Category Archives: Education

I need some catharsis

Standard

What to do, what to do. I had a pretty horrid experience last night that is making me wonder if I have truly gone over the edge. Maybe my 3 readers can help me decide if I’m nuts. Last night, my youngest daughter had freshman orientation at the high school she will start next week. My older daughter will be a senior. A bit of backstory, this is the high school that I used to work at. I was there for 3 years teaching English and coaching cheerleading. When the second high school in our town was full, they needed to shift some people around to accommodate changing student populations, and they sent me back down to the middle school I had worked at previously. I was CRUSHED. I had worked for 10 years to finally get the job there, and I would have happily worked there until retirement. I questioned my worth as a teacher, and even as a person, when all of this went down.

So try to imagine going back up there with both of my kids to enroll them in the school that, in my view, threw me away. It SUCKS. I didn’t have to do much for my oldest because she isn’t a school spirit kind of girl. Don’t get me wrong, she’s in varsity choir and did yearbook for two years, so she is involved, just not in things I need to be up at the school for very often. Enter my little one. She made the dance team her freshman year. Which ROCKS. It will give her an immediate identity in that school, which is so important. It also means that I have be up at the school quite a bit more often than I have in the past.

It hurts.

It makes no logical sense. I love my job now more than I ever thought I could love a job, and I know I am where I am meant to be. But the resentment runs deep, my friends. When the AP that helped get rid of me pretended not to know me last night, when my daughter’s schedule wasn’t right and the counselor was kind of a jerk, when I realized we had waited all this time for her schedule, and she still wasn’t going to know where her classes were, well I just lost it. Full on tears of complete frustration. I despise that school, and it’s where my kids go. I know it hurts me more than it hurts anyone at that school, and I know it’s not right for my girls. I know all the logical things, but my darn emotions don’t care about logic, no matter how loudly I yell at them.

I’m hoping that writing about this brings me some catharsis about this topic. It can’t hurt, right?

Summers off? Ha!

Standard

Have you ever dared to say these words- “You’re lucky you’re a teacher. You get the summers off”?  If so, you should be throat punched. Or maybe you need to know what most, not all, teachers do during the summer.

For the first week, we try to sleep in, but our internal clocks won’t let us, so we still wake up at the butt crack of dawn. We try to relax on the couch to un-fray our nerves from the last week of school, but we can’t really sit on the couch without feeling guilty about all the things we “should be doing”. Like cleaning, grocery shopping, entertaining our kids who are also on summer break. You know, parental stuff. Or, we should be planning the curriculum for next year because we won’t be teaching what we have taught for the last ten years, instead, we will be teaching two new classes, so we have get ready. Oh, and we’re moving classrooms, so we had to bring home all of our “school junk”- as my hubby likes to call it- so we really need to go through that and purge some of the materials we have had for 157 years and never touched. But do you know what we think when we contemplate doing any of this?

UIWI3074[1]

No, no, no, no, no…

So, of the 8 weeks we get for summer break, a couple are probably spent in some sort of professional development, maybe we go on a vacation with our family, and the other time is spent prepping, and planning, and combining, and curating, so that when we return, we have a chance to maintain our sanity.

Now, let me clarify. I LOVE my school. I am PUMPED to be teaching new classes because I get tired of hearing myself talk about the same things over and over. I am OVER THE MOON about my new room, and I have probably spent WAY too much on my vision for the new space- think flexible seating, coffee shop atmosphere, black/gold/silver/gray- it’s going to be so beautiful…I hope. So I have assigned many (okay all) of these tasks to myself. I could wait until we return to work on July 31st, but that is NOT how I roll. I am a planner extraordinaire, and I DO NOT fly by the seat of my pants if I can help it.

I guess I’m just trying to say that most teaching professionals that I know never stop working, they just aren’t in front of students for 9 weeks in a row. Instead they are anticipating the time when they will be in front of students again, and they want to make it as smooth a transition back into the school year as possible.

So if you see a teacher, please don’t utter that phrase. It’s insulting. It’s false. And it’s rude. Just say thank you, and maybe buy them a cocktail.

Go home, you’re drunk.

Standard

IMG_1103

Anyone from Texas knows that old saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes, it will change.” Well, I understand that, but this is ridiculous. Go home, weather. You’re drunk. I think I’ve had a runny nose for 139 days now because our weather is so jacked up. And it makes the students I teach CRAZY. For example, if it starts raining, they act like they’ve never seen rain before, or they purposely run around in it, and then come into class dripping, and say “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe I got soaked!” Really, you can’t? Added to that, we only have 23 more school days left, and these kids are WIRED. And all my energy? Gone. Kaput. Nada.

