Friday, October 29, 2010

slow and steady wins the race

So my body won the battle yet again in my life and I spent the last week sleeping off an exhaustion throat-infection sickness. Guess I really can't run on full speed and expect to finish without a crash. Thank goodness for wonderful Egyptian friends bringing flowers and local antibiotics that actually worked...

I finally visited the Egyptian Museum last week-Incredible. We weren't "allowed" to take cameras inside, but I snuck in Premie and got a few shots and was shocked at how many camera clicks I heard and saw left and right. I really can't describe the feeling of walking into that overwhelmingly HUGE museum of egyptian artifacts... Hello Ramses and King Tut... what's up?

I feel as though I've hit that peak point in a roller coaster ride after you've been climbing and climbing and the nerves and excitement are building because you know any minute you're going to plunge down a breathtaking slope and hold on for dear life until the finish line. The month of November is upon me and I'm pretty sure the next time I sneeze or blink it will be over.

It's a month of traveling, and slowing transitioning out of my classes and spending more time in observation around other classes at CAC. The first trimester ends this week, I had my last classes with my beloved mixed media and exploratory groups yesterday... I know those mixed media kids will forever be in a special place in my heart as my first students... Boy did we have a good -tri-mester.

This month marks the beginning of a busy traveling schedule. I leave for the white desert at 5am on Monday with the 8th grade class for the middle school prime trip. No showers, stunning scenary, and plenty of hiking and bonding for 4 days. Should be an adventure :)

Soon after that follows the week long Eid break in which I'll be traveling to Luxor and Aswan, as well as visiting the beaches of Dahab on the Red Sea. Thanksgiving weekend will sum up some traveling with a trip to upper Egypt with Joan to visit her in laws in Minia and Malawi.

Before you know it, December will be here and I'll be 23. Time sure does fly when you're having fun. Look forward to incredible pictures and memorable stories from the road this month.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The moments I live for.

"This class is about your own art. We learned to think out of the box. And how to use a different media in one masterpiece of art."
-6th grade mixed media student reflection
(possibly my favorite student if we teachers were allowed to have those)

"Miss Martens, why do you call it a piece of art?..."

...It's a

I have done it. I crossed that bridge, made it over the hump... Training wheels are falling off, wings are ready to fly. It's been a wonderful week as a teacher with classes filled with magical moments. The last few weeks have been such a busy, stressful, felt like nothing really quite went as planned (see, why plan?? jk). Somehow though, I pulled myself back together, woke my classes up, shifted us into the perfect position to make not just good art, but great art.... As my brilliant student in mixed media put it this week, they aren't "pieces" of art... they are masterpieces.

I really pushed my students this week.. more than I perhaps normally would have been comfortable pushing... and they responded... by turning their pieces of art into masterpieces. I am so proud of the art they produced, the way they worked, and how they allowed my guidance to move them forward. They proved that they have truly absorbed what I have been teaching them these past 6 weeks, and that it has made an impact on how they think not only in art but in so many parts of their lives.

I have always lived by the motto "it's about process, not product"...but this week I pushed my students and myself to not allow a weak product to represent such a rich process... Middle school and high school students alike, we're on a good page now, moving in a very good direction and pace... These kids are thinking like artists. And that my friends, is the ultimate goal.

Middle school art display is up and looking good for parent teacher conferences tomorrow. I think they'll like what they are seeing....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reaching the top...

after the first two month climb through this student teaching experience. I'm liking the view so far (both in teaching and many views of the Cairo cityscape I've found) I've hit halfway in my teaching placement (actually half way plus one week).. I have two.5 weeks left of full time teaching in my classes to really wrap up some lessons, before the month of November traveling arrives and these last 9 weeks are going to *fly* by with a flash. I'm starting to actually seriously make a "to-do" list of things to visit here in Cairo before I leave and considering actually planning out when to do them to make sure I fit them all in.. though.. we all know how my planning goes...........

I've had a few really wonderful moments outside of the classroom with my students the last few days... Moments where I see them in their day to day activities (volleyball practice, soccer games, MS play, HS Green Team visit to the Garbage City recycling center, even simply buying ice cream at the mall)... It's connecting with students inside and out that really truly makes the link between teacher and student strongest.

This week I have parent teacher conferences to prepare grades and student reports for, projects to finish and display for said conferences, and new projects underway in my high school classes. Plenty to keep me busy, on top of that pesky teacher work sample still plugging along not quite will be done November 1 though... that's the personal deadline, 10 week-ish-deadline from UNI, day I leave for the white desert, and day Kristi arrives from UNI (whom I'm hoping can take my lovely little beauty of a paper back with her)...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

“Adventure is a path...

...Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins


So. I'm in the full grind of teaching 6 separate courses, in 3 separate classrooms, in addition to my after school art program and parent teacher conferences right around the corner when grades come due. On my toes? I think so. Treading water to stay afloat?... Perhaps...It's just one of those weeks where a few extra inspired words never did anyone harm... Those of you who have traveled may relate to these words as I have... There's more where these came from here... enjoy!


“All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.” – Paul Fussell

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hello UNI Homepage

Pretty cool seeing myself jumping in front of the pyramids on the UNI website this week.. I think now my Egyptian friends are actually starting to grasp how much I truly love my school and my panthers...

I'm feeling a little more of an obligation to give quality updates now that so many more eyes are skimming over this...I'll try even harder to ramble less and add lots of photos (though.. it's already taken me two paragraphs to get this far...)

