Sunday, December 18, 2011

Back Home

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I stepped off the plane into icy Wisconsin weather for the first time.  “You are going to be so cold, it’s going to feel so strange to you!”  But my first breath of winter air was not that shocking.  In fact, as I took my first gulp in the parking lot of the Minneapolis airport, all I thought was, “Tastes like home.”  Rather than experiencing reverse culture shock, I simply feel like I’ve stepped out of the time-warp fantasy world of Puerto Rico and back into real life. 

Everything here seems real now.  It is all (more or less) exactly as I have left it.  The smell of a wood fire woke me this morning, and the sun glinting off a light snowfall out my bedroom windows looked just as it should.  My bedroom at my parents’ house is the same—a time capsule of my life from 8th grade through my college graduation. 

And now, suddenly, it has become shockingly real and clear; Christmas is in one week.  When on earth did THAT happen?  Time to shop, bake, and decorate up a storm!  So much to do to get ready! 

Home.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ripples

Sometimes as I think back on the year so far, it still strikes me as just weird that I am actually a teacher.  In the day-to-day, it’s just life.  I plan lessons, grade papers, look back and let students know what they can do to raise their grades, and sometimes hand out detention slips.  But looking at the big picture, I’m shaken sometimes.  I’m a real, live teacher.  It’s not just me that’s affected by that.  Even after this year, I will always be my students’ 8th grade (or 7th grade) English teacher. 

I think we all have those teachers who we remember—not as being our favorite teachers in the world, but simply as being good teachers.  People we learned from, who led classes we didn’t dread going to, who taught at least one or two lessons that stuck in our heads over the years.  For me, there are several.  6th grade Social Studies, 7th grade English, my 5th grade teacher (who coincidentally ran into me when I was in my early 20s and working at an appliance/electronics store and recognized me before I recognized her), 8th grade Social Studies, 7th grade Science (though now that I think about it, due to the number of lessons, projects, and units I remember vividly from 7th grade Science, maybe Mrs. Braatz really deserves to be in the rockstar all-time great teacher category…), and others.  These teachers taught me something, to be sure.  They weren’t the most popular teachers in the grade level, and I never became “close” with them.  But I remember the lessons they taught me. 
And more importantly, I remember them as a part of my life.

This is the type of teacher I strive to be.   

I hope that ten or twenty years down the road, my students stop, think back, and say, “Let’s see… 7th grade… I had Ms. Rosendale for English.  Yeah, that was an okay class.  I remember a project we did…” 

If they remember me, I will count my first year of teaching a success.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December Update

I’ve been failing in the blogging world these past few weeks.  Why?  I can’t really say.  It’s not that I haven’t been doing interesting things (or having interesting things happen to me).  It’s not that I’ve been too stressed or busy to write.  I just…haven’t felt like it.  So, I apologize.  And here’s a re-cap of my last 2 weeks.

My parents and sister came to visit over Thanksgiving!  We did and saw a LOT together (enough for 4-5 blog posts!  Why didn’t I write about that?).  We hit up the beach, stayed in an awesome mountainside B&B, kayaked in the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo, hiked in the rainforest of El Yunque (and got rained on, of course), and spent some time sightseeing in Old San Juan. 

Sisters, together again!  

No beach day with my sister would be complete
without a sand castle... and her posing next to it.

Ready for rain in El Yunque!

La Mina Falls.  We opted not to swim
that day...



After my full 9 days off of school, I headed back to my students and routine for 2 weeks.  It was good to see them again and get back into the swing of life.  They were two pretty uneventful weeks of classes.  A few quizzes, a few new concepts, students mostly paying attention, etc. 

The first weekend after Thanksgiving, I spent a very quiet and relaxing weekend staying in town, having a sleepover with Rachel and Kelsey.  We played games, watched Christmas movies, listened to Christmas music, and ate delicious food.  And, of course…didn’t change out of pajamas until mid-afternoon on Sunday. 

This past weekend, we had planned a trip to Culebra (a small island off the east coast of Puerto Rico known for its beautiful beaches) on Saturday, but we woke up to rain.  So instead, we spent the morning and afternoon at Pozuelo (by then the rain had stopped and the sun even poked its head out over Guayama in patches), and then played Hoopla and simply enjoyed our own company all evening. 

Last Sunday, Rachel, Kelsey, and I went Christmas shopping in Old San Juan.  While we may not have made as many Christmas purchases as we hoped to, it was an enjoyable day in the city filled with good food and Christmas spirit.  (All of Old San Juan is decorated in lights, and we made sure we stayed until after dark to see their full glory).    
In another side-note: I had sushi for the 2nd time ever in Old San Juan this past weekend, and I still love it!  NEVER would have thought I would enjoy raw fish as much as I do.  Yummy AND healthy!

I love Old San Juan...even the streets that AREN'T
decorated for the holidays are pretty.


This week at school, the students come for half days.  They have 2 midterm tests each morning, and the teachers stay until 3pm to give us a chance to get all of our grading in before the semester ends on Friday.  I must say, I quite like this schedule!  Tomorrow is the last day with students, then on Thursday teachers have a workday, and on Friday is the staff Christmas party.  Can’t wait!

In 4 days, I’ll be back in Wisconsin weather!  Cheers!

Pretty standard photo for us.