An Observation or Two

One ridiculous question begets another. They seem to be contagious like yawns or ever present like dandelions.

“What page is it on?” Wordlessly, I point to the reference on the board. Another hand goes up. “Where do we look?” Thank goodness I had not lowered my arm. Now I wiggle my index finger. The social butterfly lands, tosses her hair, and smiles. “What are we supposed to do next?” If I am cross, I respond, “I wasn’t paying attention either. I don’t even know what I said.” Mariposa (Spanish for butterfly) looks sheepish reads the directions. Slowly I lower my arm and survey the class. Where will the weed of ignorance sprout next?

Some students believe I will eat them up. I keep salt and pepper handy along with packets of ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, duck sauce, hot sauce, and taco sauce collected from my various jaunts to fast food establishments. I show the “pantry” to unbelievers who leave wide-eyed and wondrous, glad to escape with their lives. Yes, seeing IS believing in this case. I have smiled like a shark as I herded my “snacks” out of school. I win.

RLT

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Struggle is Still Real

Apparently my students have not had homework in their previous schools, so they are fighting me about doing their assignments at home. Grades are done for the first marking period of this year on Friday, and there will be a few surprises. I have become relentless about getting work turned in and even keep track of what I am doing to get the work from unmotivated students. Detentions will be issued today. Period. They will be fine once they get with the program. My face will show a different look when that happens; it will reflect the joy I have inside and not the disappointment I feel outside.

RLT

The Face

My face when I am looking at students who don’t turn in work and then look surprised when consequences start racking up.

Part of the Ship, Part of the Crew

This was taken on Monday after school for no good reason. I had their older siblings two years ago, and we have a connection. I can tell this duo has a great sense of humor already.

Somehow on the first day of school last Thursday, I spoke to one of them about sprouting wings. During our icebreaker we had a discussion about taking off (standing up), and I told them they could not flap their arms when they took off. That was it. They are in different classes for me, but I see them together after school like two peas in a pod. Meet the Wingmen!

RLT

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Hashtag Time

I had a great first day with my new students. When I left school, my tiredness was the kind that let me know I was on the road to a good year. Here are a couple of photos for my first day before and after school.

# Year24Teacher

RLT

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Focus Time

Here is a photograph of my classroom. I find myself thinking about the finer details to make everything look perfect. You can see some items on the table. I’m going to cut out the laminated items and use those colorful pennants somewhere this year. The walls needed some color and pop, so I used butcher paper to liven up the walls a bit. That is a red quadrilateral shape behind the clock. I have my power standards posted so that the students can see them as they check the clock to see when it’s time to leave. It’s something that happens each year. C’est la guerre. I placed pictures of my family and friends. They are there for my edification and for my students to see my human side.

This is a year of focus for me. I am strictly a social studies teacher. I am an academic team leader and member of my church’s sanctuary choir. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, niece, friend, and cousin. I am a girl who picks up crayons, markers, or map pencils and colors when I want to be creative. I think that’s enough for now.

RLT

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School Supplies

I enjoyed the month of June after school ended so much that I did not want to plan out a real schedule other than my workshops and a trip to see my husband’s family. We made our trip during the first week of July. It seems like yesterday. As soon as we returned, I began the back-to-school brain that besets every teacher. In July the stores begin their marketing campaigns designed to bring joy to every parent who now appreciates what I do for 9-10 months. Sales of clothing, backpacks, pencils, and notebook paper are broadcast on the television or in magazines. Going to Walmart, Target, or Kroger means the displays whomp a shopper on the head as soon as she dares enter the building. Joyous youngsters’ faces shine like the sun as they anticipate meeting their new teacher and being in classes with their friends. I on the other hand have glazed eyes, and a tic begins by my left eye. I fasten my gaze to the ground or shelf to avoid the happy schoolchildren’s Kodak smiles beckoning me to buy a new pair of jeans or blouse. “No, I am not buying cardstock, pencils, or manila paper today. I am here for groceries. Groceries. Groceries.”I mutter under my breath. I must have said it a bit too loudly because now a startled young mom with her school age children urges her young brood away from the crazy lady mumbling to herself. I shake my head to right my brain and resume shopping. Crisis averted.

