Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spiral Notebooks

Why, oh why do students use spiral notebook paper?

Is it to make my life a pandemonium of unstackable papers?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blessed Again

Well, it's 12:13 and I'm going to wake up in six hours. That'll work out. I'll be tired, but six hours of sleep is better than seven to me, so I thought I might as well write this first.

I graded for 10 hours yesterday. Two of those were journals and other catch-up grading and entering. The other eight were spent on the final essays I required of my students. I ran a timer, but it only let me do three minutes (no more or less), so the pacing was inconsistent.

I had food near me and movies playing in the background to ease my stress. I was finally done at 9:30 PM and caught up on some homework that I had to do. Eight hours of grading, and I got three classes done. Wow. I left school at 10 PM.

All of this is not to mention the TWS parts C and D, plus my lesson plans for this coming week which needed to get done. 

I was very discouraged and upset because grades are due on Tuesday at 4 PM. And eight hours is a long time to finish up the rest of my papers. I was clearly stressed out by the onslaught of Sunday activities approaching. Being at church at 8:30 AM for meetings seemed an obstacle to be overcome if I wanted to get this grading done. I thought about taking the papers to church just in case, but I figured it wouldn't be appropriate.

Church gets out at 1:30 and dinner at grandma's is at five. That gives me less than three hours to work on papers. Five hours of time lost at church?

Oh, and then there were supposed to be committee meetings after church. Wow, there goes another thirty minutes of grading.

On Saturday night, I considered leaving church early--after my meetings. I tried to dismiss the thought.

Pre-church meetings got done at 10 AM, 30 minutes before church started. I was stressed that I hadn't brought my papers with me. I was sitting in the nearly empty chapel starting to have an anxiety attack. The previous night's thoughts came back to me. "I can leave after sacrament." Then I made myself feel better: "I can come back for meetings after Relief Society."

I tried again to dismiss these thoughts. 

I said silent prayers (probably the fifth of many) to help me calm down.

I felt the subtle urge to find an empty room in the building with a piano in it.

I obeyed.

I found a room in the institute building. I turned on the light, sat down at a bench, and cried for about 30 seconds. I begged the Lord to help me calm down, to trust that everything would be alright. I began to play. I played well, and I played my favorite hymns.

I felt much better and headed back to sacrament meeting fifteen minutes later.

I felt calm all during sacrament and throughout the rest of my meetings--calmness which came by the Spirit of my loving Heavenly Father. Every time I started to think about my papers, I heard a voice tell me, "Janae, I will take care of you. Focus on church right now." I heard, "Stay calm, everything will be OK. You'll manage it. I'll make sure of it."

After church, the girls I was supposed to meet with were not there. I considered this a tender mercy to give me that thirty minutes I'd find so helpful. I ran home. I talked to my dad on the way home who instructed me to put on some classical music and to focus.

I did.

I got everything ready to go to my grandma's. By inspiration of the Lord, I found an online countdown timer. I put all my papers on my bed. I situated my laptop near me. I put on some music. I had the timer ready at 4 minutes and 30 seconds. This was how long I'd take on each paper--which seemed really difficult and would take much focus and assistance.

For the next two hours and fifteen minutes, I was on a grading rampage. I got one and a half classes done! I left for my grandma's (20 minutes drive). I got there, started my laundry, graded two papers, ate dinner (30 minutes), graded more papers, did more laundry (10 minutes), graded more papers, stopped to eat dessert (5 minutes), graded papers, and I finished at 8:45 PM.

I graded today for a grand total of about five and a half hours. And I finished. I finished before 9 PM. I finished almost three hours faster than yesterday.

A weight was lifted from my shoulders. I couldn't keep from smiling and thanking my Father in Heaven for his divine assistance. For helping me to stay focused, energized, and fast-paced. For allowing me to go to all of my meetings today and fulfill my responsibilities and still have time to get my work responsibilities done.

None of this would have happened without sincere prayer and my desire to do what was right before doing what I needed to do.

I am so grateful for His help.

If we love Him, we should keep His commandments. We are promised blessings in return.

With this weight lifted from my shoulders, I found myself reassured that my lesson plan would get done tonight, that tomorrow, I could be productive and go to class, and that I could relax a little bit.

It took almost an hour to get back from my grandma's tonight due to a bad accident that happened on the freeway. I didn't stress out about it, or get impatient. I was just thinking good thoughts for the people who got in an accident. I trusted that even though it'd be late, I'd get my lesson plan done.

Monday's lesson plan is done.

Tomorrow I still have some totaling and entering to do. I have lots of sorting. I have my TWS to do. I need to do my Secret Spook thing (it's like Secret Santa, for the faculty). I have class from 4:30 to 6:30. I need to get groceries, and I need to scan through a movie or two for my classes on Tuesday. I also need to do the rest of the week's lesson plans. But I'm trusting that it will all get done because I got the tough stuff out of the way today with the Lord's help. He is so good to me.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Compensatory Personality

I've realized lately that I have what I deemed a "compensatory personality."

