Feeling blue

The awful feeling of not knowing anything, being completely lost, feeling like there are a million wrong answers, being alone…

Yeah.

Uprooting my life was a choice, but all the kinks in the plan have me off balance. I hate theme emotions because they make me feel whiney. 

I said I was going to document the whole experience though, and that’s the good with the bad.

We had a plan. Move down here together, simplify our lives, Brian would retire for a year–play some poker, volunteer at the botanical gardens, support me in my new endeavor, go back to Wichita Falls a couple days a week.

Then the house didn’t sell right away. And that turned out okay because of Brian’s dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis we got at the end of July. 

So I’m here and Brian’s there and that’s been tough on both of us. He’s dealing with the emotions of his father’s health, running back and forth to Lawton alone, worrying about money and life stuff, and I’m here in Saginaw dealing with the emotions of being new someplace for the first time in forever.

I know event + response = outcome. It’s hard to keep that in mind.

I love this school and its energy and the people. I love the no excuses, super supportive attitude toward education and kids. I know it will take time for me to show yearbook–and newspaper one day–are classes you want to take. I know it takes time and effort to rebuild when a new teacher comes in to a super small program.

I KNOW that, but it’s still a struggle.

The car is good now, so that’s a plus. And cable and wifi will be in place within a week, so that’s a good thing. (I am missing TV like I never expected because I can’t stream anything!) And I’m getting used to the way things work. The seven kids I’ve got on yearbook staff are amazing. I had a non-staff kid stop by to talk about UIL. J1 is crazy big. The apartment life is hilarious and the new neighbors are strangely loud, but that will lead to funny stories. I have a local romance writers group.

So yes, there are so many good things. But today has been tough.

I’m just going to remember this feeling of being lost and out of sorts and hopefully help my students one day because I know they feel like this often. 

Hugs to everyone having a tough day. Things will get better. 

***edited to add:

Enough people commented on this over on Facebook that I wanted to make sure I made this clear: I’m not doubting the decision. I just want to be real here on the blog where I’ll look back in a few years on the other side of this time and remember. ❤️

A Whole New World…

Oh my Dear Lord Jesus. I released something to the universe and it has come back to bite me big time.

I blogged about thinking I’m a songstress in my car. Tonight my neighbor is living the dream singing at the top of her lungs…Disney songs.

And she can’t sing.

Not even a little.

I feel like maybe I should join in. Make it a party.

This apartment living is going to be a riot. 

mail time.

When Lessons Go Wrong

It seemed like such a good idea when I planned my lesson.

Heads up. Any post that starts like that should serve as a warning.

So.

We were supposed to focus on team building today starting with learning styles. I have everything related to True Colors. Did I do that proven personality test my kids have loved over the years?

Nope.

I started today with a fun “20 question learning style quiz!” (From here on known as lsq.)

I took the quiz before I made my in-depth plans. It was fun. For me. The 47-yr-old teacher.

It was online so that made it even better. AND it had all this great info about each learning style and how each way studies best.

I figured the class could do the lsq quickly while I took attendance.
The 20 question online quiz. Quickly. Because I did and it was awesome.

By 7 th period I’d figured out I had a problem. So I mixed the lesson up. But I still started with the quiz.

Unless the day is a total disaster I try to reflect on what worked and what didn’t.  On the bad days I skip the reflection and go straight to margaritas. On the awful days I go to vodka. On a scale of awesome to vodka today was eh.

Medicinal alcohol not needed but nothing to crow about either.

During reflection I looked over the lesson again and thought about how the kids all did the work I asked them to do.

How when we switched to the second half of the class they were far more engaged. How they spoke up and even moved (begrudgingly) when I made them take sides on ethical  questions with no right answers. By my last class I’d at least added that element.

But the first half…no. Just no.

And it hit me. That dumb quiz. Ugh!

No one balked at it. It’s early enough in the year that kids usually do what the teacher asks even when they don’t know why they’re doing it. Thank goodness.

So the lsq is leaving the files. 

Hopefully I don’t have any hidden lsq moments in tomorrow’s lessons. 

Day 1

First days are always fun. Everyone’s dressed in their new clothes, kids rush up to each other with hugs and hellos. Excited energy crackles in the air, even from the students who don’t love school. And teachers finally feel right. School without kids is okay. School with kids is what school is supposed to be.

