Thursday, August 30

horses in mist

Originally uploaded by mistubako
Once again, not my picture. But there are five horses that have been hanging out around school campus lately that look like these horses except there is one extra white one usually leading the pack. The other morning as we were walking to in-service they came galloping out of the mist toward us and veered off across the football field. It was strangely dreamlike.

One of these days I'm going to make friends with someone around here who will let me ride their horses. For those of you who don't know me well, I was mildly (ok, very) obsessed with horses around 5th-8th grade. I haven't actually ridden since then, but my pipe dream out here is to become an amateur barrel racer- I'll let you know how that goes ;)

Monday, August 27

Rosebud Fair

This picture is not actually from Rosebud Fair, but I can assure that the children there were equally adorable. The Tiny Tots portion of the pow wow involved tiny little guys like these in full regalia running and jumping and dancing their little hearts out, it was too precious for words. I am sooooo jealous of the little girls in Jingle dresses. It's like the dream I never knew I had as a small child to wear a fancy dress that jingled when I danced. The older dancers are pretty awesome too, and the drumming and singing is amazing. I still can't quite believe that I'm here.

The whole fair was really fun, I kinda wish it were every weekend. People were there from far and wide. I was a little sad that I don't know any of my students yet, because I'm sure most of them were there. It was kinda like county fairs back home, only not at all. There is a carnival with rides and games, rodeos, and an arena for pow wows surrounded by stalls selling delicious food like Indian Tacos and fry bread. Mmmmm.

We had Friday and today off of inservices for the fair- I'm not exactly sure why we needed today off since the fair ended yesterday, but I'm not asking questions. I would like to say that I was especially productive this weekend and did lots of planning... but clearly that is not the case. We did have our first "Professional Learning Community" meeting on Saturday and it was actually good to go to a TFA type session again. I never thought I would miss CS sessions at institute, but oh I do. Everyone else now has a week of teaching under their belts.... I want to teach! I'm going to be super good about getting my act together and planning the first few weeks of school so I can not be quite so stressed out once I start. I hope.

Wednesday, August 22

Blue Eyes

Today in in-service we watched the video Blue Eyes about Jane Elliott, a teacher who divided her class by eye color back in the 60s to teach them about discrimination and now does workshops for adults around the same idea. I'm sure lots of you have seen it before. Anyway, this was followed by a round robin sharing of everyones reactions and personal experience with prejudice. I've watched/read similar things and had similar discussions before, but this was the first time I had that discussion in a room where I was actually in the ethnic minority. Still not by much, the room was probably 1/3 white, 2/3 native. It was interesting and I have lots to say about it, but I'm sleepy and all talked out, for now I just wanted to share this story that one man told us and I thought was great-

A native man was traveling around the country and came to a city where he went to a diner that had a sign on it saying "No colored people allowed". He went in, sat down and ordered coffee. The manager said to him, "We don't serve colored people here." The man looked around and saw that he was the only brown skinned person in the room and continued to sit there and order his food. The manager said again, "No colored people allowed in here." Finally the native man went up to the manager and said, "When I was born, I was brown. When I am angry, I am brown. When I'm cold, I am brown. When I'm sick, I am brown. And when I'm dead, I'll be brown. When you were born you were pink. When you are angry you are red. When you are cold you are blue. When you are sick you are green. When you are dead you'll be purple. And you think that I am the colored person??"

Hehe. clever.

Monday, August 20

Settling in

The teacher in-services continue this week and are increasingly dull and frustrating because we can't get into our classrooms still. The positive side is that we have so long to get to know other teachers and the school community before we have to start teaching. It definitely takes some time for people here to warm up to newcomers, they seem to be feeling us out and watching us carefully, but we're all getting more comfortable with each other bit by bit. I can certainly see now that it's going to take the first several weeks for my students to get used to me and even begin to respect and trust me.

Most of the other schools on Rosebud had their first day today. ah! They only had a week and a half or so of training stuff so they haven't been out here that long. It's nice that we have time to settle in and get to know our surroundings a bit more. Our trailer is beginning to look downright homey. Katie and I took a little three hour trip to the nearest Target (where am I????) on Saturday and bought one of just about everything there. Book cases, curtains, frames, a fantastic red couch cover. Here's a
little collage of our trailer:

There's still plenty to be done, mostly painting, but I like it so far. It's good to have a place to come home to that feels normal and livable and less like the crazy alien planet I otherwise feel like I'm living on.

Friday night we went out in Valentine, Nebraska- about 50 miles away, but also the nearest bars. There had been a rodeo earlier that night and the bar was packed full of cowboys. No kidding honest to goodness cowboys wearing white hats, wrangler jeans, boots, and wild colored shirts. I kept saying I felt like I was at a bar in DC that was having a cowboy theme party-- except that it was real! So crazy that I'm living here, and yet so great. The male/female ratio out here is probably something like 5/1 which makes for lots of uncomfortable situations with the opposite sex (of all ages) who seem to have been waiting for a fresh batch of young teachers to come to town so they could have their pick. yikes. It's going to be an interesting year...

Saturday night was a TFA party at a house in Mission which felt considerably more normal and similar to most parties I have attended. Once again, teachers are great people :) I'm looking forward to meeting more second, third, and fourth year TFAers and of course more time hanging out with the greatest '07 corps.

