Teaching in May

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My supply closet grows bare.

I can count the weeks left in one hand, but the hours seem endless.

I’ve grown weary of the same behaviors

and mountains of grading still stand before me.

 

It is May.

A teacher’s favorite and least favorite time of the year.

To an outsider, it’s all fun and field trips from here on out.

To us on the inside, it’s inappropriate behaviors and tired brains.

 

A coworker described it best saying she wished the end was a surprise.

One week we would come in and find out it was time to close up shop.

Perhaps then we could fully enjoy it

instead of the countdown.

 

When the days get long

and my mind heavy there is one thing in my to lift my spirits.

Testing.

 

Any other time of year, this will make a teacher shutter and kids groan.

But in May, it’s special.

Finally, after months of hard work

sweat, tears, and maybe even a little blood

we get to see it pay off.

No longer are we warning kids that this test is on information they’ve never been taught.

Finally, finally, I tell them they are ready,

“Show off all the amazing accomplishments you’ve made.”

 

The results are never less than extraordinary.

They may near bring you to tears

as your heart threatens to burst from pride.

The student who’s been stuck all year actually doubled how many words she read.

The boy who may always struggle has read over fifty words.

The boy who didn’t even know he could read now does so with ease.

 

This is a time to celebrate.

Hundreds of hours on a little brain is hard and they can finally rest.

Read that extra story, take ten more minutes of recess, for goodness sake break out the paint!

We all deserve it!

 

The Class We Should Have Had in College

 Statistics show that the number of teachers coming out of college programs is actually declining. There is also an alarming  number of teachers leaving the profession. Much to our dismay, these are not the old-fashioned, ruler-wielding teachers we wish would step down. Instead they are passionate, ambitious teachers just beginning the climb of their career.

Starting out I was prepared for the time commitment teaching takes. I was aware just how hard my first year would be. I was prepared for an air of negativity that might infiltrate the teacher’s lounge. I knew classroom management had to be gained through experience.  All of these things proved valid and I’m glad I knew them. However, I feel my college experience (and so many others) was severely missing one course.

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ECE358 TEACHING IN A POLITICAL WORLD
Teaching in a Political World will explore the many outside influences on teaching including politics, racism & classism, and public perception.  It will discuss the role of the educator as an advocate for individual students/families, communities, and teaching as a profession. It will explore the frequent conflicts of interest educators face in their classrooms each day.

I need help…and I do not think I’m alone. I want background knowledge on the political systems that influence teaching starting from the local school boards to the House and Senate.  I wish I had known just what a huge part advocacy would be in my job. It is telling parents that they have a voice and should fight for what’s best for their kids. It’s being willing to go to the school board when discrimination is happening in your district. It is fighting for respect and realistic expectations as a member of the field of education.

I needed to be prepared about how angry teaching could make me (and I’m not talking about the kids).  The expectations we are of kids are so far away from developmentally appropriate.  What good are any of the graduate classes, teacher trainings, and new programs if I don’t have time to implement them. I have a battle of conscience knowing I’m not doing what’s best and may actually be doing damage to kids’ self-esteem and attitudes about schooling.   Closing our doors and trying to make the best of the situation isn’t going to be enough.  Nothing is going to change until teacher, parents, and students are empowered and take a stance for what’s right and wrong.

This class may be hard to teach while staying politically neutral. But, teaching isn’t unbiased and neutral. We are pulled from one side of the pendulum to the next by politicians and leaders who have no background in education besides their own experiences as a student. If we want teachers to stop leaving, we need to give them support. This starts by making them aware of just what they are up against and then teaching them what they can do. I’m 24, untenured, and inexperienced, but I want to know what my options are, if not now then later, for what I can do besides complain to colleagues, roll my eyes at one more thing being added to the curriculum, and close my door to make the best of things.

 

Check out this incredible teacher standing up for her students.  The full article can be seen here. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/01/22/teacher-on-common-core-testing-i-am-a-broken-woman/

Hard Days

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Some days are hard.  It might be a full moon.  It might be the upcoming spring break.  It may just be one of those days.  Yesterday I had to remind myself to take deep breaths and swallow my pride.  The kids were CRAZY!  I had everything from running around the room before 9 am to acting silly in a fire drill.  Seemingly small but it led to a hard day.  On our class-wide behavior plan, 7 students ended with negative points.  That’s unheard of!

Rather than yell, cry, or give up, we had a conversation at the end of the day as a class.  The above is what came of it.

I came up with “Today is a hard day.  Tomorrow will be better.  We will….”

As a group we developed some important points,

“Talk only at appropriate times

Do not disturb others in the hallway

Transitions are not play time

Stay in your own space

Complete your work”

 

This morning we set a goal.  Along with following the expectations on the board, we wanted at least 7 students to end with so many positive points.  Many, many times we revisited these points.  Let me tell you, today was SO positive.  High fives.  Hugs. Successes.  Both academically and behaviorally.  I’m beyond excited to say that 14 students ended at or above our goal!!!!

Teachers, parents, fellow adults of the world, remember that it is a bad day, it is not forever.  Take a deep breath.  Swallow your pride.  Tomorrow is a new day.

Two Legs, Eight Wheels

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Have you ever seen a 7 year old on roller skates?  Have you ever had a bad day? If you’ve had the latter, trust me, you need the first.

