Monday, October 21, 2013

No no no no no no no

He died defending his children and therefore his country 12/21/13
Michael Landsberry
Marine, Teacher, Dad, Hero

(I can't let myself
feel this. It takes such a toll.)
He took a bullet...

Were all his papers
graded? His grades up-to-date?
How about his soul?

 (I keep wondering
what I would do, but all I
can do is wonder.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Feeding Your Teacher-Soul

Let me lay down some truth:

1) No one understands this job who hasn't done it, but they all think they understand. People will always say stupid things like, "If you complain about grading it, why did you assign it?" They will say stupid things like, "You get out at 2:30 and get all those holidays off." It helps me to remember that if Jesus forgave people for crucifying Him, I should forgive such radical, deep-seated, COLOSSAL IGNORANCE of what it takes to do this job well. Keeps the old blood pressure low.

2) If you care about your job at all, Teacher Brain happens. This is a condition that is marked by the inability to think or talk much about anything else except what happened in the classroom and what you need to get done for school. Where ever you go, you are thinking about lesson plans or challenging students. It can make you verrrrry boring because all of your sentences begin something like, "Last Thursday in period 4...." In extreme cases of Teacher Brain, you dream about school all the time.

Now teaching is the most important job besides parenting. And I love it. But the Two Truths have made me doubt what I do at times.  Look, forever being misunderstood and isolated by my career's idiosyncrasies is no way to live my one precious life.

So here are some ways I've found to feed my Teacher-Soul.

a) Unplug. Choose one night a week to go screenless. No grading allowed. No planning. If at all possible, no talking. Find the quiet. Ahhh.

b) Read a book that is NOT a professional development book. (This is my favorite!)

c) Read Angela Watson's Awakened, a book specifically written to help us teachers deal with Teacher Brain and teacher burn out. It's reallllllly sensible, and since Watson was a teacher, she KNOWS.

d) Watch teacher movies that inspire you, not demean you. Say "yes" to "The Ron Clark Story," "Stand and Deliver," "Dangerous Minds," "To Sir with Love" and the like. Buy them. Watch them when you are down. Avoid movies that trivialize the true work of educators.

e) Schedule fun. If you don't, those @#$% essays will consume you and embitter you. (Not a pretty combo.)

f) Join social media that is deliberately teacher-uplifting. I am loving Angela Watson's "Encouraging Teachers" on MugBook. Talking to other people who really DO understand what you do is a safe place to vent without boring anyone, and no one will say profoundly STUPID things.

e) If you can swing it financially, keep your precious summers free of summer school. It'll take a little while for Teacher Brain to subside, but that time will rejuvenate you and ensure that you love your job even two decades after you started. Well, that's a personal testimony. But we simply MUST step away from the classroom for our own mental well-being.

f) Exercise! But you already knew that one, right?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Feeling lucky? I can't believe what I just said---

If Johnny Depp couldn't bring this style back, no one can
Test today.  "Who wants to wear the lucky tricorn hat?" I sing.  After winning a brief roshambo game, M. dons the hat.

As the test goes on, I ask, "Can you just FEEL the luck seeping into your brain from that hat?" Tolerantly, she nods her head.

Soon enough, M. rises to turn in her test. "Can you just FEEL the A-ness of your test?" Instantly
I turn red, and I wish I could, like Cher, turn back time and say "A plus-ness," but it is too late. The class laughs, and pretty swiftly,  the kids return to their tests.

Cher is trying to turn back time
But I think I will put that hat away.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Last Day....AGAIN: the life of a military kid

Today was B's last day at DP today. He is a fun kid with a quick sense of humor, the kind of guy who gets along with everyone. Kind of lazy about work, unfortunately, but definitely a bonus in the classroom. I am going to miss him--we all will.

After everyone else left for lunch and I signed off his parting grade (a C, but you guessed that), he got as serious as I've ever seen him: "In all my nine years of going to school, this is the only class that I have talked about every day after school with my family, telling them cool facts..." My eyes filled first, I think, but his voice cracked and down his tears came. We hugged and he sobbed, "I don't want to leave!" I sobbed with him.

It's unnerving when perpetually cheerful boys sob.

He wasn't crying about my class. He truly loves DP. "I finally got to like someplace!" he cried. He is a military child who has to move because his dad serves our country. "B, there are some great people at this school who will miss you, but listen: good people are everywhere, and there are awesome ones at your new school who are gonna be so lucky to meet you! Until you know them, yeah, this move is so lame. Do me a favor, B, and figure out who they are. Choose your friends carefully, ok?" His face was tragic, but he nodded. "Jeremiah 29:11 is for you, B--God has plans for you!" He nodded again and gave me a teary smile--we first met last year in Bible Club. We both reached for the Kleenex.

I am so grateful that he purposefully took the time to give me his appreciation, realizing each second in my bungalow was a precious second away from his friends. He pulled himself together, and then sped off to spend his last lunch with them.

JEREMIAH 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."