“They were really nice,” my fiance says, surprised, as he gets back in the car after getting me some ice cream from Cold Stone.
“Why are you so surprised? People are generally nice,” I responded.
And to that I got a confused stare….
Well…that may have been because before my wonderful fiance went in to get me ice cream (because I didn’t want to have to interact with people), I was trying to explain that I like living in the suburbs. True, I don’t like small talk and being around a lot of people causes me major anxiety. True, I will wait longer to be able to use self-checkout and not have to talk to anyone. True, I avoid eye contact so that I don’t have to even wave to the neighbors. However! I like living in a house near other people’s houses, with people outside when the weather is nice….just as long as I’m not expected to talk to those people! Makes sense to me…
Hence, the confused stare…but just because I don’t want to talk to people, doesn’t mean I don’t think most people aren’t good. Then, he realized why I have a more positive view of people then he does…
“You spend your days with the best kind of people: kids.”
Truth! I am so lucky to spend my days with the best kind of people! They give me hope everyday!
I love strong, stubborn kids – and my class is full of them this year! However, it can be exhausting trying to change the way they do something…example: periods.
“The ideas are great. It’s a slice of life. But, you don’t have any punctuation.”
“Aghh…fine.” She skips away to add punctuation and then comes back in minutes.
I reread the slice and there were periods now, but they seemed to be randomly placed throughout the piece. “Achoo, (her nickname…) it seems like you just put periods in random places…”
“Because that’s what I did!”
“Hmmm..Well, that’s not how punctuation works. ”
“But people reading it need a breath. They’ll get tired.”
“You are very right about that, but not in random places. The periods need to be at the end of sentences, so your story makes sense. You can’t just put them wherever.”
“Ms. Bless, that’s just who I am. You can’t change that.”
I honestly don’t remember the continuation of this specific conversation, in large part because I just couldn’t move past, “that’s just who I am.” And also, because before and after this, Achoo and I have had many conversations about punctuation. I know she can find the right places for them, once I can get her to accept that it does matter WHERE you put them…
I stepped into the recycling bin.
“Yes! It’s time!” Two girls knew exactly what it meant because they had been waiting all day for this. They made confetti at home to throw at me and I promised they could at the end of the day.
The kids gathered around the bin, excited as the two girls threw their homemade confetti. And then threw some more confetti. It was in my hair, in my face, and all over the room. I’m not sure that standing in the recycling was effective at all…
I love these strange, creative children. I have no idea where they come up with some of the things that happen, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
We stood on the stairs, waiting for the bell to ring. It was 2:59, the end of a very long day. Their excited speech echoed through the stairwell. It took all the energy I had left to keep them in line and not screaming.
I was talking to one student when I looked up a few steps. Ms. Fruity (self-proclaimed nickname of one of my third graders) turned and pressed her face against the cold white stones of the wall and sniffed. “The wall smells like fart.”
“Who wants to get wet?”
It didn’t really register right away. I was across the room at my table finishing taking attendance and Cam was sharing some tiny dolls during morning meeting. I heard her say it, but it didn’t register until…
I looked up and Cam had the tiny doll in her hand, squeezing it as her arm swung from left to right. As her arm moved, a steady stream of water hit everyone sitting in front of her. I got up, moving across the room to stop the water. But, she was ready. Before I could get there a second doll, a second stream of water, more screaming.
Surprisingly, not one child moved or complained. She did, after all, ask them first… “Who wants to get wet?”
This is the personal narrative that I am working on alongside my students in our first unit. It’s a work in progress. We’ll be publishing by the end of the week!
Ring. Ring. Ring. I saw Jackie flash across the screen. Why is she calling me? What does she want? She only calls when she wants something.
“Hello.” I answered.
“Guess what, Jennie?!?!”
“What?” I was surprised at her excited tone. What could it be?
“I finished Twilight already!”
“The book? Didn’t you just start it the other day?” That couldn’t be right. She had barely finished a book in her life, let alone one for fun…and only in a few days!
“Yes. I couldn’t stop reading. I was picturing Bella and Edward in my head as I was reading- since I knew what they looked like from the trailers.”
“Wow…Wait, you didn’t usually see pictures in your head? With other books?”
