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.

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