Friday, May 18, 2012

To tattoo, or not to tattoo...

Before you start to judge and form opinions based on the title of this post, I want to challenge you to stay open-minded and neutral about all the possibilities and consider the other side of the issue.

Now, my mom was always the type of person who despised the idea of tattoos. This always surprised me because she is by far the most canning example of a 50+ woman who lives the life of a 20-something. But as long as I can remember, she always cautioned---and by cautioned I actually mean threatened---if I ever came home with a tattoo, she would take a wire brush to my ink until it was gone. AKA the first, second, and quite possibly the third layer of my flesh would be slowly rubbed off until it was raw and the tattoo was gone. This not only kept be from getting a tattoo, but also caused me to cringe and slightly vomit in my mouth anytime she began her "No Tattoos" speech.

Undergrad was the first time I began to contemplate the idea of a tattoo. I thought I wanted 13 stars on the top of my foot (Yes. Stars.) (Yes. 13.) (Yes. It did seem like I had a Lisa Frank obsession that I never dealt with properly.) Thankfully, I was able to catch onto social cues and understand that people MAY or may not judge this and question my sanity after seeing 13 stars thrown up on my foot. However, I think it is pretty safe to say that every tattoo is questioned on some level or another. Example: Tramp stamps, tribal arm bands, and any collegiate or professional team mascots anywhere on the body. Fortunately, I never went through with this dream tat because A) I was cheap B) Afraid of the pain & C) Seriously questioned how I would explain this choice to my future students.

Around February, I started to look again at my tattoo options. I began to think that I wanted one, but not 13 stars on my foot! I thought I should get a tattoo with white ink only… Possibly on the wrist. Now, for clarification, it wasn’t because I saw Lindsay Lohan got one on her wrist during a TMZ news alert…(insert ounce of credibility here)… For some reason, I thought my idea was novel. 

Fast forward to a quick Google search and I realized that not only was it not a new concept, but that the hot-mess actress formerly known for her cute portrayal of twins in Parent Trap, but now only known for her frequent visits to jail and rehab had the exact idea on her body. Dang. Not exactly the trend I want to emulate. Miraculously, this didn’t stop me from still entertaining the idea.

Because I need to be reassured on big life decisions that I make, I had to go to my number one advisee and number one tattoo hater: Momma Doli. As I braced myself for the conversation, I imagined my wrist being brushed with wires until she hit an artery. Slowly, I brought up the idea of my tattoo. I could see her grab an invisible wire brush and clutch it for dear life as I pled my case. I ended my plea with, “And it will be done in white ink!” In a shocking turn of events, she let out a boisterous “HA!” Well, this wasn’t the reaction I had prepped for. I watch as her fist turned back into her normal hand, and triumph spread across her face. Eerily calm, she explained herself, “Well, why would you get a white tattoo? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?” And with a smug smile, she silently gave me the look of satisfaction that meant she won.


In order to better explain myself, I grabbed my iPad and pulled up a couple images. As she began to scroll through them, she was still calm and strangely quiet. I slowly poked her to gauge her thoughts. In a turn of events she uttered the unthinkable, “Those are kind of…. Cute.” 

Boom. Victory.

As I got serious about my tattoo, I settled on the wrist as a solid spot. I could see it. It doesn’t get too wrinkly or stretched as I age [says some guy on ChaCha--probably a tat expert]. I can cover it with my watches and bracelets. Basically, it was prime real estate. Being that this ink would be permanently affiliated with me, I decided it would be wise to come up with a solid CTC to keep me straight when it came time to haggle with the tattoo parlor.

Cameron’s Tattoo Criteria

1) Needs to be white
2) Needs to be small (no stacking of words or wrapping it around my wrist like an arm band.)
3) Needs to be in a script, “girly” font (NO block or serif fonts like Times New Roman!)
4) Needs to be socially acceptable to show off (future students, future employers, and, if need be, elderly family members)

At this point, I can only guess that you are questioning the most important piece of the tattoo. “Cameron, what in the world are you tattooing to your body?!” Well… Let me tell you, but before I do, let’s get on the same page.

Up until this point, I have been building the courage to let you in on what I want to get tattooed on my body. We are now all in the circle of Tat Trust and thus must follow a single rule: “Thou Shalt Not Judge.”

Agree? Agree.

Drum rollllllllllll......


Yes. Faith. Simple enough. Self explanatory. 

Visualizing is a crucial part to preparing for a tattoo… Or at least I think it is… And as I visualized my one word tattoo, I started to think that Faith was too simple. Too blasé. Too common. I mean, might as well stack hope and love underneath it and post it to Pinterest. {Violation of CTC #2 and besides a violations... that is oh my gosh sick.} So this sudden epiphany required me to get creative. I went to a favorite verse of mine. 

Hebrews 11:1.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
I was really reluctant at first to go the route of a Jesus inspired tattoo. I find that religion tats walk a little too much on the controversial edge for my comfort, but I do know that there would be less questioning when it came to explaining this to a student or parent while washing hogs or shearing lambs in my future career. (Obviously, I won’t be covering it with bracelets or watches during those events.) And this verse was more personalized than merely the word: faith, and it embodied what I wanted... So with my CTC in hand and a solid idea of my dream tat, the journey continued.

