Monday, July 27, 2009

If we keep silent

Well, after a long silence, the writer returns. I realized the other day that I haven't written anything creative since March. That is a very long time. Too long.

But as I was thinking about this, I also realized that in the last year I have written over 50 pages of personal reflection on teaching and faith and community. That's no small feat, when you think about it. In the process, I've learned quite a bit about myself, and also changed a lot as a result. While it might seem self-centered, I think it's almost more important. Maybe all my non-creative writing in the last months is giving me a firm foundation for some work ahead of me. Maybe it's just supposed to give me that window into myself. I'm not really sure yet.

I had some pretty interesting experiences this week. On Friday night I went and watched Dirty Dancing with some friends at Pioneer Square. We brought a picnic and there was free popcorn, so all in all it was a fabulous night. Corey is planning a similar event at our apartments this weekend. Then on Saturday night we had a barbeque out on the bluff, overlooking the Willamette River. The sunset was killer, and the trains on the railway bridge looked like postcards. On Sunday I went to my first ever Latin mass. It was possibly one of the most beautiful and spiritual experiences I've had in a long time. I learned how to read chant notation and was also impressed with how much I could understand with my Spanish major and two years of Latin. It was very solemn and very holy, and while I don't think that I could go to that type of service every week, it was a real experience of God for me.

It's hard to believe that there are only two weeks left of summer classes. This summer has gone by so fast, probably because I've been so busy. I went home and saw Philly and D.C., came back to Portland, spent weekends in Olympia, Yakima, and Boston, wrote a larg portion of my research and submitted it to the IRB, and did lots and lots of schoolwork. I've also been getting used to my new community... let's just say that the honeymoon period is over. I'm having to work a lot harder this year than I did last year. I live with a lot of really strong personalities.

Still planning on camping in Glacier next month! I am PSYCHED.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Like an Indian summer in the middle of winter

Currently reading: Lots of research on effective spelling instruction, The Wednesday Wars, Animal Farm, Esther

So the first week back in school was a little bit overwhelming. Summer classes move so very quickly, and getting a master's degree while teaching keeps you very busy. This summer I'm taking research, and next year I'll be conducting research in my own classroom. Needless to say, this is a huge undertaking and also has far too many parts to worry about. So this summer I'm reviewing the literature and setting up my research methods, and then in the fall I'll conduct the research and write a massively large paper outlining my findings. I'm not too terrible excited about the prospect, but at the same time, it is excitingly grown-up and professional to be conducting a quantitative educational study. I'm going to be focusing on spelling and writing.

My reading class is utterly amazing, and I can already tell that I am going to be a much better teacher next year because of it. I've also been stockpiling resources for teaching religion, so while I am completely exhausted, I also feel like I am getting a lot done towards being a more effective teacher.

Thursday we went to Bluesfest on the waterfront and listened to some wonderful music and had a good time dancing to some not-as-wonderful music. Then this weekend I went up to Olympia to celebrate the fourth with some friends. It was a nice relaxing two days when I didn't bring any work with me. I just sat back and enjoyed the time away from school. My friend Luke has a house out on a lake, and we took a rowboat out into the middle of the lake and watched all the neighbors setting off fireworks. It was really a lot of fun.

And then today it was back into the grind of schoolwork. I'm still waiting on a paycheck, so funds are tight and my friend Erin had to lend me money to print out an article I needed. I felt like a loser when that happened. Once my life calms down a little bit I'll do my best to be in better touch with people...I'm a little overwhelmed right now.