No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Bang Head Here

The mom who wrote about my “unreasonable deadline” was understanding and appreciated my clarification when I explained the extra time and attention I took for the group of students who missed out to being in school due to an extracurricular activity. The student had completed the work, so things looked good in my grade book. Check off one parent who may not have agreed with me, but we worked it out.

Now I am scratching my head after a different parent wrote me this evening because his student does not have the work to complete the writing assignment. It is not in her possession. I cannot say if it is lost at home or in her locker. She does not have what she needs to do the work. I sent it electronically (during my protected family time!) after dad asked for a suggestion on what to do. I also carbon-copied my administrator just to keep her in the loop in the event that backlash rears its head. This is the same child who felt I hurt her feelings five weeks ago. At times I feel that no good deed goes unpunished. I am simply waiting for the other shoe to drop. Just waiting. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

RLT

Okay.

I gave some students who would miss school for a school-sponsored activity an assignment ahead of the rest of my students. Their due date is the same as the other “left behind” students; however, they had an extra night. Why was I challenged about the due date when I gave them extra time and pulled them during our homeroom time late last week to explain everything to them? Okay. This was unexpected. I do have to move forward with my lesson plans. I will be grading a number of papers over the next few days or so. I was caught off guard and wanted to fire back with a pointed question and observation of my own. I did not. A response will not be written until tomorrow within the twenty-four hour limit I am permitted. 

RLT

Guilt-Free Sundays

It is Mother’s Day. My husband and son went with me to church and then took me out to lunch at one of my favorite places. We came home and got changed into our comfortable gear. I sat in the recliner with a book and three pieces of chocolate candy. They went to the computer room/office. I did not see them for the next three hours because I took a nap. A paralysis nap. A nap that makes the sleeper feel groggy upon reluctant awakening. It was just what I needed. With the work that I do expending mental and physical energy on others’ children, my own child and beloved spouse allowed me the opportunity to just be by sleeping.

They let me rest each Sunday when I collapse into my bed. They do not bother me with phone calls or emails that can wait. They let me rest. This precious restorative time heals any anxieties from missed sleep on week nights. I believe my Sunday naps keep me going on the four or five-hour sleep nights that pepper the latter part of the work week. I feel no guilt any more. I have to rest sometime, or my body will get run down and make me ill. No thanks. I will curl up like a kitten, and I will sleep.

RLT

A Little Bit Lonely

I am normally upbeat and positive, but even a twenty-one year veteran can have the blues. I am not naturally a social butterfly. I am an introvert who gains her energy and drive to carry on being solitary at times. As you will learn from reading my blog posts and updates, my solitary time is not always my choice.

RLT

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Feelings

At times, my voice carries more than I intend it to. Yesterday, I spoke to one of my young ladies about her assignment that she turned in. I was talking to her, and she thought I did this in front of the entire class. She apparently started crying in class, but I did not see her tear up. She went home and cried to her parents about feeling humiliated. After dad’s email sent at 8:00 P.M. last night, I knew I had to call and talk to a parent and did so during my conference time today. I did not mean to hurt her feelings and said as much. I know she is capable and smart as a whip. I had absolutely no problem apologizing for hurt feelings. That was not my intention. I think that we are okay for now.

RLT

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Remember Why You Are Here

When I was asked to complete a PLC or professional learning community with my academic team, I decided that at this time of the year, encouragement was the item most needed. We all have tests, projects, and new technological tools to try. We have students who break our hearts and challenge us to be better teachers. We are here daily for many different reasons. What are those reasons? They vary as the educator varies. Some work out of necessity. Some teach because it is their passion. Working to bring new ideas and concepts to young people makes their feet hit the floor in a happy dance. Some hope to move on to other aspects of the educational umbrella. Their current assignment is one of the steps in their pathway of life. Some hope to survive until retirement comes. Some teach because it’s all they desire to do. They have joy.

Synonyms for joy include delight or exuberance. Joy comes from within the heart and is not fleeting like happiness. Joy radiates in the face despite a tired smile and body with achy feet. Joy is not a mood but a mindset. I want to focus on why we became teachers. I want us to remember our first love of teaching and reminisce enough to regain a bit of that joy.

