Thursday, March 29, 2007
We took our three-day weekend to go to Auschwitz and Krakow. Krakow is an amazing city. We had gone to Prague, which was prior communist, but there was something different about Krakow, maybe because we were able to see the country side and see the poor that still exists. There were roosters running around people’s front lawns, and big gardens that were being used to fill their diets. It was an incredible sight. On Sunday morning, people FLOODED out of the churches. I’m sure the town was dead except for at church. Their cemeteries were the most colorful I had ever seen. Every tombstone had vibrant flowers, special dried bouquets.
The city itself rests on the Vistula River, which I went in, of course!! I did not want to, it was freezing outside, but Liz insisted that I would regret it if I didn’t. She was right, I was so glad after I dipped my foot into that chilled water. My sister went to Lafayette and she almost put her foot in the Wabash River to send me a picture of it!! I would have died laughing, that is just too funny. I love that she was thinking about me!
We walked through the old Jewish section, but we could not find Schindler’s factory, which was rather disappointing. The synagogues were difficult to find and although they should have been having Havdallah services, they weren’t open.
We went to Auschwitz which would probably be the most disappointing part of my entire European experience so far. We went on a tour with See Krakow and it was awful. It was so short, impersonal, and left no time to reflect. I felt like I didn’t even get to go. I was and still am completely bummed about the whole situation. I mean, yes, I saw the shoes, the hair, the suitcases, the tallit, the empty cans of Zyklon-B, the Death Wall and many other horrible things. But we were completely rushed and at Birkenau we saw two barracks and then were ushered home. I was so upset. I did not have time to grieve for the victims or to cherish their memories.
On a lighter note, we went to Wieliczka, the salt mine in Krakow. This made Krakow and its king very rich. I was not excited about the mine at all, but once we got there, it was really neat. The mine goes down for hundreds of meters. There are carved statues everywhere. The men would get bored and carve into the rock. My favorite one was of eight dwarves. They were so cute. There is also the world’s largest underground church. The whole thing is dug out of the earth, it is truly magnificent. There are pictures carved into the wall of the Last Supper and a huge statue of John Paul II, since he was from Krakow.
Sunday night I got to witness a beautiful precession down the main streets of Krakow. They were celebrating (or commemorating) the Twelve Stations of the Cross. There were police with speakers strapped to their backs. They were singing Polish prayers, and then they’d stop, say a prayer, kneel, bow, and then get up and do it again. It was a mass of people, some with candles. It was very moved by the act and their devotion.
All in all…I will be heading back to Krakow someday, maybe with Rachel next time. (Who I love and miss, as well as my family!!)
Journal 24 – March 29, 2007
ONE WEEK LEFT!!!!!!!!!!! I seriously cannot believe how fast teaching has flown. I have loved every second. I will enjoy relaxing at the end, but I know I will miss teaching my kids and really helping them. I love being a teacher, counsel, and friend. I’ve been here long enough now that students see me as someone they can trust, not just an intruder who is taking over their classes. I graded the psychology quiz I gave the class. They had to take an online personality test and talk about the validity, reliability, and what it said about them. A couple papers were very personal and I made sincerely comments in response. One girl said, “Miss Wiese, you are my new favorite teacher! I just loved your comments, they were so honest and I really felt like you understood what I was going through.” It really made my week. This was a girl that I had only spoken to a few times and here she was really respecting my opinion.
I use the little back room in Mr. Hollenbeck’s room to talk to my students privately when necessary. On Tuesday, one student asked to talk to me in the backroom because he knew it was safe and he could tell me anything he wanted. He told me that he was starting his meds and that he should be able to pay attention more in class and he wouldn’t fall asleep or be as hyper. I knew that I was the only teacher he was telling, he would not have told Mr. Hollenbeck, the school nurse does not even know. I told him that I appreciated him telling me and that we’re a team. He works hard in class and on homework and I work hard helping him and teaching him. It’s an awesome relationship. It was also a very weird coincidence that that afternoon I met his sponsor at the post office. She was behind me in line and saw a piece of my mail and asked if I was his teacher. It was great to meet her in person after emailing her so many times about his progress. She was very surprised that he told me about his meds, because he did not want to be on them and he did not want anyone to know. She was very complimentary and told me that she truly appreciated the relationship I had fostered with him. She was a little worried that his hard work would not continue when Mr. Hollenbeck took back over because that relationship isn’t there. It made me very sad to think about him falling behind again, especially since he brought his grade up from a D- to a B-. When I told him that he had a B- I thought he was going to cry. He went on and on about how he had not done well in school since he was in second grade. It was a really sweet moment for the both of us.
