hashtagjuststopit

hashtagjuststopit

As the school year draws closer to an end, there has been a lot of talk throughout my school of ‘spring fever’. We all know it, dictionary.com defines it as “a listless, lazy, or restless feeling commonly associated with the beginning of spring.” Teaching Jr. High for the first time, that’s what I was expecting; lower attendance, sleeping in class, listless stares, etc. Well, let’s just flip over to urbandictionary.com and you’ll see the kids define spring fever as ‘excessive horniness.” Grand, just grand. Here I was anticipating (because of all the time I spent educating myself) a bunch of randy teens that would be sneaking around and I’d hear about it through the grapevine on Mondays.

 

I was incorrect, not entirely, but my expectations were flawed.

 

My boys have been nothing but boys; But my girls! Well, haven’t they just turned into malicious, hell-raising, fire-breathing, cyber-dragons. I have been completely at a loss for what to do about the trivial situations that have truly been taken too far.

 

It all began around Christmas time, I welcomed in the New Year with a parent visit and 4 girls upset because one of them didn’t get invited to a birthday party and decided to be annoying about it. Then, when her friends actually became annoyed with her and told her to stop, she cried bully (wolf).

 

Let us take a moment to actually define what a bully is, this topic really gets my goat as so many people have this dramatic, misconstrued idea of what bullying is. I’ve taken this definition from the RCMP website. (Wow, I’m really on the ball with my referencing today!)

 

WHAT IS BULLYING?

-an imbalance of power

-repeatedly saying/doing hurtful things to others

-individually OR group settings

 

BULLYING CAN BE:

-physical

-verbal

-social

 

CYBER BULLYING is the use of communication technology (social media {twitter, Facebook, Instagram, snap-chat, musical.ly, to name a few})

  • Sending mean or threatening emails or text/instant messages.
  • Posting embarrassing photos of someone online.
  • Creating a website to make fun of others.
  • Pretending to be someone by using their name.
  • Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others.

 

These are ALL valid, and unfortunately common, forms of bullying. Victims will respond to their bullies in different ways. Some will try to bully back or bully others, some will pull into themselves, some might ignore it, and some will go to friends or adults for help. Bullying IS a problem! I am in no way denying that! However, too often, there are one-time occurrences, or comments that are taken the wrong way, and rather than being supported in ways to address those moments, children are being ‘mama-beared’ into not thinking for themselves.

 

Please keep in mind, this is just my opinion. This is a topic that really resonates with me as I spent many years being bullied and became the stereotypical bully myself as a child. I do realize that each and every situation is different and unique and not all bullies or victims can be painted with the same brush, but I feel like if you have some experience, it’s easier to try on the shoes of others.

 

I have digressed so far from the original intention of this post. Let me just try to bring it back now.

 

After that first day back to school in January, it was like the issues were endless with the girls in my class. Mean comments on Instagram, Musical.ly, and Facebook; one of them was as simple as Mary and Steph posting a picture together with the comment “besties!” and another friend took that personally, believing that meant that she was no longer Mary’s best friend. She got hurt, commented something rude on the photo, and then all hell broke loose. These girls were calling each other bi***es, saying the others parents were drug users and sellers, they’re going to get their older siblings to fight them…It was ridiculous!

 

I was consistently taking time out of my teaching day (thank goodness for an awesome PE teacher who didn’t mind keeping my class for extra time here and there) to talk to these girls, trying to find out the root of the problem, reiterating that each individual was in control of their own actions. And nothing seemed to be helping. After talking with my principal, we made our first of many attempts to have parents come in to the school to discuss all together what was going on. No parents ever showed. This was so disappointing. I did have one mother who was constantly in to talk to me, at first, I was excited to actually have family involvement! Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for me to realize that not only was she instigating a lot (even with the kids) but she also did not seem to be doing anything at home to help. She once asked me what she could be doing, so I told her, “monitor what your daughter is doing on her phone, read through her posts/messages, take the phone away…” And this woman rolled her eyes at me! I didn’t think I was suggesting anything crazy or difficult.

