The “Aha!” Moment

Life is going by so quickly right now.  I can’t believe we’re already a quarter of the way through the semester.  Eek!

The Superbowl was last weekend…at least I think it was last weekend.  I can’t even remember anymore.  I got to hang out with some pretty cool people that evening, and I made food.  I roasted cauliflower with this balsamic vinegarette sauce – it was awesome?  Who cares about football?  Not this girl.

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Then I had my first observation a few days after that.  Here’s what I felt like before my observation…

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…and after.

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Check out those awesome bags I have under my eyes.  This was a super long day.  I wasn’t really nervous for it, but I was anxious for it to be over so I could check it off as being completed.  My lesson for high school band turned out really well, and my supervisor had some great things to say about my teaching, but I was so mentally drained after that day.  Thank goodness the following day was a snow day!  

During said snow day, I cooked a lot.  I had this 5 lb. bag of potatoes sitting in my kitchen, and I wasn’t eating them fast enough.  I’d had a baked potato here and there, but I decided to cook them all at once so they wouldn’t go bad.  So I found a recipe that used fresh rosemary because I had some leftover from my cauliflower, and I roasted the rest of those potatoes.

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They turned out very well!  I like how they were kind of crispy on the outside, but still soft and potato-y on the inside.  

My life these days typically goes like this: 

Teach at school and be there from typically 8 a.m. to around 6 p.m., but it’s even later on Mondays due to extra ensembles.  When I get home, I immediately put on my sweats and usually lesson plan for the next day.  I’m getting faster at it!  Then I have around 2 hours in the rest of my day.  Sometimes the remainder of my time is spent sewing, cooking, or hanging out with my roommate.  I also go rehearse with my friend Savvas for his recital, so I have to trudge up to the music building.  I hate the walk up there in the cold, but once I’m there I love rehearsing.  It’s refreshing to play with a couple excellent college musicians after working with musically immature kids all day.  

And sometimes, I just lay on my bed and don’t do anything.  Or I just go to bed.  Teaching is very draining!  My eyes hurt from reading music all day, and my brain hurts from being so analytic about everything I do, and I’m just plain tired.  But compared to a regular semester, I would say I am no more busy than I was then, it’s just a different kind of energy that I use and it’s a different kind of tired.  Either way, I’m still tired.  Like right now.  I have to go write a short lesson plan for elementary band then I’m going straight to sleep.  

I can see why music teachers gets burned out with their jobs.  It’s hard to stay motivated, energized, and constantly working with little down time. Long hours, frustrating lessons, rude kids, and more make a band director’s life difficult.  

But then you go to festivals with your students like PMEA district band, and you get refueled.  You just have to keep finding things to refresh you and help you realize that teaching is not hopeless, and that your kids are learning something.  I went to the district festival for a few days last week, and it was great.  Not only did I get to network with some other directors and get to know my kids a lot better, I got to see the kids begin to really understand music on a deeper level.  One of the girls at districts decided that she really wanted to take private lessons.  She said she could start to “feel the music.”  And today in rehearsal, one of the low brass said during a slow, gorgeous piece, “after districts, I appreciate this piece.”  After seeing and hearing this stuff firsthand, I just want to fist pump the air and yell, “YES!”

They’re starting to “get” music.  The “aha!” moments are priceless. It takes a certain level of maturity and understanding, and some of these kids are getting there.  It’s totally inspiring and reminds me why I do this and why I want to do it for the rest of my life.  I snapped this picture waiting for evening ensembles to begin.  Music makes me happy.  My students make me happy.  Life (despite being tiring) is good.

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A Little Pink Pig

I just spent an hour and a half on two lesson plans.  Super exciting Saturday night, right?

Seriously, I just spend a really long time making these lesson plans perfect.  I feel like I am the slowest lesson plan writer on the earth.  I want them to be as perfect and thorough as possible, so it takes forever. Also, I spent an extra long time on one because it’s for the lesson I’m being observed for for my actual grade. (I keep forgetting I get an actual grade for doing this!)  But now they are perfect and I can have a day off of doing nothing teaching related tomorrow!  Thanks to a drill weekend last week and my student teaching, I’ve been working for 13 days straight.  Yikes.  It’s no wonder I go to bed before 10 every night.

Hopefully I will become faster at lesson planning the more I do it!  It may have also taken a while because I made these…

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They’re cookies with only the following ingredients in them: bananas, rolled oats, chocolate chunks, flax seed, and almonds.  They’re such a good way to get rid of aging bananas.  Yum.

Week two of student teaching is down!  I can’t believe how fast it’s gone by so far.  This past week I got to teach a ton more, including doing a couple high school band rehearsals.  The first time was great, and the second just…okay.  It was a Friday afternoon, the kids were anxious, and I was not being a very good teacher that day in general, so it was kind of an off day for all of us.  But, the cool thing about failing at teaching is that I get to try again on Monday, and the students will have forgotten all about Friday by then.  One of my professors has said, “Don’t be afraid to fall flat on your face while student teaching, because it WILL happen!”  I wouldn’t say I fell flat on my face, but it’s a nice reminder that I’m not expected to be perfect.  We all have off days, and we just have to try again.

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This is the best quote ever, right?  It basically relates to everything in my life.  Teaching is scary and awesome, but I’ll never feel totally ready for it.  I never feel like exercising, but once I do I get a lot of satisfaction out of it.  I’m naturally more of an introvert and stay-at-home kind of girl (hard to believe, right?), but if I never force myself to go out I’ll never meet anyone or have any meaningful memories.  When I get older, I don’t want to have regrets about anything.  So far, I’m doing a pretty good job, and I don’t want that ever to change.  If we never try anything new or go out of our comfort zones, we’ll never truly experience the greatest things in this world.  At least that’s my opinion.

