Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why I Am A Teacher - Teacher Life

Being a teacher is hard. Really hard.

People think it's not difficult because teaching is easy because we don't make nearly as much as say, doctors and lawyers. We don't go to school as long. We don't work as many hours at our worksite.

But we have a hard job. We have to work with every individual student. We spend hours and hours shaping our lessons in order to shape our students. Then we spend even more hours assessing how well we're shaping our students. It's called grading. If you've never tried it, you can't possibly understand how hard it is.

Teaching is also, in a sense, expensive. I'm a college professor specifically and I make ZIP. I think the max I have ever made is about 30k a year. And my employment is not guaranteed. I can't count on my income.

I get offered new classes every semester from the two schools I work at. Sometimes I get offered two classes. Sometimes three. Sometimes only one. And I am paid per class per semester, which means the fewer classes I get, the less money I make.

I am NEVER guaranteed employment. EVER. And in fact, a lot of times, I'm NOT working. Summers especially are dry periods. I'm extremely lucky if I get to work over the summer. And in fact, this is the first summer I've ever been offered a class. It's the first time I will be doing MY CAREER JOB over the summer and I've been doing this for five years.

And I'm only paid for time in class. I am not paid for prep. I am not paid for grading. I am not paid for lesson planning. Very few teachers are. In fact, if you count all the hours outside of class that most teachers put into their classes, we barely make minimum wage. Not to mention the personal money we often put toward classroom supplies since the schools never have enough to cover everything.

My grading pile.
My specific subject is difficult to teach too. Because of things like Common Core, No Child Left Behind, and the myriad of Naked Emperor books that students are required to read in school, my students come to me HATING English.

I always ask my students on the first day of class if they hate English and usually a full 90% of my new students tell me they hate it. No one likes writing papers, no one likes reading, no one enjoys discussion or analysis.

So it's my job to make them enjoy it. It's why we do things like video games, Veggie Tales, Frozen, and Top Gear in class. English doesn't have to be boring, but schools often make it as such. I have to change that attitude in my students.

But despite all this, I am still a teacher. I shape people. I change them. I give them critical thinking skills and encouragement. I give them a desire to do something with their lives. I make a DIFFERENCE.

Teaching is extremely rewarding. It is, in my mind, the most rewarding job possible. Yes, if you're a doctor you save lives, and if you're a lawyer you can help people fight injustice, but you don't SHAPE people. Not the same way anyways.

Let me give you an example.

I teach at a community college. If you've ever been to a community college, you know that the students there are often students that couldn't get into university or they've been forced to go to school by their folks, or they just don't have confidence to go to a four year. Many of these people drop out and never get back in school. They tell themselves they can't do it and it becomes a self fulling prophesy. It's very sad.

My job is to encourage these students.

Image via http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/2014-2015-encouragement-thread.1081076/
Yes of course I also teach them English. They learn proper grammar, spelling, and format. I teach them how to write a thesis, how to outline, what a topic sentence is, and how to make a proper conclusion.

But my main job is to tell them that YES they CAN get through school and they CAN do something wonderful with their lives. That's my JOB.

Another example. I also teach at a four year university. The students here have been pampered since gradeschool for college. They come already determined that they're going to make it.

And oftentimes they collapse under the pressure.

When I was in school, we took a minimum of 12 units a semester and rarely went over it. Students these days take 16 to 20 units a semester. That's five or six difficult college classes all at once.

But these are still kids. Someone once told me that the only difference between a high school senior and a college freshmen is a summer at the beach. But these kids are expected to be adults. They aren't given a break. And unlike in high school where teachers will often encourage and push their students to succeed, college teachers expect students to already be responsible. Students are independent, but they haven't always been taught independence.

My job is to teach that. I am not just a teacher, I am also a counselor. When something goes wrong in my student's lives, NOTHING is more important than helping them. When I have a student feeling discouraged, NOTHING is more important than encouraging them.

My students are my LIFE. Because I know I may be the only person that ever actually cares for them or their futures. This happens more times than I like to admit, but often times it's true.

And if I can say I've changed at least one person in my career, then I've done my job. Because being a teacher isn't about the money or the difficult grading, or the simple FACTS I teach my students. It's about shaping and changing the next generation to be ready to tackle anything that life throws at them.

In other words, I became a teacher to change the WORLD.

And that has made all the difference.

Have you ever had a teacher impact your life?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ten Minute Freewrites - Prompt #1 Disappearing People

Okay everyone. Time to introduce you to a new segment on my blog. I call it,

TEN MINUTE FREEWRITES

For those who don't know, a freewrite is just what it sounds like. Free writing. Basically you pick a subject and write about it for any number of minutes. It's a great way to practice writing and just force your brain to think of new things. It's a good jumpstart too.

So today I'm starting this new segment. Every week I'll do a new Ten Minute Freewrite... and I need your help. Give me suggestions! What should I write about? I'll pick my favs and write about those topics every Monday. If yours is picked, I will include your name (or nickname if you so choose) and a link to a website of your choice!

