each life that touches ours, just to say thank you, teaching

You should become a teacher.

You should become a teacher because one day three of your kids will have accidents, but only one will tell you about theirs, and there will be a puddle of pee literally soaking into your rug AND your carpet, but one of those kids will come up to you at the end of the day and say, “I wish we didn’t have to go home.  I wish we could just stay here with you.”

You should become a teacher because you will see and hear your speech reflected in five-year-olds.  You will hear your offhand remarks (“silly Ms. Pendergast”) become catchphrases.  You will hear them read words the way you do, with your inflection and intonation and cadence, and it will humble you and scare you.  They see everything.  They hear everything.

You should become a teacher because, in an era when everyone says kids are getting more and more self-centered, you will hear “you can borrow mine!” insistently urged anytime any child can’t find any color of crayon they want.

You should become a teacher because when you grab your purse to run out during lunch, one of your students will say, “are you going somewhere?” and you’ll say yes, and they’ll say, “But you’re coming back, right?”

You should become a teacher because parents will tell you that their child used to cry coming into school but now gets sad when they say it’s Friday and there’s no school tomorrow.

You should become a teacher because your students will call kalua pig “koala pig” and you “Miss Kindergast.”

You should become a teacher because the pay is lower than you’d like and teacher bladders are a thing and so are observations and evaluations and mandated professional development and self-motivated professional development with 85-page portfolios that you complete at night after you’ve taught all day and prepped for the next.

You should become a teacher because people will tell you that you don’t have a real job (true story, happened to me last month), and you’ll laugh because your job is as real as it gets.

You should become a teacher because people will say things like, “With a brain like yours?  You could do so much more!” and you’ll smile because they mean well.

You should become a teacher because one day your kids will sing “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman and you’ll just want to cry because they really are the future, and they really will build the world.

You should become a teacher because you’ll quiz your kids on their letter flashcards anytime they walk through the door, and when you say we’re skipping flashcards today, they’ll frown and say, “Awwwww.”

You should become a teacher because people will refer to your job as babysitting and you’ll smile and think, “Well, actually I teach children to READ, and COUNT, and WRITE, and LEARN HOW TO EXIST IN SOCIETY…”

You should become a teacher because one child will say “When you’re really mad and want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four!” and you’ll remember that when you forget your wallet and are late for an appointment (again) and indeed feel like roaring.  (And when you tell her you remembered what she said, she’ll say, “Um, actually, Ms. Pendergast–that’s from Daniel the Tiger.” #citeyoursources)

You should become a teacher because when you’re out for three days, three different parents will contact you wishing you well and saying their child misses you.

So yes, you should become a teacher.  With a brain like yours.  With the paycheck the way it is.  You should become a teacher.

realizations, teaching, time management

So you say you’re a practicum student…

How I Survived the Practicum Semester

(Hint: I often thought I wouldn’t)

Just doing homework at a resort, nbd. Because y’all, #priorities


Teaching is tiring, student teaching is tiring, and practicum is tiring—but practicum is tiring in an especially vindictive way.  During practicum, you’re doing coursework AND you’re in the schools.  Anyone who has spent time with children EVER will tell you that being around them and caring for them and teaching them and tying them—eh, their shoes—is exhausting.  And when you go from being around adults who know how to manage their bodily functions and emotions all day (mostly) to being around children who are very dependent on you for a large part of the day, it feels like getting hit by a Mack truck.  And after you’ve been hit by that Mack truck and leave at 3 pm, you have to go to the library at 6 o’clock at night to complete assignments for the next day.  Somewhere in there, you are also probably working because hi, practicum and student teaching are unpaid.  Practicum is also the worst because you’re only there part of the time (at least in my program—I went all day Monday and half-day Wednesday) so having a management structure is tricky, and sometimes the kids view you more as a fun adult who does cool lessons than someone who is actually there to teach them, just like the teacher.

