Leadership in the Classroom

I would not be where I am in life today, if not for those who led me yesterday.

No phrase has ever rung so true for me, nor have I ever felt so inspired to be that leader for someone else’s tomorrow. As a teacher, I have the invaluable opportunity and ability to cultivate the minds of the next generation, and it is for that reason that I have honed my leadership skills. As a woman in the field of science, I must lead with a unique style. I must be gentle, driven, fierce, determined, and inquisitive, all at the same time. In my classroom, I must be an impeccable leader.

A good leader, leads from a place of love for others.

A good leader, is one that knows their people’s strengths and weaknesses at all times.

They are able to alter their leadership style to best suit the person in need and situation at hand.

They are capable of dissolving conflict and inspiring the unmotivated.

A good leader, is a teacher.

One who does not teach the next generation success, but rather teaches them the skills they need to be successful.

A good leader is an exemplar.

They strive to live their life in the same manner that they encourage others to live.

However, they are not without flaws.

A good leader is relatable, she is humble, she is capable of making mistakes, and capable of owning up to them.

A good leader, is one who does not need recognition to triumph, but recognizes other’s triumphs.

In my future as a teacher, I will empower my students without fail. I will believe in them without waver, I will encourage their curiosities without doubt. I will instill confidence in those who do not see it in themselves. I will treat each student individually, so that they may know what it feels like to be seen and heard. I will command my classroom first and for most with love, so that my students will understand that failure is a part of learning, and learning is to be celebrated.

Rather than leading in front, I will lead my students from the side, and watch as they accomplish great things.

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A letter to Ms. Thomsen: the woman who changed my life without either of us realizing it, until now.

As of late, I have struggled to answer the seemingly simple question, “Why do you want to be a teacher?” My struggle is not founded in uncertainty, but rather the inability to transcribe what is in my heart, to paper. Teaching is not only the career I have chosen, but the lifestyle that I choose to live every day: a lifelong devotion to encourage others, lend a helping hand, & ignite the curiosity that burns within all humans. I want to be a teacher, because what makes me happiest is positively influencing others. More than anything, I want to leave lasting, meaningful, & inspiring impacts on my students, whether they realize it or not.

In 11th grade, my chemistry teacher, Ms. Thomsen, asked each of us to think of someone who impacted us in our scientific lives. We were to dedicate our lab notebooks to them. It could be a scientist, a mentor, or an inventor, anyone really. I don’t remember who came to mind that September day at Milaca High School, but whatever name I wrote down 6 years ago, is drastically different than the name I would write down if asked to do the same today.

Ms. Thomsen was everything that I strive to emulate as a science teacher. She created a welcoming learning environment for all students, & motivated each of us to do our best & work hard. Rather than forcing us to simply regurgitate information about Chemistry, she encouraged us to get our hands dirty & DO science. She always brought lessons full circle, by showing us how they related to the real world, & she had a gift for instilling confidence in those who lacked their own. Perhaps most importantly to the younger version of myself, Ms. Thomsen modeled what it meant to be a fearless woman in a field dominated by men. I could write numerous essays about all of the incredible male science teachers that I’ve had over the years, but Ms. Thomsen was the first female science teacher I had in high school. If it weren’t for the passion that Ms. Thomsen brought to her classroom, I am not sure that I would have pursued science at the collegiate level at all.

It took me a long time to grasp that there is no limit on what we can discover through science, but when I did, I knew that I wanted to explore it all, & share it with others. I quickly realized I didn’t really want a career in science. Rather, a career devoted to unveiling the scientists within the next generation in hopes that I might inspire students to pursue careers in the sciences themselves.

In three months I will be tossing my cap at graduation, & like I dedicated my science notebook in 11th grade, I’d like to take the time to dedicated my degree to someone who inspired me. I am very passionate about science, & yes, scientists make incredible, noteworthy discoveries every day, but I have come to realize they are not who has inspired me most in my scientific life. My passions were in fact galvanized by my past teachers. Unfortunately, Ms. Thomsen passed during my freshman year of college, so I never had the chance to tell her how much of an impact she had on my life, or that I am now dedicating my life to being the type of teacher she was, but that isn’t the point of teaching, is it?

