Saturday, January 5, 2013

Until we meet again...

Friends and co-workers!
It seems like a dream, I have limited appetite and random panic attacks... I miss Ireland. Apparently I am suffering from "reverse culture shock" - when you come back to your homeland and expect things to be the same, but they are not. Either things have changed, you have changed, or both. Totally unexpected.

As I reflect on my experiences and feelings, I struggle to pinpoint what I have learned or how I have changed - but both have occurred. Here is what I have come up with so far...
  • It takes an open mind (and a fair amount of courage) to adapt to new cultures and environments
  • Take unexpected/unpleasant situations and turn them into a positive!
  • Creativity can stem from limited resources
  • Flexibility is a necessity in teaching
  • Attitude is EVERYTHING - can make or break you!
  • Do not be afraid to stand up for what you believe - especially when it comes to best practice!
  • Connecting with kids is the same everywhere, and the best part of teaching!
  • A little bit of kindness goes a long way
  • Embrace every opportunity and make the best of it
  • Happiness comes from serving others
  • Appreciate all that you have
  • If you build it, they will come
  • Simplify 
  • Patience, patience, patience
  • To love and be loved is the greatest blessing of all!!!

In my last blog, I leave you with an old Irish blessing...

May the Road Rise to  Meet You

May the Wind be Always at Your Back

May the Sun Shine Warm Upon Your Face

The Rain Fall Soft Upon Your Fields


And Until We Meet Again

School Friends
Flog the Dog
School Friends
Soccer Team
Sweet Students

Beautiful Ireland

May God Hold You in the Palm of His Hand

"Whatever keeps you happy..."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How many sleeps???

This is how the children in Ireland count down to up-coming events, and this is how I am beginning to see that my time is running short. Bitter-sweet.

Animoto... will you EVER be done?
Only 2 more sleeps until...
- Students in 3rd and 4th class must have their animoto projects complete! We are planning on having a movie day next week to watch them. I am beginning to get anxious with this and losing the patience that I displayed with the first students that had a go. I have to really stop myself from taking over the computer and doing it myself. Patience. Patience. (bitter)

- We have the faculty Christmas party. This is going to be held at a fancy restaurant in Ballybunion down by the beach. I am looking forward to spending some downtime with my new friends away from the school scene. I have built some great friendships that I am going to be sad to leave, but hope to continue across the distance. (sweet)
packages, boxes and bags...

Only 3 more sleeps until...
- I need to have my things packed up and shipped home. I came over here packed completely to the max and have done a bit of shopping. Decisions need to be made on what is going to be shipped and what is coming home in my bags. (bitter/sweet)
- I need to have all of my shopping completed, gifts wrapped and ready to go!  Family, friends, students... let the games begin! (sweet)

Only 4 more sleeps until...
- My brother, Randolph, flies into Ireland! Can't wait to share this adventure with him and continue it in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England!! (sweet)

Only 5 more sleeps until...
- The animoto movie parties begin and the projects are wrapped up. Whew! It's been a lot of work, but rewarding for all involved. Now to type up the instructions so the teachers can do it again on their own... (sweet)

Only 6 more sleeps until...
The One (wo)Man Play
- The greatest soccer game of all time is played on the Scoil Iosagain soccer court! I am bringing soccer ball sweets and a new soccer ball for my soccer lads. The ball we play with is flat and falling apart. Looking forward to some great craic! (sweet)

- "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" book/play needs to be finished! I ordered this book, thinking it would be a lot of fun for my students. Turns out I ordered the play manuscript instead! I am determined to read it, so I have been ad-libing and practicing my acting skills. The kids are loving it and it brings me back to the good ol' days. This was the first play that I was involved in with The Hartford Players. My kids were shepherds and an angel and I was recruited as the crazy piano player woman. (sweet)

Only 7 more sleeps until...
Check out the computer screen... so very sweet!!!
- I say good-bye to the sweet kids at Scoil Iosagain. The tears fall effortlessly as I type this... and as I think about it randomly throughout the day. I knew that I would fall in love with these kids - what have I done to myself? The hard truth is that I will most likely never see them again. I was talking with a friend about this and told him that the only possible way would be for me to come here in the summer and just sit on a wall, hoping to see one of the students walk by. With pure Irish sarcasm, he calmly looked me in the eye and said, "Carrie, I think the guards would take you away." This will be a very heartbreaking day... (bitter)

Only 8 more sleeps until...
- I venture off with Randolph into the UK for the holidays! Looking forward to all the adventures and experiences we will have. (sweet)

Only 13 more sleeps until...
 - CHRISTMAS!!! (sweet)

Only 16 more sleeps until...
- I spend my last night with my family and friends in Ireland. It will be another hard day, but there will be no worries about keeping in touch. (bitter)

Only 17 more sleeps until...
- I am home with my family and friends, sharing all of my adventures, sharing gifts and snuggle-bugging with my little ones! This is the sweetest part of all!!

