Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A 40 by 40 update

22 months in, and I figured it was time for a (brief) 40x40 update. 

There are a few things I can successfully cross off the list:
    my new digital camera
  • 7.  Buy a new digital camera and learn to use it.  I bought a new camera in January 2012 – a Canon PowerShot G12 – and have been slowly, but surely, improving my knowledge of and skill with it.  I don’t anticipate having it fully “figured out” right away.  I was still learning new ways to get my old camera to do what I wanted after using it actively for 10 years.  I don’t expect me work with this new camera to be any different.
  • 9.  Get a full-time job with benefits. & 10. Get insurance.  I have a full-time job with benefits, including full insurance coverage – medical, dental, and vision.  Yippee.  (Mind you, the job is unbelievably stressful and consumes every second of my time.  But I have a paying job.  And I have benefits.  Now, the caveat to that is that this past October was the first time I have had to visit the ER in at least 10 years and my reason for going was a direct result of my job.  Ironic, in a sick, twisted kind of way.  Oh, and now the insurance says they won’t pay for my ER visit.  So happy to have insurance...  I sound bitter, don’t I...)

There are a few things I’m working on or have comments related to:
  • 2.  Travel to at least five continents. 
    My 5th grade class and I at Shanti Bhavan in India.
    I did NOT succeed in progressing forward on this goal, but I did spend time travelling.  I spent January through April of 2012 living in India (which you may not have known about because I didn’t write about it here, but I did write about it here).  So, while I can’t cross another continent off my checklist, I feel very lucky to be able to add a new country to my list of “places I’ve been.”
  • 15.  Learn more ASL.  In a round-about way, I am slowly learning more ASL.  In the classroom where I teach, I have several ESL students (whose first languages are Turkish, Arabic, and Sinhala).  I have found ASL to be a wonderful tool for the entire class.  It is new to everyone, gives us all a shared space for language learning and can be paired with spoken English without slowing down communication.  It has been really valuable for my students, and for me.  (Plus, I use it with my 17 month old niece, who doesn’t speak verbally yet, but knows several signs and applies them accurately and with high consistency.  Being able to use ASL helps her explain what needs and wants to the adults around her.  And I love it!)  In my classroom, my students and I regularly use the full ASL alphabet, colors, a series of basic words (eat, drink, milk, water, more, please, thank you, etc.), and sing four or five bilingual songs in ASL and English (and then apply the ASL vocabulary elsewhere in our daily routines).  In addition to books, I have been really lucky to make friends with a teaching assistant that works next door to me.  She is an ASL major and helps me with any signs I need.  I have a LONG, LONG way to go before really “knowing” ASL, but I have been enjoying this extension of what I knew before.
  • My niece and my mother playing the same piano I play.
  • 25.  Play the piano regularly again.  I am continuing to enjoy having regular access to a piano.  Sometimes, in moments of immense stress, I take five minutes to play and then can keep going.  I am grateful to have the piano as part of my regular life now. 
  • 34.  Teach on the college/university level.  I am kind of doing this now – in a round-about way.  Part of my new job requires me to work with student teachers and field students in my classroom.  So, while I am not teaching a formal course, I intensely mentor 4-5 teachers-in-training every semester.  This means that I share resources with them, I set goals and expectations for their growth and development, I evaluate their process, and I guide their work.  It is incredibly demanding work, but I am enjoying it.
  • 36.  Enroll in continuing adult education courses or certificate programs.  This is another of those “I hadn’t intended to do this right now, but...” bullet points.  Being hired into my new job was contingent on getting my teacher licensure in Ohio within a year of hiring.  The local university won’t submit my materials to the State without my updating what they perceive to be “gaps” in my past coursework.  (They noted two gaps – 1. updated math content – which the head of the program says I don’t need, and 2. a course on intercultural/international communication in education – which was pretty much my entire Masters program, but they don’t care.)  So, as Spring semester starts, I’ll be back in the classroom as a student, taking a course – Intercultural Dimensions of Teaching and Learning – that sounds AMAZING.  What worries me is that I am uncertain I can manage the load of work AND taking a class.  Wish me luck, patience, time, and sanity.
  • 39.  Learn basic videography and video editing.  While I am in no way “good” at this or even have a really solid knowledge of it, I have been practicing it a ton in the past few months.  So, I can edit together little videos with transitions, captions, and the like.  Lots more to learn, but it’s a beginning.

