Tiny Treasures

The other day, week, or sometime in the past month or two, I cleaned my room. It was the good, “curiosity satisfying, going through old papers and stacks of things” cleaning. Ok, so maybe I’m the only one who lets it get that bad, but either way, I found something I had written back in my school teaching days, and I thought I’d share it on here, along with some changes/add-ons to make it sound better. Follow along if you dare! 🙂

“With a heavy sigh, I sank in my chair wishing with all my might for more dedicated students. Another failed quiz here, more studying of spelling words there. You see, today was a rough day. One particular student had to be worked with continuously on keeping the work up to total ability and had to be prodded so laziness didn’t become habitual.

This student was one I pushed hard, especially today. I made this one find all the answers, write and correct them all, and then study again to make sure he/she grasped the concepts. This student was the one who sighed (loudly), but was taught to obey, and, knowing I was the authority at school, went and ‘did’.

Recess came and went, and I was discouraged. Discouraged with the day, with the student, with everything that went wrong that day. If I were completely honest, I would say I was discouraged with myself. Was I too harsh? Am I expecting too much or not enough? What is a way I could have handled it better? How can I prepare myself if and when it happens again?

Story-time was soon upon us, and I soon became lost in the story as I read it aloud. After story, the student I’d treated so ‘harshly’ came up to my desk, and with a sweet smile said, ‘This is for you, Katie’, shyly laying a note on my desk. Listening as the numerous, unrecognizable misspelled words were explained, (still need to work on that spelling!) it settled in what was happening. I was humbled. Oh, to have the resiliency of a child. The note was simple, but it’s meaning was clear. ‘Katie, you’re a good teacher, and you make us happy and you give us prizes and you give us candy and you’re a good teacher and you give crafts for us, and you give us ideas and you’re perfect.’ (run-on sentences, too 🙂 )

My worst fears were unfounded. I hadn’t estranged this student. If anything, it built our relationship stronger. At dismissal, she/he asked, ‘Did you like the note?’ And in all honesty, I could say, ‘Yes, I liked it!!’, when in truth, my heart was overflowing with love!

You see, God has given me 13 ‘tiny treasures’ to teach and instruct in more than knowledge of Math, English, and Reading. He gave me them to teach important life lessons. That day, I believe I learned more than they did. That day, one of my tiny treasures gave of themselves in complete honesty a part of who they are. This tiny treasure, a child and a note, puts a smile on my face, as I think about the time God said, ‘Katie let me teach you a thing or two about Tiny Treasures’.”

God still gives us Tiny Treasures daily. Are our eyes open to them? (And, yes, I still have a picture of that note) 🙂

 

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Field Trips and Things

When you take a field trip with kids, you wind up with a lot of fun, adventure, and random, fleeting moments of questioning whether your sanity will remain with you through to the end of the day.

This week, I had the delightful privilege of going along to Kentucky to the Ark Encounter with our school. Vanessa and I were given this group of girls into our charge and I can’t tell you how many times I counted…1-2-3-4-5-6-7, to make sure the heads were all there.

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Well-behaved to be sure, and old enough to kinda take care of themselves, we waded through the waves of the 156,659,123,678,257 people. Seriously, for the introvert like me, the crowds were exhausting!! It. Was. Overwhelming. We talked to one staff member who told us their record day they had about 9,000 people. Yeah, see what I mean? That’s why by the end of the day, I looked slightly bewildered and exhausted (or maybe even on the verge of going crazy)

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We walked and walked…..Over 6 football fields we were told, we took cool selfies, we had funny moments, we saw some pretty awesome things, we touched a scaly reptile, we traveled long distances and lived to tell about it, we corralled 40+ kids through a pizza buffet, we entered the gift shop, and most walked out with nothing!, we drank some fresh lemonade, and the pictures can tell the rest…….Enjoy!

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Crazy Girls…

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Do we look tired?? Cause I definitely was!! 🙂

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Resting and eating food after going through the Ark

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Bus rides can make us crazy…

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See what I mean?? 🙂

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He honestly wasn’t as grumpy as he looks 🙂

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Petting a skink is seriously going to be one of the coolest/weirdest things you will ever experience!!

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All-in-all, it was a very fun and enjoyable experience. From the moments of stomach-ache (thankfully, no throwing up!), to the giggles of a small one who told me the hand sanitizer fell in the bus bathroom toilet. (umm, yeah, not much I’m gonna do about that!), to the constant noise and chatter of little ones needing this or that. Filling our faces with pizza and then playing in the arcade game room afterward. Being ‘oh, so borrrreeeddd’ on the trip, and playing games with your friends. These are the moments we treasure and these are the memories we make. I’m so glad for the moments like this that I can share with these kiddos…I miss them more than I ever dreamed! (this got suddenly sentimental). A great day indeed!