And to my students at Dodgeland Middle School... only 21 more sleeps until Mrs. Shipley is back! Looking forward to being with all of you again!! Sweet!

Speaking of sleep... it is time. Good Night!

SKILL OF THE WEEK: Irish step... kind of.
My co-op teacher is an excellent Irish dancer. She had the kids learn the wedding jig and surprise me with it. Afterwards, they taught it to me! I have been meaning to get to some lessons, but have run out of time. I have continued to learn bits and pieces throughout the week and will continue to do so!

Irish - Still working on it. Students have been great to quiz and test me. Teachers make me rehearse things as my exit pass... Makes me happy!
Crocheting - 6 hats down... more to come!
Tin Whistle - No new gigs... bringing it into school tomorrow to play with the accordian.
Making friends - Continual...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Carpe diem... and become!

Ok. So I'm going to let you all in on a little secret... about 2 weeks ago I became extremely homesick. 4 weeks in and that was long enough for me. It's not that I wasn't having a great time, I just felt anxious. Like when I'm shopping in Walmart; After about an hour and a half, I start getting antsy and know it is time to go home. I was fighting conflicting feelings. Anxiety vs. the feeling of knowing this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I need to enjoy every moment of. A simple reminder from a great friend changed everything! "If you can't change the situation, change your attitude!" New motto: Seize the Day! As I started living this I have seen/felt myself become, not only a different person, but a part of my Irish surroundings.

Listowel - My Hometown
Becoming a part of my community. Listowel is a cute little town of approximately 3,500 people. I have tried, much to Nora's dismay, to introduce myself in each shop, bakery, and pub that I have entered. Everyone has been cordial, as if we were just passing through. The introductions have paid off, as nods of recognition and lively conversations now prevail. The lady at the post office even sent off a package when I didn't have enough money (thought they would take a card). Told me that she trusted that I would bring the money when I had it. We attended a play about John B. Keane, a famous local writer, and have become fast friends with his son, Billy. Favorite thing about Listowel? Colorful buildings... Eason's book and school supply shop... wool shop... ok, everything!

Scoil Iosagain
Becoming a part of Scoil Iosagain. Scoil Iosagain is the name of my school. As I was walking down the corridor, about a week and a half ago, I had this overwhelming feeling of belonging. The teachers and I have become friends inside and outside of school, my work is acknowledged and appreciated, and I am treated like a regular staff member. I have definitely made some life-long friends! I have had the opportunity to teach in every class now, one thing or another, and am greeted each morning in the school yard by flocks of children asking if I am going to be in their class at some point throughout the day - what a happy feeling! I truly love these kids! Are there differences and craziness at times? Absolutely! But I have learned to embrace it and I am loving it all!!

My Irish Family
Becoming a part of the Walsh family. It would be nearly impossible to not become a part of the Walsh family. They are so full of love and genuine kindness. Some of the things we enjoy doing as a family are: watching movies, baking cookies, knitting/crocheting, going to church, playing music, listening to gigs at the pub, having tea and scones, making food for each other and just chatting. We have definitely built life-long friendships that will continue beyond my time here.

Ross Castle - Killarney, Ireland
Becoming a part of Ireland. Over the past 6 weeks I have traveled all over this beautiful country! I will not claim to have been everywhere, but I have seen, with my own eyes, some of the most breath taking places on this earth. This past weekend I explored castles, climbed to a waterfall, shopped, went to a great church service, listened to/participated in live music at a pub and successfully drove a car on the Irish side of the road. Pretty well rounded. It was my favorite weekend so far! Mighty craic!! All of the touristy sites and cities have been lovely, but I have come to truly appreciate the simple beauties that surround me each day. As I travel down the country road to my school, I am still in awe at the beauty, yet feel a sense of warmth and peace like I am home. Ireland has become a part of me.

