Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow day!

Wow I've been student teaching all of two days now and I already have my first snow day! It started snowing sometime before 6:30 yesterday evening and is just about done snowing now. It was enough to not only close every school district in the area, but also Kent State. I only have classes once a week, but in a wonderful coincidence, today is the day I have them! All I can say is it's about time I got a break like that! I can't tell you how many times classes have been canceled and it's either on a day I already don't have classes or comes after my classes. KSU actually opened this morning, but decided to close beginning at noon. Both of my classes are evening classes (from about 4 PM-9 PM). And in case you're wondering, yes, the picture above was indeed taken this afternoon when I went out to shovel the sidewalk by the back door. There was easily more than a foot of snow on the ground, most of which fell in this storm. As I write this, we are currently under a level II snow emergency in Portage County, meaning non-essential travel is highly discouraged. Level 1 is basically a caution about the bad roads and level III bans all non-emergency road traffic (those are pretty rare).

I just had quite the time with Katie getting her car up pur driveway. We have a driveway that is somewhere between 150 and 200 feet long. What tools do we have to clear it? 2 snowshovels. That's right 2 snowshovels. Nothing else. We have the longest driveway on the street and the least amount of ability to clear it. Fantastic. The last major snowfall we had our neighbor was nice enough to use the snowplow on his lawnmower to plow the driveway. This time we weren't so fortunate, though we didn't really know how bad it was until Katie got home just after 4. Not only was there over a foot of snow on the driveway, but the old snow that melted a few days ago when we got up to 42 degrees F turned into a nice sheet of ice, so pushing the car proved difficult. Not only was there little traction, but the amount of snow on the driveway did a great job in killing momentum as the car would work its way up. It took an amazing effort to get it halfway up (our neighbor helped push for a little while...thanks Mr. Collier!), then it got stuck and Katie did her best to come up the driveway fast. She got just past the back door before it got stuck again. Once there we had an awful time getting it any further even with attempts to give it traction. We finally had mom come out and Katie and I pushed. Somehow we were able to get it in the garage and then I helped Katie turn it around (with lots of pushing), so she'll be able to get out tomorrow. It ended up taking almost 2 hours. All the while I'm thining how much I want to get a snowblower or a plow for the lawnmower (or a pickup truck!). What a life.

Left: the scene that greeted me when I opened the back door this afternoon; Right: my car totally buried.

Left: view from the front door showing how the snow is level with the front porch and nearly covering the well. To see what this looks like in the summer (from a different angle...look at how tall the well actually is), check out my blog post from July 4th; Right: After shoveling the back door sidewalk and attempting to do the driveway...would you want to shovel all that (plus the rest of the driveway not in this picture)??

Student teaching, so far, hasn't been too bad. Granted, it's only been two days, so still a long way to go. My first day didn't go badly, but it wasn't what I wanted in terms of the class I taught. I am starting out with just one class full time; 6th grade general music. Eventually I'll have at least 4 classes by the time I finish in April. In the other two general music classes I am simply there watching and helping where I can (like yesterday I graded some quizzes and entered them on the computer). Anyway, my second day I took care of physical warmups (known as "muscle movers") and the sight-singing exercises in all four choirs and then had a much better lesson in 6th grade general music as it was planned out much better. I'm by no means perfect, but I feel like I'm improving even after one day. Mr. Suzelis has been giving me feedback on everything I've done and has been very constructive and helpful. One of the things he said that was really good that was different than a typical undergrad student teacher was how I would identify problems and actually stop and address them rather that be worried about getting done in a certain amount of time. I'm glad I do that too. Mostly I do it because I believe comprehension is the most important aspect of education, so if they don't understand, why move on? Experience as a choir director at church has helped, but also remembering my own experiences as a student have helped too.

Oh, I also started a new blog just for the classes I'll be teaching at Southeast. I'm planning on using it as a tool to let parents know what is going on and to be a resource for students if they forget an assignment or concert date. I named the blog "Middle C" and it can be found at There isn't much there besides an intro, but hopefully this weekend I can update it for the classes.

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