20 November 2005

Right Now - Back Then - When

So, I was writing my friend Robin & I reallized that I had not posted many of the things that I was telling her onto the blog, so that you all could be up to par with my happenings. Here we go. The reality of I Thanksgiving being next week is starting to sink in. Things move so quickly!

~ At work ~
Testing is a big time consumer for me. In addition to actually teaching skills, I have to test students & they have to pass those tests (indicators) in order to move through the school system (kindergarten = phases 1-2, grade 1 = phases 3-4, grade 2 = phases 5-6...). Otherwise, they will just stay right where they are. Many children are behind 'grade' level, so the goal right now is to get them back to grade level. For some this isn't a problem, for some this means 1 year behind, for others this means 5 years behind 'grade' level. This is great for individualized education, but it has it's flaws, which I will not devulge you with here. A llittle tidbit-Our school district doesn't refer to students being in grades anymore, now it's phases - really, they've changed the title again to 'continuous progress model' becauseof the negative feelings teachers & students are getting when the term 'phase' is thrown up in the air.

I have been working what seems non-stop trying to prepare & grade tests for the students. Giving them these official tests is what moves them along in the system (phase - grade). So, the week before last I tested the students in reading alone (which requires 20 min. per book.). I had a substitute in the class & I pulled kids all day for a week! I still didn't finish with all of the testing. To give you an idea. There are 27 students in the class, if I were to give each of them 1 test (many of them were taking 4+) then this would require 9 hours Average, not including transition time. Now this does not entirely fall on my shoulders; there is another teacher perfectly capable of testing, which she has. I just do a majority of it. Administering reading asssessments (RPAs) is good on one hand because they're reading is improving & they are moving along in the phases. On the flip side, this sucks because I can't take a week off & just test like this every 3 months. It is always ongoing; I just negelected to test for a while. Heavan forbid, I try to teach something. Last week, I pretty much finished up. An aide in the classroom took over some lessons so that I could finish up with the reading testing. Math is next, but we can all pull kids for that & some of the tests can be given without reading directions.

Oh, after that solid week of testing, Mary (the other teacher in the class) had the students write letters to me. She began with the 'Dear Carey," & wrote 'Sincerely yours," but they filled in the rest. I missed all of them together So much that week. It was really hard to sit down allll day long, with the exception of picking up students to be tested. They letters were so cute. Most of them talked about how they missed me for a week & loved me & that they didn't 'pula crd' (pull a card). Pulling a card means that they haven't been listening, doign their work, etc. They have 4 chances every day, then it slave labor & no cash for our weekly auction.

~ No work ~
I have been beading a bit, making Christmas ornaments. These little 1-inch cuties take anywhere from 2-5 hours to complete. It really depends on how creative you get with the danglies. I have been averaging 3ish hours each. Most Fridays, one of the teachers (Marsha) hosts a craft night. We go over to her house to make crafts, have snacks & chit-chat.

Although, I missed a couple of weeks, I still enjoy my Tuesday ladies basketball night. We play 12 min. games for 3 hours. The women here are just as serious as men about playing ball. Though we have a lot of fun cheering on people from the other team too.

I am still taking the Yup'ik language course. My mid-term is due next week (we're late, I know). Some times I feel like I'll be fluent any day now. Other times I feel like I have not ever spoken a Yup'ik word in my life. I am still in the 'stage fright' period where I know deep down that I know a response to someone speaking to me in Yup'ik, but the words just won't come to my tongue. I'll get better with practice. Next week, I also have 3 assignments due for a coaches clinic class. I attended an 8 hour coaches clinic in Bethel, took the first aide & coaching tests & passed. Now I have to complete the 3 remaining assignments for 2 grad. credits, which will bump up my pay scale eventually--I mean, it's all about learning new things. We have 2 months to complete everything. I lost my syllabus & by the grace of St. Anthony I found it. It's a good thing too, because my Instructor wasn't very helpful in sending me another one, after requesting 3 times! Never bitter-forgive, forgive. :-)

Oh, we had a wrestling tourny here last weekend. The Quinhagak team came, so we were able to see some students & S-Mac (Sara Mac...). They came over to our house after the tournament for snacks, climbing into our atic, playing with my exercise equipment, & watching the Simpsons until their plane came. We packed them up & sent them to the boat dock (now a snowmachine dock) to be on their way (1 hour earlier than planned, because the agent said the plane was coming). Then, we hear a knock at the door & the flood of them start rolliing back in. False alarm, it was another 40 minutes before they left.

~ Weather ~
The temperature has ranged from -11 F to 13 F. We had a good snow dump the past 2-3 days. I would bet that around 8-12" has accumulated. It's so hard to tell because of the snow drifts. The snow is dry & the wind is high, so it blows into snow mounds. Some places they'll be 2 1/2 feet deep, others you can see the ice on the ground underneath. The snow is so pretty & clean! The air smells so fresh.

When I visited last April (end of April) there were still snow drifts packed at 7'-10' high still, a lump on the ground or up against someone's house. We are kind of in a Tundra Triangle here with the 3 villages. I have heard that sometimes these 3 villages can be the only ones not able to be traveled to in the dead of winter, mainly because of the wind. The weather really does rule our lives around here; it could mean life or death. 'Weather Permitting' is the most common chime you will hear when traveling, or wanting to travel.

~ Thanksgiving ~
We had the traditional community Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. This means that the school cooks & serves whoever from the community wants to come as well as the students. It's like a big feast. Some high school students decorated the gym & the lines were all organized. I was impressed. Even when you see one line going all around the gym (as in Quinhagak), it still impressive. This is something that would be rare, if at all, in the lower 48. I love the sense of community there is here at time.

I am traveling to Anchorage for the long weekend. That will certainly be a change of pace. I plan on eating lots of fresh food, indulging in things such as a bit of wine & a massage, movies & driving a car, shoping for my own food, etc. To boot the school district pays for one round trip airfare to Anchorage every year. Not the amenities, but the travel & that gives me some heavy change in my pocket.

I will be looking into buying a snow machine while in ANC & having them ship it after the new year. Wow! That's right around the corner too! With any luck I'll be in Vietnam for the new year. {Don't worry, I'll still visit NC from around Jan. 8th-14th. Short, but sweet as usual.}

Geez -- This was supposed to be a quick update. Oh well, now you know more about my 'everyday' here.

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