The last awesome thing that happened this week was about a bonus question on a quiz I gave. The question was “Who is your hero and why?” Many people wrote about parents, grandparents, Gandhi, or MLK Jr. But one boy wrote that the Assistant Principal was because he had gotten into trouble instead of being mean and making it worse, he had tried to help this young man and he would hopefully be able to run this weekend in the track meet. I showed the AP and he was glowing. He told me that seeing that made his made. I felt awesome that I could give that to the AP. I think it’s the little things in school that make working here so great. I’m sure it’s hard for the AP to feel appreciated, but that little note on the bottom of a quiz was just what it took to make that guy smile.
The end of the LAMP unit is a great feeling, although it is bittersweet. Now that it is over, I have to grade, grade, and grade some more. I have their tests to grade. I have their propaganda projects to grade, and I have the honors class’ essays to grade. Then I’ll have to do the data on the tests as well. It is still very exciting to think that everything is almost finished though.
The students did do a lot better on their tests. Nothing was left blank and they explained their answers. They all new what trench warfare was and could describe it. When I read their answers, I could see how it was directly from the lesson plan and our discussions in class. They had a harder time with the effects of WWI and I can see now how was had glossed over it at the end and not been very clear. Many things were due the last day and lecture was quite shorter than usual. I almost feel a sense of guilt for not going over it as well as I should have. I almost want to throw out the question, but I won’t. I learn just as much as the students and next time I will do it better. I will clearly outline the effects of the war and bullet point them. I will not assume that they learn the effects just from reading and going over Wilson’s 14 Points.
Some students did so well, they really surprised me. I know the test was not rocket science and I gave them a study guide, but it’s a good feeling to know that they studied and that they wanted to do well. One of my boys in the regular class is very smart, but I don’t think any teacher has ever believed in him, he got 100%. Only two honors’ students got a 100% on the same test. I know he was so proud of himself and I’m very proud of him too.
One honors student who knows more than anyone in the class about WWI did not do well. He got an 86%. Of course, that’s not bad, but he should have aced the test. I think he thought too much about some of his answers and thought the test was too easy. I’m sure for him, the test was, but some of his classmates struggled. I felt badly that he didn’t do well, because I know he wanted to get an A+. One time in class he told me that he would love to be a history major in college, but that he’d probably go into business because you can’t do anything with a history major. He’s right, of course, but it’s sad to think that he might end up doing something that he really does not like that much.
They all turned in their propaganda assignments except for one girl. Yes, there were many that were late, but eventually I received them. I was very proud of all of them for doing it. Some were absolutely fabulous, and others were the bare minimum. I think that will always be the case with projects of that sort. They also liked that it was differentiated and that they had the choice between doing a poster or a Power Point. Some simply find one easier than the other. It was also awesome having a rubric because I could simply go through and circle the points. Then when I passed out their sheets it was so easy to tell them exactly why they deserved the grade they received. It’s very hard for them to complain about points when they are all laid out right in front of their faces. So LAMP is over and I am very proud of myself for finishing and proud that my students did well!! :-)
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
We went to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day!! It was ridiculously crowded and we learned that since we’re American, we couldn’t do online checking for RyanAir. On the way there one of the girls threw up on the plane and another one was sick, but we all made it in one piece. Our hotel was in Bray, about 45 minutes outside of Dublin. We had to take a really expensive taxi ride the first night because we got in so late and the buses and trains had stopped running.
But the next morning, it was all worth it! We watched the St. Patrick’s Day parade, saw more green than I had ever seen in my life, and trekked all over Dublin. I almost wish we were there on an insignificant weekend so we could actually see things. But it was still awesome to be in the city where the movement for Irish independence started.
