It's been harder to get into that kind of a Christmas spirit at my new job. I don't have an actual classroom to decorate, no kids to constantly calm down/manage/supervise. No random student gifts to open....
Instead, I've been student-less these past two days. I have a policy of not pulling my kids out of their classrooms during parties/special activities (thankfully, the general ed teachers are in total agreement--or at least they pretend to be anyway). So I've had a lot of "free" time to catch up on paperwork, hold meetings, plan ahead and create materials. It's been such a bizarre change of pace. It's weird not feeling totally and completely drained and exhausted the Friday before a break.
I do miss that feeling of happy-stress, though. But when I start to look longingly at the classrooms full of excitement, chaos, and hyper-happy children, all I need to do is take one look at the teacher. Then I feel thankful that I don't look like I'm about to have a nervous breakdown.
When I (tactfully) inquired about the relevance of these meetings for me and my special ed. colleague, I was assured by the people in charge that no special breakout sessions were needed for us--that the general topic would be appropriate for us as well. If I find out they're wrong, they'll be getting some pointed looks, and some pointed yawns...
We shall see, my friends, we shall see!
Anyway. It turns out that all three of them have this rare bacteria thing called Pasteurella. New rounds of medicine for all! I just know they will be so excited to have more stuff shoved down their throats. We'll also have to decontaminate the entire house in about two weeks so they don't reinfect themselves.
But despite being sick, they are just as rambunctious as ever! Their new favorite toy is toilet paper. We've tried lots of ways of hiding it from them, but they are determined to do whatever it takes to find the toilet paper, and kill it to shreds. I have evidence to prove it:
Notice how they were nice enough to pose. They really didn't care that they were about to get scolded...
As I was laying in bed a few nights ago, tossing and turning in a futile attempt to get the right amount of air into my lungs, I started wondering why it was that I never got sick while teaching in California, and yet I haven't been at school for one month here, and I'm already hacking.
Here's what I came up with:
1) I don't have a classroom aide sanitizing every hard surface at the end of each and every day like I did in California.
2) Michigan schools are INSIDE. There are hallways connecting every room and every office!!! In good ol' CA, everything was open and OUTSIDE. You had to go from portable to portable to get anywhere. There was no place for germs to hide, unlike my new school where they gather at every opportunity, waiting for you to walk by so they can maim you.
Well, there's not a whole lot I can do about being cooped up inside all time, but I did decide to be more vigilant with the Clorox wipes. I used them today. It's the same kind my aide used to use, and it makes the whole room smell like my job in California.
It's a good smell.
Today in particular was a good day because 1) I got my first paycheck (woo hoo! We'll eat tonight!), and 2) my health insurance started today. I normally wouldn't have cared much about the health insurance, but guess who's getting sicker by the minute? I don't even know if ice cream is such a good idea tonight (and now you know I'm serious). Here's to hoping I can make it to the weekend without feeling worse!
Anyways, at this point, I had a small moment of panic. Here I am, I'm in sandals, and only wearing a hooded sweatshirt for warmth, and I'm not sure if we have a de-ice-er-thingy in the car (see how long it's been? I've even forgotten the right word for it!). I opened the trunk to check, and sure enough, waaaaaayy in the back was a de-icer. When I picked it up it even stuck to the carpet a little, as though resentful of the need to be used. It will have to get used to being worked hard again. *Sigh*
As I understand it, your job isn't that complex. You carry the mail from the post office to my mailbox. You carry my mail from my mailbox to the post office. The end. As I see it, you've only been doing half of your job. You see, last Monday we put a bright red Netflix envelope in our box. We were anxious to return it so that we could get another movie for the weekend. Alas, at the end of every day, we were dismayed to see it still sitting there. Sometimes, it was sitting there amongst grocery ads you dropped off. Sometimes it was sitting there among other mail. Sometimes we didn't get any mail. The point is, it's now Friday and we are left with no weekend entertainment. I'm not sure where to direct my complaint. I sure can't mail it to the post office because you and I both know that you will pointedly ignore it.
Mail Carrier, I'm not sure why you have failed so miserably in completing the other half of your job. Possibly you are too short to see into the box? Possibly you are scared of reaching in and finding a spider? Maybe the previous tenants played practical jokes and hid yucky things inside? Maybe you are new to this profession and you haven't been trained in this very difficult part of your job yet? Or maybe you are just unbelievably lazy?
Whatever the reason, just know that you are dealing with a school teacher. I have time-outs, suspension, and detention, and I am not afraid to use them!
Consider this your final warning!
