Monday, September 23, 2013

An Overdue Update!

It’s been quite a while since I've updated my small, but loyal following on the exploits of my life at big, bad OSU, so here we go…enjoy!!!

I have been crazy busy as of late. Last week, I thought I was about to be pushed over the edge of sanity, but I am pleased to say that I made it through and had a much better week this past week! I’ll give you a bit of a class-by-class update: My Adolescent Psychology class is fine, besides the fact that it’s at 8:30 and I often question my sanity for allowing that to happen. On MWF, if I want a chance at getting a parking spot in one of the closer lots, I have to leave my trailer no later than 7:35. Oh well, I guess it’s just training for my future life as a teacher! Linear Algebra is going alright, although I feel like I probably could have done a little bit better on the test I took this past Friday. I guess I know how I will be spending more of my spare (???) time!

 I have spent the bulk of the last two-three weeks immersed in a group project for my EdTech class. I should go on the record of pointing out how much I usually hate group projects, because I inevitably end up being the only one in the group who puts out any measurable effort. I am pleased to say that that was NOT the case this time, as I was blessed with an amazing group! Our project was to actually teach this past week’s chapter content to our class. Our topic was using technology for assessment, which left a little bit to be desired content-wise. Going into the project, I seriously had no idea of what to do, what to expect, or anything. Thankfully, my great group and I pulled it together and had an AMAZING week of peer teaching!!!!! We had our rough spots, but those mostly happened on Monday…the rest of the week was smooth sailing from there on out! We were able to keep our class engaged with what could have been boring content that we managed to turn into three lessons worth of EdTech gold! :) Now that I have that project out of the way, I am starting to get a little bit more excited about the next time I have to peer teach in a few weeks. Actually, I’ll be more excited if I end up with an equally great group for the next time, but I’m not going to worry about that right now!

My Role of the Teacher class has left some to be desired, mostly because of my professor. I feel like we never accomplish anything that we should, and end up having to listen to her tell us awkward stories about her life that have zero relevance to our class. We had to take our first test in there this past week, and it was nothing spectacular. I am pretty teed off about the fact that we never discussed the bulk of our test material in class. I understand that at this point in college, we can’t be spoon-fed all of our information and that we should take ownership of our education. On the other hand, we are all paying good money to get a quality education and our professor is failing us in that respect, because she “doesn't see the point in teaching us something that is only mentioned in our book once, because it obviously isn't that important”…except it’s important enough to be included on our test. Okay, now I’m ranting, but I feel better now that that’s off my chest!

On to better topics, like observations!!! I am still loving my observation times and my cooperating teacher! I think I only have one week left at that assignment, a week or so of dead time, then four more weeks of observations somewhere in OKC.  Holy cow, this semester is flying by!!! This next week, I will get to teach a Geometry lesson/activity, which my cooperating teacher promised me would be fun/easy to teach, so I hope she’s right! The huge news for the week is that, after a month of waiting, we FINALLY received our official observation/student teaching name tags to wear to our schools! I think I’m more excited than I should be, but this is one of the first concrete signs that my childhood dream is about to come to pass! It is also a huge reality shock that in the near future, people will solely know me as Ms. Hladik, not Amanda. That could be the strangest/most surreal part of the whole deal! Here is my name tag, in all of its glory!

Another high point over the last two weeks is that I experienced my first OSU game/tailgate! I decided to splurge and get the $250 all-sports pass, which gives me student admission to all home sporting activities, including football and basketball. I can easily say that that could be the best $250 I have spent as of yet, because I had a blast at my first game! (Except for parking…it was almost impossible, but I ended up parking at the grocery store four blocks from campus.)  I started out by attending my first tailgate at St. John’s. Like every other event sponsored by them, it full of good food and great friends, which equates to an all-around great time! When I went to the tailgate, I initially had no clue who I was going with, but I ended up going with another girl from church (Jenni) and her friends from the school of architecture. We had tons of fun and had some A-MAZ-ING seats, thanks to Jenni's friend who camped out in line for two hours before the gates opened! The game itself was a total blowout, because we beat Lamar by 56 points, which meant that I had LOTS of opportunities to learn all of the touchdown cheers. I am almost proficient in the touchdown trilogy cheers, although “Ride Em, Cowboys” is a little rough at the end…I’ll figure it out sooner or later! Okay, so here’s my photo montage of my first OSU game day! 
Me and my tailgating buddy, Lisa!

