Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lessons I Learned in 2009: I Am So Not Rookie of the Year

It's been interesting looking back at 2009. Looking at it objectively, I was so not rookie of the year at being an adult or entering the teaching profession. It has been a rough ride and I have made more than my share of mistakes.

Yet, I feel more secure in being an independent adult and more competent in being a professional educator than I ever have. I learned some big lessons in 2009 and for that I am grateful.

This is my last reflection list post. For the new year, I want to look ahead to 2010.

This is my list of things I learned about teaching and life while teaching in 2009.

10.) Wait for perspective instead of jumping to conclusions. I don't think I'll ever learn this lesson as thoroughly as I should, but I am trying. It is so easy for me to take the facts I know, apply sound deductive logic, and hold onto conlcusions I reach with a deathgrip. The problem is that I am missing a lot of facts. With time, comes perspective. It is the waiting that is soooo hard!
9.)Think Longterm. This is hard to do when you are in your early twenties (at least for me), but it is better to live frugally than take out loans. It is better to wait for things to improve in work situations than to abandon ship. It is better to spend the time you have with your family than to party. It is better to live for eternity than for the present.
8.) Record Keeping and Organization Is Key. I knew this in theory for a long time, but believe me I only have been able to practice these habits this school year. I have had to work on it financially too, since I live on a budget now.
7.) Red Light Cameras Have Video Devices. This lesson cost me 200$ and one day.
6.) Failure Is Good Medicine. It is not so bad to lose some pride. It is good to learn that you are still learning.
5.) Don't Quit When Things Are Hard. There is a time when it is okay to change paths, but it is certainly after the struggle. Quitting because you haven't yet learned something or haven't figured it out is a terrible idea.
4.) I Can Live with Less. It has been a hard financial year, but I have learned that I can live with less.
3.) Being Independent Is Its Own Reward. From roof rats to huge tuition bills to career issues I have dealt with a lot on my own this year. It is interesting because so many of my peers got married this year, but I have realized that I can handle a lot. Life is such an adventure and I would hate to miss it because I thought I had to rely on everyone else. Don't get me wrong, I think marraige is a blessing, but I do feel a bit bad for my friends who seem to feel helpless. I guess I am just saying it is good for me to be independent because if I wasn't forced into it then I might never have done it.
2.) Teach Social Studies! I can't believe how much I love teaching this subject. As an elementary teacher, it is easy to sweep this to the side, but it is so important. I just saw our latest benchmarks and my kids scored above the other classes again. I think it is because they are authentically reading so much informational text through Social Studies. I can't wait to start The Age of Exploration and Discovery on Monday.
1.)Bring who you are to the classroom. There is more than one right style of teaching. As a new teacher, lots of well-meaning people hope to see you grow into their style. Learn from those more experienced than you but don't try to fit into a mold you don't fit into. The more that I have relaxed and done what feels natural in the classroom, the better things have gone for me. I am really academic and people told me I was missing the heart of teaching, but by trying to be something else I lost what I loved about the job. Sharing my love of knowledge with the kids gave me common ground to do better with them. Start with your strengths and use those to compensate for your weaknesses.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Year in Blogs

Looking back on January one year ago, I can't believe what a hard time I was having. It is hard for me to read blog posts I wrote then because I was so unhappy and I feel that again when I read it. Dealing with my Granddad's cancer, my bad class, and my bad boss was a lot for me. It seems like a long long time ago now.

February posts last year make me laugh because I was in a very bad place emotionally, but rationally I was dealing with exactly the same issues I am dealing with right now. How will the state's budget affect me? Is teaching really what I want from a career?

Except for the stunt at the end of the school year, March was the climax of my problems with principal Sadie. I was under so much pressure at work. I was actually losing weight, and I was skinny anyways. That was a tough, tough month for me. I turned twenty-four, but I felt like I should be turning about fifty.

I hate to read my April posts because I see that I really wasn't doing a very good job at this point. If I could talk to me in April, I would just give me a hug. It's not that I wasn't trying. It was the stress and pressure getting to me. I always always cared, but I was not at the top of my game in April. If I had April to do over again, I would do a lot differently, but then again whose to say I could do anything differently if I was under that level of stress again.

May was the end of that bad school year that I had. It was also when Principal Sadie pulled that awful stunt. Knowing what I now know, about why all that happened and things she said to other people; it makes me really mad that she did that to me. The ends have been okay, but I don't think the ends justify the means in this case.

June was a much needed break for me.

July is when I started thinking about where I was going. I needed that long to get over being forced to switch grade levels on the last day of school, but I knew that I had to do my best in my new assignment whether I wanted it or not. I was starting to think about a new school year where I didn't have that difficult class, I didn't work for Principal Sadie, and I was going to teach younger kids.

In August, I spent a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop. It never did. I adjusted to switching around and I enjoyed teaching a lot more when I wasn't working for Principal Sadie.

In September, I really started getting over my complex that I was a bad teacher. I was actually starting to enjoy teaching again.

October went by fast for me. I was in a routine and things ran smoothly.

November is when I started wondering seriously about what will happen next year. It was a big month for education politics in my state. I was also thinking about where I want to go (gradelevel) if I am given a choice next year.

December was a great month. This Christmas Break has been very relaxing. I am actually excited to go back to work and start third quarter with my class. This school year has certainly been very different from last school year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Bucket List

I got an update via e-mail about my student with brain cancer. I haven't said much because I haven't known much, but I do know now that she is having surgery on Monday, January 4th. That will be our first day back at school. I don't know right now if it is risky and I don't know how long recovery will take.

I guess in life you just never know how long you have on this earth. Which brings me to my next list post. I hated the movie bucket list, but I like the idea of figuring out things you would like to do in this life and just doing them. So this is my list of things I would like to do in this life.

10.) Join a Bookclub. I have always wanted to, but apparently this is not an interest most of my age bracket shares.
9.) Be Fluent in a Foreign Language. I have studied Spanish and Latin, but I want to communicate in a second language.
8.) Decorate a whole house in the style I want. This might sound stupid, but I want my home decor in a coherent theme I choose. My theme right now is budget and empty space.
7.) Have the opportunity to be really brave and take it. I don't know how to explain this, but as often as being bold has gotten me into trouble I would like to have the opportunity to use it for good. I'll take the bullet. Gosh that sounds fatalistic (that is so not how I mean it).
6.) See Greece. I've been lucky enough to see Europe. I would love to see Greece at some point.
5.) Spend a good amount of time in a foreign country. I love traveling and I think I would like living abroad...
4.) Go on a really difficult hike. If you knew me, you would probably be surprised by this, but I always loved hiking and have a taste for adventure. My vision is hiking to Machu Pichu.
3.) Finish a graduate degree. One year from now, Lord willing, I will cross this one off my list.
2.) Get married. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
1.) Write a book and maybe get it published. I have high dreams about writing fiction, but my largest files of writing are factual and anecdotal so we'll see. Perhaps I'll have to do something worth reading before I can produce that level of writing.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Favorite Fashion Trends of 2009

When I was a senior in college all the girls in my program went to a teacher's convention and we made a secret pact. A pact never to fall victim to some unfortunate teacher's fashion trends. I have kept that pact. Who says teachers can't wear cute clothes?!!!

