Free flour!

I had a truly Irish experience yesterday evening as Racheal and I (and her visiting friend) set out to make chocolate chip cookies to take in for the teachers at our school. I thought we had enough of everything and then realized that 1 cup of butter = 227 grams of butter, which was all I had and we needed to double the recipe. We set out in search of that and more flour (like a lot more). Went to the hole-in-the-wall corner shop just down the street and got some butter, but alas, no flour. Headed down toward a different one, but it had closed at 7pm, which was 15 minutes prior. Walked into the pub next door and asked the woman who worked there (as well as her husband and like 8 year old son were hanging out) where the next closest place would be to find flour. She said she’d give us some, and I told her no because we needed a lot. She goes, “Oh I have loads!” and disappears in the upstairs.

While Michelle and I hung out downstairs awaiting her return, we began speaking with her husband and son. He asked us where we were from/what we were doing here (standard) and then asked his son to tell us who the king of rock and roll was (I’m not sure why). The kid couldn’t remember and I tried to prompt him by doing a little hip and leg swivel action, in the Elvis Presley manner. But then the guy goes “Ozzy Osbourne!” and lifts up his tshirt sleeve to show me a tattoo of Ozzy Osbourne with “Black Sabbath” in between. haha. We began talking music and apparently the little boy’s favorite band is some German group I had never heard of before. I asked him, “So you’re not into Jedward??” (Jedward are these twin brothers…think Bieber type style. They just represented Ireland in the Eurovision competition on Saturday night…Eurovision is a huge singing competition with all of the European countries that happens every year. It was a huge deal.)  Anyways, the little boy goes, “Jedward, my ass!” The father scolded him that there were ladies present and the little (mind you, 8 years old I think) boy goes again, “I don’t care…Jedward my ass!” Hahaha….it was funny.

About that time, the woman returns with legitimately an entire large bag of flour, which she just gave to us after many protests to give her something for it. She refused and we went home to make our cookies!  The friendliness of this place just astounds me time and time again….and that was even in the city this time! 🙂

Don’t want to leave.

Last post before backpacking…

I think this will be my final blog post before I leave on Saturday to go backpacking.  🙂

Update on teaching, though–I was exhausted after a full week of doing everything last week and then on Monday, my class began this new Literacy Lift-off program so it was mass chaos. It’s basically rotating stations with the children in groups based on abilities (we tested them before), and we bring all the resource teachers in for the half hour. Each teacher focuses on something different (phonics, composing, writing, new book, familiar book) and then after 6 minutes of intense work, they rotate to a new group. Besides it being the first day of implementation with several wrinkles, it seems like it will be quite successful because so much is concentrated in a short time and it helps the students with tiny attention spans stay focused.

I cannot believe I’m almost finished at this school though…even the teachers told me it feels like I’m just part of the staff now. I’ll be sad to leave. 😦 As a small gift to all the teachers, I’m making homemade chocolate chip cookies to leave in the staff room…show them the American way of making soft, gooey cookies. haha

I began packing today and it is clear that I will be bringing two bags home with me (thanks for that extra duffel, Dad…instead of rolling it up and putting it in my suitcase, I’m actually having to use pretty much the entire thing). It’s depressing to start putting everything back into my bags! And it’s also quite difficult right now to figure out what I want for backpacking. I’ve never been good at packing light because I always think “what if” or “just in case”. However, my backpack must fit weight and size regulations for carry-on baggage, so I MUST do a good job. And I’ll be carrying everything on my back. Ugh. We’ll see how that goes. haah. Just kidding…I”m actually really excited!

So for my trip…here’s the general itinerary. Flight from Cork–Heathrow this coming Saturday afternoon. Have less than 2 hours to collect my checked luggage (both bags, woops), drop it off in left luggage until I come back in June, check-in for my next flight, and get through security again. Then I’ll fly from Heathrow–Munich, Germany and arrive that night, where I’ll meet up with Stephanie Nowell and her friend, Kristen. A few days in Munich. Then I’ll hit a few places in Italy, traveling everywhere by train (Venice, Milan, Naples–plan to go to Pompeii, and Rome). At that point, it’ll be the start of June and I’ll split off from Stephanie/Kristen to take an overnight train by myself (a little nervous) from Rome–Budapest. I have to transfer twice though…once in Florence and then again in Vienna. I sincerely hope I actually make it to Budapest alive, with all my stuff, and sane.

