Saturday, November 16, 2013

What I've Been Up To

If you haven't noticed, I haven't been as focused on my blog over the last few months as I was during most of the last year.  Which is not to excuse myself for late posts or whatever, I just haven't been doing that much to write about.  It's not Mongolia's fault, and it's not really mine, either.  It's just life.  I feel damn lucky to have a life as interesting as I do...but sometimes what I'm doing is just not good blog material.
For example, I've been having a helluva good time with my new friends...doing things my old friends and I did last year that I've already written about.  New people make all sorts of things new and exciting all over again.  Quiz night, for example.  We've been doing the Hennessy's quiz off and on over the last year, but only managed to take the first place prize again last Saturday.  (There should be a special prize for the most second place wins, because we would get that.  Alas, there is not.)
I'm also spending a lot more time trying to be what I consider a better teacher.  Teaching art is tricky.  You want your students to enjoy class, to be challenged, to be engaged, to learn, and to make things they'll want to keep forever.  I don't consider myself to be a tough teacher, and sometimes I feel like I'd be a "good" teacher if I were.  But would that make my students learn more, make me more effective?  I don't think so.  Instead, I'm trying to focus on making my time with them more engaging, and to be a better advocate for them, showcasing their talents and achievements more.  To that end, I went looking for the ceramics studio in town, and have spent a lot of time researching galleries that are around, in hopes we can put on a big junior/senior art exhibit this year.  It's not very exciting, legwork, and it doesn't make good blogs, but it's important.
I've also been reinventing Apples to Apples.  If you've never played it before, it's hilarious and a ton of fun.  You have green describing cards and red noun/verb cards from which you must pick the most appropriate comparison.  Well, toward the end of last year, somebody decided that we should make a special edition of Apples to Apples with cards relating to Mongolia and our school (I like to call it Apples for the Teacher).  We made it up on the penultimate day of school (the students were gone and the teachers had nothing to do) and played it that night at dinner.  It was so fantastic that this year I went all out and made templates on MS Publisher, typed the words into them, and printed them in color.  If you want to try your hand at your own edition of Apples, here are my templates.  But do yourself (and me - copyright infringement was SO not intended, Mattel!) a favor and buy the actual game first.  It will help you with your brainstorming and give you an edition to play with people who either won't get it or will be offended by your snarkiness.
Green Apples Template
Red Apples Template

Finally, forgive me for using a phrase as hackneyed as this, but I've been working on myself.  Or rather, failing to get back on the wagon of working on myself.  About a year ago I determined that I needed to cultivate some improved habits.  I did exactly that, but around summertime I kinda fell off the wagon, with the exception of my morning constitutional (a phrase which, in this instance, refers to a walk, not to a bowel movement!) which I've been neglecting for the last three weeks in the interests of my feet.  Part of this campaign was to get back some of the self-confidence I lost during my association with Socrates.  And to that end, in May I started taking a selfie every day (when I remembered), so that I would see myself as I actually was, the good and the bad.  I determined I would do this for 100 days, and although it took longer than 100 calendar days to complete it (thanks to my lack of memory at times), eventually I did.  I'm still not the most self-assured person on the planet, but it's helped.

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