<![CDATA[Brittany Jones' Professional Portfolio - Teaching Adventures Blog]]>Tue, 22 Dec 2015 04:22:38 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[A New Perspective]]>Tue, 23 Apr 2013 11:19:06 GMThttp://brittanyhjonesportfolio.weebly.com/teaching-adventures-blog/a-new-perspectiveWhoa Doggie! h]]><![CDATA[Toto, I Don't Think We're In Kansas Anymore!]]>Wed, 17 Apr 2013 11:17:45 GMThttp://brittanyhjonesportfolio.weebly.com/teaching-adventures-blog/toto-i-dont-think-were-in-kansas-anymore]]><![CDATA[If I was a Celebrity? ]]>Mon, 15 Apr 2013 11:15:57 GMThttp://brittanyhjonesportfolio.weebly.com/teaching-adventures-blog/if-i-was-acelebrityDO do do DO do DO do]]><![CDATA[Oldies but Goodies!]]>Sat, 13 Apr 2013 10:56:06 GMThttp://brittanyhjonesportfolio.weebly.com/teaching-adventures-blog/oldies-but-goodiesPicture
Recently, I was able to see several amazing monasteries. The most impressive by far was the Pechorskiy Monastery. I was absolutely beautiful! The building were like something out of a fairy-tail, the domes are painted a rich blue color and have brilliant stars painted on to them to represent the heavens. Everywhere you look there were gorgeous icons (painted or mosaics representations of divine figures and saints).We woman also had to wear make shift skirts and a shall over our head, while in all the monasteries. It looked funny, but those are the rules!

 We were unable to go in the church because it was closed at the time but I could imagine how beautiful it most likely is. Also, an other interesting feature of this monastery is that its monks are buried with caves that are behind the church. The maze like catacombs are off-limits unless you have a monk with you because the are so vast and easy to get lost in. The monks are interesting as well. People are not allowed to take pictures of the monks. I am curious for the reason behind that, but I didn't think to ask at the time. I am told that the place is amazing during the spring when there are flowers and birds twittering about. I could imagine the beauty because if even in the soaking gloom of late winter it is this beautiful, then in spring (my favorite time of year!!) it must be fantastic!
The other monasteries we went to were beautiful as well. They were a little less ornate but they were beautiful in their own way. This was the monastery where our guide had begun her learning, she was not a nun but she was very knowledgeable about all the churches we went to. 
Also, here their first mother superior had pass away in recent years and she had a beautiful burial site on the monastery grounds. She had helped the monastery to be restored, during the Soviet times it had been misused and had become dilapidated, now you couldn't even tell. We were also met by a very friendly, very beautiful dog. He just walked up to us out of nowhere.
 For the last monastery were traveled to it was an adventure just getting to the place it was in the middle of a marsh so the road was continually washing away and was very “holy” (ha ha ha). This place was also amazing the before and after pictures of its restoration were so impressive. It had looked like Medieval ruins and now it was a beautiful self sustaining compound. I was able to go to the very top of the bell town and the view was breathtaking. Inside there were two different chapels a cold chapel, used during the warm summer season. When we walked in the air was bone-chillingly colder... and remember Russia is still covered ice at this point!This one had a beautiful carved oak icon frame it was huge and absolutely beautiful! Then we went to the winter chapel and it had a beautiful golden icon frame and brass chandelier. Fantastic!!
Maria, our guide, was very enjoyable to listen too. She knew so much and I just loved her Russian accent! She said that in every town and city you would be able to find a monastery. They seem to be an important part of the culture, only not many people seems to go to church... while at the Pechorskiy monastery we were able to see a small part of an Eastern Orthodox service and it was beautiful, but also very small and almost intimate. While religious beliefs are important in Russian culture, I don't think Religion has the same fervor as it does in Western Europe or America. Its nice not to have some manner of “God” shoved in your face but you can definitely tell that it has had a profound impact on the culture of Russia. You get this implied matter of “religious right,” so the atmosphere is still somewhat restrictive but, I believe, that they are a little bit more whiling to at least here your opinion and beliefs.  
<![CDATA[Teaching, Learning, Loving It!]]>Fri, 12 Apr 2013 11:14:29 GMThttp://brittanyhjonesportfolio.weebly.com/teaching-adventures-blog/teaching-learning-loving-itSo this week and last I had the opportunity to attend some Classes at the University and complete my second week of teaching and visit another school. I am having such a good time. I wake up everyday and don't dread going to school for a change. The classes I attended at the university were the history of the region class and the technology class. They were very interesting. The classes at this university are very different from those at NC State. I noticed they focus much more on the “human aspect” of learning, whereas the classes at state focus much more on the technology aspect of the teaching profession.
I think both of these components are critical to teaching but I feel that the collaboration and more interpersonal aspects are much more helpful to up-and-coming teachers. I asked some of the people at the university and they say that classroom tech is very limited so, there is little point in focusing to much on it. During one of my classes in the Lyceum I was asking about school computers and technology available to them. They told me they do have a computer class but that is it. I mentioned that the school I taught at in North Carolina has “only” one classroom set of 30 iPads and they were very impressed and surprised that the school had THIRTY iPads. I forget how even working class seems wealthy to many people in Russia. It took me off guard because I felt like I was the ungrateful rich snob. It really can be a completely different world over here in some respects. 

