Archive for the Off on a Tangent Category

Mom

Posted in Off on a Tangent with tags , on May 12, 2013 by activerunner

Happy Mothers day!  This is a day to celebrate mothers and all they do for their families.  Although I do not think one day a year is quite enough in retrospect to all they do and have to put up with.  So, I am dedicating my blog today to my mom!  She is an amazing person, the kind I hope to be one day.  

    While preparing dinner for mom this mothers day, we started discussing all the things mom has done for us over the years.  Of course, we are not really the complimenting type, we are more the tease and make fun, kind of people. So naturally, we begin reminding mom of all the mistakes she made with us kids.  Like the time she forgot Vandes at Layton Elementary as a little boy.  Or when she allowed Ashley, a little Ginger, to steer the four wheeler, which ended up crashing into a side bank, only to topple over and smash mom’s leg. We don’t let Ashley steer anymore. 

But honestly we couldn’t think of many more mistakes.  Mom is very nearly perfect.  She is so patient and kind.  She loves us even when we don’t deserve it and she loves us all the same… so she claims… although we have our theories about who her favorite child is.  She never yells or gets upset even when she has the right too!  She does however have a special talent for making us feel guilty.  When asked to do something, us kids sometimes moan and groan.  Mom responds to our groaning with an “I’ll just do it!”  Only then do we all say… “No!! mom don’t.  I’ll do it, I’ll do it!”  A very effective tactic on her part.  

All joking aside, my mom is amazing.  She is the essence of cool and could totally beat me up, she only does P90X and Insanity every day!  I even think she could take my brother Vandes.  Sorry Vandes, it’s true.  She is a major health nut and has amazing self control when it comes to food.  I grew up watching her take care of her self physically and can honestly say she has been my inspiration in following suit.  She is very giving of herself, her time, and her possessions.  I know I can always rely on her to be there and help me with anything.  I don’t know anyone more honest than my mom.  Dad, however, likes to joke and play tricks, but us kids have learned real quick that if we just ask mom, she’ll tell us the truth.  Nice try dad!  

I could go on and on about my mom.  One thing for sure is, I would not be half the person I am today with out her.  Her influence has been immeasurable in my life.  I hope to be the kind of mother to my own kids that she has been to me!  that is…. if I ever get married.  Thanks for everything Mom.  I love you.

Summer List

Posted in Camping/hiking, Off on a Tangent, Races, Shoes with tags , on April 14, 2013 by activerunner

Summer is almost here!  finally.  Did winter seem long or was that just me?  My motivation slowly dies in the winter, along with everything else.  I hate not seeing the sun and I hate the cold!  This Winter has been a hard one and I’m not just talking about the intense weather conditions.  So because the snow has finally melted, I can’t help but to look forward to the joys of summer.  And now that I have a career that does not require me to work during the summer months, while still getting paid, I can enjoy the season so much more fully.   Don’t be too jealous.  Summer vacation for teachers is much deserved, trust me.  But how am I going to get the most out of my now free, empty, workless months?

Well I have a few ideas.

I’m turning 26 this summer… and I really don’t have much to show for it.  Don’t get me wrong I have a great life, career, family, and friends, but I haven’t experienced life outside my little bubble.  I’ve been so stuck in routine my whole life.  This summer I want things to be different.  It’s time to ditch routine.  I want to go places I’ve never been, do things I’ve never done, and why not? I have the whole summer.  Sad thing is I haven’t gone anywhere.  I’ve lived in Utah my whole life and haven’t even seen what it has to offer.  That said, I plan to do just that, explore Utah.  I want to see the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Arches national park.  I want to hike different trails and see the wonders they have to offer.

life is a race

I want to be involved in more races competitively.  I’m done with the “fun runs” and obstacle courses that aren’t timed. I want to race! 5k’s are my specialty and I would love to see where I fit in against some real competition.  I also plan to run a half marathon this summer, and I plan to place.  That is going to take some serious training, but I just bought the shoes for it, so I’m all set!

