3.5 Months Done!

Sorry for the long time span between posts!  I spent that amount of time teaching American History, Economics, and American Government to 11th and 12th graders who have been expelled from their zone schools.  It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

The students came from various parts of Orlando and were expelled for a great variety of reasons.  I’m going to take some of the things they’ve taught me and some of the things I <i>think</i> I taught them and use them as inspiration for the next few months.  I look forward to returning to the school in August and making the big move from Tallahassee to Orlando.  If anyone has any suggestions on moving, I would greatly appreciate them!



You are looking at a one of the newest Social Studies/History teachers in Orange County Public Schools!  I start on Tuesday teaching juniors and seniors economics, American government, and American history!  That means that I’ll be able to blog about some of my most successful lesson plans and activities and some that just plain did not go well.  I’m excited about this journey!


I apologize for my period of absence but my cumulative exam is now over.  I am just waiting upon the results!  Hopefully I’ll know within the week.  I’ll have to change the premise for my blog now from graduate student to “person seeking employment in high school or community college” lol.

Until then, I proudly post this picture of my accomplishment in reading for my exam.

Cumulative Exam books


So today was my last class in graduate school!  I still have to turn in a final paper next week and take my comprehensive assessments in February, but that leaves a few things (ok maybe more than just a few things) that are going to change in a few months.  One of those things is this focus of this blog.  Much of what I have been writing with has been my struggles with studying, managing time, and just grad school in general.  I will be finding a new identity through this space so please bear with me and thanks for coming on this journey with me!  I appreciate you and your comments and support.

I’m considering looking more at teaching strategies, teachable moments, and effect lesson planning since my goal in life has been to be a history teacher.  Let’s hope I can find a job soon!

This is how I’m going to study…

This is totally how I’m going to study for my comps… though I may exchange gummy bears for chocolate covered espresso beans.


Taken from: http://www.mandatory.com/2012/10/30/the-funniest-photos-you-will-see-today-10-30-12#photo=7

Check out their website for hilarious photos that will distract you for hours.  Warning- some are very NSFW (not safe for work).

I won’t touch this election with a 10 foot pole

So I’m not even close to being a political historian. I am a social historian at best, a cultural historian secondary with a few other opinions thrown in, but by no means do I exactly study politics. My interest in this current election goes just as far as the average voter, though I did look up the local candidates prior to voting via absentee ballot. However, my friends, who are mostly biologists or physics people (they just followed me home, I swear!), do not understand why I cannot answer specific questions about each and every piece of the election process, prior candidates and prior elections. Its frustrating and enlightening. Please allow me to demonstrate via SomeEcards.

With the advent of social media, such as blogs like this, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and a zillion other things I will never get a grasp of, more people are able to reach a broader audience for both relevant and completely irrelevant opinions and “facts” on the candidates. I’ve been watching the arguments on Facebook and the varying opinions that just amaze me. I have successfully kept out of the arguments even though many attempts have been made to pull me in. To what extent are these rants and raves and sometimes blatantly wrong “facts” swaying potential voters? I have no idea. My hope is that people are intelligent enough to do their own research. However, everyone is entitled to their opinion and now with the social media outlets:

On the other hand, enabling people to post to Facebook and Twitter and all these electronic outlets and interact with others could potentially be dragging in those who would not ever be involved in a political conversation or willing to vote. This engagement would hopefully be making them think more in depth about who they’re going to vote for or why they would vote for them. And then they share their thought process on Facebook/Twitter… repeatedly…

Now these presidential debates… I watch them to keep up with the news, but quite honestly, I’d rather do without them. At this point, they feed my theory that elections are becoming the new sitcom. What a better way to get the average person involved right?! Make it entertaining for them to watch, throw in a few jokes, polarize the candidates so much and make sure you have someone of each demographic (Mormon, anti-abortion, anti-women’s reproductive rights, African American, Rockstar mentality, wealthy, etc) so you don’t leave out anyone that you can piss off. As a result of some of this action, I have heard people say that they don’t really care who wins as long as its not (insert name here). So in effect, they’re voting against someone rather than for a candidate that they really feel strongly about.

Mudslinging and angry retorts have gone back and forth against each other in every election since the beginning of elections. (For a fun read about past candidate shenanigans, I recommend reading J. Cummins Anything for a Vote.) Yet you hear constantly about how this is the dirtiest election in the history of the United States (no it’s not) and about how the candidates are the most polarizing in our history (no they’re not) and how health care and immigration is going to pull this nation apart (see New Deal and early twentieth century immigration policies- so no they’re not). I love the discussions about how great this depression is and how its comparable to The Great Depression, which it may be. As a historian I can tell you that to say that definitively right at this moment is next to impossible. That is something that can only be discerned through study post-depression. Yes, right now its rough, but is it as bad as it was in the 1930s? Certainly our true unemployment rate is not 1/3 of the country. Let’s talk about this again in a few years. However, look back through history. Depressions are common place. Every 100 years or so, the nation goes through a major economic depression. Every ten to twenty years we have a minor depression. Its the natural ebb and flow of market economy. I don’t mean to downplay this by any means so please do not take my words to heart, but look at it from a broader concept that a narrow view of the immediate moment. I can say this to you for certain, based on our history it will get better but there will also be another depression in our future. Watch your personal spending and create a savings account if you can.

