Back to Shaktoolik for a few days, now I’m leaving again

Training went really well, I understand how the model works and how to integrate it into my classroom much better now. More than anything else, the idea is that you plan your lessons to meet the standards instead of shoehorning the standards in after you’ve planned the lesson. It improves your ability to make sure that what’s being taught is actually important and gives a clearer purpose for your teaching. This isn’t revolutionary, it’s simply implementing ideas that have been there for a while. A lot of the BSSD gear (shirts, mugs, whatever) has the motto: “Making Best Practices Common Practice.” They take it quite seriously too; nothing that we implement district wide is done without a research base; they’re not doing things off the cuff, but as history has shown, the district is willing to make drastic changes if they’re needed.

Now that I’ve driven off everyone that isn’t a teacher (oh, and my mom, because she’ll read whatever I type up) let’s get to the more exciting parts of my adventure, eh?

There’s a lot of stuff I’ve seen here that has really surprised me, but few things have really flown me for a loop so far. I mean, sure headless, dead walruses show up on the beach, you run into trash displaying a multitude of Asian languages, there’s the occasional seal skeleton… and you know all the fishing spots by the large number of gutted fish laying on the river bottoms nearby. Oh, and kids drive ATVs while sitting on their mother’s lap… many of them get their first guns around age 3 and I’ve run into a couple 16 year old boys who captain their own boats and hire on crew. (They’re paid $0.80/lb for the salmon they catch in their nets.)

However, I frequently do catch myself saying, “Only in the bush…” quite often, about little things really. I guess you just have to take a lot of the bigger changes whole, not trying to digest them and compare them. For example, today the school secretary, Agnes, brought in a list of phone students’ names along with their parents names, home phone numbers and VHF frequencies. Only in the bush.

We’ve been having a couple power outages in the past few days. That’s been a blast; no one seems to know how to turn on the school’s generator, not even the school district’s electrician. Since you really can’t find this out anywhere, most bush villages are powered by large diesel generators. Unalakleet has one (though I haven’t found it yet) and Shaktoolik does too. It’s, uhm… quite interesting to look at:

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Work has been going pretty well, I think I won’t have too much difficulty getting along with the staff. The tech work has been keeping me pretty busy, but I’m just about done and I’ve been able to get some planning in. I need to do a lot more before school starts though. Tomorrow I’m heading back to Unalakleet, I’ve got a technology training session to go to (something to do with video…) and then I’ll have training in our reading program on Thursday and Friday. Friday night will see me back in Shaktoolik (we’re scheduled to fly on the district’s plane, which I’m really excited about) for a long Saturday meeting and I’ll spend Sunday and Monday getting ready for Tuesday, the first day of school.

I’ll leave you with some pictures though, and I might even caption some of them.

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The Shaktoolik school; my apartment is on the second floor, on the north side (you’re looking at the south and east sides of the building).

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A dead walrus that floated up and landed on the beach near Unalakleet. The heads are taken for the ivory.

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I took sunrise walks every morning of training with a friend I met, it was early but it sure was beautiful.

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I guess you have to be a photographer to appreciate this photo.

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