krikketgirl: (School Mean Kitteh)
So I balanced my bank account with our money program today. Chris kept making comments about how I ought to. I like to take my time. I hadn't balanced it since November. Ahem.

The thing that I dislike the most about school and work combined (not to mention all the other craziness) is that I really miss the days where a day off school or off work meant just that: a day off. Now, with staggered breaks (because of course my spring break for school is not the same as my spring break for work) and a lot of work, every "day off" is just an opportunity to work to get ahead to save myself some grief later on. I hate the feeling like if I read a book or goof off with the kids I'm doing something barely permissible.

In other news, I have been accepted to the Ambassador Bible Center for this fall. ABC is located at our church's home office, so I can ride in to work with Chris--bliss!--and even get to have lunch with him maybe. I am super excited. I figure that in a time of major transition, it can't be a bad idea to spend 9 months in the Word. And that gives me some time to settle down and figure out what the next steps are.

Here's the thing: I really, really hope the next steps after that involve a library. I am surprised at the panic feeling I get when I think about not working in a library for the first time in over a decade.
krikketgirl: (Love Chris)
Last night I had a headache of a Communications exam. I just think that, when the instructor says, "If I don't talk about it in class, it won't be on the exam," it really shouldn't be on the exam unless she talked about it in class.

Of course, the positive thing was that Chris was home last night, and I got home early because of the test. So yay! Naturally, the evening proceeded in an odd fashion and with several household mishaps. We went to add conditioner to the bed and managed to spill some on the floor. Chris turned on the dining room lights and two bulbs burned out at once. But my favorite was when he managed to--in his giddiness--drop a bag of sugar down the stairs, thus spilling a heap of sugar on the landing.

Laughing, I asked the boys, "Now, children, what can we learn from this?"

The youngest came up to me, put on his best sitcom-young-child expression, and said, "Having a daddy is a biiiig responsibility."
krikketgirl: (Clean Dirt)
No matter how well I start the day nor how well the kindergarten class behaves, I always end that particular class period feeling like a cat burglar has snuck in and stolen my brain. We start the day with 4th grade and work our way down to K., which means that all of our energy is gone, the kindergarteners are ramped up to go home, and it's time for a full-court press.

I finished 15 of 22 exercises for Spanish class last night. The written responses kill me, because they're not really graded/corrected...we just get credit for completion. Which is no doubt better for my grade, but it doesn't tell me whether I'm getting my grammar right. Also, the text is (sensibly) geared toward young people in school right after high school. So when we're talking future plans (which we are this chapter), we're talking about young-people things...getting married, having kids, choosing a career. Last night, I wrote 12 sentences (minimum) about my future plans, what I do at my job (what is the Spanish for "wish I had a lasso to help wrangle kindergarteners"?), what I would like to do on my next birthday, and at least one other topic. They take forever because I keep having to look up words and try to figure out my endings.

Anyway, this morning I need to read at least a chapter of my COMM 102 text. I wish that classes where the tests are plugged-in answers from the text book company would include a "mini-test" over, like, one chapter. It's hard to know what the focus of such tests will be, so I end up basically recording large chunks of the text verbatim in my notes. Doing that for four chapters takes a while! I'll feel better after the first exam when I know what she focuses on.

So Close

Dec. 6th, 2010 07:03 am
krikketgirl: (student papers)
The end of the semester approacheth, and oh, am I ready! I have one final project to submit and then one final exam. The exam will be hard, hard, hard--I've had this prof before and her exams are a nightmare because she tends to lift fill-in-the-blank questions straight from the bazillion articles and books we've read over the semester. Trying to find the exact right word is no joke.

On the other hand, I'm almost done with the Semester of Insanity, with a wee break in there before I start the Semester of Insanity II--Now With More Classes Than Before. Every step is a step closer to being done for good, though, so I keep plodding along. Forget graduation--when I finish my coursework, I want a cake the size of Australia. And I want [livejournal.com profile] beccabug33 to decorate it.
krikketgirl: (Clean Dirt)
I keep thinking that I will have time to stop and read and write and think, and then something pops up and away I dash to pick up another task or forgotten thread. What has been going on? Adventures, both grueling and filled with derring-do and swashing of many buckles (or whatever).

