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Thursday, February 06, 2014

The 10K and the Biggest Loser Challenge

The Dubai Marathon

I participated in the Dubai Marathon a few weeks ago. That's a sentence I never thought I would say!

Back in November, a colleague sent out an email asking if anyone would like to register as a team. A few of us signed up, and I thought to myself, "Why not?" It seemed like a great opportunity! There was an option of a 3K "fun run", a 10 K, or the full marathon. After a bit of persuading, I agreed to sign up for the 10K run in January.

Please note that I had never "gone for a run" in my life outside of gym class. 

Even though I had no previous experience with running, I still used to be in great shape. In high school, I used to be a very serious dancer, dancing up to 15 hours a week. In university, I found enjoyment working out with cardio machines, group classes, and weights, but "running" never interested me. Since moving to Dubai, I've found fitness and my lifestyle to be a bit of a struggle (more on this later), so I agreed to sign up for the run!

I downloaded the wonderful "Couch to 5K" app (check it out here if you are unfamiliar with it!) and began to "train" for the race. A few weeks later, I only had a few "runs" under my belt, and I began to be discouraged. The weeks leading up to Christmas Break were crazy and busy, and I neglected my training plan. I travelled within the UAE and to England for a few weeks, and still neglected the plan.

When we came back to school in January, I had been hoping the race would somewhat just disappear. It didn't. Through endless email chains, it became apparent that there was still space to sign up, and my teammates wanted me to register. I did, and I finally got back into running the week before the race.

I completed the 10K. I certainly didn't run the 10K, but that's okay. One of my friends stayed with me the entire time, and we alternated brisk walking with jogging (which is the premise of the Couch to 5K app - I just hadn't completed it in time, or doubled it for a 10K!).

I had fun. It was unexpected.

After the start line, we could finally RUN!

I found myself enjoying the race - I enjoyed the feeling of moving, I enjoyed the stunning scenery (see below), chatting with my friend, and seeing the thousands and thousands of participants.

We ran right by the Burj Al Arab!

My absolute favourite part of the race? Running into a tunnel. Everyone was cheering and the echoes bounced off the wall, encouraging me to keep running.

Heading into the tunnel
I finished the 10K with a rather slow time, but that's completely fine. I'm excited to break my PR next time (fancy runner talk for personal record!). I am planning on completing at least one or two more races in Dubai this year, and a few next fall.

At the finish line!

I think I'm becoming a runner. 
That's surprising, for someone who has avoided running all her life. 

The most supportive colleagues - that's only half of them!
 I plan on completing the Couch to 5K app and buying the Couch to 10K app to properly train for my next race. I am still on the alternating cycle of walking and jogging, but I'll soon be up to jogging a 5K!

With my medal :)

The Biggest Loser

I am really trying to balance a healthy lifestyle as a first-year teacher, but it's difficult! I'm working on staying active, eating healthier, getting lots of sleep, managing stress and my workload, etc.

I'm proud and excited to say that today marks the beginning of a 12-week "Biggest Loser" challenge at school, and I've signed up.  Over 20 staff members are committing to a healthier lifestyle, and the person who loses the highest percentage of weight at the end wins a lot of money! I had my first weigh-in this morning, and I am currently at my heaviest weight. Ever. I'm not surprised, but I am encouraged to kickstart a healthier lifestyle.

I'm not necessarily trying to "lose weight", but I am trying to feel better and more in shape. I'm committing to being more physically active, trying to get more sleep, cut down on electronic uses, taking my vitamins, continuing to cook healthy meals, and avoiding mindless snacking.

I'm excited for the next 12-weeks, and I will continue to update my progress in the weeks to come!

Any ideas or tips for running or feeling more in shape? Let me know!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Classroom Rules and Procedures

At the beginning of the year, I wasn't exactly sure what my classroom rules and procedures were going to be. I used an adapted course outline from my co-teacher, and left his rules on the outline. I briefly went over them, and never really touched on them again. These were the rules:

  • No food, gum, or drinks in the music room (bottled water is okay)
  • Enter quietly
  • Act professional

These are fine rules, but they are personal to me at all. Now that I am halfway done my first year of teaching (YAY!!!), I have a more clearly defined set of rules and procedures that I wish to implement in my classroom. I expect certain things from my students, and certain things irritate me.

Second semester starts tomorrow, and I am going to spend time in each class reviewing my new rules and procedures. I only have one new class, but each class could definitely use a refresher!

Here are the new rules and procedures I wish to highlight:

  • Bring a pencil and paper to every class
  • Keep handouts and assignments in an organized place in your binder
  • Personal devices are only allowed to be used during specified times (mp3 players, phones, etc.)
  • Do not touch anything in the room that does not belong to you (including but not limited to the piano, the sound board, any instruments, drums)
  • Instruments are not desks (the students are constantly trying to use a drum or the piano as a desk. NO.)
  • No food, drinks, or gum in the music room (other than bottled water)
  • Set and clean up the chairs quickly
  • Once the bell rings, you are late. If you are late, please come in quietly and do not disturb the class. 
I'm going to create a colour and laminated poster of these rules and procedures and hang it in the classroom. I'm trying to think of an abridged version of these rules to get the point across without being so wordy. Here is what I am thinking so far: 

  • Pencil and paper
  • Handouts and assignments
  • No food - only WATER
  • Personal devices only when requested

  • Set and clean up the chairs quickly
  • Not yours? Don't touch it.
  • Late? Come in quietly.
*(And yes, I refuse to put "behavior" on my poster, even thought I work at an American school. I may conform on report cards [and by conform I mean that I go back and remove the u, because I cannot type "behavior" intentionally], but I will not conform on a sign I will look at every day!)

I then want to put some type of fun sentence, like "Music is the ultimate goal" or "Follow the rules and make more music". I'm not sure about this one yet. I'll update the poster file once it's finished!

What do you include on your list of rules and procedures?