Monthly Archives: May 2018

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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No Rest For the Wicked

I have only taken a couple of days off this year, and they were for good reasons. One was due to a family emergency, and the other was for some training and/or planning session I had to attend. I don’t feel as though I can take a day off for mental health this year. I have too many needy individuals who require the presence of the Ironclad Woman to behave properly. There is at least one needy person in each hour of the school day. Neediness ranges from those who don’t care about school or themselves, those who won’t do the work, those who have emotional problems, those who want to be handheld over every little step, those who need to stop having fits like a toddler, those who need my eyes on them as a reminder to do their work, and those whose parents are negligent. There are more, but this is enough.

I say no rest for the Wicked because at the end of the day, I feel like the Wicked Witch. “You can’t use a dictionary during a vocabulary quiz.”

“You can’t wait two minutes to go to the restroom? I’ve been waiting two hours.”

“Stop touching each other in the hallway.”

“Give her back her pencil.”

“Sit down. Turn around. Do your own work. Mind your own business.”

“Be quiet.”

“Walk down the hallways.”

“Are you telling me the truth?”

“What do you think you are doing? What possessed you to do —? When have I ever allowed you to —-? The fifth of Never is when.”

“Read your book.”

“Pick up your trash.”

“Too much chatter that does not matter.”

“I have an ARD this week?”

“What do you need?”

“Whose phone went off? Bring it to me.”

“Spit your gum out.”

“Are you mumbling under your breath?”

“Are you speaking to me like that?”

“Wish granted. Go to ISS. And take your things with you.”

“I want to hear a ‘Yes, ma’am’ and see your feet moving.” After doing this all day long, it can be exhausting.

I encourage young teachers to take a day for themselves after creating enough work to keep the Looney Tunes Road Runner busy all class period. I have a “packet of death” to complete. No one wants it, but it may be used during the last week of school. I am keeping the lions at bay by keeping them busy, busy, busy. We have sixteen full instructional days and two days of STAAR testing for our sixth graders. And I cannot relent, let go, or quit. I have taught while sick. I have taught with migraines. I have taught with little sleep. I have taught in good weather, bad weather, and in a blackout. So when the weekend comes, I actually need to stop thinking about what’s next. I need to stop feeling guilty that I didn’t get everything finished by 4:00 on Friday afternoon. Telling me that it will wait until Monday means my pile grows exponentially. At the end of the school year, June 1, I plan to walk out of the building with my head held high because I finished. I may sleep like a dead woman after our teacher work day on Saturday, June 2, but I will know that finally I can rest. Without another list of “to-do’s” coming tomorrow. Even the Ironclad Woman needs to take off her armor and rest.

RLT

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