Thursday, May 23, 2013

You Are My Heaven.

“Chelsey has such potential and she’s such a smart girl, but she has got to start paying attention and stop trying to read her books under her desk during class.” I was exposed to be literature and music at a very young age and they are both hobbies that I enjoy today as an (almost) adult. There is not a single period of time in my life that I remember where I was not reading a book, aside from that one time when I was still wearing a pull-up and my brother told me that when people die they die with their eyes open, and then he pretended to be dead. I have spent my whole life reading, sometimes to the dismay of the adults surrounding me; and I have spent many Sunday mornings standing in front of a church singing by myself or as part of a worship team.
            I can remember being a very young child laying down in the backseat of the car while listening to early 90’s country songs. I would listen to the whole song and then when it was over I would tell me mom what I thought the singer was trying to say. I was the same way with books, I would read an entire book and then search through the house for my mom and make her stand there and listen to me while I told her everything about the book that I could remember. I was so enamored with the stories that came from books and from songs, and I loved trying to decipher them. I can tell you now, there are plenty of country songs that I definitely did not understand until I was much older, and then I would laugh at imaging how my mom must have felt when I was seven and eight years old trying to explain all of these songs that dealt with situations that I wouldn’t understand for a good twelve years.
            Books were my haven of my childhood. I could entertain myself for hours on end, devouring a whole series of books in a matter of days. I was the only kid that my mom really enjoyed taking grocery shopping, because she would take me into the book section of Wal-Mart, wait until I sat down on the ground with a good book, and then she would leave me on my own and go on with her shopping. I was the only kid that I know of that was ever grounded from reading; television and video games never mattered to me and I could have cared less if I wasn’t allowed to watch them but I just hated when my books were taken from me. My mom says it was the only thing that I ever cared enough about to really have any effect on me. I can remember when the Left Behind series came out and my mom bought the first couple of books from the kid’s series for me and the first book of the adult series for herself. Later that day when we were back home I asked my mom if I could read her book and she said no, that it was too grown up for me, and then she hid it from me. Only a few days passed before she walked in on me laying on the ground half under her bed, reading the “hidden” book.
            Unfortunately, not all of my experiences with books have been wonderful. I remember the day that I laid on the couch sick, reading Old Yeller. I hated that book. It was the first time that I had read a book and not enjoyed it, but it wouldn’t be my last. Very shortly after that my older brother began reading the Let The Circle Be Unbroken series for school and I decided that I wanted to read them as well. I read Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry and when I finished the last page I stood up, walked silently to the kitchen, and threw my brother’s library book into the trash can. I own that book now; it’s a lesson that I want to pass on to my students and to my own children, but I have never again even cracked open the cover of it.
            I have so many other memories associated with music and literature, memories that would take up so much more than two or three pages for a school assignment, memories that would take much longer than a week to compile. There is not a single period of time in my life that I remember that isn’t filled with memories of book and of music; they are my life.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Show Me What I'm Looking For.

