Monday, October 31, 2011

Back in Running Shoes

About two months ago, I decided to sign up to run the San Blas Half Marathon in Coamo, PR on Feb. 5th.  Since then, I’ve gotten back on a running schedule—running 3-4 (okay sometimes 2-3) times per week, with one “long” run of 6 miles per week.

Today, though, the REAL training begins.  I am back on a schedule, my long runs are about to start increasing in distance each week (7 successful miles tonight), and I’m even going to start some speedwork once a week.

It feels good to know I need to hold myself accountable again.  My goal for this half marathon is 2 hours or under.  It’s ambitious, seeing as that would mean besting my time from my first (and only) half by almost 8 minutes.  But I’m told it’s possible, if I work at it.  So…now’s the time I need to be held accountable.

Starting today, the diet is changing (okay, maybe after today…I may have dug into the Halloween candy that no trick or treaters came to take off my hands), the workout regimen is changing, and my outlook on the whole thing is, hopefully, changing.  I’m excited to begin!!  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"All is Not Lost"

As students started to trickle into my room this morning, and I fought to keep my composure and an appearance of a sunny disposition, I caught the lyrics “All is not lost” drift out of my speakers.  I paused to listen to the song.  Had I really just heard correctly?  I had to smile at the irony, because at that moment, it truly seemed that all WAS lost…all of my school files, anyway.

Let me go back about half an hour, to when I arrived at school.  As I attempted to open my USB drive to pull up the morning’s vocabulary words and quizzes, the usual error message popped up: “There might be a problem with some files on this disc.  This can happen if you remove the device or disc before all files have been written to it.  Scan and fix?”  (I never bother to properly eject my USB disc; therefore this message comes up every time I plug it back in).  This morning, I decided to be extra careful.  I checked the 2nd box in the error message  which said something about fixing corrupt files after scanning.  But then…when it opened up the file after the scan…my folder names were no longer in English.

And apparently I am destined to create one of the folders in the year 2032, because that’s when it was “last updated,” now. 

In desperation, I tried clicking on the files anyway.  They wouldn’t open.  I yanked out the USB disc and plugged it into my desktop computer.  No “scan and fix” message…and the files are still gobbeldy-gook.  Nothing opens. 

At all. 


Apparently, by clicking that 2nd message, I reformatted my flash drive.  Which it seems is something I cannot undo.

What was on the flash drive?  Oh, just everything I have created for school this year…lesson plans, quizzes, tests, discussion guides, vocabulary lists, writing prompts, worksheets, rubrics… everything.
Did I have anything saved anywhere else?  Of course not; that would have been too intelligent.  I used the flash drive because I constantly was moving between my laptop and my desktop; saving everything in two locations would simply have taken too much time out of my busy schedule.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. 

On the bright side, I had printed out all of my lesson plans, so I’m still planned for the next week and a half.  And I printed the tests for next week and had already submitted them for copies to be made.  Some of my activities for my 7th grade unit are saved onto a cd, so I still have somewhere to start to rebuild.  And a few assignments are posted on our class webpage, from which I can recover them. 

So I guess maybe OK Go is right… All is not lost. 
But it still seems that way.
Life goes on.  Lesson learned.  The hard way.   

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sightseeing in Old San Juan

I don't have any very exciting stories to tell about last Saturday when I made yet another visit to Old San Juan; it was a pleasant afternoon and evening sightseeing.  But I wanted to share some of my pictures.  Enjoy!

Castillo San Cristobal--the second fort in Old San Juan
(All of the following pictures are of the same place)

Wind blowing in the wrong direction...

Flags of the US, Puerto Rico, and Spain of old

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The first race we ever finished...but never started

Weekends in San Juan tend to be good, despite mishaps.  I’m sensing a pattern here.  Nothing goes completely according to plan with us, but we end up having the time of our lives anyway.

Last weekend, the PLAN was this:
-Leave Guayama at 10am. 
-Spend 2 hours tops at Plaza las Americas (the gigantor mall in San Juan)
-Spend the afternoon lounging by the pool or on the beach at the El San Juan Resort and Casino
-Dress nicely and eat a quality dinner
-Dress to impress and go to Brava (free entrance and short lines since we were staying at the resort where the club is housed)
-Sleep until check-out time
-Sunday afternoon: undecided.  Pool, beach, or sightseeing.
-Run/walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K at 5pm.
-Return to Guayama.

Nothing goes completely according to plan.

First, as we pulled out of Guayama at 10:30am (our usual half hour behind schedule), it began to rain.  The rain continued all afternoon…giving us an excuse to spend not 2, but 4-5 hours at the mall.  (I came away with yet another 2 pairs of shoes…)

The rainy drive
We checked into our resort, the El San Juan, with no problems (save confusing the gentleman working the front desk:  “Welcome to the El San Juan.  How was your flight?”  “Actually, we live on the island, so it was a drive…but it was nice.”  … “Just staying the one night?  Are you leaving on a cruise tomorrow?”  “No…we’re teachers, so we have to work during the week.”  I’m sure our American appearance threw off his carefully rehearsed normal schpeel). 

We spent an hour or two enjoying the pool as the sun set around us, then showered and went to dinner at Lupi’s, a Mexican restaurant within easy walking distance. 

After dinner, according to plan, we dressed in our clubbing best and headed down to Brava.  Aside from the fact that the woman letting us in originally had a different name listed for our room and us having to go back to the front to have them print out the correct names, that part of the trip, too, went according to plan.  The club played great music, and as the night got later, the club got progressively packed with people. 