Today's freewrite topic comes from Writing Prompts on Tumblr. You can check them out here: http://writingprompts.tumblr.com

Timer set. . .


It happened again.

Deckard had been hearing about disappearances again. Bad ones. This wasn't like the ones from before. This one was different. 

He glanced up at the full moon, lying next to his adopted daughter under the pine trees. He frowned, curling his black wolf lips down and bending an ear. It was too long until the next new moon. He would have to do something about this sooner. 

"Dad?"


Deckard smiled at his daughter, Velvela. After a year as a wolf, he was finally getting used to the growling wolf language that he and his daughter shared. Now if only he could teach the rest of his pack. But none of them had human in their blood. It was a difficult task. 

"What is is?" 

The year old pup rolled over on her back and gave him a whimpering whine. "What are you thinking about? You're always staring at the moon these days." 

Deckard frowned. "It's nothing sweetie." 

"That's a lie," Velvela said. "Is it Dad? Are you thinking about my dad?" 

Deckard closed his eyes and whined quietly. A year prior, he had been fully human. A recluse wolf researcher. And he met Marrok. He didn't know it at the time, but the black wolf had been given a mysterious blessing. Or curse. He still hadn't decided what yet. 

Something in the young wolf had changed. The new moon made him into something new. Human. He took on the physical form, though he couldn't walk, couldn't talk, and didn't understand anything about human culture. He didn't know how to live as a human.

Deckard taught him what he could, not realizing that the human had really been a wolf. And by the time he discovered it, the young werewolf had given his life for Deckard and passed his blessing-curse to Deckard. Now Deckard lived as a wolf every day except on the night of the new moon. 

His task? Teach his pack to protect. Teach them human morals. It was daunting and almost impossible. But he had to do it. He had to make sure that Marrok's sacrifice wasn't in vain. 

And he had to protect the woods and people he loved from the true werewolves that haunted the forest. If only he could figure out where they came from. 

"I suppose I am," Deckard said. 

"You're worried about the missing campers," Velvela said. She lowered her snout to the ground. "How many have we lost this month?" 

"Almost 40." 

She frowned. "Is that a lot?"

"Yes," Deckard said. "Way too much." 

"But we don't know what's killing them." 

Deckard shook his shaggy head. "No. We don't." 

"But surely it's the werewolves." 

But if it was the werewolves, there'd be signs. Blood, footprints, unnatural fur, their haunting howls. But there was nothing. And Deckard was running out of time. 

________________________________________

Wow! Freewrite over. XD I ended up inadvertently writing the opening for a sequel for To Err is Human, a short story I wrote for an anthology some time ago. 

Okay, now we have a choice. Do you want me to continue this short story in the next Ten Minute Freewrite? Do you have a suggestion of your own? Leave a comment and let me know what you think! You will get to decide the next subject for the next Ten Minute Freewrite. ;) 

I encourage everyone to write their own ten minute freewrite using this prompt! Paste your stories below or share your blogs with us here!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Killer Instinct - Game Review

Okay okay okay okay. I know it's another game review, but bear with me.

Besides. It's KILLER INSTINCT. (Dramatic theme music plays)

No, I'm not playing the air guitar. I don't know what you're talking about.

Image via www.pixshark.com
I'll tell you right now, I'm not a huge fan of fighting games. When I play a game, I play it for the story. It's why games like Assassin's Creed, Halo, Skies of Arcadia, and Phoenix Wright appeal to me. Fighting games are not really my style because the story is usually pretty shallow and done mostly in writing, not in gameplay.

Image via www.gameskinny.com
Killer Instinct, however, attracts me for several reasons.

One, the music. Every bit of music in Killer Instinct is awesome. And it's DYNAMIC. Depending on how you play the game, different parts of the stage's songs will play. If you're fast and pounding, the music follows. If you're sitting idle, the music also idles. And when you get an Ultra Combo, the bass and beat match up with the attack hits.

Image via YouTube
Two, Killer Instinct for the Xbox actually has a tutorial section.

One of the things that has always kept me from fighting video games is the sheer amount of time and effort it takes to learn moves and combos. Some games, like Soul Calibur, are somewhat easy, since you don't have long combos and connections between each move. Others though, like Street Fighter and especially Marvel vs. Capcom have extremely difficult combo moves and a million terms to go with each move. It takes hours to perfect a combo, sometimes days. It's impossible to learn if you don't have the drive or the background. It's therefore really hard to get new people into the genre.

Killer Instinct, however, has a tutorial section that teaches you individual moves, combos, linkers, and everything else necessary for fighting games. They even teach you the terms for it, and believe me, there's a million impossible terms in this game series.

Using the tutorial section helps you learn the basics of fighting games, and it's something that, with practice, you can apply to a lot of other fighting games. This is a gateway to get you into fighting games.

