Monday, September 29, 2014

The Power of Positive Emails

I am not a fan of Mondays.

I am in at work even earlier than normal in order to combat the frazzled feeling I will get coming back from the weekend and not feeling prepared.

Even when I get into work early, I still end up feeling a little frazzled somehow. Today was no different with my students being just as frazzled as I was.

Normally, at the end of Mondays, I just sit at my desk for a few minutes and go on Imgur, Facebook, something mindless.

Today I decided to do something different. I decided to make a student and parent's Monday.

There is a sophomore that I had last year as a freshmen. Bright kid just very forgetful and unorganized. They would constantly have missing assignments or work turned in late which frustrated their parents to no end.

I have them again this year and it is a complete turn around. There are no missing or late assignments and it is obvious tests and quizzes have been studied for. The student is currently earning an "A-"

I decided to email their parents, while cc'ing the student, informing them that I am very proud of their child. The repsonse back was immediate and happy:

Thank you so much!  It is wonderful to hear!

You made our Monday!



Yes, my school has live grading so yes, my parents can easily log in to see how their child is doing. I could have easily assumed that the parents are doing this. For all I know, they are and are fully aware of their child's grade. However, just this little email validated what they see. It made what otherwise is a crappy day by default into something to smile about.

Now, with 120 students, there is no way I can constantly do this. The time it would take me to compose a "happy" email for each student a week would be insane. However, I'm totally for this when a teacher sees something extraordinary. It reminds me of the Taylor Mali poem "What Teachers Make"* and the line where he says:

"I make parents see their children for who they are/
And who they can be"

I knew what this child could be. I've known since last year. Yeah, a grade can tell the parents what their child could be but by sending that one, small, little email, I am able to make them see who their child is not just a number in the gradebook.

It is why I teach. It is why I love my job even on Mondays and even when I complain.

I wouldn't trade it for the world.


*If you have never heard this poem, below is a drawing of it done by Zen Pencils and also a video of the poem performed by Taylor Mali himself






Monday, September 15, 2014

A Letter to My First Year Self

Dear First Year Self

Time for the big leagues. You made it through student teaching in two completely different atmospheres and you feel like you can handle anything.
You're wrong.

You thought you were tired before; you have no idea what tired means. You will pull an all nighter grading assignments not due to your procrastination but due to a mixture of not knowing how to stagger your assignments and not knowing how to grade quickly and effectively at the same time.

You will have parents that drive you crazy and make you doubt your ability to do your job. Don't let them get you down. Don't be afraid to ask your fellow teachers how to handle the situations in the future and if the parent is right. Sometimes they are but are just jerks about it. It doesn't mean you're a bad teacher. It means you have to learn and grow just like your students.

You'll have moments that you just want to give up. You'll have these moments more than you'll like to admit.


That's okay.

Just make sure you don't keep it locked inside. That's when you'll start believing it. Chances are, your fellow teachers feel the same way or have and can help you get out of your funk. Reach out. I know you like to be alone but you have to reach out. It's the only way you'll survive.

The biggest thing you got wrong about the entire teaching jig has nothing to do with parents or burnout.

The biggest thing you got wrong was this:

You'll care more, have more patience, keep a level head, and be inspired more than you ever thought possible.

The kids will say stupid things and drive you up a wall nearly every day but also nearly every day, they will do something that will make you want to brag to your friends about your proud teacher moments.

Even though you'll want to scream, you'll shock yourself at how you're able to take a deep breath, calm yourself down, and react in a rational manner. You'll be blown away how you don't let the teenage challenges get under your skin. You'll then be blown away at how much respect the students give you because you don't blow up on them like their parents.

You have some challenging moments ahead. Moments where you have to be strong for your students because you're the one they came to because they trust you. Moments where all you want to do is scream at how cruel people can be and scream because life isn't fair.

It is in these moments that you'll be shocked at how well you're able to handle the situations. More importantly, you'll be shocked at how well your students handle them when they are too young to be dealing with situations. It is in those moments that you'll know this is the job for you.

Stick it out first year self. The moments of doubt will become fewer and the moments of inspiration and happiness will become greater.

Love
Your 4th year self

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Resources for Romeo and Juliet

Three things have led me to posting resources

1) My football team is sucking

2) Grading summer reading assignments is making my brain hurt

3) WebEnglishTeacher put my resources for The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Oedipus the King on her website which is super exciting (!!!!!!!!!!!!!)


So I have decided to post some resources for Romeo and Juliet  that I have used over the past four years of teaching it. These are the "tried and true" assignments for me that I will fall back on if I'm lacking my usual creative spirit (which sadly happens especially since Shakespeare is the last unit my freshmen study).

You can find my resources for Romeo and Juliet here. If you want to see the other resources I have, you can either visit the links up top or go to this page.

Enjoy!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

#devolson

The school year has started which means it is time to start blogging again*

Here is why I never ask my students what they did over the summer because this would be my response:

I taught summer school. When I wasn't teaching summer school I was reading a book and drinking wine.

Not that exciting.

But now we are into the school year and specifically that time of year known as DEVOLSON** which stands for The Dark, Evil Vortex of Late September, October, and November which is to explain that early burnt out, tired feeling you get during this time of year because you have yet to settled into the routine of school and the transition into that routine usually takes the the first three months of school. This feeling tends to lead you to slightly lose your mind.

Although I did not invent this title, I am here to say this is real.

For example, this was an actual Facebook status I posted:

How To Start Your Thursday Morning:
1) Wake up from a dream where the secretary responsible for sub plans was yelling at you for not submitting sub plans and missing school.
2) Look at your clock and realize that was your subconscious telling you that you had over slept your alarms and that it is 6:20 and you have to be at work by 7:30
3) See a text from your roommate asking for you to wake them up so they could move their car
4) Throw markers at your roommate to wake them up
5) Struggle to find your ID and eventually find it right where you left it the night before
6) Rush out the door all ready to call the office saying you're going to be late only to realize that since you rushed through getting ready and were able to hit all the lights at green, it is actually 6:50 in the morning.
7) You go in and get a cup of coffee and breathe
This guide is brought to you by a full time teacher in graduate school

That was my actual morning. Besides reading the list Love, Teach gives to survive this, I present you with my method.

