Friday, June 17, 2011

Ending Another Year

Wow!  What a crazy ending!  You would think that after seven years of planning graduations, creating awards, packing up boxes, and saying good-byes, I would be more efficient than this! 

I apologize for my absence since my last post.  My past two weeks have taken me a tailspin of a journey.  The end of the year brought on a very angry parent that took hours of my time.  She was upset that her son didn't get an award she thought he should have gotten. 

Then I packed up by classroom, finished all of my paper work, packed my car full of books to plan the next year over the summer, and headed home for a relaxing three days.  Then what did I do?  Started a four day conference!  Oh the life of a teacher!

While some of my work colleagues hit the beach, I opened a conference on Enrichment Opportunities with a 45 minute lesson from a citizenship unit. 

Finally!  Today I only need to work on writing from my home.  I do not have to step back into my classroom for about 4 weeks! I can concentrate on the freelance writing jobs I have picked up for the summer and spend some much needed time with my two year old little boy and my husband.  Perhaps I will even catch up on laundry this weekend, but I don't want to push it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Vacation?

    My least favorite comment I get from other professionals about my teacher career is about summer vacation. They say something like, "At least you don't work for three months out of the year." Or, "Teachers won't get paid more until they work as many days as the rest of us!" For all of you who agree, here are my plans for summer!

    First of all, let me say that I know very few teachers who work only 8-9 hours a day. Most of us work that much AT SCHOOL, and then we come home, fix dinner, take care of the family, get the kids in bed, and WORK AT HOME! I don't mean housework, although there is always plenty of that! I mean we grade papers, work on lesson plans, read to prepare for lessons, and the never ending stacks of paperwork!

    Back to my summer plans. My students finish June 7th. I have two workdays after that, so let's say the school year is officially over June 9th. There are 47 week days between then and August 16th when I report back to my school for my first official workday. Of those 47 days, four of them will be spend at a Talented and Gifted Enrichment workshop, two rewriting the math pacing guides for the county with a team of other teachers, two more in meetings planning activities for Gifted students next year, two more planning and leading a workshop on discipline in our school, and three more days of our choosing spent in our classrooms. That takes me to 34 days left.

    Of those 34, I will spend countless hours reading student educational plans of the 8 incoming students with disabilities. I will rewrite my own pacing guides for reading and writing. I will plan as far ahead as possible for the upcoming year. I will meet with my team to discuss policies regarding our incoming group, and I will plan for the workshops I have scheduled to lead between August 15th and the students' first day a week later.

    When it is all said and done, my summer vacation of three months is actually only about 20 days. This allows me one month to make up for all the days that my son had to play in the floor by himself while I graded papers instead of playing with him. It gives me a chance to take care of my own child rather than the children of others.

    I love teaching. I love summers! But let's not all be clear that teachers work hard through the summer!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Important Things

    I don't usually post twice a day, but I have an important thought to share with you. Tsh, over at Simple Mom, posted today from her trip to the Philippines with Compassion International. Her post, What Do Kids Really Need, reminded me to really consider what kids need in life and what is just excess. She compares a child she met today with her own six year girl and found numerous similarities. It makes me reconsider my plans for my students as we wrap up the school year. I have to look at what the kids really need and what doesn't really matter.

Field Day

    Don't we all remember field day as kids? When I was in elementary school, it was the greatest day of competition of the year! We were split into teams, made t-shirts, had chants and slogans, and competed fiercely. Most events were similar to track and field, except for some of the team events and, of course my favorite, jumping rope. I rocked out the jump rope competition each year. I had these spindly legs that could jump for hours without tiring.
    As a teacher, I still love field day. We held our annual event this past Friday. Worried about storms, we hesitated to include water events. However, the rains held until after school released. It was a hot and beautiful day, and the water events were a huge hit. The favorites for this group were the water balloon toss and the sponge relay.
    Allow me to explain this sponge relay. We form two teams into lines, each with a bucket full of water in front and an empty bucket behind the line. The object is to race to fill the bucket in the back by soaking the sponge and passing it over your head then under your body until the last person in line has the sponge. They squeeze the few drops of water left into the empty bucket. Most of the water drips onto the kids as they pass the sponge. It is good fun for everyone.
    The event that I am paying for today, three days later, is the tug-of-war. I have a young man this year who is at least 5'5". He weighs almost as much as I do, and he is strong! The only way the other side had a chance to win was for me to play for them. I pulled and tugged and dragged and pulled some more. For fifteen minutes we played tug-of-war! I am SO SORE today! My arms feel like I carried my entire class around all day. It is a good thing field day only happens one day a year!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Today is Saturday, which usually means errands.  As a full time teacher, full time mother, and full time wife with no in-home help, I NEED my Saturdays to run errands.  Today was grocery day!  This usually means two different grocery stores, a discount store (Sharp Shopper) and then either Food Lion, Kroger, or Martin's to buy everything I couldn't find at Sharp Shopper.  I plan my meals two weeks at a time, so the list is usually lengthy.  To gear up for the shopping event, I took Devon to the park for about an hour first.

