Some Teaching Truths

In honor of Back to School, I decided to drop some fun teaching truth bombs (Also, I’m swamped this week and list posts are the easiest #sorrynotsorry). Even if you’re not a teacher, you’ll likely relate. If your job is high stress, but also high reward, you’ll for sure relate. Because I really should be labeling all the things instead of writing a blog post, let’s just begin:

1. Unless you’re crazily devoted to a fitness plan or you have a superhero’s will and control, you will eat every carb in your house after a bad day. 

2. Forget about the college “Freshmen Fifteen”. There’s such as a thing as the “Teacher Twenty”. Or, sometimes, the “Educator Eighty”. Also, this can happen during year one or year ten. 

3. You will eat your weight in mini-size chocolate candy. Sometimes in one day. 

#goals

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4. If the day after Valentine’s/Christmas/Easter clearance candy has been cleaned out, you can thank a teacher. 

5. You will get fat. So fat.

6. If food isn’t your happy place (congratulations on not being “pregnant” every year), you will drink copious amounts of wine and at some point in your career, consider rehab, but only the facilities that are more like spas and only because it would be the best sanity-saving vacation ever. 

7. If it comes down to toilet paper or a shiny new pack of Expo markers at the end of the month, markers win-hands down. 


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8. You save straws, bits of fabric, tissue boxes, and one 3 inch piece of string, because it all just may come in handy at some point. 

9. They never come in handy. 

10. Your teacher cabinet/closet/cupboard is a portal to Narnia or another dimension, because it’s where all of your supplies go to never be found again. 

I Googled “messy teacher cabinet” and this popped up. Two things: 1. Ya’ll lyin’ and 2. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Maybe someday I’ll be brave and share my Closet o’ Shame.

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11. No matter how poor you are, you always find a way to buy $80 worth of crap from the Target Dollar Spot. 

12. No matter how frustrating your students can be sometimes, you’re fiercely protective of them when they’re criticized by another teacher who doesn’t know them as well as you. 

13. Your students are your family. Your tribe. You love them. Every year, your heart opens up to allow for 20 more spaces. 

14. You crop dust. It’s only fair. 

15. If you weren’t an emotional person or crier before becoming an educator, you can kiss your shyness/pride goodbye. 

16. You will cry over everything.

17. You will have to kindly remind your students that, “Maybe someone needs to go to the restroom” after toxic waste lunch bombs are dropped all afternoon. 

18. If your student’s book order money is short, you pay what they’re missing without a second thought. 

19. You only go to the bathroom during the day once a week, but during that exact time, admin will walk in. It’s basically a scientific fact. 

20. Your teacher look is such a work of art that an eyebrow raise, lip purse, and nose wrinkle can mean 875 different things and no matter the day, the kid, or the teacher friend, the message is always received loud and clear. 

Trainer at inservice day says, “Pick a partner”-Teacher Bestie and I look at each other like…

Source

Tell me, who was your favorite teacher and why? Or, make me laugh and tell me an hilarious school or teacher story. 

WTF Wednesdays #10

This week’s WTF Wednesdays is going to be a rant of sorts. It’s not going to be humorous, and some readers may not enjoy this one as it’s not my usual satire, but it needs to be said.
This rant will be focused on two of my biggest current pet peeves on the topic of education-my chosen career.

Ignorant, Biased, Uneducated Opinions 

I’ve always been the type to speak my mind and to stand up for what is right. I’ve not always been perfect at doing this. Sometimes my voice isn’t loud enough, or I speak too late, or too soon. Sometimes what I really need to do is bite my tongue, but that tastes of blood and defeat, and those don’t agree with my stomach.

Ask any close friend or colleague (hell, anyone who’s my friend on Facebook), and they will tell you I have strong opinions, and I generally speak them.

As a teacher, this kind of outspokenness can literally mark a bullseye on your back. The general consensus in the teaching world is that you keep your strong opinions out of social media discussions and elsewhere. What this translates to me is that teachers should just do what they’re told and to not rock the already capsizing boat.

For someone with a mega mouth, this can be almost impossible to do. When I read the comments section on a story related to education, and I see some ignorant spouting garbage, it takes the power of the gods to ignore it and not respond with the wrath of Zeus.

