Monday, March 12, 2012

Hello there! I noticed I have a few teachers following me here, and I wanted to let you know that I am moving all teacher blogging to a new site! If you're interested, please check out and consider following me there! It's not much yet, but I hope to make it something awesome!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

real right now

So, I'm terrible about actually blogging, but this caught my eye.

One of the bloggers I follow tried this out. The original woman who started this says, "blog your heart. HONESTLY. it can be silly, funny, serious, short or long...whatever you want it to be. as long as it is authentic."

So... here goes. I'm going to try to go with the things really on my mind lately, as well as a couple random thoughts that came to mind that will hopefully keep it a bit lighter.

  1. I love teaching, but right now I am craving a time where I feel like I'm doing well. I know I am a good teacher, but there are 10 more things I wish I had done at all times. I keep telling myself that next year will be better, because I won't be reinventing everything and I'll have things better figured out, but sometimes I worry that it's always going to feel like this, like I'm never doing enough and I'm constantly swamped.
  2. I'm not a big fan of babies. I'm sure I'll be a big fan of MY (someday) babies, but for right now, they aren't fun until they are toddlers. Hate to say it, but some babies look like aliens and none of them do anything. Not many babies are actually 'cute' to me, and I think this in combination with the mothering I do at work keeps me from having any inkling of baby-craving yet. (Dang it, now that sounds like I want to eat babies. I don't. Promise.)
  3. My dad died when I was 11. Honestly, I'm not sure I deal with it in a healthy way, but it's what I have done for over half my life. It's nice to live my everyday life NOT getting upset by everything all the time, but it's hard to deal when something catches me off-guard. Remind me that no matter how perfectly they got the dad-dies-suddenly-of-a-heart-attack plot, I should not watch sad episodes of How I Met Your Mother. (On a similar note, certain episodes of Everwood are just plain out.)
  4. I need to work out and eat better. I don't know if it's the stress of the school year or what, but I have been eating terribly. My clothes aren't fitting me well right now and I just feel gross and unattractive. Somehow I am really unhappy about my body but that doesn't translate into the motivation to do something about it. Not fair. I don't know how to get that motivation right now. I didn't even find that motivation prior to getting married, like I hoped. I don't need to be a size 2, and never could be- but I know my body and where it normally is bigger and smaller and right now, I'm gaining weight in places I shouldn't. It's frustrating and I feel stupid typing this out, but my insecurities are huge right now.
  5. I touched on this earlier, but I super love teaching. I have friends who have gone out to do their job after college and aren't sure it's right, or aren't sure they want to stay in it forever, and honestly, it's hard for me to imagine doing anything else for very long. I love that I can be creative, that it takes smarts (as much as some people might not believe it), and that I feel like I'm truly doing something important every day.
  6. I miss being religious. I still believe in God, but beyond that, I'm really not sure what I believe anymore. Sometimes I really miss it, especially the connections to other people in a church, but other times the process of searching for a church isn't something I even vaguely want to embark on. I also miss music dearly. (Not that they have to be related, but singing in church was always a constant for me.) I don't want to go to church again because I feel obligated, but I feel guilty not going.
  7. Ryan and I have been together 6 years tomorrow. (To get a measure of how long that is, our relationship-child would be in kindergarten.) Things are great, but sometimes I miss how exciting things were when we first started dating and did romantic things. I'm afraid we've lost a lot of that already, even as newlyweds, and what if it never comes back? It's just not the same now, even on the rare occasions we go and do something couple-y. We used to leave each other sweet notes, and now we send each other football links. There are so many perks with being together longer and being married and all that- but it's also hard to feel like the spark and excitement isn't as strong sometimes.
  8. For some reason, folding laundry always feels like a pain. I don't know why it feels like such an awful chore, because it's really not that bad. Maybe it's because doing laundry means a DAY of laundry when I get around to it.
  9. I miss having close girlfriends. My last real 'best friend' was in high school, and she and I have grown apart a lot. I chose bridesmaids for my wedding that are great friends, but I don't even keep in touch with them like I should and none of us are as close as we once were. There is nothing like that feeling of someone just 'getting' you, and you don't ever need to hide anything from them. It's not that I don't have some good friends, but I miss that natural ease of a best friend. It's hard not to feel like there's something wrong with me because it's been so long since I've had that in my life. It's lonely sometimes and I feel pressured to get everything right when I meet a new friend so that I don't screw it up.
  10. I have a new camera and I LOVE it. I wanted a DSLR for years and I waited and waited because it wasn't something I needed and it was so expensive. I got one just before our honeymoon and it's so worth it.
  11. Sometimes I don't feel like I have an identity anymore. I hate that I let most of my hobbies go in college to take a break from being so overwhelmed, and I never really took them back. I feel like all I do is work and then I'm so tired from work that I just come home and watch TV and that's all I ever do. It's like, what happened to the girl I was in high school, who did well in school despite being in so many activities and doing crafty things and actually hanging out with friends?
  12. I'm bored with my hair. The ends need to go. I had been growing it out with only trims since I got engaged over two and a half years ago, so it's long, and sometimes I love that. Other times I want to chop it all off and make it more low-maintenance. I'm afraid though that a short haircut will round out my face and make me look fat. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I've got some monster insecurity going on lately so I'm being indecisive.
  13. I'm so grateful for the room moms for my classroom. Our fall party was today, and their pinterest-inspired craft and snacks for the kids were fantastic without being crazy or messy or too time-consuming. They are both incredibly sweet and helpful and I am so glad to have them. My last school didn't even have room moms.
  14. I feel like such a slob. I'm not an organized person at all, and while I love for things to be organized, it doesn't usually irk me to have things be somewhat messy. It's just not likely to bother me, which is the complete opposite of Ryan. He does so much more than me when it comes to taking care of the apartment, and sometimes I feel super guilty and worry that he's seething at me inside. I could make excuses, but simply put, I should do more but I don't and it makes me feel bad. What organizing energy I do have (which isn't a lot) usually seems like it gets poured into school because everything gets so crazy there.
  15. I need to finish thank you notes 2 months ago. They are half done but I don't want to send them out until they are all done. Every time I work on them, I remember Ryan and I have a ton of people in our lives that love us a lot, and it's awesome.
  16. I could not be much happier to be on fall break. I have a day off to either slack off or be productive, and while I haven't decided which one I'm doing yet, both are sorely needed before I leap into November.