We left home a little after 8.  We had eaten, everyone was in clean clothes, and I even got to shower this morning.  The day began well.

Devon had a great time at the park.  He even willingly got back into the car without a crying fit.  I thought this was on track to be a perfect day!

Boy was I wrong!

With only three aisles left at Sharp Shopper, Devon discovered that I had tossed a bag of peanut filled pretzels in our basket.  His favorite!!!  Thus began the ear piercing, highly embarrassing fit that disrupted the entire warehouse of a store.  He refused to be consoled by anything other than the bag of pretzels that we had not purchased yet.  I am all for opening a snack in the middle of a store, but these are sold by weight.  We couldn't eat from the bag prior to weighing them at the check-out!

To sum up to miserable parts, he screamed and cried while I finished our shopping, checked-out, and unloaded our groceries into the car.  Mostly, I pretended I didn't hear him.  I received a grand mixture of pitiful condolence stares and glares of disgruntled customers. 

Once I got in the car, I refused to open the bag because he had been so ugly.  This caused him to cry for about fifteen more minutes.  I finally told him that he could have them as soon as he showed Mommy how to be a good boy. 

When we arrived home, he looked at me and told me that he was a good boy.  The tears stopped. He said he was sorry, and he was rewarded with pretzels with his lunch!

I thank God for the patience I was able to show, and for the Grace he sends our way when we need it!  I pray that I handled the situation in a way that will show him a fit doesn't get you what you want, being nice will. 

Parenting is hard.  Only with God's help do any of us make it through!

****This post also appears on another blog I write, My Journey Through the Bible.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sick Days

I am lucky to have a profession in which I get sick leave.  That, I believe, is one of the biggest draws of education to women who intend to have families.  My two-year old is home today with strep throat and bronchitis.  I still get paid for the day.  The unlucky drawback to sick leave is the lesson plan!!!

Yes, I realize that I should have emergancy plans stashed in my room so that any sub could come in and follow them.  I don't!  At 7:00am I was dragging my sick toddler to the copy machine to copy plans I wrote at 6:00am.  They were well written, lovely plans that would keep my students busy with valuable lessons learned.  Everything was laid out so that even the most inexperienced sub could follow them.  I left confident that the soon to arrive students would have a wonderful day.  Then I learned, after filling prescriptions for my son, that my school would close several hours early due to flooding!  All that time on sub plans...wasted!When Steinbeck wrote, "The best laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry," he was talking about teachers!  Our plans so rarely go, well, as planned!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Two-Year Old Curriculum

I love my babysitter.  My son goes to her every weekday while my husband and I work outside of our home.  She goes to church with us, actually we joined that church because of her, and we love everything about her except one small detail.  She has so many kids between the ages of 1 and 4 that she can't possibly teach a good curriculum to each age group.  She teaches the ABC's, counting skills, and colors to everyone.  The main skills she fosters are social skills and gross motor skills. 

My husband and I have debated taking our son to a preschool at age three, but have decided against it.  We love her so much, and our son loves her so much.  He thrives in her care!  Instead of taking him away, we have decided to make up for the lack in curriculum.  We found a free program online called Letter of the Week.  We began the preparatory program for two year olds.  This can be found at

At first I wondered if this whole idea was a little overboard.  I didn't want to force my child into something he wasn't ready for.  I also didn't want to stress myself out for nothing.

I was shocked by our beginning.  We are finishing week one, and my son has loved every book, story, nursery rhyme, and game we have played!  He loves his learning time!

I encourage all parents to involve themselves with the education of their toddler.  I know some parents would rather leave that to the daycare workers, but we are having a blast!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Kids

A new student moved into my class last week.  Let me remind you of the time of year!  We have less than twenty days of school left before these students graduate from elementary school and move forward to middle school.  Why would parents choose to move their child away from the friends he has been with for years just before graduation?  His mother died!

My heart aches for this young man.  At age 11 he found his mother dead before school one morning.  He bravely called 911 and tried to administer CPR.  He took his three year old, a bag full of clothes and toys, and moved in with a father that he remembers as abusive and violent from living with him four years ago.

I think this child is doing remarkably well, but has so much disruption in his life, I can't figure out how he is even making it through each day.  God blessed me with this child, but I am not sure how God is using me in this situation.  It is so terribly sad!  I have learned enough to know that I have to be patient and wait to know my role.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Beginning

I have been teaching now for sevens, but while I was doing my student teaching I felt overwhelmed when nearing graduation.  I had more projects due than I could count and too few days to get everything accomplished.  In addition, I was trying to actually teach my fifth graders something before their upcoming state tests. 
I remember a supervisor told me that I needed to do what I could and make that be enough.  I have lived by those words in my career.  I now have a husband, son, home to run, a fledgling writing hobby, and my own group of fifth graders.  I strive daily to do what I can, and I am trying to make it be enough!