If you're willing to put in the effort.

Image via screencrush.com
I'll admit, I just don't have the drive to really practice and learn it. Just learning one opener-linker-attack-finisher combo is enormous amounts of effort and difficulty. And that's learning it against the A.I. characters that aren't even moving or trying to stop you. When you're put in a real world situation with a player that ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT THEY'RE DOING, you forget everything you learned and fall back on button mashing anyway. It's that hard.

But... they do have anthros.

Image via primagames.com
I love anthros. It's why I draw them for my primary subject and write them in my novels. So when I saw anthros in Killer Instinct, I wanted to learn more. And these anthros are AWESOME.

First up is Saberwulf, a werewolf gone wrong. He's freakin' awesome. Powerful, huge, badass, animal like with digitigrade legs, a huge snout, and amazing wolf sounds.

I like wolves.

Also, he's got different colors, so I can pretend he's characters I write. XD

This one is Lance Tox... um, after someone messed up is coffee order
(Image via YouTube)

And this one is Indal Tay. From the Spacetime Saga. Or maybe it's Crash Bandicoot, I can't tell.
(Image via Killer Instinct wikia)
You can also build costumes!

Steampunk Saberwulf FTW
(Image via pixgood.com)

On top of Saberwulf, you also have Riptor.

Tell me "clever girl" one more time and I'll rip your face off.
(Image via www.pixeletiao.com)
Riptor is flat out amazing. Awesome colors, great attacks, fun screechy sounds. XD Love it.

She's passed off as a military grade weapon that can be purchased and controlled too, which kind of has a hint of later Jurassic Park films.

SURPRISE!
(Image via Killer Instinct wikia)
I don't see much about colors or costumes on Google, but she's got some pretty fun stuff.

But yeah, that's the stuff I like about Killer Instinct. It's definitely a fun game.

Though I don't think this is a game I'll play religiously, it's still a fun escape, and it's really fun that I get to play anthros. XD

Speaking of which. . . I am apparently a furry. =P Just so you know. Expect a post about that soon.

What do you guys think of fighting games?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Whale Watching - Meenanful Life

Oh my gosh, you guys. I finally did it. I finally went whale watching.

Okay, I lied. I've been whale watching like four times before. But in all those times, I've NEVER EVER seen a whale. Occasionally I see dolphins. That's it.

And now. I saw a WHALE. WHOO!

The day started with me and my sister being as absolutely weird as possible.

Great picture, Beth.

We lined up along the pier waiting for the boat to arrive. It was actually quite warm. I kind of regret ever bringing my jacket.

And look! Our first dolphin. This was a bottlenosed dolphin, the one everyone knows of course. It's pod followed our boat for a bit, but not very long. They're a bit shy, apparently.

Yup, still weird.

We traveled a bit further out to sea and ran across several other dolphins and more whale watching boats. Our guide told us that the boats all keep in contact to help each other find dolphins and whales.

The dolphins followed us for a while. 

We continued sailing for HOURS. Literally. We were supposed to be on a two hour tour (insert Gilligan's Island reference here) and we went out further than any tour that day, according to our guide.

We were still in deep sea (about 1800 feet deep under our boat) when our guide suddenly got a call that there were gray whales in the area. He BOOKED it. It was a blast riding the waves so fast.

And then we saw them. GRAY WHALES. Two whales migrating and flashing their tails at us. It was awesome.

Unfortunately I don't have pictures because we were pretty crowded out, but here's an idea of what a gray whale looks like.


It was so awesome. I loved the whales.

And I finally got to see a whale.

The guide got us back about half an hour late, but it was so worth it. Kudos to him.

So, yay me! I finally broke my bad luck in whale watching. I wanna do it again in the future.

What do you guys think about whales?

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Reading Process in Memes - Meme Life

One more time, guys. MOAR MEMES. Today, my reading process in Top Gear Memes. =D I love reading. XD

And once again these wonderful Tumblrs have provided the memes I've used today.

http://the-bloody-awful.tumblr.com/
http://topgearaddiction.tumblr.com/
http://fiftyshadesofjamesmay.tumblr.com/
http://a-happy-nerd.tumblr.com/
http://topgearmemories.tumblr.com/

1. Got a new book.


2. Amazed by how good it is.


3. Send people away - nothing is more important than my book.


4. Turn down all invitations to go out with my friends.


5. Something exciting happens.

6. Something surprising happens.

7. Something funny happens.



8. Something great happens to the main character


9. My favorite character dies.

10. A character acts out-of-character and my writer instincts tingle.


11. A character does something embarassing.

12. The Dramatic Climax

13. The Good Guys win!

14. The book is over - as is my life.

15. My friends, when I can't stop talking about the book.

16. Me, when someone makes fun of the book I just read.

17. The book has a sequel.


18. Repeat until poor or dead.


Yup. My reading process is funny.

What's your reading process?