Teaching


It’s been a long and depressing day. It’s hard to work so hard for something, and see it not turn out the way you hoped it would.

My students’ test scores came back yesterday. I waited until today to tell the kids how they did because I wanted some time to look them over first, and I wanted to have a chance to type up and get a letter translated for parents. I didn’t want to tell them one day, knowing that their parents wouldn’t get a letter until the next day, so I waited.

I hate testing. Let me just go on record as having said that. One test that my kids take on one day does not show how much they have truly learned this year. Especially when one of the biggest things I teach my kids is to use their resources, but during the test, they can’t use any resources. Walls are covered. Computers are off. Books are closed. Discussion is prohibited. Responses can’t be discussed or justified. All of the adaptive behaviors that we, as adults, use to help us, we take away from our kids, and then tell them that this test, this one test on this one day, defines their success as students, our success as teachers (and parents), and our school’s success. And yet, as an adult, I openly admit that I don’t know the answer to everything. And one of the things that contributes the most to my success is my resourcefulness. When I don’t know something, I know where to find out. I google. I read books, magazines, and any other print source I might need. If I don’t know how to solve a math problem, I use my resources… If nothing else, I have friends at the local college who can show me how the math problem works.

As I had to tell a couple of my kids that they didn’t pass, and then watch them crying as they realized that they’re not ready for third grade, I couldn’t help but feel like I am a failure as a teacher. Am I taking away from them by holding a position that keeps other (read that as better) teachers from getting a job there? Am I really cut out for this?

Very early into my first education class, I decided that I didn’t want to teach at a school where the kids were predominantly high achievers. I’ve always been a huge fan of the underdog. I wanted to work with the kids who needed it the most. I wanted to work with the ones that were poor, struggling in school, and at a high risk of failing, or even ending up in trouble down the road. I sought out those schools and those students, and was lucky enough to fall in love with a school during my student teaching that was full of all of the things that drew me to teaching in the first place. From the second I walked into that building, I have felt like I was at home. But the past few months I have been questioning whether I really am cut out for this. These test results definitely make that self-doubt much harder to shake. If I left teaching, would my leaving open up a job for someone who would do a better job? For someone who could make more of a difference for these kids?

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I truly have done everything I could have for these kids. I know at the end of the day that there’s nothing more I could have done. But could someone else have done more, if I weren’t there?

I guess I have a lot to wrestle with, and I wish there was an easy answer that would make me feel better. There just isn’t.

Moving on, I do have something good to say.

Usually by May (especially late May) I am on 3 different medications for my allergies. I usually have a horrible sinus infection, constant sneezing, headaches, pressure… the works. This year, nothing. An occasional sneeze and a slight stuffy nose a couple of times, but it’s cleared right up within a few hours. The only thing I’ve done differently this year is that I have mostly avoided dairy. In using almond milk for smoothies and cereal and using soy cheese, I have almost cut it out entirely. On top of that, I have noticed that the times that my sinuses have been a bit stuffy, I stopped and thought about it, and every time, I had dairy the night before.

If that’s not some inspiration to become a vegan (or at least come a lot closer to it) I’m not sure anything will motivate me. It has been really eye opening to see how much milk was affecting my sinuses. I’m definitely going to be cutting it out, or at least way back.

On that note, I’m going to hit the bed. I have morning duty tomorrow. Nothing quite like getting up an hour early to watch 250 or so kids sitting in the hallway!

Today has been an incredibly busy and frustrating day. Our state mandated testing is in just a few weeks, so we had a district-wide pretest the past couple of days… I’m severely disappointed. To look at those tests, you would think my students have learned nothing at all this year. I know that’s not the case, and I can see a lot of growth in them… I guess it’s just frustrating when you pour so much of your time, energy, and efforts into something, and feel like it isn’t showing. The next few weeks will include a lot of review, in the hopes that they’ve just forgotten the material, which there’s a really good chance of.

My weight has stayed consistent for the past few days, which I’m not exactly happy about, since I was really excited at how quickly it was dropping for a while there, but at the same time, I know that I’ve had a few slip-ups this week, including not getting enough sleep, which I know doesn’t help matters.

