Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving


Never ever EVER have I wanted to teleport myself back to America more than right now!

Thanksgiving is my absolute FAVORITE holiday and I am in a country that is the reason we even have a Thanksgiving! If it wasn't for these crazy Brits the pilgrims wouldn't have wanted to leave, which means they wouldn't have landed in America and needed to give thanks to the Indians for a successful harvest so they could survive the winter (the second time around). Oh the irony.

I yearn to be home with family. To smell the array of foods being cooked. To be re taught how to make the green beans (you'd think I would have it down by now) To work on a puzzle with my cousins in the back room. To munch on M&M's all day that some how still doesn't spoil my appetite. To load my plate with mashed potatoes because we only get the "good kind" once a year! To watch the Cowboys game in their throwback uniform and the lonestar showdown the next day. Go Aggies! Then of course it wouldn't be complete without a game of football outside with the family afterwards. It is very difficult to explain the importance and obsession of "american football" to these "soccer" fans. They don't understand how great of a sport it is!
I yearn to eat my grandmothers double fudge cookies and even to have some pumpkin pie. I have never wanted pumpkin pie before until now! I think it's the whole, "want what you cant have" idea.

I just want to be home on my favorite holiday......

Now I have to wait a whole YEAR before it comes again :(

But since I am obsessed with the holiday I thought I'd share some interesting facts about this joyful season

1. Abraham Lincoln was the one who declared the final Thursday in November to be a national day of Thanksgiving over 200 years later

2. Congress didn't make it a national holiday until 1941

3. Minnesota is the top turkey producing state

4. In 1939 Franklin Roosevelt changed thanksgiving to the 3rd Thursday of November to make the holiday shopping season longer which in turn would stimulate the economy

5. Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States


And this thanksgiving, I am thankful......to be AMERICAN

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fairness

“Fairness means everyone gets what they need, not everyone gets the same treatment.”

- Lawrence Colberg


I like this quote and plan to use it in my classroom. I also think it applies to other aspects of life.

He has called and I have come

I don’t really like to share too much of my personal life through my blog. I include just enough to give you a pretty good idea on who I am but a lot of things are personal and should be kept that way. However I am making ONE exception because I feel like you need to know the whole of it in order to understand this post.

I came to England thinking I knew what was up. That I had everything set. I was going to graduate, get a job and more than likely marry that kid that stuck around for so many years :) I was comfortable and I’ll be the first to admit that my spiritual life was at its lowest in years.
God had a different plan. He moved me miles away from home, took away any means of support from family and friends, made communication back home difficult with limited internet and expensive phone charges, terminated my relationship, drove a cement wall between a long-standing friendship, tested my professionalism, added some drama mammas to spice things up and even threw in a death in the family (my grandmother last Friday).
God does it not matter to you that I was PERFECTLY happy before?!? No. And I’ll tell you why. Because what I think of as “happy” doesn’t even compare to what God has for me. Not even on the same page. So I mosey on to England acting like I owned the place and here God comes along to knock me down a few pegs. Shake things up a bit.
Because honestly he’s been screaming at me for a while now. How else was he going to get my attention? Take away “everything” so that all I have is to rely on Him! To find comfort in Him! To find support in Him!

And His plan worked…psh! Of course it did!

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5

And even though things look miserable from the outside. I'm happy. Because the sequence of events needed to happen for me to get it. to understand my path was selfish.


But I find something so interesting. Before I left I prayed for my mentor teacher and my students. And the funny thing is, those two things have been my saving graces. My only point of sanity. All my worries go away and I am completely happy. Prayers are answered :) Thanks God :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Reason to Love





Why I love my job!
The other class pictures are yet to come. :)

SNOW!

IT SNOWED IN WINDERMERE!