A Dissatisfied Customer
Yesterday morning, I was in a kindergarten classroom observing one of my students. When my student left the room, I got distracted by the other kiddos in there. I saw this boy, let's call him "Norman" (or, insert any other old person name you wish). He looked exactly like his name. He had bright red hair, parted on the side and slicked down with about a gallon of hair gel. He had a big, round, white face that was animated all the time. When he finished his work, he got up to go put his work away. In doing so, he noticed I was sitting right behind him. "HI!!!" he yelled to me. On the way back from putting his paper away, he tripped, fell to the ground and lost a shoe. This didn't phase him. He got up again, walked over to his chair, and when he passed me on his way, he yelled "HI!!!!" again (but this time with a wave). During snack time, he offered me a crushed goldfish cracker. Maybe just to be nice? Maybe as a bribe? Maybe as a friendship offering? I'll never know.
Well, at least temporarily.... I dropped off all three of our kitties at the vet tonight because they're all getting spayed tomorrow (it's nice they work around my schedule and are willing to house them overnight for free). So. All is quiet on the home front. As soon as I got back into my car, I felt TOTALLY LONELY. Even now, I'm pining for a furry cuddle that I can't even get until tomorrow evening. I'm worried they're totally traumatized by having to spend all night in a foreign place. I also learned that there will be another kitty spending the night with them, and we all know how mean our kitties can be with strange animals...
It is totally pathetic how much I miss them! This does NOT bode well for if/when we have children of our own....
- an assortment of snacks
- a Tide To Go pen
- bandaids (for all the kids we hit??)
- Purell hand sanitizer
- a silver frame
- a fancy commuter mug
But for now, I am really enjoying my weekend! It's nice to get up whenever, and not at butt o'clock in the morning...
For those of you who don't know, a resource room teacher services students with learning disabilities (and other disabilities) in the general education classroom. So I have students in grades K, 3, 6, 7, 8 who all need extra help with either math or reading. I will usually pull those students into my room for a certain number of hours a week (no more than seven as it turns out), or work alongside them in their own classrooms. And, of course, I'm responsible for writing and implementing IEPs. This is a new kind of role for me and I'm looking forward to all it entails. I really miss my deaf/hard-of-hearing students sometimes, but I remind myself that I came very close to not teaching at all this year! Plus, the experience will diversify my resume :)
The hour commute each way hasn't been too bad so far. I don't mind the drive itself (although, ask me that again in the winter!), it's the waking up at 5:40 AM every day and the ensuing early bedtime that is really kind of gross. Going to bed at 9 instead of 2 is quite a shock to my system!
More from me later.... that is, when I can wrestle the computer away from Max!
- Teaching in a resource room
- Starting late in the school year
Today, I got a job that makes all three true and I could not be more excited!! After months of putting out dozens and dozens and dozens of applications, and lowering my expectations so far as to apply to "Dominoes", this job is a welcome blessing. It's a different role for me, but it will be good to diversify my resume. It also happens to be in a school about an hour away from here, and that bites, but I'm willing to overlook it! (If my mother-in-law can make that commute, why can't I?)
Anyways, thank you all for your prayers and the happy thoughts you sent my way... I start on Monday! Woo Hoo!
I called around first, and everyone said that it was going to cost around 30 bucks a cat, just for the office visit! This was unacceptable, so I found a place that had the word "affordable" in the name, and they said that it would be 25 total for the office visit for all three cats! Hooray!
I packed them all into the most ghetto cat carrier you could ever imagine (cardboard box with holes, wrapped in a mesh laundry bag) and drove to the vet. Mrs. Hufflepuff hates being confined in anything, and she got out of the box and strained at the blue mesh bag. She reminded me of a thief wearing a nylon over its head.
It was a relief to get to the vet and an even BIGGER relief to find out that he was willing to do everything for free (as long as we contacted this foundation who helps low-income folks to pay for vet bills--they would reimburse him if they took our case. If they didn't take our case, he was willing to take the loss). This miracle occurred for a couple of reasons:
- I told him they were rescued cats.
- I told him I was an unemployed teacher (his wife is in the same situation and now works as his receptionist)
- GOD WAS LOOKING OUT FOR US!
So, we should be snot free by the end of this week. Already the kitties are doing much better. They can breathe, Mrs. Hufflepuff's right eye is staying open, and they are all more active.
And I'm a happy Mama!
I taught these kids. Then, I taught these kids.
Most jobs I've applied for are receptionist/administrative assistant types of jobs. Suddenly all of my teaching skills mean "team player", "organized", "multi-tasking", "efficient time management", "strong communicator". They probably can see right through that and realize that's all bunk, and that is why I am still unemployed.
Now it's time to go make dinner...
Although I'm relieved about the whole situation, I am also worried that nothing else will come up. I have my application out there for four different teaching positions (somehow still open for this fall), and four different office manager/administrative assistant jobs. I have to cast my net far and wide! Hopefully someone will bite soon!
Tune in later for the exciting conclusion!
The director said they'd let me know by the end of the week. If they offer me the job, I will take it, and pray that I'll LOVE it. There are equally as many downsides to this job as upsides. But I'm determined to be thankful for what the Lord provides. I will be thankful. I will. I will.