 

I’ll admit, I have no children of my own, I’m quick to address that with friends and family when we’re talking about their kids. Sometimes, though, just SOMEtimes, we child-less adults have some pretty good ideas. This was one of those times.

 

After the sharing circles, parent meetings, and office visits with the principal didn’t prove to be successful, I collaborated with my principal to come up with something different, positive, involved…Girls night!

 

I decided to host one girls night per week where the girls in Jr. High stayed after school to do various activities. The whole point was not WHAT they would be doing, but WHO they were doing these things with. My mantra to all of the children I’ve worked with through my life has been, “you do not have to be friends, but you do have to respect each other. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” I wanted these girls to learn that they do not HAVE to be friends to be able to work on a project together, socialize, have the same friends, or see each other on social media.

 

During the 4 evenings, I taught them how to make spaghetti sauce from scratch and cupcakes, we treated ourselves to a spa (hair, make-up, and nails), and then had more of a free evening to just talk, visit, and get to know each other. The first night was a hit! They took home huge containers of spaghetti, garlic bread, salad, and juice for their families, and they were SO proud that they had sauce that wasn’t from a jar! Perfect, my plan was working.

 

Spa night was a smaller turnout (keep in mind, out of 18 girls in Jr. High in total, I never had more than 10 show up), 5 girls came with their girly kits and stoked to see my own. Who knew being an adult woman who does her hair, nails, and make-up, would be such a fascinating thing?!

 

Our social night had the most attendees, 10, and this was when some of the girls from the older 8/9 split class finally showed up. We talked about some of the situations they’ve been in, being picked on or picking someone else, about the things they loved about themselves, compliments they have received, what they liked to do, etc. I thought it would be a perfect moment for them to focus on all of the good things about themselves and encourage them to see the good in others.

On the last night, as we baked, there was a confrontation between two of the girls. I had reached my limit of dealing with their ridiculousness! I told them there was nothing left that I could do for them, they had to take the strategies I had taught them and figure this one out. I can only repeat myself so many times! They did end up sorting it out on there own, but there was some leftover hostility the next day.

Now that the weeks have passed, I have been asked more than once when I’m hosting another girls night! They actually enjoyed that time!

Now that we are mid-June, I can safely say that I have had no issues between the girls in a long time. Now, it could very well have nothing to do with my role, but I like to think it has. Sometimes girls are just being mean girls, sometimes they are bullies, sometimes they’re lost…There are many reasons that people might act out in aggressive ways, and reasons people might respond aggressively also. I chose to take the time to listen, I exhausted all of my efforts in teaching them how to find their own solutions, instead of having someone else solve their problems. But I think the way I helped them the most, was just by listening, being there for them to trust, not with secrets, but that I would ‘deal with it’.

We all have a choice in how we respond to the people around us, whether we are personally involved in a situation, or being there for someone else’s. There are teachable moments every day if you choose to see them, and flow with them. Maybe my actions had no influence on the attitudes of my students, maybe they did. Sometimes we never really know how we affect the lives of other people. But I do know how observing and listening to them has affected mine.

I encourage you to find the positive in your own life. I encourage you to not get ‘caught up in the drama’. And I encourage you to learn from every moment.

 

 

 

(Side note – This post may not be completely cohesive, it took a few sessions to get it all out…Hope you followed it alright 🙂 )

 

 

 

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Confidence and how I don’t have a clue how to teach it…

Confidence and how I don’t have a clue how to teach it…

I’ve explained before that the students I work with are quite low academically. They are also sheltered in their community which is threaded with negativity and lives that are ‘good enough.’ It’s not very often I hear an adult motivating a child to be whatever they want, or to travel anywhere outside of the province, or to truly succeed. There are extremely few positive role models in this community. And I see the effects of this deficit every day in my class room.

I have one student who tells me, without fail, every time a task is put to her, “Miss! I can’t do this! I’m dumb!”….”I’m too stupid to figure this out!” So I am honest with her, “No, you’re not dumb, you’re not stupid, what you are being right now, though, is lazy.” She will laugh and admit to me that she was listening to my instructions, or to me at all, or that she hadn’t read the question yet, etc… And I’m not lying to her, she is NOT dumb, she is NOT stupid….But somewhere along the line, some one, or some people, told her or made her feel that she was.