I picked up a book from my personal library at school titled Apples & Chalkdust: Inspirational Stories and Encouragement for Teachers. It was published in 1998, the same year my son was born. I was nowhere near a classroom at that point in my life and was perfectly content to stay at home raising my son. When August 1998 rolled around, that internal timer screamed, “It’s time for back to school!” That must explain why I bought the book. Periodically, I’ve stumbled through the pages, but today I was struck by the hope offered. I wanted to share a meaningful vignette from Ms. Caruana’s timely inspirational book.

“Love Your Job”

Ellen knew she wanted to be a teacher since the first grade. She could remember setting her bedroom up like a classroom and making her four siblings be the students.

Her first grade teacher, Mrs. Robinson, loved her students. They in turn loved her and loved to learn. Ellen wanted to instill that same love in others, so she became a teacher.

All agree that teachers don’t get paid enough. You have to be in it for more than money. You have to love to teach.

Ellen always felt on fire when she was teaching. When a lesson clicked, it was an exhilarating feeling.

Once in a while she’d give students a chance to teach the class. They knew the material well enough to make a presentation. Those who volunteered did so out of desire, not out of outside pressure. She could see future teachers among her students. She could see their love for learning.

So when the union couldn’t negotiate a higher raise or the budget was cut again and her materials were meager, she was still happy.

Ellen was doing what she loved, and she did it well.

Remember to teach from your heart, not from duty.

Takeaway: When you do what you love, you do it well, no matter the circumstances.¹

¹Caruana, Vicki. Apples & Chalkdust.Tulsa: Honor Books, 1998. Print.

Discussion Questions to Ponder:

  • Can you pinpoint what motivated you to be on the other side of the desk?
  • Who inspired you to take that step into the classroom?
  • What brings you joy in the classroom?
  • What brings you joy as a teacher?
  • What can you do to bring joy to yourself and others?
  • Why are you here? (Personal reflection)

RLT

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A Few Classroom Tips

I use laminated calendar pages as cover sheets for quizzes and tests. The kids love seeing a scenic location from the United States or just Texas. They never know which one they will receive.

I bake brownies, cookies, or a cake as therapy after a stressful day with my students.

I play my rock ‘n roll music at generally unacceptably loud levels when the kids have left the building, and only my beloved custodian knows my tunes and mood because of what I’ve chosen to blast through the hallways.

I tell my students that desks, chairs, and all belong to me. They are to treat my belongings with respect.

I take notes when I talk to parents, especially when the conversation will probably be touchy.

Golf PencilsGolf pencils because the students HATE them. No erasers. This is one of the best teaching hacks I have encountered. Fewer pencils are missing as a result.

Just once, record yourself reading a test or quiz for your students who need the tests or quizzes read to them. Use the normal cadence of speech because that is what they are accustomed to hearing. Smile as you read it. They can hear the warmth in your voice.

Wait until you are calm before dashing off the ultimate scathing email that “that parent” needs to read to gain a truer picture of the truth: the “perfect” child who would never do ____ is not so perfect after all.

Fabric is great to cover bulletin boards. I change my boards several times a year to keep it updated and fresh.

Introduce yourself first to some of the veteran teachers who work in your hallway. You may need one of them sooner than you think. Just sticking to your department does not make you look friendly.

Keep your conversations at lunch clean and your comments about students factual. No emotions should be involved because the campus gossip has the auditory equivalent of a photographic memory and will repeat what you say word for word with hand gestures included.

I keep my “pantry” stockpiled with snack foods just in case I get too hungry.Classic Look

Invest in some well-made clothing for work. Classic looks work well any day of the week. It sets you apart in a favorable way.

Keep an emergency substitute plan ready. Taking a mental health day keeps you employed.

Students will visit tutorials and stay longer than expected when you need to visit the bathroom. They will ask questions that only you can answer, so you stay put with that fake smile of pain plastered to your face. It never fails.

Do not make excuses for a student’s bad behavior or a poorly-managed class. Keep them in line, or someone else will.

Expect your students to meet your high expectations. Do not lower your expectations. Many a struggling student has overcome the hardships in life to become a success.

Be a good neighbor. While you are accustomed to a noisy, unruly-sounding atmosphere, your neighbor is not cut from the same cloth. She prefers silence or soft instrumental music during individual work time. Shared walls transmit more sound than imagined. Respect each other’s differences.

I make anchor charts with color because I still love to color.

