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Friday, August 24, 2012

Whoa... What Just Happened?!?

So, here I was... this eager, optimistic soon-to-be student of Anatomy and Physiology in pursuit of a changing career.  I couldn't have been more excited about starting school. 

Then suddenly, I got a call from a school asking me to sub for a fifth grade class starting the school year.  This was on a Tuesday before school started.  I wasn't able to start the following day, so my first day was Thursday.  I came totally unprepared since I did not know what to expect.  Well, the room was in musty disarray.  A numbing sense of leery was abound--a silent chaos.  I had two days to prepare for a class of fifth graders.  Two days.  Just two.  The latter was to be orientation.

Those two days flew by like a busy hurricane.  I have been teaching fifth graders as of Monday.  It's now Friday, and I can now say, "I survived."

Take a deep breath.  Relax.  Repeat.  "I survived my first week of teaching."  (Barely.)

Monday was... a learning experience.  :)  In the two days I had to prepare, I really had no time to actually design the room, organize the materials, or plan.  Between the meetings and last minute scraping of materials for a first week survival plan, the uncertainty of bringing in my own materials, and no access to anything useful, like campus, computers, or copiers (except the staff and fellow faculty members), and a part-time night job, how could I have made the impossible possible?  I'm new to being given the wheel to take a class and drive.  Whew!  I was overwhelmed, but I knew I could just do the best I could with what I got.

I officially applied for the position Friday.  I got an interview for the following Tuesday, which happened to be the second day of school!  I was "hired" by recommendation via the principal and staff. ;)  Once I got the paperwork completed, I got started as official lead teacher Thursday. 

It's all been an experience.  I love my students, and I cannot wait to help them learn and advance in their studies.  I'm also excited to teach at last

This week has presented many challenges.  Let me count thy ways.
  1. Not knowing if I'd be the regular teacher or temporary (it makes a difference)
  2. Being hired last minute with no preparation
  3. Having a part-time night job
  4. Getting less than five hours sleep each night
  5. Anticipating college courses to start THIS Monday
  6. Still having no time to be work on my classroom environment or plans due to the tug-o-war for my time in meetings, completing paperwork, actually teaching my class
  7. being unorganized and unprepared 
Can anyone truly prepare for their first day and week teaching? 


Well, on top of that, I have not had a solid, reliable contact with my university.  I am disappointed that they couldn't accommodate my needs, as I've been well-prepared for beginning university again.  Needless to say, I have yet to begin "New Student Orientation" for my classes on Monday.  :(  I don't know what to do. 

On a positive note, my lovely husband has been patient and supportive of me as I survived this week.  I don't know what I would have done without him. 

<3 Teacher Not-So-Gone

P.S.  Florida's Teacher Appraisal System might be the death of me. X(

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Studying for the Long Run

As I delve into my studies of A & P, I let my natural curiosities take me because
it is only then I can truly learn. I stumbled upon some YouTube videos by this
"science guy", Paul Anderson. He is much more than a Brain. Check out his
YouTube channel under bozemanscience or website. He's got a lot to say that's
worth your study time!

I am also eager to share an interactive study resource for students of anatomy
and physiology. If you're like me, you have to internalize the knowlege by
doing something with it. The site is Don't be alarmed at
having to register. It's harmless. To get the interactive course, you have to
register. It's really hit the terms home for me. I give it my stamp of approval
as a great starting point.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

OTA as Non-Classroom Educator? I think so!

Integrating Teaching and Learning with Non-Classroom Educators

Focusing my New Career as an OTA as a Part of the Larger Picture

I read an article today that touched the teacher in me.


Non-Classroom Educators Help Students Cope Inside and Outside the Classroom By John Rosales

*Direct quotes are indented.

“A student’s psychological functioning has a significant impact on academic success,” says Dr. Mark Sigler, a school psychologist with Lewis County Schools in Hohenwald, Tennessee. “I have worked with students who were so focused on controlling their emotional upset, that most of their cognitive abilities were used to maintain their composure. This results in a constriction of cognitive functioning which interferes with attention, memory, and reasoning abilities.”