How do I change that? We’ve now been in the same class together for 7 months, and this continues to be a daily occurrence. We all hope to affect the lives of our students in a  positive way, and sometimes I don’t feel like I’m making that difference.

In February, we had a leadership week at school. People came from within the community, within the school, and some even traveled the provinces, to come and talk with the students about how to be successful. How to move up. How to do well in school. And my kids goofed off almost the whole time.

One of the speakers was a friend of a friend of mine, who I had never met in person, but watched her compete on a national TV show a few years ago, and I was star struck. She was in my classroom, took complete ownership of her activities and the conversations. One of the activities was to get the students to stand up in front of their peers (just Jr. High, maybe 30 students total) say their name, their birthday, and one thing they like.

What was the point of that? You may ask.  The point was simple. Speak in front of your peers. That’s it, that’s all. It might seem simple to the rest of us; stand up, project your voice, speak clearly, speak slower than normal, look at your audience.

It was a struggle. 3 students refused to even stand up, even when friends, teachers, and the activity leaders encouraged them and offered  to stand with them and support them. This concerned me. It wasn’t as though we were trying to have them present an elaborate speech about the vast research topic.

As a person who has never had an issue with public speaking, even as a child, I didn’t know how to make these kids feel comfortable, safe, confident.

After the students left for break, Linsay stayed behind and I asked her about this. She suggested something that seemed so simple! I was boggled that I hadn’t thought of it already.

“Affirmations,” she stated, “Read positive affirmations every day with them. Let me know in June if you notice a difference.”

You guys, I’ve been super stoked about this! I immediately whipped out my phone and clicked on my cyber-best-friend…Pinterest. Hooolllehhhh! There are SO many resources out there about affirmations for different ages, life situations, feelings, etc. I saved them all to my phone.

Initially, I read them to my students. I would pick three, say them three times each, and each time, the students would repeat after me. Every morning we were doing this. They seemed uninterested, staring at the ceiling, poking their friend, folding paper, doodling, looking at their book….But they did say them.

Then I wondered, hold on, how is this helping them become comfortable in front of everyone? Away went a few hours of my weekend as I wrote out each of these affirmations (there were 150 on this specific list!) on index cards and put them neatly in a box you’d find on the desk of a secretary/receptionist.

My students have figured out that I’m a bit of a neat freak with a few OCD tendencies, so upon noticing this new box on my desk at the front of the room, the curiosity rose among them. They came to the correct conclusion, they’d be reading the affirmations themselves from now on!

Starting this week, I choose 3 students randomly, the get up in front of the class, they flick through the box and find an affirmation they like, and they take turns reading, while the rest of the class (including myself) repeats after them. There have been a few hesitations, to be expected, but overall, the audience seems to be responding slightly more enthusiastically.

I am excited to watch them in June, remembering where they started, and do a mental, just-for-me ‘assessment’ of how far they have come. I am eager to contact Linsay and share with her how her small tidbit of advice sparked these students to inadvertently become more confident.

I encourage you, whether or not you’re an educator, to try this with children, and see for yourself any changes in them.

I am loved.

I am helpful.

I am kind.

I can do it.

I learn from my mistakes.

I act responsibly.

I love myself even though I sometimes fail.

I accept and love myself.

I am kind to all. 

I solve problems.

I have a beautiful imagination.

I embrace change. 

I am confident.

I am brave.

I forgive others for their mistakes.

I get better and better every day. 

I am in charge of my life.

I am persistent.

I am honest. 

I am patient. 

I am perfect just the way I am. 

I work hard.

I see the good in myself. 

I like being challenged. 

 

These are just SOME of my favourites.

Even as adults, it can be hard to feel confident, be happy, keep trying, etc…

It doesn’t hurt to talk to ourselves in the mirror sometimes.

 

Being honest about the truth…

Being honest about the truth…

 

I always grew up being told honesty is the best policy…Sometimes as an adult in charge of young humans, I struggle with where the limit is. Never in a rude or inappropriate way, but in the how many life-truths should I actually share. 