Teaching is still going great! I am so grateful to have know these students. They truly have changed my way of looking at students. They are so eager to learn, they are very excited about me being in class, all but my seventh graders. Galina, the the woman who is working with me, she told them the other day that they would be taking a test, and they all broke into a cheer. She stopped and looked at me and said, “That is a unusual reaction to a test.” I just had to laugh, because I know that it was because speaking with me is difficult for them. I have one 7th grade student, who doesn't SPEAK much English but he understand a lot of what I say and he often will translate instructions for me. Again, this is where knowing Russian would be really helpful! 

While I am teaching I find myself leaning on my stronger speakers to help me through class. I get nervous some times and my self-consciousness slips into my mind. I don't want to look like an idiot and they could talk about me all they want and I wouldn't even know! I think I am a good teacher but I feel so out of my element here and the teaching style is so different. Whenever I try to do an activity closer to what I would do at home the idea is lost in translation and often I don't want to waste what precious little class time I have trying to explain a new concept. This is way I would like to comeback and teach for a year or so. I feel like if I were able to have a classroom that is only mine I would be a lot more effective. Right now I am but a scent on a breeze as I pass in and out of their class this month. However long am here for, I can tell that I am truly appreciated. That is just such a radically different feeling from the states. Sometimes I feel that the students would prefer that I just kick them out of the classroom because then they wouldn't even have to pretend to listen. I love feeling wanted in my profession, I do realize that this will be a constant struggle through out my teaching career! I feel so fortunate to know what true appreciation feels like. Now, I know what it looks like I actually think I will be able to find it more in my students at home
<![CDATA[One of the Hardest Parts......]]>Wed, 10 Apr 2013 11:12:44 GMThttp://brittanyhjonesportfolio.weebly.com/teaching-adventures-blog/one-of-the-hardest-partsThe hardest part about traveling is leaving home. I miss being home in my own house with my own bed. Most of all I miss my boyfriend. I think if I had been able to bring Jon with me I would have been much easier not to miss home. Also, I miss my cat. Leza is just not as cuddly as Cheerio. I need my kitty-luvins! 

At least the food and company somewhat make-up for what I miss. Olga is great to hangout with and I have met so many other people. We went to karaoke the other night and it was so fun! The karaoke is so different here. Here, you have to rent out a room and there are all different sizes and themes... its really great! Because you are in a separate room you are able to relax and bit more and people are more willing to get up and sing. There is also a call button for a waiter so that you can order drinks and food. It was so much fun!

