Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ahh . . . Spring Break!

Spring break is here and I couldn't be happier. Despite my determination to stay true to myself and not let my new job take over my life - it totally has. The past three months have been insane and exhausting and confusing all at once. I keep reminding myself that the first year of teaching is supposed to be difficult, that I'm supposed to be feeling this way, but it's hard not to beat myself up over it. I keep thinking that if only I were more organized or better at planning or faster at grading I would be in a better position. While all those points are undoubtedly true, I have to take into account that I need to learn HOW to do all those things, and the only way to learn them is to experience different situations, experiment with different methods and make lots of mistakes. I hate having to make mistakes, but I'm pretty sure it's unavoidable in this profession. I'm still insanely happy not to be substituting anymore, but this career is a lot more intense than I could have imagined. It's really hard!

I've been knitting each morning on the way to work, so I haven't completely stopped my crafting. However, knitting with a lot on your mind is not as fun as carefree knitting. Now that I have a week to catch my breath I was able to sit and crank out a project, just like in the good old days. My mind must have been staved for mindless crafting, because I was able to crank out my Saroyan in just three days. It's blocking now on my bed and pictures will follow tomorrow. I had almost forgotten how good it feels to sit down with your needles and watch a project grow under your hands. I have missed that feeling of satisfaction. I have also finished my second attempt at a February Lady Sweater during my carpool knitting time. I need to get that blocking next. It's smaller than the last one, which I wanted. We'll see how it blocks.

Tomorrow I'm going to sit down and crank out some lesson plans in an attempt to get ahead. I'm already counting down the days until summer. My students are restless since the end of the year is getting close. I'm restless too for that matter. Things will be so much better next year when I get a fresh batch of students that I can establish my expectations with at the very beginning of the year. It's hard to try and fill another teacher's shoes. For now all I can do is try different things and learn from this group of children and prepare myself to start next year off right.

I never thought teaching would be easy, but I had no way of knowing it would be THIS hard. But hey, even in my darkest moments I can always think, "At least I'm not subbing!"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Treading Water

I had no idea how busy it was possible for one person to be until I started teaching. I have lessons to plan, papers to grade and paperwork to fill out. Every time I turn around, there's a new form for me to fill out and deliver to someone I don't know. I have kids constantly bugging me for makeup work and I have student work jammed into every corner of my bag awaiting grading. It's all a bit much and I haven't figured out an organizational system that works for me yet.

Now that I've been working for a month, the shine has worn off of my excitement about getting a job. Don't get me wrong, I'm still incredibly happy about not being a sub anymore, but the realities of the profession are starting to sink in. I'm frustrated by the fact that I'm not perfectly organized and on top of everything like I usually am. I know that logically, it's impossible to come in and instantly be perfect. It still bugs me that I'm not though.

Parental contact has been an unexpected annoyance. I knew that I would have to have some contact with parents doing this job, but I'm getting emails every day about one kid or another. My favorite email so far has been, "My daughter's A isn't high enough. What is she doing wrong?" Ridiculous.

I'm making a serious effort to relax more and accept the fact that I am only one person and I can't be everything to everyone at once. I have to prioritize and deal with the most important things first, then the less important and balance all that with enjoying my personal life. It's really challenging!

I am determined to enjoy this weekend and not work through all of it. The Olympics are starting tomorrow and I plan to participate in the Ravelympics and cast on a project (my angora Saroyan) when the torch it lit. My awesome husband has planned a wonderful Valentine's Day for us - first we get to go see Wicked at the Performing Arts Center, then we get to go out to dinner at my favorite restaurant. So this weekend will be full of more than just work and I'm very excited about that fact.

I'm just going to keep treading water until I fall into a routine that works for me. I hope I figure it out soon, because I want to get back to knitting! Thanks to knitting in the car on the way to work (carpooling), my FLS is nearing completion. I think I've solved the problem of the baggy armpits!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Busy!

I have been incredibly busy with work lately (and I LOVE that I can say that now). For example, today I helped my department head clean out the language arts closet, entered in my students' grades and called a whole bunch of parents with kids that are in danger of slipping into "D" territory on account of missing assignments. I have a severe case of phone-phobia and all of the calling I had to do was a source of great anxiety, but I got it done! I'm settling into my job quite nicely. The only downside is that all the work has greatly reduced my knitting time.