IMG_1954

I also plan on traveling outside of Utah, I think its about time.  There are so many places I haven’t been, so I’m not really sure where to start.  The plan is to start with Florida, visit the beach, run in the sand, and I’m really excited to go to Harry Potter World… does that make me a nerd?  There are many other places I’d like to travel, however, I am not made of money.  but Hey, I have every summer from now to the end of my career!  Thats plenty of time to see new and exciting places.  okay, If I were you I’d a tab bit jealous…

I just don’t want this summer to be a waste, spent in days of boredom.  When I first started my career, I kind of thought everything else would just fall into place.   I see now that nothing falls into place, you’ve got to put it there.  It’s time I start putting the pieces together,  get a new routine.  My summer may be free and workless but it certainly isn’t going to be empty.

adversarial Flower

Posted in Off on a Tangent with tags , , , , , , on March 11, 2013 by activerunner

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all. ” Some of the best quotes are off Disney Movies..  I have recently been thinking a lot about losses, trials, or to spell it out simply, bad experiences.  I watched the Layton High girls play in the State Championship Game a while ago.  They did so well in the state tournament.  It took me back to MY high school days.  They played hard all season working to reach the state title.  Yet,  once they got there they couldn’t finish.  It happens.  What was the point of all that hard work when they lost it all in the end?
I have come a long way since high school.  I’m not even the same person!  In high school I was this skinny, odd, airheadish, lazy, shy, unconfident, little girl.  Although I still have a lot of these same qualities, I’ve improved myself significantly since then.  I can attribute my improvement to all the “traumatic” experiences I’ve dealt with in my lifetime.  Not that they have really been all that horrible.  as I Look back at my high school problems, thinking they were awful at the time, are now somewhat hilarious.  But however stupid those so called problems were, they were problems none the less.  In High School I had things I wanted to become, things I wanted to accomplish, but those things were seemingly out of reach.  But those three years taught me that most things aren’t necessarily unreachable if one works hard enough to get there.
I have played basketball my entire life.  Well, let me rephrase that… I have loved basketball my entire life, but most the time I warmed the bench.  Once I got to high school, basketball was the top of my priorities.  I wanted a starting position.  I wanted to be the star, but I lacked confidence, and to state it harshly, skill.  The girls on my team were so talented.  Layton hasn’t seen such talent since my year, and I’m not being biased.  It was hard not to feel unconfident when playing with them.  But even with all our talent, we struggled.  My sophomore year we made it to State but  lost in the semi finals.  My Junior year we made it to the Championship game, but lost again!  after all that, it would have been easy to say,  “it’s no use, we can’t reach it.”  But we didn’t.  My senior year we were determined.  We put it all together and became State Champions with ease.  I played a total of twenty seconds in that game.  Something I’ve never truly admitted to anyone because I was always embarrassed about it.  But thats the point.  I learned something from that game….  All my teams hard work paid off and If they could do it, why couldn’t I?  I have long since proven to myself that I can hold my own in a game a basketball.  Yes, it would of been nice to have gained that skill and confidence in high school when it counted, but it’s the principal of the matter.  I learned I was capable of more.
In high school I wasn’t only just a skinny nerd, I did have some talents.  I was a natural runner, which most high schoolers thought was pretty nerdy.  I did cross-country my freshman year and I was good.  But, I hated running!  it was painful and considered lame.  But despite my lack of dedication, I was among the top runners on my team.  Cross country taught me how to get through unpleasant situations as well as unbearable pain.  Even though running was low on my list of priorities, I ran every single mile in practice and in meets with out stopping, even when I hated it.  (Which was basically every day of the season.)  I have turned that hate into love.  I now love everything about running.  Yes, it is hard and sometimes I don’t want to do it, but that is what makes it so worth while!  It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
after high school I went off to college to become a health teacher.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into.  College was fun and I loved it.  I gained a passion for health and fitness and graduated with high hopes of finding a job.  That job didn’t come as quickly as I would have liked.  so I was stuck mowing lawns and smelling like grass for yet another summer.  I started substitute teaching in the fall and sometimes felt I might die of boredom sitting in class after class watching students do busy work all day.  It took me two years to find the glorious job I have now.  But two years of managing students whose behavior, changes significantly when their regular teacher is not around, helped to prepare me for the crazy junior high students I spend so much time with now a days.
There is always going to be something you want that is hard to obtain, that takes time to obtain.  You may hate working toward what you want at times, but If it was easy it wouldn’t mean anything.  obtaining a dream is an amazing accomplishment!  But it’s not the actual dream that has the meaning.  The meaning is in the journey, is in the growth that takes place while traveling toward it.  And because of that growth, we can better accept the end result, win or lose, success or failure.  We may even start out chasing a dream and on the way change our dream completely.  In reality we are all late bloomers.  We may bloom and flourish in one area and wilt away in another.  But the point is that we tried and became better for it!  As long as we are improving on the quest toward our dream, only then will the end result be truly worth while.  Lady Lancers, you all played wonderfully.  Don’t think about the loss, think about the season.  Think about the struggles you overcame.  Think about your teammates and how you came together.  Think about where you first started compared to where you finished.  Think about the hard work and how it really did pay off.  It happened.