The things that are hard for me are the lack or independence and how much work I have to do. I want to spend more time just being here and exploring with my friends, but I can't because I have to be responsible and make sure my work gets done. I wish I had had more of my work done before I arrived. This year and especially this semester has been the most challenging of my whole life. I will be so glad when graduation gets here. As for my lack of independence not much has changed on that front, and I don't think it will. It would nicer if I were able to come and go as I please but I have to make sure that someone can let me in to my flat and I have to make plans with Olga so she can plan accordingly. I don't mind to much and I am not going to be rude. But I would like to just say, “I'm going out be back later.” It has been so long since I have had parental figure waiting on me. Jon waits for me but he only checks in with me when he needs something or I had told a time and then my plans change. He is generally out of the house more than me, so I am the one doing the checking-up. That's the great think about our relationship is that we have grown-up independently together. So I'm not used to having to always make plans. BUT like I said it's a small price to pay to have these people open their homes to me and take such excellent care of me.

I noticed that we have all either gotten to or gone through that stage where we are just angry. Most of us have said “I just want to go home” at one point or another. I haven't gotten to the point that I feel like I want to go home, but I definitely needed some space from some of the people in our group. I miss my best friend Kali. She excepts me for me. Me and all my weirdness. I don't feel out of place with her. There are few people I feel totally comfortable around and I miss that comfort. Still, the hardest part is not being able to speak the language. I can meet as many people here as I want but if I dont speak the language it doesn't matter who I meet. It's learning experience.

<![CDATA[Teaching In Russia is.... ]]>Mon, 08 Apr 2013 11:05:13 GMThttp://brittanyhjonesportfolio.weebly.com/teaching-adventures-blog/teaching-in-russia-is
I have had the first week of teaching kids at the Humanitarian Lyceum or school Twenty-Three. The first day I was very nervous because I found out that I would be teaching upper-class student. The highest grade or “form” in Russia is the eleventh and I had an eleventh and two tenth form classes. This is obviously out of my ages range and I didn't want to teach high school because I don't yet feel like I am that much older than those students and I am afraid they won't take me seriously

 I quickly learned , here, that just wasn't the case. The students were excited and eager to here me speak and ask me all kinds of questions. The first week was really great. I am so excited to have this opportunity.

My CT is great. She is very kind and encouraging. She is also excited for me to be there, because she feels there are things that I can help her to perfect as well. Many of the English teachers feel this way there are two others who have also asked Hannah and I to grade papers and check over exams. Sometimes they have us double check work they have already corrected. I feel kind of like a celebrity. The only problem I have is that they want us to teach right out of the book. When I try to do something a little bit different I seems that the ideas get lost in translation or that they are just to timid to make good use of the time. The classes are only forty minutes long, and I thought that fifty-three minutes was a short time. Forty minutes, before this experience, seemed like such a short period but you can definitely make it work. The only problem I have with the schools here are that they want us to teach directly out of the book. It is so boring and if I am bored I can only imagine what the students feel. I wish I could speak more Russian so that I could translate instructions into Russian but conduct activities in English. It would make this much more smooth.

I have been thinking and everyday that I am in the classroom I feel like it would be such a great experience to teach in a foreign country. I have already been thinking about going to teach for DODDES (the Department of Defense Dependents Education System) anyway. If I were to do this I might just be able to also get my Masters degree in the process. There are scholarships available for teaching abroad and then going to grad-school I would definitely want to come back to Pskov. I think that I will be able to teach American Students and foreign students. Then to top it all off I would be advancing my degree. As time goes on, I feel more and more that I do want to teach around the world.  

<![CDATA[2nd International International Student Conference ]]>Sat, 06 Apr 2013 11:10:12 GMThttp://brittanyhjonesportfolio.weebly.com/teaching-adventures-blog/2nd-international-international-student-conferenceThis week I participated in the 2nd annual International Students Conference. The theme this year was “World Languages. Language and Cultural Identity in the Modern World.” I was to give a presentation in front of both the American and Russian Students. My presentation was on “The Benefits of A Globalized Perspective in the Classroom” I wrote a paper and made a Prezi for the presentation.
 I was nervous and excited for this conference. This was especially great because my paper will be published in an international publication, which will loo great on my resume. I was nervous because I thought I was going to have to present in front of a whole bunch of people in one of those big conference halls. We watch Dr. Holley (our GREAT AND FEARLESS LEADER!!) present in “Room 63,” while he was presenting I was getting all pumped up! Then we found out that we would be in a smaller room with only twenty or so people. I was actually a little disappointed but still it was also nice to not feel SO much pressure.