Sunday, I put a book back inside its cover and then made an excruciatingly detailed slideshow about it. It was for school, but let me tell you--it was awesome. Check out the slideshow and feel free to skip the boring parts.

Tuesday I attended a workshop on book repair. My awesome friend Cherie was able to get permission for me to tag along with media assistants from her school district. I enjoyed the chance to see how other people handle common and uncommon repairs. The most exciting part, though, was discovering that while I was sitting in the car in the parking lot, listening to sirens and watching the rain slashing down onto my windshield, all the employees of the library were hiding out in their storm zone because a tornado had touched down somewhere in the county.

Wednesday I wrote to my advisor about a horrible class I have this semester. It has made me cry and has made me think about quitting twice, but I am committed and do not fear, my dumplings, for I shall win.

Thursday was a lousy day...the kids were all just nutty and I felt like I was slipping a little...like I wasn't quite "on," you know. My work is piling up at work and I cannot seem to get ahead. And then I ended up eating by myself in the gym because my friend the gym teacher wasn't there, only I didn't know she was out for the day. And by the time I figured it out, I wasn't going to pack up my lunch and take it somewhere else. So I hung out in the deserted gym office and checked out her memorabilia.

Thursday night, though, I got to support my school by reading books at the spirit night at Chick-fil-A. I love reading stories. It's one of my favorite things ever. Why can't it pay worth beans?

Which brings me to today, in which I had several really good teaching moments. I felt like I was on top of things today--totally helped by Chris leaving later so I could leave a bit earlier this morning and get a jump on the day. He is so awesome. Anyway, my favorite thing today was a student who is sweet, but usually not into our activities. He totally took a writing prompt and ran with it. I was so thrilled! It was just a few sentences, but I felt as though lightning struck and the story stuck and I got to be there watching. I hope he'll get to have lots more moments like that.

A First

Aug. 14th, 2010 09:56 am
krikketgirl: (Cupcake Day)
I had a first this week: while at the grocery, I turned to see a student from school staring at me, agape. I copied her surprised expression, and then said, "Hello, ______." Still gaping at me, she walked over and hugged me around the waist, to my astonishment. Her aunt, who was with her, said, "Oh, do you know her?" I explained that I was her library clerk at school. I've had several children "spot" me in public, but I've never gotten that amount of surprise, or a hug!

Reflecting

May. 18th, 2010 07:58 pm
krikketgirl: (Happy)

The school year has just drawn to a close, and it’s a good time for me to reflect on nine months that have challenged me on every level. Starting a full-time job for the first time is daunting—and when that first job includes hundreds of children, it sometimes seems completely overwhelming. I’ve learned a lot of things over the past several months, including the following:

  •     Singing hath charms to soothe the savage beast, and also kindergarteners.
  •      It’s possible to almost drown oneself with one large gulp from a half-empty coffee cup.
  •      Everyone can see you cry in the library.
  •      There really is nothing like connecting the right book with the right reader. Hearing, “Mrs. Rowland! That book you told me about is awesome!” makes any day suddenly bright.
  •      Every chance encounter with a student that happens somewhere other than in the school is—to the student—extraordinary, and thus accompanied with gasps, whispers, and pointing. This will be followed up the next school day with shouts of, “I saw you!”
  •      Overhead projectors are all exactly alike, except for one or two small anomalies that will make the unwary library clerk feel like she has three thumbs and no coordination.
  •      Every successful copying episode makes me want to do a little victory dance and shout, “I won!” to the copy machine. This is probably immature of me.
  •      Speaking of immature, one should never respond to the question, “What were you doing under there?” with, “Under where?”
  •      And speaking of that, the single most hilarious thing one can say to someone in K-2 is the word ‘underwear.’ Or anything that sounds like the word ‘underwear.’ Or anything that doesn’t sound remotely like the word but makes the hearer—for reasons known only to them—think of the word ‘underwear.’
  •      School libraries run on sticky notes, paperclips, rubber bands, and chocolate.


The single most important thing I’ve learned this year, though, is that I could not have dreamed up a better place to work. I was very uncertain about beginning this job last fall, having worked in the same place for so very long. Whether you are 13 or 32, it’s hard to start fresh in an unfamiliar place.

