, myself and three other teachers took a group of 32 students to Washington, DC on a 4-day field trip.

The Washington Memorial

Now…let’s recap here. I teach 7th grade Language Arts at a primarily African-American, economically challenged middle school. Most of my students had never been to the nation’s capitol before. Several were the first in their families to go. And a few were leaving the perimeter of Atlanta, GA for the first time in their lives. To say that the trip was a bit emotional would be a gross understatement.

We visited the usual sites like the Mall of Memorials, Arlington Cemetery and Union Station. But we were also sure to include places like the Holocaust Memorial, Frederick Douglass’s House and Madame Tussuad’s. Overall, it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

Getting ready to see Frederick Douglass's home--it was amazing!

Douglass's house--dope by even today's standards

Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Now for the honest part! (The other part was honest but there were more feelings than merely proud).

Let me begin this tirade by saying…I hate adults!!! Yes. This is extremely backwards. Most people bitch and gripe about the children and how frustrating they can be. But that isn’t what makes me hate my job. When a dumb ass 12 year old starts acting like a dumb ass 12 year old, I think to myself, ”Hmmm…that seems about right…because they ARE a dumb ass 12 year old.” This I can rationalize. This I can handle.

But when grown ups act like dumb ass 12 year olds, I’m pretty much guaranteed to lose my mind! The teachers on this trip were utterly ridiculous. Having students wait for hours on the bus while they shopped for souvenirs. Cancelling excursions that the kids had been looking forward to in lieu of what they wanted to do themselves (see: going back to the hotel for a nap). By the end of the trip I can confidently say that everyone was feeling my wrath. A few people escaped a scathing cuss out due to the close proximity of children, but all were not so lucky.

I was beyond livid. I mean I was seeing everything in shades of red and refusing to even be so much a civil by the end of the trip.

While teaching was not my first choice of careers, I still take what I do very seriously. I love my students. Yes, I imagine myself strangling them for most of each day, but I still really want to impact them and I really do love them. For the span of one year, they are my babies. I have exactly one year to prepare them for a world that will be outside of my influence for the rest of their lives. I take this job to heart. And it really gets under my skin when I deal with people who don't understand how precious that is.

Think of it this way (note to my fellow auxiliares that may not plan to be career educators and especially those that do): If a student sits in front of you for an entire year and they are angry, hurting, neglected, or under-challenged and you do not care, act, or even notice, and that kid later becomes depressed, homeless, non-productive or even abusive/suicidal/homicidal, then you must acknowledge that this is partially your fault. I do stress partially. But there was a moment, somewhere in that year, where you had an opportunity. An opportunity to care, act, and notice. 

Lincoln Memorial

Arlington Cemetery--this was the first time that being in a cemetery didn't make me want to hurl lol

So the lesson I have learned that I hope to apply to Spain: Travel in small groups. Make sure that those you travel with have the same goals in mind or at least are willing to not infringe on your travel plans. Have an exit strategy if things start to get aggravating. Remember at all times, no matter that you are not the lead teacher, to care, act, and notice the children that you work with.

Either way… I survived and thanks to some amazing kids, I will be leaving American public schools with some beautiful memories.

Anyone else with a travel horror story laced with a happy ending?