Recently, I took a trip with a couple friends to Vegas. During this time, I contemplated getting my tattoo. Thus, Vegas Tat 2012 was born. As I thought about this life altering decision, I couldn’t help but mull over the phrase, “What happens in Vegas…” Oh wait. Nope. That won’t work… Instead, I changed the mantra to “#YOLO.” Because really, a Vegas tat story can really only fall under the “You Only Live Once” lifestyle choice category.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend this, but I didn’t do a ton of researching before arriving in Vegas. The little research that had been done by one of the friends pre-trip basically showed that Vegas parlors were EXPENSIVE with a minimum charge amount of $100. Steep, but YOLO. 

The day we decided to do my tattoo, we started at the Bellagio concierge. Mainly because the Bellagio is classy and we paid a mysterious resort fee, which we assumed had to cover a few sessions with the concierge. When we inquired about tattoo parlors, they kindly stated that they couldn’t recommend any place because of the liability and I understood where they were coming from. Picture this: They recommend Rick’s Tattoos and instead of Hebrews 11:1, I walk out with He Brews 111 as a tramp stamp… No good. So, instead, they handed over a list that we assumed was made up of legit tattoo parlors and chose the 4th one--Planet Hollywood. Why? Because it was the closest.

When we walked into the parlor, we were met with a ‘tattoo stage,’ that had three stations set up. In front of the stations was a rail with a few touchscreen computers that let customers browse artist portfolios. They even had a screen where you could enter your wording and choose various fonts. When a computer opened up, I approached it and began to mess with fonts. A couple minutes passed before a man [it was assumed that he was the tattoo pimp per say] approached me and asked if I had any questions.  I have to think he was running something along these lines in his brain as he eyed my posse and me: “This is some Lohan-wannabe-20-something looking to YOLO in Vegas during her girls trip with some tat she and her girl crew dreamed up while drinking on the plane here.” And he would be correct with about 3/4 of that assumption: no tat planning happened on the plane.... Or drunk. But let’s get real. Most likely he really didn’t care as long as I was willing to fork over the Benjamin’s to make the tat dream and tat reality.

I began to give my spiel about the CTC and my verse. He patiently waited for me to finish only to respond that he had just 2 artists that would do white ink. Apparently, their shifts didn’t start until 5. He encouraged me to come back over then and talk to them about my dream tattoo. He handed me some very intimidating tattoo business cards, and rounded out our conversation with some horrible news. Basically, the tattoo pimp cautioned me about my choice of font. He said that I should look for fonts that are blocky and thick because wispy, “girly” fonts wouldn’t be successful in white. My eyes probably popped out of my head and I envisioned HEBREWS 11:1 tattooed on me. I politely said thank you and walked out.

In my head, I was shouting-- "NO! No way! Absolutely not! I am not putting Impact or Arial or Courier font on my wrist for life. You must be outside your mind. That is against CTC!" – During lunch I mulled over my options. I could come back and check with the artists that night, but I felt like I needed options and back up plans. Most of those involved changing the color, position, or the actual words of my tattoo. All options seemed quite ridiculous seeing as this was MY tattoo that I was paying for and it would be on MY BODY for LIFE… Which led me to the cold hard truth: I guess Vegas Tat 2012 wasn’t meant to be. 

For the record: I am completely tattoo free.

I returned to Oklahoma defeated by the Vegas tat pimp. For awhile, I pondered whether or not my guardian angel was actually just looking out for me as if to say, “Listen. YOLO isn’t something you will want to lean on as reasoning for a Vegas Tat 2012 in 20 years.” Or perhaps it was common sense kicking in during the afternoon pool sesh at the Bellagio when it dawned on me that the Vegas tattoo parlors were all but murdering me by asking for $100 to tattoo 11 characters in WHITE INK! Most likely, though, would be the years of threatening done by my mother subconsciously worked their way into my lunch debate and won it by waving around the imaginary wire brush...

So, the simple answer to the question…

“Not to tattoo.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Things I Wish I Had Learned Before Student Teaching

12 weeks have passed.

I am one, 7 hour day away from being done with the student teaching experience.

I cannot believe it is over.

I feel like just last week I was running around Indianapolis at National Convention with a dozen high schoolers! Where did the last 7 weeks go?

Somewhere between the outrageously ridiculous eight graders, absolutely out-of-control ninth graders, and the nutty upperclassmen, I slowly began to question the legitimacy of my college education. Not to knock down my degree program or anything, but I feel like we perhaps missed out on some KEY points.

I mean... Talking about the three parts of a good objective until I almost passed out from boredom and dissecting a chicken for 3 hours was great... However, I really feel like there were a couple things that should have been briefed before sending us (or maybe just me) out into the land of crazy high school students.

Here are some things that may of been helpful topics to discuss while on block (the 4 weeks before they send you to the wolves... I mean students) Some of these have real life stories so... **All names have been changed to maintain the privacy of students!**

1) How do I answer religious questions without sounding like an atheist?

My 8th graders ALWAYS loved bringing the lesson back to God and the creation of the world.