This fact has not slowed down my yarn acquisition at all. I keep on ordering yarn despite my complete lack of time to knit with it. In the past week I've ordered three skeins of Classic Elite Lush in Peony for a Saroyan, and a skein of the new Madeline Tosh Prairie in Ginger (because I can't resist trying a new lace yarn, especially from Madeline Tosh). I also received the skein of Dream in Color Smooshy I won in the Yarn Lotto at Eat Sleep Knit. I chose the Plum Paisley colorway and it is GORGEOUS! I think I have a sickness. A sickness that I have no desire to cure. What makes this even more dangerous is that I now have a salary which enables me to buy more yarn than ever before.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Still Alive

Well, I'm two weeks into my new job and I'm doing okay! Better than okay, in fact. I'm actually really happy. Happier than I've been in a long time.

I have a lot of advantages at my new school. I have a big, beautiful classroom stocked with all the latest teaching technology. I have three periods of very intelligent advanced students that are eager to please. I'm surrounded by master teachers that are very nice and very helpful. With all these things on my side, it's no wonder I'm doing well. I have my difficulties, and the first year of teaching is always very challenging, but I've hit the ground running and I feel like I have everything under control.

My miserable year of subbing gave me invaluable experience in crowd control. My classroom management is very good. I have some difficult classes of average kids, and while I don't have their behavior exactly where I want it yet, they aren't out of control by any means.

The reality of all this hasn't hit me yet. I'm still afraid that I'm going to wake up and find out that this was all a dream. I can't believe I landed in such a wonderful position at such a wonderful school. I can't believe I'm doing as well as I am. It turns out that I wasn't wrong to go into teaching after all. All my doubts about the profession are falling away. I'm suddenly confident about everything. I'm not perfect at this job yet, but I'm learning more everyday and I know that I can be great in this career as I gain more experience.

It's really nice to feel like myself again. I haven't felt ambitious or motivated in a long time. It's just crazy how good I feel right now! I realize I sound like a complete sap and I don't even care. I didn't even understand how sad and depressed I was before I got this job. I'm so happy right now that I don't even know that girl who was so hopeless only a few months ago.

Of course, my knitting has taken a backseat as I have started working. I've managed a few more repeats each on my Citron and my second February Lady Sweater over the last two weeks, but that's all I've managed to accomplish. I really enjoy knitting both patterns, so I keep switching from one to the other. I need to hunker down and make real progress on one though - probably the sweater. Once I get a good rhythm going with my lesson plans and grading I'll get back into crafting a little each day. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't let my job completely take over my life and I plan to keep it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome 2010!

I have been having the best holiday vacation of my life. I didn't do anything special or travel far away. I just rested. This has been a blissful two weeks of sitting on the couch, watching the first two seasons of Dexter and knitting. I'm very sorry to see it come to an end. Sure, I have big and exciting things to move on to, but I have very much enjoyed the nothingness. My DH and I spent huge amounts of time just sitting on the couch and hanging out. There was no hurry, no niggling little worries running through our heads about work to be done - we were just free to relax. It was wonderful.

Now that we are officially in 2010, it's time to think about my New Year's Resolution. Last year, I had many resolutions, some of which I totally conquered and some of which I did not. Most notably, I managed to succeed in starting a blog (obviously), reading a book a month and getting a job. That last one came through just in time, eh? I think I got hired at the last possible moment for employment in 2009. I didn't end up learning color work or jewelry knitting. The color work I just didn't get to. The jewelry knitting I lost interest in. I'm moving learning color work into my 2010 resolution pile - and I'm going to get to it this time!

Here are my new resolutions for 2010:
  1. Prove myself to be a fantastic teacher.
  2. Work on my sock challenge.
  3. Participate in 10 Shawls in 2010.
  4. Learn color work in my knitting.
  5. Design a knitting pattern.
Despite my holiday relaxation, I haven't forgotten about all the work I have to do to prepare for my new job. I have done quite a bit, mixed in between all the lounging and knitting. I made a discipline plan, a parent letter, a parent information sheet, a fun activity for the kids to work on their first day, signs for the room about my rules and how to head a paper, and conversed with my mentor through e-mail and gotten approval on all these things. Today the DH and I went out and bought a ton of stuff for my classroom, including a fully stocked treasure box for rewards. I also completed the county's online orientation! It was a complete joke (entirely unhelpful and inefficient), but at least it's done. I still have to make a PowerPoint presentation for my first day, make new seating charts and finish reading the novel my advanced classes are in the middle of. I plan to tackle all of that tomorrow. I'm actually doing pretty well prep-wise!