It's officially been one week since we've moved into our new duplex. Let me tell you why this place is SO MUCH COOLER than our last place (you remember, the sprawling apartment complex with all the mold and drunken neighbors?)
- When I look out my window, I see trees and other houses instead of a wall.
- There are two stories, so I can do my own thing and not worry about bothering Max when he's studying!
- We can't hear any neighbors fighting.
- There are TWO bedrooms. Yea!!
- When you walk out of the house, you don't have to go through a maze of hallways and stairs to get to the car!
- We're so close to a tower here that we're getting HD signals for major channels! Hello perfect reception!
- There are cats here!
The cats have been adjusting to indoor life quite well. They love the new couch, and they love hanging out on top of our bed, and running around underneath it. They also love coughing up hairballs on our bed. Okay, that only happened once, but it was worth mentioning. And even though it happened right after I put on a new duvet cover over our comforter, I still love my cats. This must be the feeling parents have when their baby blows out a diaper....
I am still job hunting. I have an interview on Monday morning for a nationally accredited daycare place that has seven campuses around the area. They have healthcare, and they reimburse tuition if you want to earn a higher degree! It sounds promising, and I'll let all five of you readers know how the interview goes!
In related news, I am still unemployed. The job I interviewed for in my last post didn't work out, which I suppose is a relief as it's 80 miles away from where we live! I'm confident that the Lord will provide something, and it's just a matter of being patient....
Speaking of being patient, not having the Internet until next Friday is at the same uh-oh level as a worldwide ice cream shortage, and instills the same kind of panic as, say, millions of teachers at the thought of going Back to School.
As it turns out, I didn't get the job I last posted about (the one with the family connection? remember?). But I did get called back to interview at the elementary school down the road (ironically the same one my husband went to as a child!). That was on Wednesday, and that went well. They tried to make it difficult, however, by asking me to critique a taped kindergarten writing lesson, and by asking me to design a lesson plan based on a benchmark that they provided. I felt good about all of the answers I gave, and they told me they would let me know by Monday (tomorrow). So..... I wait again.
In the meantime, there have been some fun distractions: Max's grandparents from Alabama visited with us, and my sister-in-law is back from Japan! And, as always, our three cats keep me occupied ;).
It also makes me feel like the elementary resource room position that I'm interviewing for tomorrow is much LESS of a scary prospect. Also in my favor? The principal who called me to set up the interview is a friend of my husband's family (at least, I THINK that's in my favor!-ha ha). She called on Friday, and it's a good thing that I had the weekend to prepare for my interview because she specifically asked for my portfolio. And I haven't updated my portfolio since 2003, before I even held a real teaching job or ANYTHING! So I've been busy trying to make myself look good on paper :). We'll see how I did tomorrow!
The fact is, I'm terrified of getting this job, and I'm terrified of NOT getting this job. I officially have no more interviews lined up.
In other, more happy, news, my little sister is officially a Mrs.!! We just got back from New York last night... The wedding was beautiful, the food delicious, the company pleasant. We had a great time!
I found out a little more about the position while at the interview... it's a 4th/5th grade combined classroom with TWO teachers. So, if hired, I would be team teaching with another person. That could be fantastic, or it could be awful, depending on how well I would get along with the other teacher. We'll have to see what happens. Thanks for praying, everybody!
So here's to living it up! *Yawn*
Since this hoopla has ended, I have made my peace with the thought of using one of my other credentials as a teacher (mental impairment or elementary general ed). I currently have over twenty applications out there... But this past week, I stumbled across another job opening in the oral deaf field (Kindergarten or preschool, not sure which)--this was big news, as there are only five oral deaf programs in this entire state (which is fortunate; some states have none), and two of them are way too far for a commute. This particular opening is in the perfect location. I sent all of my materials via express mail to meet the deadline, and emailed the director of the program. I told myself to breathe, and not get my hopes too high, but it was too late. As soon as I saw the posting, my hopes were HIGH. Higher than the clouds above.... there was no controlling it. You can't tell hopes to be realistic and to come down a little. Hopes won't listen to reason.
I thought that I had made my peace with teaching other types of kids (as opposed to deaf ones) but I suppose that this job posting has revealed my true desires. The deadline closes tomorrow afternoon, and I am HOPING and PRAYING that I get a call to interview this week. I know that the Lord is in control of everything... and I try to cling to that in the face of all of my anxiety and anticipation!
I complain about this, YET... I walk into the local Wal-Mart with their big "back to school savings" signs, and their middle aisles full of glue, crayons, pencil cases, etc, and I start to feel an almost uncontrollable urge to buy class sets of everything. I find myself wandering in the office section, wondering how I could justify buying a five hundred pound pack of colored printer paper, or my eye catches a pocket shoe holder and I think about all of the classroom supplies that thing could hold...
And truthfully, knowing that there's a chance I could NOT get hired as a teacher this fall actually makes me long for the first day of school. Life is a paradox.
