Sunday, August 14, 2011

First full week as a big girl with a big girl job? Check.

Boy, have things started to pick up pace here in DC! 

Our full staff-training started on Monday and we got straight to work. We discussed several new strategies, philosophies, and also got more accustom to our newly implemented Common Core Standards. We also spent two days with all of the other schools that we're associated with so that we could get our curriculum. 

It was a week slam full of professional development. 

I was relieved to finally get my curriculum... until I actually read it. We were given our basic standards and objectives and then we were given units for the year. These units were created this summer by contractors. The person that was hired to make the curriculum for science was charged with creating 7 courses worth of curriculums and unfortunately, she had no experience with Earth Science, let alone teaching Earth Science. In other words, we're not using this suggested curriculum. 

I was lucky enough to be able to work with my equivalent at the other school, so she and I planned out our year together. Our exams, projects, and units will all be aligned with one another. She seems really great and I feel very lucky to be working with her. 

I'm also very lucky to have such wonderful co-workers. I had more of an opportunity to get to know them this week and they are awesome. We had a staff cook-out on Wednesday at my principal's house and then Friday afternoon after our last PD day, some of us went to a bar by the school to get some food and a beer. 

As expected, things at home have been going great. Isla seems to have adjusted well to life here and Mike has been very supportive. I even think Isla now loves him more than she loves me. 

We went to Annapolis yesterday evening to see Mike's family. His grandparents were visiting from New York, so I got to meet them for the first time. Mimi and Pop-Pop are awesome :D

This coming week I have another full schedule. I'll be doing training all day from 8-4 and then two nights this evening I'll have either more PD over dinner or will be going to a school open-house. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Good Morning GW House!

Oh my goodness! This week was quite the exciting blur. 

I started new-teacher training at my school on Wednesday. There are 7 other new teachers joining the team this year and they are all wonderful people. We are from all over the country and of very different backgrounds. I've really enjoyed getting to know them and I know that it will be a blast working with them.

The school was very welcoming when we started. They gave us a lot of school supplies and started to get us all settled in. I was also very pleased to see a Keurig machine so that I can get some tea throughout the day! What a treat! 

Training this week consisted a lot of learning the operations of the school. We are an 'uncommon school' which means we use a lot of uncommon practices from Doug Lemov's book 'Teach Like a Champion'. There are a lot of specific procedures that the entire school uses. For instance, if a student has a question they raise up three fingers, if they have a comment or answer they hold up two fingers, etc. It's a very respectful environment and I think I'm going to enjoy it greatly. My favorite part of the procedure is that at the beginning and end of every class period, students stand up and greet the teacher and the teacher does the same. My homeroom is GW House (all of the homerooms are named after universities), so in the morning for their science class I'll give them the greeting:
Teacher: Good Morning GW House!
Students: Good Morning Ms. M!
Teacher: Today we'll be...

And then they'll be instructed to sit down and we will begin our lesson. 

I will be traveling from class to class (there are 4 classes I'll be teaching daily) with a cart with my things. I also have a science lab that I can reserve whenever I need it. (*The science department has a whole big family of Madagascar hissing cockroaches! I can't wait to come up with a lesson for them!) My work space (a desk and file cabinet) are located in a workroom with the other 6th and 7th grade teachers. I was blessed to have a wonderful teacher in my position before me who has left me an incredible amount of resources so my work area is FULL. As most of my family and teacher friends know, I'm also a hoarder of school supplies and teacher tools, so I'm REALLY at capacity at my work space. I will soon be taking over other parts of the school just as my predecessor did :D

The school itself is gorgeous. It's located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of D.C. and is over 100 years old. They've really done the place up nicely and have utilized the space. It's a little confusing to get around seeing as it's actually two buildings that were built at different times just scrunched together, but I feel like I'm getting a hang of it. 

My co-workers and I explored the Columbia Heights neighborhood this week during our lunch hour. Most of them just moved to DC as well and live in Columbia Heights themselves. There is a great shopping area just about 4 blocks away from the school. There is a Target, Best Buy, Giant, 5 Guys, a great pizza place called 'Pete's' and much much more. I can't wait to explore it more! 