Christmas Poem

Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the school; seemed everyone around was losing their cool.

The students– practicing hard for a Christmas play, while…alas! all the teachers’ hair were fast turning gray.

Everything and anything was fuss, fuss this, and not a wrong that a student did, the others did miss.

This wears quite heavily on the dear teachers’ mind, so day after day this she did sigh.

“Tests coming up…….. Will they pass them or fail? 4 o’clock’s here…now on home I do sail!”

It’s hurry, hurry here, and rush, rush there. Christmas and teacher-hood make quite a scary pair.

Home to wrap presents, back to school to decorate. It’s only Christmas for so long, we musn’t wait!

Tis’ the weekend before Christmas, it just doesn’t seem right. Any teacher deserves to relax with all their might.

The buttons the students find on their teacher to push..The only words she remembers is “Be quiet and shush!”

A party to plan, games to play, all the while hoping she can remain sane.

Tempers are short, and arguments flare, the stories she could tell, but instead, she’ll say a prayer!

Evenings are spent at home, with a book. Don’t make her leave her quiet little nook.

Each eve of peace, is oh such sweet bliss…. knowing the next day, when duty calls, her children she’ll miss.

So this next week or two, when she seems to have disappeared…don’t despair, she’ll be back, without *too* much a tear.

Give her time, room, and plenty of space. This is Christmas vacation on a teacher’s pace.

Then back to the classroom, after the New Year, with faces aglow, and minds all in gear.

She’ll begin her rituals all over again…..When you love what you do, everyone wins!

Discoveries of A *Once-Upon-A-Time* Teacher

First of all, let me begin by saying I know that the title above is longer than a title is supposed to be. I’m horrible at naming my posts, and being that this was the first thing that popped into my head, and it sounded remotely decent, you will just have to deal with the lengthy, out-of-breath type of title. (how’s that for a run-on sentence?)

It’s been well over a month now that school has been going on without me, and I’m still not exactly sure how to express how I feel about it. In the meantime though, I’ve discovered some things about myself and teaching that I thought I would try to share with you.

#1. You can take the teacher out of school, but you can’t take the school out of the teacher. This is proven simply by how my thoughts are drawn almost daily to school at least once…..or twice…..or thrice. It is proven even more, knowing that if you ask me randomly at any time of the school day, I could give you a general idea of what is happening just by glancing at the clock.

#2. It is not the same, nor will it ever be. The relationships you had with those delightful kids–yes, they will still mostly be there, but not seeing them every day, and not knowing what is going on in their life, they will at times treat you like a total stranger–Just because, “It’s different.”

#3. Stress levels go WAY down when you don’t teach school. I’ll just leave it at that 😀

#4. School CAN go on without you. As hard as it is to accept sometimes, and even harder to admit to anyone, there ARE wonderful teachers out there who can do just as good or even better than you. Just get over yourself, and accept it.

#5. I honestly don’t believe I will ever find a job or career as rewarding as teaching. (I’m open right now for options though, if you want me to give it a chance! 😉 yes, this is me, searching for a more full-time job on my blog..any takers?? 🙂 …..) As much work that goes into it, and time and energy it zaps right out of you, the rewards it gives you are way worth the effort.

#6. My writing material literally is non-existent! If you remember, back in the days of the classroom, lots of my writing was based on what happened there….Funny stories, sobering moments, great times of learning, or art projects we did together. Now, if I’d write about my life-work, it would be something like this..”sliced meat and cheese today”, “opened 5 new emails, and deleted the spam”, “customer drove me literally batty”, “created new bills, and paid the old”, “made a mistake on payroll, now I have to fix it”….See? Told you it’d be boring!

#7. No matter how “OK” you think you’ll be with giving it up, there will always be a little tug at your heart when you hear “school talk” being discussed.

#8. No matter how “OK” you are with someone taking over “your” kids, secretly, deep down inside, you will always look at them as yours. (SHHHH, don’t tell anyone!)

#9. There are things you will NOT miss. The permanent tired, exhausted feeling, the stress, the schedule, tears of a child who has just ‘had it’ with school, the dread of failure, behavior problems….

#10. You get excited when asked to substitute, even when it’s not “your” kids, or “your” class. Just the thought of being in the school atmosphere is invigorating for you, and it feels good to be back, especially when someone comments that it looks so normal to see you here! (The sudden popularity you get doesn’t hurt either 😉 )

#11. You will see teacher memes from all over the web, and you will still feel like you can identify with them, even though it’s been a really long time since you were in the classroom.