It means I compensate for whoever I'm surrounded by, if I need to.

I've been described by some people as shy. I've never considered myself shy. What I do notice is that I can take a front seat, or a back seat, depending on the personalities I'm near at the moment.

Case in point, I was once friends with a group where two or three were very dominant and loud personalities. I was considered, "Quiet." If strong personalities dominate, I let them do it, and I don't go out of my way to be heard or known.

Other case in point: I'm friends with a couple of really quiet individuals. Because they are quiet, it puts me in the front seat--making up for what they might not have or say or do. These quiet people would say that I'm very loud, passionate, funny, and opinionated. This might surprise the loud group of people who knew me.

In Relief Society, I have to conduct meetings a lot. I'm very smiley and outgoing and cheery. They're quiet and looking up at me. I'm in a leadership position, so that's the seat I take. It's my job to know who the girls are, to make sure they know who I am, and to inform them of activities and things going on. I'm loud and outgoing because I just have to be.

In my family (mom's side), everyone is very loud and smiley and cheery. They view me as being kind of serious and somber. They might think I'm a little better than I used to be, but they still probably don't think I'm quite as silly as they are. And why am I not? Because I just don't need to be. They do it for me.

Isn't this weird? I'm a really strange girl, I decided. I'm not consistently one way or another. My behavior depends on the situation. I can be intimidating, or I can be intimidated. I can be dominating, or I can be dominated.

I'm not sure what I think about this aspect of my personality. But what I do know is that the leadership, the loud, passionate, opinionated girl who just doesn't hold back, is the real me. The one that doesn't feel bound down or spoken for or outdone, generally speaking.

The other thing that I'm aware of is that I like other people like me. Because when I'm with another person like me, we both balance out the front and back seat. We know when to be quiet and hear the other person. We don't expect that this person will be quiet or be loud in any given situation. We just are. I like someone to challenge my thoughts, balance my passion with their submission, and balance my silence with their passion.

Bring me more of these friends, please.

Holy self-indulgent and reflective blog post, Batman.

Sorry if this was boring, kids. I just needed to write about it to make my thoughts clearer. A widely read expert in the education field today said that writing "births ideas." Instead of, "Now you see it; now you don't," writing makes ideas into "Now you don't see it; now you do." What an excellent way to put it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Simply Maddening Mistakes

Once in a while I say or do something, or even think something, that makes me feel really guilty.

Sometimes they’re not a big deal. Other times they are.

Usually it’s a big deal if it triggers something in my mind. If I have an epiphany like, “Wow I do this a lot,” or “I just did that recently, and now I’m doing it again?” that’s when it is a big deal to me.

These guilt trips can last for minutes, hours, or days.

The annoying thing is trying to fix the thing you did wrong to make the guilt go away. Sometimes it’s just giving an apology. But even that doesn’t completely fix the guilt, especially if the offended person is still upset with you.

On other occasions, it requires a serious change of heart—a real commitment to not say or do or think that thing anymore. And since that’s more of a process, it makes the guilt kind of linger. It’s not an insta-fix sort of thing, as convenient and lovely as that might be.

I don’t like these occasions. I end up crying, praying, and repenting for a long time in order to feel forgiven, to forgive myself, and to try to change with the Lord’s help.

I guess that’s the right way to try to fix it though, right? :-/

Oh life. Why dost thou have to be such a learning process?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Best and the Worst

I spend nearly every hour concerned with my students.

I spend over 6 hours with them during school, every day of the week.

I stay after school helping them with assignments and letting them catch up.

I spend hours grading.

I spend hours and hours planning units, weeks, lesson plans, and activities.

I am so anxious about how lessons will go, I even wake up dreaming I'm in the middle of teaching a class that is not going well at all.

These kids are my life.

I pour all of my time and energy into trying to help them learn.

If I see blank faces, I call on students to pull their attention back in. 

I come home from work exhausted, starving, and sore in my feet and shoulders from standing and teaching all day.

What more can I do?

What more can I do when I put so much time, sweat, stress, and thought into these lessons? And what can I do when I pour every bit of energy I can muster off 6 hours of sleep into teaching?

What more can I do to satisfy the student who told me today how "monotone, boring, and repetitive" I am?


I guess I just have to consider the student who likes me enough to keep trying to message me on Facebook. And who asks me to be in pictures like this:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Imogen Heap is Back!

Oh man, oh man, oh man! I am so excited.

Just bought two tickets for Imogen's concert on November 12th. I'll  be tired the next day for work, but oh freaking well.

She'll be so worth it!