 From the beginning, though, every person at the school has made me feel welcome and appreciated. Whether it was the timely loan of whiteboards and markers, instruction on how to use a laminating machine, patience when class ran five minutes late, or a kind word, it seems as though there is no one who hasn’t played a part in making this the best first year ever. More, they each inspire me to do better, to try harder, and to do my part in making our school amazing.

I am so thankful for my job and for the incredible people I have met this year. I am looking forward to this fall!


krikketgirl: (Bring It)
I need to tell you about my workplace.

Sometimes, my job is a pain. Sometimes, it's stressful. Sometimes, I'm tired and cranky. But there is one thing that I have learned this year: I work with some of the most amazing people I know.

Now, what's making me think about this tonight is that this afternoon I got to attend two different school-related events. I look at the teachers who are involved, and I feel better because of knowing them. I see them going out and making a difference in the lives of kids every day. And being around that makes me want to go out and do the same. Being able to think, "Oh, I work with that teacher," makes me stand straighter, like when you play sixth chair in the orchestra but the applause is for the whole group, you included.

I work with people who care deeply about kids, about each other, about education. I work with people who donate money and donate time. I work with people who run marathons, who hug kindergarteners, who raise money for good causes, who support one another with hugs and words and money and baked goods.

I sit amidst blessings I can't even count--but the greatest blessing that God has given me is to place me among people who are doing good things, great things. From my husband to my children to my church to my school to my friends, I know the most amazing people--people whose beauty flows in the lives they are changing with the work of their hands and hearts.
krikketgirl: (Delighted)
I was reading a class the book Miss Nelson Is Missing, by Henry Allard and James Marshall. And I set the story up by asking the class to think about what they would do if they came to school one day and their teacher was missing, and they didn't know where she had gone.

I got some standard responses:

"I would go home and sleep."

"I would go home and play video games."

"I would tell the principal."

"I would call 9-1-1."

"I'd have a party!"

But my very, very favorite response of all time?

"I'd stay in the classroom and eat PIE!"
krikketgirl: (Dork Mirror)
So far, my "Picture a Day" is turning into a "Picture Every Other Day." Seriously, I keep missing them. Fail.

This is my spring break from college. I meant to catch up on the Sociology Paper of Doom and Wrath, but between a very busy school week and not feeling all that hot--not to mention having a slightly-under-the-weather Youngest Boy--I really have done nothing with it. Fortunately, this morning I am feeling a bit better. Stupid sinuses--I think it has to do with the change in weather.

On a sinus side note, I really hate taking medicine every day, though I know it's perfectly socially acceptable. I keep trying to convince myself that I don't need my allergy medication, despite the fact that every time I stop taking it, I start to have serious allergy issues. Katherine, get over thyself and just take the silly medicine, won't you?

I've made muffins twice this week--the Feast of Unleavened Bread fast approacheth, and what better way to use up leavening than to make delicious breakfast foods? So far I've made pumpkin muffins and blueberry. I found a "new" recipe in one of my old cookbooks, and I have made the most beautiful muffins ever the last two days. They're golden, the top is round instead of flat, and they have a wonderful texture. On the down side, certain people (i.e., everyone in my family) complain that they're not very sweet.

On the work front, Book Fair is blessedly over, and things are returning to what passes for normal in a school library, by which I mean we can't find anything because we moved stuff around for book fair and yesterday a child told me I have hair like her mom. I am doing a little reorganizing, which feels good--hopefully, it will inspire me to do some organizing here at home, too. I need a robot butler. This is a recurring theme in my life.

Also, I continue to duel with the laminator and the copier. I don't think I've ever discussed in this public forum the fact that every time I successfully make a copy or laminate something, I secretly do a little victory dance and feel like shouting, "I WIN! In your FACE, Copier-lad!" or, you know, "Laminator Girl!" Because my secret fear is that I will somehow accidentally brand myself in a bizarre office-equipment-related incident. Or that I'll make a face and it will be laminated that way FOREVER.

Planting

Mar. 8th, 2010 07:19 am
krikketgirl: (Amélie)
I think we've reviewed--many times--the fact that I am not a gardener by nature. I'm too impatient, and fickle and--let's face it--find nothing exciting about getting my hands dirty. And though I rather wish I did enjoy it, as it seems such a responsible thing to do, I've made peace with the fact that one person can't do everything and stick to my passionate pursuit of all things involving sitting down and books.