“Absenteeism, retention and dropout rates would increase without the services of psychologists and other non-classroom educators,’ says Sigler. ‘Without intervention, for example, students suffering from depression might be seen by parents and peers as being lazy.”

              I love to write and work with children, and I know firsthand (no pun intended) the importance of non-classroom and classroom support in the lives of students. My left arm was amputated below the elbow at the age of seven. If it weren’t for all the people working together to make my life better, I hate to think what would have become of me. 

              Again, everyone involved makes a world of difference--educators of all sorts.As an aspiring health professional, I know I will be able to aid in some child’s life in need of my services and/or to coordinate in a school team where a child is reintegrating himself into the daily routines as a confident, independent learner. My dream work setting is to inspire and motivate youth facing adversity of sorts as they regain independence.

                A part of my job as an OTA will be inadvertently addressing psychological needs as a result of an incapacitating condition of sorts.  People need OT to reintegrate back into the routines they are used to in daily life.  As time elapses in an overall therapy plan, generally patients are able to gradually become independent.  That is the goal.  Without independence, patients may feel as if they are worth less than they previously deemed which affects every aspect of their lives.  It all starts with a positive attitude and some headstrong motivation to move forward in the recovery process. 

My Younger Mind's Eye

                I can remember feeling a bit confused at first when I was in recovery at the hospital as to what was next.  At the age of seven and under the constant care of medical professionals and family, academia and independence were the last things on my mind.  If I would have been treated as a stunted potato left to rot rather than be expected to pick up and go again, I would have become a spoiled brat with no sense of independence nor the desire to be so!   I received a gift package delivered from the principal himself along with a humongous neon pink card signed by my entire class.  I felt very special.  Then I opened the package.  It was a box full to the brim of school work I had missed!  My initial reaction was a blend of shock and disappointment followed by a melting sensation in my heart that I mattered.

My strong parents, family, school principal, counselors, teachers, and even my classmates gave me the push I needed to feel accepted.  I left that hospital with the sensible, unaltered mindset that I am going to continue to develop and be just like a normal kid. 

Recognizing the Medical Professionals

Psychologically, my social and emotional development was on track (I didn't say perfect.  Remember, part of development is making mistakes.)  It wasn’t until I started receiving OT that I really had the complete idea that I could do all the things I could before—just in a different way.  I accepted my new physique as a challenge, and I never let it stop me from trying something new unless my doubts stemmed from a totally different angle—such as my fear of flying baseballs or my whininess when it comes to sprinting.  I was like every other kid with their negative thinking habits!  One thing was sure, though—you’d never hear me complain about me not being able to do something because of my one arm (and a half).  And so, I thank all the medical professionals for being devoted to a profession of acute sciences that help people continue to live and live well. 

Blossoming Passions

I got involved in a Med Camp called Camp Aldersgate in Little Rock, AR as both camper and volunteer counselor for years. It is here that I met other children and teenagers facing similar and varying disabilities due to birth defect, trauma, or condition. I admired them. It was good for me to be involved and to be able to connect with new people of all ages, abilities, and positions. I was in awe, still am in fact, of all the passion and devotion that exudes from the camp as a whole. It became a part of me and my life that I looked forward to each year. 
I loved every experience—from being a shy, unsure “one-armed” girl (as I saw myself) to a helpful, inspiring counselor. Something so impressionable never quite leaves the memory. I long for that again as I aspire to become an involved, motivating OTA.

Happiness, My Vice

It became somewhat of an addiction to be all smiles and happy, and I think I was this way because of how many people were completely opposite.  I wanted to make people laugh, ease up on their worries, and simply spread my optimism as I went.  To this day, I feel completely adequate in most ways.  I have times when I see myself on video and wonder how I am so confident in my abilities.  That doubt melts away quickly, as it is unnatural and emotionally draining, toxic, for me to be negative.  I’ve had to be strong in many trying situations. 
One such instance was in the seventh grade when I was one of two girls who did not make the basketball team.  I had to make a split decision: I could either melt down and hate myself or I could just shrug it off and do something else—with a smile on my face!  I stayed in track all through HS instead, and although I was not very fast, I stayed in it for the health benefit and as a natural outlet for my bursting energy.  I was not about to allow any one event or failure keep me down.  I was a busy bee, so I was always looking for something else to do anyway. 