I know that the state of education in the U.S. needs a lot of work, but until you’re a teacher/have done your homework and done it well/know exactly what life is like as a teacher, kindly sit down.

The very fact that teachers have to defend themselves and their careers against unfounded and ludicrous presumptions is sickening. Until teachers are paid what they’re worth, are treated with respect and regard (we are only molding the minds of our future, no big), and we are allowed to be the ones to make the big, policy-making decisions about what we know best, education in the United States won’t improve.

I was reading the comments section on a We Are Teachers article, and one teacher said that teachers need to stop referring to teaching as a calling, as it creates the illusion that it’s more akin to pledging our undying devotion to being a nun instead of it being a paid career. I couldn’t agree more.

You Can’t Win 

It’s a tumultuous time to be an educator, because we don’t really value education as a society. It’s a nice idea, but when it takes from our pocketbooks, it’s a burden. As such, there is never enough funding.

Teaching, support, and admin positions are being cut all across the district where I teach. Amidst these cuts is a new reading law that requires reading specialists and highly effective teachers. Yet, the specialist positions are the first to go at schools losing teachers. Truly highly effective teachers can’t make the grade anymore due to new, near-impossible evaluation criteria.

If a student in my district isn’t reading by third grade, they can be held back and must be placed in a classroom being taught by a teacher rated as highly effective. Due to the new evaluation criteria, there won’t be any highly effective teachers (well, there are, and there will be, but not on paper).

Hmm.

As a teacher at a struggling school, I have to make the decision about how I will teach my students, with the knowledge that high stakes tests and other classroom assessments will ultimately be how I am evaluated and paid. I do not agree with teaching to the test, as it merely prepares students to take tests and not life. However, if I do not prepare my students enough for these assessments, I am left being the one losing out.

It is a painful Catch-22.

So, in preparing my students for the high-stakes tests they will be taking, the very tests that will be considered in how my school is rated and, in turn, how I’ll be evaluated, I wonder how well the student making fart noises during our practice test will do.

In essence, my livelihood is dependent on how well little people who still eat their boogers do on tests. That is terrifying.

And, we wonder why education is failing and teachers are leaving in droves.

Despite all of this, I care deeply for my students, my fellow teachers in arms, and education. I will be an advocate for change. It is time for teachers to start speaking out, standing up for themselves, and working to make the changes that we all know need to be made.

Even though the very act of speaking my mind about my own career is a precarious thing to do, I won’t be silenced. I won’t.

Check out this video on YouTube:

The Happy Teacher Challenge

A couple weekends ago, my teacher friend and I engaged in a fun day of learning on a Saturday. I had to get up at 6:30 on a Saturday and had to put on a bra and makeup on my day off. I totally did not have a shot of whiskey in my coffee or a super sugary filled donut for breakfast. 

One of the break out sessions we signed up for was all about Social Emotional Learning for the educator. They sold the class like we would learn skills to feed our souls and regenerate our purpose. 

Pretty quickly, we called bullshit. 

After reading an article that stated my teacher burnout was due to my low social emotional intelligence, I pretty much mentally checked out.  

At the end of the session, we were handed a gorgeous color copy (you know you’re a teacher when a piece of paper has more value solely due to it being printed in color) of The 30 Day Happy Teacher Challenge. 

We looked at each other like, “Holy shit, yes!” 

We both need more happiness in our lives in regards to our school year, so we were so down for the challenge. 

That is, until we actually read the “challenges”. 

Double lame with some “fuck that” sprinkled on top is what this challenge consisted of. 

Most of the “challenges” are things I do every single day, because they are what good teachers, who have a solid pedagogy, do. And, some of them, like assigning an exit ticket (one or two questions to gauge understanding) depress the ever-loving crap out of me a lot of the time.  

When we saw, “Happy Teacher Challenge”, we both thought it had to involve alcohol, days off, and lots of chocolate. Not one of those things are included. 

For shame.

Here’s the challenge:


I blurred out the copyright name, because I don’t want to shame this teacher. I’m sure they meant well, but, well, just, no. 