I'll be SOOO glad once this is all over!
Here in rural Lapeer, there is ample room for everyone. Behind our house, you will find a big barn that you are welcome to, as well as the corn fields, soybean fields, the pond, and the forest beyond that. In fact, as bugs are generally supposed to live outside, I feel that this is a more than reasonable amount of space for you to roam/fly in.
As we are being so generous in sharing our land with you, the following would be much appreciated:
- Stop dive-bombing us on our daily walks (that's you, horseflies!)
- Bees, stay clear of my husband
- STAY OUT OF THE HOUSE! Buzzing around lamps, crawling on walls and window sills, and sleeping on MY pillow will result in your immediate and swift destruction
When I finally got inside the library, I found a delightful book called "Village School" written by a "Miss Read" (pen name). It's about a little school in the 1950's in the English countryside. I've read a few chapters already and it's unbelievable how differently they taught back then! I would be fired if I started the school day with my students each morning with a hymn and a prayer! Anyways, I feel a little weird about reading a book about a school on my summer off, but oh well.
Mrs. Hufflepuff (our gray and black kitten)
Ironically, we named our cats before anyone could suggest cat names on my previous posts, but I enjoyed hearing your ideas anyway (Mom: next time we have two pets to name, Mona and Lisa will be in the running!). I wish I had a great picture to post of them, but since this internet connection is mind-numbingly slow, it was out of the question. So just picture two adorable kittens, and that will have to do.
Other than that, there is not much else to report! Still waiting on a job.... still sleeping in and lazing around the house doing nothing :).
For those of you dying to know, I have been spending my lazy days reading, making cards, and playing with our new kittens. Our two kitties have yet to be named. It's become a real conundrum, and I'm afraid that Max will forever refer to them as "cat" and "other cat". We've gone through several possibilities, but none seem to stick (suggestions? anyone?). So for now, we just watch them tackle each other, chase golf balls, chase birds, and rest in our laps. I've waited twenty-five years to own a real pet (our bird Gaby doesn't count--she didn't enjoy being petted), and I can't believe the day is finally here!
It's usually a relief to wake up...
I'll keep you posted.
- You know you're moving when you end up eating ice cream straight out of the carton.... with a long wooden spoon.
- Field Day goes much smoother when you recruit a fifth grade class to be in charge of everything.
- If the school rule is "no backpacks" on the last day, then why even send the kids?
- We're having a DHH party at a local Mexican restaurant after the last school bell rings. I'm going to feel guilty for partying when Max is home packing and cleaning. I owe him!
- I am really, really, really, really, really going to miss everyone here!
Happy Summer Everyone! Tomorrow, we're off to Michigan! Thirty-six hours of carsickness.... yea!
I don't know if it's the stress of cleaning/packing/organizing my classroom, or if it's the taquitos/sprite/strawberry shortcake I had for lunch, or if it's the impending goodbyes coming up tomorrow.... But, I keep thinking any minute now I'm going to explode. Plus, I am very sore from lugging around thirty pounds of Mexican food for our all-staff party yesterday (which was a lot of fun, by the way, even if the pinto bean sauce did drip all down the side of my shirt and in the trunk of my car). I am just not cut out for all of this manual labor :).
In any case, there has been much merriment, and much work. I'm looking forward to going to the Pizza Bakery for the last time tonight!!
- We are getting closer and closer to having everything ready by Saturday morning for our move, though it still feels like there are a million details to take care of.
- Today was the Talent Show--at three separate performance times, my whole class sang (and danced) a rousing "Here come the monkeys" (aka: the Banana song). This was our speech therapist's idea, so I just got to relax and watch! They did great, the parents loved it, and I will have the Banana Song stuck in my head for the rest of the summer. Guaranteed.
- This evening, my wonderful colleagues threw me a goodbye party at a local Mexican eatery. I got to see a colleague who has been on maternity leave for the past month, and I got to see my wonderful aide again (who's been out on disability since April!). The food was great, the company was fantastic, and they even rewrote the words to "Why do fools fall in love" (Elvis) in my honor--and serenaded me in the restaurant! I've been so blessed by them all.... I will really miss everyone!
This afternoon was particularly easy because it was the last day that my volunteer was coming in and we just had to throw her a party (I will take any excuse for a party). The kids made her thank-you cards and everything. When she showed up, she surprised us all with twelve large chocolate milkshakes from TK Burgers. (Did I mention that I absolutely LOVE her?). And when the kids were all hyped up from the sugar (new vocab word: "brain freeze"--see?? It is a learning experience!), they opened up a good-bye gift from her: a decent-sized water gun. Well, now, I know where to draw the line, and instead of letting them try it out immediately, they all had to put the toys in their backpacks and run two laps around the track.
And I only had one kid get sick.
So, in an effort to correct this most grievous mistake, I will use this venue to honor my dad as well as make him famous among my millions upon millions of readers. I want to say thank you for all those times when I was so ungrateful as a kid....