Interestingly enough, this is one of the aspects of teaching that I find most beautiful. I am not becoming a teacher because I expect my students to tell me that I changed their lives, but I AM becoming a teacher to change their lives. I want to be a teacher, because dedicated teachers played a crucial role in my life, expecting nothing in return & I feel that it is my calling to do the same for the next generation, whether they realize it or not.

7 hilarious ways to thwart off your relatives when you’re single as f*** for the Holidays.

So, it’s that time of year again.

Holiday get togethers.

Of course I’m SUPER DUPER excited to see all my relatives & explain how single I am. So while I sit here with a tub of ice cream (kidding), I resorted to a little holiday humor, & I thought I’d share my mischief with you all.

Here are some tips & tricks to getting through the Holidays with your relatives, whether you are notoriously single, recently heart broken, or just looking for some laughs.

  1. Pet Lover???
    Are you an obsessive dog mom? This trick works best with relatives who don’t know your pets name, & it goes like this:
    Relative: “So, anyone special in your life?”
    You: “Actually, yes! I was going to bring Jack* because I wanted everyone to meet him. He’s usually so obedient, but I got worried that he’d get too overwhelmed with all the people & food here. I really didn’t want him to have an accident, or jump up on the counters & eat all the horderves. Besides, his farts smell really bad when he’s nervous. 
    * Insert your pets name here.
    – DO NOT ACTUALLY MENTION THAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT AN ANIMAL.
    – Continue to rant on & on about all characteristics of your dog, as if you were talking about your significant other that you are infatuated with.
    – The goal here is to have one conversation that means something completely different to the two people conversing. You clearly know you’re talking about your pet, but your relative is left dazed & confused about what kind of weird kinky relationship you’re involved in.
    – If they seem concerned about what you’re saying, quickly respond with, “Oh, you weren’t asking about my dog?”, & walk away.images-1.jpeg
  2. World Traveler?
    Did you recently return from an amazing trip abroad? When family members ask if you’re seeing someone new, excitedly tell them all about your new romance from your recent trip to *Spain.
    Don’t forget to include all the details about how it was love at first sight when you caught him pick-pocketing another tourist, & how you couldn’t get enough of his beautiful voice as he said, “¿Te casarás conmigo para que pueda convertirme en un estadounidense?”* over & over again.
    Admit that the relationship has been pretty rocky since you don’t speak the same language, but you’re working on it because you can’t get enough of each other.
    – *Insert the country you visited here.
    – If you google translate the Spanish phrase I used, it actually means, “Will you marry me so I can become an American?” (You can use this phrase in any language to match the country you traveled to.) BONUS POINTS if: A.) one of your relatives is fluent in this language, or B.) if they ask what the phrase means: admit that you don’t actually know, & google translate it with them. Casually mention that it totally explains why he proposed to you so quickly, & act like it’s no big deal.images-2.jpeg
  3. Recent Breakup?
    Are you concerned about your relatives asking why you & your significant other recently broke up? Let’s be honest, no one actually wants to discuss the details of their latest heartbreak with their family over the holidays, so here’s a quick fix. If anyone asks why you broke up respond with a ridiculous reason, & act as if it was as absolute deal breaker. Feel free to make up your own, but here are some ideas: Insert your Ex’s name/pronoun where it fits.
    – Jack likes pineapple on his pizza, & I just can not stand those type of people.
    – Jessie brushes her teeth in the shower, & she won’t listen when I tell her how disgusting that is.
    – Justin didn’t water my plants while I was away for the weekend, & obviously if he can’t water plants how could I ever rely on him to take care of our future children.
    – He didn’t call me back after I told him I loved him on the first date.
    – Lucas posted an ugly picture of me on Instagram on our anniversary. So inconsiderate.
    – He kept doing too many nice things for me, so I was suspicious he was cheating.