In Budapest, I’ll be on my own for half of the first day while I wait to meet up with Katelyn, Caitlin, and another Stefanie. (Funny thing about the Katelyn’s too…there’s Laszlo, Van Kooten, and then myself, because my middle name is Caitlyn. haha).  Hang out in Hungary a few days, travel to Zagreb, Croatia and then on to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Flight back across Europe to Barcelona, Spain. I’ll be there a couple days and then have to split off again. This is where my traveling gets a bit insane because I was trying to save as much money as possible. Basically, I’ll be catching either a train or bus to Girona, which is like 1.5 hours away from Barcelona. Flying RyanAir to Stansted-London…bus in the middle of the night to Heathrow instead…pick up my left luggage and check in for my flight to come home via Continental+8 hour layover. Then 8 hour flight to Newark, 3 hour layover, 2 hour flight to Indy. Let’s hope to God my luggage makes it back with me. Needless to say, over 24 hours of straight traveling and time zone changes will be quite exhausting. I can’t complain though because I am SO excited for all of this! It’s quite unlike me though–I’ve hardly done any research, planning, or making sure everything is going to be okay. I’m truly just going to go with the flow and hope for the best! (and hope I don’t run out of money when I’m in the middle of Croatia haah)

Life is good. The only thing I am dreading is saying goodbye to Regina, my students, the friends I’ve made here, and all the teachers at school. OH, and the fact that I still need a job for the summer. If anyone has any connections or ideas for me, PLEASE let me know. 🙂  Thanks! haha

I’ll probably try to check my email and facebook whenever we’re at a hostel that I can pay to use a computer, so keep me updated on your lives, too! xoxo

Kids are so funny.

I wish I could record all the moments students have said funny things, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I would already have so many, even though I’ve never even had my own classroom! And for some reason, the children are even funnier here perhaps because of their adorable accents (especially when they say dammit…it’s become so commonplace that I don’t flinch anymore or feel shocked, but it’s still hysterical to hear a little boy smack himself in the head and go “Oh, dammit!”)

As I mentioned in the previous update, I was with the first class boys on Monday because their teacher had to be out and I stayed with them on Tuesday as well. Then yesterday (Wednesday), today, and tomorrow, I am doing my Senior Infants class by myself because my cooperating teacher went to Paris with the 6th class boys for four days…it’s like an annual trip they take.  I was SO nervous to have this class to myself…they’re definitely known as the most difficult in the school and it already is a tough school. However, I have fared quite well and feel like I am truly a teacher in that I can control them! (For the most part. You can only manage 5-6 year olds so much…they’ll still roll on the floor. :))

Several things happened yesterday that made me laugh, but of course, I cannot remember them anymore. (Early Alzheimer’s?? Eek.)  Today though, we start off the day with our prayers and date/weather type of stuff. So we were discussing seasons and started talking about Christmas in the winter months (oh, and one boy went on and on about putting out muffins for Santa…guess they don’t leave cookies! Or they would call them biscuits. Oh! Side note: they have like shortbread, buttery cookies/biscuits, and they’re called Digestives. hha. I thought they were special things for the first month I was here, for people who had digestion problems…nope, just cookies! haha)  Anyways, so we’re discussing winter and so I was asking the children what happens when we change over from December to January. I was beating around the bush and trying to jog their memories by saying things like, “When people stay up real late, like till 12 in the nighttime…” etc. One little boy, who actually is quite smart and mature, shoots his hand into the air and gets this excited look on his face. I call on him and he’s like “What happens is people stay up real late in the nighttime and then they go to the pub!” Hahahah, I couldn’t help but laugh a bit because he knows so well…that’s actually what I did on Christmas Eve this past year with my older brother in the only pub of South Whitley! But I got to explain New Year’s Eve to them, as well as Thanksgiving a bit later since we got on the topic of holidays.

Also, these children are hysterical as they “practice” in the halla for their day of races at the end of the school year. It’s similar to a field day, I think, and most of the older boys do actual races but the Junior and Senior Infants clearly don’t do this. So we’re preparing them to do this group “race”, where they are placed into groups of 4 and stand inside hula hoops. Then they have to walk together from one end to another. Let me tell you…it is quite the sight to see all these little boys in their uniforms trying to move together in one hula hoop! And to move them into place, it’s easy because you just pull their hoop. ahha. But the first day we tried it, they were loving it (mostly) and so many of them were tripping and falling over each other, then the group couldn’t get back up because they were stuck. It was quite comical. Today though, as I was taking my class to the halla to go practice with the Junior Infants, I had one of my littlest boys come up to me absolutely sobbing with red eyes and everything. He was tugging on my skirt going “Teeeacher, hiccup, teachhhherr…”. I was shocked to see him crying so and when I enquired as to what was the matter, the poor boy asked if he had to do this ‘game’ and that he hates it because he gets pulled. I tried to explain to him we were changing it so no one could run and fall, and we might change the groups so he isn’t with the same boys, but he started crying anew and begged me not to do it. He was shaking with fear from this ‘race’! I wasn’t going to force him, and it absolutely broke my heart to see him like.