10.) Scarves. I can't wear these too often here, but I think they make a very nice addition to almost any winter outfit. This scarf is from the Gap.


9.)Leggings. Okay, I know people hate this, but I like them. They're comfortable and they make getting out of the car in a slightly short skirt much easier (if you're not the type to give the world a show). These leggings can be found at Nordstrom's. Look at Nordstrom's Rack, though, and save your money. (

8.) Bermuda Shorts. Yes, it is more of a summer trend, but I just thank God that short shorts are not the only choice anymore. They are really not flattering on anyone. These shorts are at Dillards. (

7.) Mineral Powder. This makeup really is much better for skin and it looks better too.

6.) Immitation Ugs. This trend is short-lived here in the desert, but these boots are really really comfortable. These boots are from DSW. (

5.) Cardigans. I have to buy cardigans made out of t-shirt material and with short sleeves if possible because it is hot here, but I love these because it makes an outfit you would wear around town much more professional for work. This cardigan is from Target. (

4.) Skinny Jeans. I love skinny jeans and I wear them almost every day. These are from Forever21! (

3.) Flat Irons for Hair. For those of us with really really thick hair, this fashion trend is amazing. I hate how it takes so much time, but I love the look.

2.) Chunky Jewelry! I love wearing a big necklace and earrings. I don't have many big bracelets, but I would if I had discretionary income! This bracelet is from New York and Co. (

1.) Big Bags! I love carrying a big purse that can fit my laptop--well my school district's laptop--and my books! This bag is from Target. (

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Top Ten Books Ever

Last night, we went out to celebrate my friend's twenty-fifth birthday. Her husband rented a hummer stretch limo. We were all over town, but everyone was making fun of me because I brought my big bag containing the three books I am reading. I didn't do it on purpose, and believe me at some point during that night I am not sure I could have read at all, but I always carry books with me. It's just a habit I developed a long time ago.

This list of books represents the books I carry with me in my head all the time. I have read most of them many many times and they change the way I think about things.

10.)To End All Wars
I can't believe the power of this true story. Don't watch the movie because it really missed the mark, but do read this book!!!
9.) Angela's Ashes
I am reading the sequel to this book right now, and maybe that is why I thought of it, but it really got in my head. Poverty is poverty. It was easier for me to learn about poverty from an irish man who faced it twenty years ago than from the many children I've known in poverty, but I identify with a book reading irish man, what can I say?
8.) To Kill a Mockingbird
My roots are very southern. It is easy for me to see a small southern town (even one from twenty years before I was born) in my mind's eye. The characters in this book really speak to me and the narrator reminds me of my own mother.
7.) Jane Eyre
I like a lot of literature from this genre. I own all of Jane Austin's books and I own a fair amount of Dickens, but Jane Eyre is the book that most impacted me. Maybe because she is a teacher...
6.) Gone with the Wind
Why do I like this book? It has it all: romance, history, suspense, and comedy. I was raised to love this book. Really. I don't own a copy, though, can you believe it? For years I've wanted to steal my mother's copy which I used to read frequently when I lived at home. I guess someday I inherit it since I am the only girl...
5.) Not Without My Daughter
I don't have any definitive reasons about why this book meant so much to me. As a woman, I really like to read woman authors who speak honestly about their lives. I have read this book many many times.
4.) The Great Divorce
C.S. Lewis is the kind of author who makes me want to keep reading the same page of his book over and over. He paints a beautiful picture with words. I chose this particular book of his because it made me see the divine in every day life so much more.
3.) The Harry Potter Series
Laugh if you will, but these are honestly some of my favorite books. The first book came out when I was twelve, but I never opened one of these until my junior year of college. I think when I discovered these books I lost two weeks of college life sitting in my dorm room reading all of them in a row. The thing that I love about these books is their focus on courage in the face of evil. I have to be honest, I have never made it through all of The Chronicles of Narnia series. Why? I relate far more to Harry and his crew than I do to Edward and his crew. I do intend to read the rest of C.S. Lewis' books, but I'll never be up all night reading them like I was Harry Potter because that is my generation. I am so glad J.K. Rowling brought a little bit of this literary tradition to my generation.
2.) The Shack
It took me forever to start reading this book. I didn't think I would like it, but it really impacted me. It is the first modern book dealing exclusively with theology proper I would want to reread. I must admit, I've only read this book cover to cover once, but it is still new to me. It is sitting on my shelf, though, and I will read this book again thoroughly when I need to one day, and I know I will.
1.) The Diary of Anne Frank
I put this book as number one because it has spoken to me over the years in many different voices. I put this book on the list because one little girl's words stood and stand still against the evil regime. When I was in fifth grade, I read this book for the first time. That is the first time (at least the first time I remember that I read a book in one sitting). I loved Anne because she seemed like a best friend I would have. I don't know how many times I have read that book now, but since I have been a teacher she reminds me of a favorite student I would have. I always cry now when I read the part where Anne's teacher at the public school cries with her because she is no longer allowed to attend the public school. Anyway, I had to put this book as number one because is has always meant so much to me.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Best and Worst 2009

My roommate is dating this guy who works on ratings and stats for a local t.v. station. I love watching the news and was asking him about various stories and how they were covered. He told me I should have my own opinion show. I said, "I wish I got paid for sharing all my opinions!" Well, that is clearly not going to happen, but I thought I would end 2009 with some list posts about opinions since I am on hiatus from teaching for another week anyway. This first post will be about the top ten things I loved and hated from this holiday seasons.

10.) Advent
I love that so many protestant churches recognized and honored the more formal tradition of advent. What a great way to help us remember the true meaning of Christmas throughout the season!
9.) Sufjan's Christmas Albums
I love these CDs soooo much I've listened to them in other seasons, but there is nothing quite like a Sufjan Christmas CD while getting ready for a holiday party.
8.) People doing the holidays simple
Most people (around here at least) have taken the holiday decor down a notch. People have been putting up the simple decorations that mean something to them and not being as busy as usual. There are some good things about a recession!
7.)The Giving Spirit
Everyone is hurting this year, but I have seen countless examples of generous spirits. Even from my little students!
6.) Grandmom's Chicken Dumplins
Coming from a southern family has its perks. Chicken and Dumplins are one of them!
5.) Gift Cards
This year I really appreciated gift cards. When you are strapped for cash gift cards let you get something you wouldn't buy otherwise.
4.) Holiday Engagements
One of my good friends from college got engaged! Congrats to her!
3.) Mr. Heatmiser and Mr. Coldmiser
We had a green Christmas here in the desert (as always), but my family over in Dallas had a white Christmas for the first time in 80 years!
2.) Gift Bags
Okay, I am young, but I just found out gift bags weren't invented until the eighties. Hats off to my predecessors who wrapped gifts old school, but I am thankful for gift bags.
1.) My Family
I really have the best family I could ask for to spend the holidays with. I am so blessed.