I find myself getting weepy thinking of saying good-bye to all that I have grown to love here, so I must stop thinking. I still have 4 weeks of adventure and new experiences to live and enjoy, so enjoy I will! Attitude really is everything!!! Carpe Diem!
Irish Textbook

Skill of the week: Learning Irish pronunciations. This seems like a silly skill, but Irish is actually VERY difficult to pronounce. The letters rarely give a clue on how to pronounce anything. For instance, mh says the "v" sound. However, bh, on occasion, can also say the "v" sound. Crazy! The lads and teachers at my school have been grand at helping me in this endeavor.

Up-date on past skills of the week:
Crocheting: 4 hats done... more to come!
Tin Whistle: Had the opportunity to try out my sweet tin-whistle skills with "Flog the Dog" at one of their pub gigs. What a blast! "Guest artist... all the way from America... on the tin-whistle..." They were really great sports.
Jarvie driver... and friend.
Making friends: Forgot to mention that this was one of my skills. I have been working on it from day one and it has been very rewarding! Met my latest friend at Ross castle... beware of the Irish charm!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I am thankful...

compare 2 middle fingers
... that my finger appears to NOT be broken. Remember the favorite part of my day? Remember those cute little irish accents in rage? Well, it moved to a new level. Fists started flying and, in an attempt to block a punch, my finger was mangled. After, TLC from my friends at school (trip to the pharmacy), and my host family (wrapping my finger and waiting on me, hand and foot), advice from one sister (who is a nurse) and therapy techniques from another (who is a physical therapist) I think I will survive. Needless to say, things have been a lot calmer this past week on the soccer court.

... that things are going well in school. Class 3 and 4 are making great strides on their Animoto projects! Information has been gathered and story boards have been made.They are learning how to save pictures in their own picture file and will soon be ready to create the actual project. They can hardly wait!! Class 4 wrote letters to their pen-pals in Wisconsin and they are very anxious to hear back!
Thankful project
In class 1 and 2 we have been learning about Thanksgiving the past two weeks and what it means to be "thankful". We created a "Thankful jar" and the students over-filled it with colorful slips of paper, listing what they were thankful for. These colorful slips were used to decorate around a turkey print art project... so much fun! We ended the week with a Thanksgiving feast. Biggest surprise: kids had never had rolls made with yeast. (Went to every bakery and grocery store in town to find the yeast, finally found it in a specialty shop.)

Irish Uilleann Pipes
... that I went to school on Friday. After the exhaustion of creating a feast for 30 students, and knowing that everyone in America was either in a food coma or out fighting the crowds, I had a hard time wanting to be at school. I'm grateful my ride remembered to pick me up (after wishing all morning they wouldn't) because it turned out to be a great day! 1) A full rainbow greeted me at school. 2) I found out about a Gaelic football club I can possibly join called "mothers and others". 3) A trad (group of traditional irish music players) came to play for a school assembly (dreamy) and I was chosen to attempt the Uilleann pipes - traditional bagpipe of Ireland. I would have missed out on so much had I stayed home.

... for packages, letters and e-mails from my family, friends and loved ones! Thank you!!

... for my Irish family that have become like my own. We talk, we share, we fight... and we love! We had a Thanksgiving feast with every kind of food you can imagine! Great to be together. :0)

Cliffs of Moher
... for this beautiful country that I have the opportunity to explore, love and become a part of!

... for technology that keeps me in touch with my family and friends back home... but mostly my kiddos!! Missing them so much!

... for this holiday that gives us a reason to stop and really be thankful for all that we have!

The tin whistle is one of the most popular instruments played in Ireland (and the cheapest to purchase). My injured finger put a damper on this skill, a bit, but I will continue to work on it!

UP-DATE: Crocheting - 2 hats down, starting my third

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Behind the Scenes
How I Really Feel...
School this week went extremely well... especially considering the circumstances... I taught computers. I successfully launched computer projects in class 3 and 4 and the teachers think I am the greatest thing since Neil Armstrong! I have definitely pulled the wool over their eyes. :0) In class 3 we are doing an autobiography with a slideshow computer program called "Animoto". In class 4, they chose to use the same program, but with a country research study instead. The students in my American class really enjoyed it, so I'm hoping it will go smoothly here as well. There is a lot of work to be done before we actually get on the laptops, so I hope they are patient. We made a lot of progress this past week and we are all learning a lot!

In class 1 & 2, there was a substitute in with me all week. It was really great! He had me helping out a lot and teaching some of my own lessons as well. I learned a lot of creative strategies that I am excited to incorporate into my own teaching.