We started and there were some really great presentations. The Russian students seem so thorough in their study of our language. It kind makes me feel bad because they are all so excited for us to be here and speak English, but many of them have a deeper understanding it than I think I do. I know that they just want to hear us speak with our accents and the little things that are harder to learn but come so easy to a native speaker. I am just so impressed with how much English they know and I admire them for that. I wish American students (people in general even) appreciated different cultures like they do. I think the key to understanding people is to understand their culture and a key to understanding culture can be language, because you can get a better understanding of the intimate details of culture when you speak the language. The time and effort put into learning a whole new language give a person the opportunity to learn more details about a different county.

I think all the presentations were great. I especially loved Jamie and Greesha's presentations. I didn't know that the Lumby Tribe was so unique and I love how Greesha used music to illustrate his point. I would love to learn more about the Lumbies. What I loved most about this whole experience was that it gave me a chance to see the products of research assignments. Students were given rough parameters and then they found a topic, did thorough research and then presented their findings. I think I will try to incorporate this into my class I think it is a really great way to involve critical thinking in an educational setting. It gives students an opportunity to do a bit of independent thinking and choose something that interests them.


<![CDATA[Slave to Technology!]]>Tue, 02 Apr 2013 10:57:07 GMThttp://brittanyhjonesportfolio.weebly.com/teaching-adventures-blog/slave-to-technologySo this week I was unable to connect to the wireless internet in my host, Olga's, house. It made me realize just how much I depend on its availability. I was trying to write a paper and I couldn't track down more sources because of the lack of internet. Also, because I was in a foreign country it was not like I could just go to the library …. because everything would be in RUSSIAN!
 I didn't want to go to a cafe and do it because I tend to work in small continuous sections. “Blame it on my ADD babeh” I would have been so distracted and I also didn't want to hog the family computer that was in Olga's room. The issue was that Olga's brother had made the password, who is now he is in Saint Petersburg doing his required military service, so needless to say I was almost as happy as Olga to hear from him on his Sunday phone call.

It has been a little bit challenging adjusting to living here. Another technology that Americans take for granted... water purification. I generally drink a lot of liquids, granted most of the time that is soda, but here I don't want to spend the extra money. Normally, this means that I would drink copious amounts of water, but you can't drink the water that comes out of the tap here. It is water that comes directly out of a ground well and so the water under the city is quite polluted. Olga's family gets their water from the well at their country cottage. So I feel like a glutton going and drinking up all their country water. Of course they are so nice, and kind of look at me funny when I say this. They take such good care of me. Oh and Olga's mom's cooking is fantastic! She has made me many different things and definitely the all the traditional dishes. My favorite has to still be Borsch and Pelimeni (dumplings).

The only bad things that I have encounter are the language barrier and the lack of independence. I haven't lived with my parents in over five years and so I am not used to having food cooked for me, or, whats more, being served to me! They also clean my dishes and I just feel like I am causing extra work. They insist that I am not but I still try to help out where I can. Also, I don't have a key so its harder for me to come and go whenever. I have to always know my plans ahead of time so that someone is home to let me in. The part that makes this the most difficult is the fact that I cant actually talk to my host parents. She is always trying to talk to me, and I feel bad because I don't know what she is saying! *Sad Face* Its also hard in the shops or anywhere I go really. I wish I had had more of a opportunity to learn more Russian before I came. We will be starting our Russian lessons soon and I am so excited for that. I definitely don't want to look like the “entitled American” who expects everyone speak English for them. I want to learn as much as I can about this culture so it's a little more difficult when I can't communicate with everyone with whom I try to talk to. I can tell sometimes when Olga is trying to process something I said and sometimes its hard for me to find more simple word to describe it in. It's definitely a learning experience! From this experience I can better relate to how an ELL student would feel in a classroom full of English speakers. I will definitely take this feeling with me into a more diverse classrooms. 