I was feeling kind of discouraged when I got home last evening, not to mention super tired.  So the last thing I felt like doing today was waking up at 6 and going to an Orff workshop over an hour away.  But I was required to go as part of my grade, so I dragged my sad, sorry self out of bed and got ready.  And you know what?  Going to the workshop today completely rejuvenated me.

I carpooled with some other student teachers who I haven’t seen in what seems like forever, so that was just great catching up with them and seeing how their experiences are going.  We’re all in this together and are going through the same types of things.  The workshop itself was actually wonderful.  I was expecting to sit through lectures all day, but it was quite engaging and fun.  I danced, I sang, I played recorder, and much more.  I really, really, really like Orff-based teaching and would love to take more classes to get my Orff certification.  I’ve had my eye on teaching elementary general music for quite a while now, and today kind of refueled that desire.  I learned about some great tools and lesson plan ideas that I will definitely use, maybe even when I get to my elementary placement in March.

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I loved my outfit from Saturday.  It looks like I’m wearing skinny jeans, but they’re actually gray trousers that are stretchy and ridiculously comfortable.  They do look professional when there’s better lighting, I promise.  My mom bought them for her own wardrobe, but then decided she didn’t like the cut of them on her, so she gave them to me!  I have to try really hard to only wear them about twice a week to student teaching.  If I could, I would wear them every day!Image

I also got this cute little guy.  We were all allowed to pick up something for free at their merchandise table at the end of the day, and he had been catching my eye every time I walked past the table.  Obviously a stuffed animal isn’t exactly a music classroom resource, but I’m turning him into one!  I was talking to another elementary teacher who said that she has a lamb chop animal that she gets out every time the class is being disruptive.  She holds the lamb close to her and says, “Lamp chop is very shy, and we have to be quiet and respectful so she doesn’t get scared.”  She says the kids quiet right down, and at the end of the period they like to come up and give the lamb a hug or a pat on the head to comfort her.  My little pig is going to be a classroom management tool too!  I think this is just a great idea for really young kids.  Plus, as a 90’s kid, Beanie Babies are just awesome, so how could I pass a free one up?

After a late lunch at Panera Bread with my fellow music majors, I sat in the back of the car with my little pig tucked under my arm and just enjoyed the beautiful sunshine warming me up.  It was a gloriously warm and sunny day, which I really think is also contributing to no longer feeling discouraged.  I think I suffer from mild SAD (seasonal affective disorder) when the body doesn’t get enough Vitamin D because of lack of sun in the winter.  I just get sad and tired way more often than I should.  It sucks.

Anyways, I feel a ton better after today, which also included a lovely walk through some neighborhoods while I enjoyed the last of the afternoon sun when we got back from the workshop.

Some other things that have been going on in my life recently…

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I had my January drill weekend!  Ali and I finally got our winter uniforms, after much begging and pestering and pleading and asking.  We never got any winter stuff issued to us despite the frigid weather.  But now we’re nice and toasty with our wonderful new fleeces, gortex jackets, fleece caps, and leather gloves.  As usual, it was great catching up with my friend.  She’s definitely one of those people I’m going to remain close to for a long, long time!  I have this feeling we’ll end up working together or living together or going to the same grad school – somehow, our lives are going to stay connected for probably forever.

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I’ve been growing herbs.  I have oregano, sweet basil, and chocolate mint.  The basil isn’t doing so well these days because it needs a ridiculous amount of sun which of course it hasn’t been getting until today, but the other two look wonderful.  They smell great and I’ve already clipped leaves off my chocolate mint once.  The oregano will be ready in a few more days I think!  Hopefully my basil can pull through until it starts to get warmer and I can put it outside more often.  I’m so excited to start using these ingredients in cooking!  I’ve been loving trying new recipes out and taking the leftovers for my school lunches.  My co-op also loves to cook, so we spend a lot of our down time discussing recipes and favorite meals!

I’ve also been sewing a bit, not nearly as much as I’d like to.  But my schedule just won’t allow it, so I try to squeeze it in once or twice a week if I can.  I’m working on a dress, something I’ve never attempted before.  It’s going well so far!  I can’t wait to wear it to school when it’s finished.  I just hope it fits.  Taking my own measurements is weird and hard but I think I got them right.

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I love this verse, and I’ve been re-reading it constantly this past week.  Maybe I’m just really in the mood for spring to be here, but these words have been touching me recently.  I need to remember that God’s looking out for me always and that He needs to influence my actions in a positive way.  I got this app recently and I like it a lot.  It has just a short morning and evening devotional, with a focus on only a verse or two at a time.  Perfect for someone like me who only has a few extra minutes in the morning!

Can I also say that I miss my roommate??  There are entire days that pass where we don’t see each other and that makes me sad.  I hear her come in at night and she probably hears me leave in the morning, but some days that’s the extent of our interactions!  We’ve been trying to fit in roommate bonding time when we can which is always tough but we’re doing our best.  We’ve been working on a super secret project that will come to light soon!  I’ll be sure to post about it because it’s going to be awesome.

Tomorrow’s plans: SLEEP IN!  I’m getting together with Jessica to work on our clarinet repairs, then going to a Superbowl get-together!  I think I’m going to try out a new recipe and bring it with me if it turns out okay.  Happy February!