Monday, July 16, 2012

The Exposition: Who is Ms. R.?

In high school.
Every good story has an exposition (you know, that bit at the beginning that tells you who the characters are and gives you some insight into their lives). I don't know about blogs, but I do know about stories. So I thought I would start mine right.

I grew up in a small town, which I hated and wanted to leave (as do most small-town girls). My dreams were many and extravagant, including world travel and an esoteric kind of fame. During college, I studied many different things: anthropology (archeology, cultural, and physical - I love them all), interior design, journalism, art history, natural sciences and a whole lot of other randomness. If there was one thing I never intended to study, it was education (because that was small-town and not-so-esoteric). At the end of all this learning, I knew one thing - I didn't like to do one thing.

I dig unique - faux-hawk anyone?
Thus, as I hunted to find a profession that suited me, I found my niche in the museum world. In fact, I managed to be selected for two top-knotch internships at some very nice natural history museums. There was one problem, however. This was 2008 and the economy was falling apart as I entered an extremely unstable field which often demanded a masters degree and faced massive job cuts. However, while working at the Draper Museum of Natural History, I discovered some things about myself. 1) I loved teaching, 2) middle school kids are awesome, and 3) lab work can be very lonely and repetitive.

A bird I prepared in the lab.
Word had already come that I was accepted for another position in Springfield Illinois at their natural history museum. Despite the amazing collections they had in their vaults (a veritable warehouse, whereas I was coming from an actual vault), I realized I did not want to take on a position in a lab only, particularly not one isolated from the day-to-day goings-on of the museum itself. I turned it down, and as my temporary position ended, I moved back home where I played house with my sister, who actually had a job, and ate up my savings to survive.

This one will become a flat skin with skeleton.
Still tentative about teaching, I continued to apply for museum jobs while also applying for my substitute teaching license and a masters program in education (during which I could also get my teaching license). No jobs arose, my substitute teaching license took many months to arrive, and meanwhile, I was accepted to the masters program. I started taking classes so I could get a few prerequisites out of the way (like all the U.S. history classes I had spent my college career avoiding). Any sub job that came my way I took - eventually leading to a full-time long-term position in preschool (which was awesome and I sometimes consider returning to). I made a bit of money (enough to pay for some of my classes).
Owl Program

I started my masters, took out a slew of student loans, and a year later found myself with a teaching license and masters degree. Due to the timing of my program, I didn't actually have the coursework to apply for my license until the school year was about to start. Thankfully, those small-town connections can be helpful. I received a job and because they back-date licenses, I was good to go as long as I applied before the first day of school. I took a personal day the Friday before the kids started to drive down my application. Eventually (months later), my license arrived, back-dated appropriately and I was now made legal.

Frog program - Japanese audience.
So here I find myself, 2 years completed, at a relatively new school within the school district I grew up, a small town girl again. I teach 6th grade social studies and science. What's more, I have since married my college sweetheart and we bought a house in said small town. We're staying. So much for plans. However, I also love it! Sometimes I still long for world travel, but I seek my esoteric fame within the world of teaching. I am one of those few sick teachers who absolutely LOVES planning and curriculum design. I don't love grading, and am horrible about keeping up on it.

Fox skull: completely reassembled (hit by car).
My favorite thing to do is create new simulation style activities for my students. And I love it even more when they love those activities as well. This year, we ended with my designed-from-scratch Caribbean Economic Simulation. I had students actually asking to keep working through the last day! I said, "That's the plan, guys!" while secretly doing a jig in my mind. They loved saving up so they could invest --> important standard hit (nail-on-head style).

Large dog skull - mastiff maybe?
So, that's my exposition. Take it or leave it. If you're intrigued, follow me as I turn room A105 into a mini-city; my journey into the world of the micro-society. This isn't a classroom anymore - it's a city! (P.S. I may occasionally talk about science - but this blog is for my social studies endeavor).

Disclaimer: I did not include photos of my own classroom because they are previous students and I do not have permission to publish. I'll work on making sure I have blog-friendly pictures in the future.

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