10.) Inflatable Christmas Decorations
I know, I know, people love these; but inflatable decorations by night are deflated Christmas heroes by day. I am tired of seeing a run over santa, melted snowman, or pancake snowglobe when I drive down the street.

9.) Holiday Trees
Please, just call it what it is!
8.) Knocking Over the Pope on Christmas Eve
I'm not even Catholic, but that is just terrible. Just terrible.
Everyone seems to have received one of these for Christmas, but I don't get it. Can't people just wear their bathrobes backwards?
6.) Working on Christmas
My youngest brother missed Christmas because he had to work at Game Crazy! Was that really necessary?
5.)Gift Cards that Expire
Apparently, if you wait to long to spend certain giftcards they decrease in value a certain percentage over time. What?!!!
4.) Christmas Chocolate
I only say this because I ate an unholy amount of this. I got a lot of chocolate and I single handedly ate it all.
3.) Pears with Cherries and Mayonnaise
I said being from a southern family has its perks. It also has its drawbacks. This is a good old dish my family used to eat in Texas brought back this year. It was disgusting really!
2.) Work that I Procrastinated
Yes, I brought this on myself, but I have to go in to work sometime this week to get all the stuff done I neglected to do when I rushed out as soon as break started.
1.) Christmas Shoes
This song is terrible! I first heard it a few years ago and couldn't believe the deliberate attempt to elicit tears with no artistic value. I thought it would go away. This year I heard a remix, which I am posting for informational value only.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the land
not a teacher was working
not even the unplanned

Wishing You and Yours a Merry Christmas
And Hoping Many Blessings Find You
During Your Christmas Vacation

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

From Comfort Zone to Budget It Is a Tough Transition

I tend to think that things are really bad financially, but they are not really that bad. I was very fortunate to grow up in the kind of family where the budget was flexible and we never had to worry about how we were spending money really. I was never taught to be wasteful, but we had no debt, we bought new clothes as trends changed, we went on vacation every summer, we ate out if we felt like it, and we always had cable=).

Even in my first year of teaching, my budget was really flexible. That year costs had not increased and I was not paying for grad school.

For the first time this year, I am really having to thoughtfully stick to a budget. I don't just go to the grocery store and throw everything in the cart that I "need". I don't get a haircut every six weeks. I don't buy new clothes because I don't have the latest styles. I don't go out to dinner because I don't feel like cooking.

I know all of this is good for me to learn. I really never appreciated that my lifestyle was privileged. I guess I was kind of spoiled. I am starting to appreciate that I am privileged even now. Yes, I have had to give up some things I am accustomed to, but I have a nice place to live, I have a car, I never have gone hungry even for one day, I have nice clothes, and I am paying for grad school out of pocket. Even though I am feeling the financial crunch more than I ever have I am also seeing financial blessing.

I was raised to spend money in a certain zone (maybe under 300$) without ever thinking about it and to consider big purchases thoroughly. Now, I have to consider all purchases and stick to a budget. Part of it is the recession and part of it is the career I have chosen. It is really not so bad, though, because I don't need a lot of the things I have had in the past. I've learned that Target jeans are pretty much the same as Gap jeans. I've learned that the brand of toothpaste isn't really that important either. Time off in town can be just as relaxing as a vacation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Reading List and Why

The best teacher gift I got this year was a 25$ giftcard to Barnes and Noble. I've written before about how I have had to control my book buying habit due to my financial situation while I am paying for graduate school. I was soooo happy to get this gift card because it was an excuse to buy some of the top books on the list of books I want to read. Honestly, my bill was 47$, but with my 20% educator discount and 25$ giftcard I only spent 13$. Here are the three books I chose and why I chose them.

1.) Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
I read Angela's Ashes this summer for the first time and loved it. I found Mr. McCourt's writing to be honest and moving. When I found out he also had a book about teaching, I couldn't wait to read it. I know it is not nearly as famous as Angela's Ashes and there may be a reason for that, but I read the prologue at the book store and I will just say this is the book I will probably get halfway through tonight.

2.) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This is a book that I know will be a little depressing for a holiday read, but I have heard it referenced so many times that I have been wanting to read it for a really long time. I also knew I wanted to get something that is a novel, but has some literary value. I've been reading a bunch of light mysteries handed to me by my grandmother and I wanted to read fiction with a little more depth if I was going to make a purchase.

3.)Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas
This book is a biography of William Wilberforce who basically kept slavery from ever becoming as prevalent in England as it did in the U.S. I first learned about William Wilberforce in college when I was reading a book by Os Guinness called The Call. Only a short chapter in that book was devoted to William, but I have wanted to read an extensive biography about him for years now. A couple of years ago a movie based on his life came out and that movie only excited my interest more.

Anyway, I can't wait to enjoy my break reading!!! I hope you are enjoying yours as well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

You Can Take the Teacher out of the Classroom But You Can Never Take the Teaching out of the Teacher

When I was a senior in college this woman from S. Korea moved into my dorm (a few rooms down from me). She spoke English, but not fluently. From day one, she struggled. I helped her write papers and helped her comprehend her Reading. I did it because she was working hard and I respected what she was trying to do. She was probably the most grateful student I've ever had. She used to make me this tea from S. Korea she called "princess tea." She always told me to drink it because to her I was a princess. She also made me soooo much Korean food that I actually gained about five pounds. I recieved the following e-mail yesterday.

Hello Ms. Understood,
Have you been well? I hope the things there are going well. Guess what?
I graduated college last Saturday. Isn't it amazing? I made it.
The first semester was the hardest one that I have ever had before, but by God's grace, He put you in my life to finish the first semester well. I felt like it was not going to finish the first semester for ever and ever.

I'll end up doing in Korea and help a new Christian school in Korea.
Many sisters and brothers in Christ have been praying for a new Chrsitan school for 20 years. It will be started in few years and I will be involved in setting up the programs as a staff or a codinator. You are the first person in my list. If Lord's willing, we can see the other side of this world. Yay!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Lately I have been more than a little perturbed about the politics of education. I don't know what it will be like for me if I lose my job due to the state's budget crisis. I don't know what the future in the classroom will be like with so much hanging on what the state decides. This e-mail, though, reminds me what being a teacher is about. It is about helping people (of any age) gain skills to be successful in life and realize their dreams. It was a blessing to get a thank you for the teaching work I did before I was a teacher. I don't know what the future holds and I might not be a classroom teacher next year, but I'll always be a person who helps others learn when the opportunity is there. I guess in that sense, I'll always be a teacher.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Top of My Class

Today, I graduated from Defensive Driving School. After four and a half long hours, 200$ in fees, and several gory videos I received a certificate of completion nullifying my photo radar kit. I was able to get a 95% on my pre-test which I feel means that I graduated number one in my class of fifty. Usually a valedictorian gives a speech. Since I was denied that honor, I thought I would give my speech here.

