First day of school… yet again

It has been waaaaaaay too long since I’ve been in the classroom. I worked at a tutoring chain for awhile and got to “teach” there, but it’s just not the same as having your own little group of students that hopefully become like family by the end of the class.

I have missed it so much. I am so very grateful for this opportunity I have to teach an intermediate English class to international university students. And now, only two days in, I know for sure that this is what I want to do, for a long time.

I feel alive in front of a class, and I take my responsibility very seriously. Most of my students are freshmen, and I love that I have the opportunity to introduce them to what college could be, and what studying in the US could be. I am so lucky to be working with international students; I love picking their brains about the language and culture (mostly Spanish and Mexican, respectively) and they love it, too.

I would say I’m a dynamic teacher, meaning that I move around constantly and always have a new activity going. Part of it is because I feel what is best as far as pedagogical philosophy goes, and also I get bored if I do the same thing for too long, thankyouverymuch adult ADD. (I diagnosed myself…..)

Today I collected a writing sample for a couple reasons: 1) because other instructors said it was a good idea, 2) because I want to see where their writing skills are and 3) to get to know their own personal stories about learning English and their goals for the class.

I’m reading them over now at home and have come across a couple things. One, is that their English is really really good for being at the beginning of the class! Some students need help with writing, some need help with reading comprehension, and others need help with grammar or speaking. Or maybe they just had a bad day when they took the TOEFL. Who knows.

Buuuuttt…. I got these comments after I asked the question “What are your goals for the class?”

[Now, that’s kind of a huge question to ask the second day of class… I wasn’t sure how well they would be able to express themselves.]

“…I’m sure is not going to be in a borring way so I’m not worry about that anymore….I hope at the end of the semester I can speak, spell and write English well or at least better then now. I’m sure that’s is going to happen because I really like this class.”

And this…

“…and i know that you are a great teacher and i feel very confortable with you, so by the end of the semester i will be able to speak english perfectly”


We. Are. Going. To. Have. An. AWESOME. SEMESTERRRR.

I just teach how I would like to be taught. That includes caring about my students both academically and personally, That includes creating (or stealing, ahem) activities that are interesting. That includes getting the students up and moving around. That includes being understanding about their cultural background and making sure the words coming out of my mouth are sensitive to that. That includes wanting to learn from my students as much I want them to learn from me. (Mexican slang, anyone?)

I think it’s safe to say I’ve fallen in love all over again. It’s been a long time coming.

Welcome to Colorful Colorado

Guys. If you haven’t been to this state, YOU MUST GO. I had been back in 2007 when my family took a vacation and we went to Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak. This time I went to Ouray, which is in southwestern Colorado, about 100 miles from the CO/NM border. One of my dearest friends who I’ve known since we were 4 moved there, so I went to visit her and her family. It was so great; it’s like no time had passed at all. Don’t you love having a friend (and friend’s family) like that?!

I set out at 7am, and got to her house a little after 4pm. Missy, our pit mix, is a champ in the car, and during the whole trip she was like a new dog, playing with the other dogs in harmony and making herself right at home.  Anyway, if you ever want to drive a road that will work on your nerves, drive the Million Dollar Highway from Silverton to Ouray. I knew there were mountain passes, but MAN. Gorgeous drive but you could not pay me enough money to get on the back of a bike.

Every morning it was cool and lovely, and I got two of my runs in there. The elevation was around 7800 feet, so a bit higher than El Paso, but I had no problems. Between my Friday run and Saturday long run, I did 15 miles in Colorado, which was definitely not enough.

One day we went to Telluride, which if you’re not familiar with it, is where all the rich peeps live. Haha. We took the gondola from Mountain View into town and had lunch and walked around. That same evening we had dinner at Ouray Brewery, which was delicious. We spent a couple evenings relaxing in the hot tub on the patio under the stars. Seriously, it was a lovely vacation…

…but there were even more nervewracking mountain passes. We went on a Jeep tour up to the summit of Red Mountain. The pass along the highway is at 11,000 feet, but we still had 2,000 feet to climb on a single track rocky off-road trail. Whew, talk about nerves!! I was definitely the scaredy cat of the tour, but coming down wasn’t bad at all. The views were magnificent from the top, with 360 degree views of 13- and 14-ers everywhere you looked.

We hiked and went out for breakfast yesterday and then I headed home. I had to stop and get new front brakes and rotors… and of course, who else did I call when I heard an awful sound but my dad? He thought it could have been something worse, so I’m thankful it didn’t set me back more than a couple hours. I made it home before midnight.

View from summit of Red Mountain #3, 12,890 feet
View of the open Jeep on the summit. It’s really a Dodge 😉
Just one of the many gorgeous views during my long run on County Road 17
Shameless selfie in Telluride
Beautiful aspens
View while running; what more can you ask for?!
Missy and her new BFF Enzo
Kai Luna, Missy, and Bandit at the creek
The ((free!!)) gondola going into Telluride
Jackie and me on the gondola
Borrowed boots

Tail end of summer

This summer flew by so fast. Tomorrow is three months down in this deployment, and that couldn’t make me happier.

I set out in the middle of May to kick butt in my class (check), do well with my research assistantship (check) and lesson plan for the fall (nope!). In May Leah and Benjamin came to visit and I just could not get enough sweet baby snuggles.

June brought lots and lots of 12-hour days because I had work in the morning for a few hours, and then I had class in the afternoon for two hours a day. I will never ever ever take another summer class again. My assistantship has gone so well. I basically got paid to learn how to do corpus-based research and start on my thesis. This week is the last week of the 10-week appointment, so I’ll be submitting my thesis proposal to the department and also to the IRB for approval. This fall I’ll be taking two online classes, working on the data collection/analysis part of my thesis and teaching one ESOL class, and intermediate level class. My schedule will be wide open for the most part, which seems to happen when Aaron’s gone. Rawr.

At the end of June I also started training for a half marathon, the Transmountain Challenge, which goes from the west side of the Franklins to the east side on Transmountain Road. I drive this road all the time so I am well aware of the bends and turns and gain in elevation. Training has gone really well so far. In July I ran 73 miles, and to date I’ve run 32 this month. I missed two of my runs last week because of stress and feeling sick. I’m not sure if it was all the junk I ate the weekend before, or a bug, but it took me several days to feel 100% again. I’m glad I rested because yesterday I had a fantastic run, 10 miles up and over Scenic Drive and back again. It was deliciously cool, only 66 degrees at 6 am, and at one point there was a strong headwind. But I powered through it and finished the run breaking an 11:00 pace. It. Was. Awesome.

Last week I took the plunge and signed up for the El Paso Marathon, which is February 23. It’ll be my second marathon, and I’m so excited. It starts at the top of the road I’ll be running on in October, so the elevation goes down down down for 26.2 miles. When Aaron gets back, we want to run an ultra together. Living in the Southwest gives us a lot of awesome options in NM, TX, AZ for ultras. Yes, we are crazy. And yes, Aaron has a blog! Check it out at The Ultra Road!

I think I’m slightly crazy  to do my thesis, finish up my grad coursework (I’ll graduate in May!!), and train for a half and full marathon while having a deployed husband. Running keeps me sane, though.. it forces me to be accountable, pumps up my self-confidence, and allows me to not feel guilty about eating ice cream.

My next post will talk about running in beautiful cool COLORADO! Heading up there later this week to visit a dear friend. It’ll be Missy’s first road trip, so pray for us. Haha.