4 Days of No Social Media—and What I Learned

Every year I donate and participate in 65 Hours of Silence for Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis affects 75,000 people worldwide and many people are symptomless carriers of the gene. In my family, we have lost someone to this disease and I will one day be tested to see if I am a carrier. For me, this falls around midterms and generally when my life needs a few days of solitude, so I take this as a total detox from Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I took it a little longer this year.

Here is how the timeline progressed this year:

Night 1: Okay. Goodbye social media. This is kind of freeing. I like this. No notifications popping up, no worries about who is Snapchatting me, no mindless timewasters.
About two hours later: Oh my gosh. What do I do before bed? What am I doing with my life?

I text my roommate as I have this existential crisis….and she is on Facebook.

Morning of Day 2: Wake up….wait. I always check Facebook before I get out of bed and start my day. What do I do now? I rolled over and went back to sleep rather than contemplate this conundrum.
Mid-morning: Teaching is finished and Facebook time! SHOOT! No, no Facebook—exit the Facebook. Bad habit. Life still feels off-balance.
Nighttime: Well without social media today I went to the library, worked my two jobs, and went grocery shopping. I guess it was a successful day? Now I guess I’ll do yoga before sleep.

**Today I texted seventeen people I consider friends.  I felt more pressure or had more time to connect with them, check in on them, and make weekend/future plans.

Day 3
Morning: Friend texts me about a gathering happening for Halloween. She is putting it on Facebook. Without Facebook I will have no knowledge of this occurrence. UGH. How do I handle this? What. Is. Life. My classmates were even on Facebook during class….
Roommate also just published an article of hers and I REALLY want to share it since I love her and am SO proud of her. NO. Must. Wait. Until. Friday. Glad I am doing this for Awareness for Cystic Fibrosis, but oh my gosh I miss Facebook.

**Between a campus event during the night and a group meeting, I was busy. I still missed Facebook and Snapchat, but less—especially because I had on a cute fall outfit.

Day 4
Morning: Don’t miss it. Woke up, practiced yoga, looked up recipes to cook and now reviewing material before breakfast and class. However, 9 hours of class today will surely change my mind…
Night: Class was easy to focus without the distraction. No mindlessness. I’ve stopped feeling the need to check at all or really to care about it.

DAY WHERE I CAN ACCESS SOCIAL MEDIA: My phone crashed after I downloaded the apps and they pinged for a looooooooooong time. It just shows a white screen and can’t seem to reset itself. So. I guess I’ll be going to the Apple Store to get them to fix it…

What did I learn? Cystic Fibrosis needs support as an “orphan” disease as it does not get the research funding of other diseases. Hopefully, I can continue to participate in this every year for awareness.

I also learned I am on Facebook a lot out of habit, like most of my generation. Facebook is such a mindless time-waster that we click on, seeing for a few minutes, clear our mind and almost relax. However, really social media isn’t always the healthiest addiction. It certainly is not a mindful approach to living. In my life, I need to make Facebook less of a habit unless I have a notification. I love my friends and I can text them whenever I need to, however, I don’t need to always be on Facebook to know what is going on in their lives. On the whole, I need to be more mindful about where I am and being fully there without needing the distraction of social media.


SAT Prep and Sylvan

So another job (after teaching ESL and yes, I still have two other jobs that I’ll blog about next week) is teaching SAT Prep. I started teaching SAT Prep in July with Sylvan in North Carolina and they liked me so much, they recommended me to another branch in Virginia.

SAT Prep through Sylvan has been an interesting experience for me, after teaching the first year where students are tested for end-of-year tests, and also after a lifetime of standardized tests. With teaching I heavily used the RRReal Strategy (read the title, read the questions, read the story, eliminate the wrong answer (slash the trash), and look for evidence. I did 180 days every morning, taught a specific skill each week with PowerPoints that matched the textbook/guided reading/centers, Readworks a few times a week on that specific skill, and a skill comprehension test every week where I would take points off if RRReal wasn’t used. Strategies and test-taking were taught so heavily in my classroom that my students could do them in their sleep.  Oh yeah, and I had outstanding reading test scores for a first-year teacher. Still proud of the massive amount of coordinated work that went into the scores.

In 2015 I took six standardized tests, five for teaching licenses for NC/VA, and one for the GRE. I spent the entire summer studying for the GRE with flashcards, Barrons books, and Princeton’s guide. I even read Anna Karenina to have a larger vocabulary.

So standardized testing and strategies are like breathing to me. In the summer, I taught the SAT Prep for both Reading and Math, which brought back a lot of old high school skills. Now I’m teaching just reading.

Here are 3 strategies I’ve learned from my time with Sylvan:

1: Bait-and-switch, extreme, not-mentioned but sounds good, and generalisms. I wish I had known these strategies when I taught for identifying answer choices as it is incredibly helpful to think about why answer choices could be wrong and how to identify them.

2: Summarizing: think of your own summary first and then answer the question

3: Fill-in-the-blank: fill in the blank with your own word first, then look at the answer choices.

I’m interested in how much has changed since I took the SAT with the essay being optional and most schools don’t want it. Getting questions wrong doesn’t count against you, and it is back to being only out of 1,600 now. Even the vocabulary part has changed with the words being more in-context, not just random words and analogies. I think the new format was a much-needed upgrade.

Overall, it is another great experience in my life and I’m grateful for the opportunity.


Teaching English to Students in China through the Internet (yes it is a real job)

My life is currently grad school and two jobs (or as my mother likes to call them—four jobs since they are each so different). VIP Kids and teaching English to students in China is definitely one of my favorites right now for the flexibility and the schedule, so I thought it would be my first blog post. At the end, I’ll write a sentence about the other jobs since they are cool too and will be future blog posts—so keep reading!

When I first heard about VIP Kids, I thought it was a pipe dream or a scheme. You get to wake up, put on leggings and an orange shirt, and teach through the Internet? What? Luckily I have an awesome best friend who had been doing it for a long time and it works for her so I figured I would try.

The classroom looks like this:


To the right, you’ll see the top and bottom squares. The top square is where I can see them through their webcam. In the bottom square, I have my webcam on and they can also see me.
To the left, you’ll see the PowerPoint. VIP Kids designs each and every PowerPoint and they are highly interactive. They even have directions for me as a teacher on the bottom.

Every week I set my own schedule. I have to do 7 ½ hours weekly around peak times in China, which are 6-10 A.M. Monday-Sunday and 9-10 P.M. Fridays and Saturdays. They are twelve hours ahead, so when I teach the children it is night time for them. As it is teaching English as a second language, I have to do a lot of Total Physical Response where I coordinate language to physical movement.

Overall, it is very enjoyable and the kids are usually really well-behaved with the parents sitting right next to them. The company offers great pay, a lot of bonuses for just teaching classes, and is really easy to work for. If you want to teach for VIP Kids, please Facebook me and I’ll definitely help you through the interviewing process or answer your questions.

Here is my referral link if you want to apply:

In my downtime when I’m NOT teaching or studying/writing papers….you’ll find me cooking new recipes, hanging out with friends, practicing yoga, kayaking, running, at a barre class, at church, reading Harry Potter, and occasionally watching TV.

Also—my other jobs are teaching SAT Prep, Coding and Programming, and Robotics through the local tutoring center plus some tutoring of elementary reading and mathematics. I stay pretty busy but these are some pretty cool experiences.