ALL THAT BEING SAID: I survived.  In fact, after one lesson post-conference with my professor during that semester, I even cried as I said, “I just love my students so much.”  He smiled and said he could tell.  So this is what I did to make it more manageable:



I got really good—and I mean, really, really good—at taking care of homework like clockwork.  Monotonous or routine assignments?  Easy.  Find a set time of the day and/or week to do them.  Knock out a bunch at once.  You can start with something small to get your productivity juices flowing, or you can start by taking a bite out of the elephant and working at the impossible seeming task first.  Either way, make a list of all of your assignments for the week.  Plot when you are going to do them each day, and work ahead.  I had Tues/Thurs/Wed/Fri classes during practicum, with the heaviest workload for my Tues/Thur classes.  I would stay at least a week ahead at a time with the reading.  It meant I was in the library from about 6:00-11:00 pm every night, because hi, I had to work and pay rent too.  But make a list, get ahead, and stay ahead.  Especially with the monotonous/repeating assignments.  Turning those assignments into things you do automatically will free up your brain space for things that take more energy and creativity, like lesson planning and implementation.



I mean it.  Practicum is busy and exhausting.  There is always a lot to do.  But please please please, go to sleep.  You will be stressed every day, but you will be able to handle your sleep if you are well-rested.  Sleep hygiene is the #1 factor in my mental and emotional health.  For some people it might be exercising (I can survive without exercise but I CANNOT survive without sleep) or yoga, but just find what makes the biggest difference in your mental and physical health and safeguard that.  During practicum I was careful to go to bed around midnight each night and get up at 7 on days I had college classes, and about 6 on days I was at the elementary school.  And yes, there were nights where I was so anxious that I would lay in bed for hours feeling my chest tighten at the thought of going to the classroom to the next day.  But sleep helps.  So get it, girl.



My cohort was pretty small and rather tight-knit.  The university I graduated from was small, and the school of education within that university even smaller, so by the time I was in practicum I had been in other classes with pretty much all the members of my cohort.  Within my cohort, though, I had two friends who I just happened to get closer to.  We would do homework together somewhat often (I am a social butterfly and teachers love to swap stories, good and bad alike, so sometimes working alone was better for me).  We always had a running group chat of whatever we needed to be working on for our assignments.  I knew I could count on them, and that made all the difference in the world.  That being said, **an important caveat**: don’t compare.  There will be days where you love your kids and think teaching is the most magical thing ever, and then there will be days where you want to stop and, projected graduate date be darned, switch your major.  Sometimes on your worst days, your classmate is having a great day and sends something cute their kids did.  Just don’t compare your worst day to someone else’s best, and all will be well.




So after a week of frontloading all your assignments, working, going to practicum, and trying to stay sane, you’ve got two days on the weekend.  My Sabbath observance meant that I was mostly going to church, spending time with family, and doing peaceful, rejuvenating things on Sundays, so I didn’t want to spend time running errands or doing recreational things.  But I also didn’t want to waste my precious Saturdays running errands or doing laundry!  Yuck.  That meant that I had to get errands done during the week (add it to the list of assignments to frontload) so that I could have fun on Saturdays.  And WHOA, what a difference that made.  My Foundations of Ed professor would always give us the same homework assignment on Fridays: whatever reading was on the syllabus, and to go DO SOMETHING FUN.  “Teachers are terrible at taking care of themselves,” she’d say, “because there is always more to do.  But if you don’t take care of yourselves, you will burn out.”  So I worked hard during the week, I played hard on Saturday*, and I rested my body and my spirit on Sunday.  Taking Saturday to play and Sunday to rest was what allowed me to keep going.  Having a clear head come Monday enabled me to enjoy seeing my kids again.  It also allowed me to think in more creative ways about what I was teaching.


*I found it especially helpful if my Saturday play involved being outside.  I was inside under fluorescent lights all week.  Real vitamin D was needed.  During the week, if I was especially stressed, I would just go for a walk after class.  I’d take a long walk off-campus, away from the university, and I’d leave my phone at home (obvi this was daytime in a very safe location—you could also bring your phone but turn off notifications during your Thoreau time).  Get out in nature.  Feel that peace.  Move your body.  You’ll return to your work happier because of it.