Waterloo


England has a national charity and annually raise money for children in need. Schools, organizations and work places all over the country put on fundraisers for it every year. Friday my students put on our fundraiser in the form of a talent show. It was a movie mimic and each 6th, 7th and 8th grade homeroom put on their own performance to be judged. Well the teachers had a surprise performance following the last act. Mamma Mia, Waterloo. I immediately volunteered but quickly regretted it. I got SO nervous. Like almost kind of nauseous. My palms were sweating, my heart racing! I'm not used to this. I haven't been on the stage since high school and now I am about to visit the invigorating pulse of adrenaline and make a complete FOOL of myself on stage in front of the whole school and staff.
Sounds like no big deal right. NO! The thing is my school includes high school. So when we are performing in front of the whole school that means I am performing in front of HIGH schoolers. I'll be the first to admit....SCARY! Those kids are intimidating! Which is why I am a MIDDLE school teacher. I can only handle 11, 12 yrs max.

So anyway the curtains are closed and the music starts too early! I do NOT do well with improvising. I was on a precision drill team. The curtains open late and the first thing I see are my adorable students sitting first row smiling back at me cheering me on. All of a sudden like Super Hero Taylor came out. A second personality in a way. I am always fun and crazy but can be shy in situations like this. I dreamt I would just stand there laughing not being able to sing and dance. NOPE the complete opposite. I was able to hold a straight face and MAN did I get into it. I don't know where this burst of energy came from but I think it had to do with my students first row :) Apparently, I was the cheesiest one up there. But oh well my students said things like "Ms Terry you ROCK!"
After coming off the stage we were chanted to come up there and do it again. Which of course made me happy.
But the best part of it all was my precious students. They did Hairspray and won first place! I am so proud of them!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

10 days

I don't think it is a secret to most of my avid blog followers and closest friends and family that my experience over here hasn't been smooth sailing like we would have hoped. Rough waters has created waves in many areas of my life during these past three months that I hope no one would have to dive into. I have 10 days left to soak up the incredible scenery and life as an independent international traveler and make the most of it.

I have learned so much this semester, many things were unexpected.

1. My students. Kids are kids, no matter where they live. Even in this "posh" private school, they still don't listen, don't turn in their homework on time, are late to class, giggle during the lesson etc. Spending this time with my students everyday has brought clarity to my career and I am thankful for it.

2. My role as a teacher, professionally and inspirationally. I have never felt so prepared and confident that this is my purpose.

3. My trust. There is much beauty in trust and although my unconditional trust is scary, I'm not afraid to keep trusting :)

4. My faith. I found myself turning to God during hard times of homesickness and other situations that created doubt and fear. While these things made me stronger, my faith has carried me through.

5. My forgiveness. Who am I to not forgive, when I have been forgiven? Colossians 3:13

6. Me. I have learned so much about me. I am about to start a new life adventure when I get back and I feel like I'm standing on solid ground. Without these three months of memories and exploration I don't think I would have been able to say that. I can tackle transportation systems in major cities of different (language) countries on my own. I can travel to Egypt and survive the hasslers trying to sell you stuff (its a feat!) I can navigate my way around the UK, Europe (maybe Egypt, but I don't really want to) on my own. I can move to a new school and professionally find my place and offer ideas and input to my colleagues.

7. But most importantly I have learned to cherish the small things in life that make me happy. For example, autumn, my favorite season. I will NEVER find an autumn that compares to the colors of Windermere. The cups of hot chocolate that I found in Wales that are to DIE for. I had two. Warm tea during morning break. I look forward to 11:00 am because I know I can go to the staff room and relax for 20 minutes, just me and my cute little tea cup. Men in scarfs. Men in scarfs make me smile. Thanksgiving. Mexican food (is it bad that a lot of my examples involve food). My students in their white scientist lab coats and googles. Long-standing friendships. wintery smelling candles. Dancing and singing with my students to High School Musical. Videographing. A fresh, new, unwatched episode of Gossip Girl...just to name a few.

So overall, my time in England was time well spent. :)

only 10 DAYS till I'm STATE SIDE! WHOOP!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Reason to love



If I could have this cup of hot chocolate every day for the rest of my life...I would be the happiest person alive. I promise.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Shannon!