Thus far in my experience teaching, the children have been…Not babied, but somewhat, sheltered? That is the best word I can come up with right now. There are students leaving the school after the twelfth grade believing that they have graduated with an honest diploma. Students receiving awards for honors who are not achieving grade level. Students being told that they are academically high achievers, yet cannot read at grade level or comprehend basic math operations.

This is the honesty I struggle with. I wonder what benefit these awards and compliments are doing to benefit these children when they finally enter the adult world. I think that I believe these things are setting them up for disappointment. I could be wrong.

In my school we use in Elementary a promote/place/retain system when the end of the year comes and we are deciding the changing of each students grade. Last year, I placed most of my students, none were promoted. This is because none of them were at grade level. The ones that I wanted to retain, I could not, because I had not received parental permission, because I was not able to reach any parents. As the new school year began, although I am now teaching a different grade, I heard through the grapevine that a few parents (across the board, not just from my class) were upset because “last year my kid got honors and this year they were just placed, not promoted, what the heck?” Well, as I often did, I had the conversation with myself that I DID do the right thing. I feel that there is no benefit in dishonesty, I wanted my students to be motivated to do their best, try their hardest, be their own competition.

I didn’t (don’t!) want them going through life believing that good enough is good enough.

That’s partly personal experience influencing that. It was until I was about 23, halfway through my Education degree, that I finally understood this. “C’s get degrees!!” my friends and I would joke. But I struggled, I was and am a smart woman (a  little ditzy sometimes 😉 ) but I had a hard time with exams, a hard time sitting through 3 hour lectures at night after a full work day, a hard time studying…And finally, once I got into a pickle with school, I realized just how much I wanted what I wanted! I went to see a program counselor, buckled down, decreased my course load, and got my friends to back me up to help hold me accountable. It was only then that I saw my personal success and I finished my very last semester before graduation with my first, hard earned A+. I was so proud of myself.

I want that for my kids. My students. I want them to know that rush of getting what you deserve! In a positive way! I have one girl in my class who says to me almost every day, “Miss, I don’t know this. I can’t do this. I’m dumb. I’m too stupid.” And I reply, every day, with, “Sarah, you are not dumb, you are not stupid, you CAN do this, you’re just lazy.”

Therrre, we are….The honesty. Is it wrong for me to say that? It’s true! She is not the only student to holler for help before she has even looked at the question.

We recently had exam week and report cards. I no longer find myself surprised at what they don’t know. In grade 7, they did not know the rules of exams! They asked me if they needed to put their names and dates on them, could I help them, can they talk, etc…. I had to explain to them the concept of skipping questions if you didn’t know them to boost their marks. It was yet another foreign conversation to me.

I once overheard a student say to a friend, “I don’t care that I was late! Imma be a f***ing dropout homie!”….

Seriously? … You’re serious aren’t you! Your life goal is to be a Jr. High dropout!

How am I supposed to interact with people as a teacher when I can only assume that these kids are getting these attitudes from their parents. When families are aware of their child’s struggles in education and still does nothing, what am I supposed to do from there?

Is it more beneficial to be honest and say your child has been putting in no effort, never opens a book or lifts their pencil, is constantly extremely late, and doesn’t do the minimal amount of homework expected. They have earned a 0%.  Or will it push them to better their future by lying; Congratulations! You weren’t AS late today! Because of that effort, I’ll see your 0% and match you an %80!

Because to me, that makes no sense. And I get curious about how things like this have been happening for so long. How has it happened that the majority of my grade 7 class is reading below a grade 4 level?

I bring it back to the point…Honesty? Or coddling lies?

If you know what’s best, drop me a line…

 

 

When you remember why you matter…

img_8400I have now been at the same school for a year now…well…I’m half way into my second school year, so let’s make it sound better and say two years 😉

Last year, being with younger kids, as frustrating as it got, I enjoyed the hustle, pressure, and ever changing plans. I read a quote somewhere once saying something along the lines of teachers make more minute-minute decisions than brain surgeons, that’s why they’re so tired. Although I question the validity of that quote, I certainly think it can be quite accurate!

