September 3rd, 2011
Okay, okay... so maybe Chris Martin lyrics are a tad over dramatic for discussing our first week's trials and tribulations....but the man's got a way with words, and I've been highly dependent on mellow tunes this week. (Which is soothing in it's own element, but doesn't entirely replace my normal solution to tough days at school: wine. In copious amounts.) And for those of you that don't already know: this. job. is. HARD! And as much as I'd like to say I successfully completed my first week, it's not over yet. As an added bonus to all of us first years hanging by a thread as our week comes closer to an end, we get Saturday School tomorrow! WoooHOOO! (My sarcasm should not be interpreted as a complaint, I'm merely making a feeble attempt at psyching myself up for tomorrow.)
The week has not been completely unsuccessful. I've managed to establish some crucial classroom procedures, despite the "but our old teacher let us do this" comments, and you can actually pick up on some healthy classroom habits already! I actually stayed on pace with my first week's lesson plans and have been really getting to know a lot of the kids. I'd say I have about 95% of my 50-ish students' names down...hoping to secure the remaining 5% tomorrow! (I knew that Saturday School would come in handy somewhere!) I've of course encountered some discipline issues and moments where I've said to myself "uhhh sh*t, now what?!" but for the most part I've been able to hold my own. I feel really lucky that the staff here is so supportive and welcoming to new teachers. There are so many people I ask for advice on a daily basis and I really really appreciate it. The community has been just as welcoming and my students are working on coming up with a Yupik name for me. While I doubted myself a few times this week, I don't doubt at all that this is going to be a great first year experience.
Brendan has been just as busy, if not busier than me all week! So much for him staying home all day, sleeping in and doing housework...HA, we've barely been able to keep up with the 2 mugs and one set of silverware we brought! He walks to school with me every morning and works on the school website, which our principal has contracted him out to fix. He is helping out the Special Ed Department (perhaps considering following in his sister-in-law's footsteps? :o) ) during lunch as an aid for a few of the students. There's a possibility he'll be assisting/monitoring the ALE (Alternative Learning Environment) which is still a work in progress but has potential! He's in the school store as soon as school is out and then keeps 20-30 extremely energetic kids in line at cross country practice for the remainder of the afternoon. By the time he's finishing practice, we have just about an hour to walk home and make dinner before he's headed back to school to open the store for Open Gym. It's only a matter of time before he'll be getting calls to sub! The kids adore him. No matter where we are in the village you can guarantee we will hear a "Hey, Coach!" or a "Hey, Running Coach!" I think his favorite is "HI GIANT!" (which is mainly from the kindergarteners.)
Needless to say, we've both been pretty exhausted by the time we are actually at home for the night. It's a good exhaustion though, it feels so rewarding to finally be in the position that I want and to be challenged on a daily basis! The days are long and some have been rough, but walking home watching the sunset over the top of the world every night is a pretty amazing experience. I'm not sure I've ever felt this peaceful...I'm so thankful to have been given this opportunity! We've had some pick-me-ups this week too--we received our first order of fresh organic produce on Monday, and were able to pick up our bulk order of groceries on Wednesday!
I think we both feel at home and comfortable in the community and ready to tackle the school year. We were just discussing on our walk back to school tonight, how confident we feel that this is the place we are supposed to be right now and how happy and calm we feel, despite the fact that we just moved half way across the world. It's hard going home to an empty house at night and we're really missing Sampson, but Skype and Facetime are wonderful inventions and we've been able to see quite a bit of him! (Oh yeah, and our families too ;o) )
THANK YOU everyone who called or texted or messaged us this morning. We had no clue there was even an earthquake and I thought it was the melatonin having a crazy side effect when I read the text message "the tsunami warnings are cancelled!" There are lots of earthquakes in Alaska, but we are luckily far enough north and pretty far away from the edge of the plates that cause the quakes, that we shouldn't be getting too much action up this way. We really appreciate everyone's concern and love, and are hoping these next couple hurricanes coming up the east coast are less destructive than Irene was! If anyone needs to escape the lousy lower 48 weather, there's an oceanfront room available in the Bering Strait anytime :o)