Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I am a Learner

I teach seminary. I teach little girls to dance. I teach adults to dance (sort-of). I teach special needs students social/job/life skills. But I wanted to title today's post "I am a Learner" because no matter how long we teach something, we can always be learning how to do it better. Yesterday I did a lot of learning about teaching. I was observed teaching seminary by the area director (who happens to be one of our best friends in Texas), I was unknowingly observed teaching PreBallet by my director and by parents, I was obeserved teaching my 2 adult classes by the adults themselves (they can form their own opinions about what is and is not a good class), and I tried to observe myself teaching the special ed kids at Central.  You'd think that would be overwhelming and stressful. Many of those situations had potenial to result in stress or frustration. I am so happy that they all ended positively - not exactly because I was given gold stars on all accounts, but because I was able to accept what I leared with a positive attitude. I feel motivated, encouraged, determined to keep improving, and happy to be a teacher of so many different kinds of people.

When are you a learner? How do you make sure that you keep growing and improving?

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Bret is 1/8 of the way through his clinical. We are 1/8 of the way through our long-distance relationship. I am 1/16 of the way through the semester. Woo! Woo! We can do it.

I hated not having him here this week. I am so bad at being alone. But I can't stop thinking how blessed we are that we can see each other every weekend. Having many milirary friends and others in our ward whose husbands are employed elsewhere while they try to sell their homes has made me remember that I shouldn't complain because our situation really isn't all that bad. But that doesn't mean it isn't challenging for us to be apart.

Bret came home around 9:00 on Friday night. We spend the whole weekend doing lots of nothing and loving every minute of it. We really just sat around and enjoyed being together. It felt like we were on vacation. Finally yesterday we decided we had spent a little too much time vegging inside but it was too hot to do anything outside so we had our first bowling adventure in San Angelo. The alley was alright - quite old and not without its quirks, but we had a great time. Then we made some dessert together. Today we relaxed some more and went to stake conference. It was a wonderful meeting and I was so glad we could be there together.

After a yummy dinner, we had to say goodbye again. It wasn't any easier the second week. BUT we are counting down the days until Friday when I get to go to San Antonio for a 3-day weekend with him. We're planning to go to the temple, treat the Liveseys to pizza and a movie, and find some other fun things to do together.

I guess that the saying "distance makes the heart grow fonder" must be true, because I'm realizing that no matter how wonderful, fun, successful, and exciting my life is, it simply can't live up to hanging out with my husband. Bret - thank you for the most fun weekend we've had in a long time. 5 more days, baby!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tender Mercies

Today in the window of time between seminary ending and school starting I decided to list the tender mercies & blessings I've experienced this week. The list was extensive. I wouldn't know where to begin turning them into a blog post (or posts). I am grateful that of the millions and millions of people on this earth (and in worlds without number!) that God has taken the time to be my personal Heavenly Father by giving me timely blessings and feelings of peace. I love Him and am so happy to be a little part of His work: bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

What Tender Mercies have you recieved this week?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Convocation and Meetings

Tuesday we had Convocation, which is the opening "Hoorah" for all the school district employees. We had some musical performances by students and former students, introduced all the schools and "groups" like custodians, technology, etc. Then former American Idol participant Scott MacSomething (I can't remember his last name) spoke and played the piano. It was pretty inspirational.

After that, I was supposed to teach an inservice to all the Elementary PE teachers on how to incorporate dance into their classes. I was super nervous but really excited. It was supposed to start at 1:00. I wanted to get there early to set up, but not a soul was on the campus. Everything was locked and I had a feeling everyone was still out getting lunch after Convocation. I didn't want to sit outside without AC so I drove over to the ballet to wait 20 minutes. I got back to the school aroun 12:40 and now the only person there was another inservice teacher (she does all the technology trainigs for the district). We waited and chatted until 12:58 when the bus pulled up with all the Fort Concho Elementary people on it. I quickly started asking people where I was supposed to be, if I could use their copy machine, how many PE teachers were coming, etc... and through asking these questions discovered that the PE teachers were told to go to another campus for training. YIKES! We found the principal, the awesom pro-arts lady who asked me to come teach this in the first place, and she said, "Oh no, didn't you get my email this morning?! I talked to the person in charge of the PE teachers this morning and somehow they didn't know you were coming so they made plans to meet and talk about something else."

I was so disappointed. She was awesome and it totally wasn't her fault - the PE people hadn't understood what she had discussed with them or were flaky or something. She feels really strongly about using dance as a teaching tool and is determined to have me work with them (or maybe even academic teachers in the future) sometime, but at the moment I was so nervous/excited that it was a pretty big let-down.