Four Ways to Survive DEVOLSON According to Dailyish Teacher

  1. Limit your wine drinking to only one glass. Seriously. You'll want to drink a lot. Don't go overboard. It will make it worse
  2. Create a "Happy File." Since I limit my wine drinking, I need another way to feel happy. I do this with my "Happy File" which is a collection of student sticky notes, sayings from my daily calendar that I have saved, emails from parents I have printed out, and even the drawings students give me (Yes....high school students still draw their teachers pictures especially when they get bored during a test)
  3. Keep pictures of someone you don't hate on your desk at work. Boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/best friend etc. Pick the person you tend to complain to because they make you feel sane again. Just looking at their picture will make you feel better
  4. Laugh. Laugh a lot. This is the most important one. This is the one that helps the most. This is why I keep my desktop background rotating between images I find amusing.I also post some of my favorites on my bulletin board next to my desk so I can just turn my head and laugh when I need it. 
Since I can't really help you with 1 - 3, I figured I would give you a jump start on 4 with some things to laugh about.



This is students in a nutshell






*If you notice I only blog when I want to avoid grading. This is the best type of blogging. It allows me to feel productive while

** I did not create this term. The lovely Love, Teach did. She is hilarious. You should read her blog. She is much better/experienced then me at this. She even writes for WeTeachers and has a bingo game you can play

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Why I Teach

It is the end of the year which means teachers are super busy (hence my lack of posts). We are trying to finalize grades, manage students bouncing off the wall (literally and figuratively), clean our classroom, mange parents who just now realized their child is not doing the greatest, give exams, grade exams, and keep our sanity in tact.

In all of this craziness, it becomes very easy to lose sight of why I do my job.

Then things snap me back and remind me, that despite all of the above stresses, I do this job because I love it.

I do this job because it is important.

I do this job because it is hard but someone has to be there for the kids.

I do this job because it makes a difference.

No, I do not work in a school where kids are facing economic hardships that make it difficult for them to go to school. I do not teach those that are homeless and struggle to find a place to sleep at night. I do not teach kids who are constantly hungry because their parents struggle to afford food.

I may not teach the disadvantaged but I still teach teenagers. Teenagers who are emotional. Teenagers who suffer loss. Teenagers who suffer betrayal. Teenagers who suffer from inner demons.

Teenagers.

I forget that sometimes because, by nature, teenagers are guarded. They are hyper-aware of the fact that their classmates judge them about everything from their clothes and hair to the way they reacted to a detention to the amount of school work they do. They don't always show me their struggle but I play a huge role in their struggle whether I realize that or not.

Two examples in the past two days have reminded me as to why I do my job and that I impact my students no matter what I may think. The first one is from a student I know was struggling all year. Not academically but personally. Their most recent journal entry brought me to tears because they were finally realizing how beautiful life can be.

"I looked at things I did on a daily basis, and realized: this really should not be that stressful, and so I changed it."

This one, single, line made happy. The entire journal entry made me beam with pride. Pride that they were able to see how good life can be. I know I was impacting this student's life because they have spent their entire study hall in my classroom talking to me and asking for advice. Regardless, I am proud that they are slowly starting to overcome everything.

The second example of why I teach came from what a student wrote in my year book. I have had this student for two years. They are quiet and don't volunteer a lot of personal information. They are smart but sometimes don't do their work. Although they may not be the best academic student, they are one of the nicest students I have ever taught. I never knew if I connected with them because they are so quiet. Then, they left this in my yearbook (I blacked out my own name)



It continues on to just say that they hope to have me senior year and to have a good summer.

When I read this, I was floored. I knew the student didn't hate me but I had no idea that I had actually made that big of an impact in their life. I go in and do my best to try to teach them poetry and Shakespeare and literary terms. I also try and teach them honesty in that I would rather they tell me that they just didn't feel like doing the homework or forgot to instead of making up excuses. I try to teach them to write a paper. I also try to teach them to always explain themselves and why they made a particular decision. I try to be a role model. Not in the sense that I'm perfect but in the sense that I own up to any mistakes I make and fix them. I try to teach them that "I'm sorry" carries almost no meaning and that changing the behavior or action that caused you to feel the need to say it is way more important then two words. 

I never knew that was getting through to some of my students until I read this. 

This is why I teach. I teach because it makes a difference. Even if that difference is only in a handful of students a year, it matters. 

I may complain about the pay (I can't even afford an apartment on my own) and about my students (a bunch wrote about how Romeo compares Juliet to an angle) but those are annoyances. Daily distractions from the real reason I do this job.

I teach to make a difference even if I don't always know that difference is happening.



Friday, May 9, 2014

10 Problems Only Teachers Will Understand


Being a teacher is classified as a "white collar" job. Somethings are the same; we have contracts like most other professions and have assigned hours we have to be at work. We also have to have meetings and do reports.

However, our days are super unique in that there are a lot of events and problems that other "white collar" jobs, specifically those that occur in an office, will never understand.

I am lucky in the sense that two of my best friends are teachers so when I complain about this stuff, they understand me and can relate. When I complain to my boyfriend, he kind of stares at me bewildered that these things happen. 

I do apologize if this is pretty high school specific. Although, many elementary teachers will be able to relate to the majority of them.

10 Problems Only Teachers Will Understand

  1. Finished reading directions out loud in class. "Does anyone have any questions?" ~teacher "Yeah, I don't understand." ~student "Okay, what don't you understand?" ~teacher "All of it. What are we doing again?" ~student



  2. Read out loud in class: "In what vile part of this anatomy / Doth my name lodge?" (Romeo and Juliet III.iii) "What does Romeo literally ask for the location of?" ~teacher ::silence:: ~students



  3. "What do you mean it doesn't make sense? I made sure I used big words so that it would make sense." ~ student "Do you know the definition of the word you used?" ~teacher "No. But why does that matter? It is a smart word" ~student



  4. The constant murmur of students talking while you're trying to explain directions



  5. Day after turning in essay: "Did you grade my essay yet?" ~student



  6. "I don't get it!" ~student "Did you read the directions?" ~teacher "No. But it is still confusing!" ~student




  7. Parent sends an email during 1st period while you are teaching. Check your email the first chance you get three periods later: you have three follow up emails demanding to know why you haven't answered yet



  8. "My son is smart! Why are you failing him?" ~ parent "He hasn't turned in any assignments or his paper." ~teacher "So? Why is that stuff even important?" ~ parent



  9. "What do you mean you can't go to Taco Tuesday because you have to grade? Don't you get off work at 3pm? Why would you have to do work after you're done with work" ~"friends"

    My actual response to that text message


















  10. Reviews with class. Offers to stay early and late for help. Constantly asks if the students understand. Class average on test: 65%



Despite all of this, I still love my job. I must be crazy

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Teacher Fight Club

So I had my students, in pairs, write legends about a tradition at the school. I got some awesome/funny/amazing legends. The best one was actually not a legend but a myth. However, it was too funny not to share.

