There've Been Some Lessons Learned

Ironically, as I was sitting ready to write this post, I stumbled across the linky party by one of my very first Bloggy Buddies - Hadar. I started going back and forth with Hadar years ago across email and blog comments, and while I have still yet to meet her in person, she is always there with the kindest of comments. We've shared in some teaching struggles along the way in our journeys and so this post was even more meant to to be. I love sharing the things I've learned because it is by no means an easy journey, but it is fun and worth it. 

1. In the beginning I used to stay til 5 and 6 o'clock. Now I don't. Trust me on this: LEAVE and don't take the work with you. Go home. Sit on your sofa. Watch SVU marathons or the shows on your DVR. Don't think about school. The alarm will go off soon enough in the morning. Everything will be waiting for you at 6:30 and 7 in the morning just the way you left it. 

2. Leave your room clean - and make your kids responsible for cleaning part of it, partly because they like cleaning it, partly because it teaches them responsibility, and partly because it's one less thing you have to do. 

3. Things will fall through the cracks. At the end of the day did all the kids leave your room happy? Did they make it to the bus? Did you survive? Was fun had? 

4. I still hold by this one - seating placement is a very strategic thing. You move one, you move them all. 

5. Call me OCD, call me crazy, but sorting my construction paper by color is the biggest time saver ever!

6. Be willing to share your craft. No teacher is an island and none of us got here alone. We all need a little help from time to time. Offer it. 

7. We can learn so much from other around us. Don't be too proud to listen and accept their knowledge. I am better because of coaches and teachers with whom I work and I would not be where I am without them. 

8. Be creative. Always.

9. Nothing stays the same - not your teammates, or administration, or the people you work with on a day in and day out basis. Find one person you can trust and count on and just go with it. 

10. This goes off of #9, but it is the advice I gave my friend last night as she was nervous starting her brand new teaching job in a new state away from all of us she knew. I reminded her that two years ago she started with us. She said she knew a few people and this time she was all alone. Here was what I have learned (being older):
"Sometimes it's better that way - to not know anyone...[she said she's shy, and I reminded her I am as shy as they come]...I know it's really scary at first and I know you'll be really quiet at first. Maybe some people will think you are a B and some people won't. I did and look how that turned out. ;) But you'll be so much better because of it. It's such a growing and gratifying experience. This is your clean slate. Make it what you what. The point is that you reach a point where you can't care about the other people. You're there for the kids. You're not meant to be friends with everyone. You're not meant to trust everyone. Wear a smile. Be cautious. Be quiet. Have your ears open. Learn a lot. Have fun.

Isn't that the nice thing about teaching? We really get to begin each school year this way if we want to!  



And so yesterday my summer officially began. 

I baked for my coworkers on the last day of school

thank you note from a student on the last day of school

Let's step back: May 22nd was my students' last day of school. May 23rd was post-planning. May 24th you only had to go if you had not finished everything. I had. I had finished moving my classroom, but I had an IEP for a student - a 3 hour IEP. On Saturday, May 25th I left on a 14 hour drive to Philadelphia with a coworker. She moved there and I went along for the ride to help. We did the drive in one day with her fiance following behind in a Budget truck. Between moving classrooms, moving her, and a 14 hour drive. I was beyond sore. I stayed through Wednesday.

Now that's a Philly Cheesesteak!

Thursday morning I returned to school for preplanning of summer school. I taught 3rd graders who did not pass our state test. From June 10th - July 3rd I drilled it into them. The hours were rough - starting for me at 6:30 in the morning, and the kids getting there at 7:00. Fortunately the administrators and small group of teachers we had doing it was a fun group. By the end my data looked great. My AP told me I did a good job (never did summer school before). I remember walking out the door on Wednesday. My principal said thank you and "don't come back before you have to." I laughed and thought 'I really love her!'

How many principals give handwritten notes?!

Right after July 4th, the county sent out an email to our staff telling us our principal was leaving. She was going to another school. I was so sad. She was the first principal to give me a chance 3 years ago, after years of defeat, after coming so close to giving up. As of now we have an interim principal. I don't know what's in store for me and my school this year. I know that I am not a fan of change. I never have been, and I probably never will be. I am a creature of habit. I think that is why I like teaching, I like the schedule and the daily routine. 

What I do know is that I have my class list of 27 second graders for the fall (you heard me correctly, 27!). I know I am going to get started setting up my room tomorrow (some summer break). I know that no matter what happens with my administration, I am there for the kids - which is what the note at the beginning of this post reminds me of. I guess it's time to face some changes but maybe after just a tad more summer relaxation (if the rain stops). 

Lessons Learned:
nothing is forever, things do change
make the most of them
make yourself proud, don't do it for anyone else
you're not in it for your coworkers or administrators, or even for praise
it is ALWAYS about the kids

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