Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another reminder... had to share

So, I thought I had blogged for the day and would be done. Then there was this series of messages on Facebook from a student I worked with last year. We'll call her Tiffany*.

Before I share the messages, let me give some background. Last year, I was privileged to teach full-time at North High School in Torrance from March through June while the dance teacher was out on maternity leave. This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but there were definitely some challenging moments. One was "Tiffany". She hated dance class with me. She was always so frustrated, couldn't understand why she didn't instantly get things, and one day - in a fit of frustration - told me "It doesn't matter anyways. I hate this class. I keep asking my counselor to transfer me out, but she won't do it! I'm going to ask her again!" To which, my little broken heart responded, "Hang in there. It will get easier. You can do it." And you know what? Somewhere along the line, it got easier for "Tiffany". Almost a year later, and she's still taking dance at North High School. Here are the posts she sent me today:

"Miss.Farrell your one amazing person you inspire me to do so much and you have helped me improve on my dancing. I love you and miss you! Your Amazing!"

My Response: "Awww! Darling! Thanks so much! Glad you're inspired. I just remember when you wanted out of that class last year. So glad that you've found your love for dance!

Her response: "yeah i mean for our dance final we had to make a 4 step ballet dance and we changed everything at last minute and performed today and it was worth 60 points and we got 58 points so i was really happy with my grade. Also Mrs.Johnson said that I have improved alot since last year when she saw me last and that was all because of you and I really do thank you so very much I would love to work with you some more deffinatly."

My Response: "that is AMAZING. So glad to hear it! I know for fact that I'll be in class at least a few times in the next couple of months. Hopefully we'll really get to actually do some technique!"

Her Response: "I would love that. I miss doing across the floor with you and you really do motivate me to do alot and I have made so much progress with your help I cant thank you enough. But maybe I can talk to my dad about some private lessons possibly?"

What an amazing transformation! I am SOOOO honored to have had a small part in her transformation. I post it here as encouragement. NEVER forget that as a teacher - even as a dance teacher - your encouragement can change a young life!
"Tiffany" - If you're reading this, I am so proud of you! Thanks for encouraging me in return!

Bless you, all you teachers out there! Keep fighting for the next generation!

Tres Dias en una clase dificil.

So, I've spent the last few days subbing High School Spanish during Finals time... and there's always that one class that makes you want to stab your eye out (just one eye, but an eye none the less) to put yourself out of your misery. This particular class was noisy and chatty on Monday, their last normal class before the final, and when I was FINALLY at my limit someone raises their hand to ask me, "So, like, do you actually SPEAK Spanish?" To which I responded with the truth, "Not fluently, but I do speak it well." Which led to a discussion of whether it's possible to learn a language in a classroom environment. I was able to share my personal experience with language. I learned in a classroom, and through use in day to day life and travels, my Spanish has become almost proficient. And not only that, but I've found that I can read French and Italian as well! I've never studied either of these languages, and I certainly can't understand it when it's spoken to me, but I can READ and have a general understanding! In fact, two years ago, when I was in Egypt visiting my dear friend Steph, I spent one day alone at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. If you've ever been privileged to visit that museum, it is AMAZING, but they are just bursting at the seams with artifacts. Only about half of the artifacts are labeled with plaques (the rest are unlabeled, and you're guessing at what you're looking at) and those that DO have plaques could be labeled in some combination of any of these three languages: Arabic, English, French. The thing about Egypt, though, is that it is a major destination for tourists from Spain since it's just across the Mediterranean. And since NONE of the labels in the museum are in Spanish, the tourists from Spain have to hire a tour guide for the museum. So I made my way through the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo reading plaques in English and/or French, or by sneaking in behind a Spanish tour group and listening to the descriptions! All because of some high school and college Spanish classes that gave me the basic tools!

So, not only was I able to encourage these students struggling with basic verb conjugation and Spanish nouns that it CAN be done, but I also somehow managed to earn their respect. Today when they arrived for their Final Exam, I had absolutely no trouble with that class at all! Not only that, but I heard this pain-in-my-butt girl tell someone, "Hey! That's our awesome sub from Spanish" as I walked by her on campus. I really hope that I've inspired them to get to work, and maybe, just maybe to go out and see some of the world!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A reminder of why I teach.

So, after a CRAZY week of teaching, this week has started off quieter. The problem is that I'm totally burned out on Substitute Teaching. Whenever I get to that moment of total burn out, I'm always reminded of why I choose to teach (theatre, dance, or even subbing) in the first place.

Tonight I went to teach an acting class completely exhausted, and as I started their warm-up I remembered that the way I feel is the way I CHOOSE to feel. So if I want to feel sorry for myself for being tired, I will feel tired. I managed to get it together, caught my second wind and had an AWESOME acting class today. One of my students, Johnny* (age 11), moved to the United States from Austria six months ago. When he moved, he knew only a little bit of English, and he now speaks it fluently. When he got up to perform a monologue, with his sweet little accent, I was just blown away! Yes, he's got a long way to go, but this young man has come from understanding very little English to standing alone on a stage in an acting class with strangers! How marvelous! Just another little reminder that even seemingly insurmountable obstacles can be overcome.

Have a wonderful night, whoever you are, reader!

*Names changed to protect the privacy of minors.

Starting to Blog. :)

So... It suddenly occurred to me a few weeks ago that sometimes my adventures may actually be read-worthy, because crazy crazy things happen to me in life and general. Substitute teaching often provides hilarious and terrifying moments. So as I start to learn the in's and out's of blogging, please feel free to visit my personal website: and check back for some new and exciting (and sometimes ridiculous) adventures!

Thanks for reading! Have a beautiful day!