Another note: I’m terrible at some of the Irish and we were playing this body parts game while waiting to leave at the end of the day and the children always correct me. One little boy who is so precious and hysterical told me “Miss Woodward, you don’t have it. But you’re catching the hang of it.” It was funny to have him reassure me. And another dreamy little boy was singing “Boom shakalaka, boom shakalaka shakalaka” on the way out to yard while he spun around a pole.

Haha, oh and they don’t have cursive writing here! I found this out the hard way when I was with the 1st class on Tuesday because they were copying down some sentences in their news copy. I saw on the plans they were supposed to practice their “joined writing”, but apparently it’s just print that literally is connected! I began writing in the cursive I know on the board, and I hear behind me, “Class!” “That’s so class!” hahahaha. (P.S. “Class” means “Awesome”)  They were positively AMAZED by my cursive, but then of course, they all wanted to try it so I was able to use it as a motivator in a way. As they got further along, I would erase one sentence and rewrite it in cursive because they loved seeing it/me writing it. haha

I’m trying to think of other things, but it’s all failing me currently. I received some wonderful compliments over the past few days from the other teachers and principal as to how I’m managing with these difficult classes and how I fit in so well with the staff…they keep asking me to come back and teach. To be honest, I would if I could! It’s funny, too, because I”ve begun imitating the Cork accent on accident (a bit different from the rest of Ireland). I especially catch myself doing it in the classroom since I refer to things in the Irish way…I”m just hoping I stop doing some of it when I get back in the states because the kids will be like, Huh?! And I keep wanting to add ‘like’ onto the end of many of my sentences since that’s a very Cork-like thing to do, too. It’s fun though…I feel that I fit in so well. It’s truly depressing to think I leave in a matter of one week and two days. (I also have NO clue how I’m going pack everything back up, which I’ll have to then leave at Heathrow Airport while I backpack for a month. Oh well…I’ll make it happen!)

I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL Mother’s Day and are finishing up the school year in a positive manner. Congrats to all of my fellow graduates this past weekend! I’m 6 days of teaching and one large assignment/a few smaller ones to go, then I’ll have my degree as well. Cannot believe how it flew! xoxo

Thrown into teaching

I realized I’ve spoken very little about my teaching experiences here in Cork, and I apologize for that. To be perfectly honest, the weekends of traveling oftentimes overshadow the daily school routine.

Student teaching (or “practice teaching”, as they call it here) has been an entirely different experience from my time spent in Warsaw with a wonderful 4th grade class! I am with Senior Infants (kindergarten equivalent) here at an all-boys school, and there are 31 little rascals in my class. Unfortunately, I am unable to take over the class entirely as I did in Indiana since the Irish language is a huge part of the curriculum, especially at this young age. So I’ve mainly been assisting the primary teacher (who is a young male, surprisingly, for this age!) and pulling individual students aside for extra help. This has included retesting students according to reading levels for the books that go home each night to read with their parents, and it has been a learning experience to try and assess the children myself and see the wide range of abilities. It is quite typical, though still astonishes me, that we can have students who cannot read “The cat and girl went home.” and students who can read small chapter books within the same class. How in the world are we to meet each child’s individual needs?? It’s a constant battle to stay on top of classroom management AND teach engaging lessons with differentiated instruction, amongst other things. But of course, it all comes with the joys and trials of the job. 🙂

Handwriting is also a major part of the curriculum here in Ireland…as in actual formation of letters. The students have “copies”, instead of notebooks. For example, they have a phonics copy (for working on sounds throughout the year…we’re onto “ai” and they use the Jolly Phonics program all across Ireland which has these songs to go with each sound…they’re silly and the children love them!), numbers copy (used to be for formation practice of numbers and now they’re onto simple addition problems), news copy (practice writing current news sentences together as a class…the teacher handwrites each sentence in the copies each week, then they copy it), letters copy (where they practice the letters), and more. Of course, the different copies they might have differs from class to class (or in American terms, grade level to grade level. Remember they call them 1st class, 2nd class, 3rd class, and so on.)  I actually have been working with a couple of the little guys on their handwriting skills from time to time because it is so important here for them to form their letters the correct way and sizing is proper and whatnot. It’s definitely made me be more careful with my own writing, too, because I have a tendency to get chicken scratch-like in my own notes!

The Republic of Ireland as a whole uses the same curriculum, similar to how a state might adopt the same. One of their books which I really like teaches Social, Environmental, and Science Education (SESE)…so it kind of combines citizenship education into science learning and information about the environment. This is especially visible in these younger ages because we also talk about the spring or summertime and what generally occurs during these seasons.

