In my classroom this week: Good news!

This week was a short one, but it felt oh. so.  l   o     n       g. Most schools in New York had this week off for their “February recess” or what-have-you; we had it back when I was in high school. However, my current school only had two days off, and I think this is because we get a full two weeks off for spring break every year, whereas all of those other schools don’t.

We had Monday off for Presidents’ Day and then Tuesday was dedicated to professional development; overall it was a great PD day. We had a child psychologist come in and talk about recognizing the signs of ADHD and how to teach students with ADHD. Then we watched a really great documentary about bullying called Reject which made me kind of emotional; hearing these families and friends of victims of bullying talking about their unfortunate experiences was difficult. I started thinking about the possibilities of any of my students or even my own future kids being bullied to the point of hurting themselves and/or others. Let’s squash bullying!

On Wednesday, I reviewed Circles with my Algebra I class, continued systems of linear inequalities with Algebra II, and continued working with money in Math in Everyday Life (MIEL). That afternoon, my group of advisees and I went to read to a group of elementary school students from our school system. It was cute watching my five junior boys reading to pairs of 4th and 5th graders. It really shows their character when they get to work with younger kids; it takes down their “I want to be treated like an adult while still acting like a kid” and “I’m too cool for everything except basketball” walls and replaces them with enthusiasm and sincerity. They get to be like cool older brothers for 20 minutes, without the real-life responsibilities of older brothers.

After work, I got to hang out with one of my co-workers whilst checking out a venue for our all-faculty end-of-the-year party. It was great getting to talk for a couple hours, chatting about our pasts, presents, and futures. However, by the end of the night, I could tell that my voice was starting to get weak from talking all day at school and then talking over the music at the venue.

When I got home, Tom noticed that my voice was a bit raspy, but I figured it would be fine after a night’s sleep. Thursday, I introduced word problems for systems of inequalities in Algebra II and continued with money in MIEL. My voice started out okay but progressively got worse. By the time I got home, my voice was super raspy and squeaky, cutting out every other word. And trying to speak with inflection? Forget it.

And Friday, I had no voice. I started out the day whispering. It was great because it really made them stop and listen to what I was asking or telling them. It was also funny because I found that students ended up talking very quietly, even to the point of whispering, because I was unable to talk so they followed suit. I told them they could talk normally, but they still were weirdly quiet.

I had the help of Read&Write for Google, an extension that can be used for text-to-speech on Google Docs. It’s also good for speech-to-text, translating to and from different languages, defining and suggesting words while writing, among other things. My  MIEL students got a kick out of it, asking me to change the voice of the computer, to type their names so they could hear them on the speakers, and wanting to hear my message in different languages.

I was supposed to lead the lesson in Chemistry, but I wasn’t able to because I had no voice. After lunch, my advisees along with 2 other advisories got together and made posters for a food drive we are running at school. This coming up week, we will be collecting goods to donate to a local food pantry or soup kitchen to supplement our volunteer work at the FoodBankNYC. My last class of the day, Algebra I, took their Circles test. And then it was Friday afternoon and I was going home to relax the weekend away!

Although out of order chronologically, I had my supervisory meeting Friday morning, and this is where the good news from the title comes in. I know there is a bit of anxiety among teachers at my school because “contract season” is upon us. April is the time when people are either offered a contract to teach next year or are politely (and with difficulty) excused.

Private schools don’t have tenure, so even after three or five or ten years, your job is still not entirely secure. This is actually a great thing because this keeps teachers much more accountable (education buzzword!) than those in public schools who are protected from losing their job that they totally suck at. They might get lazy knowing that they can do [practically] no wrong in terms of their ability to teach their subject.

Good news though: she said there is absolutely no doubt that I will be given a contract to teach again next year! When I acted somewhat surprised and extremely happy, she asked if there was any indication that I wouldn’t be offered the position again for next year.

Well, I mean, I think I’ve done well since starting in September. I think I have good rapport with students and coworkers. I absolutely love my job. However, I’m “only a teacher” and I don’t have the power to make contractual decisions on behalf of myself. In the realm of teaching, you just never know. So as long as I don’t do something royally stupid between now and June, I have a job next year!

Back to school, back to school…

I’ve been seeing everyone’s pictures of their children’s first days of school lately. Well, tomorrow is the first *official* day of classes at my school, and I’m pumped. But I won’t be posting a “first day as a ‘real’ teacher” picture of myself tomorrow.

Instead, I’ll post a few of my “first day” pictures from my own childhood! Even better!

Fun flashbacks! Anyway, the last 2 weeks have been filled with meetings and orientations of all sorts. Technology. New policies. HR info. You name it.