Sit back and enjoy the ridiculousness.

*Note - what you see in bold is my editing out names and replacing it with the department the teacher is from. Otherwise, it is exactly how my students wrote it (grammar mistakes and all).


The Story of the Teacher Fight Club

Did you ever wonder what is under the school & why a majority of teachers wear long sleeves. The teachers wear the long sleeves to cover up the cuts & bruises they get fighting underneath the school in the underground fight club. Run by none other than my mom who happens to work at the school ! Many years ago my mom worked she started the underground fight club with PE teacher

The rules were that every teacher must participate in fight club from the very beginning religion teacher was the reigning champion in the beginig years, you can see him walking out of the school late at night to his car a  purple 1975 convertible Cadillac de Ville with cheetah print seats.  but he has fallen off the top because of younger aged teachers that are starting to take title once held for decades.

Teachers were always getting hurt but always had to come up with excuses for their injuries like science teacher & how she said she broke her knee after slamming into the ground was a cover up for when 2nd religion teacher grabbed her picked her up and did a Gutwrench powerbomb onto a table one of the most brutal moves in wrestling this video was leaked and can be seen on worldstarhiphop.com.own footage of these Mystical events.

One of the up coming stars is none other than me it is rumored that she can bench over 4,000 pounds and can be seen on some days doing squats with the bleacher and doing bicep curls with cars. The past 3 years she has destroyed the competition know 32-4 she is undisputedly one of the best in the game and not a force to be reckoned with.

But it wasnt always smooth roads for her in her second fight against the reigning womens champion Momma K they call her (science teacher from earlier) she pulled a michinoku driver with her metal knee totally crushing me bone but was said to only be a ACL tear. ******

This looked like the end of her career for sure but she trained and came back the next year sweeping the competition off there feet she was the underdog and two years later is one of the best in the game another powerhouse in the feather weight womens division is fellow English teacher also known as the flying Squirrel with her speed and agility she is a big contender for the title this years.







******I actually had ACL surgery last school year. I wish I tore it this way.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Re-titled Novels and Plays

My sophomores drove me up a wall yesterday when I assigned an essay. Some of the things that came out of their mouths hurt my soul* but one thing that they said, not only hurt my soul, but gave me this blog idea.

While assigning the essay on Middle Eastern and African literature, one of my students made the connection back to Things Fall Apart. However, they did not say "Things Fall Apart," they said "That book about that guy that killed himself because of some white guys or something."

Yes, I'm sure that is what the novel is titled.

This lead to an idea.

What if high school students titled novels/plays?

So, using the knowledge of what my students have said in the past, I have put together some titles of famous novels that we read at my school as if they were titled by my students.











Sadly, I could keep going but I must stop before it gets out of hand and I neglect my grading.


*Here is why: I assigned the thesis essay using the same requirements I have used all year and that were used their freshmen year since it is a department policy and just common writing sense. (If you don't know what they are, go here. It will help) These quotes actually came out of their mouths:

"Wait! We need quotes?! Since when do we need quotes?!"
"Holy crap! We need a works cited page? Why do I need one when I have the thing after the quote?"
"So we only need two quotes for the entire paper right?"

Monday, April 7, 2014

Survival of 3rd Quarter Slump

Ah, the end of the 3rd quarter has happened. For those of you that teach high school (maybe middle school as well), you know that grades drop significantly during this quarter. The underclassmen assume that they have life figured out, so they start to slack off. The juniors have started to get too preoccupied with prom and the seniors have started to stop caring (the real challenge comes to get seniors to do ANYTHING during 4th quarter).

Due to all of this, the grades of most students drop a letter grade if not more. This then causes parents to freak out and email you over, and over, and over, and over asking for grade changes. It also causes students BEGGING for extra credit.

How do you survive this? I have a few suggestions for you.

  • Pretend you have become completely computer illiterate and you don't know how to access your email until a week after the 4th quarter starts. "Oh, I'm sorry. I had temporary amnesia and couldn't remember how to log into my email." I'm sure the parents will understand
      
  • Smile anytime any student says something to you. Just smile. Don't speak. Just smile. The students will be driven away by your creepiness.
     

       
  • Respond to any email with condescending Wonka. This is my personal favorite option.

     
       
  • Throw your computer out the window. You know, because if you don't have a computer, you can't answer any emails. It is a fool proof excuse.
       
  • Remember that you're supposed to be a professional and keep your cool even though it is super annoying that the students only care about their grades now. This is obviously the only logical option. Which is why the douchebag student meme should help. Yes, I know I've used this before but when it helps, it helps.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Why I Love Teaching

Per my last post, it is obvious it has been a trying week for me at school. Not only have I been having a hard time, but some students have been struggling due to being close to the teacher that passed away since they were in Model UN which was the club the teacher proctored. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, there were times where I had another teacher cover my classes so I could sit and let these girls talk. Or the girls would have study hall and just come in my room and relax so that they would not have to be in complete silence (like our study hall requires).

Beginning on Friday, the girls that were struggling as well as some other juniors that I had taught for two years in a row, started to stop by to ask me how I was doing. It isn't that they were over their grief, it was that they knew I was grieving as well.

This past week has been one of the hardest of my life so I tried to think of something positive. It wasn't hard today to realize that the most positive thing in my life is teaching. Yeah, it is stressful and there are days I want to scream due to losing patience with my students, but overall, I enjoy it. So to remind myself that there are positive things in life and to have a less depressing post, I present you with the following list.

5 Reasons Why I Love Teaching


  1. My students that I currently have. One of them sent me the following picture in an email to try and make me feel better. I printed it out in color and it is now hanging on my door to remind everyone else as well. Not only did I receive this but they have also been super patient with me both in class and outside of it. They have been on their best behavior recently and they haven't bugged me about why I haven't gotten their tests graded that they took on Monday. They know I'm struggling so they are giving me time and space. Regardless of the times when annoy me, in general I care about my students and it is nice to know that they care about me.


       
  2. My former students. So many juniors (juniors because I taught the majority of them two years in a row) have stopped by my classroom to use the scented hand sanitizer that I keep on my desk as an excuse to ask me how I'm doing. Most of them are on a "bathroom break" from their class so that they could just pop in to ask me if I was okay. One even made me the card/picture below (the blurry parts are my doing to blur out names). I started to tear up at it because I knew they cared about me.


