Monthly Archives: September 2017

A Little Respite

I saw a couple of former students this past week. One was at the volleyball game last night. He is now a senior in high school. I marveled at his height and how grown up he looked. He was one of my Footies, a group of boys and one girl who were mad about football (their word for soccer). I kept up with Manchester United, Barcelona, and Real Madrid’s stats that year just to connect with them. I am no soccer expert, but catching their enthusiasm was fun.

I asked Papi to come see me after he finished up some work for math after school. I will be monitoring him as much as possible from my little corner of the world. I miss our daily battles, but now I can treat him with the frank affection reserved for a son (being embarrassing by showing up in his hallway without warning) and no one will be jealously saying, “He’s your favorite!” He was my favorite sixth grader last year; this year he is my favorite seventh grader. Period. Papi had that funny little smile when he saw that I had written my birthday in his planner. A son should always remember his mom’s birthday even if she’s his school mom and just there for a season.

RLT

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What is Sleep?

Sleep is Overrated

I tend to nap for at least two hours daily on the weekends. I’ve turned on my NCAA football games to watch one game only to awaken and find another set of teams battling on the gridiron. During the week, I have reached the conclusion that sleep is overrated. I may get six hours a night when I am fortunate. My mind snaps me awake with a brilliant idea that cannot wait to live. I rise and type when the muse inspires me. I grab a blanket, turn on the ceiling fan in the den, and curl up in the recliner. Other “nights” find me staring dully at my iPhone while playing Merged or Two Dots. At 3:13 A.M. no less. Ugh.

My students’ needs consume my waking hours and snatch me from my dreams at night. This explains my summer nap coma mode when I take serious naps daily and feel no shame about a need to close my eyes for a wee bit of rest. If I don’t find the time to bank my sleep over the weekend, I pay for it with a dearth of energy and a plethora of driven energy.

RLT

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You’re Out!

Yes, I asked two different students to leave my room today. One was being cruel to another student. The cruel one has a history of mumbling and stirring the pot. He had to get stepping. The second one has decided he doesn’t want zeroes, but he doesn’t want to work. After multiple warnings over several days to get to work, stop making noise, and to follow directions, he too had to step. He was coloring himself a canary yellow with his highlighter. Really? Hit the bricks. The other students are now coming to grips with the fact that I actually want a learning environment for the ones who want to learn. Enough tyranny of the minority who suck up energy monitoring them like little babies who cannot be trusted to stay away from trouble. My eighty to ninety percent of do-gooders deserve their education. I plan to make it known that it is unacceptable to disrupt learning to follow your own agenda. That is it. Get in line, or hit the bricks. Third strike and you’re out. I start each day anew when they let me, but bad behavior deserves its own reward: relief on the faces of my students who wanted to learn in peace. Wish granted.

RLT

Parent Contact Day, Round 1

I contacted several parents via email or phone to alert them about their students’ behavior choices and how that was impacting others and the students’ grades. Some seemed receptive, especially the mom I called about her son’s off-task behavior in class and the dad I called because his son stood up for me against some ugly under the breath muttering from one of my students who has decided that I hate him. No, I don’t like that Mutter Man doesn’t do his work in class or at home. I don’t like that he has chosen to fail school rather than be bothered with work. The only grades I will receive from Mutter Man will be what is completed in class such as quizzes, tests, and classwork. He has decided his academic fate unless something happens and his parents step in and make him complete his homework at home.

When I called the Defender’s dad, he was surprised to hear from me during the fifth week of school. I told him what his son did, and he affirmed his character. I told him I was grateful for his son being in my class this year. The fact that he talks a little more than he should makes him human but quite lovable. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

RLT

Four Weeks. Done.

After four full weeks of school, I am tired and ready for a respite. The weekend arrived in time. I normally do not adopt a jaded tone in my posts, but this year will be a challenge to me as a professional educator. I have some students who are truly mean-spirited. They do not like each other. They mutter insults and cut-downs under their breath. I warn. I assign lunch detentions. Now they have to leave. They will go to the short-term removal classroom. They will serve detentions.

I have several who have anger management issues. They make a verbal outburst of words and/or noise when corrected. Mumbling under the breath is their means of fighting back. These are angry young people who are so miserable, they are spreading the misery to me as well. Sigh. I have two with parents who don’t care. I mean truly do not care. It saddens the heart and makes the mission more difficult. Feeling like this makes me question my mission. I was glad to hear the last bell today. My colleagues and I need strength for each day and bright hope for tomorrow. Keep us in your prayers, friends.

RLT

Kitchen Therapy

This year is proving a bit more intense than I had planned. Now I must maintain data for some of my students who need accommodations. I have some students who are still not school-ready. They resist my authority over even the smallest things like standing still during the moment of silence or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance respectfully. One loves to hum and make noises that distract and disturb others for some reason. Yes, they are 11 and 12 year olds. When I felt too overloaded last week, I told my team members I was going to go home and cry. I meant it with every fiber of my being. I kept myself together during the day, and no one saw me crack.

I did my crying yesterday in the morning while reading my Bible. I wept not only because of my frustration and energy loss but because my son has been gone for two weeks back to college. I miss his dark brown eyes snapping with laughter and merriment. I miss him.

When I get too overwhelmed, I turn to food. I bake cakes, cookies, and pies. Something about measuring the ingredients like flour, sugar, and vanilla extract soothes my mind. I made brownies and a 1-2-3-4 cake and will take them to school tomorrow. Perhaps my colleagues would like a bit of homemade dessert during the day. I just feel better as a result. I hope they don’t mind. I may have to donate some of my baking to my local fire department too. Just a thought.

RLT

A Chance Sighting

I was headed home after my hair appointment and happened to spot a group of six teen-aged boys walking along the street. I recognized four of them as former students from my campus and pulled in to the parking lot they were about to enter and said hello. They enthusiastically came over and greeted me. I was invited to their football and fall baseball games and put the times into my phone’s calendar. I would have loaded all six of them into the little Civic I was driving if I had room. How I wished I had driven my larger vehicle today. They would have been taken home safely and in air conditioning. I would have listened to their bantering and laughed until I cried. These young men reminded me of my purpose for what I do day after day.

I have two subjects this year–social studies and language arts. I was asked to take this on, and I did. My assignment gives me the best of both worlds. I had struggled with the late hours I have stayed at work these past two weeks and just had an epiphany. Because of my attention to detail, I prepare for both of them with a fervor akin to a first year teacher determined to not overlook some small detail. We are implementing a new way to reach students’ needs for enrichment and review during our homeroom time three days a week. Our students are being encouraged to participate in a positive behavior system. My son left for university on Sunday morning, and I am missing his merry eyes snapping with laughter, the ceiling fan he leaves on in my den, and the sound of his voice. I have several students whose puzzle boxes I must learn and solve quickly to establish any type of decent relationship I would like to have with them. I must have some type of connection to attempt to win them over. One of my students deeply concerns me because he cannot remember his locker combination or his daily schedule. I wrote it out and put it into his lanyard so that he could see it without worrying about carrying a steadily fraying piece of paper around with his schedule and locker combination. His locker is in front of my room, and I see him struggle to pay attention, follow directions, and arrive to class on time daily. I am searching for a way get the light bulb to click on to help him remember this most basic information.

That is why seeing my baseball boys I used to watch play four years ago uplifted my soul. Even a veteran teacher needs some encouragement and reassurance from the most unlikely encounters. Those boys will never know how much it meant to me to see the joy in their eyes and hear it also in their voices.

RLT

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