This week, we finally got to meet/see the students, starting with parent-student-teacher meetings on Monday. I was nervous, but everything went really well and I learned a lot about my students whom I’ll be advising this year. Then yesterday and today were orientation days for students, so they came to school during regular hours but they didn’t have classes.

I haven’t been too anxious so far, except for this morning when I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep because my heart was racing, my stomach was knotting, and thoughts about myself as an incompetent and terrible teacher kept running through my head. I ended up laying in bed for an extra 2 hours before finally giving in and getting up half an hour before my alarm (which was originally set for 6).

Sigh. So needless to say, I’m pooped today. But I am excited to finally start teaching tomorrow! Plus it’s nice that we only have 2 days left this week, so it should be a smooth two days.

My room still looks pretty bare because only 2 of my 8 posters have been delivered. My advisory students want a plant in the room to spruce it up and I couldn’t agree more! They also named a couple other things they would like…more posters (on the way!) and a small basketball hoop to put near the recycling bin. I’m going to look into stuff maybe tomorrow or just wait until the weekend.

Or I’ll make sure they meet my demands and can be responsible and respectful teenage boys before meeting any of their demands. We’ll see.

But I’m prepared for the next couple days and have a rough timeline set for what I want to cover next week. And I have stickers, so obviously it’s all good.

Wedding Update: 2 months left!

Okay, can time just speed up now?? It’s so cliche but where has the time gone?! We’ve been engaged for almost 10 months already?!

But at the same time, it feels like it was forever ago. Does that make sense? Probs nobs.

Does anyone else say that? I said that to Tom last night and he was like, “Who says that? And what does that even mean?”

I say it, and it means probably not. Only it’s more e-fish. Get it? Like, efficient? Anyone? No? Alright, let’s move on.

So the past week and a half was crazy insane.

Like seriously. This post includes not only wedding updates, but also life updates because, well, it’s my blog and I do what I want. Are you ready?

Last weekend, I wrote about my progress with invitations. I’m glad to say that I’m 99% done (there are a few stragglers that Tom needs to find addresses for) and have sent out any and all invitations that I could! I put the majority of them in the mail on Sunday the 8th (the day after I wrote my 10 week update post on our wedding website) and have already gotten a bunch of response cards back!

Instagram - invitations

I’m using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of responses as they come. I made a column of all the people we invited, and then made columns for the downstate and upstate festivities, under which I will write the names of people in relation to how they responded. So I’m keeping track of who has responded, how they responded to each event, and also how many are coming. Exciting stuff! Yeah!

The next day, Monday, I accepted a teaching job for next school year! I’ll be the newest addition to the math and science crew at Mary McDowell Friends Upper School here in Brooklyn and I couldn’t be more excited! I worked there this past year as a paraprofessional, employed by a family whose student attends the school. I’m ecstatic that I get to work with (almost) everyone again this year, only as a teacher this time! I’m sad to see people go, but wish them all the best in their amazing future endeavors (one guy is going to Malaysia to teach math!) and know they’ll kick butt wherever they are.

Tuesday was a ‘no school’ day so I spent the day cleaning and relaxing. Wednesday was the last official day of school for my student, and it was a half day, so I got to chill a bit that day too. I went and got a spray tan so that I wouldn’t blend in with my ivory colored bridal shower dress. Although they were two different dresses, both of my shower dresses were similarly pale and would not mesh well with my pastiness.

Shower Dresses

Thursday I got my hair colored and blown out. I’m telling you, I would love it if those girls would wash my hair and massage my scalp like that every other day. It feels amazing! And the stylist was able to get my hair straight and swishy! Please come home with me!

Friday was flight day, so I spent the morning packing and getting ready to fly upstate for the weekend. I hadn’t heard anything bad in weather reports, so I left for the airport around 2 so that I would arrive about 75 minutes before my scheduled flight time. Everything was going smoothly – the subway was on time and connection times weren’t long, and I got to the AirTrain in great time.

And that’s when Delta emailed me saying that my flight was delayed an hour. I texted my friend in Boston, Michelle, since we were originally flying in to Buffalo around the same time, and I also texted my friend in Buffalo, Courtney, to let her know since she was picking us up. Michelle said her flight was cancelled and wouldn’t be getting out until the next morning. We discussed what it could be due to – both of us were looking at fairly clear skies!

I got to JFK and my flight was still only delayed an hour which was good. I got my bag checked and, wouldn’t you know it, when I walk out of security and check the departures board, my flight was cancelled. Delta kindly sent me an email letting me know that everything was good and they rebooked me for a 4pm flight the following afternoon.