Some days I struggle to find the joy. I’m bogged down with all the stresses and while I know it is there, it’s so hard to bring to the surface. Skate night, by and far, never EVER fails to remind me.

At 7 and 8, kids on 8 wheels are all over the place.  There are those that zip around corners, arms flailing. You better get out of their way because while they move quickly, the brakes are often in need of repair.  There are students that are wall huggers. Try as you may, they are not letting go of the wall, no way, no sir! These are usually the cautious folks who know that though they are young and short, the fall could still hurt. Lastly there are the determined wobblers.  These students have determination etched in their every movement.  Their tongue sticks out just slightly, their knees quake, and arms circle catching their balance every push or two.

You see, when we are all on skates, it is easy to forget all the pressures of the world.  The relationship changes from student and teacher.  We are just two people, side by side, hoping not to fall on top of the other.

On skate night I smile for hours and laugh often. I skate till the movement is smooth and my ankles sore. I know I will rest easy at night looking forward to excited exclamations of “I SAW YOU AT SKATE NIGHT!” the next morning.  When things get tough, take advantage of the little things your school has to offer.  You might be impressed how those little moments become some of your fondest.

Tomorrow

Today she sits alone in her room

she longs for a companion and great love.

She misses old friends

and questions how she will make it through today

much less live a life worth remembering.

For now, she is always waiting.

Her foot hovers ready to move,

but without the support of another,

without a safety net to fall into

she lacks the confidence to venture on.

But when tomorrow comes

you best move out of her way.

For then, nothing, nothing can stand in her way.

She will learn her beauty shines inside and out.

That she only need to walk into a room

for everywhere she goes she brings a ray of light and hope.

She will take that step and nothing she leaves behind will ever be the same.

She has become the person she’s always been hoping to meet.

It may be a day, weeks, or months.

But when tomorrow comes,

step aside,

turn her way,

and know that this is the girl

that will move mountains.

Student Love

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

I am so lucky,

I love what I do.

Valentine’s Day tends to be a pretty polarizing subject.  You love it or you hate it.  People argue it’s a day made my Hallmark and Hershey in an effort to make money.  Others say it’s all about love and what could make a holiday more pure.  Still some call it “Singles Awareness Day.”  Fortunately, I’m a teacher.  As with all other holidays, I can’t help but enjoy the celebration.  The innocence and joy in a child’s eyes gives you a fresh perspective to holidays and you get caught up in the magic that they are so fortunate to hang on to.

I have one of the best jobs in the world.  Every day, Valentine’s or not, I am told I love you.  I have 24 lovelies that wait for me each morning.  24 children who look panicked if they don’t see me in my room by 8:25 each morning.  24 kids that bring a little more sunshine into my sometimes shadowy world.

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The Many Ways My Students Say “I Love You”

  1. Good morning Miss A
  2. Have a good evening!  See you tomorrow!
  3. Can I have a hug?IMG_1761
  4. Hi Miss A!  I still remember our Continents Song from last year.
  5. I like coming to school now.  You know why?  Because I like to see you.
  6. See, that’s why you want to get Miss A next year.
  7. Holding my hand
  8. Pictures, pictures, upon pictures, upon pictures!
  9. Chocolate:)
  10. You’re my favorite teacher

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But sometimes, their love can hurt.  Sometimes in the moment it is far from sweet.  It can mean being there when the world turns its back.  It means allowing the kids to ask, “Just how much can I say before you walk away?”

  1. I hate you.  I hate this place.
  2. I don’t like you any more. I don’t care what you say.
  3. You’re so mean.

 

Whether pro- or anti-Valentine’s Day, I think that adding a little extra love to this world can never be a bad thing.  I do not always like my kids and my job, but I sure love them.  I share my love in my personal greetings each day, the high-fives, the “I’m so proud of you’s.”  I will work to always fit a little more love into the school days as a thank you for the love that is shared with me each and every day.

 

Dear Little Girl,

Dear little girl,

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I want you to know that this world is full of triumphs and joys.
All you need to do is get out of bed each day, set your mind to it, and you can make things happen.
You can change the life of someone who’s hurting.
You can complete the soul of another.
You can be the sturdy oak that holds a family together.
The number of opportunities that await you can be endless.

But little one,
You must know that this can be a secret.
It is kept hidden away in the heart of your mother and the mothers before her.
At some point, they were told that our strength,
the power that rumbles within us, is not to be on stage.
Yes, we must be there to catch them when they fall
to take the blame when nobody else wants to,
but beyond that you are to stand in the shadows.

There will be days where no matter how hard you try,
No matter all the potential inside,
A boy will step in front of you.
Please do not blame him.
He hasn’t known better.
Just as we learned from our mothers, he has learned from his fathers.

Now, here is what matters,
Are you listening?
You must never accept the shadows as your home.
You belong center stage.
You will sing at the top of your lungs until they hear you.
You will prove them wrong time and time again until they start to believe you.
You will raise your sons to look for you in the light and find the woman that needs no man to lead her.

Little girl, this world is full of triumphs and joys that may be disguised as judgment and doubt.
You are too clever for their jests
You are too strong for their denials.
Go be the one who proves them all wrong.