Today’s eats:

Breakfast:

  • a banana
  • 2 slices of meatless chicken
  • rice milk

Lunch:

  • healthy choice frozen meal
  • cashew cookie larabar

Snacks:

  • banana
  • apple
  • clif z bar

Dinner:

  • sauteed spinach
  • veggie patty
  • 2 tomato slices
  • corn (which I had to share with a hungry bird)

I always think it’s strange when people talk about their heart, as in emotionally. I was thinking this afternoon about my own heart. Not in the physical sense, as in the beating organ, but as in all of the things that I have been through in the past few years, and the resilience of the heart.

Relationships are hard. That’s no secret. But I am amazed by my husband, who has stood by me and helped me to heal through some things that I never thought I would be able to. When we started dating, I was at the tail end of a devastating and nasty divorce. I had let go of my ex, but couldn’t seem to let go of the hurt, and honestly saw no hope for truly loving again. I didn’t think I could open myself up to being hurt like that again. He took a risk with me, in that I wasn’t so sure that I could ever love anyone again, and he bet on me healing. He was right, very much to my surprise.

Last night, we didn’t do much of anything special. We had dinner out for the first time in a while, and then did a bit of running around, shopping. Then we came home and just absolutely crashed. Still, it was the first time in a while that we had the chance to really do anything together, so even though it was nothing particularly special, it was special just for that reason. I got the most wonderful text message from him this afternoon:

Hey! I love you! You make me very happy and last night was fun. It’s awesome being married to my best friend.

I couldn’t agree more. It reminded me just how great it is to truly be loved for who I am and to be able to share my life with my best friend. I couldn’t ask for more!

Today was not a good day at work. Basically, our state testing is in 3 weeks (well, 3 weeks of school, but we also have spring break in there, so a little bit more, really) and my kids are nowhere near where they need to be. I have taught all of the material, and at one point they had it, but they seem to have forgotten it. I guess out of sight, out of mind? So now I have to review all of that and bring it back up to the surface.

I also went clothes and makeup shopping tonight. I bought some bronzer and mascara. I have no clue where my old mascara went. I decided to try this one, though, as a replacement. I don’t wear mascara much, but decided what the hey, while I’m at it…

I also bought 4 new shirts, which are all much more suited to the springy weather! Yay!! I have only found pictures of 2 of them online, and I think they look better in person.

henley-tissue

and

cascade

I also saw this dress while looking for pictures. It’s only available online, and I hate to buy clothes that I haven’t at least seen. Hmm…. I may have to think about it. I really like this dress, and for $22… well…

dress

I guess I’ll have to think it over.

That’s been stuck in my head all day. I love Family Guy, and several times lately I’ve seen the episode where Peter gets the record from the diner and then plays it over and over and over and over and over. Anyway, guess what I have now?! Here’s a hint:

It’s big and green and not a smoothie!

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Meet Mango- the eclectus parrot! He’s an absolute sweetheart! He gave me kisses the first night I brought him home, and he is wonderfully sweet just about all the time. I don’t know how well he and Rocky are going to get along with each other. I know not to cage them together, but I would really like to keep them in the same room, at least. I guess I’ll have to feel that out when the quarantine period is over.

I also had an emergency trip to the vet this afternoon with my rats. Willow has sliced her back wide open, most likely with part of the cage, and had to get stitches. $150!! Insane!! The rats are class pets and this afternoon a couple of the kids noticed that she was bleeding. After inspecting her, it quickly became clear that she was going to definitely need some stitches, so right after school, I had to pack her up and take her to the vet. She handled the surgery well, though, and as long as she doesn’t pick at the stitches, it will be a pretty easy recovery.

One other quick thing to report: I asked for a change of grade level, not really expecting it to happen. Two of our 5th grade teachers are retiring, and I have taught 2nd grade for 3 years now. I guess I just want to try something new, so I asked the principal if I could move up. He let me know yesterday that I would be moving to 5th next year, which means 1) I have a lot to pack during post-planning, and 2) I need to plan on having NO CLUE what I’m doing next year!!! I’m sure I’ll figure it out, either way, but it is a little bit intimidating, now that I know it’ll actually be happening. Still, I’m pretty excited about it, and from the sounds of things, so are a lot of other people. Apparently, nobody expected me to stay in 2nd as long as I have!