Fellow violators, families, traffic enforcement cops, as we reach the end of this journey we will drive on, but we will drive on more cautiously because of what took place here today. It is the Saturday before Christmas and none of us wanted to spend the day learning to be defensive drivers, but it is also a recession and we can't afford to pay higher insurance premiums.

I don't really think we needed to learn to be defensive drivers. I, for one, have been a defensive driver ever since I first got behind the wheel at fifteen. When my mother tried to attack my driving by telling me that I was driving in two lanes or that I was about to hit another car or a small child or something, I defended myself and I still would. What we needed to learn was how bad it is to get a ticket and I think we all did.

I want to thank all the people in my life who made this moment a reality for me. First, thank you to my family who taught me to drive above the speed limit even before I had a license. Thanks also to my job. If I wouldn't have been on the freeway at 6:30am, I wouldn't have felt the need to roll through my right on red. Finally thank you to the state who has put up photo radar on every red light. I think I know what picture I'll be using for my graduation pics!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Breakin It Down: The Top Ten Reasons I Am Glad to Be a Teacher Right Now

10.) Two Weeks Off!!!
9.) Sleeping in every day (except tomorrow because I have to go to defensive driving school) for two weeks
8.) Drinking coffee slowly in the morning for the next two weeks
7.) Staying Out of Morning Traffic for Two Whole Weeks
6.) Spending the Barnes and Noble Gift Card I Got Today and Wasting a Whole Day or Two Reading Books
5.) Watching Terrible Morning Television
4.) Eating the copious supply of chocolate I received today
3.) Staying Up Late whenever I Want to for Two Weeks
2.) Getting Ready for my Day Slowly for Two Weeks (taking a shower in the morning rather than at night to save time)
1.) Eating real meals at lunch for the next two weeks

Ha ha ha
Ho ho ho

Merry Christmas All!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

So Not the Exit I Was Hoping For

I had two boys in my class get in trouble today. Principal's Office trouble. They informed me (through many many many tears) after chatting with the principal that he told them he and I and the two of them would talk to them and decide on their punishment after lunch.

So, I showed up at the beginning of lunch and the two of them were almost hysterical. Obviously, this wasn't going to be a short meeting, so the principal told me to go get lunch and he would take care of the rest.

"Okay," I said (happy to go to lunch since the PTO catered). I opened the door to the hallway while I was still looking in on the meeting and was saying something to the boys as I stepped out the door. Then, I turned around and realized I had stepped not into the hallway, but into the closet. There was no recovering from that. "This is a closet," I said. "I am just going to go out that way," I indicated pointing to the door.

The funny incident was completely lost on the boys who were still wailing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mean Girls and That's Not What I Mean and I Have To Wonder What All This Means

Have you ever seen the movie Mean Girls? I love BFF team, but when I first joined the team I just thought I had walked into that movie. They've all been nice to me, but I was alarmed by how much they hated their former teammate. I never found a solid reason, and I was worried they'd hate me too. That didn't happen, but I did feel like my team was being rather mean to the resource teacher. I felt like it was easy for me to stay out of it because I don't have any kids qualifying for resource this year. I also had a hard time sticking up for her even though I wanted to.

Lately, I haven't really thought about any of this. I've been finding comments about other people much funnier and adding my own. I didn't really think that much about it because I figured I wasn't doing anything that would hurt anyone else.

Yesterday, we got our Reading fluency scores for third grade and across the board for third grade it was not good. We were frankly discussing the problem and solutions. We e-mailed the notes and ideas to our principal, our literacy specialist, and our team. We wrote in the e-mail what we thought needed to change about reading fluency interventions and what we needed to do. Today, though, we got a response telling us not to be so hard on the literacy specialist because she has had a hard year. She has.

The thing is that I didn't think the e-mail was harsh when we wrote it at all. I actually suggested copying the literacy specialist so it would seem like this was an open discussion between all of us.

I love my team this year, but there were certain things I hoped I would change about the chemistry of my team. Now, I wonder if I am just taking on the traits I thought I would change. I guess I should think of this as a wake-up call. Whatever the truth about that meeting was, I know that I haven't been as thoughtful of others recently as I should be. I've never been the "mean girl" and I won't start now. I have a really sharp tongue and I know that I have to watch what I say better. It's just not who I want to be.

On a positive note, as much as no one likes to be corrected, knowing that the principal took a stand against someone being targeted makes me trust him more. One thing I always look for in a leader is someone whose highest standard for the people under them is the way they treat others. I just think that is the right way to lead.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Facing It

Are you going to stay in third grade? People keep asking me this question. Friends, I should say, are asking me this question. I just can't seem to answer it.

Teachers without three years experience had mid-year check-in meetings with the principal today. The other novice teacher on the third grade team told the principal that she and my other teammates don't want him to let me move (don't worry it was in a jovial manner). She told him that she didn't know what I wanted, but they wanted me there. I didn't realize that she and my other new teammates have really been wondering what I would do until she started talking to me about it today.

BFF team was asking me all about this after school today. So, I told them the truth. I am just confused. No one asked me this question in May. I had no ownership in the decision to move. Principal Sadie made it abundantly clear to me that this was meant as a punishment. Yes, I now know a lot of information that was left out then, but the psychological effects on me are lasting.

So, what do I want to happen? I'd like to keep working with BFFs Team. I'd like to have another year or so in third grade. I'd like to prove Principal Sadie wrong and move to Middle School. I'd like to prove to myself that the things I was accused of aren't true. I'd like to work with Mrs. Bear again. Most of all, I'd like to have my own thoughts on what happens to me validated.

I think it is probably best for the school that I stay where I am at. It is best for me to have someone ask me what I think. The thing that hurt worst (I think) last year was Principal Sadie's refusal to hear what I had to say.

I got a lot of validation today. My team thinks I bring a lot to third grade. The principal told me I am doing a good job. Professional validation is nice (Lord knows that didn't happen from administration last year). I need some validation that I matter as a person even when I'm at work. I still struggle every day when I am in that same building with how badly I was treated as a person by the former principal. Trust is coming back, but for me to really be better I need to feel respected.

I think it is especially hard (and especially common) to be new to teaching and to go through the sort of thing with a principal I did last year. Mr. Bull (who is still in contact with Principal Sadie) told me a couple of weeks ago at dinner that he thinks Principal Sadie regrets some of what she did to me and that the whole thing was a personality conflict. If it really was a personality conflict, I just had no experience to compare it to. Now, being treated nicely by a principal is continually surprising to me. I formed a lot of my view of myself as a teacher and my view of teaching during a really bad experience. The whole thing has thrown so much confusion into the picture for me.