Fast friends. I'm lucky to have you.
Happy 22! and good luck on the ring dunk? (if that's still the plan)



love you! Can't wait to see you soon!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

There once was a bouncer named the cell membrane

We have moved on from parts of the microscopes and are now looking through them. Onion cells and cheek cells are much more interesting. After looking at some slides we began talking about the cell itself and what it is made up of.
Cell membrane, nucleus, cytoplasm, chloroplats....any of it ring a bell?

Me: "Ok class, I want you to draw a circle like this on your notes" I go on to draw a cirlce on the board.
"This is called the cell membrane. Have you heard of that word before?"

The class responded with yes and no answers.
Me: "ok lets all say it together. Cell membrane."

class: "cell membrane"

Me: "Raise your hand if you can tell me what the cell membrane does."

Kevin: "It holds the cell together."

Me: "Im looking for something else." I search the room for other hands. "Ok it's new information so I will just tell you. The cell membrane controls what goes in and out of a cell."

I got blank stares. I thought to myself...QUICK! hurry up and come up with an example that relates. umm. ummm. ummmmmm.

"s-sssorta like a bouncer!" I blurted out! without thinking like word vomit. then looked around the room in shock that it actually came out of my mouth and then I silently mouthed to myself "what?"

Class: "AHHHHHH! yeah like a bouncer!!"

I hestiantly go on with my example. They seemed to be getting it.
Me: "Right! just like a bouncer stands at the door of a club and allows some people to go in and tells you 12 year olds you can't go in, the cell membrane does the same!"

The class responded in excitement and I swear the room got brighter with all the lightbulbs that switched on in their tiny little heads.

John: "So what does it allow in and out?"

Me: "well it allows nutrients in and waste to go out"

John: "So does it allow the illegal immigrants in?"

He asked in the most serious face possible. The class and I bursted our smiles into a full blown laughter and he kept his face as straight as possible. As a teacher I didnt know how to respond. Was he for real? If so I can't publicly laugh at his question! The laughter went on and he didnt crack a smile. Then the laughter reached an awkward lull.

Me: "Umm, what do you mean John?"
John: "I mean does it allow the waste to pass freely in and out or are their restrictions?"

..........ummmmmmmmmm....what do I do?!? The class is busting out laughing and my student just made a stereotypical racists comment. double you-tee-eff?

Me: "well there will be no illegal immigrants passing to and from a cell. Infact there will be no people at all, because cells are microscopic and we need a microscope to see them"

That shut him up.

So lets recap on Taylor's teaching strategies
1. I make them wear their lab coats when we aren't doing practical work
2. I make them sing and dance to High School Musical around the room.
3. I said the word "knobbie" when referring to the focusing knob on the microscope which really means penis.
4. I compare the cell membrane to a BOUNCER!

uh............

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Philippians 4: 4-7

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."


...and i'm workin on it.

"Did you just Waldorf her a**?"


For those of you Gossip Girl fans, I am coining a new term.
Blair Waldorf is a teenage popular Queen Bee in the Upper East side of Manhattan on the show Gossip Girl. I love Blair not only because she is beautiful but because she pulls out moves that none of us would even consider doing. She is our inner b*tch. But when it comes to her friends, its time to get down to business. She usually plans conniving attacks to humiliate the person at fault, kill them with her death stare or just simply sends them to shambles with her quick, witty and oh so articulate comebacks and lectures.

We all wish we could stick up for ourselves at some point or another but we all know nothing would be as effective if we didn't do it Waldorf style.

So giving someone a piece of your mind= you just "waldorfed"

For example.
"Man that girl was giving me looks, so I just waldorfed her ass"

"GRR, this person is irritating me, I can't wait to pull a waldorf"

OR
when your ex boyfriend is completely incompetent as a human being and needs setting straight
"yeah my best friend just waldorfed his ass!"