This weekend I haven't done much of anything. I've been getting settled in a little bit more and then Mike and I ran some errands together yesterday. I got some more plants for our front yard and got a plant for my classroom :)

We've also discovered a WONDERFUL dog park about 6 blocks away. Isla had a great time! We went down there Friday evening and met some wonderful dogs and owners. I'm so lucky to be in such a wonderful neighborhood! Our area is still diverse and feels like the city, but it's also where you can say "hello" as you walk down the street. 

This week we are starting staff training for all of the teachers at my school. The hours will be a little longer than last week- they are slowly but surely introducing us to the long hours. Thank goodness. 

On a sad note, my Godfather, Leon Craven, passed away earlier this week. He had been sick for a long time but it's still very sad to lose such a special person. I love him and his wife, Ethel, very very much and I wish I could be in Rock Hill for the service on Monday but unfortunately there is no way I can make it :(
I will definitely be thinking of him all day as I'm sitting at work. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's a Record-Breaking Heatwave... Let's MOVE!

After a summer of job applications, interviews, resumes.... 

I got a job.

I got an AWESOME job.

I'll be teaching 6th grade Earth Science at a charter school up in Washington DC. Those of you who know me know that this is my dream subject and age level. 6th graders are precious- old enough to do things on their own but at the same time they still want to please you. 
I couldn't be more excited!

Moving to the city will definitely be a change for me. I've only ever really lived in NC and I LOVE IT. I love how every building has central air and that the mountains and the beach are both just a couple of hours away. I love that there are plenty of college sports to follow and I love how our winters only last a couple of months. I especially love that all of my family is there. 

I decided to move up in the middle/end of July. My parents and I took their car and my car up from NC with all of my things. Thankfully, I didn't have to bring much furniture, so the cars weren't too packed. 

The day I moved in, THE HEAT INDEX WAS 121. Yes. You read that correctly. 121. 

My mom stayed in the AC in my new English Basement apartment on the Hill with the puppy while Dad and I moved things into the apartment. It was quite the feat but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. 

After we got all of my things into the new apartment Mike got home and we all went to Maryland to spend the weekend with his parents. It was a wonderful weekend full of a lot of embarrassing stories about Mike and myself. 

The week after our Maryland vacation was spent getting settled. Mike and I took trips to IKEA, Walmart, Eastern Market and Harris Teeter. I had my days to get settled and to do some experimenting the kitchen (berry cobbler, chorizo + tomato sauce, tacos, etc.) 

I also got the pleasure of going to the DMV to get my car registration and driver's license taken care of. What a joy that was... not. DC has this silly inspection program where they only have 1 inspection station for all of the vehicles in the city. The line was ~6 blocks long and I had the joy of being behind a garbage truck. Thankfully when I got towards the actual inspection station, I put on my southern charm and got things moving a little faster. 
After the inspection I had to go to the actual DMV on the other side of town to get my registration and license taken care of. Before I left, I thoroughly checked online to see if that DMV did all of the services I needed it to. After I drove all of the way there, I found out that they shut down all services except traffic school. #FAIL

I then had to go home and investigate where the other DMVs were. I finally found one and was able to drive there (the drive involved me going the wrong way on a one-way street at one point but eh... it was east of the Potomac so no big deal). After waiting for ~2 hours I FINALLY got things finished and oh let me tell you... not having to worry about parking in DC is a HUGE weight off of my shoulders. In DC, if your car is registered here, you can get a parking pass for your ward for only $15. It is GREAT! 

This week I'm having the joy of going to the police department for my background check for my job. I already had to go down there this morning to make an appointment and make my payment. I have to go back tomorrow to actually get the job done. I drove a little bit closer to the Capitol today (hooray for living in this neighborhood!) and then walked down to 3rd NE and back. It wasn't that bad of the walk except for the HEAT. I think tomorrow I'll ask the Capitol police what the penalty would be if I ran through the sprinklers on the Capitol's lawn. It was AWFULLY tempting today.