- Remember that time when I was nine and it was the weekend or a school break or something and I sat on the couch and whined and whined about how bored I was? You decided to pack the whole family into the car, bring some food and some floaty toys and drive out to the lake for a fun-filled day. I had a great time. And when we got home that evening and I started to whine about how bored I was again, you only yelled at me a little bit. It was the first time I really started to think about the feelings of others. Thank you for that.
- Remember all of those times when we were all in the car and I would complain about how hot I was, so you would turn on the AC, and then two minutes later I would complain about how cold I was so you would turn on the heat? And how I would repeat the whole cycle again and again throughout the whole trip? Thank you for being patient with me.
- Remember when you were in language school that first year in France and it was so hard and so frustrating? Thank you for not giving up on God's call.
- Remember when you yelled at that awful second grade teacher who slapped me in the face for not correcting my paper in the right color? Thank you for standing up for me.
- Remember when we were in the states for furlough and you made us visit all those churches with you and listen to your same sermon every Sunday? Thank you for not ever making me sing a French song in front of all those people.
- Remember when you and mom sent me to BFA a whole year early? Thank you for making that sacrifice.
- Remember when you wore those outrageous 2000 glasses at my high school graduation because you thought they were so cool even though they weren't? Thank you for teaching me to always be myself.
- Remember when you never gave me a curfew time in high school, but only insisted that I brush my teeth before I left the house? Thank you for trusting me. And for setting a good example for my oral hygiene.
- Remember when I had you for my biology teacher and you insisted on not giving me any special treatment, yet looked the other way when I sat in the back of your class and knitted a scarf? Thank you for your special treatment.
- Remember when you and mom were so supportive of Max and I getting married so early? Thank you for giving our marriage a great start.
- Remember when you wanted me to buy the more expensive wedding dress because it made me feel prettier? Thank you for spoiling me.
- Remember all those times throughout my life when you and mom prayed for me, and I didn't know it? Thank you for that.
And, to properly repay you for all that you've done for me, I've decided that we're finally going to buy you that car you've always wanted:
I love you dad!
This new development means that next year I will not be a teacher of the deaf/hard-of-hearing. Although I know that the Lord has a plan in all of this, it still does funny things in my mind to think of myself teaching any other population. For some reason, I was pretty convinced it was my destiny. My only other options are general ed, or a different branch of special ed. Or not teach at all (YIKES!). I'm really looking forward to see how the Lord will provide in this situation.... I just need to be patient (ha!).
So you can imagine my surprise when one of my students' parents handed me a twenty-dollar gift certificate to Happy Nails for Teacher Appreciation Week last month! I finally used it yesterday, when two of my colleagues and I decided to go out for lunch, then get our nails done. I was expecting a very nice, relaxing experience, and I anticipated feeling pampered...
What I got was a hurried, harried experience. I wasn't prepared for two major factors:
1) The two women who worked with my feet and with my hands were Asian, and their accents were so thick that they might as well have been speaking in their native language. Their English was so bad that I'm pretty sure I could have spoken better Spanish... and I don't know any words in Spanish.
2) Apparently, nail salon employees are trained in the very fine art of nickel and dime-ing their customers. It's like going up to the ice cream counter and asking for a free sample of one of the flavors--then, before you know what's happening, the lady is piling five massive scoops into a chocolate covered waffle cone. And all you have is a dollar in your pocket!
Had I known these two facts, I would have been much more prepared, and much more assertive about what I wanted and what I didn't want. And I wouldn't have racked up an extra thirty dollars onto my bill. As it was, my awesome colleagues argued with the people at the cash register (while I cowered in the corner) that I had been taken advantage of, and insisted that all the extra charges for the extra treatments that I "wanted" should be dropped.
They were. And my nails look really, really nice.
And I was kept entertained by laughing at my students (in a good way, I promise). At one point, the actors were pretending that they were on a boat and landing in San Fransisco. All six actors excitedly pointed to the back of the room and shouted "LOOK!" There were at least one hundred other kids in the auditorium--my kids were the only ones to look behind them, eagerly trying to see what the actors were looking at. Then they looked at me and said "What?" "What is it?".
Later in the program one of the actors was giving a "haircut" to another actor. He had a huge curly black wig, complete with beard. The "barber" cut furiously at the air, threw fake tufts above his head (taken from inside his sleeve, no doubt), then lifted up a towel in front of his hairy customer and gave a couple of shakes. When he lowered the towel, the customer magically had a nice tailored haircut... the difference was huge! It was all quite comical--especially when I heard an audible gasp of shock and awe from one of my girls :)
Today, during a math lesson, one of my students had to go see our on-site audiologist because of a problem with his hearing aid. He missed out on the explanation part of the lesson, and when he got back, the rest of the kids were busily working on their assignment. So he sat down at his desk, looked at his assignment/paper and raised his hand for help. When I got to his desk, he pointed at his paper... Silently. Expectantly. I decided not to say anything and wait him out. It didn't work (turns out, I had used up all of my patience earlier in the morning). So I prompted him: "Use your words to ask me for help". Well, he looked at his paper, then looked up at me, then back down to his paper, and clearly he was struggling to put together a sentence in a question form. He finally said "I don't know how to do it". Being the stickler that I am, I said: "Can you ask me with a question?"