Compound Sentence Anchor Chart

Have a good cry at home in your bubble bath while drinking your ginger ale after a horrible day at school that left you wondering why you became a teacher in the first place. Open your eyes the next morning, and say, “Thank You, LORD, for giving me rest last night. Please guide me through this day. Give me the strength I need just for today.” Brew the best pot of coffee possible or grab one from a local coffeehouse, put on a killer outfit, walk with firmness and determination in your step, and get back in there, and teach. Teach, teach, teach.

RLT

P. S. The picture of the darling classic outfit is from one of my boards on Pinterest, the golf pencils came from Staples website, and the anchor chart is my own creation. RLT

One of the Looks Teachers Give

I created this meme using a screen shot of Bugs Bunny. He is my favorite philosopher who said, “Don’t take life so seriously; you’ll never make it out alive.” Good food for thought.

Bugs Bunny Meme.jpg

RLT

Sweetie Runs Away

A student I have recently christened Sweetie brought his homework to the library during check out time. I found his work and picked it up. I was seated with a different student I’ll call my back-up and waited for Sweetie to discover the “theft.” Soon enough, he glanced my direction just as I slid the papers to the side of the table. I invited him to come and sit with me and my little enforcer.

“Why would your assignment need to come to the library?” No response was forthcoming but a charming smile. Bingo!

“I brought it to work on it.” My enforcer began to chuckle silently covering the smile with his hand as he attempted to read his book.

“Look around you. What do you see?” By this time, the tables held students engaged in the joyful pastime of reading silently.

“People reading.”

“Right! Now, why on earth would you need to bring this?” I waved the papers in my right hand and moved the pencil out of his range with my left. I turned to my enforcer and commented, “We’re both curious. Why would you bring your vocabulary if you knew we would be in the library checking out books? By the way, Enforcer (name withheld), don’t way the magic word that keeps me in check.” Sweetie looked at me but had no response other than the return of that engaging grin.

Sweetie’s science teacher happened by the library as we prepared to depart and saw some of our interaction and mentioned it to him. As we left the library, I felt the need to have a one-inch conversation with Sweetie. I draped my arm around his shoulders and whispered in his left ear. He scooted back to class in record time, so it must have been something I said. Hmm.

RLT

Shug!

I have a new focus this week. I found him yesterday, and I call him “Shug.” Be sure to draw out that long vowel sound for maximum effect. “Shug” has a mobile phone, and it dinged in class during first period as I was distributing quizzes to my class. He turned it over to me per school policy. Later during our teaming, I asked for him to come to my class for our homeroom time so that I could get him caught up on his missing work. I acted overjoyed to see him arrive in my classroom yesterday in the afternoon and promptly seated him close to my work station for proximity control.

Shug will be a heartbreaker once he reaches manhood. It is a fact. It is also a fact that I am immune to these miniature ladykillers who attempt to get past me with their boyish good looks. I tell them, “I am immune, immovable, and immortal. Try it on a twelve year old girl” in such a sweet manner that they realize the jig is up.

I monitored my students and expect them to work without me reminding them. They don’t get to sit idle when homework needs completing. Some crazy, earsplitting noise broke the silence, and my eyes met the sparkling brown eyes of my young charge. I sat next to him and watched him up close and personal.

During his work time, Shug made the mistake of exclaiming, “Oh, man!”

“I am a beautiful woman. Don’t ever forget it.” He lowered his head, smiled, and resumed work in a decidedly subdued manner (for him anyway). “Saying, ‘Oh, woman’ is not appropriate either. I am the beautiful woman who is staring at you while you work, Shug.

“Yes, you ought to turn red over that one.” He did not because he is already used to females watching him. I do like this young man who pays attention to everything else going on around him, moves with a constant frenetic energy, and is blessed with a bass voice that can not whisper. “I will come to your wedding and call you ‘Shug’ in front of your little wife,” I smiled. For some reason, he departed my room rapidly. I guess he did not want my undivided attention after all.

Today, Shug came back to visit me during homeroom. He worked diligently on his math homework but let out some other screeching noise that attracted my notice. I invited him to remain after school making as much noise as he wanted. One of my little artistic girls who I will call “Wolf Girl” witnessed the noise production and left shaking her head as Shug darted out the door. Boo hoo, abandoned again.

Wolf Girl loves drawing. It is so ingrained in her blood that she cannot help doodling in her workbook while still paying attention. Wolf Girl does not comprehend the word simple in regards to sketches or art work. I should give up trying to teach her the meaning, but I remind her every time we have a creative twist on an assignment.

RLT

 

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