I had a few students who kept me on my toes from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM like it was their only purpose in this world, and I often wondered why…Why did I constantly keep trying to hold their attention, change their behavior, give them consequences, etc., when it didn’t matter anyways…And I’m not talking about the “I’ve given up” kind of it-didn’t-matter, I’m talking about a community environment where these values/behaviors actually didn’t matter…Students aren’t just AD/HD, there’s more to each one of them that made introducing to and being consistent with new behaviors and attitudes difficult.

It wasn’t until the last few months of the year, May-June especially, that I started to realize that things were changing. I wasn’t getting frustrated, I went home with nothing to complain about, I was singing the praises of ALL of the students in my class! Somewhere along the line, I had gotten something through to them.

And they got through to me, but I was so unaware of it until this year.

I taught a student last year Wendy, who lived with a prestigious family within the school community. Because of this, she got that ‘special treatment’ that, as teachers, we tend to dislike. Honestly. I was always wary about how I spoke to her, my tone of voice, what kind of consequence she had, how children spoke to her…She was kind of a…brat…I hate saying that.

This year, although I’m in a new class, at the other end of the hall, she makes sure to run to me with open arms and a hug, every day.

I found out that she now lives with another family member, more people in the house, she doesn’t get all of the perks she used to, she isn’t treated as importantly as she once was, etc. On one hand, the one which disliked her attitude, I was thinking that’s alright, she can do with a bit of reality…On the other, she’s only been taken care of by —, she doesn’t know anything else, she’s no longer important at all. It was hard for me to come to terms with both of my thoughts for this girl.

It was around the beginning of October, I was deep amidst the stampede of students rushing for the bus, when I heard my name in a high pitched voice. “Miss! Do you have time to listen to me for a minute?” It was Wendy. “Sure! What’s up kiddo?” I replied. “Miss I wrote you a song and I want to sing  it to you!” Whhaatttt! I felt giddy! She belted it out, reading it from her paper, not a care to who was running past us or listening in. She gave me the written copy to keep.

In her words:

“Miss —- you are so bitiful (beautiful)

Miss —- you are the beast (best)

Miss —- I love you too (to)

the sun and back

Miss —- you are like

a dimin (diamond)

a dimin in the sky (diamond)

Miss —- you are there

for me and I am there for you

Miss —- I know you love me more

but I love you the most”

I teared up, asked her to sing it one more time so I could record it, and she did. I gave her a big hug, thanked her, and walked with her to her bus. That little song was cute, of course, but it meant so much more to her. I’ve watched her throughout this year, and as much as we bickered when I was her teacher, she doesn’t seem to hit it off with many others. I was honored at the thought that while she was in her own class, with her new teacher, she was thinking of me (yes yes, when she should have been working 😉 ). If she is the only student that I reached during my time here, I’ll take with pride!

Sometimes, the smallest, cheesiest things are the moments we take with us. To this 9 year old girl, I mattered. For however short or long of a time, I was important to her. And people, if that doesn’t warm your heart just a tad, I don’t know what will.

I might not always feel like it, but I matter. We matter. We are all important.

Sticky lizards, elbow deep in pasta trash…

Sticky lizards, elbow deep in pasta trash…

Months it has been since I have taken time to do some writing. And I can’t tell you how much has happened!

I got to experience London and various towns in Scotland over summer holidays for a wedding… Traveled to Canada’s east coast for a post-wedding celebration… re-kindled a relationship I thought was lost for sure… You know, I always thought I would be really good at keeping my work and personal lives separate, but I was mistaken. I can handle leaving work at work, but I tell ya! The boys and the family, they’re in my head all the time! And I THINK that is normal, but you can never really be sure…

I feel like I have a lot to cover, and it might bounce around between personal and professional, but really, as long as I entertain someone, even myself, I’m sure it’s fine…I have had friends ask me since I decided I wanted to attempt blogging “What will you write about? Is there even a point?” I had to think about that, initially, I wanted it to be strictly about teaching, strategies, stresses, stories… But then I thought, man, it’s so much easier to sit down and type when I have time than getting cuddled up and hand writing everything at the end of the day. So here we have a smorg of thoughts that I feel necessary to share with whoever feels like reading it.