First, the game last weekend=so fun! I wish my brother had been here with me... El Ahly beat Tunisia (yay!) which produced some unhappy Tunisian fans...Next time I want to sit in the hooligan section (though my friends will never let me, don't worry)

Then Wednesday we had the day off school for the Egyptian National Holiday. I still get a funny feeling about this day, it's not talked about.. the reclaiming of the Sinai... It's a bit of an elephant in the room... (notice the cut out of this flags of the world poster?...)

I spent the day on an MJ tour. MJ is my cooperating teacher's wife, and a very knowledgeable, connected woman in Maadi who frequently takes groups of newcomers and visitors around Cairo. We visited some not-so-touristy-places (right up my alley), including: Garbage City, Mother Theresa House,some tombs in the City of the Dead, an Alabaster Factory,
and ended at Al Azhar Park.

Now after this week of fun, I seriously.. really.. truly.. need to *finish* this Teacher Work Sample. Off to school today and tomorrow to try out some new lesson plan ideas, finish up some sections of my TWS, and support the boys volleyball team as they host a tournament with a school in London.

By the way.. it's a beautiful fall day in Egyptland...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

whoever said it never rains in Cairo

is silly. and wrong.

Just sat on my balcony listening to a lovely downfall of tiny raindrops. the street is damp. there are drops on the cars. it counts my friends. Thank you God for rain in the desert. goodnight world.

I am teaching here, I haven't forgotten that part...

But sometimes my updates may make it seem as though the whole Student Teaching thing is taking a back seat to my social exploration lifestyle. I will admit, things have been going really well these last 7 weeks of teaching...but it's getting to be more and more of a reality every day... With mounds of planning and preparation building up and trying to keep on top of all of the meetings and communications with the middle school, high school, and my cooperating teachers..Most of my student teaching friends are ending their first placement and switching over to their new classroom right now for the second 8 weeks, but I've got my unique situation where I'm teaching in both rooms for 17 weeks so there is no switch over...just adding on...

I've worked in the elementary during a few planning periods, and starting this week I'll be teaching silk painting in the other middle school art room-a first for me. I'm excited but it also requires prep time and figuring out what and how I present the information to the new group of students. High school gave me a really rough time on Thursday. It was last period, Mr. Crouch was gone for the day, and they just decided to find their attitudes. I was really frustrated until I realized it was a surprise and blessing that I hadn't been challenged like that before. Just another moment to learn from and reflect on.. And all the more motivation to come in this week with my A game on... A recap of my teaching so far,

I've taught Exploratory Art with 6 graders (just switched to a new group of students this week). We made "Me Stars", Kaleidoscope Kites usin oil pastels, and their own sketch books. The new group is making altered books... (Had to adjust my oil pastel lesson to use white and paper clips to scratch away areas that got too muddy and thick with pastels)

My middle school mixed media class has been working on their altered books for several weeks. We've explored collage, texture, color, using a variety of media and writing...I've been using the school flip cam to record discussions during this class for documentation...

Middle School sculpture made clay seascapes and now we're working on our recycling bobble head project with plaster and mixed media...(I learned you should not give students water before they cut their plaster strips or you'll have a messy ocean of plaster covering the tables)

High School printmaking made graffiti tags and now are learning relief printing; using styrofoam to learn the process and the qualities of a good will be leading into another form of printmaking along the theme of 1000 awesome things...

Ceramics created textured tag mugs, classical pots, and are currently learning to glaze (assuming anything I told them sunk in on Thursday)... I'm working on lining up a guest artist to come in and talk to the students about her work next week.

It's keeping me busy.. the big thing I still need to work on is documentation and the busier I get, the less formal, written out planning ahead I do... I continually need to keep myself in check and think through details over and over... I am hoping/assuming this will get easier/better/more of a habit the longer I teach.......

2 Months.

So I have officially been in Egypt for 2 months now. It's incredible to think that it's the same amount of time I spent each summer in Chile.. and how I am far from ready to leave this place yet. I'm sitting here thinking, these next few 2.75 months (it's not a full 3, ask my dad), are going to FLY by. So far, I've done an incredible job of seeing the sights and keeping busy BUSY BUSY outside of school. I've met some really wonderful people, and seen enough to satisfy me for a long time... but.. that's not saying I'm throwing in the sightseeing and culture absorbing towel in by any means :)

Highlights this week:

TGIT (thank goodness it's Thursday) School wide social after classes ended last Thursday. The Elementary, Middle School, and High School principals live in the top three floors of an appartment building and the faculty migrated from flat to flat enjoying yummy food and drink and a chance to relax off the long week.

Met some AUC (American University of Cairo) and hung out with them in Zamalek

Went to the Cairo Tower on Sunday night, wonderful view of the whole city. (Though I experienced the staggering price difference between residents, 20LE and nonresidents 70LE...ohwell).

Dinner at the Mockrish's house on Wed night for Jessie's birthday (even though she's in PA)

Spent Thursday this week with Esraa (an art student in Zamalek) at the Museum of Modern Art (cooool!) and walking all over the area eating good food and visiting smaller art galleries.

Went to the Citadel with Danielle on Friday for the afternoon.

Currently trying to refocus my mind into Miss Martens Mode.

oh. and. as if that wasn't a great enough week, I'm going to my FIRST EGYPTIAN FOOTBALL GAME TOMORROW NIGHT!!! *can't wait*

Ok. Lesson Plan/Teacher Work Sample Time. and. ready. set... hm. a cup of tea sounds nice first. (oh dear).