Example: Unit--Natural Resources and I am talking about the food chain.
(Student hand pops up--My greatest fear in this class)
"Yes, Billy?" -Me
"Uh... Miss Jones... So... When the dinosaurs were alive... Hypothetically.. if humans were there, too... Would that mean that dinosaurs would be at the top of the food chain?" -Billy
"Um... No. With that logic, an elephant would be on the top of the food chain right now...." -Me
"Oh.... But they are so big. And can like go Jurassic Park on you and CHOMP you would die! Elephants just eat plants..." -Billy
"Um... I guess. But the point is that we are intellectually smarter than any other animal... Prehistoric or current. That is the key to the food chain. I mean if we can fly to the moon, I am sure we would find a way to kill dinosaurs and harvest them for their meat and by-products." -Me
(Another student raises her hand--the student who ALWAYS brings up religion)
"Yes, Diane?" -Me
"So... did Adam and Eve live with the dinosaurs? There is no mention of them in the Bible... What's up with that?" -Diane
"No! Adam and Eve didn't live with the dinosaurs! I saw this on the history channel. There were no human bones discovered with dinosaur bones. And Billy... If we ever were with the dinosaurs, we would blow them up with a grenade and barbecue them! We are on the top!" -Cooperating Teacher
"And with that... (change slide) Did you know that there are half a million white tail deer in Oklahoma?" -Me

Where do you even go after that? Honestly.... Where?

2) How do I deal with fellow teachers who blame me for cheating in their classroom?

So during one of the first weeks of teaching, I did the unthinkable. I assigned homework in Ag. I had no idea the problems that was going to cause. Not only was it interfering with my students' busy lives (don't you know that they have to get in Facebook and MW3 and... Lord knows what else is considered MUCH more important than school and grades), but even more upsetting was that, apparently, my homework was also messing up other classrooms.

(Walking down the hallway, minding my own business)
"HEY! NEW AG TEACHER." - Screech from a woman's voice behind me
(Cautiously turn around)
"Um, yes?" -Me
"Yeah. Your students were cheating in my class. I caught them doing this worksheet together. (Thrust worksheets into my hands) You need to do something about this. I don't know what you are going to do, but take care of it. This behavior is unacceptable in my class." -Fellow teacher
"Um... Okay. Sorry?" -Me
"Well, just watch yourself." -Fellow teacher

This conversation left me VERY confused. Surely she wasn't mad at me... I mean.. I can't follow students around and make sure they aren't cheating. I just assigned homework... Isn't that part of my job? Why was I getting blamed for this? But, the message was clear-- Cheating was happening and it was my problem to deal with because I assigned the homework! Would have been nice to know this code before beginning to student teach.

3) What happens when everyone wants my kids during my teaching hour?

Because I teach Ag, I feel like everyone, including teachers, assume that I don't do much. I don't really know what they think I do, but they really seem to assume that whatever it is, it isn't important. Like, really... What do they think I am doing? I have students for 45 minutes everyday... Do they think we just watch livestock at the barn? We just sweep the shop and burn rods? Perhaps doing coloring pages? I don't know what runs through their minds, but they really don't think we are doing much because I can't count how many times teachers would call and ask slash command for students to do weird, random things in the middle of class... Just a hunch, but I am pretty sure no one was calling the Algebra teacher or the English teacher looking for student labor during that class period, so why mine?! Needless to say, I let the student leave 98% of the time because I am the STUDENT AG teacher, AKA limited credibility and power... Basically I cater to the wants of real teachers of real subjects.

4) We were taught that students are creatures of technology... What happens if that is wrong?

Throughout my college classes, I was told-- Anytime I can incorporate technology into a lesson plan, I should! So, I thought it would be great to have the 9th grade students do a Prezi (an online, awesome PowerPoint program) and write a one page paper over a food product they invented.... Oh how I was wrong. Granted, they really liked the Prezi after they got over the initial distaste that they had a project in Ag and actually tried out the program... But the paper. Oh, the paper. That was rough.

"Okay! So when you type this paper, make sure it is one full page, double spaced, Times New Roman, and 12..." -Me
"TIME NEW WHAT?!?!?" -Half the class
"Um... What? What do you mean? Times New Roman... You know... The font?" -Me
"Huh, what are you talking about!?" -Class
(Scan the room and look at my smart, reliable students... They look absolutely lost.)
"Okay... (Pulled up a word doc on the Smart Board) See this at the top? It says Arial. Change it to Times New Roman." -Me
"Oh... There are more than one font to choose from?" -Mitch
"Yes.. There are lots of fonts..." -Me
(I push the align right button and put a fake name at the top of the document)
"Um... Push it to the right? Well... This button. It allows you to align things...." -Me
"So, double space? Why?" -Buddy
"Because it is easier for me to read and correct!" -Me
"Ughhh... I don't want to! This is SO complicated!" -Buddy and several others
"Why are you arguing this?! You WANT double spacing! You don't have to write as much!" -Me
"Ohhh..... Okay. So we just push enter at the end of each sentence and double space it?" -Mitch
"Oh wow..." -Me

Turns out that they hand write everything in English. The teacher's thought process is that they won't copy and paste if they are writing everything out, so she is cutting down on plagiarizing.... And basically cutting off their left arm for future success, but hey whatever... So, needless to say, I spent another full class period explaining the basics of writing basics and paper formatting... And we STILL didn't get the concept grasped for some students. Literally had the strangest rough draft formats being turned it. It was frightening. I am not even for sure how these kids found the way to get half their paper to align on the right with strange hanging indents and weird tabs... Lesson: Ag isn't just about cows, sows and plows... We teach life skills.