But that doesn't mean that the imminent approach of spring leaves my heart unturned. Spring, while not my favorite season, is one of the top four. Much like fall, it's a turning season, a time of transition and anticipation. Anything could happen, surely, with the scent of spring on the breeze!

And while others pore over seed catalogs that arrive in the mail, or plan their flowerbeds and vegetable rows, I'm thinking about the sermon that my husband gave on Sabbath. In a by-the-way fashion, he mentioned that we are all responsible for building and for planting seeds, and that those things require stepping out on faith. If I put a seed in the ground, I want to run out there every day and see whether it's growing, much the same way that Chris hovers over his beloved sassafrass tree all spring long, nurturing it, tending it, and threatening the neighborhood rabbits.

But seeds take their own time. Some germinate in a week, some take much longer. And although it's not obvious to my eye, once that seed is in the ground, there is change happening. There is action and growth. But it will not be revealed to me until it is the right time.

I am a creature that likes definition and control. I like to know what's happening, why, who's involved, and what my responsibility is. When I put forth effort, I want results--now! I want immediate feedback! And yet, that is not what I am called to do.

Whether it is at home--with my own sons--or at work with others' children, I am only planting seeds. I don't know which will blossom and grow and which will remain dormant for perhaps a lifetime. I don't know which seeds will be a lasting legacy--what will my children, for example, rememenr? Will it be my special recipe for swiss steak? Will it be the family trips? Will it be talking while grocery shopping? Will it be hugs? Reminders? Monologues? The pattern of the fabric on the sofa? The hundreds of books? The weekly trips to church and then to grandma's house?

Will the students at school remember that I smiled a lot? That my voice was high and breathy? That I wore billowing skirts and big earrings? That I found them a book that they fell in love with? That I knew where to find information on frogs? That I was a foe (or a friend) on the "underground railroad" that ran through our school? Will the seeds of care and concern and love of literature that I am planting come to fruition someday?

I don't know, any more than I could have foreseen, last March, that I would be working at the school this year. The seeds I planted over the years brought forth a harvest I could not have expected. And I am trying to remember that, right now, in the thick of my worries about school and work, that I am still responsible for planting, and that a harvest will someday happen. I can't see the growth fully now. I may not see it for years and years. But there is planting, every day that I am alive and move throughout the actions of life. I can't choose what I will harvest--but I step out in faith that God is a faithful gardener, so much more conscientous than I.
krikketgirl: (Riiight)
My language of the week is American Sign Language, so every morning I'm greeting the kids without speaking (which makes my, "[Name of child], STOP RUNNING" seem even louder). Remember the kid with the quarter? On Monday, he came past. He stopped, looked at the sign, looked at me. I signed "hello" again.

"American Sign Language," he said, as he started to walk past. "Ran out of wrods, huh?"
krikketgirl: (Cupcake Day)
I had the most amazing day today. It started out average, but it picked up when fourth grade came in. We were watching an animated biography of Abraham Lincoln (as our Friday theme for 4th is "The Hoosier Connection"). It picked up with his leaving Springfield to take up residency in the White House and ended with his death at the hand of John Wilkes Booth. The show itself made me cry--Lincoln gave up so much during his presidency, and his own words are so poignant.

To be honest, I didn't expect much good discussion from the class I had--they tend to be a bit rowdy usually. But I think the story really got to them. We had so much good discussion after the film that we didn't have time to do an activity. A few of them are even excited to learn more about our 16th president, and I got a chance to put to use all the Civil War history I learned while living in Chattanooga.

So I felt like that class period just rocked. Second grade was okay, nothing special. But first grade? Oh! So wonderful.

A few weeks ago, the counselors came in and talked to the classes, with a special emphasis on being kind to one another and on bullying. So today we had a Franklin story about excluding others (for those keeping score at home, it was Franklin and the Secret Club. After that, the children were to color, and then I was to read Because Brian Hugged His Mother, a book I love.