I guess you can say I learned four things: 
1) I am not entitled to any special treatment,
2) When in doubt, busy myself by bettering myself,
3) Happiness is easier than forced negativity, even if I have to fake it at first, and
4) Avoiding competition allows me avoid any of this. 
Maybe this is not expert advice, but it is what has gotten me through life so far.   Okay, so maybe I have some minor issues stemming.  If I wasn't so fearful of rejection, I think I could handle competition and the potential for failure more frequently.  I guess I'm afraid someone is going to try to burst my bubble I'm in surrounded by the notion I am adequate.

Failure, a Saving Grace

                I told my story to help one understand where I’ve been in my mind as far as a developing person having endured a life-changing orthopedic impairment.  What I really mean to get across through all of this is that everyone involved matters in the life of a child in need of services to foster healthy development in all aspects of life—from psycho-social to physical to academics and beyond.   Without the motivation to get on the right track, where would our children be in times of need?  

               I'm starting to come to terms with my new reality of never being a regular classroom teacher.  This "failure" of mine may be what I needed all along to get back on my track.  I mean, come on, I have had writer's block for ten years.  Suddenly I'm bursting to life, fueled by my new career choice.  I think my life skills and experiences will get me where I need to be--writing, helping others of all ages, working with children--watching the script of life unroll around me. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Delving into the Intriguing Unknown

Turning Point

Going from the world of Education to an entirely new field of study last minute is like slamming on the breaks in a new, unpaid car, then doing a U-ey on the buzzing freeway of other cars--all uncertain of their destinations. 

But zooming out, it's more like I was treading my tires on a dead end street, as I was going nowhere fast.  I was burnt out before I could begin.  Perhaps this new reality, or direction, was the turning point I have been looking for all along.

My New Reality

Enough is enough!  I was tired of spinning my wheels on Nightmare Street in the Land of Wayward Dreams.  While my past education has been far from a waste, I just regret two things: 
  1. not researching all career options thoroughly and realistically
  2. not following my natural desires
I felt forced to choose a career path once I completed all the basic pre-requisites.  Many nights I cried with worry of making the right or the wrong decision.  My decision was finally made based on three not-so-hot criteria in my mindset:
  1. what I told myself I wasn't capable of doing based on my physical characteristics (having one arm)
  2. what others told me I was good at (working with children)
  3. the "fact" that I could never make a living doing what I naturally enjoy (writing [in connection with my other passions])
I molded myself into what I thought I should be based on those limitations, which has been my perception of myself until now.  Without even realizing it, I can remember forcing my motivation and doing things to please others (my school work, my life choices).  How others viewed me became my calculation for self-worth.  I was a good student... if "good" means rote memorization to pass tests and completing projects based on the challenging and limiting requirements for professors.  (I am a creative, free thinker stunted by examples or the suffocating walls set forth in strict rubrics.  Am I mentally claustrophobic?) Being a people-pleaser, for lack of a better term, has been my biggest set-back that I have carried away from the entire experience. 

People pleasing stems from caring way too much about what other people think.  Caring, in that sense, wobbles on a fine line.  I still struggle with crossing it.  Take it from me; some of the long-term effects of being a people pleaser are:
  • being over apologetic
  • deeming yourself a failure with every constant mistake
  • confusing mistakes with self-worth
  • taking the blame when it's not your fault
  • lacking confidence in your abilities
  • becoming a hand-holder (unable to do things on your own with confidence, especially when people are watching, therefore requiring/preferring supervision)
  • fear of making mistakes
  • making clouded judgements
Coming to Jesus!
(not to be mistaken with a religious connection)

I have learned a lot about myself since then--like all my great characteristics and potential that I've had all along!  I have lately resurfaced my true desires so that I may begin again with only my raw motivation to guide me.  That brings me... to here, precisely!