    – *** If you want to be extra risqué and really throw your relatives off: Use this one. He refused to do it *insert sex position* & that is just a deal breaker for me.
  4. Oh I’m just playing the field. *Use with caution.When a relative asks if you’re seeing anyone, go into a huge rant about your nonexistent dating life, Sex & the City style. Don’t forget to mention these crucial things to make the conversation really awkward & ensure your relatives never ask about your love life again.
    – Well I’ve been going on a lot of dates lately, & it turns out that the great guys never want to spend the night on the first date, & the ones that do, are either married or have an STD.
    – Tinder is a total bust, it’s mostly horny college kids & single baby daddies.
    – I tried dating a girl once, but I realized right away that I’m definitely straight.
    – Apparently guys are scared off when you tell them you want to have their babies right after you meet. Who knew?
    – & to be honest, I’m actually seeing two different guys right now, but I couldn’t decide which one to bring, so I told them both I was going to Alaska for the holidays to visit my family. That they wouldn’t come with.
    Side affects include, but are not limited to: Your family thinking you’re a slut, family interventions, your family thinking you’re boy crazy, your family thinking your unstable, or even worse, a family member asking for dating advice!
  5. Oh, didn’t you meet my new boyfriend? He’s around here somewhere.
    *This trick only works if you are at a very large gathering!
    If a family member asks if you’re seeing anyone new, act surprised & say, “Oh, you didn’t get a chance to meet my new boyfriend? He’s around here somewhere!” 
    Come up with different places he’s disappeared to as you see fit.
    – In the restroom.
    – Helping with dishes
    – Ran to the liquor store
    – Ran to the grocery store for any odd item.
    – Downstairs playing with the kiddos.
    When people start to catch on, leave the family get together. Run.
    BONUS POINTS: If people catch on too quickly, act like you can’t find your imaginary boyfriend & get your entire family to start looking for your boyfriend who doesn’t exist, & sneak away while you have the chance. I mean it, GET OUT.images-3.jpeg
  6. Star Crossed Lovers
    This one works for just about anyone. Explain to your family that you couldn’t bring your boyfriend home for the holidays because no one can actually know you’re dating, or you’re in love, but you can’t actually be together for various reasons. Here are some ideas:
    – You’re dating your boss
    – You’re dating your professor
    – You’re boyfriend is on house arrest
    – You’re boyfriend is in jail
    – You’re boyfriend is your sibling’s Ex
    – You’re in love with someone who doesn’t know you exist.Act as if  this is a totally reasonable excuse, and your relationship is totally normal & healthy. Watch as your family members begin to believe you are insane, but hey that’s better than being single right?!Unknown.png
  7. Holiday in Handcuffs
    If you’re still really worried about being single, you can always pull a full fledged Trudie from Holiday in Handcuffs, & kidnap someone to pretend to be your significant other. But watch out, you just might actually fall in love, & your life may turn into a RomCom.holiday-in-handcuffs-poster.jpgOn second thought, the odds are pretty good & this definitely seems like the best option!In all reality here’s to everyone out there that goes through the Holidays single (whether you’re ready to mingle or not). Curl up by the fire, & enjoy your hot chocolate alone, with no one to annoy you, interrupt your favorite Christmas song that’s been on repeat since Dec 1st, or judge you for watching ABC’s 25 days of Christmas Movies, 24/7.

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    Walk into your family get together with confidence, & brag about how freaking amazing you are. Don’t forget to talk all about your awesome new job, wonderful grades, the amazing solo traveling experience you just had, & especially how much you don’t need a significant other to be happy during the Holidays! 

    I hope you all found this as funny as I did, & remember, these tips work just as well, if not better for high school reunions. (:

Tough Tuesday (2016 Election)

My goal here is not to fill your brains with political propaganda, but merely to make you think a little more about November 8th, 2016.