Now, I love this particular 1st grade. Half of them are as naughty as anything, but I love them anyway. There's just something about them. So I was already enjoying the class. They saw the story, they started coloring, I read Because Brian Hugged His Mother. In this story, a little boy hugs his mother, and so she makes him and his sister his favorite breakfast, so his sister helps her teacher and pays him a compliment, et cetera: one good deed inspires another, inspires another, inspires another.

Now, when class is over, I tell the students that if they want to leave work for me to consider hanging in the hall, they may leave it at their place. One of the students came over and said, "Mrs. Rowland, I want you to hang up my picture, but I don't want you to hang up this side." He turned it from the front to the back, and there he had drawn...well, this:

Love


My heart just melted. So sweet!

Then I had a kindergarten class, which followed the same pattern. Only this time, I saw that several students had finished coloring while I was reading the story. So I asked them to turn their papers over and draw something that made them feel loved, or made them feel happy--or something that someone does to make them feel loved and happy (carrying on the theme from the story). I was loving all the pictures--they were so adorable! And then one little boy raised his hand and showed me a paper with a stick figure and lots of little circles. I imagined it to be someone blowing bubbles, but before he could speak, he said, "This is you reading to us, because when you read us a story, I feel happy."

I said, "Oh, that's so sweet!" And I was turning away when he said, "Mrs. Rowland, I love you!"

I think that sometimes God gives me a special gift of good days that fill up my heart with goodness. I'll be holding onto this one for a while.

Bonjour!

Jan. 21st, 2010 07:15 am
krikketgirl: (Kat Umbrella)
Hello


I don't think I've written about my new project at school, which I lovingly think of as Operation Make the Children Think I've Lost My Mind.

Every morning, I have hall duty, which means(as I've mentioned before)that I stand in the hall as the kids head to class and try to keep them from thundering in the halls like so many stampeding rhinos.

Because I'm me, I decided early on that I was going to rock hall duty. One of the first things I added was to tell children with overdue books that they were welcome to drop off their overdues with me in the morning, as they go to class. This works beautifully for a few reasons. First, it allows me to me super-excited when they bring their books back. I like to think that this reinforces their desire to be responsible when it comes to returning their books, because bringing them back is connected to a positive. I got some positive feedback for this the other day when I heard someone who had a long-overdue book coming down the hall and telling their classmate, "She is going to be SO proud of me!!" just before she handed back her book.

This policy also works well because once one kid turns in their book, others see the book and are reminded to check their bookbag--all without my saying anything.

The other piece I added to hall duty was a veritable volley of "Good morning!" as children come down the hall. I try to make eye contact with as many as I can, smile broadly, and greet everyone coming down the hallway with "Good morning!" I add names when I can, especially when it's a child who seems down or unhappy or just overlooked.

Now, the kids already think I'm nuts because I sing "Stop running, please! Thank you!" when someone gets going too quickly. There's a reason for that--I sing much more loudly than I speak. Plus, since the kids aren't really used to just hearing someone burst out in song, they do tend to hesitate and slow down (allowing me to compliment their good choice--another positive).

So what's my new project? This week, I was talking to Chris about how one brother and sister had started saying, "Good afternoon," when they would see me, just to see what I'd do. He said, "You should really flip the kids out and say good morning in another language."

I thought this was awesome, so I talked to the ENL teacher, who had a list of how to say "Hello" in different languages. Next, I got permission from the principal to hang a poster in the hallway, explaining what I want to do.

Yesterday morning, the kids were greeted with, "Bonjour!" When they looked up to figure out what I was doing, they saw the poster, with its interchangeable pieces. Little do they know that every week, it will be "Hello" in a new language. Now, to decide what next week's will be...
krikketgirl: (Speak Freely)
I was sitting with a first-grade class at lunch on Wednesday. I was sitting there listening to the chatter when two girls said, "Mrs. Rowland! You have something white in your hair!" Now, because I had my hair down and because I was eating mashed potatoes, my very first thought was that somehow I had gotten mashed potatoes in my hair.

I started trying to get whatever was in my hair out of my hair, but I couldn't find anything. The girls, helpful to the last, kept pointing and saying, "It's right there!"

At last, a chunk of my hair fell forward to where I could see it and could see what they were pointing at.

There was a pause.

I said, "Girls, my hair is white."

They sat back, impressed. "But...how did you get the white in your hair? Did you use spray?"

"Girls," I said, "I'm old!"

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