Target had a discount for teachers from July 15-21. Our state’s tax free weekend is August 10-12. Bad timing! I refused to darken the door of the Big Red Bullseye Menace once. You’ll never take me alive. Alas, my last workshop was yesterday, Wednesday, July 25. I found myself in Dollar Tree to buy some cards and popcorn. Well, the front wall was covered with back to school stuff. Argh! They have a little teacher corner. Like a zombie, I went to the teacher corner and found some items to update my décor a little bit. Sucker! As I made my way to the cashier, I saw them. Stress balls decorated like globes. Did I buy one? No. I bought three. One for me. One for my teaching partner. And one for my college aged son who is living at home doing an internship. They got me.

RLT

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That Sums It Up

This ridiculously exhaustive list sums up the perception of what my teacher brothers and sisters must accomplish on a daily basis. Meeting all of their needs is impossible. Mamas and daddies have an important role as the first teachers. I’m just there to impart some knowledge along the journey. I am a realist.

RLT

Be: A to Z

I wrote this as I was finishing out a tough school year for me. I wanted to say something positive and give them food for thought. This will be an annual tradition on the last day of school.

#BE

Amazing and artistic

Buoyant

Courteous, caring, and content

Dreamy, daring, and dressed for success

Engaged and exploring

Friendly, festive, and forgiving

Goal-oriented and generous

Hopeful and honorable

Interested

Joyful

Kind

Listening and learning

Marvelous and musical

Neat

On time and of good reputation

Pleasant

Quiet when writing

Respectful and reverent

Still and surprised by what life offers

Truthful and trustworthy

Understanding

Versatile

Well-mannered and willing to try or help out

Xtra careful with others’ feelings, property, and reputation.

Yourself

Zest-filled

-Mrs. Johnson

May 20, 2018

RLT

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The End Is In Sight

I realized that our class periods are shortened this week. This will mean a little less time with some of my troubled youngsters. That is not a bad thing. Less exposure to negativity is usually a good thing. I have learned that I am still a perfectionist, and I have learned that I am not elementary material. More than two class periods with some personalities drains my energy, wit, and good humor. Dealing with reluctant readers, artful dodgers, petulant toddlers in preteen bodies, and two-faced liars has taken its toll. Some of my students are really, truly damaged but perfect souls. Oh, LORD, heal them. Fill in the cracks of their little hearts, and make them whole. Some of their parents have not done this, so they seek attention and love (structure and boundaries) in any way possible.

By acting out.

By pouting and sitting with an attitude that dares me to engage them in battle. “Just try to make me do my work, lady!”

By not completing assignments so that someone will say, “Do this work, or else there will be a consequence.”

By running and hitting or kicking each other in the halls.

By being disrespectful because they see it on the TV and in the movies with parents and teachers being regarded as idiots.

By the games they play, pitting their parents against the teachers and not telling the full story. LORD, heal them, I pray, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not a train.

RLT

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Really? (Or I Regain My Joy)

One of my colleagues organized a thank you note writing campaign through our ILA (integrated language arts) department. Students wrote to two teachers. I received notes from some unexpected sources: current students who I am hard on about turning in work on a regular basis, former students who appreciated my humor, former students who recalled my words, and current students who brighten my day. I received my stack of notes during second period and put them into my bag later on. I took them out, sat in my recliner, and cried like a baby after reading some of their words. It was God telling me that my living, my striving to push the students I have, and my speaking the truth about life truly is not in vain. I was in sore need of those good words and sentiments after another long week. My troubled students’ ongoing behavioral and/or academic struggles, the normal toil of grading papers, attending meetings, and preparing for two subjects, and my concern about having my room “perfect” for state testing on Monday and Tuesday drained my energy.

Reading those notes about how I, a little middle school social studies and ILA teacher, affected some young people just blew me away. I had forgotten my prior actions and words. I just did not remember everything. But these children, these lovely, perfect souls, have restored the joy I felt I had lost. I had finally admitted it to myself two days ago and went about with a dark cloud trailing me. I had lost my smile and just felt adrift. Now, my joy is renewed, and my heart is light. I may actually shed a tear on the last day this year. I wasn’t sure that I’d feel like that, but now the bittersweetness of the end of the school year is settling in. Thank you for restoring my joy and reawakening the upbeat vibe I had let go to sleep.

RLT

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