Let’s back track a few months, shall we? I had a student, Jack who had brought in to school a rubber, sticky lizard…You know the ones…Small, extremely stretchy, throw them at the wall and they’ll stick…Yes, we teachers hate those don’t we? This kid could not for the life of him, could not just leave it on his desk to do his work. So, nearing the end of a long and frustrating day, I threw that lizard out. Angry teacher strikes again! I felt instant regret.

(I’ll tell you why. When I was in the first grade, I had a substitute teacher. I was being a ‘bad kid’ with some neon-colored, rubber, stretchy shoe-laces that my aunt had gotten me; who I never saw, and passed away not long after…I had obviously sucked the air out of her last straw… She cut those shoe-laces into itty bitty pieces, dropping them directly into the garbage can, right in front of me.)

I did NOT want to be that teacher that this kid would hate for the rest of his life! I waited until they had left for the buses, staring at that 50 gallon (give or take) trash can…reeking of their snacks and lunches from the day, spilling over with styrofoam dishes dripping with spaghetti sauce….And then I just went for it. I rolled up the sleeve of my warm, black shirt, and I dug in. I scooped out dishes, picked through candy wraps, dodged mushy unknowns….For 20 minutes…I kid you not friends, I spent 20 minutes of my life digging through kid garbage to find Jack’s stupid lizard!!!! And do you THINK it was there….I finally gave up, running to the sink to get as much soap on whatever body parts were showing as I could. I was stumped.

Fast forward to the next morning. Jacks friend comes to me as soon as he walks in the door. “Miss, did you know Jack got his lizard yesterday? He snuck it out when you were helping someone!”

Well, I’ll be….That little sneak got his toy back before I could admit remorse and apologize!! I never addressed the situation again. Maybe I should have.

And THAT, is my tale of sticky lizards and garbage hunting. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

What the what?

IMG_4404.JPG

This post might cover a lot…A lot of emotions, events, fears…

I shall start with the simple…In my last entry, I talked about how the children in my class, the school, really, (in my experience) struggled with retention; Now let’s cover abilities. The reading levels in my classroom, a 3/4 split, were low. Well, the vast majority were, I had 2 of 21 students reading at beginning grade level by the end of the year…

In the beginning, I thought I was a terrible teacher. How are these kids not catching up faster? Maybe I should do Daily 5…Maybe I should be sending home more homework….Maybe I need to do more guided reading…It didn’t take me long to realize that it wasn’t me. There were things I could change, and did, like the guided reading. Come the new year, I changed my routines with the help and guidance of other teachers with a lot more experience.

But when it came to homework (or anything involving my students outside of school), I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I sent books home, levelled or otherwise, I wouldn’t get them back; Even if I did send some home, only one or two students had families that would sit with them and work on it. So I decided to keep my books. I still, in late July, wonder if that was the ‘right’ decision.

I really noticed the hardship when trying to teach all of the other subjects; word problems in Math, Science Fair prep in Science, and general independent work in Social Studies. My students, most of them, truly weren’t capable of doing work on their own, and it wasn’t for lack of trying…My kids, god I’m so proud of them…They tried SO hard… But they just weren’t able to read their grade level work on their own. Everything became teacher-led. Not because I wanted it, the control, but because with my help, even if it meant reading their work or the questions out loud 10 times, they seemed to feel so much more confident.

In Social, I would give the students articles, then questions where the answers were in the articles (not my favourite way to teach, but I had to work with the resources available to me) and even if I highlighted/circled the SENTENCE that the answer was in, they couldn’t figure it out.

I finally came to a point where I realized that I just didn’t have the time to spend anymore encouraging each of them, so I took a deep breath, and continued with the extremely high teacher-led guidance and spoon-feeding. I’m not proud of it, but it was nearing the end of the year and I had to finish units, as well as all the extras that go along with year end.

