August 26, 2011

The New Year

Well, the new school year anyway. It's Friday morning and I am almost through my first week of teaching in bush Alaska. It has been so challenging and so great at the same time and as I sit here, mentally prepping myself for this last day I can honestly say... nothing in college or the years after it could have ever prepared me for this.

Each day here is like it's own marathon, but with only a 30 minute lunch to break up the day it feels like you are running a sprint instead of a steady pace. I teach 7 periods a day (all of the high school teachers do): four core classes, homeroom, directed study and art.

The thing that makes teaching in this school district so different from any other one I have worked in before in that we have a leveled curriculum here. Students are placed into groups, rather than grades, based on their ability levels in reading, writing and math so throughout the day I see a range of abilities in different classes rather than a huge range in one class. Great idea, right? It certainly makes lesson planning easier to conceptualize but it makes social studies a little interesting...

Normally when teaching social studies I would teach one class of students government, one class US History, one class Geography, etc. But because I get a hodge podge of levels in each class that means that I end up teaching world history, Alaska studies and the second half of US history in one class! o.0

Like I said, nothing could have ever prepared me for this. I'm adjusting slowly but I haven't quite found my rhythm yet.

On the flip side, the land is beautiful and since I come in to school at about 6:30 every morning I get to see the sunrise over the tundra. I still haven't seen the sunset since it doesn't go down until about 11pm and I am usually passed out by 9:30.

Homesickness is setting in a little bit, but staying busy is really helping. Little things like clear blue skies make me miss Colorado... luckily we don't have very many clear days here. This weekend I have epic plans of cleaning my house and making it feel more liveable.

Our food shipped out yesterday, so hopefully we will see that here in a few days *fingers crossed* The other teachers and the locals have been so kind to us while we've been waiting for our stuff to get in. One of the teachers went hunting last weekend and brought home a lynx, the meat was a little tough but it still made a great roast for dinner last night... it reminded me a lot of rabbit meat. We have gotten in our fresh produce from Full Circle, which was so yummy!! I'm already looking forward to the next box (since I looked at the contents list and know we are getting apples!!!)

Alright, back to lesson planning and vocab-test writing. T minus 7 hours until the weekend- we have an early out today to go cheer on the cross country runners who are racing Hooper Bay and Chevak this afternoon. Go Eagles!

August 16, 2011

My First Dinner Guests

I made it!

After a full week of in-service time in Anchorage, an almost weather delay in Bethel, and a ride with a howling dog I finally made it to Scammon Bay. I arrived on an airplane filled with my fellow new teachers and three villagers (who sped away on their 4-wheeler before the plane's propeller had even stopped moving). We were greeted by a veteran teacher and her husband, who threw all of our stuff (and us) in the back of the school pick-up and carted us through the village to teacher housing.

I can honestly say that we were all shocked when we all arrived before most of our stuff that had been shipped out months before hand (we later discovered most of it was just stored in the post office and various locations through out the school.) We also discovered that most of our food had been left in Anchorage.

To say that beginning a new school year is stressful would be an understatement. I am in a new state, a new home, with a new job and a new roommate. I promise that I will write all about it at a later date, but I am sitting in my classroom at 9:40pm right now, typing away a blog when I should be unpacking my home or getting ready for bed. I can quickly tell you that my classroom is beautiful and my class list is set. I have seven preps, which is very stressful but that's what I get for being the only high school social studies teacher. Some of my levels only have two students... but more on that at a later date (I promise).

Instead, I will leave you all with this charming photo of our dinner visitors who stopped by to welcome us to the village on their way to the playground. They met five new teachers and the councilor from their vantage point on the doghouse outside of our door, looking through the kitchen window:

Cutest dinner guests I've ever had peaking in my window...