Maybe, like me, you’ve already spent hours thinking about it, & maybe, like me, you’re frustrated.

This is the VERY FRIST presidential election I will be able to vote in and I am more than disheartened by the circumstances of it. In fact I have embarrassingly uttered the words, “I don’t even want to vote this year.”

I am a 20 year old college student, & while I do not generally immerse myself in political tv or talkshows, I like to think that I am slightly more informed than the average joe. In all honesty, the first time I really understood what was going on during a Presidential election was 2008, the first time President Obama was running for office. Because I am so young, my voice is usually cast aside & ignored, but I’m tired. Tired of being regarded as uninformed, uneducated, and blatantly being told that I, “don’t understand the real world.”

In high school I started forming my own opinions on politics & policies. Since then they have evolved, changed, and morphed into what they are today. I won’t get into what they are specifically, because my goal in writing this blog is not to persuade you, but like I said, to make you think. I formed my opinions based off of my own experiences, what I have observed from others, and tried my hardest not to — only believe what my parents tell me. However, I was quickly realizing, that my opinions didn’t really line up exactly with either of the two super party’s platforms.

I believe the fact that we have two parties that are thought of as opposites is one of the biggest reasons that we have been at a impasse in our government as of late. Our government is no longer “for the people, by the people”. It has become a battle of winning and losing. Republican vs. Democrat. Politicians do not sit down to compromise in order to create policies that are in favor of the common good, they do not sit down to help one another towards common understanding and growth. They sit down to fight until they get their own way, & usually, this means no progress is made in any direction.

Yes, of course there are more options to vote for than just the Democratic or Republican candidate, but in the U.S. we all realize the likeliness of a 3rd party candidate being elected for almost any government position is very small. In fact 3rd party presidential candidates have often been the butt of jokes around election time. But why?

When election time rolls around people start asking questions.

“Who are you voting for?”

“Are you Republican or Democratic?”

But rarely do you hear someone ask the question, “WHY?” Ff they do ask that question, are they genuinely curious about your answer? When you ask that question are you honestly open to the idea that someone might have opinions that challenge your own, and if so, do you actually think that some of their ideas might be really valid?

Are you open to the possibility that your opinions might change and evolve as time goes on, or are you steadfast in your position, and unwilling to hear anyone else’s thoughts on the matter?

Moreover, when is the last time that you considered voting for someone outside of your party because you agreed with the positions they take on policy, rather than voting for them because they were part of your “Party”?

When was the last time that you voted for someone that was representing your “Party”, even though you didn’t agree with anything that candidate stood for?

Maybe you always agree with the candidates from your chosen party, and if so that’s great! More power to you, but for the vast majority of the US, that’s not the case. This year I have heard an unfathomable number of people say that they were going to vote for Hilary simply because they identify as DNC, or vote from Trump because they are GOP members, even though they RESENT THEIR CANDIDATE. Do all Mexican people eat tacos, and all Polish people eat potatoes? Are they supposed to eat a food they don’t like simply because society told them to? NO! So why are we voting for people we don’t respect or agree with, simply because they are the chosen candidate for our party?

It’s time that we started looking at elections as a possible win for AMERICA, rather than a win for Democrats, or a win for Republicans. Until we do this, it won’t matter who is elected, almost nothing will change in our government.

Now, I’m not proposing a specific candidate, I am just proposing that for those people who are unhappy with the current representatives of their party, START LOOKING OUTSIDE OF YOUR PARTY.

The two main candidates we have to choose from this year are a joke. They are both incredibly selfish, dramatic, ill-equipped, and under qualified politicians. Instead of promoting their platforms they plan on winning the election by bashing one another for the next 4 months. How can we possibly trust either of these candidates to run our country when they are currently fighting their way through the race in the most childish of ways?

