Mountains & Marmots

If you’ve been reading my blog throughout my adventures of the past year, you  might remember this post, in which I miss being able to walk in the woods. In which I confess that I am sometimes a Nature Girl. In which I lament the lack of forests and trees and other green things, wetted by that misty temperate rainforest rainfall unique to the PNW.

My reunion with my homeland has been sweet. I’ve been getting into the woods whenever possible, my current love of dirt unparalleled by any of Past Anne’s love of dirt (absence makes the heart grow fonder). So, when a good friend asked if I’d accompany her and her friend on a 4-day backpacking adventure, I said YES!

I’m kind of a poser of a nature lover, because before this trip I had never been backpacking. We went camping and hiking a lot when I was a kid, but never without civilization or a car pretty close by.

The hike in was fueled by that beginner’s energy — the excitement of doing a New Thing. We went 2-ish miles the first night, having started around 3 PM…and just as we’d gotten camp set up, it rained. As I was a wilderness noob, I had already changed into my sleeping clothes, and they got soaked. Oops…

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The next morning, we went on a day hike (and hung everything out to dry…). It connected with the PCT, and I thought of both Wild (my favorite book of last summer) and some friends that are currently hiking 3,000 miles of it, from CA to WA (west coast best coast).

IMG_5492Then, we continued on to our destination for two nights– Goat Lake. We could see it, very far off in the distance, the whole time we were hiking. Just as we thought we’d mistaken our destination, we rounded a corner and saw….

Goats!

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And a lake!

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Goat Lake was aptly named, it seems. We also made some marmot friends.

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We then found a cool campsite, though the view was obscured by clouds. On the first night, it looked like this:

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In the morning, I woke up, stretched, and saw the sun shining through…it had been nothing but windstorms all night, but I guess they’d blown the clouds away. This was the same view, the next morning!

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Heyyy Mt. Adams, nice to see you. We day-hiked from this idyllic spot and were rewarded with a panorama including Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood (peeking out from behind), Mt. St. Helens (slightly flatter, since it erupted many moons ago), and Mt. Rainier. Here’s me and our first glimpse of the mountain:

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It was magnifique!

We went for a glacial swim that afternoon, which shocked and refreshed in equal parts. But, I could only stay in for about 5 minutes before my toes started going purple…

We were later joined by my friend’s friends and their 4 month old puppy Anton, who was so tired after his first 6 mile hike that he lay down and promptly fell asleep. He provided entertainment for us when he woke up, and decided to investigate everything with the enthusiasm that only a puppy possesses. I took him on a walk later, which did nothing to calm him down. He was a hit with the other campsites. Here he is, hunting marmots:

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We hiked out the last day, almost 6 miles, with a few stops. There were no bear sightings, but the sun managed to burn my neck to a crisp, so I was eager to get to the cars and head home!

One thing I wasn’t (that) eager to get back to: my phone. Disconnection felt good. The world became more physical and immediate and my head became uncluttered by anxieties about other people. The only things I thought about were getting from one place to the next, making dinner, washing dishes, how to efficiently pack my things. Of course my mind wandered, but it was not distracted by buzzes, beeps, or notifications.

This is the main perk for me of being so far out into the wilderness– getting in touch with my animal instincts, and being able to wander. I am by no means anti-technology, and I think it’s fun to be in touch with people.

But I am definitely also incredibly pro-walks in the woods, to find a little peace away from the busy world.

 

Mountains & Marmots

Teaching Lessons : Confidence

Part of the reason I came to France (fortunately, a large part, because it’s a large part of the life here) was to learn something about teaching.

Teaching is in my blood: my mother is a teacher, and therefore I’ve been surrounded by teachers all my life. But, being young and a student myself, I’ve had few chances to have a classroom to myself. As an assistant, I’ve moved up in the ranks just slightly. I’ve gotten to observe a variety of teaching styles, been in diverse classroom environments, and have received many different advice nuggets from a new crop of experienced teachers.

A good synthesis of all of these observations clicked for me recently, and I’ve stumbled upon my first one-liner lesson in teaching:

Being an effective teacher requires personal and professional confidence.

Standing in front of a classroom is intimidating. High schoolers can be a tough crowd, especially when I know that I’m not much older than they are. I’m always slightly afraid that they won’t like my lesson, won’t learn anything, that when they’re giggling it’s because there’s something between my teeth or I’ve swiped chalk across my face. I also have a tendency to drop pens and bump into things as I walk around the classroom, neither of which improve my street cred amongst the pupils.

I’ve realized that the students and I seem to enjoy my lessons most when I am confident in what I’m doing. My current favorite lesson to teach is a simple Shakespeare monologue, for pronunciation practice. I make them repeat each line after I read it, then I go over the problem areas, contorting my face and making funny noises to emphasize the TH and H sounds that French doesn’t have. In short, I totally embarrass myself. And somehow, when I do it on purpose, it makes me feel more connected to the class and what I’m teaching. I like this lesson best because I’ve done it, I know it works, and what’s more, it’s something I’m excited about. In short, I’m really confident in it, and we all enjoy it more.

Confidence, both personal and professional, comes partially from experience. I can already tell the difference between Teacher Anne of September and Teacher Anne of January. I also have more of my own classes now, which gives me a lot of responsibility and freedom that I probably couldn’t have handled a few months ago. I still always feel slightly out of my element because I know that I haven’t really been trained for this job — which affects my confidence. But now whenever I start thinking that way, I check myself. It’s more helpful to fake it. After all, the students know nothing about me. For all they know, I’ve been teaching for years and years.

I say “personal” and “professional” because of the two layers I implied above — personal confidence is the ability to shake off the feeling that these excessively image-conscious (because it’s high school) pupils are commenting on my appearance or any general human awkwardness I exhibit. Professional confidence is the confidence in lesson plans, or the effectiveness of classroom management techniques. In order to be in command of a classroom, you need both. It’s part of the reason why teaching is so challenging. Spending all day embroiled in the complexities of interpersonal communication, with a large amount of responsibility for the success or failure thereof, is emotionally draining. But I also find it incredibly rewarding when it works.

Teaching Lessons : Confidence