I want to have a positive outlook and grow from all of this. I wonder, though, am I and will I ever be the same teacher I would have been if my second year of teaching had been different and if she had treated me differently? This stuff has impacted me. Time and space are making me better, but they haven't changed the negative impact completely.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One of Those Mornings

We had our staff party last night. It was a fun party. Fun enough that it was one of those mornings I needed Tylenol, water, and coffee today. I have a feeling 90% of the party-goers were in the same boat today.

I was a little nervous about going because I knew I would be drinking and I knew Principal Sadie (our principal last year) would be there. There were 80 plus people there and I didn't even talk to her actually, but when I was thinking about it today I realized that I just felt bad for her last night.

Someone who doesn't know about my issues with her was telling me that she is just so sad. I've heard that before too. I guess she is not getting along well with her new staff at all. On the one hand, I could sympathize with her staff (she did make me miserable all last year), but I guess I'm not that mad anymore. I just find myself hoping that things turn up for her.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Important Book

My kids are writing these holiday books called "The Important Book." It follows a little pattern and they write different paragraphs. We make holiday covers. It's cute. One of the kids in my class lost her father last year. I know because I also taught her brother. One paragraph of hers said the following:

The most important thing about my Real Dad is that he loved me very good. I remember once he used to work at McDonalds. He got fired the first day. He ate a hamburger and that's why he got fired. He was a good person. But the most important thing about my Real Dad is he loved me very good.

I was showing it to the other teachers and they thought it was funny. It does seem funny if you don't know the circumstance. It makes me sad though. I guess I know how it is when you try to remember something good about your real dad and you can't. It made me wonder if he was eating a hamburger because they couldn't afford food. I heard the rumor that this man was killed by gang violence. It makes me wonder if he tried to hold a job before he joined a gang.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


How do you know if you are doing what you are doing because it is really the right thing or if you are just doing it because it's the obvious thing? How do you know if you're just doing something because you're scared to try something else? I think the first two years of teaching were just a blur for me because I was learning how to do it and just trying to make sense of the complex task. Now, I'm in a different phase though. It's not that I have it all figured out, but I have a basic idea of how to be effective. I am realizing that "this is it" (so to speak) and wondering if it really is the right place for me.

I don't harbor any idealism that says the world of education will fall without me. I know there are lots of good teachers who care, and I think if I wasn't doing my particular job someone else would. So, I can't assume that this career is right because I am personally needed here.

I am only twenty-four years old, and I know I could switch fields entirely if I wanted to. So, I can't say that I don't have any other options.

I heard the statistic that two out of every three new teachers leave education in the first three years. In my third year, I can see why that is. Now that I have had some time to learn the job, I have to decide if it really is something I want to continue.

It's not the workload that is putting these thoughts in my head. It's certainly not the kids. It's the politics. Already, I have been subjected to so many conflicting theories, methods, and programs that change like the wind. I feel like sound instruction and common sense are thrown out the window.

I was sitting at a staff development meeting today, and they told us that our new intervention program required a 10 minute intervention per targeted student that would take place four days a week. This wouldn't be such a big deal except that they want us to do it separately for every standard that every individual student is targeted in. Impossible! Yet, we're told not to worry because we will have many meetings to solve this problem.

Then, I opened up my e-mail (you can probably guess how much I was listening) and found an article about the fallacy of giving zeroes when students don't turn in work.

I have actually been measurably effective this year. That is to say that my class is overwhelmingly meeting benchmarks, and I don't have any students not showing growth.

There is no stability in public education, though. We can't agree on a goal. We can't agree on a budget. We can't stick to a method. We can't even agree on curriculum. I hate watching the news these days because I feel my blood pressure rising when I see ripples that will soon reach my classroom. When will I not be allowed to have anymore supplies? How long until I'm not allowed to give a failing grade? How long until I can't put anyone in resource?

I have serious doubts about where this field is going. I just do. I consider education a Social Service, yet the tide of public opinion seems to be that it is a business. They want to make us accountable for results, but the results don't pay (quite literally)! In a business capital and results are directly correlated. As one increases, so does the other. In education, we are expected to create resources out of nothing! Could we be extremely effective if class size were drastically reduced? Absolutely, but we can't afford it. I am just not sure that I can spend the rest of my professional life being told to make time and money. I want results too, but without accountability for students and without resources the level of result being demanded is unreasonable.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Book Fantasy--Yes I Know That Sounds Twisted

All I want to do right now is lock myself in a room full of books I haven't read and read them all. I want to read them all at once and have each book open to various places. I want to switch books and keep reading until I finish them all.

Yeah. That's pretty much the opposite of what I need to do to grow as a person. I just feel like all of my thoughts are floating aimlessly around my head and I need to do a wide variety of reading to anchor them. It's like I need a mental massage.

I just think that in life we do so much "small talk" which is a healthy social activity. We do so much work which is a healthy outlet. Very little reaches the deep thinking parts of our minds. If I don't do some serious reading, my mind is lonely in its own way.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Today was harder than I expected. I kept looking at the empty seat of the little girl in the hospital. For whatever reason, I don't fully believe it right now. I keep expecting to hear that this has been a false alarm or that it is all over with. I can't seem to believe that something this bad is happening to a sweet little kid. Maybe I am really grieving this and that is why. Her brother told me she is coming back to school tomorrow. I think my stomach is going to be gnawing at itself every time she is out.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Cheer and Trying to Think of Other Things

I've been trying not to be completely consumed by my job. I am trying to have a normal weekend. I am trying to think of other things and not a little girl with cancer. I still woke up at 3:50am thinking about it. Sometimes I am really dysfunctional in my obsession with my job. In this case, I think I would be more dysfunctional if I wasn't. Anyway, here are some cheery holiday moments I've had recently.

1.) BFFs Team and I went shopping and bought four matching adult flannel footie pajamas featuring Mickey Mouse Santas. We are going to wear them to pajama day at our school. Can I just say, that I tried mine on and they were a little tight (bordering on inappropriate). Everyone on my team is pretty small, but I am really small (5'1'', 110 pounds). If it is slightly tight on me, I can only imagine how tight the other sets must be!

2.) Oddly enough, just after I posted about my lack of dating life, I was contacted by the guy my teammate has been wanting me to go out with. He wants to go on a date, and as tempted as I was to say no because I have a feeling this won't work out. (I mean, he hates books and I am the biggest book nerd you'll ever meet.) I said yes.

3.)Our staff holiday party this year is an ugly Christmas sweater party, and in place of a white elephant gift exchange it is a worst student present received gift exchange. Folks, I borrowed the ugliest Christmas sweater ever from my Aunt. (This holiday season is really bringing down my fashion sense.)

