Friday, September 12, 2014

Getting To Know You....

Ask any teacher and they'll tell you that the first few weeks of school are hectic X 100.  In my school, the first weeks bring the Ice Cream Social, Curriculum Night, and Goal Setting conferences. Basically, it's like 0 to 80 in five seconds.  Or at least that's what it feels like.  This, of course, is on top of teaching little ones for seven hours a day. It's all a blur, really, and by Friday night, I'm lucky if I can stay up past 8:30.  

The first weeks of school are also a beautiful combination of meeting new little faces and personalities, getting to see teacher friends every day, and a sense of excitement for the new year stretching ahead of us all. 

I arrived home today (after car duty), exhausted and thankful that I have the next two days off. Exhilarated to be able to sleep past 5:45.   When I caught sight of myself in the mirror as I got out of my car, I had to chuckle.  The time spent on hair and make-up this morning was no longer evident.  At all. Teaching is a tough job mentally.  But it also can take a toll physically.

It always startles me a bit when I see what I look like at the end of a busy day at school compared to what I think I look like.    Click on the link below and see what I mean.
If you are a teacher, you will totally understand.

What I Think I look like (minus the outfit)

I think one of my little students summed it up best when he said to me before we left school today, "You look tired.  Try and get some sleep this weekend."  

One thing I'm never short of at school are suggestions and honesty. 

So, even though I may not be Julie Andrews and all sing-songy and bubbly and dressed to the nines every day, I'm truly enjoying getting to know my students.  Some are fun and some are quiet.  Some are boisterous and some are serious.  Some are happy and some are creative.  Some are musical and some are shy.  Some are loud and some are helpful.  Some are nervous and some are motivated.  Some are curious and some are polite. Some are careful and some are courageous.  And getting to know them is the very best part of my job.   

Haven't you noticed?  Suddenly I'm bright and breezy?  
Because of all the beautiful and new,
Things I'm learning about you,

Thank you little third graders.  It's gonna be a great year!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Feeling Groovy

It's the end of the first week back-to-school.  This can be a rough transition for teachers to shift from "it's summer and I can do whatever I want to whenever I want to" to "I have twenty-four little cuties that show up at my door at 9 a.m. and don't leave until 4:00 p.m. every day."

In a nutshell, this is how my first week back went: 

The second day of school, I was in bed by 8:30.  And sleeping like a baby by 8:32.  Getting a solid ten to prepare for day 3.  This job is hard.

All those Pinterest thirty-minute weekday dinner recipes pinned during the summer were bypassed for a trip to the nearest drive-thru, or foraging in the pantry for anything canned and microwavable.  Who am I kidding?

The accidental stain from the red dry erase marker at 9:30 a.m. remained on my shirt not only all day long, but into the evening too.  Actually, I think I slept in that shirt.

Thank God for bluetooth in my car, as I certainly didn't have the strength to raise my phone to my ear and hold it there while talking.  The fact that I could even stay awake for the whole conversation should earn me major kudos.

No personal phone calls, emails, or texts have been returned this week. Absolutely won't take the time to listen to a voicemail.  If you tried to contact me, try again sometime in mid-October.  It's not you, it's me.

I can take a pass this week on any Lifetime fitness class as my quads are screaming from squatting at tables to talk with students all week.  On a positive note, my Nike fuelband shows a minimum of 11,000 steps every day.   Winning. 

Eyes are permanently in glazed over mode.  I'm not trying to ignore you, I really just don't care.  

There is a huge blister on my big toe from high heels that I haven't worn since last June. Looking good is feeling good.  

Having to get out of bed every morning to the jolt of an alarm and put on make-up gets old by day 4.  When is the next holiday break?

All extra effort and time put in to blow dry hair is futile.   Was defeated by 99% humidity and A/C not working in classroom all week.  Ugh.

Best efforts to pack healthy lunch every day to bring to school were beaten out by not enough time in the morning and justifying it with my school's "New Improved Healthy Menu".  Whole wheat pizza crust counts, right?