Thanks Danielle.

Monday, November 10, 2008

How to do Just About Everything


I was given this book to look at in the staff room and found my self seriously addicted to it. It even says on the cover "this book is seriously addictive". It is a How to Book on basically any and every topic you can imagine. Example. How to plant a lawn, replace a light switch, prevent show odor, add vegetables to your diet, find out if you are pregnant, brush your teeth, write a love letter, cancel a date, the list goes on and on.

So I was caught up on the "How to kiss on a date". I thought I'd share, just incase you dont know, verbatim the book's directions.

How to Kiss on a Date
1. Look for positive body language, such as eye contact, uncrossed arms and head tilted towards you.
2. Do it. Waiting just makes it awkward.
3. Maintain eye contact as you close in. Try not to close your eyes until after making lip contact.
4. Tilt your head slightly to one side to avoid bumping noses
5. Press your lips gently against your date's. Try not to suck his or her breath away just yet.
6. Release. Look into your date's eyes. If he or she isn't look back at you the same way, then you probably shouldn't continue.
7. Kiss your date again. There's more flexibility to this kiss.
8. Explore- softly kiss your date's neck, ears and eyelashes. By this time you'll never have a better feel for how and where to kiss your date.



HOLD ON! EYELASHES??? I could see that potentially being the most AWKWARD unromantic move any guy could make!!! I would think to myself "is he?.....oh. what....is he...KISSING my EYELASHES?!?!
Did I just miss the boat on having my eyelashes kissed? Is it secretly the most attractive move that no one filled me in on..or is everyone on agree-ance that the EYELASHES are one of the last places to kiss. I could see someone going in for it and then I accidentally open my eye (because I can't see he is about to KISS MY EYELASH) and then he instead kisses straight on my eyeball which in turn ruins the night and a possible chance for a second date. No one wants that.
So guys, to avoid the feeling and humiliating thoughts that will play on repeat for the next week "Did I really go in to kiss her eyelash?" Yep! you did! My advice- stay clear of the eyelash.
Not once in my 7 year long relationship did I think to myself. "Man, he would be so dreamy if he would just kiss my eyelash"

High School Musical 3


Ok. It's official. I think I could very well be the biggest 22 year old loser on our good planet Earth. As many of you know I am an avid High School Musical fan partly because I wish my life was a musical and because I secretly want to be Gabriella and dance around with Troy (Zac Efron) the fictional high school male that Disney created that doesn't exist, nor will he ever exist.
With the negative conotations attached to a 22 year old liking High School Musical, I will let you know that my obsession has helped in my career believe it or not. My knowledge of the songs and embarrassing iTunes library to prove it has actually boosted my reputation as a teacher and even helped establish a relaxed and trusting relationship with my students. Because my students liked the new HSM motion picture and continued raving about it, the suspense heightened to a level that couldn't wait. I HAD to see it.

So after casually suggesting it to the roommates, I was quickly shot down resulting in a quiet evening by myself at the movies. Honestly I was kind of excited about it! Time to myself is treasured and a rare gem in our tiny, thin walled, cramped cottage. So I put on my new jacket, bundled up in my scarf and gloves and set off on my peaceful walk down to the cinema. The air was a cool crisp, something we never experience in Texas.

I got to the theatre, purchased my 10 dollar ticket and made my way to the "concession stand". I chose salty popcorn over sweet. Yes they have a choice. A decision I soon regretted but then fixed with the addition of peanut M&Ms. YUM! I trotted myself up the steps of the tiny local cinema into a door with no label. I entered the theatre to find it completely empty with the drumming of video production noises in the background. The screen looked like a puppet stage. Curtain and all. I turned around in confusion. It's a Friday night!!! Where are all the 9 year old children? In doing so I almost ran smack into a 30 year old male.

"Have you come to enjoy High School Musical alone?" in a male British accent

I look around from side to side "Yep! Looks as though!"