        
  3. Students I haven't even taught. The girls that are struggling from Model UN knew I was close to the teacher so they have been coming to me for comfort since they know I feel just like they do. I have never taught any of them. This morning, they cam in with cookies (because I need to make sure I eat) and a card. I was yet again reminded of how many lives I touched just by doing my job even if the part of my job I'm doing isn't the actual "teaching" part. The card read:

    You have no idea how much your support has meant to us. An escape to your room may seem simple, but it helped SO much to get away, even just for a few minutes. It helps so much to talk to someone who understands. I hope you are getting better everyday, and know that you meant a lot to him. He'll always be watching over us, and, if you need anything, or just a hug, we'll always be here for you. #MUNislife
       
  4. Influencing every day. What this event has taught me is that I'm influencing students every day even if I don't realize it. It is sometimes hard to realize why I do my job or if I'm actually impacting students since many times they just sit there and stare. I'm never actually sure if what I'm trying to teach them gets through. This past week, however, I know for a fact that I have at least taught them compassion. They may not remember why Moore wrote Utopia but they know when a person is suffering and actually care.
          
  5. I am surprised everyday. Sometimes these surprises are upsetting like learning a student has depression, that I didn't expect, or that they had a parent that passed away. However, most of the time, I am surprised in a good way such as learning that my students care so much or that they made sure they learned the material so I wouldn't get frustrated at them. Sometimes it is as small as learning that one of my students actually finds my jokes funny or remembered the fact I had told them the previous day in class. Regardless, I love that my students can surprise me every day and that, for the most part, it is a good surprise. I wouldn't trade that for the world. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How to Deal When the Unthinkable Happens

On Tuesday the unthinkable happened.

A fellow teacher passed away.

He was not just a coworker but also a very good friend.

He was the proctor for Model UN which I helped out with. The kids in that group got to know him really well so they are taking it the hardest.

I am 25 years old and I have never had a close friend pass away. I can't image how I would have handled it at the age of 15, 16, or 17.

For the past two days, these kids have tried to go to class and tried to take tests. However, something will happen where they break down. Either someone will say something that reminds them of him or someone will do something that makes them sad/angry whatever. They show up at my door in tears not knowing how to handle themselves.

They have no idea how to handle their feelings but they know I feel like they do so they come to me. From listening to their stories, so many people don't know how to handle them. They try but they just don't get it which ends up hurting them more.

I am no expert when it comes to this situation. However, there are a few things I learned that are helpful in dealing with students in this situation and I figured I would share what I learned.

5 Pieces of Advice For How to Handle Students Going Through a Tragedy

  1. Don't force them to talk about it.

    So far, two of the girls have come crying to me because a teacher figured that the best way to deal was to force them to talk about it. Although it is helpful for the class as a whole, those that are the most effected will hate it. They feel like what you (or their classmates) are saying is superficial. If they were close to the teacher, they know those that weren't. It is actually more hurtful for them to hear someone else try to work through their pain. It may sound narcissistic but these students know who understands their pain and who doesn't. They aren't about to share with someone who doesn't understand. 

    On the same note, if it isn't a school wide tragedy, still don't force them to talk about it. They will talk with those they feel comfortable with. The only question that is acceptable is "Do you have someone to talk to?" If they say yes, then let it be and just keep an eye on them.

  2. If they are actually struggling, they will tell you.

    Some teachers have kept moving on because they assume that some people are going to try and take advantage of the situation. They will only say they are hurting in front of the entire class to try and get sympathy points or get out of work.

    Although these students (sadly) exist, those that are actually struggling will come and talk to you. They will tell you "I can't focus" or "I tried but I can't bring myself to do it." They will speak up because the teacher/adult they are talking to about everything will tell them to do that. If they don't come, the teacher/adult they are talking to will. Either way, you'll know. Those that just want attention, will be too afraid to tell you in person. So please believe the students when they tell you, in private, that they are struggling.
  3. Give some flexibility...

    If they say they couldn't do the homework or that they can't take the test, be understanding. They are trying because they do want things to be normal again but sometimes it becomes too much. If they ask for it, allow for some flexibility.
  4. ...but don't completely let them off the hook

    Don't say "oh don't worry about taking the test. It won't count" That isn't what they need. They need you to change the due date or test date not give them a pity party. As I said, they want normalcy but they don't know how to get it. By still making sure they do their work, even if it is a little later, that will help. Letting them off the hook completely just reminds them that they had a tragedy.
  5. Remember that they are teenagers

    I am 25. I have dealt with loss before. Nothing this hurtful but I have dealt with loss. When I first mourned for someone it was in college. Although I'm struggling, I know people are there to help me. I know that what they may do might not be the best but I know it is them trying to help. I know that the best way to move on from something is to try and move on with my daily life. Even if it seems impossible right now. I have to try.

    Teenagers instinctively think no one understands them. They instinctively think that everything is harder than it is and that if they can't figure it out, it isn't worth their time. Add this natural/biological outlook on life to a tragedy and you have a huge problem. So many adults have tried to act like nothing is wrong around them. They still get upset with them when they walk into class late. They won't let them leave the classroom to have a breakdown because, in the teacher's minds, they should just move on.

    Yes, you can treat an adult this way but a teenager you can't. They are trying but they are going to mess up more than an adult would in this situation. You have to remember that its okay. By assuming they should just continue with their everyday lives is the worst thing you can do for them. Even worse than letting them off the hook. Yes, you may have experienced loss before and know how to handle it but they haven't. This was unexpected. This was someone they loved. This was someone they felt understood them. You can't expect them to just "move on" no matter what you say. Teenagers blow emotions up. This is why they cry if someone makes fun of them. They don't know how to brush the little things off and keep going so why on Earth would you expect them to know how to brush off the death of someone they loved?

A death like this is hard. Teenagers struggle to cope and if you happen to be the one that they come to for help, just listen. Sometimes, they may want to talk about something else. Sometimes they may just want to cry. Other times they may just need you to be in the room with them. Just be there for them so they know they aren't alone.



Rest in Peace Patrick. You'll be missed. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lessons from Feeny: You Don't Have to be Perfect

I am coaching JV softball (not that you would know considering we have been outside three times during the first 17 days of the season....thank you winter/snow). Due to all the snow, I'm yet again watching Boy Meets World and yet again thinking of all the things I can actually learn from a 90's sitcom with a teacher as a main character.