Experiences of a First Year Teacher

Posted in Off on a Tangent with tags , on February 13, 2013 by activerunner

Teaching in a Junior High School can be a highly rewarding, exciting, yet stressful, and discouraging experience.  The range of emotions I feel through out a single day of teaching is unreal.  For example, after one specific class period I feel the surge of motivation, Success, and happiness from the way the class responded to my lesson.  The very next period I feel like a glorified zoo keeper, holding kids against their will in a class they obviously couldn’t care less about.  I’ve had so many different experiences during my first year of teaching, I thought maybe I should share a few.

The phone rings early on a warm summer morning.  I nervously pick up the phone.  The caller on the other end congratulates me, I am the new Health Teacher for the Junior High School.  I accept the job, hang up, and let the terror seep throughout my body.  To be honest, I did not want to teach Junior High.  Junior High students frightened me, a lot.  I was a long term sub at a junior high for three months before landing this job, and lets just say the experience was not a good one.  I vowed right then and there to never apply for the Junior High level.  I planned to teach the  mature and sophisticated high schoolers.  Things don’t work out the way I plan.

So, where do I start? Lets start with the students, shall we?   I have some characters.  One student in particular, we’ll call him Noah, likes to tell me how beautiful I am every time he sees me, which I don’t really mind, although it is a little awkward.  One time I was gaurding the door to keep students from leaving PE early.  There is a fan by the door and it was blowing on me a little bit.  Noah told me I looked like a model with the fan blowing my hair like that.  Flattering yes, but awkward.  What’s bad is he always asks me when we are going to get together?  How am I supposed to respond to this?  I always say the same thing, “next time we’re in Gym Noah… goodbye.”  But he never gives up.  One time while sitting in my office, he came in and told me he wanted to take me on a date.  I very awkwardly told him that was not appropriate and continued talking to the other kids.  Gym class was about to start so, wanting to get everyone to class, I stood up and said, “Okay, we are going out now, lets go.  After having said that, Noah jumped up and said, “WE ARE??  FINALLY!”  I couldn’t help but laugh at him, but at the same time it is very inappropriate.

My Second period class was a nightmare for me and I had some really hard students that liked to give me a lot of crap.  I had one student who refused to do anything.  He sat in the back and twiddled his thumbs.  I threw him out a lot for disrespect.  He’d always tell me how dumb my class was, which upsets me.  In this same period is a kid whom we’ll call Mario who loved to ask a million questions.  Whoever said there are no dumb questions was terribly wrong.  He once raised his hand and asked me if the girl in the video we were watching had a boyfriend.  I told him he was missing the point and shouldn’t be asking those kinds of questions.  He then asked, “Does she have a girlfriend.”  I kicked him out.  I had a meeting during my classes one day, so I had to get a sub to cover my first four periods.  After my meeting I go back to my room to find it completely trashed!  The sub had left a note saying that my second period was out of control and had messed up the room.  They had stolen glue sticks from my drawer, cut the tops off, and threw them on the ceiling so they stuck.  Glue was plastered all over the ceiling.  What in the world was the sub doing during all this?  Probably ducking for cover.   I discovered the names of all students involved, yes Mario was one of them, and made them take every glue stick and scrub every desk down.  I could go on and on about this class, but I think you get the picture.

The good thing about Health is that it’s only a semester long.  So I have recently gotten all new students and have trained them well, although their have been a few incidents.  Right now I’m just struggling with getting my students to respond.  Before I was getting too many responses that were out of control.  Now i’m getting drones that just sit and stare at me with blank faces.  So I try to tell jokes or show them funny videos and still, no response.  “Hello are you guys awake? Whats the deal?”  It crazy how different one class can be from the other.  My PE kids are quite the opposite though. I watch these kids get in fights over a kick ball game that no one is keeping score of.  And these aren’t just arguments… they’re fist fights!  four students have been suspended this year for fighting.  They cheat and get overly competitive.  But at least they like the sport we play.