The Soccer Court and Groupies!
I have been assigned to "the yard" during all of the breaks. I don't mind this at all because I love getting to know the kids. Matter of fact, this has become my favorite part of my whole day! About a week and a half ago I challenged the soccer kids to a match... I have played with them every break since.The cheers have gone from "Carrie! :0)" to "Carrie!!! >:0(" This could be due to the abundance of hand balls, fumbles and bad passes I do on a daily basis. But they still make sure I have my "football shoes" with me everyday. I don't know what it is, but absolute rage in a 6-11 year old Irish accent makes me laugh. Comments frequently heard on the court are: "AwW!", "Why didn't ye pass the ball?", "I wasn't even wit ye!" (when one lad blames another for something), "I'm in!" (when a lad all of a sudden wants to touch the ball so he claims he is in as the goalie), "free kick!" (What team members claim when one of their players fake getting hurt and then miraculously recover as soon as the free kick is granted), and "Mozzarella Pizza!" (sung to the tune of "happy birthday" by the team that is in the lead). These kids are SO competitive!!! The other teachers think it is brilliant that I am in there to put out fires and examine all the skinned knees. I think it is brilliant that I get to run around, have fun and keep warm. :0)

Trophies... In Waterford Crystal!
Hmmm... Something Not Right 
Travels for the weekend were sparse. A head cold was just setting in, so I kept it low key. I traveled to a nearby town, Tralee, to do a little shopping and take in a bit of a rugby game at a pub. On Sunday we ventured out to watch some "coursing". Coursing is a sport that is only held in Ireland. It is done by two grey hounds and a hare. The grey hounds chase the hare down a course in a field. The dog that is in the lead when the hare veers off the course is the winner. The hare is HUGE! Quite possible I have never seen one. The dogs are muzzled so that they can not hurt the hare. I wore the WRONG shoes for the event, but it was still great craic! (great fun!)

SKILL OF THE WEEK: Crocheting. Our host mom is a fabulous knitter and has spent this past week sharing her sweet skills! I am working on some hats for my little girls and will move on to knitting once I have successfully completed my crocheting projects. Love learning new things! Stay tuned for next weeks skill...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Trick or Treat? ... I'm going with treat!

Dingle - West Coast
"After the holiday we will have you start getting into a routine"... "After the holiday we will have you start teaching regular lessons"... "After the holiday we will have you start teaching computers to the older classes"...

My first week in school was filled with a lot of figuring out what I will be doing, observation, getting to know staff members, helping with assessments, grading and activities leading up to the Halloween celebration on Friday. I will be doing a majority of my teaching in 1st and 2nd class - a combined class of 6-8 year old students (equivalent to 1st and 2nd grade). Another portion of my time will be spent teaching computers to class 3 and 4. For anyone that knows me, you understand that I am computer illiterate. Technology is one of my student teaching goals, so it is perfect to have this opportunity and also perfect that my roomie here in Ireland is a techie guru. :0)

Halloween Fingers!
Yes, I was only here for one week before holiday hit! Previous to my arrival I believed it to be a holiday to avoid All Hallow's Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day... was under the impression that they didn't celebrate Halloween. I was wrong. This holiday was for midterm break. A holiday that happens EVERY midterm, but one that fell perfectly in line with the Halloween holiday that began in Ireland! Some of the pre-Halloween activities included: making paper mache pumpkins to hold candy, scary stories and poems; learning songs, and the history of, not only Halloween, but Jack O' Lantern himself! The week ended with lots of sweets, costumes and fun. I found a witch costume at the Euro store to wear, told the "Mrs. Moulden" story and made 'fingers' for the students to eat. Fun times!

Holiday for a week? Trick or Treat.... TREAT!!!
A second was not wasted as Nora and I tackled much of Ireland:

  • Ballybunion coast and cliffs - Climbed!
  • Groupie of local band "Flog the Dog" - Committed!
  • Dingle loop - Most Western Coast of Ireland... and Europe for that matter. - Amazed!
  • Halloween and mad shopping in Galway (favorite place!) - Accomplished!
  • Abandoned Castles and more... (Connemara area) Explored!
  • Haunted Bed and Breakfast in Clifden - Survived!
  • Touring Dublin city and hitting the hot spots within 24 hours - Americanized!
  • Ireland's beautiful countryside!
  • Long bus rides - Tolerated!
Ireland is a beautiful country!!! Breathtaking. I look forward to seeing more, but for now...
"After the holiday" has arrived. Looking forward to diving in and doing what I came here to do - teach!
My first castle!