During an episode in season 7, Topanga decides to go on a diet because she has *gasp* gained weight. This of course causes everyone else to freak out about their weight. Corey also thinks that the reason why Topanga has gained weight is because she is pregnant (this is of course not true). The craziness ends up with everyone freaking out in the student union and Mr. Feeny trying to calm them all down because they are freaking out for no reason. It is here that Mr. Feeny saying this gem



Coaching high school girls allows me to see this even more than when I teach them. Every time they make a mistake, like over throwing a ball or not knowing where to backup, they say "Sorry." I asked them once why they say this, and the group of 14, 15, and 16 year old girls told me that they do it because they are supposed to say sorry when they messed up. I then asked why especially when some of them have never played the sport  so why would I expect them to know where to go when I have never taught them? One of them thought about it and said "Well coach, I guess we are just expected to be perfect."

I told them, much like Feeny did, that this is an unrealistic expectation and it is ridiculous to try to live up to it. From this I made a rule that you only say "Sorry" if you said something that hurt someone's feelings otherwise, you shouldn't always be sorry for mistakes because everyone makes mistakes. Only be sorry if you don't try to learn from them.

I told my boyfriend about this rule and he told me I should start listening to my own advice because I do the same thing. It was then that I realized, like my team, I do it because society expects me to.

It may be too late for me to change (I say at the age of 25) but I refuse to allow my team/students believe they have to be perfect. I want them to know that they are okay to make mistakes. I want them to learn from them and try to be better not focus on the fact that they aren't perfect. So what if you make mistakes? You shouldn't let society tell you that isn't okay.

I don't get mad at the girls when they say "Sorry." I just point at them and they go "I mean.....my bad." Yeah, it is almost the same thing but by saying "My bad" they are admitting they made a mistake but they aren't apologizing for it. I'm going to try my best to make sure this idea sticks with them because I want them to know it is okay that they aren't perfect.

Friday, March 7, 2014

7 Painfully Accurate High School Teacher Hashtags

So this awesome Buzzfeed post is titled "24 Painfully Accurate Teacher Hashtags" and like most things, it is directed mostly at elementary teachers (or so I hope because I pray no high school teacher would use #WhyIsThisSticky because I'm pretty sure if you are saying this to high school students, it isn't the same type of "sticky".....).

There is nothing wrong with this since I'm all for elementary teachers because, well, they are teachers but, I would like to make it more geared towards high school teachers, although some could apply across the board. So, to replace the seven (numbers 2, 3, 4, 12, 14, 17, 23) that are geared towards elementary school, I present to you:

7 Painfully Accurate High School Teacher Hashtags


  1. #PaperGrading #DidYouReallyWriteThat

    Pearls Before Swine








  2. #ExtraCredit #DoYourWork


  3. #Listen #GetOffTwitter

  4. #Parents #ScreamsInside


  5. #Senoritis #BeMoreThanABlob














  6. #LastDayOfQuarter #OhNowYouCare


  7. #BangsHeadOnDesk #Cries

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I Don't Want to Grade Papers So I'm Sharing Things With You

I realllllllllllllllly don't want to grade my freshmen essays.

You benefit though.

I put up a bunch of my resources for teaching thesis essay writing. You can find them all here.

You can see the other resources I have provided at the menu bar above or by going here. My resources are constantly(ish) being updated so check back every once and a while to find new goodies.

Hope this makes your life easier!

Also, I hope this makes you smile



Monday, March 3, 2014

Literary Analysis: Sophomore Style

So my sophomores had to write dialectical journals about Things Fall Apart. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, it is when students take quotes and write about them. They can write about how the quote inspires them or makes them angry or confuses them. Basically they can write what ever they want as long as it is about the quote.

The purpose is not for them to make an argument or analysis the text but just to get them thinking about the text. Most of them end up analyzing the text as well as reflecting upon it but they don't feel like they are because it isn't in a formal setting. (you can find the assignment here)

Needless to say, I'm getting some pretty funny/awesome responses (not sarcastic at all). They were too good to pass up. I have also gotten some that made me want to cry which I have included as well. Since these are the awesome gems of my sophomores, I have titled this "Literary Analysis: Sophomore Style." Enjoy. (note: I didn't change a thing so the spelling and grammatical mistakes are my student's not mine)



  • "Also, it really loved me in a bad way that Okonkwo lied to his whole family and lied to Ikefuma saying that he was going back to his family."
  • "He doesn’t take crap from anyone, he’s strict and to the point"
  • "In this quote Mr.Brown is trying to get people who are not educated to join school so they can read and write and become smarters."
    • ^"smarters" made me stop grading for the day. I just couldn't handle it.
  • "All in all, that umunna was quite the party-pooper as Okonkwo was the one who bettered the party with his words."
  • "Okonkwo is a tragic hero because at the end of the movie....."
    • Didn't realize we read a movie in class
  • "Okonkwo has what we now a day call anger issues"
  • "He seems like a deep kinda guy."
  • "Okay this guy Okwonko needs to stop. We get it you’re trying to be a big man and show your in control but really? Aiming a gun at a woman shows your either afraid to stand up to a woman like a man, or your actually crazy."
    • I couldn't stop laughing at this one especially at the "actually crazy" part
  • "I hope in the future he actually messes up while trying to “prove a point” and goes to far and realizes how idiotic he has been."
Sometimes I really love my students.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Methods to Avoiding Tough Situations

*Update at the bottom

I made girls cry yesterday.

I made them cry in both happiness and sadness.

How?

Well, I coach JV softball (just add another thing to what I do under the title "Teacher") and we had to make our cuts yesterday. Some girls cried with joy and some cried with sadness.

You know how crappy that makes you feel?

If you don't, let me explain to you. The ratio of how crappy it was to how many glasses of wine I needed was 1:3.

Meaning, for every girl I had to cut, I wanted to have three glasses of wine.

Granted, I didn't end up drinking 15 glasses of wine but I really wanted to.

The worst part? One of the girls is a student of mine.

So I'm basically sitting here panicking because I'll have to face her in two periods and I'm trying to figure out ways not to.


  1. Method 1: Climb out the window
    • Pros: I will avoid seeing the student. 
    • Cons: I will most likely break something since I teach on the second story
  2. Method 2: Call in sick with a sudden and rare virus
    • Pros: I will avoid seeing the student
    • Cons: I will have to take sick leave and then not be able to lead my team in practice
  3. Method 3: Pretend she is invisible
    • Pros: I will avoid having to talk to her about it if she wants to
    • Cons: I will look like even a bigger jerk then when I cut her
  4. Method 4: Have the front office call her down for some made up reason
    • Pros: I will avoid seeing the student
    • Cons: I will not only embarrass the poor student but I will also look like a crazy person to my administration
  5. Method 5: Acting like an adult and dealing with the situation of her possibly wanting to talk about it or being angry at me like teenagers tend to do
    • Pros: I act like an adult
    • Cons: I have to deal with the situation

Crap. I have to go with method 5. 

