Category Archives: Something Positive!

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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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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Joy and Rest

I still have over seven days of rest coming to me over the Christmas break. I have relished the time not monitoring accommodations, behavior issues, or deadlines. My joy is magnified by the fact that I will have some time with my college aged son while both of us aren’t working for a few days. I will be coming home from school on time while he’s here. My rest comes in the form of long afternoon naps that produce zero guilt as I don my comfortable sweats, goofy Christmas socks, and warm sweaters. I am thankful for time to recharge my batteries. Truly.

RLT

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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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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He Loves Me After All

Last week I started school. We will be out a week ahead of everyone else in the area when June 2018 arrives. I digress.

On the second day of school, I looked up before fourth period started. I see two former students headed down the hallway carrying their lunches smiling ear to ear. It was Papi and his friend Mijito. They hugged me hello and sent my heart over the moon. I was beaming!

Papi is on the football team. I was surprised since he had no interest from our conversations last year. I was on my morning duty last week before school started and saw him going to the counselor’s office with a posse. I sent the posse packing to find out what was going on. He needed a reminder of his new locker and combination in the 7th grade hallway. I have access to that information. While I was on the computer logging in, he said, “I just got the football schedule.”

“Oh.” Inside I am smirking and glowing.

“You want me to give it you?”

“No, that’s all right. I can get it. Would you be okay with me coming to see you play?”

“Yes, ma’am.” I found the information he needed and he was on his way. “Thank you, Mrs. Johnson.”

“You’re welcome, hon.” If it were cool for me to have done it, a tear would have rolled down my cheek. Papi still loves me. I have done my job as his “school mama.”

RLT

Completed.

The school year ended today. My being a teacher of record concluded as well. Next year will bring new faces to my classroom.

My sick young lady was able to go to school and finish the school year with her classmates. I am glad.

Papi gave me another goodbye hug and consented to take a picture with me. I’ll include all three takes.

I cried saying goodbye to my former students who were ending their eighth grade year and making a final walk through the school. I will probably cry a bit tomorrow at the last staff meeting because some will not return for one reason or another. My prayer is that their new endeavors bring them joy and a satisfying sense of a job well done.

RLT

March Madness

This was Friday afternoon during lunch. Some of my kids knew I would be watching the NCAA Tournament online during breaks and at lunch. I had invited some of my young basketball fans to watch with me. On Thursday, I had lunch with seven eighth graders and five sixth graders. This is Friday’s group of sixth graders. Word of mouth spreads information quickly. We all had fun. 🏀🏀🏀

RLT

Email to a Mom

Our team has a goal to make positive contact with about ninety percent of our parents. We are doing this with phone calls and emails. I took a risk and wrote an email to Papi’s mom today. This is the text of the email.
Hi, I know we have spoken on the phone and communicated via email about me keeping him for extra time after school on a couple of occasions. I am writing because I wanted you to know that I enjoy having Papi this year. I don’t know if he has said anything about me to you, but my family knows about him. He is a unique young man, and I have threatened to adopt him. My husband has vetoed me on that score. Papi was in my arboretum field trip group this past November and acted as a junior chaperone. It was actually quite sweet although you may not want to tell him that. He helped me keep track of the kids in our group and kept me laughing even when I did not let him see me laughing.
 
I love that young man and look forward to seeing him every day. I wanted to let you know. Have a good evening.
RLT

Lazy Daisy

Today is a self-proclaimed lazy day. I have no plans but to wear comfortable clothes, read my novel, drink my coffee, and cover my legs with a homemade quilt this morning. Energizer Bunnies like me need the time to deprogram from the normal hustle, bustle, tussle that is my work day. Enjoy your own day away soon.

RLT

P.S. Yes, those are my toes peeking out underneath the quilt and an oversized Christmas mug of peppermint mocha coffee.