Then, he looked up at me through his white-blond hair with his big blue eyes surrounded by freckles and said: "Can you teach me?"
She had the sweetest setup--they have a carpeted garage, and she has a customized desk and shelves to hold the thousands and thousands of dollars worth of stamping stuff. It was like walking into heaven! She had over fifty different kinds of ink alone. Then there were at least a hundred rubber stamps to choose from. Then there was all kinds of embellishments like ribbon, buttons, stickers, etc. Oh, and crates full of paper. I could hear the angels singing down from heaven.... The time went by SO fast. She was so nice to let me come over and play--she even invited me back! It's just too bad I have a day job.
As we turned into the parking lot, Max said: "It's closed." And just as I turned toward him to reprimand him for such a horrible joke, I realized that it was, indeed, closed. Closed down for good.
Life is so, so cruel.
As you can see, the End is Near. It's not near enough to stop working altogether, but it is near enough to start slacking at least a little bit :). The kids can sense it too. During our calendar time, I ask them which month will come next, and they say "June school over" in one breath. I don't think they realize there's three weeks to plow through in June. Some students have declared that they are already done with school. One kid informed me that he is going to visit his dad in another state on Saturday. I asked him how long he would be gone for, and he said: "Seven days with my cousin, seven days with grandma, and fourteen days with my dad". Hmm. Knowing his history, I believe him. How nice of his mom to let me know... Another student told me he was going to be in Vietnam, but every time he tells me, the dates keep changing, so I have no idea what's going on (note to self: call his dad). I expect to come to school one morning and find that he has disappeared.
As for me, I find myself thinking so much about the summer that I might as well be gone!
Case in point:
We spent twenty-five minutes today playing Pick-up Stix and Jacks in the classroom. I did have a good justification though: our story today was entitled "Games People Play" and many of the examples were these old, old games that don't involve a plug or a screen. I had picture examples of vocabulary like "stilts", and "pogo sticks", but I actually had Jacks and Pick-up Stix in my room, so I thought "Why not?". The kids absolutely LOVED those games.... these old-fashioned toys are just a whole new world to them! Tomorrow, I'm thinking of formulating an excuse to go outside and play hopscotch and see if we can make some stilts with coffee cans and string. Maybe I'll call it P.E.
I've had a lovely, restful weekend at home... complete with shopping, movies, and a kitchen disaster I like to call "no bake cookies". I haven't done anything in the kitchen for months (Max spoils me so), and when I finally venture in there to whip up something for my sweet tooth, I end up with cookies you need to eat with a spoon. Don't ask me how it happened. There's a reason why I'm a teacher and not a cook!
I'd been really stressed out this week with getting my IEP's ready and setting up for Open House, and doing all my usualy daily stuff in the classroom. I kept telling myself: "Don't make such a big deal over Open House!". I would tell myself I was just going to throw some nice work samples on their desks, showcase some writing on one bulletin board and call it a day. But no matter how I tried to downplay it, it didn't work. I put up four bulletin boards, refilled our picture book with new pictures, hung student work from the ceiling, and displayed their latest self-portraits. Granted, at least I had the sense to enlist the help of my (sub)-aide and a parent volunteer, but it was a lot of work. For some reason, I just couldn't let things be the way they were, even as tired and wiped out as I was. "WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF???"
And then last night, it all became clear again. There is just nothing like beaming proud parents at Open House. Happy parents make me happy!
In other news, I am officially a BTSA graduate! I have finished the requirements of California's two year induction program..... just in time to move to Michigan. How ironic! We had the last event last night, where all the people who run BTSA at our district waxed poetic about how they wish they had had a program like BTSA to help them in their first years of teaching--and all the participating teachers were secretly rolling their eyes and gagging themselves. Yes, BTSA, there's nothing like adding 40 extra hours [according to their requirement list] of paperwork per year to make a struggling first year teacher successful. Because goodness knows what would have happened if we had spent those 40 hours a year planning, teaching, copying, or making materials... At the event last night, each teacher received a rose, but mine was almost dead so I threw it away. We also got a gold BTSA pin, about an inch wide. I thought about poking somebody with it, but the person responsible for starting BTSA wasn't in the room...
My talk on prayer went very well. I'm sorry it wasn't taped like the "real" sermons, but you'll just have to trust me when I say that I felt good about it, and other people were gracious in telling me I did a good job :). There were two other speakers during the weekend and I enjoyed that too. But the highlight of the weekend was the craft that we did yesterday. We converted empty Altoid boxes into lovely encouragement card holders--complete with Mod Podge glue, all kinds of paper, rubber stamps, funky scissors, ink, and lots of different embellishments. Guess who was in heaven?? ME!