The outside of the stadium

No, I did not zoom in on this shot...this is how close we were!!!
Meiwoo, Jenni, and I at the end of the game! Good times :)
Speaking of St. John’s, I still love it, and I still practically live there! I have grown in my friendships with everyone there, and I am finally at the point where I know almost everyone’s names, thank goodness! I can’t remember if I mentioned it or not, but OSU is lucky enough to be able to have four campus missionaries from the FOCUS program staying with us for the school year! There are two guys and girls, and they are really becoming a fixture in our lives. All of the missionaries lead Bible study sessions for all of us students throughout the week. I love my Bible study leader, Heather! She is from Florida and recently graduated with her Bachelor’s. She is tons of fun to be around, and she always makes Bible study the highlight of my week! It makes me a little bit sad to think that she and her compadres will be leaving at the end of the school year, but that seems like forever away, so I’m not too concerned right now!

Okay, so from here on out are random musings from my life over the last two weeks, so bear with me!

First things first, this past Saturday marked my half-birthday, which only means one thing—I am six months away from turning twenty-one!!! I am really excited about this, but not for reasons you might think! It’s not so much that I want to go out to bars and be constantly wasted, because that’s NOT what I’m about, but I would love to be able to buy a bottle of wine and have it to sip along with my supper. It’s the simple things in life, I tell you!

Talking about being twenty-one reminds me of my favorite twenty-one-year-old, Liz, who I miss like crazy! We text almost weekly, but that’s nothing like actually getting to see her face-to-face. That should change for the better in a couple of months when her volleyball coaching duties are over for the season, but until then, I’ll have to be patient! I would be totally remiss if I didn't mention Tonisha, either. It’s been a lot longer since I've seen her and I miss the heck out of her! If I had internet here, or if it wouldn't be awkward to do so at church, I would Skype her, but since that isn't quite an option, I broke down and called her the other afternoon. We talked for almost an hour and a half, and it was wonderful to catch up with her! She should be coming home to visit at the end of October, so I should be able to hold out until then. Thankfully I’m making some new friends so that I’m not totally preoccupied with missing my two other besties, otherwise I would definitely go crazy!

Speaking of missing people, I decided to drop in on everyone at the quilt store on my way home this past weekend. It amazed me how much going back to the store felt just like going home…lots of friendly faces and kind words! They still promised me a job whenever I come home for break, so here’s hoping they’re true to their word! It was great to talk with everyone there, although I was sad that some of my favorite co-workers weren't there that day, only because it wasn't their day to work! Such is life, I’ll see them again!

I’m not sure if any of you heard about this or not, but I am super excited about the fact that I personally know this year’s Oklahoma Teacher of the Year!!! Peter Markes, who I have known for my entire life, won the award last week! Back in the day, he used to go to our church, although he still comes back on occasion to dazzle us with his beautiful violin skills. He is an orchestra teacher down in Edmond, and he has a clear passion for what he does. Through the years, I have come across many people my age from the Edmond area. We have inevitably come upon the conversation topic of where I’m from, which often prompted them to ask if I knew Peter. After telling them that, in fact, we went to church together, they would always gush with his praises, telling me about how great of teacher he is! I think what makes him such a great teacher is the fact that he has a clear passion for what he does, which is what sets a great teacher apart from an okay teacher. It is with that inspiration that I am going into the rest of my education classes and career as an educator. I can only hope that I can have that sort of impact on my students as the years progress!!! Way to go, Peter!!!!

Random confession time: I am currently obsessed with the wedding boards on Pinterest and I have no immediate plans of planning a wedding. There, I said it, and I feel better! I don’t know why I love this page right now…I don’t even have a man in my life! I’m not even somewhat talking to a guy! A wedding is nowhere in my foreseeable future, so I really have no business preoccupying myself with this stuff!! I don’t get it, but that’s how it is, so I’ll accept it and move on…besides, admitting you have a problem is the first step to getting help! :)

Last bit of randomness, I had an amazing weekend with my family! Cole is not usually that close with me, as he usually prefers Emily, Scotty, or my mom to anyone else besides maybe Cody or Andy. Well, that wasn't the case this weekend—he was my little red-haired shadow! He followed me all over kingdom come and back, played with me, and even ate off of my lunch plate today! (He was quite the broccoli bandit, in case you were wondering!) Needless to say, I feel quite successful as an aunt and as a Cowboy…okay, Cowgirl…I taught Cole how to say, “Go Pokes!” and make the pistols firing gesture! It was one of my proudest moments in life, teaching him the ways of the world :) I also taught him how to do the OSU arm gestures, although “S” is still a work in progress…he has “U” down to an art, though! I love it!!! Okay, words don’t do it justice: Here’s a video!!!! (I’m not sure why I can’t rotate it, but bear with it being sideways…it’s cuter to listen to anyway! PS, Don't mind him picking his nose at the end!)