I can say all of these things now because I was very deliberate about figuring out my stress management and work habit strategies.  One of the best pieces of advice I got was from a practicum student when I was like halfway through the education program.  She said to take the time to figure out your strategies for handling stress.  Take the time to get to know yourself.  Know what stresses you out or upsets you, and make plans for how you handle that.  Those are things you can turn to, almost robotically, when things get tough.  Like I said, one of my strategies was taking a walk.  I would even do that on the campus after a school day!  I realized that once kids left the room, my mentor teacher could go right into planning, but I was SO TIRED.  I just told her that I thought I needed about five minutes between kids leaving and us resuming our work, just to decompress.  I’d take a walk, go to the bathroom (don’t even get me started on teacher bladder), see the sunshine, and then I’d return and do the million and one things teachers do behind the scenes.  That worked for me.  Find out what works for you.  It’ll come in handy when you are on your own as well.


This is all to say…


Perhaps you’ve been doing all these things.  You are very bright, and you are very proactive, and you are not at all new at handling the whole “whoa, life and college are stressful” thing.  But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, give a few of these things a try.  You are going to be fine.  Promise.  You will make it.  This is a very short period of your life.  It is intense and it is exhausting, no doubt.  But you will make it.  Truth be told: student teaching was a lot easier for me than practicum.  I felt like my energies were more focused because I didn’t have coursework + lesson plans—all of my energy was just focused on the classroom (that last part isn’t entirely true—I had to complete my analysis of teaching practice, and a bunch of reflections, and put together a portfolio, and present these things…but those are small fries compared to the hefty and hearty work that is teaching little humans).  YOU WILL MAKE IT.


And teaching is worth it.  I have never loved doing anything as much as I love teaching.  So hang in there, dude.  You’ve got this.

just to say thank you

Kentucky is still.

I’ve enjoyed Kentucky more than I expected.  I knew that I would enjoy seeing my family, but I didn’t think I would like Kentucky.  Now, do keep in mind that I haven’t done a ton of sightseeing–aside from Target, Walmart, Chick-fil-a, and the labor and delivery ward of the University of Louisville Hospital.

But I’ve enjoyed Kentucky because it is still.

My sister lives outside of Louisville in a sweet little town.  Her backyard is green before it turns into fields of brown…something.  I don’t really know what it is.  Not corn?  Maybe hay?  (I’ve never really been a country girl.)  And the sky here is huge.  Huge.  And so blue.

I’ve associated a few other places with this type of calm and tranquility before.  Sun Valley.  Kapaa.  Kailua.  I thought I loved Sun Valley because of the mountains and the valleys and the lack of cell service and the quiet, and that’s true.  I loved Kapaa for the same reasons.  I had cell service in Kailua, but it was a weekend spent there where I avoided the usual social commitments, slept in and woke up to sunshine, and didn’t worry about much else going on.  Here in Kentucky I have the sleep and the quiet and the rest.  There is simply no pressure.  I feel like the sky is big enough for me to breathe and the people are so sweet that I get a little bit sweeter too.

There are special people associated with each of those places I mentioned, and Kentucky is certainly no exception (quite the opposite in fact–my trip here was primarily due to the birth of a new nephew), but I come to love the places associated with these memories too.  Special people, special places.

time management

5 Ways to Be Happy and (somewhat) Calm In a Busy Season of Life

Some of my friends are getting married, and some of my friends are starting grad school, and some of my friends are having babies, and some of my friends are starting grad school WITH babies.  Amidst all this, sometimes I wonder, “What am I doing?”