5) What should I do if the entire class forgets to bring back homework?

One day, I assigned a group project. Each person in the group had 4 questions to research online for homework. The next day, we were going to do a group poster about their topic. The next day comes, and I ask students to pull out their completed worksheets....

"Oh shoot! Dang it! Ahhhhh mannnn! Crap!" -Collective moans, groans and cries from the crowd
"Who forgot their worksheet?" -Me
"Um our group never actually picked a topic." -Jason
"Seriously? Really...!?" -Me
"Yeah...." -Jason
"Okay.. Who brought their homework?" -Me
(2 students raise their hands)
"I found these answers in my brain. That's okay, right?" -Ray
"Huh...? What do you mean...?" -Me
"Well I just knew the answers... See?" -Ray (Shows me his one word answers)
"No. The directions said to find answers on the internet from legitimate resources and not from Wiki or your brain... Researching is different then answering questions with your brain." -Me
"Ugh..." -Ray
"Um... So now what?" -Me

I had no back up plan. I can anticipate 1-3 students forgetting homework, but the whole class? The WHOLE class?! Ugh. WWMPHSTD? (What would my previous high school teacher do?) I ended up having a come to Jesus meeting with the class and assigned terms and definitions for the rest of the hour... but while I sat there watching them work on terms and definitions.. I wondered to myself... Why didn't they [professors] mention the need for a back up plan when no one brings their homework and your lesson plan for that day revolves around completed homework?!? Hello. That would have been helpful.

6) Is there a cure for the lazy bug?

During my teaching experience, I have relied on students being responsible for their notes that they take in class. Seems reasonable enough, right? Well, I handed out a review sheet for the upcoming test and explain that if students complete the questions correctly, they could earn bonus points for their test. (Cue questions)

"Where do you even find the answers?" -Jack
"Uh, the book? Your notes? Your brain?" -Me
"Well, what notes?" -Jack
"You are kidding me... The ones I print out every lesson and you fill in during class?" -Me
"Oh, those are important?" -Jack
"Yes. But don't worry, you can use the book for reference." -Me
"What book?" - Jack
"Um... Whoa. Okay... The text book." -Me
"Where can you find answers for questions on the internet?" -Terry
",, Google, cha-cha.. I mean any search engine will work.... Wait. Do you mean answers for the review?!" -Me
"Yeah!" - Terry
"No. Just use the notes or the book. I came up with the review questions from notes and the book and those are the answers you will need to know for the test. Lord only knows what Wiki would define marketing as!! Don't make this complicated!" -Me
"Ugh.... Notes...? I just don't know where they are. Maybe in my locker...." -Pat
"Okay. Here is a book. Look them up. You have 10 minutes to get some answers! Come on guys, work on the questions!" -Me
(Pass out books to all tables)

That day, no one touched a book. Only two students located their notes. I was beyond shocked at the apathy and laziness of the classroom. I literally did almost everything besides grab their hands and begin writing answers onto their page! This was about the time I began to worry about the future of America. (A close second was when the students asked me where you could buy a planner after my lesson over the importance of time management.)

7) What do I do when students simply don't care?

Apathy is rampant in my high school. Seriously. I could tell the students that my lesson that day would result in educational benefits that will lead to their future success, and they will pass it up with out even trying to be engaged in the lesson. The ONLY thing I found that would motivate them is candied bacon and, well, anything with food that they could instantly eat. Nothing else would make them learn, do, or particpate. The day after the students didn't bring back that homework from #5, I was hoping that everyone would bring back the homework so we could complete the group poster. Well, only half the class did. So that half did the group project, and the other kids had to write 100 sentences for their project grade. The poster/presentation project was worth 100 points and the sentences were going to be worth 100 points. Most of the students began writing their sentences, accepting their punishment without resistance... All but one. One young lady decided that this was crap. It wasn't her fault that she didn't do the homework! Of course... So she spent the whole hour mouthing off and trying to find crafty ways to "finish" 100 sentences. I kept telling her that if she didn't do them, I would have to give her a zero and she seemed to be fine with that. One of her antics included writing out the sentence and putting x99 behind it... I pointed out that that would only be 99 sentences and she changed it to x100. Another antic was to write the sentences on four pieces of paper REALLY BIG. Logic = 100 sentences would fit on 4 pages. Precious. Professors, what do you do when the only thing that motivates is food, and even though you pin a million different recipes on Pinterest.... You just don't have time or energy to become Betty Crocker?

8) What happens when my gender overrules my credibility in shop?

I think the fact that I was born a girl is a slight downfall in the Ag Ed department... Especially, in the mech ag area. For some reason, no high school boy believed that my poof and pearls could hack it in the shop. After a few weeks of heckling, I decided it was time to put up to make them shut up. During the mech ag hour, I challenged the mouthiest red head to a welding show down. Arc welding. 3 beads. One class period. The boys were taunting me and even my own gendered student was skeptical. After two beads, I knew I was beat. I hadn't welded in the past year, and should have requested some practice rounds before we started the contest, but what was done was done. My plan had back fired and my welds proved that I was just a girl living in the manly agricultural world. My high school days of the welding CDE team were a joke and the boys mercilessly teased me for the remainder weeks. Hate that! Lesson learned... Before challenging students to a welding contest, stay after school for a week and run beads until you rock again! Because it isn't like riding a bike. It won't just instantly come back to you, and neither will your broken credibility after a miserably failed show down.