4.) It looks like I'll make it past another graduate school bill without a loan. It was such hard work, but I am still loan free and I have only two graduate school bills left before I will have my Master's Degree. I just have to pray that the RIF rumors aren't true and I'll still be gainfully employed next year!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Days Like This Are Why I Am Glad I Believe in God

As a teacher, the worst things are the problems you can't fix. If you can't read and are years behind, I will help you. If you can't add, subtract, and multiply; we'll get there together. If you can't make friends, I'll help you learn. If you can't speak English I'll help you. There are some things, though, I am powerless over.

One of my little third graders was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor yesterday. She's had headaches and they thought they were going to get migraine medicine. This family had no idea they would be getting the worst news of their lives. I can't protect her from this danger. I can't stop this pain. I can't help any of her eight and nine year old friends who are going to witness what this disease can do.

I found out this morning when the vice-principal came in to cover my class so that I could talk to the mother of this little girl. We had to address it with the students today too because the little girl was telling her friends. I knew that I could not just break down and cry about this today because I did not need to scare the kids. We talked to the kids about treating her normally and not talking about this unless she would talk to them. I was doing really well until one little boy in my class raised his hand and said, "Can I just give her my teddy bear?" I let the vice principal answer it because I didn't want to cry and scare the kids.

If you are reading this blog, please take a moment to say a prayer for this little girl and her family. Please say a prayer for me and my class. If you are a teacher reading this, and you've dealt with something like this before any advice is appreciated. I know all of my students will be hurting and I want to do what I can to be the teacher they need. Those days when she is out and her desk is empty are going to be really hard for us.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Social Handicap

I was eating lunch with BFF Team a couple of days ago, and everyone else was talking about how they were so social in high school that they barely made it through. Of course, I was nothing like that. I was so bookish in high school that I hardly had a social life.

The thing is that I really do enjoy being around people (whether family or friends). I don't enjoy the social scene admittedly. Really, I wish everyone wanted to hang out in libraries or coffee shops or something like that. I like to be around the same people and am not a big fan of meeting new people. Maybe that is part of my problem?

I am beginning to think, though, that I need to figure out whatever my social issue is with meeting men. I even think it is wierd that I haven't been dating for so long, but I don't really know what to do about that! In the past, when I've met someone it always just happened, but it is really not happening to me anymore.

It seems like everyone else my age is out of one relationship and immediately on to the next. I am totally mystified by how that happens. It is funny, because in some ways I understand things easily. I get things like philosophy and physics and literature. I can't seem to understand how to meet someone and build a relationship.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dancing for Democracy

My kids have been learning about Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. One reason (I would assume) they do that is because of its ties to our civic roots. I have been covering the standards on democracy and representative government during these units.

I wanted to have a hands on lesson on democracy that students as young as the ones I teach could get their minds around. So, we talked about how the word democracy is really two Greek words (demos: people kratos: rule). We talked about how it was a system where each person had an equal vote and equal role in lawmaking. All of my students agreed it was fair (you see even third graders recognize that). Although, I am pretty sure they would agree that communism was much more fair than capitalism if I asked them...

I told them they would use democracy to make one law we would all follow in the classroom for a day. It could be a funny or serious.

"What is it called when you make the laws?" one astute observer asked me.

"It's a dictatorship, and I am your dictator--kind of like your very powerful king," I answered fully aware that he would have no clue what I meant.

"You would be a queen," he reminded me.

"So true, thank you. Now, each of your tables must all agree on two laws to enter in the vote."

So, all of the table groups proposed two "laws". Then, the kids voted.

The law they agreed on yesterday was that you must do a dance to go to the bathroom. It was hysterical today.

When they lined up for recess, I said, "Wait a second. Who here is going to use the bathroom during recess?" All of them were, so I turned on some music and they danced.

Tomorrow we'll use a representative government to make one law. I can't wait to see what they come up with this time!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I was at dinner with some friends the other day and someone was asking me all about my career. "Do you love it?" he asked me. I hesitated because I know the expected answer for a teacher is yes. I said no.
There are times when teaching is very satisfying. It is, all encompassing, though. It demands sacrifice, though.
I am not completely stressed out by my job anymore, but it is still hard and exhausting. That's what makes it scary. It's not stress taking its toll on me. Workload and level of responsibility are taking their toll on me.
Am I happy? Yes, I am. Are there things I love about my job? Yes. I just haven't known much else as an adult. I don't know if I would be happier with a nine to five job that might be more menial. I don't know what twenty or thirty years of this demanding work might do to me. I don't know if I would keep doing it if I did. Honestly, I know teachers who have had difficulty or ended marraiges due to overworking. I know teachers with stress related health concerns.
Some people balance it. Some spend there lives doing it and would never take it back. Am I like that?? Would I even be thinking this way if I hadn't had such a bad experience? Is last year a warning I shouldn't ignore? Would I willingly sign on for another year teaching if I knew it would be like that? I'm not sure.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Student Tomorrow

I always think about my new friend before the first day he or she is in my class. Is he really nervous? Is he glad for a fresh start? Is he awake all night? As a teacher, you never know where a student is coming from. You never know why they are moving mid year. You never know how long he or she is here for. Yet, you've got to make the new student a complete member of the community. You've got to try to catch them up inevitably.

Believing in God, as I do, though. I always believe God sends the kids into my classroom and my life for a reason. Tempted as I am to roll my eyes over all the extra work; I am happy to have another one if and when they are sent to me.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ancient Rome

My unit on Ancient Rome begins tomorrow. I actually went to Rome about four years ago. On Monday, my kids get the pleasure of viewing my slideshow (don't you wish you were that lucky). One nice thing about teaching third grade is I know they will be the most captive audience I've ever had for my vacation pictures. They will also be interested in random knowledge I have on Rome. Because I took three years of Latin in highschool and went to a religious school, I have acquired quite a lot of random knowledge on Ancient Rome.

All this to say that travel has made me a much better teacher of Social Studies. It would be even better if I could bring my students with me, but my instruction is much more authentic having been there myself. Don't you think they should pay for all teachers to travel Europe?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Holidays

You know, the term holidays actually originates from holy days. The liturgical calendar actually set aside days that were recognized as holy. I think it is ironic that I can't say "Merry Christmas" at school, but "Happy Holidays" is acceptable.

I am going to take down my little fall leaves that are up in my classroom and replace them with "Winter" decorations. Can I be honest for a minute: I really just want to have a Christmas tree at school! I don't think (yes I could be wrong) that I have any kids who don't celebrate Christmas this year. I really don't get why it is such a dirty word anyways.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sorry for More Politics

I have to say, though, I am deeply disappointed in my state right now. Arizona is just not a good place to be a teacher right now. I am afraid it's not going to be a good place to be a student much longer.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

For Better or Worse

Honestly, I try not to be too political on this blog, but I've always known that for better or worse education is married to politics.

