Categories
Memoirs

Boyfriends

I had a lot of boyfriends in elementary school. You weren’t “cool” if you weren’t “going” with someone.  Chasing each other on the playground and writing notes to each other was basically the extent of the relationship. We dared not hold hands or exchange kisses for fear of cooties. Boys and girls weren’t supposed to like each other, after all. 

Source


I remember a few, and I’ll just give their initials so they won’t die of embarrassment if by some weird chance they were to read this. I remember liking a boy in preschool who rode on the bus with me, all giggles and bouncing in the back seat from bumps in the road. That’s really all I remember about him, except in later grades we never really talked to each other. Our interests diverged, I suppose, as did our group of friends. MD played tuba in the band as I recall, and I played flute. In high school he became a goat-roper (cowboy) while I was just a nerd.

My first (or maybe second) grade boyfriend was actually in my swimming class in the summer. It’s hard to recall anything except that we chased each other on the playground during recess. I don’t think that relationship lasted very long. Go figure. Two seven-year-olds.  He did come by my workplace while I was in college and ask me if I was interested in sharing an apartment! There was also another boy that pestered me so much everyone thought he was my boyfriend but he wasn’t.  He was pretty much the class goof-off.  Sadly, JW passed away at a young age.

The next beau I recall is DC in fourth grade. I do remember writing notes with him, notes that consisted of “Do you like me? Check yes or no.” If he checked yes, then you were going together. He sat behind me in class and was a Cub Scout. He wore the cool blue shirt and gold scarf to school one day a week. I seem to remember he smiled a lot. Probably still does.  I do know he is still married to his high school sweetheart and has a beautiful family.

Source


That’s pretty much it. I guess there really weren’t a lot. I don’t recall any boyfriends in fifth or sixth grade. My parents never had to worry about setting a dating age for me, because no one ever asked me until I was a junior in high school. That’s me, number one nerd. I was too smart for boys to like me. 

That’s okay, though. I wound up with the best of the bunch.  JC and I have been together over 40 years, and I don’t have to chase him around the playground.

How about you?  Did you have boyfriends or girlfriends in elementary school?

Stay safe and well.


XOXO
Categories
COVID 19

We’re in the thick of it now. . .

It’s not fun any more. (Was it ever?)  March began with students and teachers excited about spring break.  Then spring break was extended for two weeks, then three, then four, and now who knows how long it will be before classes resume?  This pandemic has changed everything.  

Now teachers are charged with providing online, virtual lessons for their students in the hopes that students will engage and continue the learning they were supposed to do for this school year.  We can only hope that students and parents will be conscientious enough to do it.  I have no doubt that responsible, caring, and concerned parents will see to it that their children tend to their lessons.  As a former teacher and administrator of at-risk students I fear many won’t.

Many of my students were in the programs I ran because they did not have supportive homes.  Many parents were too busy with their own lives to be involved with the lives of their children.  Some didn’t even care if their children attended school or not.  

Students of low socioeconomic status may not even have access to the internet.  Their parents may be unable to afford internet service or even computers.  Students in rural areas may not have access to reliable internet service.  With libraries and coffee shops closed, what do these students do?  

Will administrators keep students back who were unable to do the lessons?  Will they be able to discern who couldn’t and who just didn’t want to?  These are questions that will certainly have to be addressed.  I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.  I’m glad my children are grown and that their children are too young to be in school right now.

My heart goes out to parents and school personnel.  I pray for the kids, the parents, and the educators, those who are seeking an education and those who are trying to provide education.  I pray God will bring us through this pandemic stronger and braver and more compassionate than we were, and that we will learn the lessons no textbook or computer could ever teach us–love for others.

Stay safe and well, my friends.

XOXO
Categories
Memoirs

Walking Ten Miles in the Snow–well, not quite!

Although I didn’t have to walk to school ten miles in the snow, I grew up in a time when kids weren’t as pampered as they seem to be these days.  How so?

For one thing, I rode the bus to school every day from first grade through twelfth grade with very few exceptions. My kids didn’t have to because I was a teacher and they rode with me so they never had to experience the hot, crowded, bumpy, long ride that I suffered.  If school started at 8:00, I was picked up at 6:45.  If school got out at 3:00, I didn’t get home until almost 4:30.  There was no air conditioning and there were no safety belts. Kids of all grades mixed together and bullying wasn’t unheard of.  Thank goodness I usually had good bus drivers who kept an eye on us, and if we felt threatened we could sit close to the front near the driver.

Source

I did get to go school clothes shopping, but I also wore hand-me-downs from cousins. The clothes my mother got me before school started had to last all year–there was no mid-year shopping. One pair of shoes served me all year unless I outgrew them.