The answer, of course, is that I’m student teaching. AND I LOVE IT.  It’s really the best thing I’ve ever done.  I miss my students over the weekend.  I miss them when they’re absent.  Sometimes (depending on how the block went), I even miss them during recess.  I love planning how I’ll teach them and how I’ll make everything sound like the most exciting thing ever.  No joke–the other day we used colored pencils instead of crayons, and the class literally clapped their hands and yelled “yay!!!”  It was the most precious thing.

But this season of life is a busy one.  From the moment I got home a year ago and started school at BYU-Hawaii (18 credits, working, and commuting an hour each way every day) until now (full-time student teaching), there hasn’t been much of a break.  (Aside from winter semester, which was a tender mercy in SO many ways).  The past few semesters have taught me a lot about curating a happy, organized, and calm life.  I’d like to say that  I’ve learned how to adult, but 1) I’m not sure I can say that yet, and 2) I’m not sure if the things I’ve learned are adult skills or just like, life skills I maybe could have picked up if I’d like read “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens” or something…Anyway, I’m documenting them here to distill what I’ve learned, and perhaps to offer some inspiration to any who may need it.

So here goes:

Haley’s Top 5 Ways to Be Happy and (somewhat) Calm

In a Busy Season of Life

  1. Meal prep.  This is #1 because I love food, and I am the worst hangry person. Coming home from a long day and not wanting to cook or not knowing what to eat can be so frustrating, and then it gets way too tempting to reach for the $.69 frozen Totino’s party pizza…or cheetos.  Those vending machines in my dorm were rough on the bod.


To combat this I normally spent a couple of hours on either Saturday or Sunday getting meals prepped for the week.  I typically roast and store two types of vegetables, cut up and store 2-3 types of fresh vegetables, pack fruits in individual containers, and make a few entrees for the week.  I like to do wraps as little pinwheels for lunch with veggies and hummus or this ranch, and I’ll make things like turkey meatballs (which I make in bulk and freeze) or roasted chicken or tilapia to go with the roasted veggies.  I like to do 2-3 different types of entrees because, let’s be real, those meal prep pictures on Pinterest with rows of the same food look really appealing and organized, but eating the same meal for five days straight is too much for me!  I have to mix it up.


(Disclaimer: this is a bit of an extreme photo–this was food for a whole DAY when I was off dairy/grains/processed foods.  But you get the point 🙂 )

Meal prepping makes life easy because all I have to do to pack my lunch is grab a meal container (I alternate bringing hot food and fresh food to work), grab a greek yogurt (breakfast on the go is my friend), grab a container of fruit and boom!  That’s it.  In fact, I normally pack my lunch for the next day as soon I get home.  I empty my lunch bag, put the containers in the sink to wash, and then load up on what I’ll eat tomorrow.  My lunchbag is flexible and lightweight, so I just tuck it into a corner of my fridge.

This brings me to number two…

2. Prep the day before!

I’m a last-minute person who is trying to change that about herself.  I really like to just do things when they need to be done.  As I was once told, “It only takes a minute if you leave it to the last minute.” 😉  But I had a classmate who really inspired me to work ahead and be proactive.  When we would tell her how impressed we were with how far ahead she was, she’d just say, “I have to be on top of things or I get super anxious.”  I thought about what she said and realized that my own anxiety can be triggered by not feeling prepared.  So these are the things I do the day before in order to have a successful, and prompt, morning:

  • Pack my lunch
  • Choose my outfit
  • Shower

I never used to be a shower-at-night person, unless I felt really gross from the day.  I always thought that showering in the morning helped me feel more alert and ready for the day…but when I started student teaching and had to leave my house at 6:50 AM on the first day of school, I realized that showering in the morning was a thing of the past.  It’s worth staying up fifteen extra minutes when I’m tired, because it’s way easier to stay awake longer than it is to wake up earlier.

Speaking of sleep…


I can’t say this one enough.  If there is one thing I would go back and tell my high school self, it would be to sleep.  When I got to college and suddenly had more time on my hands (funny how that worked), I realized that being well-rested is VITAL to my emotional, mental, and physical well-being.  I had more time on my hands my first year of college, but as my schedule has intensified, I’ve learned how to prioritize my sleep.  My roommates used laugh a little at me when I’d say good night to them at 9:30 like the grandma that I am…but it makes a huge difference.  I go to bed even earlier now (when I can) since my mornings are even earlier.