Weeeell. I have complained plenty for tonight, eh? I just felt like getting it all out. Honestly, life is really good and I'm so lucky to have a teaching job at a great school in the same town where Ryan is in school, but sometimes I need to take a break from the optimism and just get out how I'm really feeling, good and bad.

If you 'blog your heart,' let me know.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Getting RIF'ed last year was rough. It's hard to know that you haven't done anything wrong, but that you're losing your job anyway. It's even harder when you keep hearing about the number of schools doing the same thing, and the number of teachers now in the job pool with you.

As it turned out, the months I spent job searching, filling out applications, and hoping and praying actually paid off. Despite hearing all kinds of depressing statistics ("oh, we had 400 applicants for those 3 jobs"), I landed a job for this year.

An ACTUAL job. As in, my own classroom kind of job.

I am extremely grateful to my summer boss. I've been his assistant coordinator for science camps for years now, and when he heard there was a position in this corporation, he decided to go in and vouch for me. It certainly helped that his wife had taught in the corporation for over 15 years, and that his neighbor worked in the central office, but from what I heard, the principal (who didn't know this guy at all) was simply impressed that someone had come in and so vehemently argued that she should take a look at an applicant.

She told him that she'd already decided who to interview in the first round, and he told her she was making a big mistake.


But as it turns out, something convinced her to give me a shot, and I was called for an interview with her and the principal at another elementary in the corporation. That other principal ended up liking me so much that she called me in for a 2nd interview with a panel of teachers, and soon, I was hired.

Amazingly, my new school is even closer than my previous school (which was only 15 minutes or so away from home). I am able to live in the same town as my husband, who's  finishing school. I didn't think there was ANY chance of that happening. I'd been applying to schools that were an hour or more away, thinking that was the best chance I had. Better yet, this is a great school corporation where I should have a bit more job security, at least for a few years.

It took about 6 months of agonizing over uncertainty, but everything fell into place. My summer was filled with working the science camp, applying to jobs, wedding planning, interviewing, moving, getting married, honeymooning, and setting up a classroom. Very, very busy- but seriously, busy for so many wonderful reasons.

Life is good- but, very busy. Even with two years under my belt as an assistant, my own classroom is still a big challenge. I think it would have been a much easier transition if I had kept the same reading and math series, but changing EVERY series I teach, along with moving to a new school, and being in my OWN room for the first time- it's a lot of change. But I'm in the same grade level, in the local area where I wanted to be, and I just plain have a job, so I really can't complain!

Friday, February 25, 2011

It's never going to happen, but in an ideal world...

...everyone who works hard to make schools work well should be appreciated.

One thing that I think is missing from all the education debate right now is classified staff.

Around here, especially in the current teacher job climate, many of our classified staff- also known as paraprofessionals, teachers' aides, etc.- are actually certified teachers. Others have been working in similar jobs for such a long time that they may as well have a teaching degree.

Sure, there are some who are unexperienced, not competent, or downright lazy, but most of our paras are very good at what they do and really care about the kids. In our building, there are paras who move from small group to small group all day long, providing intervention for struggling kids. There are paras who work with special needs kids and have to know their particular needs and quirks in order to service them. There are paras who work alongside teachers in the classroom all day.