We made the long way back to our little town and ate dinner at a nice little pizza place. We went to bed early, Dublin wore us out! The next morning we went down to the Irish Sea!! I stepped in, of course. It was gorgeous and sunny. I was jealous of all the Irish golfers out for a morning round. Once we got into Dublin, we walked to Kilmainham Prison. The prison was where the rebels of the 1916 Easter Rising were held before 15 of the 94 were shot. It was very moving. I felt like it was seeing the US’s Declaration of Independence. These men really gave the last full measure to remove themselves from British rule. Although the US took different means to gain their independence, I felt that it was a common struggle. The men who had signed the proclamation for Irish independence were all shot, as the signers of our declaration would have also been shot or hung if they were captured.
I was glad that two other girls in my group went with me. One loves castles and I think she was disappointed that we didn’t make it to Dublin Castle, but after going to the prison she was really glad we had gone and said that she really learned a lot. Obviously I didn’t teach her anything at the prison, but I still feel good as a history teacher to advocate for my subject matter! Haha. Yes, there is history in the castle, but not the same type of history that is at the prison. The prison was also used to shoot the original Italian Job, which I didn’t know until we got there.
These men gave up their lives and their families for Irish independence. Plunkett, one of the fifteen shot; married just four hours before he was executed. His new wife’s brother was also one of the rebels shot, definitely a heartbreaking addition to the story. I love historical sites and when I retire from teaching I would love to give tours at a site, or as a summer job!!
Laying on the beach...too bad my parents couldn't lounge with me!
Declaration of Irish independence!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
This was beyond disturbing. -The ovens at Dachau
Jewish Memorial at Dachau
Gate into Dachau - "Work shall set you free."
The beer house was HUGE!
Mom, I bet you're jealous. haha
Nice building in Munich
In the morning we took off to Neuschwanstein Castle. One the way up to the castle, it gradually got colder and the German rain turned into a beautiful, wet, heavy snow. The trees were covered and I was grateful that the car had “winter” tires. We hiked up a road with snow slush mixed with horse poo, (Yes, very gross) because there were also carriages that people could take up if they didn’t want to walk. The walk up and down was fun. We throw snowballs and talked to these high school seniors from Milan, Italy in very broken English. But I’m not going to lie; I could have skipped the castle. I was not very impressed. That’s not really my thing. But on trips with other people, everyone has to give a little and that was my giving. Next time, I’ll stay and walk around Munich. When we got back to the city, it was around 14:00. We walked around a little bit of Munich, Liz and I went to the art museum and saw Van Gogh’s sunflowers and a smaller water lily painting of Monet’s. It was a very pleasant afternoon.
We proceed with dinner at the Hofbrauhaus, which is famous for it’s HB Lager. I didn’t have one, but I did have a little glass of white wine, which was nice, and a great vegetarian dish with potatoes and cheese. (I’m sure my sister would have loved it, haha) Jeff got a huge beer and really enjoyed himself the rest of the night. Liz, Jeff, and I borrowed a huge beer mug. I’m sure someday my dad will take it back to them in Munich. Other people sat with us, they were quite the characters. When they find out we’re American, a lot of people in Europe mention the Taliban and/or Bin Laden. It’s very interesting to hear their perspectives on US foreign policy. Clearly, they’re not big fans of our current leader.
After a fun filled night, we got up the next morning to go to Dachau. The experience was unreal. I felt that is was very mellow. I have been told that for a concentration camp, it is very family friendly. (If that is possible.) Dachau started as a camp for prisoners and was the only camp to be in operation for all 12 years of Hitler’s reign. There really weren’t any women or children there until the last couple of years of the war. At one point, they had brought in women, only to use to satisfy the men. A lot of experiments were done at Dachau, including tests about hypothermia and brain pressure. The pictures are quite disturbing. They also had a gas chamber, which was said was never used, but there may have been tests run there. Also, there were ovens or a crematorium. This was by far the most disturbing part. I couldn’t really hold myself together after that, it’s just the worst feeling. I’m glad I went to Dachau before we go to Auschwitz in two weeks. I think it’ll ease me into it a little bit and it won’t be quite as overwhelming.