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!

A Bunch of Nothing

20170315_203318Have you ever heard of writer’s block? I have, and never before the last couple of days did I realize how real it can be. Imagine the blockiest block, and that’s how blocked my writing brain has felt.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve tried to get myself to write something, and I’m just stuck! (Who knows if I will actually ever get this one published?) If you could only see the number of drafts I’ve started and haven’t finished… :/

I feel like my life is literally on hold right now. It feels like I go to work, finish one job, go the next, eat, sleep, and begin a new day. I don’t feel like my life is accomplishing much and I feel like I have nothing worthwhile to say to the world, so I just shut down completely.

I could tell you all about how my Dr. recommended I wear compression socks to raise my blood pressure (I HATE socks!!) But, because I’m trying to be good, I wear them..even if it does almost drive me nuts at times!

I could tell you that yes, I still miss school, and the kiddos in it, but those of you who truly know me, know that fact already.

I could complain and whine about the fact that it’s literally been months since I did any vacation or traveling to speak of…just for fun, just for the harry of it. But really, that’s what life is, A constant battle between work and vacation, so we all face that at times.

Somedays, it feels like nothing goes right….ever!! and mornings when you step inside your shoes, only to realize, after 15 years of putting shoes on…by yourself…every single day!!…you’ve slid them on the wrong foot. (how does that even happen??)

I could tell you about the time I got many, many, many papers ready to send out to different cities for the city income taxes. What’s frustrating is when you have to write out small $1 checks to individual cities…AND the total cost to send all this paperwork almost blows your mind away.

You know, when you work with people every day, you truly begin to find your true self/character. I’m discovering more and more what an introvert I am….The way to recharge my batteries is just some alone, quiet time at home with nothing but the hum of the refrigerators and the buzz of the furnace to keep me company. Have you ever taken a personality test before?? I highly encourage it, if you’ve ever thought you’re the only one who thinks a certain way…try this right here. You’ll be amazed.

Winter finally hit us. My body is sooo not used to this cold, and I almost can’t stand it. When I get the heavy coats out, you know it’s got to be cold!! But, spring is coming, I can hold on that much longer….I hope.

Yes, life is good, it keeps going. I try to keep up, but sometimes I trip and need a little help. I realize there is more to life than the rituals people (including myself) go through, but by God’s grace I will see a little sunshine in every day.

This was my laugh for one of these past few days that sorta all run together: “I need a kleenex. My nose is coming off.” 🙂 Happy Wednesday, you all.

 

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.

Summer!!!

And with that, the pages of another school year were closed. What happened? Did I blink? Maybe if I close my eyes and imagine…..(right now, I think all that would happen is sleep!) Another year has passed, and it’s hard to believe I have 2 years of teaching under my belt. (It’s kinda sad to say, but I think that’s that longest I’ve stuck with something, so I must like it at least a little) It’s even harder to believe that next year will be year #3. (Yes, I did agree to another year, and yes, I might be slightly out of my mind 😉 )

This may sound slightly sappy, but I’m truly gonna miss these kids…This was a hard year for me, but through it all the kids (and I) came out on top. We conquered a winter with almost no snow days, We conquered having a very full classroom full of 14 brains working at high speed. We endured the tight quarters, and having to at times sssqqquueeezzee behind someone else trying to get to where you wanted. We conquered having no winter sledding activity and rather learning to roller skate like the “olden” people did. They endured having the big scare of hearing their teacher was in the hospital for no apparent reason. (I still remember the weird feeling when I walked back in…a sense of relief of seeing she’s alright, and almost apprehension of what might happen if they touch or talk to their teacher again). We endured sick days. We learned long division, how to multiply big numbers, and we tried (this one was optional and it’s a good thing too) but we tried to learn Roman Numerals. We learned what it’s like to succeed. And we learned what it’s like to fail.. to study some more…and try again. We learned that friends are not always faithful. We learned that life doesn’t always seem fair. We learned that we all have different learning styles, and we do our best to adapt. We (or rather I) learned that a 3rd grade class of 6 boys can get rather “boyish” at times..Duh!

We learned that things left over in division is not revolution, not radiation, but rather…remainder. Got a chuckle out of this one. We learned that the Great Treaty was not a tree when …after being told it never ended, one asked me what would happen to it if it got struck by lightning. We learned it’s ok to laugh at ourselves. We learned that laughter helps our attitudes tremendously. We learned that the teacher’s favorite way to kill ticks found on students is to burn them. (heehee…my inner child coming out). We learned that movies don’t really have a place in class time. We learned that the teacher has buttons to push, and we learned we liked to find them and stomp them to smithereens. We learned that most of the time when you put your mind to doing something, you can usually accomplish it. We learned a lot this year….Can you tell?

This is going to sound clichĂ©, but I learned something this year. I’m pretty sure I knew it before–it just really became clear this year. I learned that children have gifts. No, I’m not talking academic gifts, I know they have those as well. But as I watched my kids (pardon my possessiveness here) learn and grow this year, I saw character develop that I hadn’t noticed before. There were character growths right before my eyes, when it didn’t seem that there was any mental growth to be heard of.

-One has the gift of being sympathetic to the younger ones.

-One has the gift of making classmates laugh.

-One has the gift of encouraging the teacher after a long, hard day.

-One has the gift of creative imagination, and can make paper airplanes with the best of them.

-One has the gift of a smile. One look at the dimpled cheeks and my heart becomes a puddle.

-One has the gift of a cheerful personality.

-One has the gift of imagination….you imagine it, it can be made, with paper, tinfoil, tissues, etc.

-One has the gift of determination despite what all has been faced already.

-One has the gift of thorough thought. (think that through, though) 🙂

-One has the gift of inquisitiveness. The wheels are always turning in this brain….the scary part is predicting where the wheels will turn next!

-One has the gift of aiming to please. What the teacher likes, that is what is attempted to be done.

-One has the gift of finding something special in the little things.

-One has the gift of a good sense of humor. Something mischievous happens, I know where to look!

-One has the gift of being a peaceful mediator. When in the middle of a conflict, there they are, finding a passable compromise to make both sides happy.

-One has the gift of gratefulness and is always the first to say thank-you when something special is done.

-One has the gift of minding their own business. When class work calls, the head bends low, and the pencil begins to write.

-One has the gift of a willing hand. Where there is a need, there is a volunteer.

As I think through these gifts, and I think through my experiences this last year, I am grateful. Grateful for the Christian school we have. Grateful for where I am right now. Grateful for parents and grandparents that had this vision and saw it through to the end. Grateful for the freedom we have to teach about our Saviour. Grateful for every heart and little body God gave me charge of this past year. Yes, there may have been rough days, but there were also days and moments that made me smile and think, “This is why I do what I do!”

I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the last few days..

When you have what seems like mounds of end of year records to do…the time is nearing 6 p.m. and someone brings you a milkshake….YUM!! 🙂

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And of course, the end of year water fight…Yes, I braved it…(finally)  and yes, I was soaking wet by the time I was done!! For some reason, they seem to gang up on teachers…Hmmm?? 🙂