Most the time however I do love my job.  I love how these students are just little kids at heart.  They pretend to be adults and they want to be treated that way, but they are still just kids.  In gym I get so many kids asking me to watch them do something.  “Ms. Price watch this!”  Then they run to the half court line, chuck the basketball with all their strength towards the hoop and…. it’s an air ball. “Wow!” I say, “That was amazing!” Me and my Co PE teacher watch our kids on free fridays, playing games that little five year olds would play.  They are playing tag, jumping on mats trying to escape the hot lava, making sound effects with their mouths.  I know, you’d think they be a little more mature than that.  But they’re not.  I have students that will run up to me and want to tell me their whole life story.  I of course just want to be left alone a lot of the time, because I never have time to my self.  But they will tell me story after story and all you can do is listen.  Let them talk to you,  they like you a lot more if you’ll just listen to them.  Some times you hear some really disturbing stories though.  In fact,  A girl today told me her whole family sees ghosts, except her brother because he’s not twelve yet.  She wanted to know if seeing ghosts was a mental disorder since that has been our topic of discussion in class.  I didn’t really answer her question.  I talked around it. “You see ghosts?”  “Yes…” “Like the sixth sense?”  “What’s the sixth sense?”  “Uh… class is going to start so time to sit down.”

The most rewarding part of teaching is seeing my students get excited about the lessons.  It may not happen that often but does occasionally.  It’s exciting when they ask questions and genuinely want to learn about the topic.  They want to participate and tell stories that they connect with whats being taught.  I love to see that.  I love to see them interested in something that I am so passionate about. It makes all the crazy unplanned experiences worth it.  And now, there Isn’t a single student out there that could frighten me anymore!

Forty Opportunities to Respond

Posted in Off on a Tangent with tags , , , on November 21, 2012 by activerunner

Teaching is hard!  I try to come up with new and exciting ways to teach so it’s not the same thing everyday.  I think each individual teacher has something unique to bring to the classroom that other teachers can’t.  with that said, sometimes your ideas for teaching work and sometimes they flop.  That is just the way it is.  I don’t care how great of a teacher you are.  Every teacher has had a lesson flop before…. probably more than once.  So here’s the question, should teachers be forced to teach a certain way to prevent flops?

Ogden School District has come up with a program to prevent flopping called forty opportunities to respond.  This new trend of teaching requires teachers to get forty responses from students every ten minutes of the class period.  You accomplish this by asking lots of questions.  You must get choral responses, single responses, and “All Accountable” responses.  A choral response is where students answer a question or read a definition all together at the same time.  A single response is where the teacher asks a specific student by name to answer a question, and an “All Accountable” response is where all students answer a question and the teacher can monitor weather their answers are wrong or right.  No, worksheets and assignments do not count as a response.  Teachers are evaluated by how many responses you get every ten minutes.  If you don’t get forty… you fail.  Your response to this kind of teaching?

While at a meeting the district showed us how to teach this way.  They had an expert come and teach one of our classes.  He came in, put up a power point and required students to put their thumbs up if they agreed with the answers, thumbs down if they disagreed. (an All Accountable response.)  He had students reading definitions out loud together (choral response), raising hands, etc.  He did this for ten minutes and while we were observing we were told to count how many responses he got from the class.  He received pretty close to forty but not quite.  Now, I think some of these Ideas are great for teaching especially during reviews.  But, why are we focusing on how many responses we get?  I think we should be more worried about quality not quantity.  To me a thumbs up or thumbs down doesn’t take much thinking.

I am not one who enjoys being told what to do.  I do not like to be told that I should teach this way or that.  I went to college, earned a degree and know what I am doing.  Is there room for improvement? Of course!!  But I’d prefer suggestions and I should be able to decide whether to use them or not.  I don’t think my evaluation score should be determined by how many students are raising their thumbs or reading definitions out loud.  I should be evaluated on preparation, management, and whether I taught a class of engaged learning students.  It shouldn’t matter how, as long as my students are engaged and learning.  Every classroom should have structure, I agree, but each teacher should have the right to create their own classroom environment.