I hate being an adult sometimes



-----------

Update: So I took the adult method and it paid off. I was able to face the student and she even asked for help. Yay! She didn't hold it against me!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Just What I Needed

After a very bad day of wondering if my students would EVER actually see what I'm doing for them, I decided to go back through my old Facebook statuses to see if I ever talked about how appreciative my students were of me. I was not disappointed.

All of these posts were from the end of my second year of teaching. I had a group of sophomores that I had taught for two years in a row and the majority of these comments are from them.


June 4, 2013
"Wait! You're not teaching juniors? But you're supposed to be my English teacher for life!" ~sophomore I've had for two years

June 5, 2013
I informed my sophomore boys not to scare the new English teachers away next year when they have them. Their response:

"We're going to scare away every single English teacher until you're the only one left to teach us."


I'm not sure if I should be flattered or terrified for their junior teachers......

June 5, 2013
"I want to sincerely say thank you so much for all you have done. I know I am not the easiest student to control or the most obedient student, however you have taken time out of your days to help me. Thank you for having for much patience with me even though I know you want to throw me out the window at times. You've made these two years a little easier by helping me out and I appreciate the time spent greatly. THANK YOU!" ~card from my sophomore student


I guess I did something right.

June 11, 2013
I'm sitting here almost tearing up at what my students wrote in my year book. They didn't just sign their names, they wrote half pages and pages to me. Some highlights:

"You have taught me so much: how to write, how to break down literature, and how to notice the vile, inappropriate things Shakespeare put in his plays."

"Oh, and if you get married, please invite me to the wedding."

"You're super hip. Which is cool because most teachers have osteoporosis" (yes....he spelled it right.)

"You literally made me laugh every day and when you were gone for like 2 weeks or a month for your knee surgery I almost died"

"I don't think another teacher could have put up with me for so long." (a sophomore I had two years)

"It has been a blast and you have been one of the reason I've survived high school so far."


"It is teachers like you that make students want to learn and have fun"

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lessons from Feeny: Education Beyond Books

On Friday, the USA lost to Canada.

I was not happy about the outcome.

However, I decided to let my seniors watch the game. I know, we have missed a lot of days for snow and I know, we have a lot to cover since they are seniors and they will be graduating soon.

There were 3 minutes left in the game when the period after me started. Two of my seniors asked me if they could stay and get a pass. I agreed because, well, I wanted to watch in hopes that the US would come back and at least tie it (I did tell them that if it was tied I wasn't going to let them stay for that).

Yesterday, the teacher to one of the seniors that stayed came up to talk to me and informed me that he had a quiz during last period and they were not happy that I allowed them to be late because they missed critical time to take the quiz.

I asked if they tried to use it as an excuse for more time and the answer was no. So I, like an idiot, said "then what is the problem?"

The answer was something along the lines of that we can't allow students to get away with this, education is super important, that they need to learn responsibility, etc.

I almost said "But next year, in college, he would have chosen the same thing."

I kept my mouth closed because that would just have sparked more debate that was useless.

Despite the snow, despite the amount of work I have to cover for my seniors before they are done at the end of May, I stand by my decision.

I am a huge hockey fan. My seniors and I routinely have debates about which NHL player is better. We have honestly have had heated debates where I made them actually use facts and debate format for the whole Crosby/Ovi debate. I have also done this for basketball with Jordan/Lebron. I'm not short of making sports part of the learning process.

However, I am aware there was no educational value to this game. But it was a huge game for anyone who likes hockey and the Olympics.

It was as I was trying to figure out the best way to phrase this that I remembered a Boy Meets World episode in the first season where Corey doesn't do well on his test because his dad woke him up to watch a no hitter that was being aired on the west coast. Feeny originally gets angry like this other teacher did because education is important.

As the episode goes on, he realizes that, when he was a child, he wasn't allowed to listen to FDR's speech that declared the war over because he had a test the next day. He doesn't remember what was supposed to be on the test but he does remember not hearing that speech because it was such a special event. It is when this happens that he tells Corey

"You see Mr. Matthews, education is not about obscure facts and little test scores. Education is about the overall affects of years of slow absorption. Concepts, philosophies, approaches to problem solving. The whole process is so grand and all-encompassing that it really can't be threatened by the occasional late-night no-hitter."

Yeah, education is important. But it isn't all about the books. It is everything. Slow absorption. As long as I don't interrupt class for every little thing, what damage have I really done? The student took responsibility of missing the first few minutes of class and didn't ask for more time. They knew they had made a choice and they knew the consequences of doing so. As a teacher, I try over and over again to get my students to take responsibility for their actions and choices and this student did. Even though it may not have been from the books, this student did learn something and I'm proud of them for that. You don't have to prove you learned something by taking a quiz.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up If I Tried


Today was a long day after being off Thursday and Friday. I felt frazzled most of the day and felt like I didn't get anything accomplished. So I was in desperate need of a laugh which caused me to go hunting through my Facebook.

Over the course of my three years of teaching, I have plenty of crazy student comments that I have collected on my own personal Facebook that I decided to compile some of them for your viewing pleasure. These are all from this year of teaching. I have soooo many more but that would require time to Facebook stalk myself. 

I promise you, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. These are all actual things that happened with my students.

August 28, 2013
Animal Farm was a summer reading book

"Bring Animal Farm to class tomorrow. You'll need it" ~Me
"Wait. We needed to read that book? I thought we just had to do the assignment!" ~students

This is teaching day number 1.


And this is why I'll eventually have a permanent dent in my desk from my head.

September 19, 2013
Upon my seniors discovering that I have written up 8 students for cheating this week via the method of copying and pasting:

"Our generation is doomed!" ~Student 1

"Damnit America! We can't even cheat right anymore! Our country is going downhill!" ~Student 2

September 24, 2013
The assignment: Using your knowledge of 1960's America, what might Dr. Seuss' The Sneetches be an allegorical reference to?

The answer that I have gotten from enough students to be worried about the future of America:

Slavery

Somehow the Civil Rights movement was a movement to end slavery.


I'm going to go cry now.


October 22, 2013

"Gilgamesh is told to chill out."


Literary analysis from a sophomore right there.