And now all I have to do is to get through this week (a big week with open house on Thursday) so that I can enjoy a nice three day weekend for memorial day. Yea!
- The kids are excited every day about our butterflies. This batch of bugs has been particularly picky: they refused to drink from the sponge dipped in sugar water, and they decided not to move an inch until I put in orange slices. One butterfly caused a commotion yesterday as it died trying to emerge from its chrysalis. We spent a good thirty minutes watching it struggle, and the kids watched me try to help it emerge with a paper clip. My efforts were useless. I told the kids "I'm a teacher, not a doctor". They were remarkably mature about it all, but still expressed that they were sad. We'll be releasing the rest of the butterflies this afternoon. I'll post pictures later!
- State testing is FINALLY over.
- I got to visit my colleague and her newborn baby yesterday afternoon (her baby boy was born on Max's b-day--last Saturday). You know how newborns usually look wrinkly and not-quite-cute yet? This newborn did not fit that profile. He was tiny, adorable, and absolutely perfect. I got to hold him for a while, and let me tell you, I like sleeping babies. Not screaming ones. Sleeping ones. I think I wouldn't mind having one as long as it slept straight through until it was potty-trained. That would be nice.
- I leave tomorrow for the San Diego area for our church's woman's retreat (we're staying at a hotel on the beach). They asked me to be one of the four speakers during the weekend. It should be fun, but I hope it's restful too!
Have a great weekend everyone!
- Taking a hot shower this morning (we had no hot water all day yesterday--I was worried).
- Smoked salmon with cream cheese on crackers for lunch.
- Six butterflies (and counting) have emerged today.
Mondays don't have to be all bad!
But it is truly nice to have such enthusiastic givers :)! Also nice was when our weekly staff meeting today was cancelled. Instead of taking advantage of the situation to get some work done, I skipped out early (SHH! Don't tell!) and did some much needed birthday shopping. I spent most of the time feeling guilty about skipping out on a non-meeting. What's up with that? Am I so driven by guilt that I can't enjoy playing hooky? I kept trying to justify my actions: It's the only day I have the car to shop; I come in over an hour early every day to work--time that I am not paid for; I didn't have that much to do in my classroom....
It reminds me of the times when I was growing up and my parents would urge me to stay home from school and "take it easy" at the slightest cold or headache. The more they would urge, the more I would insist on going to school (and who cares that I was too sick to breathe?). I wonder if they were playing mind games with me and using reverse psychology or if they truly thought I needed to chill? Maybe they just recognized that missing one day of school wasn't going to be the catastrophic end of the world I was imagining it to be.
And maybe leaving an hour early and skipping one non-meeting won't cause a disaster of epic proportions. Maybe just a disaster of moderate proportions. Or small proportions, even.
In other news, it was ninety degrees today and I was absolutely melting! It seems like summer is just right around the corner... SEVEN MORE WEEKS!
Also, I have twenty caterpillars in my classroom... actually, they're all in a chrysalis now, to be more accurate. I thought I would let everyone know I'm in the middle of my butterfly unit so you don't feel shocked later on when I post pictures of the adult butterflies! The kids are having a blast watching the larva, eat, poop, and change. I hope the critters don't emerge over the weekend!
I'm "tall"!!! Yeah!!
I came home to a VERY clean table (one of my presents from Max), and a beautiful bouquet of fragrant flowers from my very thoughtful in-laws [THANK YOU!!]:
We celebrated not by eating on the freshly cleaned table, as you might have been thinking, but at the Pizza Bakery. As you can see by the bacon toppings, I'm also aiming to put on twenty-five pounds in honor of my twenty-fifth birthday:
It was also my great pleasure to rip into the box that mom and dad left in our apartment since January (I've had to look at it for all these months and was forbidden from touching it). I was very pleased with the content[s] but I can't divulge what was inside because my sister will be opening the same thing for her birthday on Friday :). THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!!
Thanks also to all the caring people who left such nice comments wishing me a happy birthday!
Life in my classroom is so busy and so stressful, that I've decided to end this post on a positive note:
When they came back, it was five minutes before recess, and my colleague took advantage of the down-time to introduce the visitor to the kids. She said: "We have a special visitor today. He knew Mrs. B when she was just a baby. He's known her whole family for a long time". Then she started talking about the fact that I'm not originally from California, and that I lived in a country far away. She had the kids guess which country. Someone said "New York". Someone else said "Las Vegas". [Meanwhile, I was thinking: It's time for a geography unit!]. My colleague tried to clarify. She pointed to the flag and she said: "It's somewhere where they don't say 'I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America'".
There was a moment of silence, then one student enthusiastically shouted "TEXAS!!"
