Sunday, November 23, 2014

10 Times It Has Been Worse

Every year around this time, I get what's known as the "fall panic". I panic that the kids aren't learning, I'm not reaching them, or they think I'm a witch.
Starting at a new school, and being able to leave the place that will be the setting of my future book titled, The Place Where My Soul Went to Die: My Bitter Memoirs, has been nothing short of amazing. Working at a place that is so positive and professional, along with getting a pat on your back instead of stabbed in the back after working so hard, and coupled with the wonderful people I work with; I truly feel blessed. I didn't realize how miserable, or how toxic my old school was until I came here. My teaching partner is not only a phenomenal teacher, but a good person. She shares ideas and is not in constant competition of who's-the-most-popular-teacher-and-can-get-the -PTA-to-give-them-gifts-on-the-side. The strategist is my best cheerleader, and a riot to be around. The staff truly assumes everyone always has good intentions, rather than assuming the worst in everyone. My new school is refreshing. That being said, it is late in the fall, and my students have just recently mastered walking down the hallway like humans. If you are a teacher, you know the secret. If you are not, I'll let you in on it. Teachers, well, I myself, feel a little bi-polar at the beginning of the year. Sure you are hopeful for what the new year might bring. The smell of fresh waxed floors, and shiny new notebooks, and fresh pencils are enough to raise my serotonin so I don't think I need my bitch-be-gone pills. However. The younger the grade, the HARDER it is at the beginning. You are responsible for 21 other people for a full 8 hours. Please note- each class has different extremes, but it's rare to get a class that doesn't follow this pattern. At the beginning of the year, you can't turn your back once. You can't assume they know how to walk down the hallway, you have to schedule bathroom breaks for yourself, and actually eating lunch is a silly idea that really won't happen until around Christmas. You have to teach the kids EVERYTHING about "doing school". You are an entertainer, an actress, a mom, nurse ("you are FINE!"), a counselor, a judge, and a mentor. You teach them morals, how to treat each other, social skills, manners and hopefully reading, writing and math. It's a lot of pressure. I'm proud to say, my students mostly know when to sharpen their pencils (not when I'm talking), ask to use the the bathroom (not when I'm teaching a new concept), hand in classwork, and homework, and finally how to walk down the hallway like a human. It's the beginning of the year when a teacher really has to be on their game. You may tell them 176 times that they write on their paper, not in Mrs. Fairfield's books, but the 177th time, they might get away with  doing it, so they try. This, my friends, is why I can't ever be gone. If I am gone one day, the sub will let them get away with everything. Then I am back to the first day of school; teaching when/where to use the bathroom, hand in papers, walk down the hall, and in the classroom. Because of this, even when I am sick, I go to school. Teaching is exhausting. Teachers know there is no exhaustion like September exhaustion. This year mine went into October and November. It's times like this, when my car is the last one in the lot, when I go home and I think "I know I'm going home a lot more tired than those kids. I wonder if they even learned anything today". These days is when I have to remember there were 10 times it was worse:
1) The time I forgot to wear my shirt to school. I was teaching at an older school and my room was freezing. I was going to wear a cuddle-dud, (basically long a underwear shirt), and a wool sweater. The problem was I didn't put on the sweater. I was on the phone with my friend when I left the house, got to school, walked to my classroom, took off my jacket and said, "Oh Sh!T! I forgot my shirt!"
2) 99% of the 2012-13 school year was way, WAY worse.
3) 79% of the 2011-12 school year was way worse.
4) The time I thought a kindergarten parent was going to reach over the table and punch me in the face when I had to break bad news to him.- Also known as "the reason I can't teach kindergarten is because I don't like breaking parents' hearts".
5) The time I had a newborn, a toddler, and traveled to two schools to teach Kindergarten, and I was so tired that I burst into tears when a parent asked me to use unscented whiteboard markers.
6) The time I used to let a student sleep, just so I can get some peace.
7) The time someone pulled the fire alarm and I was shocked it wasn't one of my students, - Wait, that was a good time.
8) the time I drove to work and saw two students fake hitch-hiking and flipping off the cars on a very busy street.
9) The time I had a man student teacher and he was more work than the third graders.
10) The last day of school each year. The kids leave me after I have spent 9 months declaring them "my kids". They hold a special place in my heart, yet they just leave as if they are all happy for summer break, after I've just spent so much time, energy and worry on all of them. It's like having empty nest every year...

