Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Don't touch me! You have swine flu!"

Seriously. I have heard that phrase a million times this week.

Every 8th grader is convinced that a) the person sitting next to them has swine flu and b) they will catch swine flu and die.

They Chlorox-wiped down their desks yesterday and 1/2 of a large bottle of anti-bac hand gel is gone already (after a day).

And I get to teach these kids all day.

Tomorrow is day one of 8th grade TAKS - it was supposed to be today but since Houston flooded and school was canceled on Tuesday, everything was pushed back a day. The social studies test is on Monday so yay... TAKS gets to last even longer this year!

I really hope that I get to be a bathroom monitor so I can actually read something. If I am put in a classroom (which they can totally do since I am a certified teacher) I will cry.

Speaking of crying, I almost broke down at school today.

I wrote 4 referrals and confiscated a phone. Then the science specialist wrote some more referrals. It wasn't too pretty.

Let's see... one student said my voice was annoying and he "just thought he'd let me know". Later he called me racist after I wrote him a referral. Two girls threw hissy fits after I wrote them referrals too and I wanted to pull my hair out. One girl kept arguing with me about why it was so unfair.

"Unfair...??? Let me tell you about unfair!" I wanted to scream.

Unfair is the way I am treated every day!

Yet I pray that God gives me the patience and love to persevere and return each day. These kids need so much love.

The funny thing is, despite the way that "mean Mrs. Cox" appeared in the classrooms today, I still had kids telling me that I was their favorite teacher.

"Seriously, Mrs. Cox, we didn't learn anything until you got here. We have learned more in the past two weeks than in the past 8 months."

That just about made my tough day worth it.

That, and 7th period. Unfortunately I had to start the period by warning them: "At least 5 referrals have been written today and I took away a phone and gave it to the principal. Seriously. Don't mess with me."

God blessed me with amazingly well-behaved students for the last 50 minutes of the day. They were awesome! I got to spend all my time with three special ed kiddos who needed the attention so badly.

I love working with struggling students. It really is a passion of mine. I don't think I have a gift for working with all special ed kids, but I do like to work with really struggling ones. We played a science review board game that the science specialist had made for them. Most kids thought the game was boring and didn't take it seriously, but the sped kids loved it. I sat with them and read the questions and made sure that they didn't hog the dice or roll again if they got a one. It was the best part of my day, and they didn't even finish the game (which is crazy since most groups played about 5 times during the lesson).

Now I am physically exhausted yet emotionally and spiritually energized after meeting with my Bible study girls. We really need a name of some sort. I am truly blessed by our weekly meetings. I love my girls!

I think I'm going to go take a nice hot bath.

Goodnight, friends!

P.S. I found the picture above online... it made me laugh! I am seriously going to do this if we all are forced to wear masks! Which makes me think... do the masks really do a lot? Surely it can't really protect you very well... (Maybe I'm stupid...?)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No School

Due to the crazy weather yesterday and this morning, Fort Bend ISD is closed! It was a surprise to me this morning, although I was trying to figure out how I would get all the way over to the school I'm at with the flooding that occurred.

So I have a rainy day!

What am I going to do with my rainy day?

Right now, I am enjoying relaxing on my bed and listening to John Mayer's album Heavier Things. It's great rainy day music (and winter music... and mellow music...). I think I'll spend my day cleaning and organizing and menu planning. Maybe I'll even make it to the grocery store. We'll see.

The day is full of possibilities.

P.S. The photo above was taken by my sister Kellie. You can view her amazing work here and here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ok, So Maybe I Want to Teach 8th Grade Now...

Did I mention that I have a job?

Heck yes.

Not a real-life grown-up job, but a long-term sub job. (We're working on the grown-up one...)

I get to teach science to 8th graders!!! Their teacher is sick or something (been out for 2 weeks already... could be gone all year, who knows. Could be gone forever... = possible job?!?!)