After sleeping and checking out at noon, we spent the afternoon soaking up the sun poolside at the hotel, since we’d been unable to do so Saturday afternoon.

Right on schedule, we left the hotel and followed the tourist desk lady’s directions to get to the stadium where the 5K was to take place. 

As we turned into the Coliseo (Coliseum…means stadium), we were met with a HORRENDOUS traffic jam.  The green left turn arrow would come on, and people coming from the right took that as THEIR turn to come through the intersection.  So of course when our green light came on, no one could go straight, because apparently at that time, red meant go, and green meant…fight your way to get anywhere if you want to move.  After edging our way through the turn and watching spellbound as several vehicles nearly collided, we made it to the stadium.  We crawled our way around it for 45 minutes (traffic was not letting up.  So much for being early for the race…) only to come to a semi-empty parking lot with no sign of pink balloons, race beginnings, or people proudly sporting their breast cancer pink.  We decided…we were in the wrong place. 

NOT the right parking lot

With the help of some friendly strangers who’d been tailgating (or something…sitting around peacefully?) in the stadium parking lot, we found the CORRECT stadium, and all of our pink-bearing people.  Only 30 minutes after the race had begun. 

This is more like it!
So what did we do?  We followed the end of the race back about a quarter mile, until the route turned, and we hopped in and finished the race.  What else? 

Let me tell you…finishing felt great.  So many people cheering us on!  Smiling, supportive people at the finish line handing out water, bananas, and our finisher’s medals.  It was quite empowering. 

I’m sure it would have been even more so had we fully earned it.  J

Nevertheless, we enjoyed being part of the event and took heart in the fact that our registration money still went to a fantastic cause.  And I, for one, was truly inspired by the sheer number of people present showing their support for the fight against breast cancer.  I’m so glad we decided to go…late is definitely better than never.  

Even the Coliseo got into the spirit with some pink lighting!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Reflections on the First Quarter

Ladies and Gentlemen:
The first marking period is complete.  I have officially survived the first 25% of my first year as a teacher.  My students have as well, though some of them not with the grades they were maybe hoping for. 

There have been rocks and hard patches—hard weeks.  But I’ve also had good moments and memories that make it worth it. 

Here are some of those good moments:
-My 8th grade students made visual aids to go along with their autobiographical speeches.  Some of them turned out really well!  And now my room has some life to it. 

-I got a projector, and have been making GOOD use of it daily!

-When I passed out the last book orders, many of my 7th graders ordered the 2nd and 3rd books in The Hunger Games trilogy, since we won’t be reading them in class.  I’m so glad I’ve got them hooked on the series ! 

-Last Friday, my eighth graders scored their first 46/50 on their self-evaluation of how timely, orderly, focused, on-task, and accurate they were during an activity on run-on sentences.  They gave themselves a quiet round of applause, and I cheered for them.  Class periods like that give me hope that classroom management issues might turn themselves around before the end of the year…maybe. 

-I think I’ve more or less figured out how to get around the school’s lack of resources and design a research unit from which my students will grow.  I’m so excited to watch them grow and learn!

Grades are due tomorrow.  Mine are done today.  It’s Columbus Day, which means I have no school.  The rest of today, I plan to relax, prepare myself 100% for this week, and make lesson plans for the next few weeks.  I’m in good spirits. 

Happy Monday!

I think some of my students cried a bit on the inside when
I took this bulletin board down...

I think I mentioned Peter in a previous
post.  He's our classroom friend.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy belated birthday to me...and my students?

Yesterday was my 24th birthday!  The day passed nicely; each class sang to me (both in English and in Spanish) at the beginning of every class period, which generally made me blush.  I told most classes that the perfect birthday present would be for them to be quiet and attentive all hour.  I'm not sure how much effect this really had.  Oh well.

In the evening, Kelsey and I took leftover cake and ice cream over to Rachel's to watch a movie and grade papers (oh, the lives of teachers).  (Sunday was Kelsey's birthday, and therefore the day of our big celebration for both of us--we made a castle-shaped cake decorated with candy, ordered pizza, and watched the Raiders play the Patriots on TV; hence the leftover cake and ice cream).  It was a peaceful (and moderately productive!) way to pass the evening.

Too many parentheses in that last paragraph.  Apologies.

Last summer, before I left for Puerto Rico, several people asked about care packages/sending school supplies.  As many of you know, my school has very limited resources.  I am not allowed to make copies of anything except tests for my students.  Everything else I post online and students are expected to print at home, or before or after school in the lab (for 5 cents per page).

You can imagine the responsibility level of average middle school students.  Even when I post a worksheet two weeks in advance and remind students each class period leading up to the due date to print it and have it for the desired day, there are some who don't bring it in.

I have a personal printer in my classroom, and I would love to be able to print more things for my students--discussion guides, group worksheets, maybe even (gasp) quizzes.  If printer ink weren't so expensive, I would do this more often.

Which brings me to my request.  If any of you are still interested in helping out some Puerto Rican students, or sending me a birthday present, this is my shameless plea.  I could really use some black ink for my printer (HP 27).  I'll even include my PO Box because yes, I really am serious about this.  Printing worksheets for students shouldn't seem like a luxury, perhaps...but it does.

Sue Rosendale
PO Box 3170
Guayama, PR 00785