            “I bet you could fit into this locker,” my eight year old self said to my younger sister. “Don’t worry, I have my combination here, I’ll let you back out!” As luck would have it, the locker that was assigned to me for my third grade year was at the end of the hallway one floor directly above my mother’s new classroom, so it was a short run down to her to explain in a panic how I had locked Chassey into my new locker and couldn’t get her out. My mom had taught before I was born but this was the first time in my memory that she was going to be a teacher and so, the beginning of my own journey.
Being the middle child of two teachers who had both just taken jobs in USD 494 meant that I spent a lot of my free time running up and down the hallways of the elementary and high school, terrorizing janitors and pestering my parents coworkers. I was never shy or timid as a child and any friend, acquaintance, or friendly stranger of my parents became my immediate friend. My parents never bothered giving me the speech about not speaking to strangers for many reasons, but mainly because they were confident that anyone who decided to kidnap me would bring me back within the same day, tired of being hassled. I was loved as a child, and yet while I knew that I was loved I still never really fit into my role in my family. In my mind I was always at least ten years older than I really was and knew way more than my little kid britches could hold. I loved to sing and dance, loudly, for anyone that would watch and as an eight year old I wanted to be a high school cheerleader more than anything else. I knew that I was different than most people, because I always felt so much older than anyone else my age, but for the most part I was a happy kid. My third grade teacher was Ms. Kalinoski and on the evenings when my mom had too many papers to grade my sister and I would go over to Ms. K’s house and hang out with her. Eventually she started letting me help her with her grading. I graded so many papers and it didn’t matter to me at all that these were the papers of my peers, or that I now knew sensitive information about them; I could have cared less about the grades of my peers, but I so enjoyed using that red pen to notate an error or to draw a smiley face at the top of the page.
My parents got divorced a few years after my third grade year; I honestly could not tell you when exactly, as it just wasn’t an important event in my life. At the end of my seventh grade year my mom and I decided that I would attend a private Christian school in our town. I had just gone through cheer tryouts and made it for the second year in a row but I was miserable in school; it was hard to be a true trouble-maker when your mom was on the other end of the building that connected the high school to the elementary and always just one e-mail away. With a sad heart I explained why I had chosen to enroll in another school and handed back my uniform.
The public school in Syracuse, KS at that time was a 1A school and the private school that had just reopened after over 10 years was even smaller. First through twelfth grades were all in the same room and there was approximately 25 of us in all. I had gone to church with some of the other kids for years and a few others had gone to public school with me, so it was not a scary transition but a welcome one, and my best friend was there too. I was twelve and Maggie was sixteen and she was one of the most confident, laid back, grown up sixteen year olds that I had ever known. A lot of the confidence that I have in myself today is due to the friendship with Maggie that we still maintain today. I completed two years at Syracuse Christian Academy before my mom remarried and we moved to Udall, a small town that none of us had ever heard before and didn’t sound too promising. The two years in private school had allowed me to surpass all of the students my age and I spent the last three years of high school struggling to even find anything to do. After a blow out between the principal and I where he suggested that maybe I drop out of school my mom once again stepped in to save the day. They agreed that I would be allowed to spend the mornings in the elementary with her and her classroom, tutoring children to read and acting as an aide for my mom that ran errands or graded papers. Despite the fact that my mom and I had stopped being really close years before because of my attitude towards adult instruction I had still spent every summer helping prepare her classroom for a new group of students and spent a lot of my lunch breaks in her room surfing the internet on her computers, so it was an agreeable suggestion to me that I spend my mornings with her. The first time that I helped a girl learn to read changed my life; not to say that I suddenly started being any less stubborn and troublesome, but I knew then that I had to finish high school so that I could go on and do something great with my life, and become a teacher. Starting my junior year of high school I started enrolling in college classes at the community college a few towns away and by the end of my senior year I had almost finished my freshman year of college.
Despite the fact that I had found my calling in education, college became a struggle for me just as high school had. I didn’t want to continue with classes because I was so bored and if I had to hear, “because that’s how it is,” one more time when I asked my adviser why I had to take so many lame classes just to be a teacher, I was going to scream. My supportive mom agreed that maybe it was best that I took a few years off from school to get my life figured out and so I immediately withdrew from my classes and moved out of the dorms into an apartment by myself. Maybe I didn’t want to teach after all? I started working in a hotel and I loved the business aspect of it all, I loved the guests that came from all over to attend business in Wichita and I started dreaming of going back to school for business administration instead of education. After a few months of living in Winfield, Kansas, I moved on to bigger and better things by getting an apartment in Wichita. I started a job working at GMAC Financial and found out that they offered to pay for higher education, as long as I was willing to go into business. I toyed with the idea for awhile, fascinated by all the challenges that would be offered to me if I did something new and exciting. I enrolled back into college but didn’t declare any major, I just took some classes. I had finally grown up enough to realize that even if I hated it with all of my might; I still had to take college algebra. First though, I had to take an entrance class, because it had been years since I had even looked at a calculator and knew that I wouldn’t be able to pass algebra without a precursor first. My Introduction to College Algebra class once again opened my eyes to the beauty of learning. I realized that all that we were doing was learning different methods to solve the same problem and that by doing so the professor was giving everyone a chance to solve the problem in their own way; it was genius. I declared myself an education major once more.
I could not now look at my life and my future and see myself anywhere except in a classroom. My earliest memories of life and learning started in that hallway when I closed my sister inside of that locker and I want my last memories to be in a similar hallway, doing what I do best.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

You're my crack of sunlight.

