Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New school update...

I'm on my last week of harvest break.  Yup, our school district, as well as many surrounding schools take a couple of weeks off at the end of September to allow the students to work on the potato harvesters and in the barns brining in the harvest.  It's a tradition that's been going on forever in our region.

So far my new position as a high school social studies teacher has been going well.  I have had challenges, but I'm getting the hang of things.  Most of the adjustment is on me.  Dealing with behaviors is different with high school students than it was with middle school and elementary.

Part of the stress that I was going through was taking the Praxis II test in social studies for my certification.  Well, let's just say that it took a couple of attempts, and lots of focus and studying, but I passed!!  Just waiting now for my score to be available for printing so I can wrap this part up.

That test pretty much consumed my spare time and attention.  It's funny how just getting that behind me has changed my perspective on being a history teacher.  I feel more immersed in history (if that makes any sense), that it's more a part of me than it was before.

I feel that as part of my reinvention, if you will, of being a high school social studies teacher, I'll also be working on keeping another blog called Classroom Teacher Tales.   Please feel free to follow my blog and give feedback or suggestions.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Yet Another New Beginning!

According to my last blog post, I was teaching 4th grade.  So far I've gone from teaching 7th and 8th graders, to teaching 3rd and 4th graders.  Now what is in store for me?  Let's just say I'm moving up to high school.   

The whole move is because of instability in the district I was in.  Just like my first district that cut me 3 years ago, I was facing an uncertain future.  So, not wanting to be taking off guard, I decided to quit while I was ahead and take a leap of faith.

This change is a mixture of pros and cons.  The pros is that I'm MUCH closer to home, 1.9 miles as opposed to 25 miles, one way! :)  As for the work, I'm going from 12 students in all subjects to as many as 15 to 24 students in 6 different classes, all social studies.

Another mixture is that I'll be teaching at my stepsons' school.  The older one is a senior this year and the younger one in the 8th grade.  I'll be teaching the older one this year, and it will be awkward for both of us, because it's never happened before.  But they did encourage me to take the position when it was offered to me.

I've also spend the whole summer preparing for my 5 different courses, only to change my mind this weekend on the approach I want to take.  Argh!   

Let's just say that it's been beautiful all day, and I spent almost all of it inside working, in my pj's.  The pool was almost 80º and it wasn't muggy outside at all.  But on the positive side, I finished what I needed to do.  



Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Yes, we are studying a Shakespeare play.  I have enjoyed and A Midsummer Night's Dream and have taught it before with me 8th graders back in Madawaska.  When I talked with my class about what they
had done after the play, we decided that we wanted to do the same thing.  So.....

I found a version of A Midsummer Night's Dream for 4th grade, and we read it together as a class.  We discussed the major elements of the play, the characters, settings, and plot.  Next I survey the groups to allow them choice as to which act of the play they wanted to work on, and I used this information to group them.

Next, they picked apart their scripts.  We discussed the goals of this activity, and what they needed to focus on.  We discussed how much work this would be, but even though I offered to let them hold off until after April break to work on it, they all voted (blind vote) to start right away.  As you can see from the video they took off running.  The part I like best is they all seem to be enjoying the process.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


My car off the road a week before Christmas Break.   That's a good samaritan
preparing my car to get pulled out.  I held up traffic on both lanes of the road,
including the school bus with half of my students on board.
Well, it was my first day back at school, and a strange one at that.  Nothing extremely out of the ordinary, but we had a 2-hour delay because of the road conditions and that was enough to throw us all out of whack!  And no.  I didn't get to my workout this morning like I had planned.  My morning ended up busier than I thought it would be.  Plus, my car battery died, so I had to take my husband's Jeep, so that delayed me even more than planned.  And with the roads being icy, I wanted to make sure I had an early start so I don't end up going off the road.  Again.

This noon one of my colleagues approached me with a scale and asked if I wanted to join their Wellness group.  Without hesitation I said yes and asked if I could get weighed now.

My weight...in my dreams!
As I stepped on the scale, I didn't feel anxious about the number, even though some of my colleagues were nearby.  They had no intention of looking, and I didn't offer my weight.  I was somewhat pleased that I was about 4 pounds less than what I expected, however, I still wasn't happy about the number to begin with.

Now, this morning my plan was to do my workout after supper, but that didn't work out either.  Geesh!  Obstacles everywhere!  I can't complain, though.  I got a new car battery (They don't give them away!!!), and Chinese food for supper.  So let's just say that my supper pretty much took care of my day's worth of calories.

Tomorrow's a new day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Is it a Fail or a Break?

I had a snow day today.  Or might it be considered a rain day instead?  It definitely became a PJ day for me.  I know, it seems strange to have a rain day, but that's what we got today, and the boys and I didn't have school.

Considering the fact that we've been dealing with day after day of snow through Christmas Break, we then dealt with nearly a week of subzero temperatures that the rest of the country is now getting.  So, today our temperature rose literally 60º to a balmy 37º F today! So today we got rain.

The problem was that because the ground was so cold, any rain that fell froze as it landed on the roads, which made for dangerous driving.  So, that justified having a rain day.  In January.  In Maine.

So, where does "A Fail or a Break" come into the picture?  Well, I was still up at my usual time this morning, at 5 A.M. to feed our cat Charlie, say goodbye to my husband, and begin getting ready for my day.  I had my suspicions that there would be no school today, but just in case I jumped in the shower just the same.

As I was toweling off, my phone rang with our customary School Reach call letting me know of our school cancellation.  That left me with a dilemma.  A very serious dilemma.

You know how I've been wanting to get back in to my workout routines that I had been doing so long ago? Well, I had the perfect opportunity to do that today, but I had already taken my shower.  I couldn't get all sweaty again when I just got washed up.  It's not good for my hair to get washed so often, and it's drying for the skin when it's cold outside.  I know.  Great excuses.