When we had finally established that I had lived in France, she started talking about how I could speak French--she related it to the students in my classroom who speak Spanish at home. The kids wanted to hear what French sounded like, so I rattled off a few sentences. As all of this new information about their teacher sunk in, one student bemoaned: "Why didn't you tell us?"
Fridays are supposed to be joyous, carefree days, but I was too weary and wary to even notice that it was Friday. I think it has something to do with deadlines creeping up on me, and having to teach all by myself. I've been feeling pulled in too many directions lately. By eleven o'clock this morning (when Max called to tell me about booking our tickets for our summer travel), I thought I was going to scream if I heard one more kid say/whine my name. I tried not to let on to the kids that I was feeling so frazzled and stressed, but I may have failed.
Ten minutes before afternoon recess, during our "Fun Day Friday" activity (making edible aquariums), one student asked me: "Are you going to play kickball with us today?" [I led them in a game of kickball yesterday for PE]. I said "No [sighhhhhhh], not today". A different student must have picked up on my mood, because he said: "I think you so tired". And he nodded knowingly, kind of like a parent would when their toddler is all tuckered out.
The district has sent a substitute aide for most of those eight days, but it is definitely not the same. Although having the extra pair of hands is nice, she has only worked with high school kids, and I just can't teach someone how to be a natural with the kids. With Sue, I can give her a group of kids to work with and give her little or no direction and I can be confident that she'll do a terrific job. She knows what needs to be done before I even ask her. She takes my grand ideas and runs with them. She de-clutters my room and cloroxes all surfaces at the end of every day. She even shares her snacks with me. You just can't replace someone like that, people. Her shoes are just too big to fill!
I was able to make two contacts that could potentially help me find a teaching position once we move back to Michigan. They were helpful, but at the same time, realistic. The southeast region of Michigan is over-saturated with teachers. Neither of them mentioned any openings in the oral deaf field. So, I'm faced with the very real possibility that I might not be able to do exactly what I want to do for a while. They were very nice in giving me all the contact information they had for oral-deaf programs in the region. I'll be getting in touch with those people this week, and continuing to pray that the Lord will provide.
Besides having a blast with my colleagues, this conference opened my eyes to the needs and issues within this growing field, and has sparked my imagination of what role I could play in the future. I've been inspired to move forward, and Michigan will provide more opportunities for me to pursue my passion!
I've had my own adventures with doctors today. Since being diagnosed with keratitis, my eyes will no longer accept contacts without becoming inflamed. My choices are pretty much glasses for the rest of my life, or lasek surgery (note: not lasik, lasek). Today was my consultation to see if I was a good candidate for the surgery. I am. As it turns out, my insurance policy is not a good candidate for footing the bill. Fifteen percent off of 5000 dollars doesn't add up to much, actually! Especially since we're hoarding our "wealth" for our move and impending expenses. We'll see. Haha... get it? We'll SEE?
On a related note, when I was little and mom and dad would take me to the doctor, they would always "waste time" and ask the doctors about a gazillion questions (and some, not even medical). I would always perceive the doctors to be annoyed. That made me annoyed. I vowed I would never do such a thing when I grew up. WELL GUESS WHAT PEOPLE??? I am turning into my father! I wouldn't have noticed except that both ophthalmologists said I was their most curious patient ("What's that?" "What does that thing do?" "How is that going to measure the thickness of my cornea?" "What does the lasek procedure entail?" "What did people do back in the day before all of this technology?" "How old are you?"). Later, as I was firing my barrage of questions at the head ophthalmologist, trying to write down his answers on a scrap piece of paper (but kind of failing because my pupils were extremely dilated and I couldn't see a thing in a close range), he laughed (in a nice way) and said he hadn't had a patient take notes in years!
I was embarrassed, but I couldn't stop. Thanks, dad. Thanks a lot!
After a long, busy, and stressful day like today, it's appropriate to keep in mind that I'm in the final stretch! My aide got hit in the head when another teacher pushed open the door of the lounge too quickly, and she apparently "saw stars". Fifteen minutes later, she was still feeling dizzy, so she had a friend drive her to the doctor's office. I wanted to make sure she was okay, but I was left without help for the majority of the day. It's times like these when I realize that I can't do what I need to do without her! I was running around all day trying to help ten kids individually on different assignments! Crazy, I tell ya.
The kids were wet noodles today! They were so tired, yawning and slouching all the time. At one point in the morning, I suggested maybe we should all take a nap instead of Reading Group... and they literally cheered!! It was nice just to have a laid back day. I introduced the new ocean unit, read them the new/updated class storybook (it's all pictures of them and the fun stuff we've been doing throughout the year with simple text captions--they LOVE to read this book. It's like they're all narcissists or something...), and we talked about what we did over break. I know we did some language arts and math in there somewhere too, but it's all just a blur. You know, only getting six hours of sleep will make anything seem like a blur!