Over the course of the last 6 weeks, I have been thrown into random classrooms many a times because teachers were out or had to go to a meeting or simply needed supervision. As I hadn’t subbed before in the states, this was a new experience. I will admit it’s actually been a lot harder than it would be for me in the states, too, because I don’t know their curriculum, the Irish that is posted everywhere and used so much, the typical behavior boundaries (it tends to be different here…for example, the cursing that is allowed and freedom to move about the classroom), and I have run into many struggles with the language and cultural barriers. Simple things that I might say in the states, such as “I need your eyes and ears” or just turning off the lights as an attention-getter does not work here. I have a couple boys in my senior infants class that ALWAYS giggle when I ask them to “scootch” in their chair because apparently that’s a funny word to them. And every time I say “beautiful work”, they laugh. Other things, like “your shoe is open”, rather than your laces are untied, or “close up your jacket” instead of “zip up your coat”, etc.

It’s also difficult because the times I have covered for teachers, it was often a last minute deal and no sub plans were left. As a matter of fact, that happened today and I was thrown into the 1st class, which was fine because I had taught them at least 5 full days before. But that teacher did not have anything around to let me know what they were doing or what I should do. Her laptop for the smartboard was also locked up in the cabinet, so I had no way of accessing that. Literally I found out I should collect the students from the yard in the morning (they line up outside until the bell and the teachers come to collect the students) right before it happened. So I took them inside and was like, Uhhhhh, what to do??  Luckily, several students were missing so the class was smaller and they already knew me, so it went well. But of course, you have a few wrinkles in the day.  First, they had rugby at 10am, which was outside. One child fell and hurt himself on the cement, while I already had another with me by my side because he had broken his arm over the weekend. Then it started pouring rain out of nowhere (the sun was still shining), so we had to dash inside and were all completely soaked. (Nowhere near as bad as last week, though, when it literally poured and I had to walk the 40 minutes to school in my flats and dress pants. When I reached the school, I was so drenched I could wring my pants out. The staff insisted I wear the student’s tracksuit uniform pants (like sweats), so they gave me an extra and I taught the majority of the day in those with my sweater and barefoot. It was quite interesting looking.) But anyways, later in the day, the student with the broken arm got sick and we had to have him sit with a clear bucket in his lap and his head over it while we waited for his mum to come get him. Annnd of course, within a half hour, two other children claimed to be “sick.” haha. I made them stick it out and of course, they were fine when it was yard time later! Kids.haha. Another boy was upset with me because he had gotten into trouble, so he goes around blabbing that I talk funny so we had a class discussion about people being from other countries and growing up with different accents, etc.

I guess I do enjoy bouncing around from class to class sometimes though, if only for the experience it gives me! I feel better prepared to teach, although I guess I am slightly concerned about readjusting to the American system since discipline here and teacher freedom is quite different. It’s nice when I walk around the school, though, and a bunch of the boys are always like “Hi, Miss Woodward!” in the hallway, even the older boys who constantly tried to test me when I was teaching them. I never gave in though….I think they think they can take advantage because I’m: a) An American b) Young (and look younger than I am…literally had people think I was 16 or 17 on Saturday. What?! Guess I’ll appreciate it in 10 years though…haha) and c) Short. I’m firm though…no one is taking advantage of me in a classroom! haha.  I guess it doesn’t matter how I’ll adjust yet…since I have a year to be in the Spanish school system and learn their ways, too!

I’ll try to talk more about my teaching experiences in the next couple weeks. (Though our internet rarely works at the house anymore 😦 )  If you have any questions or interested to learn more about a specific thing, post it in a comment and I’ll let you know the best I can! 🙂

Easter Break Photos on Facebook–Links

For those of you not too facebook savvy yet, here are the direct links to my albums. So if you’re already logged into your facebook account and you’re my friend, you should be able to click on them!

Easter Break Part 1–Lahinch, Burren, & Cliffs of Moher

Easter Break Part 2–London

Easter Break Part 3–Paris

Easter Break Part 4–Dublin, Glendalough, & Wicklow

In other news, I may be turned off of eating fish once again as I explored the English Market here in Cork today, which is a huge, continuously running farmer’s market inside essentially.  The fish section was literally just piles of dead fish that looked like they’d be caught, killed, and thrown onto these ice piles. Just walking past these huge fish and eels with their eyes staring at me and tongue hanging out made my stomach churn.  Then I walked around the corner and was presented with all the extra parts of cows….such as a pile of giant tongues that literally had just been chopped out of the throat. Along with the livers and stomachs and everything else that made me want to gag. I love a good piece of meat and the steaks look SO good and fresh, but these other parts made me want to gag. Goodness!