Monday, June 19, 2006

Rained Out

Originally I was just going to focus on South Dakota here, but my parents want to hear about Houston and about teaching, so I'll try to get some updates when time permits. I have been updating my running log, so anything relevant to running, like weather and sleep patterns, will be in there. And that's pretty much what you need to know about Houston: it's really freaking humid, and I wake up at 5:30 every morning.

Last week we got a crash course in how to be a teacher. After hearing how stressful Institute is supposed to be, I felt like things were pretty easy. Long hours of classes, but the work itself was pretty basic. I was for the most part enjoying myself. The most stressful thing for me was seeing everyone else be stressed and wondering what kind of work they were doing that I was skipping out on.

I got a little taste of Houston this weekend, but still feel like I haven't really experienced much of the city. On Saturday night I went with most of the South Dakota folk to Minute Maid Park to watch the Astros play the Royals. Not the most exciting game, but it was fun. Afterwards, we went to the bar at the University of Houston's Hilton hotel, where we had hung out the night before. There, we ran into a number of CMAs and our SoDak program director, Matt Kull.* They invited us from there to Taco Cabana, a sort of classy fast food restaurant that happens to sell margaritas and beer. Only in Texas.

Last night was when the stress finally hit. Today was supposd to be our first day of teaching, and I was finally realizing how much preparation the first day of teaching takes--so that was probably what everyone else was doing while I was feeling relaxed. Most people here have to teach in a "collaborative" with a couple other teachers, though, and I get a class all to myself, which may be making things easier for me. I'm the first and fifth period sixth grade math teacher for Project Chrysalis, a charter school program that is holding its required summer sessions at Jackson Middle School (go Jaguars!). I'm supposed to be teaching rational numbers and ratios over the next four weeks.

We woke up today to some intense thunderstorm action. Lightning and rain just pouring down. It's been raining a lot this week (which is apparently unusual), so it didn't seem like anything too special, just a little more intense than usual. Still, it didn't look like an auspicious start to our teaching careers, and a lot of us were joking that school might be cancelled for thunder and lightning. So I get dressed, ate some breakfast, and packed up a giant box of school supplies. I arrived in the lobby to masses of people and rumors that one or more of our schools had been cancelled for flooding. Turns out that the Houston Independent School District has cancelled all classes at all schools due to flooding. There were some megaphones and some sirens, just because the staff is ridiculous, and they sent us all back to our rooms so that we souldn't be wet and crowded in the lobby. We are waiting for word of what comes next. I guess the first day of school is one day later. I'd rather just get it over with, as unprepared as I am.

*CMAs are Corps Member Advisors, which, if you think of Institute as an extremely intense summer camp, are sort of like counselors. There are tons of these acronyms, which I am becoming far too conversant in. The program director(s) for each region come into our classes during the school year to check how we are progressing as teachers.

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