 

I have to cover a situation that happened at Christmas time (yes, I’m a ‘Christmas break’-er, not winter;) )… The entire school was in the hallway near the gym, preparing for our school-wide song at the end of our Christmas concert. My class had gotten through their play (The Mitten) like seasoned performers and I was so proud of them. While we were waiting, I was reminding them of what their behaviour should look like (I was still new, had only been there a month as this point) so that their families would be proud. A student from another class had come over and was goofing around, trying to get some of the boys from my class to be silly with him, and they impressed me yet again by not getting involved. After your typical warnings to this student and giving him instructions to go back to his own class line-up, he still chose not to listen, so I followed through and led him by the hand to where he was supposed to be.

We’ve all done this, right? It’s not like I was doing something crazy or unusual…

Well, a few minutes pass, and a woman approaches me (unfamiliar to me) and SCREAMS at me over the heads of my patient students… “Why the F*** did you grab my son?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Her:” He’s got bruises on his wrists! I’m F***ing charging you with assault! You have NO F***ing right to lay your hands on my son!”

Me:”I took him back to his line-up, he has no bruises, I did not hold his wrist.”

Her: Continues to swear at me in front of not just my students, but all classes and teachers.

I brushed it off and kept my composure till we finished our school song, wondering what the HECK had just happened. But wait…

We’re all walking our classes back to the rooms to collect their things, and crazy mom is back in a different hallway.

Her: “What’s your F***ing name?” As she angrily jabs her finger towards me, again, over top of children’s heads.

I tell her…

Her: “You’ll be getting a visit from the cops. I’m charging you with F***ing assault!”

I said, “Okay!” And walked away. The entire time I’m just thinking What is happening? What the heck? What did I do? This woman is certifiable!! Did I actually do something wrong? I can’t have really bruised this kid…Did I? No, there’s no way…I don’t even know her! Why is she acting like this! This is ridiculous! 

I was so thankful to have a rush of teachers and my principal storming into my room as soon as the kids left to check on me. Everyone told me not to worry. Without divulging too much, we figured out that the police would not have been involved at all.

I was terrified the day after, that last day of school…Terrified throughout my entire Christmas break…Terrified to go back to school…

But, you know what? I survived. I handled that situation appropriately, and calmly. And I was, am, proud of myself for that.

I think we have to remember the field that we work in can be crazy even without the kids. I never thought that I would be “that teacher”, that all of a sudden changed their entire personality because of the job I had. The “old” me would have told that woman where to go and how to get there. I knew that this would get me nowhere. And I was constantly aware that my kids, my 8-9 year old students, were staring at me the whole time, watching for my reactions. And it was that moment that it really, truly hit me, just how much of a role model I was to them. And potentially to other teachers!

Always remember. You are more than the situations that happen to you.

The Struggle

The Struggle

The more I got into the curriculum and got a feel for what the expectations were, the more I realized something wasn’t right. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but I felt like there was way too much work that was way too hard for what I had pictured in my head. There was no way that someone would make units and plans and this entire curriculum impossible to get through…What the heck?

The kids…The kids were so far behind…In everything… That was has been one of the hardest things I had to deal with throughout the year. I would find myself getting frustrated, mad, and it was SO hard not to take it out on the students. After all, that’s who I spend all my time with…But I spent a lot …A lot… of time reflecting on why? Why was this such a challenge?

They weren’t retaining anything. So even though I spent a ton of time practicing, manipulating, repeating…I’d come back to the topic after a weekend, and the questions would flow…”Miss, what’s multiplication?” “Miss, what’s a period?” “Miss, what do you mean a sentence?”….It.Drove.Me.Bonkers… But what could I do? Sometimes I still don’t know. I just kept on doing what I was doing. The only thing I wish I had done differently was sent home homework. I know, I know…Homework is being done away with for the most part. But the reason I never gave it, was that I knew I wouldn’t get it back, and it wouldn’t get done. Out of 21 students, I never got more than 3 returning their work.

I didn’t know what to do about this…So I decided to pick my battles, and homework wasn’t one of them. Manners, cleaning up, personal responsibility in the classroom, that was what I could control. So that was my battle.

And I won that one.

But, as I begin preparing myself for next year. I wonder how we are even expected to get through everything, know how the dynamic works in the demographic I work with. There are students in Jr.High, reading at grade 1 and 2 levels. How can I possibly get through essential material, when the students cannot work independently because they can’t read!? Agh!

I have a lot to think about over the summer…