Also, my dad has been growing his hair out since December. It has been a point of contention between him and my mom for a while, but he will be cutting it when his shed construction is complete in the coming weeks. Because Duck Dynasty is the rage right now, his beard is oddly in vogue. That always seems to be the case with him; I’m not sure how, because he is the least fashion conscious person I know. He wore Wrangler jeans to church, then all the farmers started wearing their Wranglers. He wore what we used to think were awkward looking Roper slip-ons to church, suddenly everyone was wearing them. He wore flashy colors like pink, everyone else does, too. (You get the picture.) He starts growing out his hair/beard, Duck Dynasty beards are suddenly cool. I don’t get it at all, but I find it oddly hilarious that he is in style without trying to be...that’s just my dad for you! So the point of this is that, since his hair is so grown out, we have been able to experiment with different hair styles on him, like these French braids I did last night! He really didn't mind me doing it, although he guilted us into not putting pictures on Facebook. I think my blog is an exception, because it’s a different type of social media with a different audience. Regardless, here are some shots of my dad’s braids…enjoy!

With that said, I hope you all have a wonderful week!!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ten on Tuesday

I decided to get a head start since I'll probably forget tomorrow...

1. My first few weeks at OSU have been pretty much as good as the first! My classes are still going well, but are starting to pick up considerably. I suppose that it had to start sometime, right? I wouldn't say that I'm totally stressed, but if I don't keep up on it, I might be! I guess that's the joy of being in junior level classes, and all that I have to look forward to next year...and in Grad School. I'll try to just keep it in the here and now and not stress about what's to come, because it would do me absolutely no good to do so!

2. Since I didn't have classes a couple of Thursdays ago, I was able to jet over to Mimi's house to spend the day with her and my mom. We had a great day together, and I am pleased to say that Mimi is in WONDERFUL condition, all things considered. Now, she is able to stay at home without round-the-clock care, although it was recommended that someone drop in every day or so, just to check in and help her with meal preparation. She has stockpiled some freezer meals or food that people make while they're there, so all she has to do is pop it in the microwave. My mom made her a cheat sheet of everyone's phone numbers, and she is able to reference it to make calls. She has some minor speech lapses, but once you consider all she has gone through in the past month, it is a miracle she is still with us! We are truly blessed to have her with us!!

3. For Labor Day weekend, there was a flip-flop of the usual routine of my weekends. Usually, I go home to see everyone, but this weekend, everyone came to see me! (One of the perks of living at the lake!) Gina & Jeremy recently bought a boat, so Jeremy took some of us out tubing on Saturday. It was a lot of fun, although I think that I would have liked it better had he had a different tube at the time, only because it was hard to hold on to. Unfortunately, the boat motor was on the fritz by the end of the weekend, so that fun was put to a halt. In other good news, we are nearing the end of my deck construction, and all that we're lacking is the handrail to the steps! Okay, so this might not seem like a minor deal, but considering the fact that a month ago, I had to vault up the steps just to get into my trailer, I can live without handrails for another few weeks!

4. Another fun happening over break was Mr. Cody's 9th birthday. I, like you, am totally appalled by this, because I was eleven when he was born, which is officially starting to make me feel old!!! (Okay, I won't really get to that point until he gets his license or graduates, but still!) Cody had a beyond-awesome day, as he was able to go tubing, ride a jet-ski, go swimming, attend a concert, get a drumstick from said concert (there was an event at the lake, hence the last two), and get an amazing aircraft carrier cake from Gina. (I have pictures, but they aren't uploaded right now.) Seriously, all he could say after seeing his cake was, "Oh my gosh! Wow! This is AWESOME!! Thank you, Aunt Gina!! I don't want to eat it, because it looks too great! I LOVE it!" ...And so on for about ten-fifteen minutes, until he told us that "all fun has to end sometime", and he would eat the cake! You've gotta love that kid! For once, I was able to get him something he really liked since he is currently in love with OSU! I got him a Pistol Pete shirt and a poster that says "Orange Power" that was free at Lights on Stillwater two weeks ago. It was perfect and he loved it, so that makes me pretty happy!