This coming weekend is Rosebud fair, a huge Pow Wow/ Rodeo/ Carnival. We have off Friday and Monday for the festivities. Which means I only have to make it through three more days of training before the weekend! woo!

Tuesday, August 14

Teacher In-Services

Ever wonder what your teachers did in the last few weeks and days before school started? Well now I know. They sit through endless all day in-service meetings about test data and school policies and state standards. I have so very much to do, it's kind of frustrating to have to sit through so many meetings. But I'm going to stop being negative. There is some good information. Certainly knowing about testing and where the kids and they school is at is very important, and this school as got some serious work to do. And it's exciting to meet all the teachers and administrators and start getting to know the people I'll be working with every day. It seems to be a good bunch. It's very mixed between native and non-native. One thing people around here are good at is laughing a lot. Humor is a huge part of the culture, so at least long boring power points are occasionally interrupted with jokes poking fun of people and laughing all around.

Everything is a little bit chaotic right now. There's no class schedule. They're still missing some teachers (if you have any interest in teaching P.E. or Industrial Arts in South Dakota let me know). Oh, and we can't get into the new high school building yet because it didn't pass the final inspection and they're doing more work on it. So all of the desks, tables, books, computers, and materials that belong in the high school are currently still in the gym of the elementary school. yikes! And there's still no word on when we will be able to get into our classrooms to set up. But I'm going with the flow.

Meanwhile I'm supposed to be planning my classes... setting goals, making long term plans and assessments, writing the first Unit plan and lessons for the first weeks. Ah! I'm not quite freaking out yet because there is still nearly four weeks. But I see a little bit of flipping out in the near future.

I'm also beginning to realize now the things that I took for granted at institute. Don't get me wrong, institute was a mildly painful process, but there were hundreds of people there with a common mission to constantly remind each other what we're working for and why we're doing this. Being here is much more isolating and while all the teachers at the school clearly want what's best for the students, they come from a variety of education backgrounds and have drastically different mindsets. It's very easy to be overwhelmed with sudden attacks of "What the heck I'm I doing here???? I have no idea what I'm doing!!!" Although, in many ways it's nice to not be constantly labeled as TFA. Here we're just first year teachers who need lots and lots of help.

So that's my teaching rant, now to back up a little to life in general- The trailer is nice. I'm not feeling faint or nauseated or anything like that. We're pretty squished with three of us and zero storage space, but we're managing. We have central air!

Last weekend a large group of us went camping at Lake Angastora. It was fun. We went and saw the Wind Caves and went swimming in the lake and were ridiculously silly I love it. I love teachers.
On the whole I'm very happy to be here. I've been going running with my roommate Katie in the evenings and it is so beautiful and peaceful and... open here. I love the space. I will try to take some pictures soon. We're going to make a trip to Rapid City this weekend to buy some shelving and paint and fabric to cover the somewhat hideous sofa we inherited. I'll post pictures once it's all put together and cozy.

I'm ready to push through the next few weeks of meetings and preparations so I can make it to the good part- teaching the kids! It's going to be great.

Wednesday, August 8

One day!!

One of these was supposed to be my trailer....

Guess not. For now we'll be squishing three into one trailer. It'll all work out.

Ah... the night before departure. The Focus is filled to the gills yet again. I would like to complain about how much I hate packing, but I realized while going through and trying to tag my old posts that I already have numerous posts about how much I hate packing, so you can just look back on those if you've forgotten. Man oh man. Moving again. Am I crazy? Yep, pretty sure that I am.

So, what have I been doing the last couple weeks at home? About the same thing I usually do when I'm home. Sleeping late, bumming around with friends and family. I've also been collecting massive amounts of books books and more books. My bumper is going to be scraping the asphalt there are so many books in my trunk right now. Most of them are for my future classroom library. Some of them are teacher books for me that I've been browsing through trying to figure out how to teach English, or rather how I want to teach English. I've got lots of ideas that will hopefully solidify over the next few weeks.

Oh, also a bridge collapsed which you probably all heard about. It's pretty crazy. I wasn't anywhere near it nor did I know anyone on it. I did see it last week when we went downtown to see a play. It's totally unreal.

Samantha Brown is on TV right now showing me around Madrid and I remember two years ago when I was sitting here watching her holding a beer in Munich just a few days before I moved there. So exciting! I miss Europe a little bit.

But- I couldn't be more ready for South Dakota! Ok, that's a little bit of a lie. I could be a lot more ready, but I think I'm ready enough. I don't think I could be totally ready. And really that would be pretty dull anyway, right? I'm excited and confident that I can do this and that it's going to be a great two years. Extremely challenging, but all the greater for every challenge to overcome.

Timing goes something like this- driving to St. Francis tomorrow to hopefully unload stuff into our trailer. Saturday morning- leave with 2o something other SoDak TFAers for a fun filled camping trip somewhere in the Black Hills I think. Monday starts four long weeks of teacher in-services at my school. Thankfully that will give me some time to settle in and to do lots and lots more planning for my classes.

Nervous? anxious? stressing out a little bit? Ummm, yeah.

This is scattered and has been written in chunks over the course of the day- forgive me. It's time to go to bed, not that I can ever sleep the night be for traveling, but I'll give it a shot. Call me tomorrow if you're bored because I sure will be (if you've ever driven though southern MN you'll understand)!