#12. You will never, ever lose the ‘teacher look/glare’. I’m a bossy one (strong leadership skills 🙂 ?) to begin with (just ask my little/younger, not-so-little brother), so perfecting the ‘teacher look’ was something I had practiced my whole life! I have it down to a ‘T’ now, so why should I lose it?!

#13. You lose your avenue of family stories. No one to tell you updates on their families. Something funny that happened at their house or something scary….On my recent substituting adventure, I was told a story of a hero boy who saved his dad from burning a house down. 😀

#14. Nobody says it as bluntly as kids! (thank goodness they kinda grow out of that!)

#15. You will have some regrets about the way you did things. Looking back, you realize maybe you focused too much on insignificant things and not enough on what is really important, all the while knowing that you did what you did and at the time it was your very best!

#16. Life moves on, and if you don’t move with it, it will trample you. Keeping busy, hearing school stories, and showing up randomly at school are all things that help you move on. The things that happen, happen for a reason, whether you understand them or not, whether you agree with what’s happening or not. Trust, faith, and strong determination help keep you together. Tears are necessary for healing, as well as many substitute days! 😉

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Overused ClichĂ©s–just for fun

I  ‘totes’ did not see me ever writing a blog. When I was in school, I avoided writing ‘like the plague.’  I wrote because ‘hashtag teacher made me’. (yes, I realize I just wrote hashtag rather using the symbol). I always heard that everything ‘happens for a reason’, but this didn’t help my ‘attitude issues’. In fact, I’m sure my teacher thought I needed a ‘kick in the pants’ or a good solid ‘attitude adjustment’. (Come to think of it, these two sort of happen together 🙂 .)

I should’ve had the attitude of, ‘you got this, girl’ even though thinking about it almost drove me to the ‘depths of despair’. Sometimes I forgot that ‘haste makes waste’ and hurriedly ‘jotted down a few words’ hoping I could still ‘make the grade’. The teacher signed the reports, so it was as if I didn’t have ‘a care in the world’.

Then one day, the ‘tables were turned’. I stood at the front of my own class ‘scared half to death’. (I couldn’t tell you how many times that has happened to me, it’s a wonder I’m still alive!) Excitement was also ‘bubbling over’, but I soon realized that ‘what goes around comes around’. Now I was dealing with the half-hearted ‘diamonds in the rough’, the one that I used to be. (Have you ever had to ‘eat your words’? They fill you up pretty fast!)  I had to remember that ‘every cloud has a silver lining’, and that ‘this too shall pass’.

At times it felt like I was ‘banging my head against a brick wall’ as I ‘bent over backwards’ trying to teach them all sorts of things, including that there is ‘more than one way to skin a cat’. But I ‘put my best foot forward’, and soon they were changing from ‘rags to riches’.

Sometime soon, (it must’ve been that banging against a brick wall), I decided to ‘kill two birds with one stone’. I decided me and writing did not have a ‘love at first sight’, but rather we were believers in ‘second chances’. So, I put my love for teaching and love of writing into one and began to try to ‘leave my mark’ in the writing world. ‘Better late than never’!

I decided to ‘shoot for the moon’, because even if I would never be ‘rich and famous’, I thought I could ‘give it my best shot’ and ‘seize the day’. After all, ‘YOLO’!! 😀

 

When Farewell Parties are Needed

Time/life moves on..we have a choice whether to move with it or stop and focus on all that’s going wrong. Several weeks ago, I realized as hard as it was, this job needed to be done. I grabbed up bags and boxes and drove over to clean out ‘my’ classroom. It seriously was one of the hardest things about this whole decision. The finality of it all. Knowing this was for real, and still wondering why it had to be me, and why I couldn’t have the best of both worlds. As I packed up and left, tears streaming down my face, I drove home, feeling absolutely like life as I knew it was over. No more school. No more of the daily stories and ready grins from the children as they came in each morning. No more teaching them and seeing them develop their individual personalities.

It’s hard. This is gloomy, so let’s move on to the main reason for this post. 🙂

I thought it absolutely wasn’t fair for me (or them) that we didn’t have a farewell party, so one day I loaded them all up (separate trips actually) to spend a day of fun with them.