My state is currently the second lowest in education funds of the fifty states. We do what we can in the schools, but we also have one of the worst education records in this state. This year, the state just hasn't passed a budget at all. We've already faced rifs, class size increases, the loss of soft capital, and the loss of aids. I like to think that our state is doing what they can in hard financial times, but when I saw this video on the news yesterday, I just shook my head.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You Know You've Been There

I swear, this girl is in my class this year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Break!

Twenty-One Things I am Thankful For (names changed)
1.)Amanda Who understands everything I teach (whether I teach it well or not) and didn't know it before she came to me
2.) Aaron who is so cute when he smiles and can laugh at himself when he does something ridiculous, which he does almost every day
3.) Casey who loves Math and makes it more fun to teach
4.) Ray who is in her own world, but learns things slowly and gives me big reason to celebrate every time she does
5.) Rylee who has been through so much but tries hard and never seems to be frustrated
6.) Alex who is a role model to his classmates and is still popular
7.) Alissa who never complains and loves everyone
8.) Becca who gives me hugs every day and smiles every few minutes
9.) Dominiqa who turns in beautiful assignments and tries hard even though she could pass without it
10.) Jackson who will always struggle to learn, but has a heart of gold to make up for it!
11.) Macy who tells other teachers she has the "smart teacher" (I think my reputation could use a little p.r.)
12.) Sonya who keeps working on her assignments even if she is last to finish
13.) Cassandra who tries the tears (knowing that they won't work), but gives them up and laughs about it just as easily
14.) David who gave his whole heart in the third grade musical, but made me laugh so hard I was crying (even though I had strep throat)
15.) Max who has a beautiful imagination
16.) Lexi who draws pictures of me with big eyelashes and pretty clothes on all of her spelling tests
17.) Victoria who makes beautiful progress lines in all of my progress charts because she is so eager to learn
18.) Bella who loves to help
19.) Ying who can't speak English, but brightens the whole room with her courage
20.) Bailey who thinks in her own way, and makes me have thoughts I didn't have anyway
21.) Xander who can't sit still, but solves three digit math problems in his head and gets 100% on every spelling test

Thanks you guys for making this a great year so far!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy One Year to Me

The following was what I said when I began this blog one year ago.

I never thought that I would be the type to keep an anonymous blog, but I never thought I would be embroiled in politics and so obsessed with work that I would need a private pedestal to say what I really think. I think most of us who go into education just want to help people, and that is what I wanted. Now, though, a year and a half into it, I think it is time for me to ask some hard questions. Am I really helping anyone? Is that still why I'm doing it? So, I've decided to embrace my second love outside of teaching: writing. This blog will chronicle my journey into a second year of teaching and my true answer to the hard questions.

I started this blog because I needed to work out some difficult issues without fear of giving the wrong answer. Now, two and a half years into my career as a teacher I am in a very different place, but this blog has helped me sort out difficult questions.

Personally, this blog has been a journal that honestly chronicled my thoughts and feelings about my job. Oddly enough, we spend more hours at work than anywhere else, but we don't have a lot of time to honestly reflect on how issues at our jobs affect us. Writing honestly about my struggles (and this year has been filled with a lot of them) helped me deal with issues that I don't know how I would have dealt with otherwise. Reading other blogs also helped me gain a greater perspective about the field of education as a whole. I have only worked for one school, one district, and until this year one principal. I had a hard time gauging if I was having one bad experience with one principal or if this was the norm. I think I have found that the answer was that not every situation was a bad one but part of education is sticking with your job even when it is a bad situation and takes its toll on you. Reading other blogs helped me think about my own situation far more reasonably. It has also been great to have encouraging comments and to know that readers have followed my journey with me. Thank you to everyone who reads this blog. I hadn't thought that much about people reading this when I first started writing, but that has been such an encouragement to me.

Now, in my second year of blogging, as I think more about people reading my blog, I want to say what I hope readers will get out of it.

I hope that if you read this blog and you are new to teaching, like myself, that you can be encouraged. There have been times that I was really discouraged as a teacher; there were days I had to just try to keep my head held high and make it through. It is hard to start out teaching and all the pressures don't make it any easier. A lot of people in education don't like to talk about their failures and struggles; I hope if you read about mine, it will give you courage to face your own struggles.

I hope if you read this blog and are a more experienced educator it will inspire you to support your colleagues who are new to teaching. In my teaching career, there have been people who I will always remember for helping me learn, grow, and just for encouraging me; unfortunately, there have also been people who were very discouraging and made it much harder.

I hope if you read this blog and you are not an educator it makes you think about the human side of teaching. Teaching is a career that asks you to put your heart out there. In a world where legislation demands that teachers take responsiblity for every student failure, it takes a toll on our hearts. I never understood how hard it would be to struggle with issues like child abuse, poverty, and illness until I started teaching. It is a hard calling to keep caring even when it hurts to care.

Hooray for Azithromycin

I am feeling much better today. I didn't sleep through the whole night yet, but the terrible pain in my throat is gone now. I am not constantly shivering anymore. I ate some legitimate food.

BFFs team has been great while I have been so sick. They covered for me when my sub was there. I also got a hilarious e-mail with a picture of me drinking emergen-c on Thursday night before the musical with accusations I was home with a hangover and was actually watching New Moon on Friday. I was actually supposed to go see it after school on Friday, but was home with strep instead.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Crying Shame

Whenever I get really sick, I turn into a weepy mess. Today I first cried while watching the Today Show because there was this Grandma who is putting together packages for the troops. I cried when I checked my facebook because my new team is so great when I am sick. I cried at CVS waiting for my perscription because it took an extra hour when there was some miscommunication about the doctor's DEO. I cried when I watched the Bones episode online because of poor Agent Booth. I cried during the Ronald McDonald House commercial. I also cried during the food commercials because I am really hungry and it hurts to eat anything. I cannot wait to get over this!!!!!

So Sick and It Is Not Fun At All

I went to Urgent Care this morning after my sore sore throat kept me up all night. I was diagnosed with strep throat (a malady I had frequently as a kid, but I don't remember it being this bad). How sick am I? So sick that I left no sub plans at all and didn't think about it all day. I can't wait to be better!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Step Right Up, Step Right Up!

Come one, come all to the big show. Welcome to the third grade musical. A magical show where teachers get extra prep, students are not talking (because they are singing), and hand motions abound!!!!!

It has to be said that my students this year are great little dancers. When I taught fifth grade, the attitude factor was so high that it took away from the quality of the musical. The third graders try hard though. Don't get me wrong, I already think my head will explode if I hear the songs one more time (unfortunately, I will hear the songs three more times tomorrow during the two dress rehearsals and the final performance, so this is not good).

I really do like the musicals though. Kids are funny and cute when they are trying to sing and do hand motions.

P.S. The kids are not singing praise songs to Obama. It had to be said. There are still normal school musicals out there.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good Quotes Good Times

I had the kids doing an activity with play money. They had to pay for tools they were using to do a project. They were handing me the money, but it wasn't working very well, so I put a bin in the middle of the room. "This is just like church," one kid observed.

