I've thought long and hard about how I want this post to come across. It's been so long since I've last posted. An entire 9 weeks. That's right, the entire first 9 weeks of school have come and gone and I haven't shared anything. I've merely stayed afloat.
my desk from the beginning of the year
The truth is the past 9 weeks have not been bad. I've had fun with my 23 kids. 23. Yes, that was not a typo. My list originally had 24. I lost two, they never showed. I was down to 22, and by the end of the first-week of school I had gained a new student. We've remained at 23.
I'm one of 13 second-grade teachers. We're all a little spread out among the building. Fortunately, I am with three others on my hall and I LOVE them. Thank goodness for our little quad. We eat together, we grade together, and at times we even plan together. In a school my size you really have to help one another out.
A few weeks ago I developed a cold over the weekend. I tried to muster up and come in on Monday because I was going to be out for a religious holiday in the middle of the week. By 9 a.m. that morning I had thrown up at school. All the other teachers on my grade-level took some of my kids so I could go home, I wound up missing that day, the next day (Tuesday) and Wednesday (for my religious holiday), oh and did I mention that the coming Monday and Tuesday were early release days for parent/teach conferences?! Oh, and our DATA report was due that Friday of conferences and then grades were due by the following Tuesday. Oh and for giggles lets throw an observation by my principal in there as well. Want some more, okay, how about an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting that can last a minimum of two hours in there, sure why not (Just to make sure you are with me, that meeting lasted a total of 3 hours AND it took place the same day as our STATE testing, so I was late in administering the test to my class)?! Collecting money for a field trip? You bet. Is it any wonder by the end noon on Thursday I was in tears crying and never even ate my lunch.
This was my first lesson I had planned for my observation. Edible GA regions (Hershey Kisses in blue wrappers for Blue Ridge Mountains, Swedish Fish for the Coastal Plain, Kit-Kat for the Applachian Plateau, they stuck Dum-Dums in Tootsie Rolls to stand up like trees for the Piedmont, and the Ruffles for the Valley and Ridge - cause Ruffles have Ridges :) - That observation had to get rescheduled. But I had promised my kids food so I went with it.
As a teacher, I am in this for all the right reasons. I am NOT in this for the money. I AM in this for the love of the job. I stay at school from 6:30/7 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. (somewhere/somehow I know the 12 hour days have to stop). I AM IN this for my students. This IS and always will be about them. As I debated with another teacher this week about a spot on the bus for our field trip, I uttered the words, this is NOT about me, this IS about them. They do not get these opportunities. Despite the heartache, and the hours, and the lack of pay, and the burnout, we have to remember that. We are in this for our children.
As I sat in a 3 hour meeting listening to the special education diagnosis of one of my students, I couldn't help but cry. While I have questions about our system and wonder why a meeting must take 3 hours, I comment the parents for being there. I commend the parents for listening for 3 hours. Quite frankly after 2 hours I had had enough. Then I listened to the mother state what she feels her child's greatest weaknesses are at this time. She said it in a calm voice, in Spanish and this was translated to me: "I understand my child cannot read, she does not know the words, she does not know the words she reads, she does not know what she writes. I ask her if she needs help and she says no, but she cannot do the homework. My daughter is not where she needs to be. But she is just a child and she is going to learn." With tears in my eyes, I stepped out of the room. This mother who had hugged me when the meeting started got it. This mother who had now sat there for over 2 hours with two other children on her lap did not need to endure any more. I stepped back in. Her strengths: "When I am cleaning my room, she cleans her room, she is kind, she is a good big sister, she helps her sisters, she is very tender." I began to cry again as I grabbed a tissue.
I wanted to reach over to that mom and tell her that I was going to help her daughter no matter what. AND I AM! However at that moment her 2 year old had fallen asleep in her arms. At that moment though, it didn't matter that my grades were not complete, that my test had not been administered, that I was still undecided on what I wanted to teach in from of my principal the next day. What mattered and still does matter are my students. I am here for one reason and that is to teach. I am their teacher. I am there to make sure they are happy and cared for. I cannot be everything to everyone in my school building but I can be the most important person to my students and I will not back down from that job.
Don't we look all pretty in pink as we had a PINK OUT for Breast cancer just this past Friday at the end of a very long week. I even got some of my boys wearing pink!