Friday, December 22, 2017

Semester's Recap.

What I've been reading:
The Hangman's Daughter series
Lady Hardcastle Mystery series
Murder on the Orient Express
The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane
The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman
P.S. from Paris

What I've been listening to:
Frank Sinatra
Jack Johnson
Christmas music. Duh.
NPR Politics podcast
Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell me! podcast
Car Talk podcast

What I've been watching:
The Great British Bake Off
BBC Pride and Prejudice
Mad Men

Where I've been:
Pocatello, ID
Las Vegas, NV
Glendale, AZ
And a favorite chocolate shop, of course

What I've been cooking/baking:
Christmas icebox cookies
Christmas treats for neighbors
Pumpkin sheet cake
Creamy ranch chicken*
Peasant's bread*
Chicken pasta salad

* means disaster.  My dad had the flu this last week, and my mom was in AZ with my sister's baby Vivi (who is an angel). That left me in the kitchen... which is like leaving Mr. Trump in the White House (oh wait that's real life). I was always cooking, checking timers, cleaning dishes, and I accidentally set a kitchen towel on fire. The ranch chicken was actually okay, but after 8 hours in the crock pot, the potatoes weren't cooked. I don't know how that's possible, but they were crunchy, not the potato-chip-good-crunchy. The peasant's bread was an absolute fiasco. I've made this bread many times. This bread was in the oven for about 2 hours. Of course, the outside was practically charred, but the inside was completely raw. I don't know how that's possible, either. I even let the bread rise for twice as long.

Needless to say, I'm glad my mom is home. When she pulled into the garage, I gave her a big hug and told her my culinary woes. This is why I know how to make toast in a thousand ways.

Applications Status:
ISU application: incomplete; need to write statement of intent; waiting on letter of recommendation

BYU application: COMPLETE! After writing several drafts of my statement of intent and pestering my professors for recommendations, I submitted my application and felt good. And then I got an email from the department about a video interview. A VIDEO INTERVIEW?! At first, I thought, "No big deal. I'll just regurgitate what I expressed in my statement." Instead, I had to record myself answering stupid questions and had a minute for each question. One of the questions was, "What would you do with a million dollars?" The first 20 seconds of the recording was me doing this:
Image result for shocked gif

And it didn't get better. I couldn't think of anything to say and was running out of time. I stammered, "Uhhh... real estate! Savings account! FIX MY WINDSHIELD!" And yes, I yelled the last three words. I have a Master's degree in English, and I teach my students how to use rhetoric effectively, but those credentials didn't mean a hill of beans during the interview. I think I'm most embarrassed by the taco stain on my shirt that I didn't notice until after the interview.

I keep telling myself that it's unlikely I'll get into the program (especially after that stupid interview) because the MFT program is the top in the country. I still have no idea which school I should choose, but if BYU rejects me, the choice is made for me! I'm just proud that I put my best foot forward.

The School Semester:
Teaching three writing classes is a beast. I have tons of respect for teachers who take on far more classes than I do. I am nearly done grading papers, projects, reflections, and finals (which equals 600+ pages of writing).

Sometimes, my job is frustrating. I constantly review lesson plans in my mind, wondering if I could have introduced a concept more effectively. I want to barf when a student is simultaneously condescending and sickly sweet whenever he speaks to me. I want to scream when I offer feedback on students' drafts, and yet their final submission shows no change. And I am reminded of how hard WRTG 150 is for first-year students. This class is far more rigorous than my GE writing class was.

Most of the time, my job is wonderful. I actually enjoy reading students' Issues Papers because I see remarkable improvement in their writing. I adore getting to know students and having inside jokes in class. My heart is tickled when students tell me that they love coming to class because it's a fun, safe, and instructive environment.

My teaching style is much like my personality. It's engaging, organized, and slightly bonkers. So when students tell me that they love how I teach, I feel like a gold sticker has been branded on my heart. When I first started teaching, I was worried that my age would detract from my authority and class policies. Rarely, that has been the case. Instead, my students feel more comfortable about communicating with me, and they trust me. This has made them much more engaging in class, even when they know that I only accept their best effort.

During my 4pm class, my students know some really odd things about me. They know that I always run out of spoons in my kitchen and how I'm too embarrassed to be "that person who only buys spoons" at the store. Weird... I know... and I can't even remember telling them this. Well, on the last day of class, each peer review group surprised me with a brand new spoon.

I know what you're thinking... they're just spoons. But for some reason, these spoons produced a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I got emotional... over SPOONS! And it made me so grateful for my job and the chance that I have to teach amazing (mostly amazing) students. And it feels so good to have a little validation, to feel like I am doing an okay job.

Oh yeah. Merry Christmas!

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