And there are a few things I have been utterly horrible at and need to redouble my efforts towards:
  • 1.  Be a better communicator with friends.  Yeah, I have sucked at this so immensely and royally that I’m not always sure I even still have friends. When I moved out of Chicago in June 2011, I felt like I was in transition and had this inclination to put off reconnecting with folks until I “got settled” in whatever new life was somewhere waiting for me.  That “settling” never really happened, and I am HORRIBLE at staying connected.  Horrible.  It’s not a good thing.
  • 22.  Become a more confident and consistent cook.  With the beginning of a new job, my time in the kitchen has dropped to almost zero.  I make toast, a quick fried egg, grab a salad, or whatever, but I cook essentially never.  It is really, really disheartening, and I’m longing for a change.  But, in all honesty, my schedule is not changing any time soon (in fact, it’s becoming more intense), so I’m not sure how well I will be able to work on this goal in the next while.

So, that’s where things stand at the moment.  And the goal – to keep on keepin’ on.

Reading List 2012

2012 was an interesting year for reading – for many reasons.  According to my notes (which are not exhaustive), I read over 250 books.  However, roughly 215 of that count were children’s literature, which I don’t count on my yearly “Reading List.”  (Of course, some of that children’s literature was exemplary and worth mentioning, including The Handmade Alphabet by Laura Rankin, Chalk by Bill Thomson, and Machines at Work by Byron Barton.)  But in addition to the plethora of children’s literature that dominated whatever time I spent reading, the time frame spent on reading “grown-up people” books was oddly allocated this year.  Of the titles below, I read 20 between May and the first week of August.  (That’s almost 60% of the total titles.)  And 8 of the titles (about 25%) were read between December 14 and December 26.  (This dichotomy is the direct result of my job.  From August to December, I had no time to breathe, let alone read.  And by the time I did have time to read “grown-up people” books, I was ravenous to do so.  One cannot live on children’s literature alone...)

All that said, below is the list of books I read in 2012.  Per usual, the books are divided into the categories of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry; the books are listed in chronological order, with the books I read earlier in the year listed first; and in the situations in which I wrote a review over at GoodReads, I have included the links.

Wishing you all the best for 2013.  Happy reading!

  1. 1.  Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
  2. 2.  Inexcusable by Chris Lynch
  3. 3.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  4. 4.  The Arrival by Shaun Tan (graphic novel)
  5. 5.  The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  6. 6.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  7. 7.  Yummy:  The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri, illustrated by Randy DuBurke (graphic novel, fiction based on real events)
  8. 8.  Habibi by Craig Thompson (graphic novel)
  9. 9.  Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  10. 10.  Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
  11. 11.  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  12. 12.  Holes by Louis Sachar
  13. 13.  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1) by Stieg Larsson
  14. 14.  Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks (graphic novel)
  15. 15.  Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore
  16. 16.  Local by Brian Wood (graphic novel)
  17. 17.  Ash by Malinda Lo
  18. 18.  If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman
  19. 19.  Luna: A Novel by Julie Anne Peters
  20. 20.  Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan (short stories)
  21. 21.  Where She Went (If I Stay, #2) by Gayle Forman
  22. 22.  Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker, #1) by Paolo Bacigalupi
  23. 23.  City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare

  1. 1.  The Ramayana for Young Readers by Milly Acharya (Are texts belonging to religious cannons considered non-fiction?)
  2. 2.  Foreign to Familiar:  A Guide to Understanding Hot- and Cold-Climate Cultures by Sarah A. Lanier
  3. 3.  Half the Sky:  Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof
  4. 4.  Not Much Just Chillin':  The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers by Linda Perlstein
  5. 5.  Stitches by David Small (graphic novel memoir)
  6. 6.  To Teach: The Journey, In Comics by William Ayers and illustrated by Ryan Alexander-Tanner (graphic novel)
  7. 7.  Teach Your Child: How to Discover and Enhance your Child's Potential by Miriam Stoppard (reread)
  8. 8.  Queen Bees and Wannabes:  Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman
  9. 9.  To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel (graphic novel memoir)

  1. 1.  Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States edited by Lori Marie Carlson