On December 8th, 2006, I saw her live. It's been almost three freaking years. Way too long.

This will bring back some difficult memories, but I have to go. Just have to.

I can't contain myself! And this time, I'm going to bring a real camera, since obviously I was an idiot last time and used a cell phone camera.

Here we go! A month away tomorrow.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Falling Story

I went to a sleepover on Saturday night for General Conference. Consequently and ironically, I didn't get much sleep.

After morning session on Sunday, I drove to my grandma's house to shower. I laid down for a nap and conked out quickly on the bed upstairs.

When I finally woke up, I realized that half of the afternoon session of Conference was already over.

I hurriedly threw the blanket off of my body and turned my legs off the bed. My head intended that my body would stand up and race toward the TV.

Instead, I hurriedly threw the blanket off of my body, turned my legs off the bed, stood up to walk toward the door, and fell down where I stood.


I guess my left leg fell asleep in whatever position I was sleeping in. So when I stood up, it didn't work. My leg just folded under me.

I skinned my left knee on the carpet.

Then grandma brought a Bandaid and some Neosporin over for my knee.

The end.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Solo Photo Shoots

Am I the only one who gets bored enough or vain enough to have photo shoots with me, myself, and I?


Such a loser.

I guess not. Mac computers do have PhotoBooth...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Weak Writing

I have so many stories that happen in a school day that bring me joy or make me laugh. I'm realizing what a weak writer I am to be able to convey the humor in these things. I'll give a couple more stories a shot, but I know I won't be able to make you laugh the way we all laughed in class.

Story #1

Another mishap occurred through misreading what was on the page in our novel, Walk Two Moons. I had chosen students to read character parts again. This time I chose *Parker to read for Mr. Birkway's part. The text reads as follows:

Mr. Birkway coughed. "I want to explain something," he said. "Mrs. Cadaver is my sister."

"Your sister?" Phoebe said.

"And her husband is dead."

"I thought so," Phoebe said.

"But she didn't murder him," Mr. Birkway said. "Her husband died when a drunk driver rammed into his car..."

With me reading the narrated parts and Parker reading Mr. Birkway's part, this is how the text went in my class:

Mr. Birkway coughed. "I want to explain something," he said. "Mrs. Cadaver is my sister."

"Your sister?" Phoebe said.

"And her husband is dead."

"I thought so," Phoebe said.

"But she didn't murder him," Mr. Birkway said. "Her husband died when he was drunk driving..."

As Parker stumbled over these words, the class started cracking up about this blunder. I admit, it was pretty humorous, especially as it completely altered the sad mood that should be in this passage.

Story #2

One day in one of my classes, I answered the phone. After I hung up, I told my class that I had almost answered the phone as I would at my other job, "Blockbuster North Provo, this is Janae..." I told them this several weeks ago, and a couple of them laughed at my almost blunder.

But then the phone rang the other day. I answered it like I needed to, but after I hung up and stood back in front of the class, one of my students said, "Blockbuster, how may I help you?"

I thought that was a super cute and funny comment on my student's part, trying to tease me. I love it. I wish they'd do it more often.

Story #3

In this same class, I have a rather flamboyant student. We'll call this student Pat. This individual has a very high voice and an extremely boisterous character. Sometimes this person verges on the side of being obnoxious. But a lot of the time, this person causes lots of laughter and provides entertainment for the class. I chose this student to read the part of Gram in Walk Two Moons.

As Pat read the part of Gram in a high and over-the-top voice, as I had expected, the students were laughing after nearly every line Pat read. I kept reading, pleasantly straight-faced and trying to get through.

At one point, Pat said, "Oh, huzza, huzza," in a shrill, accented voice.

I had to stop and cover my face with the book as I started to crack. I started laughing really hard, bent over, and held the book in front of my face. My students, after 7 prior minutes of trying to contain themselves, broke down when I did. My laughter spread to all of them, and we were all laughing together at Pat's animated reading. It was such a great moment. I love when my students see me be me, see me laugh, or hear me make a joke. They're so fun and I love them.

I have more stuff to say, but they're not really stories.

I got a message on Facebook from one of my students a while back. I never messaged her back. I think for whatever reason, she looks up to me and likes me. She did call me "most awesomest teacher," in her message.

Yesterday was the fall party, and I was one of the teachers in charge of the "photo booth." This student had already been through and taken pictures with some friends. She came back through a second time, with more friends, and they asked me to be in the picture with them. What the? What kind of student wants a teacher in their picture? That's a good thing, right? haha. I guess it's kind of flattering.

I got my first phone call from a parent the other day. It was not fun at all. It could have been worse, but it certainly wasn't a very productive or fruitful conversation. Thank goodness for mentors and people who are willing to help.

Here's to several more years of laughter, picture taking, parent phone calls, and weak writing in an attempt to share these stories.