Tag Archives: Personal

Worn Out

By this time of year, I have written multiple office referrals, failure notices, detentions, and mandatory tutorial schedules. I have kept records of my interventions with the students who fail every test and quiz I give them. I took a two hour nap yesterday (Saturday) and another two hour nap today. I am worn out. Students want to be out of school. We still have 39 days left at this point in the school year. I want to be on my own schedule, too, but I know that I must wait for my reward. That is part of life. It’s “normal” to feel worn out in the early spring.

The misbehaving students, the hormonal students, and even the “on the fence about my behavior choices” students test our limits and patience. Kids have fights. They bring unacceptable items to school and get suspended. They sneak their mobile phones into the classroom and play silly games when you don’t happen to be right over the desk. They stare into space and dare you to make them learn. I would accomplish more if I truly had Mom and Dad insisting on better behavior at school. If some of my students who made poor choices were disciplined at home and contrite at school, I think I could accomplish quite a bit more. I cannot enrich my higher achievers because I am asked to do something about my failure rates. Those same kids perform poorly in multiple classes. My social studies class requires some reading acumen. Read the text with understanding. Answer questions that require thought. Make an effort to participate in discussions. Bring a pencil to class. Make sure you have the correct binder. Arrive to class on time. Please don’t make my time with you an ordeal of nerves making sure I am ever vigilant about managing your off task behavior choices. Please allow me to expend my energy expanding your world instead of controlling your impulses. Please. I am worn out. I go home and melt into a puddle. My family gets my leftover energy. I don’t have creativity for cooking innovative meals. I haul your work that I still have to grade home. If I have school aged children of my own, I have their homework to check over and their daily living to experience. I must manage bed time, adolescent angst, sports teams, and my marriage. Sometimes, if I ask you to sit for five minutes and read quietly, this gives me just a moment to breathe, regroup, and prepare for the next class. It is not laziness that makes me sit down with my shoes off after school. I have a life outside of school, and all too often at this time of year, I am too. One weary to do anything about it. Please show some mercy to your teachers. We are worn out. Worn. Out.

RLT

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Spewing Beats Stewing

The title sounds gross, but it’s better to get things out of the system instead of allowing them to fester and make things worse. I had several students absent on the last two days of the previous school year. Some of them had been disruptive to the learning environment. Others would not have caused a bit of trouble or planned anything “cute” as revenge of some sort. I read another teacher’s blog about some parents’ habits with their kids.

  1. Enabling bad behavior. “I can’t discipline him or take away his XBOX. He won’t give me the controls.” A well-wielded claw hammer will deal with the XBOX controls nicely when Junior is asleep.
  2. Being a child’s friend. Nope, you’re mom or dad. It’s your job to make and enforce rules, even when they are unpopular.
  3. Badmouthing the teacher in front of the student. This never has a happy ending.
  4. Not being connected or seemingly concerned (no response to emails and phone calls about academic and/or behavioral issues).
  5. Expecting life to be “fair” or easy for their students. Some students have legitimate educational issues that may or may not require meds. That’s fine. Expecting me to bump a grade on a project because Mom disagrees with the rubric is not going to work.
  6. Expecting a student to pass a course’s marking period with zero effort. I cannot grade air. If I could grade good intentions successfully, my failure rate would be close to zero. There is always one bad apple who doesn’t care what I think. Nor does the bad apple care what Grandma, Aunt Bunny, or Santa Claus things. Bad Apple has it all figured out. “You can’t make me.” Correct. I can make your life miserable with lunch detentions and TNRs (Thursday Night Reflections – three hour long detentions for academic and behavioral concerns). Bring. It. On.
  7. Writing emails on Friday after school hours expecting an immediate response about a daily or minor grade. Not a test grade. A daily or minor grade that will not affect the student’s grade point average for the marking period.
  8. Wanting to meet multiple times about the same issue we discussed in the first meeting last semester: he’s avoiding work, being stubborn and insubordinate, and doing things to aggravate the other kids to the point one of them nearly took a swing at him the other day until they heard me walk up behind them. Fix it at home.
  9. Demanding special treatment. Period. You’re on the school board. You’re the PTA president. You’re related to the mayor. You’ve been to the World Series the last twenty years. Nice try, but no cigar. It’s bad for your health.
  10. Taking kids on vacations during the school year does not place an emphasis on their educations. It would be fine during the days off; however, trips are planned for Disney World, Universal Studios, or overseas when we have grades due in the next week or two. Could you give me the assignments he will have for the next week since he’s going on a cruise with our family? Sure. Junior’s going to concentrate on my assignments while he cavorts at a water park, theme park, beach party, etc. And that online component will be easy with the Internet so readily available. Here’s the ship’s Wifi code. Good luck, kid.

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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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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Robbed Again

I want to report a robbery, but the thief cannot be described to any law enforcement agency. My restful night of sleep has been stolen again. I awakened the other night and completed a review for my language arts students to play before their test on Thursday. Last night I was up writing in my prayer journal, and tonight (right now at 2:17 A.M.), I have finished documentation for some of my students’ learning goals. Always having one more urgent item on my “to do” list robs me of my rest. I don’t help my case by falling asleep on my couch in front of the telly. I awaken and realize that I have to now wash my face, brush my teeth, and dress for sleep. All of these tasks wake me up. The past few nights have nearly brought me to tears with the cruelty of certainty. “It’s 3:15. You are awake!” my triumphant brain shouts. “Now let’s get to work. You still have these tasks to do. You have not written that email. Oh, did you update the website for the week? Parents will be expecting it done first thing Monday morning. Slacker! Why don’t you get things done more efficiently?” As a result, I must carefully keep my tiredness hidden from my students who would exploit any weakness they detect. The LORD has been gracious and given me far more patience than five or so hours of broken rest warrant. I am thankful for that blessing. Now I am tucking the comforter around my frozen little toes since it’s cold outside, signing off, and setting my alarm to awaken me when the coffee maker begins brewing.

RLT

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Hooky!

I played hooky from school work today and cleaned my closet in my bedroom. It is tidy, and I can clearly see my clothes for work and casual times. It tired me out so much I needed a nap. I read about one-third of a novel by Cathy Kelly, and had a nice lunch out with my husband. No lesson plans or grading happened today. I did listen to one of EddieBComedy’s videos and laughed. He truly understands teachers. ¡Ciao! 😂

RLT

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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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