9) What to do when students won't follow directions... Or even read them?

Fascinating. The fact that students would refuse to read directions. Absolutely fascinating. I would hand out a worksheet, and if they didn't immediately understand what was expected of them, they would yell, "HEY! WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSE TO DO?!" I would still be passing out worksheets and I would have students freaking out about what to do! At first, I would start explaining the directions out loud and before I would finish, the students were already working and had blocked me out. On one occasion, I did a test. I ended the directions with this, "If you are listening, new directions. Just put your name on the top and turn it in." Who was still listening at this point? No one. No one heard me. By the end of my experience, when asked what to do, I would counter their question with a questions, "Hey. Did you read the directions?" And after some moans and groans, students would try and figure it out on their own. My favorite example of directions in a class was when I handed out a review worksheet and there was venn diagram on one page. Out of 20, a total of 2 students did the 12 point venn diagram. The other 18 left it blank. The venn diagram had directions, very clear directions of what they were suppose to do and almost everyone skipped it. I asked the students why they had done the venn diagram and half of the class said it was because they thought it was just a picture of shaded circles. The other half said they didn't know what to do. I asked them if they read the directions... And guess what? They hadn't. Blows my mind. Fearing for the future of America.... Yet again....

Now, along with the shmorgishborg of weird experiences above, I have just as many awesome experiences of students being legit! But, who wants to read about that?!

And more importantly, we must keep in mind the point of the list... those perfect experiences that went by the text book were not concerning to me... I felt prepared to relish in student success and beam with pride when a student rocked at whatever they were doing! I was prepared to attempt to motivate students to learn about not so exciting lesson subjects and to deal with minor classroom management problems. However, it was the times when things went so far left field that I couldn't fathom what the next move was that I really wished we had spent more time on "real world" situations during classes in college instead of hacking at chicken carcasses or beating the dead horse known as "constructing effective objectives."

Overall, this student teaching gig was definitely an experience. With that being said, I cannot wait to be back in Stillwater! Back to fountain Diet Cokes and interacting with people my age! Never again will I take for granted living in a community with a stoplight, a Wal-Mart, and a convenience store with fountain Diet Coke. Can I get an amen?

Monday, October 31, 2011


This past weekend, I made a trip to the "city" and did some shopping for school. It is test week for my classes and we are playing review games. My eighth graders are playing Dairy Survivor. It just so happens, that I am a firm believer in student buy-in, which requires enthusiasm on my part, and more importantly... Props! Or, the education term, realia. Not to be confused with regalia.

Obviously, I needed some bandanas and tiki torches for my education survivor. However, tiki torches are out of season and for some unknown reason, Wal-Mart really thinks their bandanas are awesome and overcharges for them.... (Hello, I am a teacher on a budget!) No worries, though. Being the resourceful student teacher that I am, I decided we could flex a little on our realia.

Instead of bandanas, I grabbed two colors of streamers... These could be torn into strips and used as armbands OR headbands. Totally versatile. Tiki torches were harder to switch out. Tall candle sticks were pricy when I needed 14, not to mention I would need some kind of candle holder. Before I gave up hope and retired to a fake torch drawn on the chalkboard, I spotted it. 16 tea candles for a DOLLAR! Cha-ching. We could work with that!

I gathered up my educational props, feeling more pumped than ever about teaching, when I started to notice something. The orange. The black. It wasn't an OSU shrine. It was a Halloween shrine filled with witches, spiders, bats, and sacred bags of candy. Like a ton of bricks, it hit me square in the forehead. CRAP! Halloween!

It wasn't that I had forgotten my most favorite holiday that happened on Monday... Rather it was that I forgot I was a real-life, community member in my rural town... I had a house. On a street. With kids living everywhere. I was responsible for being a candy dealer on Monday. And the kids would expect legit candy. Not that gross, off brand stuff, or weird objects like apples... They would want the real stuff. I needed to stash up!

I grabbed three bags thinking this would cover me! I live in a SMALL town, remember? I don't need too much. If I overstocked, I would inevitably eat the rest later that night while lesson planning.... So I was confident that the three bags would cover it.

Fast-forward to three hours ago...

First Trick-or-Treater at my door. Malibu is going nuts. She doesn't appreciate strangers at the house-perfect watch dog.

The first kid is about 2.5 years old, resembles a meth addict (I think she was a zombie.... What happened to lady bugs and bumble bees?... And the child is being carried by his/her mom. I didn't really know what to give the child/parent couple.... Do babies even eat candy? Do they prefer chocolate? Or suckers...? That might be a choking hazard. Perhaps a jaw breaker? Well, that is an even bigger choke risk. Unsure as to what I should hand out, I grabbed in my bowl and took a chance on whatever came out in my clenched fist.

It was so awkward because my face totally had, "What the heck?" plastered all over it. And I couldn't help it. I was totally justified. Why in the world is this mom trick-or-treating with a baby? Take a picture and email it out to friends and family... Because I am TOTALLY judging you for stealing my candy and eating while your baby sleeps tonight.