So, after being utterly disappointed and underwhelmed, I decided to make my own “Happy Teacher Challenge”. 

In case there are any fuddy-duddies reading this, or people who have not one ounce of humor, know this is satire. It’s not literal. 

I’m not fancy and also have way too much shit to do, so I didn’t make this into a pretty calendar, so you get a list. Quityerbitchin. 

1. Pull a trusted colleague aside to whisper all of those ‘fucks’ to that you have been holding in.

2. Have your students partner up and organize a section of your room. Call it OCD: Beginner’s Edition, or just Life Skills.
3. Finally strike up a conversation with the idiot who keeps jamming the copier and leaving it for someone else to deal with. Getting how you feel off your chest first thing in the morning will make you feel ready to tackle a day of holding in how you feel all over again.

4. Spend your entire prep period sending teacher memes to your teacher friends. These might be especially apropos:


Michael Scott knows! 

5. Take a short walk down to the vending machine in the teacher’s lounge for a much-needed soda during lunch. When everything but Dasani water is sold out, take another short walk to your car where you have a nice, little scream.
6. Calm yer tits, paper. Organize the stacks of papers on your desk labeled “to be graded” by sweeping them into the garbage can. They’ll just end up crumpled around a moldy bag of apples in the back of their desk anyway, so…

7. Think of a student who is always well behaved and really smart. Pick them to lead your math lesson for a day.

8. Fill out a staff appreciation for your fellow teacher in arms. Luckily you have a really good one this time: “Mr. Walton is a real star for cleaning the word, ‘sex’ off of the boys’ bathroom wall during his only break last Tuesday”.

9. Buy this shirt for yourself (and wear it to school immediately upon receiving it):zyrwrgt

Buy here

10. Take an Ambien and a nap under your desk during lunch.

11. Ask your students to draw a portrait of you, and laugh all the way to the wine aisle at your nearest liquor store.

12.Download a fun desk planner, attempt to laminate it, and when the laminator is broken AGAIN, just buy one on Amazon.

13. Bribe your custodian with a Starbucks gift card so that they will keep providing you with those paper ass gaskets. When you share a bathroom with 20+ eight- and nine-year-olds, they make all the mental difference.

14. Make a very serious effort to smile more. Even while saying, “It goes in the turn in basket” for the nine billionth time. Bonus: your excessive smiling with creep them out.

15. Take a goofy picture with your students-it’s super cute. Just crop out the kid throwing up gang signs.

16. Do a compliment circle with your students to start your morning. Maybe they’ll notice your new Kate Spade earrings or overly-expensive Tieks that they’ll scuff after three days. 

17. It’s Life Skills day again! Provide a Swiffer duster and a push vacuum, and they will actually want to clean the room.

18. Play some Enya, add some lavender essential oil to your diffuser and transport yourself during Guided Reading. Hey, it’s better than nodding off. Calgon, take me away!

19. Drink your double espresso out of your World’s Okayest Teacher mug, and remind yourself that you are doing your very best, dammit. 

412u4j8o7yl

But it here

20. Make time to sit on your fat arse at the end of day. In fact, make time to sit accompanied by a glass of wine, loaded nachos, and some Netflix. Getting up 20 times a day from the kidney table counts as exercise. Thighs of steal, man. Thighs.of.steel.

21. Bring home the contraband notes they write to each other that you find on a daily basis. Laugh over their spelling choices and sweet innocence with a glass of wine and your dwindling sanity. Math sux bols! 

22. Organize your files on your teacher computer with fun new folder names like, “Important Shit”, “Crap I Will Never Look At Again”, and “Bullshit I Have to Deal With”. 

23. Share passwords to Teachers Pay Teachers, HBO Go, Discovery Ed, Match, and Flocabulary. Sharing is caring. 

24. Encourage students to bring cupcakes for their birthdays. It’ll create positive memories for them and you won’t have to fund your cupcake habit. But, store-bought only, and remind them not to forget the Capri Sun (organic tropical punch pairs nicely with a good white cake and vanilla cream cheese frosting). 

25. Bring a bottle of wine to weekly planning with your grade level. Watch how your lesson plans are utterly transformed.