Today was awesome. I’ll admit it now. I was worried. What if my teacher mojo only worked at Rider and writing conferences? What if my new kids liked me the way this class did 😭? What if I donned my purple shirt and fell apart before first period?

No worries. Today was great. 

I have duty. Duty where I’m supposed to check passes and keep kids from skipping out for lunch. I missed that memo, so today I welcomed everyone back as they walked out the door and told about five poor freshmen the wrong way to get to G116. I sent them clear across campus, and y’all, this campus is big.

Today was great…other than the traffic jam on the way home, and even that wasn’t awful because I had KLTY on, and I was signing like I thought I was Kari Jobe or something. (In my car I AM Kari Jobe, Katy Perry, Shania Twain, Taylor Swift and Beyonce.) 

Will tomorrow be great? I hope so. 

The Night Before Day 1, Year 23

It’s 11:51 pm and I can’t sleep. I can never sleep the night before kids. 

Once I watched Dracula in the early morning hours before day one. Another time I read an entire Margot Early romance novel.

The night before my first first day I fell asleep and dreamed they accidentally put me in a second grade classroom. The kids threw yellow paint at me and yelled “You don’t belong here.” That first night before kids nightmare is as vivid now as it was then.

Those kids were right. Second grade is not where I belong. High school is. 

I believe I’m here in EMS for a purpose. I’ve already learned so much about myself and my teaching. 

Time to meditate and maybe count sheep.😊

I can’t wait to hear about my friends’ first days tomorrow!

Missing My Creature Comforts

My washer and dryer are back at home…the reasons are legion. No TV, no wifi. Again, legion.

And I’ve been pretty whiney about it.

Did you know apartment laundry required quarters? Okay, you probably did. Not me.

And wifi/tv set up requires a person to be home from 9-5 and costs $$$.

The only good thing about all this is I’m getting a close up glimpse into the lives of some of my students. The little things I’ve take for granted are actually not so little.

Doing work without wifi is practically impossible. I mean, you CAN do it, but you’re constantly checking data usage, and since you don’t have wifi, you’re using a lot of data, even if you don’t stream anything.

No TV means no Olympics. Sure, you get the headlines if you search them out, and maybe a headline grabs your attention and you read more, but that’s only maybe.

No TV means no constant news, a good thing except when breaking news takes place.

No quarters means no laundry, or searching for a change maker. You can try buying quarters somewhere on a Sunday morning, but good luck. Of course, buying quarters means having dollars. 

I’m pretty used to my creature comforts, and this inconvenience has put me in all kinds of a bad mood. If this was my life and a teacher asked me to do an hour of homework, a quiz on 16personalities, to watch a “quick” 15 minute video so we could flip the classroom, to know the answers on a current events quiz…yeah, I’m not really sure that would happen.

So all my whineyness needs to stop. Because this is eye-opening in a way I probably needed.

Stranded

Oh the tears I wasted this morning. The curse words thought. The frustration of a dead battery, stranded in Ft. Worth.

The total freak out moment. The I’m going to be late and I’m new terror of looking like a slacker. The absolute certainty that a new car is in my imminent future, and the same certainty that that’s insanity. And the phone call home to my husband 2 and a half hours away in Wichita Falls, as if he could fix anything.

It all worked out. He called a good friend who came and took me work. (Shout out to Michael!)

And when DH picked me up in the evening, I was thankful the car battery died. The streets were flooded at 5. The poor Focus would never have made it back to Boat Club Road. 

I totally broke rule #4. I freaked out big time. More because of being late to work than anything. I need to work on my E+R=O. My response didn’t fix anything. 

It’s the end of week two in Ft. Worth. I’ll finally have students Monday. Fingers crossed I don’t break rule #4 next week!

Wherein I write a T-TESS essay because I can’t (don’t want to) do laundry

T-TESS thoughts on a night I’m worried about not having my washer and dryer:

I’ll be real honest. With all the talk about VAM and giving schools a letter grade based on test scores and merit pay and charters taking over the world and eating up all education funds, I was prepared to hate T-TESS because it came from Morath’s office.