If I know I’m going to be tempted by group chats blowing up and Snapchats coming in and Messenger chiming, I just put my phone in airplane mode.  Then I don’t check things in the middle of the night and forget to respond, or spend time in the morning laying in bed getting caught up when I should be getting ready.  I can take my phone off airplane mode when I’m on my way to school so I can call my mom, and I can check all those other notifications later.

4.  Plan around your priorities, not your to-do list.

I used to plan my week around to-do lists.  I’d get things done, but in the end I wasn’t any closer to reaching long-term goals.  Those goals–like being a better daughter, sister, or friend; or exercising; or applying for that research grant–were the things that were nice to do if I had time, but weren’t totally vital to my daily survival, so they normally got pushed to the back burner.  In Stephen Covey terms, they were important but not urgent.

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 9.04.11 PM


The real way to win is to plan your life, and therefore your weeks and days, around your priorities.  This is what Covey refers to as putting first things first, and that’s changed my life.  You HAVE to go read about it here.  Seriously.  It’s the best.

Thinking about things in terms of urgency and importance really changed my perspective.  Now when I plan my week (and yes, a wise man once told me that people who get things done plan their days, so I’ve done that for years) I start by making sure that I am addressing all of my most important priorities first.  Then I fill in the rest of the time, still making sure I accomplish all that I need to, in order of importance.  The time management matrix also helps you to weed out things that aren’t urgent and aren’t important, so are really just time-wasters. Planning my time in this way has helped me to be much more thoughtful and meaningful about my time and my choices.

5.  Get out and have fun!

I know that my life sounds very structured and planned–and it is.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s boring or that I don’t let myself have any fun!  In fact, because I know that I can get hyper-focused and a little myopic, I make sure that I plan things that force me to get out of the house, stop planning lessons, and socialize with people above the age of 7.  A lot of times my introvert tendencies will start to hold me back, but I make myself have fun the way some people make themselves exercise: I do it because I know it’s good for me, and I’ll be better for it in the long run.  (Now if only I could convince myself to do that with exercise too…)

Having fun is very, very important in a busy season of life.  And guess what? Having fun IS productive.  Recreation done right leads to rejuvenation, and I wrote extensively about that here.

This doesn’t have to be a weekend at the spa.  Just a quick daytime nap on the weekend can feel like such a treat!  Or meeting a friend at the gym or for dinner turns a routine thing into something where you get to catch up and spend quality time together.  Find ways to have fun and recharge, and you’ll do better in every area of your life.

Now, work when you have to work, yes.  But if you’re prepping and planning ahead, getting enough sleep, and focusing on your priorities, you’ll have time to relax too.  Promise.  🙂


Possible upcoming topics:

  1. How to work ahead of the syllabus without losing your mind
  2. Simple meal prep routines
  3. Nail salon hacks?
  4. Outfits that are functional, professional, and CHEAP for student teachers (or other interns)

Things that make me happy:

  • Fresh vegetables with hummus
  • Lunches made for a whole week
  • Drawers full of clean laundry
  • Being ahead of schedule on my portfolio
  • Getting a full night’s sleep
  • Ice water, prefs w/ lemon, but defs with a straw
  • When my hair is curled
  • Ballerina-pink nail polish (aka OPI’s Hello Kitty Collection ‘Let’s Be Friends’)
  • Schedules
  • Crossing things off a to-do list
  • Soft clothes



byu, each life that touches ours, realizations

Dear Provo, I miss you.

A year and a half-ish ago, while visiting my sister in a city that is not Provo, Utah, I posted the following to my Instagram:


I was in this funny state of in-betweenness.  I had an apartment in Provo and classes in the fall and a job and roommates and my best friend (when she wasn’t abroad, bless her wanderlust spirit).  But I also had this feeling that I was leaving Provo, at least for a while.  I was headed home, and that was unexpected and scary and humbling but so, so right.