26. Download a countdown app and set the date for the next school break. Watch the seconds count down as you get closer and closer to freedom. 


Get the same app here.
27. Do you work with an overly harried colleague who needs some “chill the fuck out” time? Buy them this mug, if they have a sense of humor, it’ll make their year:


Buy it here

Don’t forget to include some mini booze bottles and a couple Xanax. Bonus: You basically own them now. 

28. Make sure you plan “Coffee/Wine Bitch Hours” with your teacher friends. These people and the moments you spend commiserating is a huge part of why you might remain sane during your career. 

29. DON’T assign an exit ticket so that you can briefly, blissfully believe your students understood what you were going on about for 40 minutes.

30. Stand at the door and give your students a high five as they leave for the day, knowing you don’t have to see them for another 18 hours.

So, what do you think of the challenge? Did I forget anything? Let me know in the comments. 

Now or Never 

I am happy to announce that I’m certifiably insane. Methinks, to some of you, that might not come as much of a surprise. With a ton of feedback from all of you (wow, I am beyond grateful), add in some advice from close friends, together with my gut instinct, I’ve decided to do it all! I am Fatty McCupcakes! Hear me roar (well, it’s probably more of a groan, coming from the kitchen floor, where I’m sprawled out, comatose, surrounded by really sweet, half-gone bad decisions. Any way, moving on…)! 

Many of the people who lent me their good advice said that no matter what decision I go with, there will likely be regret for whatever I choose to put on the back burner. 

I don’t handle regret well. 

Right now, I’m riding a really good blogging wave, and I don’t wanna get off. It’s too fun! No, you can’t make me! 

Right now also happens to be the time that I can take advantage of a discounted tuition rate, a grant for teachers at Title 1 schools, and a fast-paced program that will result in a masters degree in a year. 

How can I dismissively say, “No thanks” to any of that? 

I can’t. 

On top of it all, while in school, my mammoth student loan will go into “In School Deferment”. This means that I will save close to $400 a month for a year. That’s a lot of paying off debt. 

Additionally, one of my top favorites, also my blogging bestie, Katie, suggested that with all the dough I’ll be saving, I can pay someone to clean my house. With that time saved, I can blog! And there we have it, folks!

Problem solved. 

The sweet release of knowing my decision has been made is making me feel almost euphoric. Just be warned: in a month, I’ll likely be cursing myself and everyone who suggested this was a good idea. Don’t be offended, it will just be my exhaustion talking. 

Here we go! 

As an aside, my best friend (from age 2 to when we decided we hated each other for 2 years) has decided to join the dark side, and become a teacher. She will be going through the teacher credential masters program with the same college I’ll be attending. In honor of our being in school together again, I’m planning a blog post about the hilarity, and subsequent idiocy that was our friendship. 

  

To Be a Blogger, or Not to Be, That is the Poll Topic

I am at a crossroads. I have a decision to make, and it is not an easy one. That is where all of you come in. Please help me in deciding what to do next. I have the option to start working on my masters. This will be a timely, expensive, yet rewarding experience. However, I also have the opportunity to put that on the back burner, so that I can continue writing, building my blog, and my following. The blogging future is an unknown, yet it excites me. Every fiber of my being wants success in writing, whatever that may be.

I really do not know what to do, but I do know, that I cannot do both. Blogging is practically a full-time job, so is working on a masters. If I tried to teach, blog, and work on my masters, something would slip, and it can’t be my teaching. I have to choose: blogging or masters.

I can’t decide. Help.

 

 

 

Back to School

I spent a good portion of my Sunday fine-tuning lessons, nitpicking over the placement of basically everything in my room, and making sure I’m ready for another year of madness, AKA: teaching. I thought I would post the pictures of my room on my blog, to showcase the reason I may be not as present here, in the blogosphere. So, this is why: 

  All this room needs: students! 

  

 My little corner. 
  

 The kids need to know. 
  Teaching kids how to be accountable via their classroom conversations. Win! 

  The math corner. 

  Where the reading magic happens! 

  A new addiction: my students will be learning how to self-assess this year! 

  Writing and phonics AND I need an apostrophe!! *adding to to-do list*

  I hung up headphones that don’t connect to the CD player I have! Fail! 