Oh hell no Felicia Day

Little did they know, that would not work seeing as my bridal shower was at 1pm the following afternoon. So I stood in line for over an hour and the agent was able to rebook me for the 8am flight the following morning. She was really kind and wished me congratulations and good luck on my bridal shower.

Back home I went, this time only with my small carry-on, which was convenient but also meant that all of my beauty products were somewhere in the airport instead of at my fingertips. This meant that I would look like a bag lady until I got said products and the use of someone’s bathroom mirror and outlets upstate. And I was worried that something would happen that would cause my luggage to be lost, and then I’d look like a bag lady all weekend. Nonetheless, back on the AirTrain and subway I went, annoyed but sure everything would work out fine.

Except it was lashing rain when I got out of the subway. Thunder, lightning, the whole shebang. Luckily, in said carry-on, I had my umbrella. Okay, I guess it was a good thing we didn’t try to fly.

The next morning, when I went to leave at 4:30am to go through the whole process again, my sneakers were still wet; not pleasant. Everything went fine and before I knew it, I was landing in Buffalo…where it was about 20 degrees colder than I had packed for. My checked bag made it there fine and, wouldn’t you know, Michelle’s flight was only about half an hour ahead of mine! So it all worked out perfectly!

We got to Batavia in record time, enjoying some TimBits and caffeine on the way, and I was (finally!) able to beautify myself. The entire day was party day – bridal shower, lingerie shopping (oh la la!), and bachelorette party. It was so great seeing all of my friends and family! I want to thank all the ladies who planned and attended my bridal shower this past weekend – it was a fabulous time and I can’t begin to tell you how special I felt. I’ll be writing a post about it soon so stay tuned!

Bridal party

Sunday was relax by the pool day with my friend Jenna whose family generously opened their home to me all weekend. I’m so glad we got a nice sunny day to enjoy! Monday was spent visiting my mom and Godmother before I had to take off once again. My friend Becky drove me to the airport and we got to talk like we used to in college, just shooting the breeze…figuratively and literally since the AC doesn’t work in her car and it was like 84 that day, so the windows were all down! My car was the same exact way a few years ago so it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.

My flight home was very smooth and it was so nice to get home and finally not live out of a suitcase! And, of course, see and hug and talk to Tom! I am so grateful that I was able to see and spend time with so many wonderful people this weekend. I miss that so much and I know that it will probably only get harder as everyone gets married and starts having kids and whatnot, but I want to make a point to get together at least once or twice a year because those relationships are so important!

Halfway There

So I have not written a post in a couple of weeks. I have a good reason, I promise. Just hear me out!

I started graduate school this past January at Teachers College, Columbia University. And just an hour ago I finished my last final for the semester. I survived a semester of graduate school in New York City!

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I had planned on getting my degree next May. However, 2 weeks ago, I realized something. I am only 1 credit shy of being halfway done with my Masters requirements. What the what?! After crunching and re-crunching the numbers, reading and rereading the requirements, I spoke with my advisor just to make sure I was not overlooking something. Sure enough he confirmed that this is more than doable.

I kid you not, the clouds opened, the angels sang, and God said, “Holliday, you shall finish in December.” So that’s what I plan to do.

How awesome will it be to save a whole semester worth of housing and credits and the God-forsaken ‘College fee’ that is mandatory but no one knows what it is used for. Oh, maybe to supply us with those goofy ‘Student Senate’ plastic Ray-Ban wannabes. And our 20 “free” printed pages per week.

Anyways, so saving money will be fantastic. Except then reality hit:

“I will be done in December. That means I have to be an adult that much sooner. I will need somewhere to live. I will need a job to support myself. Not to mention, student loans will kick in that much sooner. Gah, what did I get myself into?!”

But, in all honesty, I am excited to see what will happen. I am over the moon that I get to start my “real-world” life sooner. I have been exploring careers outside of the typical ‘math teacher’ realm; coming to TC has really opened my eyes to the possibilities outside of the classroom.

funny_math_teacher_womens_light_tshirt

I am not completely abandoning the idea of becoming a classroom teacher (especially because I totally want that shirt!), but it is exciting what new and improving technology is creating in terms of jobs and experiences.

So the point of this post was:

1.  To apologize for not posting in awhile. I’ve been a good girl, telling myself that instead of writing a blog post I should be studying and doing homework.

2.  To let out some built-up fear and excitement for the future.

3.  To share this journey and hopefully help others who may be going through or will go through similar situations and may have similar decisions to make.

So what are your thoughts? Any ideas about what future endeavors a Masters in Mathematics Education could possibly explore? What do you hope to do by the end of this year?