That was the first time I truly realized that the reason I loved reading was the movie that was happening in my mind as I read. Jackie never had that before. But because of the movie trailers out for Twilight, she saw the “mind movie” and she enjoyed reading.
Because of this realization, visualizing became a much more significant part of my reading instruction.
The book changed everything for Jackie as a reader. The book changed everything for me as a teacher.
Trying out some poetry in preparation for our poetry writing unit:
What if there was no CCRAP test?
I might get to teach students what they need,
without the pressure of this test
in the background of my mind.
What if my worth as an educator
wasn’t decided by a standardized test?
I could stress less, smile more.
I could make a bigger difference.
What if there was no CCRAP test?
I would not be sitting here dreading going to school
Dreading the next few weeks of testing
And everything that goes along with it.
What if educators made the decisions?
There would be no CCRAP test.
Dear First Year Teachers,
I have never been able to complete a letter to you newbies. I have tried, but never got past drafting. This is how my letter started last summer (it was still in my unpublished posts):
Dear First-Year Teacher,
Congratulations! Your first year of being a teacher will be upon you very soon. I am sure you are full of emotions. If your emotions are anything like in Inside Out (which I suggest you see before the start of the year), I am pretty sure that Fear is at the control panel most of the time. Don’t worry, it won’t always be that way. Joy will be upfront quite often.
Be sure to ask questions.
And that is as far as I got before I couldn’t decide what to else to say. Everything in that first draft is true. And there is sooooo much more…I will try to keep it short and sweet. I know that there is a lot that you need to know, but I also know that you won’t remember most of what people tell you!
Ask for help.
Listen to your students.
Save resources and advice somewhere because you aren’t going to remember it once the school year starts. But, later after things settle down, you will know where to look to find it and you will be better ready to decide if it is useful to you.
When people start telling you more than you can handle, tune them out. Smile, nod, and say “Thank you.” You aren’t ready for what they are saying, and that is perfectly fine.
Good Luck and Have Fun!
I have so much to be thankful for, including Michelle’s Big Time Literacy Blogging Challenge and today’s “Gratitude Lately” prompt.
“Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.” – Robert Braathe
I am grateful to the very special group of third graders I had this past year. With all of the hate and violence across our country and the world this summer, thinking about these children that are the future of our country gives me hope.
On a similar note, I am grateful for the opportunity to listen to our First Lady’s speech tonight at the DNC. The intro video brought tears to my eyes. One young woman said, “She’s not just a woman standing next to a man.” And a young man says, “She is making her own place in history.” And then Michelle Obama gave an incredible speech that you just need to hear if you haven’t already. Thank you, Michelle Obama!
I am thankful that the project I wrote about last July, my son’s Minecraft room, is almost complete. I procrastinated for too long, but tonight I wrapped up that wall and will never again make a promise to stencil anything! However, the painting is done and the new carpet comes tomorrow. Thank goodness!
Last, but not least, I am thankful for my amazing family and every second I get to spend with my son.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault
I don’t think it exists. Nope. It is a dream that we are always chasing, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I realize this sounds very pessimistic, but I believe teacher balance does not exist. (Stick with me here, this isn’t a totally negative post…)
Balance doesn’t and can’t exist if you are dedicated to both your life outside of education and your role as an educator. There is no way to balance two things that require so much passion, so much of you.
At different points in the year, even within a week or a day, the scale tips one way or the other. Tips to School. Noooo, I have not been listening enough to my son. I haven’t seen my sister in weeks. Tips to Home. I haven’t done enough prep work for this unit and now I’m floundering, I need to spend time on this over the weekend. Tips back to School.
Balance doesn’t exist, not the balance we strive to reach. If we accept this reality, if we pay attention to the tipping scale and if we recognize when it has gone too far one way, maybe then we can find happiness, health and everything else we need…
A few tips I have found helpful…
- Don’t be afraid to say “I’m flattered that you asked, but no thank-you. I just can’t add anything else to my plate right now.” (It goes back to paying attention to the tipping scale.)
- Don’t set up your phone to get work emails automatically. If you have a smart phone, you can access your email through the internet, if you need to, when you are ready. Trust me it helps!