  “Make Good Decisions Corner”! Most important corner in all the land! 

  Writing with chalk is hard!!!! 

  Whole class journals! I’m excited to try these this year! 

  Maybe we won’t go through 4,562 boxes this year? 

  I can’t wait to get this up and running! I’ll take pics of my students looking like they are pondering the meaning of the world, and then they can add things they are wondering about new units, or just in general! 

  The Readbox, plus an addition: “Reading Takes Us Places!” I still need to add a black plane and some dots depicting it’s trail. Whenever we read ANYTHING, we will pinpoint where in the world the setting took place! Fun! 

  

  Classroom library! 

School starts tomorrow and I’m more prepared than I’ve ever been. It’s time, let’s get this show on the road! 

I truly hope I can balance my career and my desire to write. I don’t want my blog to be forgotten, but as you can see, I have some educating to do! 

A Day in the Life

Since teachers, in my neck of the woods, must report back to school tomorrow, I thought I would write a post about the, often misunderstood, life of a teacher. As I typed “must report back”, I had a pretty hearty chuckle. Every teacher I know has been to school off and on all summer. There is no such thing as a true break for teachers. So, while we must report back, we aren’t really “coming back”, we are just arriving at a certain time, sans ratty sweats and stained work shirts, to join the rest of the staff for getting to know you games and (hopefully) donuts. I can only be so lucky.

During lunch today, my friend, Alyssa and I were talking about our respective blogs. I was expressing my worry that I would fall behind on my posts once lesson plans and assessments become more of a pressing matter. I was also lamenting that I would have to arrive to school early if I wanted good pickings, in regards to the laminator and copiers. She found it quite amusing that part of the stress involved with being a teacher revolves around getting to the copier before someone else. Oh, honey, let me tell you. 

She suggested I write a little ditty about the wild world of teaching for her, and others who really have no clue what it is really like.

Instead of writing some serious diatribe about what I do, I thought I would use humor to make it clear to any lay person what teaching is really like. I get too wound up and sweaty when I get riled up on the topic of misconceptions in teaching, so humor it is. I mean, if you don’t laugh, you will cry, and drink an entire bottle of wine. And no one wants that (well, maybe I want the wine).

Any night, before any day, whereby you will be teaching, laying in bed:

Did I add that one thing to my “to-do this week” list? I don’t think I did. Shit. Get phone and email reminder. Quick add a reminder to “alerts” in the calendar, just in case computer at work doesn’t want to work (this happens at least once a week). While emailing reminder, remember that you were going to try to find a video on ecosystems. After an hour of scouring YouTube, TeacherTube, Google, and Pinterest, you think you have found one that works. It is now 11:05 PM. You wanted to be asleep by 9 PM. Why even try to sleep anymore?

Sometime in the middle of the night:

Wake up in a cold sweat, realizing that what you forgot was to call one of your student’s parents. I am going to email them now. No. What if the “ping” wakes them up? If I wait to call them tomorrow, I will forget again. I guess I will add to my 20 reminders for tomorrow. Again, why do I even try to sleep?

5:30 AM:

Are you effing kidding me? It was JUST 3 AM. I am going to hit snooze. I don’t need to look decent for a pack of 8 year-olds. They won’t notice my baggy eyes and greasy hair (FYI: They WILL notice these things, and quiet verbally).

Driving to school, after spilling coffee twice, and forgetting school keys:

My eye is ALREADY twitching. Coffee. More effing coffee. Drives straight to Starbucks.

In the drive-thru at Starbucks:

Would it be in poor taste to yell out my window that if Joe Blow doesn’t hurry up and decide, I will miss out on my chance for the laminator? Yes. That was in poor taste.

Pulling into parking lot:

Now, which spot has afternoon shade, again? I really don’t want to drive home with my elbows again.

Getting from car, to classroom, with a carload of crap and a hot coffee:

If I put my lunch, the Clorox wipes, my Nalgene bottle, and the 3-hole punch in my purse, I can put my teacher bag in my new turquoise Tupperware bin, I didn’t need, and I can carry my coffee in my teeth. More than one trip is for sissies, and teachers ain’t got time for that. When am I ever going to invest in one of those rolly-cart things?? 