Maybe I’m naive, God knows I have been before, but I don’t see T-TESS as a negative after our training yesterday. I left feeling like it was a chance to really talk to your leadership team on campus about what you do in your classroom and to get regular feedback that will help you grow as a teacher.

Unlike PDAS and whatever it was before, this seems real. Maybe that has something to do with my years of “met the standard” scores on critical thinking skills shown by students when my kids literally take a blank 2-page spread and turn it into a beautiful layout with amazing stories they had to interview multiple sources to even get to the point of writing (and rewriting and revising and editing), captions that didn’t suck (and let me tell you right now THAT is a freakin’ miracle), beautifully composed photos that tell a story and show emotion and all of that is done while using InDesign and PhotoShop, two programs they learned in the first 30 days of class and mastered over the course of a year. Met the standard? I don’t think so. They knocked that standard into the next universe. Not that I’m bitter or anything, lol.

No, really. Not bitter. Because those evaluations were a game. Check, check, check, add it up, sign, yay good teacher! Game.

If you were a struggling teacher, same thing. Check, check, check, add it up, growth plan needed, that’s too bad! Game. 

That’s a harsh example. I know it wasn’t always like that for struggling educators, but the evaluation systems I’ve seen have done ZERO to make me a better educator, foster discussion with my campus admin or push me to study my craft.

T-TESS does that AND it gives guidance at the same time. It’s not bad. At least as of now it’s not bad. As long as someone doesn’t decide to pay bonuses for T-TESS or screw it up another way, I’m all for it. 

The big reason: T-TESS makes it abundantly clear the teacher in the classroom has a direct impact on quality education. Not a computer or a robot or whatever new space age technology comes along with some guy trying to make a buck talking about how teachers aren’t a necessary component of education any more. 

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this instead of finishing lesson plans or doing laundry. I’ve put off lesson plans because I have a basic framework sketched, but I’m waiting until I’ve slept enough to flesh out the plans. I haven’t done laundry because my washer and dryer are still in Wichita Falls and I’m not washing my LuLaRoe at the community laundry center. I might need an LLR intervention.


No laundry and no bookcase for my yearbooks. Boo. 😢

This moving to a new city is hard! Kids start Monday. I bet I don’t sleep Sunday. 😊 I might be in a new city, but I bet that doesn’t change.

Ack!

Really?!

Big Brother brought me to a mini temper tantrum last night. And not because of what was on TV.

Let me back up a minute.

It started with a neighbor and her bulldog out on a walk at the same time I was on a walk. Seeing them together tugged at my heart strings because I miss Emmie. She’s staying in Wichita Falls right now. 😢

Still, I was fine until my mother-in-law texted about BB. Suddenly this whole living without TV and wifi seemed a whole lot less Waldenesque and a whole lot more back country primitive. I mean we’re not talking leaves for toilet paper here, but I’m missing Big Brother and the Olympics and House Hunters International. I love House Hunters International.

Two BB texts in I called Direct TV and got prices. Then I called DH and relayed said prices. Then I steamed while he listed all the reasonable reasons we’d come up with a month ago NOT to connect right away.

Then I turned on Harry Connick Jr and did lesson plans, but it wasn’t easy.

Who would have guessed Big Brother would bring on a melt down? Not me.

An Open Letter to All My Former Photographers

Holy cow.

It’s a rebuilding year at my new school, so that means I’m the one taking photos right now. It’s been years since I was the one shooting the photos, deciding what mode to shoot in, bending down to get different angles and turning the camera to get verticals and  horizontals all while also looking for the cool story, the great frame, the awesome emotion, the leading line.

I knew it was hard, and yet you always rose to the challenge, sometimes shooting three and four events after school because you wanted to make sure we had the coverage. 

This week that’s me. And ohmygosh you guys, I know you’re young and full of incredible energy, but I don’t know how you did all that!

Okay, that’s a lie. Today I was deleting down photos I took of summer band, the New Ranger Rally and more when I found some of those great photos that make you go YES!, it was totally worth it. That’s a big reason why.

Still, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for the time and artistry and excellence you demanded of yourselves and your fellow photographers. I appreciate it more than ever.

AND in a cool twist, one of my former photographers was actually at the community rally tonight at my new school, and she got a picture of me taking photos. Lol! Thanks Bibi!