They often work just shy of full-time (not by choice) so that the school corporation doesn't have to shell out for their benefits. Some of the paras I know still have to spend time at school either before or after they clock in to plan for their small group instruction the next day. Most paras come to be incredibly knowledgeable about the classrooms and kids they work in. They know what is normal, what is allowed, and where things are.

And yet, amazingly, paras (of any experience or talent level) in many corporations make slightly less per day than substitute teachers, who come in to a classroom they likely don't know at all in a school they likely don't know well. They don't know the kids or the rules. Even the best substitute teachers have to be left simplified plans because rarely can the teacher count on things running the same as usual in her absence.

Paras do their job day in, day out, and know the drill. And many of them find their jobs rewarding- but unfortunately, the pay is terrible. Especially if someone doesn't have a second income, it's hard to make it on a para's pay.

And that's not fair. Sure, it might be fair for the kid just out of college who has nothing better to do and does the bare minimum of work, not bothering to connect with kids. But when a school finds someone who is good at the job, reliable, and knows the kids, the school should try to retain that person by paying them a reasonable amount. At the very least, even if the hourly pay were to stay the same, an experienced and talented para should get to work full-time so that s/he can get benefits.

All of the focus right now is on teachers, and believe me, teachers are a big part of the puzzle. But it frustrates me to see people at my school that are good paraprofessionals leaving for other jobs- even though they enjoy this one and feel like they're making a difference- because they simply can't afford to stay. It's not good for our kids- particularly special needs kids- to have a revolving door of paras. It's not good for our schools to be re-training people instead of sticking with those we have. It's not fair to those paras who teach kids and help teachers teach better that they aren't compensated better than the random college kid who knows nothing about education but comes in to sub for the paycheck.

It's about time that schools get enough funding to be able to really hang on to the people- teachers and support staff- who make the schools better. Paras should be able to get paid more as they prove that they are capable, dependable, experienced, and good at their job. I wouldn't call it merit pay, but I do think good support staff should be getting paid what they deserve.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

I just got the official notice that I am being RIF'ed this year.

(For you non-education people, that means I am on the job hunt again. Joy.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Quick Quiz

What's the most feared three-letter acronym in education?

I'm curious if everyone will have the same answer as me, and if people outside of education have any clue.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Today we did another lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr. (I teach Science or Social Studies every Tuesday and Thursday.) Our kids were starting to remember the stories, but I didn't think they'd really gotten just how unfair everything was.

I started out by doing a read-aloud, but on the SmartBoard. I called students to sit by what color they were wearing. I told them, "Well, red shirts are the best, so if you have a red shirt, come sit in the front row." A couple of kids looked at me quizzically, but they went with it. "Blue shirts, I guess you're okay. Come on up in the second row. Remember, only red shirts are good enough to be in front." Then I continued. "Everyone else..."

The other kids started to stand up, but I said, "You have to stay at your seats." There were a couple of angry faces, but only one spoke out and I shushed him quickly. "Now I need someone to go turn off the lights." Hands shot up. "But it's an important job, so I want someone with a red shirt."

We went on to read this book, and when I had a question to ask, I only called on kids with red shirts. One time I said another student's name, but stopped myself and said, "Oh, wait, I need to choose someone with a red shirt. Those are the smartest kids." The girl I had almost called on was indignant, and I heard some surprised gasps, but I kept moving with the lesson and at the end, called everyone down to the carpet.

I talked about how Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't like that people were judged by the color of their skin, and then I asked the kids what I had been judging them by. Some of the kids- especially those in the back of the room- had hands in the air immediately. I explained that I didn't really think shirt color mattered, but we talked about how it made people feel when I pretended it did.

A few minutes later, we finished the book, with everyone sitting together. I felt like it had gone well, and the kids really seemed to have understood on an emotional level (not just a cognitive one) how it would feel to be judged on an arbitrary characteristic. (A lot of teachers do this with eye color, but I didn't think I had enough variation in our class to make it useful.)

I noticed at the end of the story, one girl was crying. It was the girl I had almost called on but then stopped to call on someone with a red shirt. I felt terrible- even though I'd meant to make the situation feel unfair, I didn't want her still upset! Especially because she's not one of those kids who cries often.

We all went back to our seats, and I immediately went over to her. As she sat down, I told her that I hadn't really meant that she wasn't smart enough to answer the question, that I was sure she knew the answer, and that I was only trying to show how unfair things used to be. She nodded. I asked her if she was mad at me, and she said, "No."

I was confused. "What's wrong?"

She looked up at me, wiping away one of her last tears, and just said simply, "I'm sad that someone killed Martin Luther King."

I don't know if it was the shirt color segregation or what, but something hit home.