Checking in…

Hey!

Okay, so it’s been a while since my last post. I have been road-tripping down California with my family, on the way to drop my sister Haley off at Point Loma Nazarene University. I’ve never been on campus here before, so this was my chance to see what she’s been so excited about (and to see what everyone means when they say, “oh, what a beautiful campus”). Also, selfishly, it’s been my chance to compare freshman orientation at PLNU to my own Traditiation experience at Whitworth.

Baseball field at PLNU

Baseball field at PLNU

Full disclosure: I absolutely thrived during Traditiation. The RAs were told to act as if everything that happened was The Best Thing Ever, and it completely worked. Their enthusiasm was contagious, which is usually more than enough for me to get excited about whatever is going on.

Back to yesterday: Rolling onto campus at Point Loma, we pulled our car up to Klassen Hall where a group of student leaders and athletes were waiting to meet us. At Whitworth, freshman move-in is kind of a free-for-all. Everyone can start moving in at a certain time, so you get lines of freshmen waiting to move in and two or three student leaders per car. At PLNU, they stagger the freshmen in roughly half-hour incriments, so every student leader is available to help families move in one by one. They gave a yell when we rolled up, and then grabbed all – yes, ALL – of the stuff from our car and brought it into the room. What a relief! A process that took me at least half an hour at Whitworth took Haley about 10 minutes.

Keep in mind that I’m coming at this mostly as an observer. I’m not a new PLNU student, nor am I a parent. So they aren’t really focusing on me – which works out okay.

From what I’ve seen so far (and we’re about a day and a half into our two-day whirlwind tour), PLNU’s orientation is much less structured and more laid-back than Whitworth’s. Which, of course, has pros and cons. It’s nice for students to be able to ease into the school year and spend their days building relationships, but that’s hard to do when the parents are still in town. It seems like most students are clinging to their parents pretty well. Which, of course, is COMPLETELY natural and okay, but it doesn’t look like they have much programming that forces them to socialize tomorrow. No programming on Sunday, and classes start on Monday. Not much time to build relationships. It’s a great scenario for more outgoing students, because they have the opportunity to spend all day Sunday walking around dorms and meeting people. But for those who are a little more uncertain, it doesn’t look like there is any program that requires new students to work together. It seems like it would be very easy for students to fall through the cracks.

At Whitworth, Traditiation is HUGE. It’s big here, too, but I don’t know if any PLNU students would call it the highlight of their college career. I might be completely underestimating it, but it looks pretty low-key to me compared to the Traditiation regiment. At Whitworth, we’ve got a welcome presentation in the Fieldhouse. We’ve got Yell-Off. Mock Rock. Wooing. Final ceremonies. It’s a whirlwind, and as a freshman, you never quite know where you’re going to land. My point, though, is that everyone lands somewhere. Most people land in a place where they feel very much a part of the community, and they have begun to build relationships with people that will continue to be their best friends for four years. I’m not saying that those things don’t happen at PLNU, but from my observations, I think that the students have to be a little more intentional about building them during the first couple weeks of school.

All in all, PLNU is a great school. Current students love it, and recent grads are pretty sad to leave. Most of the freshmen and parents seem pretty excited about it too, which is awesome. Some fantastic things have been happening over the past couple of days (and I’ll blog more about them later), but I feel very fortunate to have had the start at Whtiworth that I did.

One more analogy, then I’ll head out: Freshman orientation at Point Loma is like the way I learned to swim. I was afraid of the water, so I just hung out in the shallow end until I was comfortable enough (and big enough) to go deeper. I don’t have any strokes down very well, but I do okay. I’ll survive in the water, and I can enjoy it. Traditiation at Whitworth is like being thrown off a boat. You are panicked for a moment and have no idea which way is up, but you’re forced to survive. You find a way. And sometimes, that’s the best way. I know it was for me.

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Schoooool’s out for the summer! (part 2)

So, this is the second part of my last post: giving a slice of the first summer term in the Master in Teaching program at Whitworth by using the guiding questions given to us on the last day of class: “When was a time during this summer term that you laughed so hard you were about to cry?” “What are some new friendships that you’ve formed?” “What is a choice you made that you have really appreciated?” “When was a time that you felt especially competent?”

Choices

This was honestly the hardest question for me to answer out of the four. Choices are, of course, a part of everyday life. We make so many choices every day, that it’s sometimes hard to pick out one or two. I forget what my answer was in class, so I’ll go with a new one.

Honestly, keeping up on this blog has been one of the best choices I’ve made. I’ve had the time to update it and do well, rather than just whipping out throwaway posts to be satisfied with throwing something up on the site. Because I’ve wanted to do well and satisfy myself as well as any potential readers, I’ve had to try and figure out what I want out of the blog, where I want it to go, what kinds of information I can share, etc. etc.

I have to say, I’m pretty happy with where the blog is at this point and what I’ve accomplished. I originally started this as a place for my family and friends to read about my adventures, and I think I’ve accomplished that. Plus, whenever someone asks, “how has MIT been so far?” I can say, “oh, pretty good” and then point them here for the full story.

Competency

Honestly, it might be easier for me to pick out a time when I didn’t feel competent. Overall, the summer term was a good introduction to the program and the teaching profession, but I didn’t feel challenged the way I thought I would upon entering a grad program. The challenge will come in the fall when we start working in the schools – I’m sure of that.

If I had to pick a specific instance where I felt especially competent, I guess I would pick our “teaching opportunity presentation.” We signed up for groups of five, and each group taught a lesson about one of the six reading comprehension habits from the Zwiers textbook. Our group taught a lesson on “Making Inferences and Predictions.” Lindsay and I taught the class how to use blank Dinosaur Comics to either demonstrate knowledge about a subject or make inferences about a work of literature, a certain character, an upcoming unit, etc. I mentioned our presentation in my last post, so you can go there for a little more information. But the reason I’m mentioning it here is because I felt competent. I felt like – gasp – a teacher. And I guess that’s part of the reason we have this summer term – to make us feel competent enough that we can be successful when we enter the public schools later this month.