I took the 3rd graders first. We got ice cream and then headed to the dollar store to get some true treasures. I had to grin at one boy’s comment, “I really want to get that, but I know my mom wouldn’t like it.” Hmm, they must know their moms pretty well. 🙂 Then we headed to a park. I couldn’t find the one I wanted, so we went to Arial Foundation Park. I think they liked that just as much. Then on the way home, we stopped and got popsicles yet too! (It was hot, what can I say?)

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The tower that takes your breath away….literally!

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Boys and their toys..

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They spent alot of time running around there, exploring every nook and cranny that they could.

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They wanted to walk down to this bridge, even though we had to fight through geese to get there…(ok, not really, but kind of!)

Then several days later, I took the 4th and 5th graders. We got rained on that day, so part of the day was spent in the pavilion playing scatter ball, and spraying silly string on unsuspecting victims. It was interesting to see the difference in what the different age levels bought. I also had to grin at this…One girl said, “I don’t think my mom would like all the noise that would make.”….she bought it anyway 🙂 Thankfully, the sun shone again, and we were able to do things outside..basically the same things the 3rd graders did.

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We got this idea (ok, ok, I might’ve been an instigator in this one) 🙂  to climb the tower, and throw a bouncy ball down and try to catch it…Amazingly, it actually worked! and the ball was caught at least once or twice! 🙂

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See the ball on its way down… at the top of the picture..really close to the sidewalk..

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The view from the top is amazing!

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Rain, rain, rain,

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Silly string!! 🙂

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One young one grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures. I’m not photogenic by a long shot, so this is my immediate reaction when a camera is aimed at me!

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I loved that river of glass!! It’s sooo pretty!

All-in-all we had a fun day(s), I was so thankful that I was able to make it to the top. I had been really low on energy, dizzy, and not feeling myself, so I felt quite blessed that I made it all the way up and down without something major happening. My legs were shaking like a reed in the wind, but I think it was mostly from being out of shape! :/ Kudos to those who do it every day!! I overheard this from another girl on the way up, (not from our group) “my legs are out of breath!” Yes, dear one, if there was a way that could be, I’m sure mine were gasping for air!!

Life moves on all the time, and sometimes we’re left with only the memories.

Did You Know?

Did you know that bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers were all invented by women? (fact found on Pinterest, which sadly was not invented by a woman 🙂 )

Did you know that the first man to cross Niagara Falls later died by slipping on an orange peel?

Did you know in Cleveland, OH, it is illegal to catch mice without a hunting license?

Did you know that summers are absolutely AMAZING?! (by the way, for future reference, “?!”, is called an interrobang.)

Did you know that you can have a super intense desire to write with absolutely NOTHING to write about? This has been my issue the past few weeks…I wanted to write, with nothing to write about. I’ve tried several times and nothing seems to work. I’ve decided that my students/teaching provided most of my inspiration for writing, and now that it’s summer, my subjects are no longer near me!

I smile when I think of the difference between my 2 different jobs. One has immense emotional and relational rewards and the other has extreme ummm….fun stuff that I like to do a lot. (that sounds like I need to go back to school for awhile, but if you stick with me, I’ll do my best to explain)

One of them is emotionally draining, but oh, so rewarding in the end when you see the things FINALLY begin to sink in (even if it’s in the last week of school)..the other is oh so rewarding when those numbers on the computer screen FINALLY begin to go to their right places, and things are FINALLY looking up!

One of them makes you extremely tired, but somehow you find energy to get up and go the next morning….the other…it’s a little scary, but you can be your own boss, set your own time schedule and show up to work kinda whenever you want. 🙂

One of them caters to your introverted side, and you can be holed up in a little hole listening to music as you type your emails, write checks, and balance the books. The other just about frazzles the last of those introverted nerves and being around people ANOTHER day, ALL day…..yeah, that’s why Saturdays are deeply treasured!

One of them stretches Both stretch you to grow…… in different ways of course. One gives you the opportunity to shape little minds and hearts, while the other just gives you plenty of opportunities to talk to people on the phone. (YUCK! That’s why texting/email was invented !)

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I saw this quote the other day and it made me thankful I’m not the only one that thinks like this! 🙂

 

But as I look at both of these and I look at my summer ahead. I want to take the challenge to rise above the “normal”. You know, just going through the daily grind…getting up, doing my job, eating, sleeping, that sort of thing. I have this extra time loose time schedule for a reason, and I have the choice to choose whether to waste it frivolously or use it wisely.

I’ll leave you with one more “Did you know” fact.. Because it’s close to bedtime…”Did you know eating cheese before going to bed can help improve sleep quality?”

*All “did you know” facts were pulled off the most reliable source out there…the Internet…. Feel free to prove or disprove them all!*