Chelsey Hann
Instructional Technology
Dr. Shellie Gutierrez
August 18, 2011
I become frustrated a lot. I knew it was a part of my personality to want to teach others how to find themselves in this world, and how to have their own moral code that matches my own, all the while exploring the world that is out there; but I did not realize how much that characteristic defined my personality until I took the Keirsey Temperament test.  The Kiersey test defined my temperament as Idealist.  Idealists, in general, love to contemplate themselves and their own personal growth, as well as the growth and development of the people around them. We as Idealists see things in black and white, right and wrong. I immediately felt a connection with the report while I was reading it, it described me almost perfectly!  Reading further through the report, it said that Idealists are kind of rare, only making up about twenty percent of the population, which gave me reassurance that I was not always requesting too much of people, but rather that we’re just different personalities and see the world in a different way. I am okay with this concept, but I am still working on how to incorporate that knowledge into my daily life, how do I go into a classroom and teach a body of students who do not think as I do? With love and lots of patience, hopefully. The MI Learning Styles test was a little confusing for me, seeing as how a lot of the numbers matched very closely to one another. Maybe it is trying to tell me that I do not have a particular learning style that I prefer best, but that I do have some that I do not like at all (Naturalistic was only a 26%). Linguistics and Music were my highest levels, with Music at a 45%, and Linguistic at a 43%. Mathematics and Kinesthetic followed closely behind, both with a 39%. I think the test was pretty accurate, I love to read, I talk with my hands, I love putting anything together with my hands (or taking it apart),  and currently while writing this paper I’m listening to Pandora Radio. Most people that know me well would disagree with the mathematics as I have never done well in a math class, but I do love logic, and I think I just find math classes lacking in challenge and importance.  The VARK questionnaire just solidified what I already knew from the two previous tests, I have a multimodal learning preference (a little of each). Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic were tied at a 7, Visual was 6, and Aural was 5.
The knowledge that I was slowly coming around to figuring out on my own was answered in these tests. I love to teach and help individuals find their way through life, but I can very easily get frustrated when it seems that they are not on the same page as me. When working with children, that is something that I will have to take into consideration. I have known a lot of teachers who spend a lot of time yelling in class, and I know a lot of parents who spend a lot of time yelling at home. I do not want to ever be either of those. That being said, I also do not want to worry so much about how I come across to my students that I never teach them anything because I’m too afraid of pushing them too far. I think knowing my personality temperament is a swell thing, but I think knowing what the other temperaments are will affect my teaching style more, because I will have incorporate those into how I think and how I teach.
I would like to be able to say that I do not have any weaknesses but since I do, instead I’m going to say that acknowledging my weaknesses for what they are is actually one of my greatest strengths. I am driven, and passionate, and honestly want to make each child that I come across realize that the world is completely open to them in so many ways as long as they apply themselves. I love kids and I love teaching, and every time I skip count in front of a child and watch their brains click and make connections it just brightens my whole day. On the flip side, I know that being who I am means that I sometimes want too much from my students; that I have too high of expectations of them, and that if I do not keep that bar of expectations down to child height I could end up stressing everyone out, myself included. I have excellent communication skills, I’m organized, I am a planner and a list-maker, I’m creative (which I tend to think is an extremely excellent strength when it comes to children), I work well under pressure, and I’m not afraid to reach out to those around me for help. However, I am also (slightly) demanding, impatient at times and easily stressed out in small situations. I do not really care for rules, but I’ve never figured out whether I honestly think that is a strength or weakness.
I will have to adapt who I am into a classroom of diverse students, because very few people out there are like me personality-wise. Instead of imagining what it would feel like to have each of my children get the highest score possible in the state assessments, I will have to learn to focus on more tangible, realistic ideas. The majority of personalities out in the world are a Guardian temperament, meaning that they have very realistic views of the world, and if I stood up in front of the classroom with my art equipment each day they would all start running for the hills. Showing them concrete proof of what it is that I am trying to teach will reach them more effectively. That also is being said for the other two temperaments, but in their cases I will have to adjust my ways of thinking to acknowledge that they might cut corners to get the results that they want, and that I need to be appreciative of the fact that they at least got the correct answer (that does not say that I condone cheating, merely thinking outside of the box). Everyone has to adapt in life to get along with each other, and I think that those who were born to be teachers (and I do think that people are “born” to be something) are naturally able to adapt better than others.