I'm exhausted times 10.  
I've learned twenty-four new names and faces and personalities.    

Next week I'll get in the groove and not be so worn out by week's end. I'll have built up some stamina for caring for twenty-four little ones all day. 

Maybe I'll even stay up past 9. 


Monday, September 1, 2014

Your Ad Here

Teachers in my district have been back since August 22nd readying their classrooms and attending PD (professional development).  This year we had a really engaging speaker join us for two mornings to help us understand cultural competency and incorporate more awareness in our classrooms about diversity.  We had a lot of fun over the course of the sessions and it was time well spent.   

One afternoon last week as I drove home, I began to think about the homeless people in California.  Now, before you start thinking to yourself, "Oh my gosh!  The school year hasn't even started yet and she's already talking nonsense and babbling", let me stop and explain. 

My husband and I spent some time in California over the summer, exploring new places and taking in as many sights as possible each day. As in every city across our country, we encountered homeless people sitting on street corners and tucked away in doorways.  As in every city, these less fortunate people usually clutched a cardboard sign to communicate to the people passing by. They have but a brief moment to try and catch a person's attention.  A minute to get someone to pause briefly and, hopefully, deposit a few coins into the can.  I read their pleas for money and couldn't help but notice that their signs were not the usual ones I have read before.  The homeless people in California have stepped up their game.

For example, one unfortunate man, sitting on a corner in a wheelchair with only one leg held up a sign proclaiming, "On my last leg".  Indeed.  Another held a big sign as he smiled widely and encouraged passersby to smile with him. He happily yelled out, "Smile!" to the tourists flocking around him, no doubt hoping to score some cash.  I chuckled as I read his neat sign announcing, "I'm not gonna lie.  It's for weed."  I guess honesty is the best policy, right?  

For sure the best cardboard plea for money I spotted as we wandered through the Haight-Asbury district of San Francisco.  I was amazed and amused enough, feeling as if I had just stepped back into the 60's walking down the street and catching conversations while checking out the stores.  This place is people-watching at it's finest.   Sitting against a pole, along the side of the busy street sat a young man with long hair and dingy bell bottoms. I gave him a quick look and my eye caught the sign he had perched next to him against several garbage bags full of his belongings.  "Your Ad Here" it offered.  Fantastic!  I elbowed my husband and asked him if he noticed the homeless man's sign.  

"Isn't that brilliant?" I said.  "What a great idea!  He might as well advertise while he sits there.  Like a homeless billboard."

"He's probably an advertising major," my husband noted, not to be outdone by the humor in the situation.  

Later in the week at our first staff meeting for the year, our principal asked us to think about ourselves and teaching and share something we are good at and something we would like to work on this year.  I looked around at my teacher friends at school. Wouldn't it be great if each of them created their own cardboard sign?  What would they say?  What would they say about their dedication to the field, the excitement about the year ahead, and their goals for the upcoming year?   What would they advertise about their strengths or their weaknesses?

I thought about my own sign for this year.  It reads:   Find The Good.

All of this reminds me to count my lucky stars and be thankful every day for all I have.  A terrific daughter, a wonderful husband, a faithful dog, and healthy, loving parents and family.  I have a beautiful home, a nice new car, and food and clothing.  I have a challenging and rewarding job where I work with people I admire and can call friends. I am healthy and have been fortunate to be able to travel to many places around the world.

I'm thankful that I have never had to experience times of hunger or, God forbid, homelessness.  If I ended up somehow amongst the homeless on the street, my sign would say something like this: 

Get it? 

Finally, to all my teacher friends, may this year be your best ever. We are all fortunate enough to not be homeless on the street, but to be in the classroom.   Let's have a happy, positive year of change and growth and fun.  Let's appreciate the diversity around us and be appreciative of all our differences.   Let's not be pulled down by the testing and the stress and the sometimes overwhelming feeling of somehow not being quite enough or good enough.

We are teachers. 
 We are the hope and the good that can change a child's life forever.  
Happy first day of school tomorrow. 

Let's do this.