I don’t think  this new way of teaching to get responses will stop “the flops”.  These students will get sick of being forced to respond to every thing we say.  They will get sick of always having to put their thumbs up or down, and many will chose not to participate just like in any type of teaching.  You will always have students that care, and students that don’t.  That doesn’t mean we give up on them, we’ve got to try and reach them.  Find something that will interest them.  And it’s possible that some of the districts ideas will reach them, but the teachers ideas can work as well.  They are the ones that spend time with these students every day.  They know them better than the any one in the district.

I’m not saying I don’t like the Opportunities to respond idea, but when we are forced to use it we are being told that our way of teaching is wrong.  And I think putting a number on responses required, forty in ten minutes, tells teachers to teach for responses not for learning.  Sometimes when learning you aren’t responding…. out loud, you’re just listening, writing, watching, or reading to your self, and I would consider those all great responses for learning.  I would also consider a flop of a lesson a response to teaching… not the kind of response a teacher would hope for, but a response none the less and one teachers can learn from.  Teachers also need to learn how to respond…. to the flops when they happen.  Learn how to improve by the watching the responses of the students.  Perhaps, turn the tables around and have the teachers evaluated on how  they respond to each class.  There will be a lot less flops if teachers respond to the individual needs of each class period.

Honestly, I feel students learn more from the teacher than from what is actually being taught.  What do you remember about your teachers?  Do you remember anything about their subject when you were in Junior high or high school? I don’t!  I remember how they taught.  Were they mean, strict, funny, kind, happy, weird?  Did they care about you?  Did they try to make class fun and interesting or was it the same note taking, lecturing bore everyday?  The classes you actually remember learning were the classes taught by teachers who did things differently.  The teacher that put their own unique spin on the subject and tried to get students to see what they see.  That is the ultimate response…. Getting student to see what you see.

Power of Bribary

Posted in Off on a Tangent with tags , , on September 25, 2012 by activerunner

I am in a state of shock right now.  I honestly can’t believe it!  I am a junior high health teacher and am currently sitting at the back of my worst class behavioral wise, listening to my guest speaker teach in complete silence.  My students are never this quiet, EVER!  They are all sitting quietly at their desk, no one is out of their seat, they aren’t making smart alec remarks, and they constantly look back at me to make sure that I know they are behaving!  Because they know, that i know that they are never this well behaved.  So I just stare back in disbelief. 

Yes, I had a nice long discussion with my class about being respectful for when the guest speaker comes and yes, I did bribe my class by teling them that I would bring some kind of treat if they behaved.  I also told them that if they didn’t behave they would be in BIG TROUBLE.  Quite the threat right?  So is their beavhior a result of a possible reward? Or was it my well thought out threat.  I think it’s the first. The power of a bribary is absolutely amazing.  If you can find something people really want you can probably get them to do just about anything to get it.  I just didn’t think students were so easily bribed with candy. Well, they are junior high students…. what else could they possibly want in life?

So what I have learned as a teacher is that rewards systems work, it just has to be the right reward.  Candy works wonders for students!  But I have a dllemma… this is a health class… and candy is not particularly healthy.  Should I try giving them carrots instead? I think sometimes you have to make sacrafices and I will gladly sacrafice their health if it means behavioral change.  I’d much rather have my students fat and quiet than skinny and abnoxious.  I’m totally kidding of course….  But I can’t say i’m not enjoying the peace and quiet…. in a class full of 8th graders.  Who would have thought this could happen?  I am still sitting in disbelief.

Change

Posted in Off on a Tangent with tags on September 17, 2012 by activerunner

In One moment you’re running the familiar. You know every street, every turn, every hill. Your pace is strong and quick with a sense of confidence and comfort.  but you are growing tired, bored, and you want more.  You see potential and want to go where you were meant to.
The next moment you are suddenly running the unfamiliar. Your pace slows with a sense of fear as you enter the unknown. What will await you on the streets, turns, and hills of uncertainty?  Is this what you wanted?  To continually improve and conquer goals not yet conquered.  Hardships and setbacks arrive, but you venture forward because complacency doesn’t become you.  Or are you content with living stagnant?

So keep running from one moment to the next! The unfamiliar will eventually become familiar. If led into uncertainty you can only end up certain of something. Your pace will quicken, your stride will lengthen, your confidence will return.  You have unlimited potential that can take you where you are meant to… but you decide where you are meant to end up.