The good news is that this mistake (or tender mercy) cleared up my schedule so that I could attend the Special Ed training where I was really supposed to be. It turns out that they asked Ashley to come as a guest speaker. She kept it a secret and I had just found out earlier that morning, so I was really glad to make it and hear her speak. She was AWESOME. She has a really hard time writing - she can never think of what to say has a really hard time elaborating. We tried to work on it last year, but its just hard for her to use a lot of words in her writing when she usually doesn't speak at all. Well, she wrote this speech entirely by herself that was witty, moving and well-organized. She had the whole thing typed into her dynavox so she could wheel up to the front, push play, and just smile at everyone. People were so touched. I was so proud!! It was fun to chat with her for a few minutes and give her a big hug. How's that for a good ending to a bad afternoon?!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to School

On Monday the staff and faculty of the school district went back to work. At least I get to ease back into work, rather than starting SAISD, SACB, and Seminary all on the same day! I'm at a new campus (Central High School in stead of Lake View) but I'll hardly ever be on campus. I will spend the first two class periods on a job-site with a special needs student, then I'll spend the rest of the day at Howard College with Ashley. I'm excited to be with her again. It will be interesting to see how things play out though because she is going to be much more independent and I will have lots of sitting time while I'm there. I won't be IN her college classes with her, but will be outside the classroom incase she needs any personal assistance. They have a note-taker all set up for her and she will be expected to everything else on her own.  Then after class we'll spend the rest of the afternoon studying, applying for jobs (until she gets a job, at which time I can "help" her with that), doing recreational/leisure activities in the community, etc. She may say, "I want to go to this study group" or "I'm going to go hang out with some friends in the cafeteria and then take TRANSA home." All of this is encouraged, so the less I have to do, the better. That worries me just a little because I know I'm going to feel guilty just sitting there, not being useful, but I have to remember that IS my job. After we assess how things are going and she feels comfortable with less assistance I might be pulled some of the time to help with other students on job sites.  As much as I'm dreading being bored, I think I will be able to get a lot of lesson planning done (for Modern, Jazz, Seminary, and for my Outreach Grant)! I guess that's a bonus.

Well, I'm supposed to be here for about 45 more minutes, but I am an aide which means I have no classroom to set up, no rolls to prepare, etc. I have done all the work that everyone has asked my help with and now I'm going to find a way to kill 30 more minutes and then meander over to my car :)  So I guess this post could be re-titled, "The Pros and Cons of Being an Aide". Pros - not as much to do. Cons - not as much to do. Interesting.

Friday, August 5, 2011

To Do Lists (and how not to do them)

Blogs are good for a lot of things... including procrastination. I'm usually pretty disciplined about it. But when I want an excuse to sit on my patootie the blog is a perfect solution for that.

On my list of things to do today: print and mail seminary opening social invitations. I have been waiting to do this until I asked the seminary/institute director about it. The prior seminary teacher in our area help a meeting the night before school started to get parents and students on the same page about seminary so I thought it was what I was supposed to do. I've got it all planned out and invitations all typed up and designed the way I want... and now I've been told that I need to okay it with all the bishops and ask them to speak and so forth. I don't have a problem with that, but I feel like it makes everything so much more complicated to make 3 busy men do what I have already prepared. Hopefully it won't really be that complex to get it approved and have one or two of them speak... I just hate when I can't make things happen because I have to wait for things to go past a handful of other people. I thought I was ahead of the game but now I wish I had brought this up two weeks ago. Oh well. No check mark on one.

On a less stressful note, some of you know that in April we received a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts for me to draft a curriculum that integrates dance with some portion of the TEKS (Texas Educational Knowledge and Skills or something like that - basically the state's core curriculum that they test on). I have a cooperating elementary school teacher and together we have chosen to integrate dance into 3rd grade science. I will do all the lesson planning and she will occasionally give some academic guidance and make sure the science curriculum is correct. On Tuesday I had to present this curriculum idea before a board of school district and community members. I was nervous but it went really well and people LOVE LOVE LOVED the idea of dance being an educational teaching tool. (Wahoo!!!) They were so compelled by the idea that they asked me to come to a science summer camp for gifted/talented students they were putting on and help a handful of students do their final project as a dance piece that represents what they learned.  (We figured it would be a great way to show people how well science concepts and dance can be integrated.)  I didn't really know what to expect when I showed up today but it ended up being fun. Only 3 kids signed up to do a dance project (and who can blame them... most of them have had little or no exposure to dance) - a 7th grade boy, an 8th grade boy, and a 4th grade girl. How's that for an interesting group?! I was a little overwhelmed at first because no one had really explained very well what I was getting myself into, but they ended up creating a GREAT dance about the Wastewater Treatment Center and the journey of water from our toilets to the irrigation system. (We fondly called it the poop dance.) I'm so grateful that it was a success and that those who were involved as well as the audience saw it as a really valuable learning experience for these kids.

At that meeting I also got asked to provide training for all the PE teachers in the school district on how to incorporate creative dance into their gym classes. Whew! I'm so nervous and overwhelmed. I have just over a week to prepare. I'm really excited about all these great opportunities to bring dance into San Angelo... its just what I've wanted to do... but its hard not to have a mentor nearby to ask questions of.

Well, I should probably go check some more things off my to do list... call Midas so they can fix my car window, type up some more Old Testament reading guides, write a talk on the Holy Ghost for a new friend's baptism tomorrow, and pester some bishops about a seminary opening social.

Wish me luck!