I am all set for school.  Every cost I am expected to pay will be paid with my desired career goal in mind.  Realistically speaking, I know I can turn this into an investment ultimately.  I'm going to make this one count.  I can do this.  :)

The Plan

Apparently my credits earned back in the day have been for something.  All of my necessary credits transferred.  All I need to take before entering the OTA program is Anatomy & Physiology I and II, which I take this semester starting on August 27, 2012.  After those are completed, I will wait until it's my turn to enter the OTA program.  My projected start date is January 2014.  That could change, depending on if anyone drops out before then, to August 2013 or May 2013.  Eek! 

The program is sixteen months long.  I will have to move to the city in which the campus is located (two hours away from my current home).  That will present a challenge because I am married; however, I have every bit of faith that we both can do this.  We are a very strong couple.  <3 

At the latest I will graduate in April or May 2015.  After that, I just need to become certified.  Then it will all be over.  Or shall I say it will all begin? 

Anatomy and Physiology!?

Yikes! I only found out I was going back to school definitely exactly a week ago. Before then, I still believed I'd be a teacher, sadly. Everything happens for a reason, though. :)

I find myself already priming for my upcoming Anatomy & Physiology courses.  (Yes, I said courses.)  I take both A & P I and II in one semester!  Let me explain.

The school I am attending is different than the average university.  Rather than dragging out a course over the span of a several months semester along with other boring or demanding courses, I will be expected to complete one course per four weeks.  It's a change I welcome, actually. 

This will be interesting.  It's going to be very challenging.  I can't wait!  Another aspect of these courses that I'm not sure how to feel about is that they are online.  The lab is online, too.  Considering I normally opt for the traditional lecture-style on-campus setting, I am rather perplexed as to how this all works. 

And so, I have found a great study resource to get me started.  I have discovered an abundance of great resources online.  A friend of mine shared with me the wonderful world of anatomy coloring books.  Genious!

I'd love to find out how to get in touch with a virtual or real study group or study hotline since I will be attending these courses online.  I'm used to having classmates to coordinate with! 

If you have A & P study tips, please share.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Real People, Real Answers :)

AOTA's Prospective Student Chat - Live & Recorded Episodes:

This is a most helpful resource as I venture in the direction of becoming an OTA.  Question after question pops up in my mind, so I have been collecting them for a time like this. 

Here is the description (copied from the link):

This AOTA channel is designed especially for prospective occupational therapy students. If you are thinking about a career in occupational therapy join us during our scheduled shows to ask questions. A current student, a recent graduate, and a practitioner will be available to answer you questions live. 

The next session is 15 Aug 2012 at 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. if anyone else is curious!

uNeMpLoYeD LiKe tHe ReSt

Millions of Unemployed Americans

I never thought I would be included in this category as a teacher

I was under the impression that teachers were always needed due to the high turnover rate.  I also thought teaching was one of those professions I could do anywhere.  But wait, teaching was also supposed to be rewarding, magical, and fun, yet challenging. 

Challenging is an understatement.  Either times have changed or I was completely disillusioned or both.  I feel like I have been lied to, robbed, and insulted like a fool.  Who cares that I went to school for five years, paid ever-rising university grade tuition and fees, and exerted myself beyond measures in order to stand out to pursue a dreamy career as an overlooked, disrespected and overworked high stakes testing machine?  I respect teachers who can stick it out through the crap and still find satisfaction, not to mention still be standing through to the next school year.  Never mind those extra qualifications and recommendations.  Actually, that's too good.  Too good=too expensive.  Yet they want quality? NCLB is nothing compared to the worries out there now.  America has a shaky future, for sure.

Three years and then some later, I still have not landed a regular full time teaching position.  Despite all of it, only recently have I faced the ugly truth:  I will never be a teacher.  All my enthusiasm has faded away in the stark reality of having to start over again.  It kills me to give up and walk away, but I can't say I didn't try.  I always thought the reason for me not to teach in the future would be due to early burnout, if at all... not denial. 

This is my new reality.