Tag Archives: school

Nope

For the first time I can remember my social anxiety kicked in when I got to school.

I know it’s pandemic brain, but man that sucked.

I pushed through, made it to my room and had a decent day.

My dad wants me to take a week off. No way. Lol. But I am going to spend a little more time with the Calm app and this song a friend sent me.

A Better Day

I watched NO news and I was super busy all day. I had fun making videos for my students and planning lessons. I freaked out when I put my face shield on to try it out. But then someone told me I had to pull off a protective film and I’ll be able to see. Lol.

At first I was so angry we are doing this. But then I decided to focus on school and I was okay.

I’m thankful I’m in a district that is basically following the rules. We’re starting online with the hope that the community will bring numbers down, we always wear masks, we have face shields and gloves and cleaning supplies. We’re working with a public health doctor and we’ll be posting a public dashboard of cases.

I can’t believe as a nation we haven’t fixed this, but my school is doing what they can.

And I’m choosing to stay.

It is a choice. It’s not an easy one. I’m 18 months away from retirement eligibility. I NEVER dreamed I’d think about retiring before 2030, but I guarantee you if COVID is still a thing I will definitely retire.

I pray things are better when kids show up than what I fear. I LoVE my students. Two stopped by today because they were moving classrooms for a program they’re involved in. I miss them and the fun we have. But today Chapel Hill announced over 130 cases and a huge percentage increase, OK State announced a sorority house outbreak. High school kids are not going to do better than college kids. They are going to do what kids do. They’re going to want to be together when they’re together because they’re people.

Pray for a vaccine. Pray for safety. Pray for people to practice social distancing for real. Pray for easy, FAST testing for school staff and students. pray for the end of the conspiracy theories that are making all of this so much more dangerous.

Me in the face shield with film still on it.

What We Know

Enclosed rooms with people together for more than 15 minutes is dangerous.

People will be infected when they come to our buildings.

This isn’t safe but we’re doing it anyway.

People are still resigning, even as school years start. A district near mine told teachers they can’t give them their teaching assignments yet. They might not have them until the day before classes start…and some schools in that district told teachers why they teach could change grading period to grading period.

It didn’t have to be this way. We should have gotten the virus under control a long time ago.

Money truly is the root of all evil.

We’re always four-six weeks away from controlling the virus, but it requires us to be all in.

People want to say don’t politicize this, but simple fact is the people in charge of laws are the ones who must lead the way here. In Texas our governor is STILL refusing to lead. In the nation we’ve never had leadership on this.

This is all so sad.

Teacher

At the end of first grade I asked my teacher for extra papers so I could play school. My stuffed animals and a couple friends and maybe my brother learned lots that summer. 🙋🏻‍♀️👏😁

I LOVED Mrs. Tagee. When I made it to Minnesota via Oklahoma and Arkansas I couldn’t read yet. Everyone else could. We had ability groups back then, and I was all alone.

Mrs. Tagee taught me to read, and she taught me to love school. Plenty of teachers after her did too.

I LOVE school. I love teaching. I firmly believe it’s my calling in life.

But this is different. And I don’t love it.

But I still love my kids.

We’ll get back to school. I don’t know when, but we will. I’m looking forward to when we do.

*****

It’s in the early hours of Good Friday. The day when it felt like all hope was lost. But as pastor Rick Thompson taught us: It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming.

Thank you, Lord, for that promise and that hope.

Time is Different

This is not normal. This is not okay. This is a crisis and we’re all dealing with it the best we can. Teachers, parents, kids, admin, counselors, all of us. We’re all in this together and it’s okay that it sucks. But we have to make the best of it because we have no choice. I learned this from a Facebook post this morning. Sometimes Facebook is a good thing.

Learned this week: Distance learning is NOT like regular class time. Time flies and everything takes longer than class time. The systems set up for my yearbook class have to be redundant. That’s not bad. It’s just time consuming.

I have to remember this because next week I have to MOVE. Breaks have to be planned or I won’t do them. I won’t even think about them until hours have passed because it doesn’t feel like hours until it’s over.

It’s Friday. I’m tired. More tired than I’ve ever been in my entire teaching career. I miss my kids and my teacher friends. I’m a strong believer in protecting your personal time, but there’s no time for personal time right now.

I can’t imagine doing this with kids at home. But I see a lot of people doing it and doing it well. That’s amazing.

School, School, The Golden Rule

I loved school from the start even though it didn’t always love me.

In Bald Knob at 5, I think, I got in trouble for singing off key on purpose. It’s the only thing I remember about being in school there except the time I accidentally stayed on the bus and was scared I’d never get home.