"Right. Then I'll go put it on for you"

YES! I am at a movie alone on a Friday night AND ITS HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL!!!! I have reached a new low.
Well it didn't faze me. I continued to eat my popcorn mix alone in the theatre. I thought my embarrassment and humiliation was going to make it unseen until 3 minutes in to the previews. Two teenage girls walk in. About 16 or 17.

They stop dead in their tracks. "Ms Terry? Is that you?!?!?!
Crap! I've been spotted. I sunk further in my chair.
"Yes?" I debated whether or not to admit it.
"Cool" They walked to their seats directly two rows in front of me.
Phew! I was in the clear. No more embarrassing confrontation.
EXCEPT I don't doubt that they will go back to the 6th formers (junior/seniors in high school) and tell them they spotted Ms Terry, the American teacher at HSM3 by HERSELF on a Friday evening.

A reason to love

I love my friends. They are my pulse, and the cement that keeps me together. I am blessed to have them.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Microscopes and Knobs

So today my adorable children come to me with bright and smiling faces ready for another Science lesson. Today we are learning about microscopes.
So I go to the back of the room and pick up a box and bring it back to the front.
I said "What have we been talking about these past couple of lessons?"

"Living and Non living" the class responded in unison

"So what does this box have anything to do with that?"

"Ms TERRY!!!!! is there an animal in the box?!?" Charlotte asked intrigued
With that the kids back away from the box as if it were a contagious disease.

"I don't know. What do you think is in the box?"

"Something living!" someone shouted from the back of the room.
"Jars with non living things that were once living!" I heard from the left.

At this point I HAD to play with them. They really set themselves up for it. The box just contained the microscope but this opportunity was too good to pass up.

I walked to the desk pretending that I almost dropped the box due to a sudden shift of weight uncontrollable by me within the box. The children screamed due to the unexpectedness and probability that their guesses could actually be correct. I set the box on the front lab table where all the kids could see.

"I don't know. It feels as if something is moving in there! Charlotte, girls..feel the box. Is it moving?"
7 tiny hands reached for the box
"Yeah? Yeah. Yeah! I think it is!!!!" the girls responded.

I tried to hold back my sudden burst of laughter and I did a decent job with the only result being a mischievous smile on my face.

"I don't know. Lets take a look" I opened the box as if I was trying to shield the creature from making a mad dash for it. "I have to corner it first to get a good handle on it" The kids are peeking around at this point, curious as to what I have captured in my box.

I screamed when I whipped out this microscoped and they children did too! AHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA they wanted to hit me. They were legitimately scared. Am I mean? Forcing them to wear lab coats and pretending live animals are in a box about to pop out at them? Yes.

Ok but then we go on and discuss the parts of the microscope. Being the goofy person I am I point to the focusing knobs and ask
"So what do these little knobbies do?"
The class bursts in to laughter
"Whats so funny?" No one responds.
"Ok back on task. What about these knobs?"
They could NOT hold themselves together. Ms. Heron my awesome cooperating teacher interrupts "Ms Terry, you know knob is a dirty word right?"
"No! Omgosh! What is it?" I say in disappointment that my students are more hip on the times than I am.
"It means penis"
BAHAHHAHAAH the class is rolling on the floor.
Yeah so I said knobby and they thought little penis.
"Ok class get it out of your system...Let's all say penis"
"Penis" they responded in unison.

"Ok now say focusing knob" They couldn't do it without laughing. I told them I would award them a merit for the first person who could say focusing knob without laughing. It was an impossible feat. Finally little Alex was able to hold a straight face which then quieted the laughing fit for the time.

Then I went on with instruction and set myself up for more failure unintentionally.
"Ok so what I want you to do is play with the knob and see how far down it goes before it hits" (hits the slide on the stage of the microscope)
My little 6th graders have dirty DIIIIIIIRTY minds.
Anyway it made for another fun and interesting day with my students that I absolutely adore. I love teaching :)