Monday, January 25, 2016

Snow my goodness!

What a fantastically snowy weekend!!!

Apparently 26.8 inches fell in New York City on Saturday, nearly surpassing the 2006 record of 26.9. You know it's intense when even Manhattan Starbucks and bars and closed! It was especially fun after 2PM, as only plows and police cars were allowed to drive - people were literally skiing down 5th Avenue, and dozens of dogs were running ecstatically through the streets to celebrate their unprecedented freedom.
The emptiest and snowiest I've ever seen 2nd Avenue - it usually has four lanes of traffic, and you can see about thirty blocks downtown.
Winter wonderland!!!!
Shout out to Bogs, the best boots in the universe! Seriously, these things could last through a nuclear apocalypse.
This picture has nothing to do with the snow. I just wanted to show off her impossibly long whiskers and her cute lil missing tooth.
Happy snow day!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Puerto Rico


One of the best parts of living in London was the ability to take last minute (and cheap) little vacations. I haven't done much traveling since then. Luckily, a few weeks ago, Andrey's boss suggested he take a vacation before beginning his company's new project in Saudi Arabia. Our options were limited because my passport was at home in New York, which led us to take a lovely last-minute trip to Puerto Rico!

We both took the opportunity to unplug from our phones for the week, so we didn't take many pictures, but here are a few we did manage to snap:
The lovely view from our room. Our hotel was actually quite empty - we were often the only people in the pool. Even the shaded front-row beach chairs were only half-occupied! It was an unexpected advantage of staying from Sunday to Thursday, and I definitely want to travel on those days from now on!
We took a local bus to spend two of the days in Old San Juan. It was absolutely gorgeous! This is the view from Castillo de San Cristóbal, one of the two main forts in the historical district.
We also walked around the city's walls...
...which are covered in stray cats!
In addition to Old San Juan, we really enjoyed the gorgeous sunsets, the pool's swim-up bar, and spending hours in the shockingly warm, clear blue ocean full of fantastic waves (Andrey still has the boogie boarding scrapes to prove it!).
Hope we'll get to go back soon!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Blogging in 2016?

Well hey there, it's been a while.

Here's what I've been up to:

  • In summer 2015, after I last posted, I was working at a summer camp for preteens on the Upper East Side. It ended up being a busy 11-12 hours chasing around my group of girls every day (hence the blogging drop off), but it was really fun and I made some lovely fellow counselor friends I'm still in touch with.
  • During the fall semester, I finished up my last classes at NYU, student taught 10th grade history in Brooklyn, and continued working in my kindergarten classroom on the Lower East Side. 
  • I finished all my classes in December (yep, I'm a college grad! Gross!) and I'm postponing work until I get a long-awaited foot surgery. To be honest, I'm not even remotely nervous about it - I'm really excited! I got an MRI this morning, so after the results are processed, I need to follow up with the surgeon I already saw and get a second opinion before scheduling a surgery date. Also, shout out to the UK's National Health Service - I wish I could have surgery in London again, as the whole surgery/healthcare process was downright pleasant and easy two years ago.
  • I'm also finishing up the last of the six major requirements for my teaching license; if you're curious, here's what is required of a middle/high school general education teacher in NYC:
    • 1. Basic Department of Education stuff like a background check, fingerprints, medical clearance, etc. Status: done!
    • 2. Pass the Academic Literacy Skills Test. This test is designed to prove I'm literate enough to teach; it was essentially an extension of the SAT reading comprehension section. Status: done!
    • 3. Pass the Educating All Students Test. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, children are entitled to learn in what is called their Least Restrictive Environment (more on that here, if you're curious), which means students with special needs are included in general education classes whenever possible, and the general and special education teachers at the school work together to support their success. This is an excellent system that has shown to benefit all students, ranging from those with no special needs to those severely disabled (more on that here). I also think it helps teachers to be better educators, as it requires us to be more accepting overall and updated in research on teaching methods. The test itself was boring and ill-made, but I legitimately enjoyed studying for it (and props to NYU for having fantastic special ed faculty that had already taught me most of the content I needed to pass it). Status: done!
    • 4. Pass the Social Studies Content Specialty Test. This was the dumbest assessment I've ever taken, including every daily quiz from a particularly vindictive Latin teacher I had in high school. Obviously every teacher should master their content, but, as every book about teaching written in the last 15 years will say, middle and high school history classes are meant to build critical thinking skills, civic engagement, and an understanding of broad historical themes. This test had questions such as, "which of these four latitude/longitude coordinates is most likely to be in Canada?" But hey, whatever, I passed. Status: done. (This one does not deserve an exclamation point.)
    • 5. Get a degree from a state-certified teacher preparation program. Status: done! When my degree is officially conferred on January 25th, I will have a Bachelor's of Science in Secondary (middle and high school) Social Studies Education, and with a killer GPA, to boot!
    • 6. Write the edTPA, which is basically a 50+ page essay reflecting on videos I provide of myself teaching a submitted unit plan. The requirements are straightforward and simple, and it's definitely a more effective assessment for teacher qualification than the exams are. But wow, it is so very boring and  l  o  n  g .  Status: in progress.
One more thing - I also went home in August to say goodbye to our beloved, impossibly sweet darling Whisper. She had a wonderful, long life full of love and snacks. I'm so glad we had the chance to give her a perfect last day and that she had a peaceful passing, unlike so many other lost furry family members. I put together a quick little video later that day to memorialize her, and it's here if you'd like to watch it (if you get these posts in an email, you will probably need to visit the blog page to see it - TaschaTakesManhattan.blogspot.com).
So there's a life update! Now that I am not at NYU/student teaching/work for 12-16 hours every day and writing essays/planning lessons on the weekends, I'm determined to actually stick to the habit of blogging!

Talk to you soon,
Tasch