Day #17 – My Job

I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating.  I could not have written a better job description for myself because I did not know such a job existed.  There are the obvious reasons to love it; part time, no grading, no parent conferences, no testing.  It is teaching in its purest form.

I wear several hats at work.  I am one of the teacher sponsors for our GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) club.  It is amazing to see the interest and enthusiasm from our girls as they listen to women speakers from STEM careers or as they approach an engineering challenge.  I am also our Get2Green representative.  This means that I am making efforts to “green” up our school.  So far, this has been in the form of getting a grant to support our food “rescue” program, teaching recycling lessons to the K-4 kids, and getting our school involved in Terracycling which is an “upcycling” program – our used glue sticks eventually become rubber benches and trash cans.  The county identifies me as a Title I math resource teacher which means that I have been to some really informative classes on math instruction.  If I ever go back into the gen ed classroom, I am going to have so many tools in my toolkit.  This year I am taking a course on Cognitively Guided instruction.  Basically this means that I am getting a lot of insight into how kids think which is not necessarily how we are teaching.  I am excited to partner up with a first grade teacher this month to put these methods into use.

None of those are my primary job or passion though.  Mainly I teach in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) lab.  As a simple explanation, I would say that we generally take an engineering focus and incorporate science, technology and math.  I work with grades K-5 this year.  Somehow my schedule both years has precluded me from working with 6th grade – a mixed blessing, I think.  I share the lab with our school’s Advanced Academics resource teacher and our School Based Technology specialist as well as a lot of animals – Christopher (guinea pig), Remy (rat), Oscar (leopard gecko), Bandit (snake), 4 fish tanks, 3 hermit crabs, a tank full of madagascar hissing cockroaches, and assorted plants.  For many of our students, this is their first exposure to these kinds of pets.  It doesn’t matter what grade level is in the room, when I get the snake out, they are SO psyched.

This year we have been focusing heavily on the engineering design cycle with the upper grades.  We give them a challenge like “given a set of materials, build a tower, at least 18 inches tall, that can hold a tennis ball and withstand windy conditions”.  This kind of divergent, open-ended thinking means that everyone has the potential to shine.  We see moments of greatness from kids who might not usually experience that level of success in the conventional classroom setting.  We see the students full of wonder and questioning why and how things work.  With the younger kids we have been exploring simpler concepts like how shadows are made or how fog is formed followed up by an art based project or science experiment.  Even our youngest K classes will be tackling engineering challenges based on this year’s theme of weather.  This job stretches my thinking and creativity and is rewarding in so so many ways.  For that I am incredibly grateful.




Stranger Than Fiction

I wasn’t going to write anything tonight because frankly I am tired.  But my mind is spinning with thoughts so I decided that this might be a good way to slow the old thinker down.  I had a GREAT day.  I worked with different groups of first, second and fourth graders on assorted activities.  All of the kids were engaged and excited about what they were doing.  The first graders brainstormed what they are going to teach their peers about recycling and Terracycling based on a lesson I did with them last week.  They are so excited to be the “experts”.  I worked on observation skills with two very different groups of second graders who were equally insightful and amazing.  I taught a lesson on the design cycle to the fourth graders all while holding Sandy, the corn snake.  The kids amazed me with their designs, teamwork, enthusiasm and focus.  I also wrote my first grant application.  Fingers crossed that they will pick my application and give the school some money!  Tonight when I got home, I sat down and reflected on a professional development book that the resource team is reading.  I made a mind map that reminded me of the fun GUIs from the movie Stranger Than Fiction. Professionally and intellectually, I would give today an A+.

Dave had a very different day.  He spent the day getting treatment #12 of his Folfiri and Ramucirumab combo.  When he entered the infusion suite and sat down in his chair, he thought at first that there was a young boy sitting in the chair next to him.  It turned out to be a very tiny, frail woman.  Dave said her hair was very very short, and she had a blanket pulled all the way up to her bruised sunken eyes.  Over the course of the day, he got to talking to her as seems to happen when you are sharing the same pod for many hours.  He found her to be the most positive and uplifting person.  What a stark contrast to the lively, healthy children by whom I was surrounded today.

Dave was exhausted when he got home tonight.  He stayed awake long enough to eat dinner and then headed back to bed.  During that brief time, we shared about our days.  A crazy disparity.



Because There is More to Life

ImageIt has been a busy but rewarding week around the Tremaine residence.  We are slowly adjusting to life with a puppy in the house.  Cupcake has stopped looking at me like “Why did you do this to me?” and started to play with and enjoy Winston.  There WAS an incident on Tuesday during a walk when someone accidentally peed on someone else’s head, but Winston doesn’t want to talk about it.  On a happier note, he is becoming somewhat of a celebrity around the court.  Our cute-as- can-be neighbor, Jack, requested that his birthday cake have a train AND Winston on it.  And his awesome mom honored his request.  Can’t wait to see pictures of the cake on which Winston is driving the train.

ImageParker treated us all to a yummy dinner on Wednesday.  She poured over cookbooks all afternoon and made her shopping list.  Then I took her to the store to get ingredients and helped her with the less fun jobs like cutting up the raw chicken.  We all declared her meal a big success – you can’t really go wrong with fruit dipped in chocolate!

I also have big news this week.  I accepted a new job.  I am going to be a part-time resource teacher in my school’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) lab.  I could not have dreamed up a more perfect job, and I am so thankful to my friend and boss, Ann, for thinking that I would be the right person for this opportunity.

To quote a line from one of my favorite movies, “My cup runneth over.”