I put an activity on my smartboard with frogs jumping along the number line. The kids were doing the subtraction and moving the frog along the line to jump on lily pads. "Kiss it; maybe it will turn into a prince" the kids cheered to me as I moved the frog along. Maybe I should have listened!

Our school had a lockdown drill today. You have to lock the door to your classroom, close the curtains, and stay on the other side of the room until it is over. The drill took place while my kids were at art. "I may just be on lock down all day," I e-mailed the other teachers.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Changes In Me

I took my midterm tonight and I did well, but it didn't feel very good. Mrs. Bear, one of my best friends these days, had been studying all semester and didn't do well. I turned my test over and averted any questions about my score. Why did I do this? Because I knew how she felt.

The truth is that I might have thought about downplaying my score or recognized her feelings a year ago, but now I empathize. For once in my life, I had to learn what it is like to try your very best at something and still fail miserably. Don't get me wrong; I fail miserably in my personal life ALL THE TIME, but until last year, I had never ever failed in any academic or career venture. That carries it's own unique brand of suffering and it made me a better person and teacher to experience that.

It's paradoxical, but as teachers sometimes our greatest successes and strengths are our handicaps. Our weaknesses and failures are often the keys to reaching students.

When I started teaching, I didn't get it. I had a very difficult time helping students with learning difficulties because I had no first hand experience with frustration in learning. Of course, my learning abilities drove me to want to be a teacher, but they made it hard for me to teach. Mrs. Bear helped me to understand students who learn slowly and differently. Her learning disability gave her insight I never would have had.

My failure last year made me feel what students feel when they can't learn something even though they try hard. I had never felt that before. Tonight was the first time I realized what a profound effect that had on me.

There are a lot of reasons I wish last year never happened. It will probably take me years (if I ever get it) to restore my confidence in myself as a teacher. Tonight made me realize, though, that in the long run, I might be better for going through all of this. I was forced to make some changes I needed to make.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bad News

My best friend came over last night. She told me that she is getting a divorce. I am not that surprised, except for the timing. I am happy that this year, at least I am not totally preoccupied by my work issues... I know it is important to be there for my best friend. I guess divorces happen, but I never thought my friends my age would be going through this when we're 24.

In other news, we caught a rat. Literally. It was on the roof.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Over to Under: Achiever That Is

Every Monday night, at Graduate School, I eat Taco Bell. Usually a Chicken and Ranch salad--it's very good. Everyone else is furiously scribbling notes down, I've quit listening. I have a big textbook that I haven't read. I have a midterm over eight chapters on Monday. I'm not going to read or study. I already told my friend I would hang out with her tonight and I'm not going to do it before then.

Our professor assures us that this midterm will be hard and we won't do that well. Everyone else is all stressed out and studying. I feel like it would be a bigger gamble to waste my day studying when it might not be hard. I figure that I could study hard for the final if necessary to make up for a bad grade, but I could never get my wasted day of studying back.

As an undergraduate, I was so studious. I always thought that my personality was kind of an overachiever. I don't think that is true, though. My personality is more like a workaholic. Ergo, because my job fulfills that part of my persona, I am no longer motivated to put extra work into graduate school.

What did I do with my free day? NOTHING.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Show Down

I've written before about having duty on the primary playground. I teach intermediate grades for a reason, and I teach a younger grade than I actually want to. Anyway, I'll just say that I salute K-2 teachers because it is a wild world over on the "little kid" playground.

I got into a situation with one of the kids on the primary playground about two weeks ago.

One of the rules for the primary playground is that the kids can't go up on the hill at the far end of the field. I spend every Thursday morning telling kids to get off that hill--it's awesome.

One kindergartner was on the hill and I motioned for him to get down. He looked right at me and walked on up the hill. I went over to him and told him with my authoritative voice to "come down immediately." He looked at me and walked away. I said, "hey come here, now." Then he starts running away from me. By then, my blood was boiling and I was trying to catch up with him just so I could get his name and give him a behavior write-up. Then, the bell rings, and he goes running up to HIS MOM.

"Is this your son?" I asked her.

"Yes," she answered, "I was watching to see if he would respond to you." I really don't know how to answer a parent being this ridiculous.

"I told him to come down from the hill, and he ran away from me."

"He doesn't know what he is doing?" she informed me. "He has autism."

"Well, this sort of behavior is an automatic write up," I said, "I am not familiar with his IEP, but I will pass this information on to his teacher and she can decide how to handle it."

While I was talking to his teacher, the mom is standing there with her arms crossed because clearly I am ignorant of what it means to be autistic. Long story short: the kid did not get written up.

I saw mother and son out there breaking the playground rules again today. It just makes my blood boil. I am no expert in autism, but I know when a kid looks at me and decides to the exact opposite of what I say.

There is no way I am taking this kid and his mom when he is in the intermediate grades. I will require him to follow directions whether it is difficult or not.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

BFFs, Sexual Ethics, and Hell

Wow! I have a day off and look what happens. That's all I can say about the title of my post.

The fifth grade team of teachers I worked with for two years was the most experienced team at my school. I loved working with them because I learned so much and all of them were so mature that we didn't have a lot of unnecessary drama. As much as we all got along, we didn't get together that frequently outside of school. They were all in a different phase of life than me.

I have decided to call my new team BFFs--not because I like them better than my old team but because we hang out together a lot more outside of work. We go to Happy Hour or someone's house. We all have facebook and we text each other. We all like nice clothes and makeup and cute hairstyles. One of my teammates is newly single. She is trying to get me to go on a date with this friend of hers. He's a pro-golfer and she thinks we would be perfect for each other.

Sexual Ethics
We have a lot in common on BFFs Team, but one thing that they don't understand yet is my identity as a Christian. I have said before that I live a rather monastic existence. I live that way because my worldview is securely theistic. They know I go to church and they know I believe in God. I'm not just a church on sunday occasionaly praying Christian, though. Everything I do is informed and motivated by my belief in and relationship with an active God.

I think it is easy not to really notice that I drink but don't get drunk. I think it is easy to attribute my insistence on treating people well to a personality trait (it's not true but it's plausible). It is easy to think my heart for others is part of my identity as a teacher. One thing they will notice are my radically different sexual ethics. I think you know what I mean without me saying it... I don't even know how to approach that either. I can go on a date with this guy, but I know it's not going anywhere because my worldview will clash with his idea of dating. As I get older, I understand so much more why I need to date someone with the same worldview.

The last part I hesitate even to bring up, but it is a hard line to walk when your good friends don't believe what you do. Of course, I worry about their salvation. Of course, I pray that all my friends who don't know God would know him (eternally and presently). Yet, it's not something we can really talk about. This culture says let everyone believe as they do and do not assume you know better. If salvation is faith based, how could I do that?

<a href="">now that you know by lewisknundrum</a>