Grad School

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Grad school is the reason this year was the STAYCATION year in DC. Checking this one off my Bucket List.

There are really no words. But I am going to try to capture this moment.

This fall has been the hardest season of my life.

But, tonight, I went to my last grad school class.

I am DONE.

The joy and sense of accomplishment is indescribable.

A year and a half ago, I was a completely different person. When I moved to DC three years ago, I had no desire to ever go to grad school. I was debt free. (*side note: I have a Masters degree and am less than $6000 in debt. Thanks to two years of serving with AmeriCorps and paying throughout the year and half I’ve been in school. Life wisdom I learned the first time in college to pay as much as you can as you go to decrease the amount of interest paid).

There have been many miracles through this journey. So many conversations with peers, mentors, parents, and students. It has been a roller coaster of emotions – so many tears and shouts of frustration along with pictures of students actually learning and the joy of investing in young people.

This journey with grad school and my first fall of teaching has allowed me to gain wisdom the hard way. It has taught me that the more I learn, the more I learn how much I don’t know. I feel uncomfortable hearing the title “Master” because I really feel like I scratched the surface of Teaching Early Childhood. Teaching continues to humble me, kind of how I imagine parenting feels. It has taught me the value of friendship, family, counseling, and rest.

I’ve had conversations with my Uber drivers (my current form of commute) about grad school. The guy who drove me to my last class asked when I would be teaching college or becoming a principal because he didn’t think someone with a Masters should stay teaching elementary school. HA! ENOUGH! I am just trying to enjoy this accomplishment without thinking about what’s next.

But I’ve learned to #NeverSayNever (Cue Brandy, not Justin Bieber).

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Teaching Survivor

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I have survived my first three weeks of teaching third grade.

Somehow.

I don’t really know – it’s all been a blur.

I can now understand the pressure and anxiety new parents feel. I compare it to the feeling new teachers get being around other teachers who have been there 18 years. Walking into their room and then returning to my bare room was mentally exhausting.

I still feel like I am failing.

But every day, I make the decision to try again. Try new things. I have rearranged the seating multiple times now.

I am trying to help my student think on their own.

I am trying to help my students understand their feelings and how their actions affect other people.

I am trying to help my students become great test takers – not for the mere fact that it matters on the PARCC, but just to develop great skills like reading every option and crossing out ones they know are not the answer.

I am trying to help my students form a joyful community and become creative problem solvers.

Three weeks in. It’s been the toughest three weeks on a job yet. But I am surviving. Like I tell my students as I teach them cursive (“secret code”), learning is a process and we are not going to perfect on the first try. It’s a process and we have to be ok with mistakes and failing.

Baseball

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This picture was from the night Max Scherzer tied the MLB record of 20 strikeouts. The Nats were playing my Detroit Tigers. I was a conflicted fan for all three games I went to that week.

Somehow over the three years I have lived in DC, I have become a baseball fan.

This is not really unusual because when I was younger, I cheered on my brother from the stands. But I was also the girl who tried softball, standing out in left field picking dandelions, and could not hit the ball for the life of me. When I was in Michigan, I was used to going to one minor league baseball game every couple years 45 minutes away from my hometown, not MLB in my city! Now I just cannot get enough of the Washington Nationals, Jayson Werth, Daniel Murphy, Wilson Ramos, and others. The chants, the food, the friends, the memories… so good.

Gone are the days of watching Detroit’s Cecil Fielder with my dad on TV, but now I know some new players on the Nats roster and try not to get too depressed about the fact that most of them were born in the 1990’s.

Going to a game by myself tonight as a celebration of one week down in summer school. I bought a $5 ticket for a 300 section seat! Thanks, RetailMeNot for the rebate on SeatGeek!

Be Prayerful, Flexible, and Picky

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I am currently searching for a teaching job for the fall.

I also went out on my first date in a VERY long time on Memorial Day. (Side note: it was not bad, but I doubt there will be a second).