Anyways, today was my second day. It is going great so far! I love the kids and they are already begging me to stay and be their teacher from now on. I guess that's a good sign. :-)

I got the job because I subbed at the middle school last week and asked about jobs for next year. They said they didn't have any openings at that moment but were looking for a long term sub and asked me if I had a lot of experience teaching science.

Oh, did I.

I sent in my resume that afternoon after meeting the principal and assistant principal (and it just so happened that I was subbing for the science department head that day... so I met her, too). The next morning, I got a call telling me they wanted me to be the long-term sub! They actually wanted me to start last Wednesday (the day I got the call) but I still had other sub jobs for the rest of the week. So I started yesterday.

It's a new school with great teachers and kids bored out of their minds (well, the class I am taking over anyways)!! Today we made a model of a chunk of land and cut it in half so we could model the three different types of faults. I was absolutely shocked because the kids LOVED it - they told me they had never done anything that fun before!

Are you kidding me? These poor students!!! Apparently their teacher just made them read from the textbook. I wanted to cry when I heard that.

I can't take the credit for the fun activity, though. We have a science specialist in the school who has been planning all their lessons. According to the students and two teachers, they really haven't learnt anything all year and are at risk of failing the TAKS.

I am so glad that God has given me this opportunity. I can't wait to get to know the students better.

Oh and one random thing - after I introduced myself yesterday and told a brief summary of my life story, a student came up to me at the end of class. She told me that she was born in England and lived there until 2 years ago! I asked her where she lived and she said Leicestershire. I about died because NO ONE seems to know about that area! She lived in Oadby, only 3.5 miles from the center of Leicester, where I used to shop and attend church. Her house was about an 18 minute drive from where I used to live.

Imagine that!?!

She had even heard of my junior high/high school.

I wanted to hug her. :-)

It's a small world.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

He's Not Finished With Me Yet...

This week has left me wondering why my life has turned out the way that it has. At this point in my life, I am searching for a job as a middle school science teacher. If you would have told the 10-year-old me this, I probably would have laughed, and not believed it. When I was younger, my interests were much different.

Art was my passion when I was in elementary school and middle school. I carried around this art case that had a ton of sketchbooks, how-to books, pencils and other artistic utensils inside. I loved that thing. I would sit for hours and draw people's faces.

When I was seven, my parents bought an acre of land (and didn't build on it until I was 20). I was fascinated by the blueprints for our future house and became obsessed with drawing my own blueprints. I would color them and add furniture and everything. For a very long time, I wanted to be an architect.

Art was such a huge part of my life all through middle school. It was my best subject in school and I wanted to continue taking art classes. However, I could only choose three extra subjects to take after 8th grade. I had chosen art, design technology and information technology, but the teachers would not allow me to take 3 classes that all had huge projects as part of their coursework - the limit was 2. For some insane reason, I decided to take art off my list and take German instead. I was very good at German, but I look back now and wonder why on earth I thought it was more important than information technology (that class was horrible - my only B).

From that point on, art started getting squeezed out of my life. I still had design technology and I loved it. I got to make things with wood, metal and plastic and still be creative. It was my favorite class ever, hands down. I wanted to continue taking it after my sophomore year of high school but my school didn't offer it. It was at that point in my life that I chose to take math, chemistry and English literature for my junior and senior years of high school. The art was gone forever.

Suddenly my life had gone from art-filled to science/math-filled. I had always loved science and math but I had never thought that I would choose a job related to those subjects. I went to college thinking I wanted to major in engineering, but after a year of painful physics classes I changed my mind and choose teaching.

I got to take one art class during my sophomore year of college and I loved it (my teacher said I was the best in class... which was the best compliment ever).

Thinking about all of this just made me think: why? Why did all those things happen that shut art of my life? Recently in Bible study we were talking about creative gifts that God had given us and the ways that we used them. While answering that question I realized that it was a part of me that was missing. I felt like I have lost part of my personality.

That hit me hard.

I talked about it with Austin a lot. I wondered why God wanted me to pursue something that was completely different to what I was passionate about as a child. I am passionate about teaching math and science to middle school students now, but it is something I would never have expected. I still miss art.