<![CDATA[Welcome to Pskov!!]]>Fri, 29 Mar 2013 10:49:35 GMThttp://brittanyhjonesportfolio.weebly.com/teaching-adventures-blog/welcome-to-pskovSo today was exciting! I got to meet the people who I will be staying with today. We all met up at the Pskov University and were graciously greeted and welcomed by Galina. As we were told Galina was the sweetest lady ever. She seemed very excited for us to be here. I finally met with my hostess, Olga (pronounced “ol-ee-a”), sho was really great as well. I found that I was living a short walk from the University on the main road Rizhskiy Prospect. Her family has a flat with three rooms, two as bedrooms and one as a living/bedroom.
I was lucky enough to be able to have my own room. She lives with her parents and she has a brother but he is away for his one year of mandatory service for the army. They are all very helpful and kind. I feel bad because the only person I can communicate with (or through) is Olga. Her parents don't speak hardly any English, and I really don't speak any Russian. I wish I had had more time to practice my Russian. I hope I will be able to speak a little more through out my stay here.

* * *

After a couple of days I have settled in nicely. I feel like a bit of a recluse because when I come home we will talk for a while, but then we both just go to our rooms and do our own thing. I like it don't get me wrong, a was afraid that I was going to have a lack of privacy because I am in someone else's house, but that is not the case here at all. Olga is super sweet but it she seems that we are similar in the idea that we both like our down time. I told her I didn't want to seem like I was hiding but she insisted that everything was fine.

We have been going sight seeing around Pskov for a couple days and my first impressions are pretty good. We went on a walking tour of Pskov we saw many old parts of the city and a few war monuments of the city. I think the city is a good size it is much larger than I was expecting. I was thinking it was a little town but really its more of a little city. It is very beautiful. We had a guide and she spoke fantastic English, considering she was only ten year old. She was really impressive. She was able and confident and she just made the excursion that much more enjoyable. First, we went to the Kremlin which is a part of the walled city that Pskov used to be. There are remnants of the wall still about the city but the only place the Kremlin is where the cathedral still stands. The Trinity Cathedral is absolutely beautiful! We were able to go inside and just …. WOW. It is a Eastern Orthodox Church so women must wear a skirt and have something covering there heads and necks when they enter the church. When you enter the church the first thing you notice is the floor to ceiling display of Icons. Icons are paintings of the saints of the religion. They are just breath taking. There are no pews in the church but the furniture that is on the floor of the building is beautifully carved and there are places where you can light candles and pray to different icons for help.

First we saw a World War II made out of guns and cannons it was really neat. Then we walk to another memorial which is said to have bombs built right into it. We also saw a church that stood just outside the largest tower in Pskov. The tower is preserved on the inside but it was closed when we were there so we weren't able to go in. Finally, went to the Alexander Nevski Monument it was HUGE, it was also up on a hill and the view was quite amazing!

Last, we went to the Pskov museum where the Pagankiny Palaty, an old merchants home that was peculiarly built and was a very important part of the city's history. Now the house serves as a museum and hold many of Pskov original icons and those who go to school to learn how to maintain and repair the icons go here to practice. The building was also built in an interesting fashion the walls were two meters think and the ceilings were all arched giving the building larger feel. It was very impressive.

I think that my stay here will be great. I have missed Europe since I moved back to the states. It's hard for me to put into words the way being in another country makes me feel. I guess it might sound crazy but it is really exciting. It's like everyday is new because of the fact that I am in a new place and there is always something to discover, or something interesting to see. The atmosphere is different here. It's interesting to know that the world is out there and I can be apart of it. It is with in my reach, and I can feel it, I know that I can go as far as I want too.