Recently I’ve recognized how similar the two are – dating and interviews. I do not consider myself very good at either. They both make me nervous. They both have great promise… with the possibility of rejection. They both are worth it in the long haul because you find out more about who you are and what you are capable of as a person.

I was talking to a friend about this discovery this afternoon, and he said be prayerful, flexible, and picky (he was talking about interviewing, but I definitely see the correlation to dating).

New life motto: Be prayerful, flexible, and picky.

Air and Space:VA + Natural History

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Continuing my DC adventures of 2016 Staycation, I was fortunate enough to have a friend who is adventurous and willing to drive out to the VA Air and Space Museum. I was not sure what to expect. It was fantastic! Our adventure in the museum including seeing a plane that flew from my hometown in Michigan to Chicago, seeing the Discovery Space Shuttle (1984 was a good year), Flak Bait in the Restoration Hangar, a fun planetarium presentation, and a mock air traffic control room with views of Maryland and West Virginia. I did not know about the restoration hangar, but a friendly volunteer told me about it! MAKE SURE YOU GO TO RESTORATION HANGAR! They have one day a year when they open it up to the public – it’s on my list for next year!

I went to the National Museum of Natural History last Saturday. It was a holiday weekend and within 2 hours, I was ready to bolt. I went as part of an assignment for my grad school class, so I checked out their ocean habitat:

I was pleasantly surprised by a few exhibits. My mentor teacher told me about the Nat Geo Best Photography exhibit that included student photographers – one by an 18-year-old blew me away!

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Thomas Goebel, age 18. Proxy Falls, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon

What I was not expecting was the brilliant colors, patterns, and life found in the National Geographic Into Africa exhibit. Here’s a sample of the brilliance of Frans Lanting’s photography!

DC Gone Postal

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I love mail.

I always have.

I hope I always will.

I hope it sticks around because I still prefer it to an email, text, or other high-tech means of communication.

When I was thinking of where to begin my 2016 Staycation in DC, it seemed fitting to start with the building I had passed a million times by now that is right next to Union Station. I pass it each morning on my commute. The stain-glass windows are beautiful at night.

The Postal Museum has two entrances. One you can see as you exit Union Station. The other is on North Capitol in their post office. This museum is very family friendly with a scavenger hunt for kids (or kids at heart) who are interested.

PostSecret had an exhibit, which I was pleasantly surprised to see.

You can learn more about the famous postal dog – and see him stuffed! (The picture is a statue; I just couldn’t bring myself to take a picture of the stuffed dog). Postmasters gave him tags that he collected, as you can see in the picture.

Queen Elizabeth – what a beauty!

Check out the costly mistake made on a postage stamp. The name? Inverted Jenny.

I really like asking people who work at museums their favorite exhibit in the area they work. A worker mentioned there are stamps from a lot of world leaders who were asked to sign their stamps and send it back to a man who organized the exhibit. Pretty cool. Also makes me realize that people like to be recognized. Some very unique countries were represented and there’s even one with a signature thumbprint from One Pound Jimmy.

DC, definitely check it out! At the end, write a postcard and make your way downstairs to mail it at the post office.

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

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This book.

Stop what you are doing now and treat yourself to this book.

Lauren F. Winner teaches at Duke. She is divorced. She lost her mother. She is honest that life does not always turn out the way you thought it would.

I knew I had found a kindred spirit when she talked about her inability to create masterpieces in the kitchen, her love for doodling prayers, and her affinity for the balcony at church.

“[W]hat I feared most about loneliness [was n]ot being alone, which I often ind perfect and peaceful, but loneliness, which makes me want to die, which makes me think I will die, which I will do anything to avoid feeling” (54). “Sit with the loneliness and ask what the loneliness can do for you” (56).

“I am too lazy to do what’s important, or hard, so I stay busy with everything else” (105).

I cannot pinpoint the exact thing that makes me connect and love her writing, but I plan to check out more of her books. My favorite chapter was “A Sunday morning in Massachusetts”.

Check it out!