I believe that God allows us to make choices for ourselves instead of choosing every single detail of our lives for us, but still has a plan for us. I know that I will never know why I was supposed to be a science teacher instead of an architect or an art teacher. But I trust God and will follow Him.

The title of my post is from a song called "Wait and See" by Brandon Heath. Look it up if you don't know it. I love that God is not finished with me yet and He still has a plan for me! I am excited to find out what it is. :)

I know that as far as art goes, I plan to incorperate a lot of art into my science classes. I'm not sure exactly how yet, but it's going to be awesome!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Hey Honey, I'm Home!

I saw this on a facebook status today and thought that I'd share with you. I have literally laughed out loud on a number of occasions. I think July 12 is a personal favorite.

Well, folks, I'm still here. I've been subbing a lot, which I guess is good. At one school a lady told me that her principal noticed me and told her to make sure that I didn't leave without giving them my name and number. That's a good thing, right? The school even called me today to see if I could sub tomorrow. I already have another job, though.

About a week and a half ago I went on a women's retreat through my church. I normally get kinda shy when stuff like that comes up and so I never apply for them. However, it was Austin who first heard about it and encouraged me to go. I found some more girls from our "honeymooners" Bible study and we all signed up. I had a wonderful time. The theme was "Why We Need Girlfriends" and was focused around the story of Mary and Elizabeth in Luke 1. I had heard their story so many times but this time my eyes were opened to the beautiful friendship that these two women shared. Elizabeth was elderly and had been through so much pain and shame in her life because she was barren. Mary was a teenager and had yet to experience pain and shame because of her pregnancy. Because Elizabeth remained faithful to God, despite the fact that she could never have children, God was able to bless her and use her. In His timing, Elizabeth became pregnant. Mary and Elizabeth were able to comfort each other as they carried the babies of perhaps the two (at least one) most important men in the Bible.

Houston is so different because it is so new. I don't have a lot of friends yet, but I trust that God is going to show me women with whom I can bond and have a deep friendship. He has already blessed me with some girls that I meet with every Thursday night. I think I mentioned that two of my friends from college, Stacie and Haley, are living on the west side of Houston. Haley literally lives less than 10 minutes away from me! None of us are from Houston, but we all ended up here. At my wedding, Haley and Stacie actually talked about how they didn't know any girls and needed that fellowship... So the week after they started meeting. Now I get to be a part of the group and we are loving it!

This week we are starting The Names of God by Ann Spangler. There are 52 different names of God that the Bible uses, and we will start studying one each week. I can't wait to grow and learn more about the characteristics of God with these girls! They are such a blessing to me!

So my friend Catlin mentioned that she uses Google Analytics for her website. I decided to try it out, too. Yes, that's right people.... I'm tracking you! It's so much fun. I'm actually surprised that so many people visit my site when I don't even update. No wonder they only spend an average of less than a minute on my page... :-/ Well, so I think it's really interesting. I know that I have readers in Texas (surprise surprise), Florida (Erin I assume!), California (who are you!?) and Colorado (Lauren!). But I also have a reader in Wales and one in China. I am global, ladies and gentlemen! Haha. But seriously, I think it's interesting. I wonder who they are!

I know that I read many blogs regularly of people who don't know me at all. I've been tempted to email them or comment on their blog, but I don't since I think it might creep them out. I love random comments, though... so if you want to introduce yourself... :-)

Ok, enough about my blog.

How about someone else's blog? My mom told me about this newlywed's blog and so I have decided to write about it.

I am not a fantastic chef but I want to learn. This website has helped me! Elizabeth, the blogger, loves to cook and try out recipes, and she takes pictures of her creations. But better than that, she takes pictures at each step of the food-making process. I love that! Go check out her site. Yesterday I made the tamale casserole. It was yummy!

Well kiddos, this girl is hungry for the brownies that she made last night (also on the website mentioned above... except that I didn't cook them long enough). I'm gonna go eat one.

Peace out!