5. I have not found a job, per se, but I'm still sticking to my previous philosophy, so I'm not terribly worried. I do have a babysitting gig that keeps me busy enough, though. We have a family friend who lives in Perry, and I have been babysitting her girls some in the past few weeks. That may or may not turn into a full-time-ish position, I'm not sure. All I know is that it is fun, pretty easy, and it IS a source of income, so I'm happy! Also, her girls are absolutely adorable and well-behaved...they're pretty much my adopted nieces! Good times there! :)

6. I am still loving all the good times there are at St. John's! I'm almost starting to feel like I live here, which I suppose isn't the worst thing in the world, because there's always something cool happening over here! I have started to settle into a group of friends here, which delights me immensely! How great it is to be friends with people who also bring me closer to God! (Okay, so I like to think that that has always been the case, but I'm glad that it's still happening here!) On a whim, I decided to join their intramural flag football team, which could be one of the more exciting things I've ever done in college. The main reason I joined was that they aren't intensely competitive and very few of us (myself included) knows how to actually play, so there isn't much pressure, just lots of fun! I'll have to tell you how that one goes...

7. This is a total example of first world iPod is on the fritz, and it's about to drive me crazy!!! I am so used to having it as a constant companion for walking to class, going running, trying to fall asleep, or in the car, etc. Now it isn't working, and I'm sad. I think I'm going to have to take it to the Apple store the next time I go to the city, but until then, I get to do all of the things I just mentioned, sans music :( Like I said, first world problems!

8. I started observations last week! I had a blast, and I love my cooperating teacher. It amazed me how much I learned from her in just six hours of sitting in her room! I'm pretty sure I took like 1-1/2 pages of notes (college-ruled notebook paper, btw), just from talking to her, if that tells you anything. I love a lot of the things she does in her classroom, but I think I have found two favorites. The first thing is that she gave up her planning period just to teach a class called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics). It started when she attended an OSU summer seminar about it, and she ended up receiving a $500 stipend to buy materials to use in her classroom. At the time, she incorporated it into every class she taught, but then she started to run out of time to teach what she had to teach, and she was left with a bunch of STEM material she still wanted to use. That prompted her to approach her superintendent about the possibility of using her planning period to teach it as a separate class. Her superintendent loved the idea, and offered to pay her extra for doing so! I admire the fact that she wasn't motivated by money, she just did it because it was good for her students. Now they do projects with robotics, solar panels, and other things of that sort, and they all seem to have a blast with it! The other thing she does is that every few weeks, she opens up her classroom at 7 AM for students to come in for tutoring. At this time, they have the opportunity to re-do one assignment, that isn't a test, for a better grade. The only catch is that the door locks at 7:10, so students can't just flow in and out. Would you believe that every time she offers tutoring, at least fifty (50) students show?! Fifty students! That is amazing, and a testament as to how dedicated she is to her students!! That's the kind of teacher I want to be! I'll have plenty more to share as time goes on, I can't wait!

9. I'm not gonna lie, I hate not having internet at my trailer. I really, really don't like it. I guess I can't complain, because pretty much everywhere in Stillwater/on campus has free Wi-Fi...the church even has it!  I guess I just miss the convenience of having it at home, but it isn't the worst thing in the world, I suppose. I think it's one of those things that will build character over time, so I guess that's a plus! Life goes on..

10. I came to an odd realization last night, which might explain why I'm loving it so much over here. This is the first time in my life where I'm not totally surrounded by people who have attended school with me for a long time. (That's not the realization, stick with me for a minute..) Because of that, I am surrounded by people who really don't know much more about me than what they learn from talking to me or their personal observations. For the first time in a long time, people know me as more than "that girl with REALLY good grades". I mean, it's not a bad thing for people to regard you as being intelligent, but it's more of the fact that people are actually seeing me for who I really am, not who they assume I am. People actually see me as someone with a personality and feelings, instead of a girl who lives and breathes all things school-related. I have finally started to escape the "smart girl who doesn't have a life" stereotype that has followed me since grade school. It's incredibly freeing to still be the same person with the same values and study habits/grades, but to not be immediately labeled as something that doesn't necessarily align with my personality. I love that I am able to have more than just my "inner circle" of family and friends who know that there's more to me than that! It is a beautiful thing, I tell you!

Have a great week!