So, what do you think I did?  That's right.  Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Well, not exactly nothing.  I did have to revise my plans because of the school cancellation today, and I did try to set up some Mystery Skype sessions, and of course, I ensured that my friends and I were updated on all the necessary statuses on Facebook and Twitter.  All the cute kitty pictures and videos were liked and shared.  All the posts about the weather were commented upon.  You know, catching up with the news.

Now, I could beat myself up mentally for not doing a workout today.  I could punish myself by saying what a lazy, horrible, and unmotivated person I am.  Then I thought about it.  I just did a streak of 3 days!  Is it wrong to give myself a break?  Didn't I deserve it?  At this point in the day, I'd have to say the answer is a yes.  I did deserve a break.  Especially after the latest development of my 2 hour delay in my district tomorrow morning.  

That's right.  My plans for tomorrow are this.  Get up at the usual time of 5, feed Charlie, say goodbye to Hubby, then do my workout.  Wake up the boys, make them pancakes (which is usually reserved for special occasions and weekends), send them off to school, then get ready for my day.  

I think that sounds like a workable plan.  Don't ya think?  I'll let you know how that went.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Heat Wave!!

While most of the central and lower eastern part of the US are now getting a deep freeze, we're actually getting a break from the one we've been going through up in Aroostook County, in Maine.  We welcomed in the new year with temperatures of -20º F with wind chills in the -40s, the lowest I noticed was -47º F.  Brrr... We've been in the teens for most of the day today, and it was nice!

As I'm sitting here writing this, reflecting on the day, I'm kicking myself because I never considered going outside to walk, rather than on the treadmill in my dark and dusty basement.

I'm pretty proud of myself, because I've done 3 straight days in a row.  It will be a challenge starting tomorrow, because school vacation is over and it's back to school.  And....to get things going I have a meeting after school and my oldest has a home game.  Somewhere in between I have to also cook supper and make sure homework is done.

I like to do leg and arm exercises then do at least 15 minutes on the treadmill.  I may have to consider doing this in smaller portions and do the squats and arm lifts tomorrow morning, then jump on the treadmill after the game.

I wonder how any of you who have to balance work and a family manage to get a meaningful workout in on a regular basis?  I would love to read what you do.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Brand New Year!

As I've mentioned in my previous blog posts, I've tried to get back to where I was a couple of years ago when I was fit, physically active, and healthy.  

With the coming of a new year, like many others, I reflect on the past year and try to come up with goals for the new one.  One of my biggest issues is that I take the time to start back exercising during school breaks, which makes it hard to keep a routine once school's back in session.

Earlier this week, my husband and I were talking about our resolutions.  He was saying how he wanted to lose weight and get healthier, and was cautiously hinting the same for me.  Of course I got defensive, and told him to say what he really wanted to say.  So he stated what I already knew and had been obsessing about.  I need to lose weight.  My jeans size has increased and I don't feel that well.  Yes, the truth is painful.

In the past I had used a website geared for helping people through their weight loss journey.  I am by no means putting it down, because it was a huge motivator for me, 3 years ago.  But when I tried to get back on it recently, I found it was too much work, and that I needed something simpler.

I found a simple app for my smartphone that helps me track my calorie intake, how many calories I burn with various workouts, and how I'm progressing toward my goal.  It has the same bells and whistles that the website had, but no teams to join, or challenges to achieve when you have a busy life and don't have time to manage it.  It's simple.

I was home alone today (yes!), basically because my stepsons had school and my district wasn't starting back until Monday, and my husband was at work.  With temperatures way below zero (-14ºF and -38ºF with the windchill), going for a walk outside wasn't an option.  And because I hadn't been physically active for such a long time, I figured some squats, arm workouts, then walking was a good place to start.  So I planned to start on the treadmill.

In order for me to use the treadmill, I had to make room to open it up.  My oldest plays the drums and had moved his drumset closer to the light so he could read his music, but that put it in my way for the treadmill.  The thing is, he rarely uses the drums, so I moved it back to where it had been, and set up the treadmill.

In the past I had been a huge pinner on Pinterest, which accumulated tons of pins in my "working out" board.  So I spent yesterday weeding through them all, and found some workouts I wanted to start with.  For example, squats that started on day 1 with 6 reps and eventually progresses as the month does.  Also, I found some arm exercises that does the same.  I also added a couple of core exercises as well.  So, I figured if I do this daily all month, then I'll begin seeing results, which is a motivator in itself.

So, after pondering over what to do and where to start for most of the morning, which is part of my problem....I think too much....and solved my treadmill space issue, I did my squats, arm exercises, and walked on the treadmill for 15 minutes.  I did a couple of minutes of jogging, but my knees and ankles were objecting due to lack of practice, so I mostly walked.

Now that I've done my first day, my challenge is to keep doing it.  That's not easy.  

I don't own a scale, but I'm sure that my weight is not a number I would be happy with.  So, in order to track my progress, I decided to take measurements of key places on my body.  My butt, waist, and thighs.  I don't like those numbers either, but it's a way I can track my progress.  I couldn't find an app to track them with, so I decided to use my calendar instead.  That means, every Friday morning I'll take measurements of these same problem areas and track them on my phone's calendar.  

It's been said that it takes 21 days to start a habit, and this photo shows one way to track that.  I'm not planning on advertizing this, mainly because I prefer keeping things private to some extent.  I've done the "announcing my workouts" thing on Facebook and Twitter before, and it didn't help me stay motivated.  Perhaps keeping a blog about it will work.

What kind of challenges have you faced?  I would love to hear about how you have dealt with them and have overcome them, if you have.