I admit, I was relieved this morning when I checked the prompt to see that today's was a little less "reflective teacher" focused, and more fun/list type of thing. It's quite the list TeachThought is asking us to put together!
Five Random Things About Me:
1. People (usually women) often tell me that I look like the actress Lauren Graham (aka Lorelai Gilmore aka Sarah Braverman). I secretly love this because I loved Gilmore Girls as a teenager/twentysomething, and I love Parenthood now. You can Google her image and be the judge yourself, but I think it's more that we have the same haircut/color and eye shape. I'm not nearly as cool as Lorelai Gilmore.
2. I have Epilepsy. When I was a kid, I thought the debilitating headaches that resembled "painful deja vu" were a sign that I was psychic (need I mention my overactive imagination?). In college, they developed into full-blown grand mal seizures, which earned me my fair share of ambulance rides. In the past few years, it settled back down to only partial seizures (the psychic ones), but I haven't had even one of those in months. I give credit for that to my #3.
3. For my birthday present in March of this year, my husband and I did Transcendental Meditation training. When I actually mention this to people, I can see their eyes start to widen into the silent "Who is this New Age weirdo I thought I knew?" question. After only six months of twice a day meditation, I can honestly say if drug companies could bottle and sell what it does for you, it would be the miracle drug of the century. Sustained, still silence with yourself every day helps you fire on levels physically and mentally that are impossible to believe if you've never done it. Meditation is 100% the real deal and I firmly believe the world would be a better place if more people made this practice a priority.
4. I've lost over 80 pounds over the past ten years. No fad diets, no gimmicks or pills; just hard work and eating changes. There a million positive effects from this, but it's not all sunshine: it has given me a lack of compassion for people who don't choose to take charge of their health through eating habits and exercise, and that judgment is definitely something I need to improve on as a person.
5. I pull out my eyelashes when I'm bored, frustrated, excited, or really whenever I feel like it. I know this is an actual condition called trichotillomania, but it's not something I view as a real problem. I don't pull hair from anywhere else, just eyelashes. I can't explain it, but it feels so good. My husband is completely grossed out by it and reminds me that it's disgusting to see someone constantly pulling at her eyeballs.
Four Things from my Bucket List:
1. See the Seven Wonders of the World. My husband and I met a British dude on the Inca Trail who was in the midst of a Wonders trip, and from the brief time we spent with him, we caught the bug. Machu Picchu is the only thing we've tackled so far: next up (hopefully), Chichen Itza.
2. Visit as many different countries in the world as possible. Adventurous places while still relatively young, relaxing when older. (Yes, many of these items are about world travel, because that's one of my passions.)
3. Become a published author. Okay, this is the childhood dream, the thing that guided me toward English and teaching in the first place: my love of writing. I would love to publish a book, whether it's the science fiction novel I work on each year as an example for my students during NaNoWriMo, or a collection of essays a la David Sedaris; publishing creative work that I care about would be an ultimate goal in my life.
4. Run a four and a half hour (or less) marathon, or a sub-1:45 half marathon. I'm closer to the Half goal since I only have one Full under my belt, but I hope I can accomplish both within the next five years.
Three Hopes for the Year:
1. Patience. I'm hoping this year is the year I find more patience for other people in my life, both at school and in my personal life. Lack of patience is one of my worst personality traits, and it's always on my list of things to work on.
2. Keep improving. Another perennial favorite. In life, health, teaching; personal improvement is what motivates me.
3. Make peace with my inner critic. The downside of always striving for improvement and not having patience, is that I am secretly extraordinarily hard on myself. My inner monologue is vicious at times, and I hope to quiet it down a little more each year.
Two Laughs or Cries from Teaching:
1. Laugh: I start each class period reading out loud to my students for 5-10 minutes. Many years ago, I was reading A Wrinkle in Time to a group of eighth graders. There's a chapter somewhat close to the end where the protagonists land on a planet where the aliens have "tentacles all over their bodies" (or faces, or something of that nature). But that's not what came out of my mouth. In front of 28 fourteen year olds, I announced that the aliens had testicles all over their bodies/faces. I'll let you cringe over what you think that reaction might have been on your own. I've never had the heart to choose A Wrinkle in Time as a read-aloud again; it's forever tainted.
2. Cry: During an individual writing conference with a student, she confessed to me that she was being sexually molested and that's why she was struggling in school. The first time she felt comfortable seeking the help she needed was through writing and talking with me. I don't know that I did anything specific beforehand to earn that trust from her, but as I hugged her in my room and told her that we would report it and get help, I choked back tears that I couldn't let fall until I was alone. I've seen a lot of heavy stuff in kids' writing over the years, but I won't ever forget that moment. It's a strange feeling when you can't be helpless or scared because someone else needs you to take that burden from them.
One Thing I Wish People Knew About Me:
1. I am painfully shy and uncomfortable when it comes to large social situations and meeting people for the first time. It doesn't matter if I know people and I'm happy about the occasion. I fear professional development days where teachers are lumped into district-wide groups, or even ICTE conferences when I genuinely want to be there. Round tables and group work are the stuff of nightmares. I know it doesn't quite make sense that someone who speaks every day for a living (and teaches communication skills, no less!) can be so terrified of striking up conversation with others without being approached first, but it leads to a lot of awkward first meetings and people probably thinking I'm not a friendly person. It would be so much easier to wear a name tag everywhere that said: "Hi, my name is Missy. Please talk to me first because I feel uncomfortable about social rejection." Once you get to know me I won't shut up, but the start is always rocky.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.