In first grade in Minnesota I couldn’t read even though everyone else in my class could. But I didn’t feel like a failure. I felt special because I got to sit at a little cubicle desk and use a film strip about dinosaurs to help me learn phonics. I never doubted I’d get to the circles, and I was determined to get to blue.

When we moved to Texas I liked learning, and I even got over the time my teacher screeched and threw my paper in the trash because I’d written “in the margin.” She didn’t define margin. I thought she meant the side with the holes. It seemed silly to me to lose all that great space on the side without holes.

The worst I felt was because my handwriting never quite measured up to that of the girls who stood at the board and showed off their penmanship with pretty curlicues and hearts to dot the perfect i. But I loved school.

I loved school until junior high when a math teacher crushed my world every single day by telling me it was dumb that I couldn’t do simple algebra.

But in high school a new math teacher helped me see the teacher was the one with the problem not me.

Monday I go back to school for the second semester of my 25th year teaching. During meditation today my brain kept drifting to everything that needs to be done and things I want to address and how excited I am to see the kids but how sad I’ll be to lose this time. That’s what this break has given me more than anything. Time to breathe, to play, to reflect, to just be.

I’ll miss this break. But I still love school.

What I’m loving right now: The Daily Calm meditation, The Young and the Restless, my down comforter, the Dallas Stars, Tyler Seguin’s answers on the Tyler Seguin show on the Ticket.

What I’m writing: So Much For Happily Ever After. (Hit 48k last night at group!)

Lockdown Lesson

There was NOT an active shooter on my campus today, thank God.

But…

I got to teach media lessons in real time today while in the midst of two lockdowns that lasted a total of about three hours. Lockdown one was during my class with my students. Lots of rumors flying to which I could say “document your source” calmly. The second lockdown, called when kids were in the hall passing to their next class, ended with me having a roomful of students, most of whom I didn’t know. They were freaked out and I was trying to be calm and help them be calm and quiet too. When the rumors started flying I asked if they were getting that news directly from the source or from someone who got it from someone who maybe got it from someone they said was the source. One thing’s for sure: phones have changed everything.

Fortunately, the person allegedly responsible for the phoned in threats that caused both lockdowns has been caught.

Today stunk. I was there because of deadline. I’m glad I was there because the kids needed me. We didn’t meet deadline. Only the editor came in after school, and I understand. Sometimes there are bigger things in life than deadline.

In 24 years of teaching this was only my second time to be in a situation like this for more than an hour or two. The first situation was with a bomb threat at Rider. We were outside for hours. It was lunchtime, and the kids were great even though they were hungry. The bomb squad from the base was there, superintendents came out, the local news showed up. That was almost a party. The second lockdown today was the opposite of that. The fear I saw on kids’ faces today was the worst thing I’ve experienced in teaching. It was worse than watching the second plane hit on 9-11 with a room of my kids. It was worse because of the news yesterday and last week and the week before and the week before that. That second lockdown terrified the kids at first. It terrified them enough they were silent for 60 minutes. It terrified them enough that they did exactly what I told them to do, no questions asked, even though most of them didn’t know me.

It’s not okay.

It’s not okay that we as a nation just shake our heads and say we wish there was something we could do, but we can’t.

There was NOT an active shooter on my campus today, thank God.

We need to find a way to make that the last fear of kids on lockdown instead of the first.

The kid who knows too little

The girl drove me crazy.

She always called me over, always wanted me to hold her hand and walk her through what to do. She’s in a huge class of students who…keep me on my toes. And she wanted my attention 100%.

The thing is she has a great eye, and she’s super creative, and she seems to be a good student. Except in my class. 

In my class she lost 30 photos. In my class she didn’t follow the step by step instructions printed on the sheet in front of her. In my class she wanted my every moment and that just wasn’t possible.

Frustration set in, on both our parts.

Until the middle of second six weeks when she asked a new question. So how do I make a new PowerPoint again? And the girl sitting next to her added, “What is an attachment?” And the one next to her said, “I never really used email before.”

And just like that I realized for weeks I’d been speaking a foreign language to these kids. And the “Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Lee,” girl was actually the brave one willing to ask the questions.

It took three class periods, but in the end they knew what to do, and now when they walk in the classroom, they do amazing work. We lost weeks because I let my frustration get in the way of finding the positive and I didn’t bother talking to and with them to see if I could understand what the heck was wrong.

Ugh.

Something to remember for next year.

Yes, you should be a teacher

Mrs. Lee, I’m thinking about being a teacher, but I just don’t know. What do you think?
My former students ask me this question pretty often. My answer has not changed even though education has.
Yes. Yes, you should be a teacher. No other job is as rewarding as awe-inspiring, as beautiful and life affirming as teaching.

Yes, teaching has changed, and yes, everything is more test centric. Despite that, teaching is still an incredible job.

