Sunday, May 30, 2010

And She Lived Happily Ever After...

Well, well, well....where to begin?

I completed the school year (both university AND working at the public school). Going back to work full-time while in grad school was more than a bit challenging. There were many times when I was stretched to the limits of my sanity, but I made it just as many others have done before me.

We are settled in our new Texas home and most of our boxes are actually unpacked. It's so lovely to spend evenings on the back porch with the hubby while the kids play. What a change from summers past when I spent every waking moment on the computer researching or working on assignments. These days, I rarely crack open the laptop!

The best part is that I now have two degrees framed and hanging above my desk!! I remember when I first started considering returning to college. Back then, I thought that spending two years to finishing my bachelor's degree was a monstrous time commitment. I couldn't see a light at the end of the tunnel. I thought it was an impossible task, especially since I had a family to maintain. Little did I know that I'd also start working on a master's degree--something that I had never seriously considered--a few weeks after I wrapped up my undergrad studies.

All in all, I devoted three and a half years to finishing my higher education as a "university mama." When I look back on those years, I look back with wonder ("How did I manage to do it?") and fondness for all the people I've met along the way and experiences I've gained. I've also learned a lot about myself along the way. Turns out, I'm capable of much more than I thought!

So, if you are a Mama who feels a strong desire to get back into higher education and finish those unfulfilled goals, I encourage you to get started right away. Just fill out a college application and see where it takes you! It's a journey you'll never regret!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Wow. Just Wow.

Yes, I have been stressed many times throughout my past few years in college, but I'm not sure I've ever reached the level I am at right now:

*The husband just accepted a job in Texas. He will be moving in 3 weeks; the girls and I will finish out the school year here and commute on weekends. Enter a trillion tiny (and not so tiny) things to add to my to-do list.

*My professor is coming to observe this week.

*Evident ally, our graduate portfolio presentations begin next week. I wasn't aware of this! Good news...I was one of the first to discover the online sign-up sheet, so I chose the latest presentation date possible. Now I have an entire month to finish. Whew!

*My large collaborative project with the first grade must be finished up tomorrow. Not only do I have to prepare their books for a contest entry, but I also promised them that I would make and laminate copies to add to our library circulation. That means, I have to scan, print, paste and laminate 20 books. All this is falling two days before my professor comes to observe!

*Did I mention we are moving? Packing? Picking out paint colors for our new home?????

Please...send chocolate ASAP!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Real World Application

You know how kids always whine about, "When will I ever use this in the real world?" Well, here's a couple of snapshots of my schooling in action!

Here I am teaching first graders about the elements of a story. I wore my best apron and created a "story stew" in my big pot. We also read "The Story of Ferdinand" and picked out the elements of that story.

Then, we got started brainstorming ideas for the stories they would write on their own. I must say, kids seem to have a tough time with creativity these days. I'd like to blame part of it on television and part of it on a shift in our education system away from creative teaching methods and instead focus on how to make our kids good test-takers. Still, the kids came up with some good ideas! It's always interesting to peek inside their little brains and see what's going on in there. :)

Actually applying my studies has been the best part so far. Sure, I love learning--being in a classroom, discussing theories, etc.--but I also love to be in an environment where I can help others and witness progress. I had to pre-test and post-test these kids for my practicum project, and I'm excited to report that they all showed gains on their post-tests. One kid even made 400% gain on his post-test! Now, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

52 days and counting....

Let's just skip over the part where I give all my excuses for not blogging lately, shall we? ;)

52 days until I have my master's degree! I just counted them and, while it actually sounds like a rather large number, I can totally see the light at the end of my tunnel. In fact, I feel like I'm aboard a freight train traveling at startling speeds through that tunnel because there's so much to do!

I feel rather liberated from homework since my winter intersession class finally wrapped up in early February. It was rather time consuming work (writing curriculum plans and creating a lot of lessons), but I was able to "kill two birds with one stone" and use some of those lessons for my practicum hours. Speaking of which, practicum has kept me pretty busy. I started a pretty intense collaboration project with our 5th grade Social Studies class, but due to many uncontrollable events (snow days, state testing days, etc.) we still haven't finished it. I was feeling like the project should be on the Fail Blog so I decided to start up another one! So now, I am helping first graders write and illustrate stories for a young author's contest while trying to get the 5th grade project done. I think one of the main lessons I have learned in my practicum hours is "it will always take longer than you think" and/or, "there are never enough hours in a day." Of course, what mom doesn't already know the latter?

In addition to my collaboration projects, my regular job (library aide), and my homework (from my "Techniques of Research" class--ugh.), I also have been trying to put together my portfolio. Right now I am thanking the heavens that one of the teachers during summer school had us set up the "skeleton" of our online portfolio using Google sites. Now, all I have to do is plus in the artifacts and reflections. I'm sure I have some "spiffing up" to do, but the biggest chunk of work is already out of the way, and for that I am very thankful.

So....we're all caught up for now. I promise to do better...especially since there's only 52 days and counting before I leave the title of "University Mama" behind!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Little Blessings

Usually, January is a slow, cold month: we're just getting back into the routine of school, winter has slowed down the hustle and bustle of life...but this month has been an extraordinarily stressful time for me. First, I took a winter intercession class right after Christmas. It required me traveling to campus (4 hours away) and staying in a hotel for a few nights. That was actually not so bad: I got to visit with friends that I made during summer school, talk to my professor "in the flesh," clear up some questions, etc. However, we did not get many assignments done while we were there. "No biggie," I thought, "I have a month to get them done." In the meantime, I started back to school (both university and work), I found out that the lesson I was co-teaching was starting early (which meant that I literally had to lock myself in the school library one weekend and work my tail off trying to get a WebQuest written and designed), my daughter's basketball team was playing numerous games, we had a plethora of activities (school, church, personal) that we were involved in, so on and so forth. Not surprisingly, the month flew by much quicker than usual.

I am stressed. I am cranky because I am stressed. I am eating junk because I am stressed. I am not getting enough exercise because there don't seem to be enough hours in a day...and that makes me stressed.

All of my assignments are due at the beginning of next week. I also have my teacher certification test for library-media this weekend. Our college has 100% pass rate (no pressure). STRESS!!!!

What could possibly give this girl a break? A gracious God.

Snow! We have snow!! Snow = snow days = no work = being holed up indoors with nothing pressing to do other than finish homework assignments!!!

All day yesterday, I lounged around in pajamas working on homework for probably ten hours. I wish I could say I got more accomplished, but at least I feel like I'm making progress! I haven't begun studying for my big test nor have I completed two major projects that are due Monday, but I have big plans for today.

I'm just so grateful for little blessings like snow days. What a difference they can make!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

So Much Can Happen in a Year

As we were ringing in the new year, I couldn't help but think back on the dawn of 2009. It's amazing what can happen in a year. When 2009 began, I had just happily completed my bachelors degree and had decided to work on freelance writing from home. Since then, I began working on a masters degree (rather unexpectedly), went to summer school away from my family for three weeks, met some incredible new university friends, accepted a full-time job, and closed my business of five years. None of these things I ever expected to happen when we were counting down from 2008 to 2009 on New Year's Eve which makes me wonder: what will 2010 hold?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

21 Years to Finish a Degree???

One woman did it! She started back in her 30s as a single mom and talks about the difficulties of juggling work/family/school and doing homework alongside her daughter. 21 years later, she has two degrees. I call that patience and determination. I'm grateful that my education is only taking three years! Whew!!!

Click HERE to read the article.