This is the first election in history with this large of a chance for a 3rd party candidate to win. Start considering alternative options rather than admitting defeat and voting for a candidate you don’t actually like. Consider alternative candidates rather than opting out of the elections this time around.

Recently Gary Johnson has sparked a bit of a spotlight, and I am interested to see where he will go with the recent attention, but he’s not the only out there; do some research. Don’t just sit around and let your “Party” tell you what to do.

I know people are hesitant to cast a vote in the direction of a 3rd party candidate because they feel that it is a wasted vote, but if there was ever a time to consider it, this November is it.

The problem is that 3rd parties don’t have the momentum or publicity to get their word across large numbers of americans who aren’t doing their own research. But if Gary Johnson or any other 3rd party was given a spot at the presidential debates this fall, his voice could be heard by the American population and maybe, just maybe, people might agree with him.

Remember, this is our election, & we determine the outcome.

 

Don’t just take my word for it: See USNews article on Gary Johnson here.

All things vast & minuscule.

Ahhhh, the Grand Canyon.

So beautiful. So enveloping. So vast.

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I mean seriously, this thing is so big you can see it from space.

 

& me in front of the Grand Canyon.

So small. So irrelevant. So minuscule.

& yet, so very very at peace.

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The GC has this crazy effect that makes you turn into a philosopher. Instantly. I actually think it’s impossible to see the canyon without contemplating all of existence & time at one point during your visit.

The thing about this that blows my mind is how irrelevant the details of life are. Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not saying that our lives are meaningless, & I don’t mean that anyone is in anyway unimportant. However, that test I failed last week, the rude customer at work that I had to be nice to, the interview I didn’t kill? I might even go so far as to include my irritation with the presidential race among the list. These things are all relative, & when I stood there looking out at the Grand Canyon I finally remembered that it’s pretty much irrelevant in the course of this universe.

Truly, I (we) get so caught up in the day to day nuisances of life that I forget about the big picture. I take for granted this magnificent & beautiful world that was crafted for us. These adventures & journeys in the world are at my fingertips; to explore & cherish with those that I love & sometimes on my own. Some journeys are near, like my back yard as a child; some adventures are far away in other states, countries, & continents; some are above me in the night sky; & yet, some of these journeys take place within me.

I forget that there is a very large world out there. A very large adventure always, always waiting for me.

See that grayish figure in the middle? That’s me. Sitting at the edge of a cliff. Sitting on the edge of the World. 

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See the grayish figure at the point? Yup, still me. Same cliff; different view. Pretty terrifying huh?

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Well here is my father. Sitting in the exact same spot, a little under 5 years ago. 

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I included this photo because it made me think about how many other people have sat in this exact spot over the years. Perhaps having the same thoughts that I have & perhaps thinking very different things. Millions of people visit the Grand Canyon annually, & while it may affect us all in different ways it impacts us all none-the-less. It’s so important to remember that we are all on a journey. Many of us walk different paths & are heading towards different destinations, but we are all on journeys.

I need to remind myself not to allow all of the small stressors in life to get in the way of the big journeys I have ahead of me. I forget that it doesn’t really matter that I don’t have it all figured out. No one really does, & if you think you do, you’re either lying to yourself, or lying to everyone else.

I forget that my failures are temporary, while my journey is everlasting.

& Even when things are going really really well for me I forget that there is a very large world out there. A very large world that knows nothing of me, & that while my success’s may be great, they are no more-or-less important than the rest of the world’s people and their accomplishments.

Sometimes all it takes to humble me is a random act of kindness from a stranger & some days it takes a bit more than that. Last year I was immensely humbled by the joy of the people in Costa Rica, & today it happened to be the vastness of my view at the Grand Canyon.

The important parts of life are not how much money I can accumulate, it’s not how many friends I can find, & it’s not how perfect my grades or body could be.

What is really magical in life, are the ways the world impacts me & the ways that I leave an impact on others in the world.

The rest of it? It’s just minuscule noise.