We did get new things for Christmas, but we chose to ask for toys rather than clothing.  Imagine a kid asking for toys over clothes!

When I was in the fifth or sixth grade, patterned hosiery was popular.  I wanted some so badly. Finally my parents bought me a pair but they were thigh-high and I didn’t realize they needed garters to hold them up. I didn’t have garters, so when I wore those stockings to school I couldn’t keep them up. I remember pulling on those things the whole day long. I doubt if I ever worn them again.
I wonder if that was my mother’s intention all along? Hm . . .

Source

We also played outside on the playground during recess unless it was raining.  No matter how cold it was, we were sent outside for twenty or thirty minutes to play. I remember standing against the building near the teachers so that the bitter north wind would be blocked. Girls were not allowed to wear pants when I was in elementary school, so our little legs froze, even with knee socks. I’m sure my coat had a hood, but it wasn’t fashionable to use it so I didn’t. 

The playground equipment consisted of huge metal swingsets with large chains holding canvas u-shaped seats. You could swing really high in those swings but you certainly did not want to walk in front of anyone on the downswing. You’d get clobbered.  We also had metal monkey bars, steel merry-go-round, steel johnny-strikes, metal horizontal ladder, and tall sheet metal slide.  All this was situated on hard dirt. No mulch or recycled rubber for us. 

These are johnny strikes.  What kid hater invented these?  I was scared to death of them!
Johnny did get struck many times!
You can also see the tall slide and huge swings in the photo.

I guess our survival from kid to adult was not a priority back then, but I managed, in spite of the lack of air conditioning in our schools, cars, and homes, and in spite of carrying metal lunchboxes and walking in front of school buses with big front ends.  Today’s safety measures are great: I would imagine there are far fewer emergency room visits, but then kids back in my day pretty much suffered through their injuries unless they were deemed life threatening. 

Sometimes I wish kids of today had to suffer a little more discomfort. But wait, not my grandkids. . .

Hope you’re staying safe, well, and sane. . .

XOXO


Categories
teaching

How to Succeed as a New Teacher

Image result for first day of school
Image source

I was a new teacher once.  Fresh out of college, heart and mind full of dreams and good intentions, unjaded by the educational system, confident in my leaders, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed.

Then reality hit.  And boy, did it hit.  These were the days before TTAS, STAAR, and EXCETs.  I managed to survive my first few weeks; heck, even my first few years and emerge as a pretty good teacher, according to my evaluations and feedback from my former students. 

Maybe you can benefit from some of the things I learned, whether you are a brand new teacher, a teacher in a new school district, or just trying to have a fresh start. 

Image result for high school classroom
Image source
  
 First, guard your joy at being in the classroom.  Don’t let naysayers and doomsdayers spread their gloom.  Focus on the positives.  You may need to remind yourself of this daily, but do it anyway.

 Along the same lines, don’t listen to what others may say about the students you are getting.  I’ve had teachers in the past ask to see my class roster so they can comment on a few of my students.  This is more difficult now with everything being online, but occasionally you may have someone ask you if you will have “so and so” in your class, and then proceed to tell you what a troublemaker/lazy bum/etc. he or she is.  Refuse to form opinions about students (or other personnel, for that matter) until you have met them yourself.  Many times I have found the problem with that student and teacher lies in the teacher’s attitude, not the student’s.

 Observe and absorb all you can from the teachers and staff but be very slow in offering up your own opinion.  This will allow you to get a feel for the school climate and how the teachers/staff interact with each other and with students.  Don’t be too quick to choose friends.  Allow time to get to know others so you can make smart choices about who to spend your time with.

Image result for faculty lounge
Image source


Avoid gossip.  Even if you don’t contribute, listening makes you a willing participant and aligns you with the person saying unkind things.  You don’t need that kind of reputation.   Give everyone the benefit of the doubt until you know them better.

Dress conservatively until you are familiar with what is accepted attire on your campus.  Some campuses are less formal than others, but you don’t want to start out too casual.  You’ll also carry more authority in your classroom if you are dressed better at first.  Dress like the professional you are.  If you expect others to treat you like a professional, dress and act like one, especially if you are young.  You need to establish boundaries with your students, especially high school students.  Save the capri pants and slide sandals for later.

Image result for professional dress for teachers
Image source

Along those same lines, speak like a professional.  Leave the slang and desire to be “cool” at the door.  You’re there to teach and be a role model.

Make your classroom a happy place to be.  Decorate with bright colors and include personal items (not too valuable!) so that students can relate to you as a real person as well as their teacher.  I liked to post motivational posters around my room (you can order online or visit a teacher supply store such as Mardel’s), and I included a table lamp, knick-knacks, and framed photos around my desk.  The table lamp came in handy when the lights had to go out for slides or film clips.  Students liked seeing pictures of my family as well.  Don’t let your room be referred to as “cell block 101” like one teacher I worked with! 