Rough first visitor.

My plan was to hand out 5-8 pieces of candy per visitor. No clue why I thought this was a good plan. I even asked kids if they wanted chocolate or non-chocolate at first. About an hour in, I started to become nervous. My pile of candy was turning into mole hills. There was still a good hour to go, and my stash (that I had been certain would last) is now vanishing into nothing.

I start considering my options...

A. Turn off the porch light and shut the door. Basically be "that" neighbor who hates halloween or who is lame and didn't buy enough candy.

B. Be honest with the kids and give one piece per kid until I run out, and then post a note on my screen door explaining my lameness.

C. Start handing out water bottles and stress the importance of hydration, while consuming exorbitant amounts of sugar.

D. Hand out tuna packets and Special K bars. Healthy snacks.

Let the record show that never did I think about breaking into my 4-24 packs of Diet Coke. No kid is worth that.

However, A-D were all legitimate answers to the looming problem of no candy.

About two hours into my first Halloween as a candy-hander-outter, I was over it. I was REALLY over any kid over the age of 15 with no costume on and asking for candy. I was over children who didn't say Trick-Or-Treat. I was over kids randomly walking into my house and pawing my minuscule clump of candy. Literally. I would open the door and they would cross the threshold and eye-molest my candy bowl. It was weird. When did that become socially acceptable? And I was over no one saying thank you. Manners are not dead, people. Please and thank you's are IMPORTANT. Finally, I was over the parents in a van at the end of the street picking up kids like creepers to take them to the next block. Walk. We live in a tiny town. One neighborhood. That walking it worth a pack of Skittles. All about the compromises!

For those of you who were curious, I stretched my candy and made it last. No water or tuna was handed out. I even managed to hold onto a Twix and Kit Kat for myself. (Fist pump) So proud! Hopefully, there will be no vandalism or damage to my truck tomorrow. That Dracula kid who only received a yellow sucker looked a little peeved...

Also, Malibu became real chill after the massive werewolf mask barked at her... I am worried that it broke her of her "guard dog" tendencies. She is my only safe guard here in the small town... You know to save me from the Jack the Ripper or Ted Bundy copy cats that lurk in the wheat field behind my house. (Sorry, watching too much ID-Investigation Discovery in the evenings.)

Overall, I had a successful Halloween! And lesson learned. Buy extra candy! Over estimate! And buy versatile back up items to hand out, like 100 calorie packs of popcorn.

Cameron's PSA: Don't forget to brush your teeth, kids & check that candy for any tampering!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Top 10 Tips from a Student Teacher

Preface: I am half-way through my student teaching experience starting week 6 today. I am in a small (and by small I mean tiny) community where classes average around 26 students. As in, there are 26 students who are going to graduate in the senior class. There are no stoplights, street lamps, or gas stations. I teach 8th and 9th graders on a daily basis, and live alone in a room that I rent from a local homeowner.

10. Student Ag Teachers - Make sure you bring those boots and jeans! I have worn professional dress a total of 1 day. That one day we went to the school farm and drove T posts during the 8th grade class and visited a quail brooding pen during the plan period. Not to mention, there are two welding classes! Needless to say, at the end of the day, my dress pants were beyond trashed... Lesson learned. If the principal says you can wear jeans, don't feel the need to dress up for class... Because you WILL regret it and those $40 pants will be wrecked.

9. Invest in a DVR - Especially those student ag teachers out there in a tiny community like me! I am going, going, going for a week or two with no evening time and then I stop dead in my tracks and I am bored out of my mind in the evenings for a week or even on a weekend. What better way to catch up on grading than watching a week's worth of new shows? Or, let's get honest, procrastinating that Submission 3 artifact page or avoiding lesson planning. Why not online watching? Well, Hulu has gotten stingy and cannot be trusted to have the newest shows up for free, not to mention, I really like surfing the web with my ethernet cable, so I don't want the dang Hulu all up in my business. Thus a DVR would be a wonderful investment.

8. Get to know your copy machine and teacher resource room. As a student teacher, you are a glorified assistant secretary about 28% of the time. Trust me.... You will ALWAYS run out of paper the day worksheets are critical to the lesson and (of course) no one is around to show you where the paper is.... Learn from my mistake! And, figure out that staple/sort feature real quick! It is a TIME SAVER when you have a 15 page packet of notes for a class of 22 students. You don't have a student aid folks... Because you ARE the student teacher aid.

7. Get use to that constant state of trash around your room. Apparently the concept of "organizing and keeping track of papers" doesn't really kick in until post-high school. (And even then there are struggles if you know what I mean..) I am ALWAYS finding old worksheets and papers stuck in nooks and crannies around the classroom... Literally found one from 1996 last week. Not to mention, it looks like a recycling center on the floor of my classroom by Friday. I have yet to find a successful way to encourage and implement organization for the students in my classes. Open for suggestions!

6. Use cartoons and comics in your PowerPoint and put the title as, "Get It?" Those are the best times watching the students one-by-one getting the humor behind the comics. It is great to watch their expressions shift from confusion to understanding to laughter. Trust me. Totally worth the search on Google and the 2 minute distraction in class!

5. If something happens that you have no control over, blame it on the ag teacher! You are a student teacher, and being as such, you are not obligated to take the fall for the not so "cool" things that happen in the chapter or the ag classroom. Throwing the blame on the principal or cooperating teacher is totally acceptable at this point in your career.

4. Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement on papers that you hand back. Hint: Stamps are cheaper than stickers. Invest in some quality stamps and stamp pads or a quality roll of stickers. My high schoolers LOVE them! And, you FINALLY get brownie points for being the student teacher (more often than not, you are berated, bashed, or made fun of for being the illegitimate student teacher) because the "real" teacher NEVER gives out stamps or sweet stickers! Rack up those brownie points, they help later on down the road!

3. Make sure you have a large budget set up for your diet coke (or another beverage addiction) needs. It may be cheaper to drink out of cans from a 24-pack but it is a hard hit on the grocery list when they are $8 per case and you buy 3-4 cases at a time. Just saying... The bill gets high QUICK! Also, make sure you keep that fridge stocked. Nothing is worse than having no cold cans of DC at 3:30 pm on a Wednesday afternoon.

2. Keep it real with students. Or at least as real as you possibly can. I have found that the best way to build rapport and get students on my side is to be honest. As a student teacher, they don't really give you the respect that they automatically give another adult in the building. You are one step above a substitute, but still many steps away from the librarian or secretary. There is a definite line that I do not cross (don't be their biffle!), but a little bit of honesty and real-life chats can go a long way. Be careful and use discretion, but if done correctly, you will reap some very helpful benefits in managing the classroom and building solid student teacher-student relationships!

1. Never underestimate the students in your classroom. They are sneaky, weird, silly, immature, wise, uncanny, witty, clever, dumb, ridiculous, loud, silent, curious, bored, engaged, fascinated, hating, and loving and every where in between... at any point in time during the day... It can change on a dime, so don't get comfortable. Go with the flow and don't become too discouraged when I student makes a gun out of his hand and fake shoots himself during your lesson or says the following phrase after you have passed out the worksheet you have labored over for 2 hours, "This is &#($^@ing stupid." While I would encourage you to make sure you shut it down and discourage similar behaviors in the future, I would similarly encourage you not to dwell on it. This seems to be totally normal and should be expected from high school students! Remember, you may be the first teacher (student or real life) that has asked them to do work in awhile. Some resistance at first is understandable.

In the end, the important factor remains to keep on keeping on, because you are an educator in training. And even though it is training for you, you are still teaching the future adults of the world. Every day, all day.

A daunting, scary, and exciting thought, right?!

Cheers to you all in college. Soak it up, because even though this is only semi-real life, it is an experience that makes me MISS college an indescribable amount.

- Miss Jones
Teaching. Is. Life.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Give me a D, Give me a C

Well, Washington DC with the Jones' has been an absolute family vacation like usual.

I realize that all families have their traveling woes, but my family is down-right dysfunctional when it comes to being anywhere other than our home. Seriously. I think we have major problems. It got so bad that my sister gave me an ultimatum today... If I didn't start changing myself and become nicer, she would no longer be traveling the family. EVER! After that loud, lovely speech, she stormed out of the restaurant. Yeah, and this wasn't the first storm out at a public place for our vacay!

Anyways, DC was quite a trip filled with monuments, museums and metros. Oh, and about a gazillion miles of walking. I packed 5 pairs of cute flip flops and wore them a grand total of 2 times. Instead of looking cute, I took one for the team and for my poor feet! I rocked the Nike shock tennis shoes almost every day. The ones that are so old the soles are peeling away from the actual shoe.

Yes. While I did look a bit like a 5th grader, I am pleased to say I only had 1 blister over the 7 day trip.

During this week in DC, recruitment was happening back in Stillwater, America. It took me about 2 days for it to sink in... I am old.

(Special shout out: Thanks for all the tweets and #hashtags that confirmed the worst had happened--I am officially old balls.)

And, as if that realization wasn't bad enough, I also discovered that I now wear the omnious “ALUMN” tag around my neck 24/7, which means I am inferior when it came to all things fun about recruitment. Scratch that. Let's go ahead and say I feel inferior whenever it comes to anything chapter related. It is like I graduated and became totally irrational and unable to comprehend what goes on... Which is scary because it has ONLY BEEN 4 MONTHS!

It killed me that I wasn’t there making decisions, bossing people around, and rushing girls for the future PC. Hopefully, it will sink in next year a little sooner and I won’t have to go through as many withdraws and angry patches as I did this year!

Bless my family's heart.... They had to hear ear fulls of, “Well last year....” and a few of the, “If I was there....” comments every day. By Saturday, they were so relieved it was Bid Day and that recruitment was over that they bought me a celebratory green colored drink and toasted another successful recruitment! So kind.

Let's just say trying to close the greek chapter in my life will prove to be difficult this year. I am still doing undergrad classes this next semester, so it feels like I am going to go back to the sorority like nothing changed.

REALITY! I will not have Monday night chapter requirements. There will be no pomping glue all over my new, favorite black t-shirt. I'll have $65 more each month for whatever I fancy. And I will have to make my own Biscuits and Gravy on Wednesday.

Total downer. I know.

Luckily, I will be teaching in Drummond for 12 weeks and can boss around my new students like pledges/babies/freshmen.... And, ironically, I will basically be back to being a pledge in the teaching world.

