Sunday, March 2, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 2

            As much as I try not to, I begin to feel myself tense up by this time on Sunday.  In a couple of hours, I’ll pack my lunch and lay out my clothes for tomorrow.  I’ll be in bed by 10:00 and fall asleep hoping that the coming week will go without incident.
            It hasn’t always been this way.  We’ve had moments in the past.  After all, we are a middle school so hormonally driven drama moments are common.  However, this year, our moments are driven by certain staff members…professionals who should know better.  A once peppy staff has been reduced to a group of droopy-shouldered individuals. 
            The worst part of this is that we don’t know what to do to fix things.  Do we step outside of our “family” and ask for help?  Even adults don’t want to be known as snitches especially now that we’ve lost tenure. 
            On the other hand, we have to consider that we have three months of school left and many are already at their breaking point.  When spring fever hits the kids, everyone needs to be on top of their game. 
Tired, stressed adults + restless pre-teens/new teens = potential disaster

       Dare I make myself the sacrificial lamb and call foul on what’s going on in the building?  Somebody needs to stand up for us.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Slice of Life - Day 1

When Oprah still had a daytime talk show, I would tell my friends that one day I was going to be the author of one of her Book Club selections. 
As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved reading and writing. 
In the beginning (back in my middle school days), I mainly wrote poems.  Then I started journaling and eventually I moved on to short stories and essays.  Writing was an outlet that got me through a lot of hard, lonely days.  Writing helped me figure out who I am.
I used to write constantly.  Some of the time it may have only been a paragraph or two that were just ramblings but they were mine.  I put pen to paper and made those ramblings happen. 
When I’m really focused, I can turn out some pretty decent pieces of work.  But, when I’m tired and stressed, it’s hard to be focused.    This has been a hard school year and I’ve let work impact other aspects of my life including my writing.
Recently, I’ve finally come to the realization that I can’t let work define me.  There are other parts of my life that are important and need to be nurtured.
I want to write.  Stressed or not, I need to pick up one of my many pens everyday and write.  What I write may not make it to the New York Times Best Sellers list but I’m still going to write it.
I have a voice and it needs to be heard...even if only one person hears it.
I’m putting down the excuses and picking up my pen. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I'm Back and More Motivated Than Ever

"Don't let the urgent get in way of the important."
(Kay Yow)

            Last summer, I had high hopes when I started this blog.  I wanted to share my success, my trials and the lessons I have learned.  But, I let “stuff” get in the way.  I let this “stuff” stress me out to the point that I was too tired to pick up a pen and write down my stories.
            Unfortunately, I think this happens to a lot of educators.  We become overwhelmed with “stuff” and lose sight of what’s really important…
…our passion for teaching
…the kids we teach
…and our personal health.
            I’m going to try my very best to not let that happen any more.  I have a voice and I believe it needs to be heard.
            So, as Emeli Sandé says in her song, "I wanna sing, I wanna shout.  I wanna scream til the words dry out."  
I look forward to sharing my voice with you.  Welcome back to the Middle School Chronicles!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

To Ma'am, With Love

“But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?"
(A line from To Sir, With Love)

When you work at the same school for a long time, its hard not to get attached to the people there.  You bond with people.  You laugh, you cry and you form support systems.  Or, as in the case of my school, create a fun-loving, slightly dysfunctional "family".
I just completed year 13 at my school.  I’ve seen a lot of people come and go.  Even though we may not always admit it, most of us get a little misty-eyed when we see that last bus pull out of the parking lot on the last day of school. 
During those last days of school and into the summer, we also see adults taking that last ride out of the parking lot.  Beginning around May, we start speculating about who won’t be returning.  Some people relocate or transfer. Others retire and get that much deserved rest.  And, unfortunately, we have to sometimes deal with the passing of a “family” member.  In my tenure, I’ve experienced all of those scenarios. 
            As a young child, I became close to my teachers.  I hated to see the summer come around because I would have to be away from the support system that I had developed.  Even now, I have a support system in place that has helped me both professionally and personally.  So, when I heard that one of those supports was moving on, it was a little tough to swallow.  Intellectually, I certainly understand her reasons for moving on.  Knowing that doesn’t make it sting any less.  I really hate that this transition is happening during the summer.  Our “family” won’t have a chance to gather and send her on to her next adventure in style.  But, I’m sure we’ll each reach out and say good-bye in our own way.
            My way of saying good-bye is by not doing so. 
            Good-bye is so final… a way of closing a door.  Neither she nor I is closing a door.  She is simply moving hers.  Our doors will always remain open.  So, there will be no good-bye. 
            I am so much better as a professional and a person because of her influence.  She believed in me and supported me in some very dark days.  Her leadership has helped me improve my craft.  Her guidance has helped me to improve myself. 
            It’s hard to come up with an appropriate show of gratitude for all that has happened in the past 5 years so I will keep it sweet and simple.
            Thank you…

You're not a Sir, but the message is still the same.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Welcome to The Middle School Chronicles!

            I work in a newly renovated school so when I walked in one morning and heard that a 7th grade math teacher got locked in the bathroom because the knob fell off the door, I knew it was time to start writing.
For years, I've said that I was going to write about my experiences in education.  As the old saying goes, "truth is stranger than fiction" and nothing is stranger than middle school students and teachers.  
I went to college on a teaching fellows scholarship.  As a teaching fellow, I had more opportunities to visit schools than the regular education majors.  I had excellent professors in an awesome school of education program.  However, when I stood in front of my first group of students I realized that I still had a lot to learn.  The world of K-12 education is so beautifully unpredictable that there hasn't (and probably can't) be a textbook written that can prepare someone for all the little surprises that will arise.
            Having said all that, I hope my blog will serve two purposes.  First, I hope to give beginning teachers a "heads up" about what could happen in a school.  Secondly, I hope to give experienced teachers a chance to reflect and hopefully laugh a little as they realize "Hey, it's not just us!"
            As my students would say, I'm going to keep it real. I'm going to tell the truth.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll question.  And, you'll love the profession that much more.