November 5, 2013
In reference to finding out my mom would be the long term sub for a math teacher

"Your mom can't be a math teacher" ~ freshmen
"Why not? I promise you she is" ~ me
"She is too nice to be a math teacher! What is she teaching, sunshine math?" ~ freshmen

November 13, 2013
Moment of feeling old: Freshmen phone goes off in class with the ring tone of "WAAAAZZZZZZUP!" The kids all laugh and I take the phone. At the end of class, the kids were asking where that was from.

None of them knew.

I was shocked. Then I realized none of them were ALIVE when that commercial came out.


Crap.

December 13, 2013
I was notified that my "swag level" has increased to an insanely high level due to having colored staples.


Get on my level people.

January 10, 2014
"Does this story about the Nigerians take place in Africa or a different country?" ~sophomore


I just banged my head on my desk. Multiple times.

January 24, 2014
Putting students in group for a debate and I group together five boys that I know that didn't read.

"This group isn't fair!" ~student 1
"Well, you know she did it because she knows we didn't read" ~Student 2

To student 2 "There is hope for you." ~me

February 3, 2014
Today I told a student to stop being a fool and pretending that he knew something when he clearly wasn't listening.

He informed me to grab a pair of gloves to see if it would fit and that he promised it wouldn't.

I thanked him for the O.J. reference. The rest of the class didn't know who that was.

Not sure if I should be impressed my one student knew the case or sad the rest of my class didn't.

February 7, 2014
I have an out of work response set up on my email and I told all my students I may not be able to respond as quickly as normal. A student emailed me yesterday. He just sent another saying "You were able to send an email saying you were in Baltimore but not one to answer my question. Why is that? I really need an answer."

Note: the question they are asking me is if they need to write in complete sentences for an assignment. Not only have I said it in class multiple times, it is also on the directions. 

I worry sometimes....

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Odyssey Resources

It is a Sunday morning and I was doing some lesson planning which requires searching waaaaaay too much. Then I realized that I hadn't posted some resources in a while so to take a break from the pain of going through multiple Google Searches, I'm sharing some resources I have for The Odyssey.

Hopefully this makes your search a little easier.


If you want to see the other resources I have available, you can go here. My resource pages are works in progress so check back frequently for updates. 

Enjoy!


Here is a cute picture for your time.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lessons from Feeny: You're Your Own Enemy

We recently got a lot of snow so we yet again had snow days and yet again I decided to binge watch on Boys Meets World which means I am getting more lessons on teaching from Feeny.

In the 5th season, there is an episode titled "The Eskimo." The premise of the episode is that Feeny gets very annoyed that Shawn is doing nothing his senior year because "he has learned it all," Corey won't stop trying to take care of him, and Topanga won't stop butting into the boys' lives. He gives them all their own assignments: Shawn must get Super Bowl tickets, Topanga must butt out of the boys' lives, and Corey is to make sure they all succeed. If they don't complete these assignments, they will fail. This proves to be a nearly impossible task.

Shawn almost is able to get the tickets by standing out in the cold but is beaten by an Eskimo. They assume the message is that "as long as we try we will be fine." So they go back to Feeny with this message and he asks where the Super Bowl tickets are. The gang becomes frustrated and try to figure out what Feeny is actually trying to teach them. Shawn realizes that at every point in his life, there has been "an Eskimo" in his way and he has always given into the fact that his hardship will win. He is determined to prove Feeny wrong and says he is going to San Diego (they are in Philly) to get the tickets. Corey tries to stop him because it is crazy but Shawn tells him to get out of the way and Corey does. 

Corey and Topanga report back to Feeny that they failed because Shawn went even though they said for him not to. Feeny smiles and tells them 

"Shawn isn't going to go to college and succeed because you want him to. He has to want to and believe that he can. And the only way he can do that is on his own." ~Feeny
"Then why did you want me to help him?" ~ Corey
"You need to know that you won't always be able to" ~Feeny
"Yeah, pretty soon we're all going to have to do stuff on our own without someone's help. Right Mr. Feeny? I think I know why you're going to keep giving us assignments until our last day with you." ~Topanga
"You're butting in Ms. Lawrence." ~ Feeny
"So fail me. That's life." ~Topanga
"But you won't be perfect anymore" ~Feeny
"No one should be perfect. Besides, you learn from failure." ~Topanga

Feeny shows the group that although you love your friends, what is stopping you from truly growing is yourself. Topanga is frightened about not being perfect and this desire for perfection causes her to never learn since she never makes mistakes. Corey learns that he is preventing his best friend from growing by trying to take care of him and Shawn learns that he is the only one standing in his way.

This is a lesson that is very difficult for high school students to learn. They are constantly hounded by their parents that they aren't perfect so they strive for it to the point where that is all they know. This prevents them from ever actually learning a lesson because the idea of failure is so frightening to them that they refuse to take any risks. They are the students that get super upset when they don't get an "A" on their paper. They are so upset that they get angry instead of learning from it. They don't come to ask me how to get the "A" they just complain that it was too hard and give up. Which then moves them into the second group of students. 

If they don't strive for perfection, they do the opposite and say "well, I will never achieve anything because I'm not good" so they become their own worst enemy. Many times I've talked to a student that was failing and they say "I"m just not good at English." I have to look at them and say "How do you know when you don't try?" They shrug and say "I have never been good so why try?"

How do you as a teacher fight this? The years of perfection or the years of being told they are not good? Sadly, there does not seem to be one single good way of doing this because Mr. Feeny is correct; they can only learn that on their own. The best you can do is keep pushing them and believing in them which is a difficult balance. You need to not accept the excuses but you need to tell them "you can do. I know you can." One day, it will click with them. Sometimes it will take two years of pushing them, like one of my students that I taught two years in a row, or sometimes it will only take a few short months. Either way, once they can see that they can do it, they will forever believe it. You just can't give up on them.

Friday, February 7, 2014

No Two Children Are the Same - Unless They Are in the Classroom.

I am currently chaperoning a field trip for Model U.N. Since the kids are in session about 90% of the day, I have taken the time to gradeish (def. - getting distracted by TV or the internet while papers are in front of you occasionally being marked).

Needless to say, I have watched A LOT of HGTV and Food Network.

One commercial keeps popping up for Sylvan Learning Center. No matter what kid they choose to use, the story is always the same: the kid is disinterested in school, he goes to Sylvan, and *bam* he becomes interested in school.

After hearing/seeing the commercial so many times, I decided to start actually listening to what they say. The tag line is "Learning should be personal."