In my knitting world, I'm working on so many projects right now. It's like I have knitting ADD. On the needles are a new February Lady Sweater (I realize I haven't blogged about my first one - I'm not happy with it and I am trying again) and a Citron. I'm also about to cast on for my Konnichiwa socks. I tried casting on for these last week, but I discovered that the yarn I wanted to use was too light of a worsted. I couldn't get gauge with it so I had to order something else. Let's hope Lorna's Laces treats me better.

Now I'm off to bed. I'm sorry to see the last true day of vacation slip away, but excited to prepare for what is lying ahead of me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Inspiration

I've been very restless since yesterday. Part of it is because of my episode with the online orientation for my school district (which I'm still avoiding finishing), part of it is because I'm nervous about starting my job in January and part of it is because I don't have anything exciting on the needles right now. I will work more on the orientation today and prepare myself as well as I can for work in January. Those things are easy to work on. The lack of knitting excitement is another story all together. I don't want to start a shawl, since I'm participating in 10 shawls in 2010 next year and anything I start now won't count. Unfortunately, all the patterns I'm interested in right now are shawls! I have a lace scarf on the needles that's been hanging around my closet, trying to guilt me into finishing it for ages, but it's not very fun to work on. I did a few rows of it today and was bored almost immediately.

I decided that I needed to come up with a knitting goal that is personal and just for me. I wanted something that inspired me and had no time restrictions on it. For a while now I've been wanting to challenge myself to take a knitting book and make every pattern in it. I have a ton of knitting books here, but only a few would be suitable for such an endeavor. After perusing my library, I decided that I want to take the Knitted Socks East and West Challenge.



This challenge, which I have entirely made up myself, consists of knitting all of the socks in Judy Sumner's beautiful pattern book, Knitted Socks East and West. I have never been inspired by a knitting book like I have been inspired by this one. All I have to do is crack open the pages and I'm instantly lost in the beautiful photography and interesting commentary. There are thirty wonderful pairs of socks here, using distinctive Japanese stitch patterns. There are several new stitches to learn, all of which look exciting. I have really wanted to get into sock knitting, and this seems like the perfect way. I will be learning all about sock construction while creating some beautiful and unique pieces.

This challenge will be very loose. There are only two rules:
  1. I have to knit all the patterns in the book
  2. I have to knit them in the order they are presented
I will take as long as I want to do this and I won't try to power through all the patterns right in a row. I will be knitting loads of other things in the new year besides my challenge socks, so I wont get burned out on the project. This is a very long term goal.

I already have the yarn for my first pair, Konnichiwa. I hope this will be the perfect way to get myself out of my knitting funk and cure my restlessness. I'm excited to get started!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lacy Little Bookmark

Today has been a really restless day for me. I had grand plans to power through as much of my county's online orientation as I could today. Those plans fell apart when I realized how terrible the program was. It's so fiddly and broken that I can only handle doing it in small chunks. I got a good portion done, then I got to a point where I just couldn't do anymore. I had to take a break. So I did some chores, made a grocery list and took pictures of the bookmark I knitted my mom for Christmas.



Pattern: Flourish Bookmark by Nina Casey
Yarn: Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton 4-ply
Mods: I stopped knitting i-cord at 8 inches instead of 10 because the tail was long enough.



I'm very happy with how this turned out. It was a very quick pattern. Of course, it took me a week to make because I made a mistake in the lace at some point and decided to just start over rather than fudge around with it anymore.



Blocking this piece made all the difference. It looked okay when I finished knitting it, but it didn't look at all like the project pictures on Ravelry. Giving it a nice soak and pinning it out really finished the piece nicely. I ironed it once it was dry to flatten it out a little more. It looks great!

Now I'm off to choose a book to gift to my mom along with it!