 Establish your rules and procedures the first day of school and keep practicing and reinforcing them until they become habits for your students.  I strongly recommend The First Days of School:  How to be an Effective Teacher by Harry K. Wong.  You can order it here.  Dr. Wong provides proven strategies for classroom management and discipline.  Also don’t be afraid to ask experienced teachers what works for them.

Image result for harry wong the first days of school
Image source

Prepare your first week of lessons.  Make a cheat sheet, especially for your first day, so you don’t forget anything or get anything out of sequence.  Get a good night’s sleep if you can, eat breakfast if you can, and walk into your first day with all the confidence of a superhero.  You’ve got this!

Image result for super teacher
Image from here
What about you experienced teachers out there?  Is there anything you would add? 
Please post your comments!  We’d love to hear from you!


XOXO
Categories
teaching

10 Things Your Child’s High School Teacher Wants You to Know

Image from here

Kids are back in school, and so are teachers and administrators.  As a retired teacher with 30 years of teaching under my belt, I thought I would share a few things.  Today I am talking to parents of high schoolers.

Image from here


1.  I may have up to 180 students to keep up with.  Unlike lower grades, there is no size cap on my classes.  I can have as many as 35 to 40 students in one class, which makes it difficult to monitor the behavior and work of each student all the time, although I do my best to do just that.


Image from here

2.  My work day begins way before students arrive and ends way after they leave.  I arrive up to an hour early each day in order to prepare my lessons and classroom for the day’s activities.  I may need to run copies and the earlier I can grab a copy machine, the better.  I also have to prepare and deliver lessons for students who are out of my classroom for the day, like those who are in in-school suspension or behavior adjustment classes.  After school I have tutoring or duty or I sponsor an extracurricular activity that may last well into the evening.  Then I have my own family to care for when I get home.

Image from here

3.  There is much more to do during my 45-minute conference period than I can physically accomplish.  Often staff development meetings are scheduled during this time.  My to-do list rarely gets completed and may include the following tasks:
  • call parents about behavior and/or grades;
  • consult with other teachers;
  • check and gather supplies;
  • prepare activities;
  • meet with administrators;
  • write lesson plans;
  • prepare power point presentations;
  • record grades;
  • prepare progress reports;
  • learn new technology;
  • fill out paperwork on special needs students;
  • attend meetings;
  • read and answer emails;
  • grade papers;
  • etc.
Image from here

4.  I would love for you to be a fly on the wall or peek into my classroom door window to see how your child is behaving during class, especially if I have contacted you about his or her behavior.  Most parents have no idea how their children behave at school, and they tend to believe what their children tell them, rather than what their teachers tell them. Many parents would be embarrassed at the behavior of their children.

Image from here

5.  Just because you send supplies with your child doesn’t mean he or she will make it to school or my class with them.  I can’t tell you how many pencils, pens, and sheets of paper I have given to students who show up to class without them.  I have tried everything I can think of to help them be more responsible, such as making them pay for supplies, making them trade personal items, sending notes home, etc.  Holding their personal items in exchange for supplies seems to work the best.

Image from here

6.  I can give a student a pencil every single day and he continues to come to my class without a pencil!  One day I got so frustrated I emptied an entire box of pencils on his desk and told him that he now had enough to last for awhile.  Did it work?  It made me feel better, but he still came the next day without a pencil!


Image from here
7.  I don’t hate your child or anyone else’s. Teenagers love drama and they will tell their parents that the reason they are failing or have detention (or whatever) is because the teacher hates them.  Don’t fall for it.

Image from here

8.  I would protect your child with my own life if it came to that.  The news media is continually amazed that teachers will put themselves in harm’s way to protect their students from gunmen or storms or whatever.  I know of no teacher I ever taught with who wouldn’t do the same thing.  Your children become our children when they enter our schools and classrooms.

Image from here

9.  I spend my own money on student supplies, classroom supplies, and decor.  If activities require scissors and glue sticks and journal notebooks, I will purchase them myself to make sure every student has them.  I decorate my classroom to make it a welcoming and comfortable place for me and my students, and I spend my own money and time to do so.  There is no money in the school’s budget for decor and very little for supplies.

Image from here

10.  I did not choose teaching as a last resort.  I chose teaching because I wanted to  be a teacher.  I wanted to be a positive influence on the world, and even though it is frustrating, maddening, exhausting, and draining, it is the most rewarding career I could have chosen.  I am proud to be a teacher. 

Image from here

It may be cheesy, but it is oh, so true.

XOXO