[Insert dramatic sigh here]

Oh man... School in 6 days. BUMMER!

While in DC, I documented my travel for a dear friend. Some of these may or may not be appropriate in the settings I took them, but take it all with a grain of salt. I had to share my adventure!

These are all shot with my iPhone 4, so don't think that your computer screen is scratchy/hazy/fuzzy. That is phone pic quality coming straight at you from yours truly.

(Yes I brought my fancy camera to DC, but who wants to lug that beast around the city for 7 days?? Not to mention there isn't a way to switch the fancy camera to the front screen so you can take lovely solo shots!)

Please also note that my face broke out like some 16-year-old the day before I left Oklahoma. I am talking high school acne from H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. Don’t judge me because I was too lazy to go into Photoshop and touch it up.

Heck! Who am I kidding? I have no idea how to even open Photoshop. Thanks #phototour2011.


We hit the ground running on Sunday. The rain was coming down and we didn't bring the umbrellas, thus my drowned rat look. Nevertheless, we caught a glimpse of the White House!

Apparently there is a National Christmas Tree... Go figure.

Me and Abe. Just chillin in the rain with 100 other of our touristy friends!

This was taken looking back at the Washington Monument. What I want you to get from the photo is the fact that there is NO, I repeat, NO reflection pool. Basically it is a nuclear war zone of dirt and fencing. Oh My! I was so mad! My dad was livid! I don't claim to be a news buff, but surely I would have caught the news of this! Who just decides to rip up the best part of DC!?

One of my questionable photos at the Vietnam Memorial. My dad was horrified when I took this picture... Whoops!

Department of Agriculture! Right at the top of the Metro Exit! It was like it was meant to be.

Aerospace Smithsonian! This was a real bust and bore!

The next few were at the Natural History Smithsonian...

Fish Hat!

Kissing the prehistoric dino fish

Monster Alligator!

Moose Antlers!

Hippo Yawns

I thought this was pretty dang graphic for a free, family museum!

Walrus Tusks!

The Capitol

Holocaust Museum was that afternoon and I DEFINITELY wasn't going to take pictures in there. So mom and I prepped while waiting for the metro. Sad faces.

Ag Building

Red Mango -- Like the skinny, northern version of our Orange Leaf. It was CULTURED yogurt. I am not talking just a little culture.. I am talking it might as well of walked off my spoon into my mouth because it was so potent and alive with bacteria. The other way it differed from OK yogurt stores was the whole part where they did it all for you. You didn't get to choose your fate with toppings or yogurt amount. It was all them with STEEP prices... Not done by weight. So not only was it sub par, but I felt way jipped. However, I think I discovered one of the reasons why obesity wasn't as evident in DC as it is in OK

American Art Museum - Smithsonian - It was such a treat. One of my favorites to take pictures in, but it was hard dodging Museum Cops who were in charge of making sure I didn't take pictures or touch the art.

Good ole MJ in his PRIME


George Bush!

My less than delighted face at the zoo. It sucked... And I am a zoo snob/brat/expert, so I can say that. Boo for the DC zoo.

Yes this is a pig trash can. Yes. I did buy it. Perhaps. I might try to stuff it in my suitcase to get it home.

Jefferson Memorial!

Goofy at the memorial. I started to get bored. Don't get that confused with disrespectful!

Me and my sister! This was when she was in a good mood

Trolley--- Please look at the action shot I got behind me!

We went to Truckeroo! Basically a bunch of food trucks meet up and you grab some lunch! It was so much fun!

Lobster Roll! 30 minute line for this bad boy!

Nationals Stadium!

These are at the American History Smithsonian Museum!

Julia Child would have totally been in my sorority....

Julia Child and me!

Shout out to Oklahoma at the museum!

This is the ACTUAL grocery cart!

I just can't get enough of Niagara Falls!

This reminded me of a scrapped Hoco idea we had last year. Route 66.... Yeah... Good Times.

Dorothy's slippers from the Wizard of Oz! SO NEAT!

Um, this is George Washington without his shirt on and in a Toga. My dad said in a direct quote -- "I don't like seeing my president's nipples." Well put dad, well put.

A shot with the Obamas while in DC was a must!

This sad, old life preserver was all they had of Titanic memorabilia. I was so disappointed that there wasn't anything cooler in the Smithsonian for my favorite historical boat tragedy turned raunchy movie plot!

This is the final inappropriate smiling picture -- at Arlington. My apologies.

Me in the Metro! Would love one of these bad boys at OSU!

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial!

Theodore's dog. This is my favorite memorial/monument!

Eleanor Roosevelt!

So I love the Food Network, and I love the show, The Next Food Network Star. They did a little promo for the Best Thing I Ever Ate, and crepes was one of the featured foods. While we were at Eastern Market on Saturday morning, I saw this little crepe stand. I thought, "Gee! Let's test this theory." Well, hate to break it to you, but it wasn't the best thing I ever ate. It was so disappointing! Dang you Whitney and Mary Beth!

Line to get into Georgetown Cupcakes. The place where DC Cupcakes is filmed. I have never watched the TV show, but we stood in line for 30 minutes and got 6 delicious cupcakes!

Me and the cupcakes!

And that wraps it up! I hope you enjoyed your trip through DC with me.

Soak in the last few days of summer while you can!