Yes, kids curse and question authority and their phones will drive you crazy. Kids always cursed and questioned authority. It’s different now for a lot of reasons, but that’s not just an education issue. And the phones are crazy, but walk into any restaurant and look around. It’s the same everywhere, and it’s certainly not just the kids. We get to be part of teaching society how to use those phones successfully instead of letting them control our lives.
Yes, teaching hurts sometimes. When your kids lose parents or grandparents or get kicked out or live in a hotel or come to school dirty and hungry or get involved in the slippery slope of drugs and alcohol or go through bad breakups or fail their STAARs or get criticized and ridiculed for work they were proud of or wreck their cars or drop out–GOD, that last one hurts so bad–you bet it hurts. And that’s why you will be an amazing and wonderful teacher. Because it does hurt you and you will do everything in your power to help your kids through the tough stuff. 

Yes, politicians who are beholden to banks and other special interests will make you crazy. Yes, the politics of teaching can drag you down if you don’t let it energize you. Yes, you will sacrifice sleep and money and health. And still, yes, you should teach.
Unless, the only reason you’re thinking about teaching is the decent starting salary. Because if that’s it, no, no, no, no. You don’t want to teach for the money, I promise. 
Teaching is hard physically and emotionally. It takes everything you’ve got to do it well, and there will be days you suck it up in the classroom, and those days can have terrible consequences if you’re not immediately aware. You will go home Fridays and crash. You will spend hours (and sometimes $$$) on lessons that fall flat. You will lay sleepless in bed staring at the ceiling worrying about a kid in your class, you will ask for unspoken prayer requests for kids going through struggles that seem impossible.
You will gain weight if you are not extremely careful or blessed with great metabolism or someone who works out constantly. You will work sick and miss moments with your family. You will sit through meetings wondering why on earth they didn’t just send an email or read emails wondering why on earth they didn’t have a meeting. You’ll go through great new concept after great new concept after great new concept discarding the one that came before for the new until your head is spinning and you can’t remember what you’re supposed to be doing.
And still, you should be a teacher.
Because yes, there is heartache and frustration, but there is so much more. You are changing the world, lighting a light, showing the way, challenging and enlightening and loving kids to success. And honestly, there is no better job in the world.

If you feel like maybe you want to teach, try and see. Give yourself three years to discover if the classroom is your calling. If it’s not, that’s okay too. You’ll still look back on your time with kids as an educational experience. If it is your calling, you have found an amazing life journey and the best job in the world. ❤️

A Failed Experiment

child's storyWhen I stand up at the front of my intro class and tell them they’re not getting regular grades on their writing, they look worried. When I show them the revision system, they freak out a little more.

If I put a grade on a kid’s paper, they’re done. But I don’t put grades on the papers. I use check plus, meets all objectives; check, meets most objectives needs correction; check minus, needs revision; X, needs tutorial session because there’s a complete disconnect with what’s supposed to happen and what happened.

Students must revise until they reach a check plus.

I usually end up with a lot of As in my intro class because of the system. They do until they do it right.

Last semester I added a new component to the system. I required the students to use Google Drive to create documents and turn them in. It seemed like a no-brianer. Moving to paperless was a responsible decision, students wouldn’t lose their work, we met in a computer lab so technology wasn’t a problem. Yay Google Drive.

Enter the real world of constant connection. Two big things happened. One, students were easily distracted by the Internet. That’s relatively easy to address, but it required constant supervision. If that were the only problem, I wouldn’t be revamping for this year.

The biggest problem I found was kids did not respond to Google edit comments the way they do to written comments. I thought they would love edit comments. No more worrying about my handwriting because the comments were typed. No more forgetting to address an issue because the issue is clearly marked on the paper.

What I found was students did not respond the same to edits on screen as they did to edits they can touch. They did not respond to my words as something I clearly took time to work on. Even when I added notes to the bottom of the page and did individual conferencing after each writing assignment, the process felt cold.

In the end, last semester’s intro class did not perform to the level of past classes, and I worked a LOT harder.

I’m going to use Google Drive again this semester. But instead of having them turn the story in there, I’m going to have them print the story and I’ll comment the old fashioned way. I’ll still have them share their stories with me while they’re in the creative stage, though, because I can see the work in progress. The class will help come up with consequences for Internet distraction.

I thought about throwing Google Drive out for the intro class, but I don’t think that’s the right answer. It didn’t work, but instead of tossing it, I’m adjusting the system. Students NEED to understand Drive. It’s part of the world we live in today. They NEED to know how to work on the computer without getting distracted (Shoot, I NEED to learn this!).

We’ll see how it works. 🙂

It’s going to be a GREAT year!