 I have many, many good memories. I guess the feeling of accomplishment doesn't come without a lot of hard work. Like a wise man told me once- nothing worth having is easy.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why I Don't Like Halloween

If you are a "regular reader"- (both of you), you may have been wondering where did she go? What's with the hiatus? Well, the day before school started I was sitting in a "teach kids to write" Proffesional Development and a hater from another school said, "I hate it when people have blogs, but they don't have a theme." I decided then and there that my blog is annoying others because I have no theme, so I must stop. It was much like the time a facebook friend said, "I can't stand when people post cat photos." I posted facbook cat photos each day until Mr. Husband would let me have a cat, so I stopped posting cat photos. Then I unfriended her, and now glare at her with my cat-eyes during church. Now I'm taking the advice of a brilliant friend, Stephanie Schuster, "You are not the jerk whisperer, Don't listen to 'em." So I'M BACK!!

Yesterday was Halloween. I used to like Halloween. From Kindergarten through Second grade, I got to trick-or-treat. When I turned nine, the "Poisoned Laced Tylonal" killed some people and my mom was certain all of our neighbors- living in the middle of no where- were lacing their candy with poison and putting razor blades in the candied apples. Which is weird on three levels. 1)We knew our neighbors well, 50% of them were my dad's brothers, and the rest had "card parties" and celebrated all of their children's milestones together. I don't think they'd try to kill me. They'd get caught. 2) If you were crazy and wanted to put razors in the candy, you would probably be living out in the middle of no where. 3) I really think the REAL reason I couldn't go trick-or-treating past second grade is because none of my siblings lived at home anymore and couldn't take me. Walking a mile and a half- one way- for a candy bar is just not realistic. Therefore, a bit of bitterness toward Halloween started at the ripe old age of the third grade. All of my "town" friends had many years of candy ahead of them, but not me. My mom tried to smooth over my feelings by letting me pick out my "own bag" of candy at the store. It wasn't the same. It wasn't dressing up like a princess, going to the neighbor's/aunts and uncles and being told you are "so cute", and getting a candy bag full of surprises. It might be dumb candy, like a handful of circus peanuts, but it was still a surprise. You can't sit on the living room floor and sort your "own bag of candy". It's all the same. There is nothing to sort. From then on, I've hated Halloween. it could be my intense fear of  clowns, mascots, mimes, and well anything in a mask. I don't like not being able to see the person's expression, Then the year came when Noah was one and a half. We took him to both grandparent's houses, a great aunts, and the next door neighbors. It was a blast. Fast forward to the year Ethan was three. He didn't know what to expect, and he was typically a little shy, but on that night he FLEW from house to house while combining two of his top five favorite things- dressing up like Spider-man and candy. I liked Halloween until about two years ago because I was experiencing it through their eyes. Now I'm back to hiding from the scary people with masks. Couple that with teaching children on Halloween, it makes for a less-than-festive holiday. During the eleven years of liking Halloween, I had the pleasure of teaching Kindergarten and the excitement of Halloween through their innocent eyes. I want it to be as much fun with the third graders, but it just isn't. In third grade, it's more about getting as  much candy as possible and eating as much as possible in one sitting. It doesn't seem magical like it is in Kindergarten,it's just... not. Maybe that's the REAL reason my mom cut off Halloween in third grade.
If you know me well, you know I make it my life mission, and spend 73% of my energy trying to keep my children from growing up too fast. I, unlike my mom, have not cut off Halloween. Noah tried cutting himself off two years ago, but caved and went this year. Secretly I think, "Are you kidding? You are taller than me. You have no business dressing up for Halloween." Well, I had nothing to worry about with him dressing up, because he went as a Basketball Player. So he dressed like it was a random Tuesday. I opened my mouth to tell him that's not appropriate anymore, but as I looked at him to say it, I didn't see my ninth- grader stressing out while writing the perfect essay about the Bubonic Plague and the Political Effect on the World, but I saw my little boy dressed like a lion saying "Tricker-Treat. Smell My Peet", and I just couldn't tell him no. Maybe a bit of him wants to hold onto his childhood as much as I do.