Another thing I find interesting is exactly how much power that people perceive the president has exactly. Don’t get me wrong, he certainly has a significant amount of power, but the power truly lies with the Senate and House of Representatives. “The amount of presidential influence on the legislative process is often exaggerated by extravagantly choreographed bill-signing ceremonies. Although the Congress is generally responsible for almost all of the hard work on the bills it passes, it is the President that is generally in the spotlight, claiming credit for the legislation he signs.” (ThisNation.com) It is equally important who you vote into the Senate and the House of Representatives as it is who you vote into Presidency. People may argue with me on this point, but you cannot deny the constitutional power they have over the law of the land. So what the candidates are promising and the fabulous things they are saying to us through these debates, political ads, and other media outlets may or may not happen and it may or may not be their fault.

The moral of my story is that yes, my friends, I do have many opinions on the election as a historian and no they are not “you should vote Obama” or “you should vote Romney” because there are so many other factors that go into running this nation. My recommendation to you for this election and all future elections is to look at the broader picture of the history of our nation and foreign relations at the moment. Make sure you have a general understanding of what is going on in the world and how we could impact that. The New York Times, Time magazine, and The Economist are an excellent place to start. If you can’t do that, then research the backgrounds of people who you are voting into office, not just for the presidency but for every single office. From Top Dog to Soil and Conservation Representative. There’s a reason why you’re voting for them and it truly is a privilege to vote.  There are many other things about this election in particular, such as the voter fraud issue (is it myth or truth?), and elections in general but I think those could be their own blog.  So maybe one day I will sit down and write those blogs.  Until then…

How ever you decide to vote, please vote responsibly.

For more information on elections:

League of Women Voters

President Obama’s Election website

Governor Romney’s website

You can also Google local elections. Go to www.google.com and search “(local county name here), (state) elections 2012” and information should come up. If you have any questions or would like more help finding information on local officials, please let me know and I’d be more than happy to help you.

And no I will not tell you how I voted.


Things I’ve Learned in Grad School: Stress Migraines

Graduate school has a profound impact on a person, not the least of which involves an added level of stress.  Intense weight gain or loss, irritability, isolation from friends, depression, sleep deprivation- these are all effects that I expected as I signed up for my first course.  However, there was one sneaky little stress ninja that had snuck under my radar – migraines.  As a full time employee at a strictly grant funded department at the University and a part time history graduate student, to say I was stressed was an understatement at first.  Time management skills became crucial elements to the maintenance of my sanity.

Just as I thought I had it under control, my body disagreed and decided to go on the offensive.  Searing pain ripped through my head, down my neck, and into my shoulders one morning as my alarm went off.  The noise alone made me want to burst my eardrums because surely the pain from that could not have been as bad as the one that was pounding its way through some kind of offbeat anthem in my brain.  My eyes were swollen to the point where I felt like I could barely open them.  I knew what was going on, I had experienced minor migraines in high school that had similar effects though nowhere near this degree.  Those were more to the degree of tension headaches.  Time, strong coffee, and a hot bath helped me through the day but once I could stand bright lights and sound, I opened my laptop and dug around on the internet for more information like the good little researcher I am.

I went through all the different elements that could be triggering it: household pollutants (dust, mold, new items brought in), weather changes, diet changes.  None of those seemed to have an effect on either the intensity or frequency that these monster migraines were coming at me at this point.  As the semester wore on, they were coming every week.  Having portions of my brain removed was starting to sound like a fantastic idea, just to relieve some pressure I’d tell myself.

Finally, I broke down and made a doctor appointment who prescribed me a medication and gave me a referral to a neurologist.  The magical little pills worked wonders and put me in a very happy, but full functional, place for about four hours, just enough time to be on the other side of the migraine.  Yet I was interested, if not apprehensive to hear what the neurologist had to say.  My great grandmother had passed a few years back because of brain cancer, so with that in the back of my mind I sat in his office explaining my family history as well as my current situation.  He asked me what I was responsible for at work and then what type of classes I had been taking and what my grades were as well as the papers I had written and outside activities I was involved in.  When I had finished, he told me that I was understandably having migraines and he was surprised they hadn’t started sooner.  The culprit was stress.  The age old adage “this too shall pass” was tossed around as we discussed my looming graduation date, but he did not give me much hope for the future.  However, those time management skills will last me a lifetime, especially now that they are paired with my newfound discernment in “outside” activities.  Walking out of his office, my mind drifted back to my great grandmother, the same who had battled brain cancer, bent over the tomato plants in her backyard teaching me how to tell the good from the bad.  She taught me then to “do what you’re able” as she put it “not much more but certainly no less.”

Now, I have the migraines under control and have found exercise to be a fantastic stress reducer for any of you who may be in my same position.  Below are some helpful links regarding migraines, their types, and how to deal with them. If you have any questions or just want to share your story, please post below!

HHS Women’s Health.gov: Migraine Fact Sheet for Women: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/migraine.cfm#e

Migraine.com: Stress Migraines http://migraine.com/migraine-types/stress-migraine/

HeadWise Magazine: 7 Ways to Manage Stress and Reduce Migraine Pain: http://www.headachemag.org/Articles/FitnessAndNutrition/7-Ways-to-Manage-Stress-and-Reduce-Migraine-Pain

WebMD: Preventing Migraines and Headaches by Managing Stress: http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/migraines-headaches-managing-stress