I was able to eat a whole wheatberry sandwich today without getting anything stuck in the hole from my wisdom tooth removal. Sadly, this is the something I got very excited over, making me either really pathetic or just a really big fan of wheatberry. Not sure which.

Breakfast:

Another smoothie (shocking, I know)

Here it is before mixing:

smoothie-ingredientsIngredients:

  • a banana
  • 3/4 cup of almond breeze
  • a scoop of peanut butter
  • 1 leaf of kale
  • 2 ice cubes

And here it is in all its glorysmoothie-mixed

Lunch:

This was spread out over the day. First, the sandwich.

sandwich-makings

Parts:

  • 2 slices of wheatberry bread
  • 2 slices of vegetarian chicken
  • lettuce
  • 3 slices of tomato
  • hummus

And the finished product, along with the rest of the meal.

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And a quick brag: I’ve lost a small amount on the scale, but what I’m really thrilled with is that tonight I looked in the mirror, and the double chin is almost completely gone! Definite progress, even if the scale doesn’t show it yet.

On a side note, I got an einstruction interwrite tablet yesterday for my classroom. I actually should have had it months ago, but it took forever for it to be shipped because I won it at a convention and there was some confusion over prizes/addresses, etc.

It just came in yesterday. I charged it overnight and was able to use it today. It is AWESOME!!! I would highly recommend it to anyone. I’m able to walk around the room while still using the smartboard, create venn diagrams, pages of notes, draw bunny rabbits on the smartboard (not productive, but still fun.) I made an afternoon of playing with it after the kids left for the day, and I have all kinds of ideas floating around in my head for future lessons. Best. Accessory. Ever.

I got to work at about 7:30 this morning and didnt’t leave until about 6:30 tonight. I love my job- I really truly love my job… but it’s a good thing I love it so much. Otherwise, it would have absolutely burnt me out by now. The school where I work uses a literacy program that operates without a textbook for reading, spelling, or writing, and we also do not use one for math. There are textbooks available for Science and Social Studies, but they’re outdated, and that’s the least of the problems with them. So, of course, there is a lot of prep work involved for our teachers. In a sense, it’s wonderful because I have so much freedom to decide what my students need, and adjust my instruction to that. A perfect example of this happened today- yesterday, during our writing block, I noticed several of my students did not have a strong sense of beginning, middle, and ending to their stories. I planned a lesson for today that refocused them on that concept. I remember during some of my internships (prior to student teaching) feeling tied to a textbook, and stifled by it. So the freedom is wonderful.

At the same time, it’s incredibly frustrating sometimes to just be ready to leave, but know that I haven’t finished making centers for my math lessons or haven’t finished choosing books for my guided reading groups. It’s a lot of work that sometimes I would love to be free from. I’m not going anywhere- I love my job. I am incredibly happy there, and we have, hands down, the best administrators anywhere, but still, sometimes I guess you just need to vent a bit.

At any rate, on to what I ate today:

Breakfast was another smoothie, along with a veggie sausage patty on the side. I did take a picture this morning, but I couldn’t find my camera, so I used the one in my phone. Right now, my phone is dead (it’s on the charger right now) so I’ll share those when the phone is working again. Basically, it’s another green smoothie… very similar to yesterday, but with a couple of minor adjustments.

  • 1 leaf of kale
  • 1/2 a banana
  • 1 spoonful of peanut butter
  • light yogurt
  • 2 ice cubes

I also mixed it longer in the blender, which made it a bit creamier than yesterday.

Lunch (again, pictures coming soon) was a peanut butter and banana 1/2 sandwich on wheatberry bread. I ate the other 1/2 of the banana by itself.

My after school snack was an apple.

Driving home, I had a Larabar. This time, I tried the peanut butter cookie bar. It’s one of the few I haven’t had before. It was ok, but not one of my favorites.

Dinner was a canned soup. That’s right… I got all gourmet tonight… haha. I had a can of Amy’s organic lentil soup.

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Eh… what can you do? Like I said, it was a long day.