So I post this thing and I don’t think much of it–because it really is a joke.  I mean, Provo is fabs, but some of it is so tough.  The comparison.  The vanity.  The sheer…pressure of it all.  Some of that is self-inflicted, sure, but I wasn’t alone in that.

When I left Provo I knew I’d miss the people, and the Chick-fil-a (bless the Chick-fil-a’s of Utah County, esp those on Bulldog Blvd and in the Wilk), and the Swig, but I never thought I’d miss the place.  I left quickly.  I didn’t really give myself time to think about it.

But now I know what I miss: I miss the In-N-Out runs at midnight.  I miss the Payson Temple.  I miss Zupa’s.  I miss the Provo Temple, and the Provo City Center Temple.  I miss the vending machine bagel sandwiches.  I miss the JFSB courtyard–the prettiest place in any season.  I miss the Maesar, and Karl–oh, Karl!! I miss J Dawg’s and the engineering building that I can’t remember the name of (the Clyde, maybe?  The one with the tiny women’s restroom that was so difficult to find?).  I miss the language lab on the second floor of the JKB, where you hear Mandarin, Arabic, and German spoken at tables right next to each other.  And oh, international cinema!  What a delight.  And Art After Dark!  So many great things.

I still feel myself to be a Cougar, true blue through and through, even though I won’t graduate from BYU (but hey, catch me in Laie on December 15th, won’t ya?).  I still feel that way because for so long, BYU meant everything to me.  (Even though I said forever that I had NO INTEREST in going to BYU.  Even though I visited other schools and had never stepped foot in Utah until two weeks before the start of freshman year.  Even though I complained about the weather and the lack of good chicken katsu.)  BYU and Provo encompassed so much.  They meant so much.  Provo brought me some of my dearest, and truest, friends.  Provo expanded my love of learning.  Provo sent me on my mission, and my mission more or less saved me.

BYU-Hawai’i has meant everything to me.  If Provo sent me on my mission, it’s my mission that sent me here.  And being here has been the greatest blessing (check out any and all of my social media posts from the past year to see/hear overflowing, gushing expressions of gratitude for all that this plot-twist life experience has been).  But I just want Provo to know:


You were my first love.

So have a good school year, BYU.  I still love you tons.  After all this time, always.




Bodies and babies and happiness and maybes.



Did you know that our bodies are so cool?  Did you know that our bodies are, in many ways, self-healing?  Did you know that our bodies can create other human bodies?  That our bodies grow and change throughout our lives?  That our bodies respond, almost instinctively, to danger in order to protect us?  Did you know that we can often know what we’re deficient in, nutrient-wise, by what we crave?  How cool is that?

You know what’s even cooler? Our bodies are homes for our spirits.  Our bodies are created in the image of God.  Our bodies make learning, growth, testing, and progress possible that simply wouldn’t be an option without them.

Our bodies are sacred.

I love body because with it I can walk my dog.  I can hold my friends’ and my siblings’ babies.  I can run when I want to.  I can bake bread.  I can bend and crouch and squat and kneel by the side of the first graders I work with.  I can gesticulate wildly while teaching my Sunday school class (they love it, trust me).  I can write and I can type.  I can speak.  I can listen.  I can see and I can read–what a marvelous thing it is to be able to look at it something, and make meaning of it!  My body is SO COOL.

My body isn’t perfect.  I’m a sleepy little human, and my body needs lots of rest to be able to function properly.  But hey, who doesn’t like sleep? 😉

There is not a single thing I want to do that I can’t do with this body.  And if there were something I wanted to do that I couldn’t, I could train my body to be able to do it!  Like, one time I went from never having run more than a mile and a half to running a HALF-MARATHON.  In FOUR MONTHS.  Bodies are SO COOL.

The end.