Walking, trudging along rather, to classroom:

OK, if I can make it to the workroom to turn the laminator on, that will save me a wasted trip.  I will also try to make it to the teacher’s lounge, to check my box. Abort mission! Abort mission! I cannot carry a Starbucks with my teeth for that long!!! Cannot lose coffee. Cannot.

Upon entering classroom:

Fabulous! The AC is off again, and no one vacuumed! Why do bad things happen to good people?? 

Formulating a game plan:

Do I have everything that needs to be copied? Check! Everything that needs to be laminated? Check! Guided reading books to be returned to the library? Check! Field trip money to add to class account? Check! So and so’s colored Sharpies to be returned? Check! Library-lounge-office-so and so’s room-work room, in that order. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. 

Upon seeing someone on the laminator, the laminator YOU turned on:

Are you effing kidding me?? Really? “Good morning! I am fabulous! How are you??”

While copying what you thought was everything:

Are you effing kidding me? I forgot to grab the weekly vocabulary sheet!!! Grabs random piece of paper laying on the floor and quickly writes out the vocabulary homework page, because that is quicker than going back to classroom to search for it and coming back.

Exactly 10 minutes before first bell:

OK, I have the morning message on. I have Fred’s behavior chart ready. All copies for the day are ready and waiting. I have all pages up: Flocabulary, YouTube, etc. I have their guided reading books sorted and ready. I have their tests graded, and handed back. I looked up if the Vikings really had horns on their hats. No. I have the CCD word picture card ready. THE CCD CHART. I forgot that. 

Precisely 2 minutes before the bell:

OF COURSE I spelled “definition” wrong. OF FREAKING COURSE. I am sweating and my hair is just a ball of frizz. Do I have time to go to the bathroom? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. 

Sometime during the morning, before lunch:

Why do kid farts always smell the same? I think that smell will forever be branded into my nostrils. While being bombarded with relentless farts, requests to use the restroom are ongoing and severe. Lost pencils, missing whiteboards, and bickering are a daily strife. Teaching, engaging, monitoring, along with thousands of decisions, second-guessing and worrying occurs all morning with no sign of break.

Lunch recess bell rings, sweet release:

Needing to use the restroom, but Johnny needs help. Alert goes off to call Susie’s parent. Wash hands, heat up lunch, all with child in tow who is explaining why they did not feel the need to work at all, all morning.

I have helped everyone. I have done everything. Now, it is my time. I look forward to this 10 minutes every day. Pure heaven. 

Sometime during the afternoon:

What is that ungodly smell? “OK, who has their shoes off?” Embarrassingly, it is you. You are what smells.

Guided Reading time:

While overseeing and monitoring students reading, you must also see all points of the room. The kid just chilling behind the bookshelf, picking his nose. LouLou who does a really good job looking like she is busy, but you know better. Timmy who has gone to the bathroom exactly 23 times. ALL behaviors corrected with one, all powerful look. The teacher look. With one finger pointed to a student’s starting point, an ear pointed at a reader, and eyes on the rest, there is order and peace.

Pack Up time:

What happened to my sweet, darling, well-behaved students? Oh, I know. They already checked out. 2 more minutes. We can do this! We can do this! We must do this, or we wet our pants! I don’t think I have peed all day…

Hours leading up to bedtime:

To-do lists, parent phone calls, correcting, planning, copying, stressing about assessments, questioning career path, pride at student improvement, second-guessing all choices, feeling content that you are making a difference, even if it means gray hairs, an ulcer, and little sleep.

This is just a humorous account of what might be going through my mind on any given day. I have not even gotten into the heart of what we do, what teachers do, every single day to make the lives of their students brighter, and more promising. Yes, teaching involves enduring really smelly farts, annoyances involving disappearing pencils, and 8 year-old drama, but it also involves witnessing the “ah hahs” and being a part of a classroom family that consists of laughs, triumphs, and love.

I humorously complain, but there really is nothing more in the world I would rather do than teach our future. Teachers are not respected enough among the general public, but that’s OK, Imma keep doing what I do best. Haters gonna hate.