They follow a four step program of "Assess - Plan - Teach - Apply" in order to make children actually excited about learning.

There is nothing wrong with this approach. Actually, I love this approach. Asses your student's needs, plan the a lesson best for them, teach the lesson, and then have them apply it so that they can prove they fully understand it. This model assumes no two students are the same which is great!

So why can't we apply it in schools?

Why do schools assume every child is the same? Why do they think that everyone can take the same exact test to prove they know this knowledge? Why must we assume that every child can prove they learned the information the best by taking a test? Why do we assume children all learn the same?

Just because it was the way you learned, doesn't mean it is the way your child learns. Maybe the fact that places like Sylvan exist is not a good thing but a bad thing. We see many disinterested children and automatically assume something is wrong with them since they don't seem to excel in the system that has been virtually unchanged in decades. What if the problem isn't the children but the system? What if the reason they are so disinterested is because the system is failing them?

Why is it, that my grandparents can tell me stories about high school, specifically how they were taught and asked to prove they know the information, and they sound like I could have told them about my high school days?

My generation is different from my grandparents. My students are slowly starting to become less like my generation and more like their own. So why does education assume that each of these generations, with completely different learning styles and lifestyles, can all learn the same way?

Shouldn't we actually take the message of Sylvan and apply it to how we actually teach children? Wouldn't that benefit them for the future and the progression of the world in general?


The answer is yes, we should be changing education and stop forgetting what we did in the past and focus upon what we are going to do in the future. In 100 years from now, hell, in 50 years from now, the world will be a completely different place yet, education will still pretend it is 1973.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Your Child is Doing Fine, I Promise.

It has been a very very difficult week. Normally, I enjoy teaching but this week multiple factors made it very difficult to enjoy it.

The biggest one was due to parent, teacher, student conferences on Thursday. I had many parents concerned about their freshmen child because they were not doing "well" with a "B." I was able to calm these parents down because I reassured them that their child has shown improvement in their organization, study skills, self-activity, etc. and that their child will be able to live up to their full potential. They are just currently struggling to figure it out.

Besides the fact that these parents want perfection from their child when they may not in fact be able to achieve it, I was fine until one conference that was extremely difficult.

It was a mother of a freshmen. Both of them came in and I figured it would be like the conferences above. However the mother decided to berate me in front of her son claiming I didn't know how to teach writing and that I didn't know basic English. The reason she knew better was because she went to a top tier university and graduated with a degree in English.

What got me was not the lack of respect from the mother, it was that she was doing this all in front of her son. Her son was sitting in the desk head down and trying to appear as small as he could. He was clearly embarrassed and only talked when I engaged him. The student even admitted that he had made a mistake on his paper and that he hadn't listened to what I told him to do (which I assured him was okay as long as he learned from it). This did not stop the mother from going on and on about how I didn't know what I was doing but she did.

What pissed me off was that the conference became more about the parent trying to validate their existence than what we could do to help her son in my class specifically with writing.

Her son was so embarrassed that he came up and apologized to me in class on Friday, completely worried that I was going to assume that he shared the same view as him mom in regards to what she had said. I assured him this was not true.

Now, I know I am not a parent but as a teacher this makes me very angry. This parent made the conference about her and completely ignored her son and his needs. She feels like she is a wiz in English and the fact that someone tells her otherwise makes her angry. She completely ignored the fact that her son is not a natural writer and that he needs to develop her skills. She completely ignored him and his wishes. It was obvious her son did not feel the same way she did but she completely ignored him and did what would validate her.

I was proud her son got a "C" on his paper because he improved from his first. He worked hard on it. Could have he worked harder and done better? Yes but he is 14. He is figuring it out. Why can't you feel the same?

Stop worrying about your ego and focus on your son's needs.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

School Induced Comma

My grades were due yesterday morning (which is why there is a lack of post from the last couple of days) and of course nothing went as planned.

First, I got in at 5:30am to make copies and input grades for one last class. I print off everything, start the copier, and then sit down to log onto Turnitin.com only to discover that our IT department was experimenting with a filter and I needed an admin password to access the site.

Grades were due at 7:40am. The filter wasn't taken off until 7:45am.

Then, during my first planning period, I was sidetracked with an issue in guidance for the entire period preventing me from actually getting my grades done. I didn't have a free moment until lunch so I had to give up my lunch period to grade.

After finally getting my grades in, I had to run down to the athletic department to drop off paperwork so I could get paid for the work I did for them over the weekend which took away the five minute window I had to eat.

During the actual teaching period, I introduced the sophomore research project to my sophomores. Every sophomore has to do it but I was the first teacher to introduce it meaning I was a big fat meany. My seniors were bouncing off the wall and my freshmen couldn't focus to save their lives. I thought I was out of the woods with last period planning but I ended up subbing during that period.

I rarely leave school as soon as I'm allowed to but yesterday I left the moment the clock told me my contract hours were up.

I proceeded to go for a mile and a half walk to clear my head and then I put my head down on the pillow and was asleep by 7pm and was that way until 6am this morning. Basically a school induced comma.

I do not share this to complain. I share this because when I was first starting out, I felt this way all the time but didn't feel like anyone understood. Therefore, I share this so you can not feel alone and know that you are not the only teacher that feels crazy every once and a while.

It is okay to sleep for 11 hours sometimes. Sometimes you need it more than you need to grade.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow Days Are a Wonderful Wonderful Thing

This is the second snow day coming off of a four day weekend for students and three day weekend for teachers.

I love it.

I have gotten grading done and grad school work done. I have been able to do this without being over tired from teaching all day and I have been able to do it in sweats (I think sweatpants should become part of professional attire but that is another issue).

I have also been able to sleep. I went to bed a reasonable hour last night without completing the grading I needed to because I knew I had the day off. I woke up not stressed about what I had to get done because I knew I had time to do it all.

I really wish teaching could be like this all the time. There are too many mornings I wake up dreading the amount of work I have to do. I don't actually dread the teaching just the grading/planning/meetings. You know, the stuff that prevents me from doing the part of my job that I actually really like.

In my ideal world, teachers would have two work days a month. One would be for all the meetings where they tell us what is going to be on the memo that is going to be placed in our mailboxes later and meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page. The second day would be for grading. Just grading.

That would be my heaven.

Regardless of how much work I get done today, these two snow days have allowed me to relax and rejuvenate. I'll go into work tomorrow refreshed and relaxed. I won't be stressed at all.

Until the weekend since my grades are due on Monday morning but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.