d46fd8d0c775810aab18ab24278ed940

Today, tomorrow, and Friday some of our students are on a field trip. That means, for 5 of my 6 classes, 2 or 3 students might show up. What am I supposed to do with that? Maybe they can help me pack boxes for the big classroom move at the end of the year. Is that against child labor or something? It probably is. So they will sit in my room doing Think Through Math on Chromebooks because I can’t teach them stuff that the other kids don’t get. I hope they don’t ask me questions. I’m allergic to math. I am a good teacher, though. When they get back from the trip, we have one week to prep for the state test, and I have already made all these cool stations that they can rotate through with a partner so they don’t get bored. They’ll like it because they won’t be stuck at their desks. See, I haven’t totally checked out. 🙂 I also have this little gem up my sleeve, so I’m all ready!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Reading-STAAR-Review-Game-3038917

 

Feeling Entrepreneurial

Standard

Teachers sometimes need extra money. Did you know that? I mean, I know everyone thinks we make the big bucks because we educate the youth of America, but sadly, we don’t. I can’t even begin to address the fact that people that throw or kick a ball around makes millions of dollars while teachers worry about paying their mortgage, but hey, whatever.

IMG_1001

Look at me, branding myself and stuff. 🙂

So to pad the old bank account, and to keep it from collecting cobwebs, I have a couple of part-time gigs. I just started selling curriculum that I have created on Teachers Pay Teachers. See my awesome store here:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Johnstons-Ela-Gems

I also do the website and manage the social media for my dad and stepmom’s distillery in South Texas, Hill Country Distillers. You can visit their Facebook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/hillcountrydistillers/

So, yeah. I’m an entrepreneur. But sometimes I feel like I completely embody the old saying, “Jack of all trades, and master of none.” I guess that’s not entirely true because I feel like I’m a pretty awesome teacher, but the other stuff, I could stand to learn more. Maybe if I learned more, I could branch out and get out of education, but I’m having such a good experience at the school where I teach, I’m okay with being a teacher until retirement. For now. But I have options! Maybe I’ll be that older woman going back to get a second degree so that I can learn more about the website/social media stuff. I could get a marketing degree. I could do business photography. I don’t know! There is whole world out there!

I love that my girls are seeing me do new things. I love that I can contribute to our household budget because Chris works so freakin’ hard. I love that I can pay down debt with money that is truly extra.  I love that I can put the Zulily app back on my phone and not feel bad looking at it every once in a while!!

Maybe I’ll become the new Joanna Gaines and have a curriculum/media/photography empire. People will make t-shirts!

Hey, everyone has to have a dream, right?

A Thing of Beauty

Standard
IMG_1062

This makes my teacher heart happy 🙂

Isn’t it pretty? I just love looking at it in all its color-coded glory. What you are looking at is every SE from the TEKS for 7th grade ELA laid out and put in order for the year. Yep, I’m that girl. Give me some butcher paper and post-its, and I’ll make you the prettiest YAG you’ve ever seen! I finished this yesterday during my conference period, and my heart was happy the rest of the day.

That’s me. I’m a planner. You could say it’s one of my biggest strengths, but it’s also a huge weakness. I prepare for stuff, but then when that stuff doesn’t happen, or someone throws a wrench in my stuff, I freak out. Don’t throw me curve balls because I can’t hit them! I live and die by my calendar, and my lists, and my plans.

I wasn’t always like this. I used to be able to fly by the seat of my pants and be okay with that. Somewhere along the way, spontaneity became difficult for me. Here’s what that does- it makes you turn down invitations from friends because you had it in your head you wouldn’t have anything to do. Sometimes I wonder how I even have friends. I mean, I know I’m pretty awesome, and I can be hilarious, and I throw a mean get together. But I say no to my friends so often. Bless them, they keep asking. Thank goodness for that. They all deserve medals!

So here’s to my teachers out there looking to their next year of school, and to all of my sweet friends who have stuck with me. Love to you all!

The Long, Weary Walk

Standard
IMG_1046

This is my countdown!

It’s that time of year. There are no more holiday breaks. There are no more long weekends. There is only the long, weary walk of every teacher trying to make it to the last day of school. We must endure the testing, the field trips, the play days, and the rambunctious apathy of students that know the end is near. We begin countdowns on our boards that we say are for our students, but really those countdowns are just another lifeline to sanity.

Teacher friends, I feel you, and I’m here for you.

My biggest problem this time of year is that my current school year brain shuts down while my next school year brain wakes up. I begin to feel that all the changes I imagined making while I was teaching this year need to be made before I begin to teach next year. I begin to make list after list, create YAGs, do CPGs, worry about novel justifications, and align TEKS. I start to panic at the amount of self-inflicted studying that is piling up in the form of books I have assigned myself for the summer. The summer that is EXACTLY 2 months from start to finish. *sigh*

IMG_1047

My awesome new planner. I can’t wait to write in it!

My precious students from this year wonder why I sometimes have a far away look on my face. Little do they know that I am rearranging furniture in my new classroom. The one with white walls and bigger windows that I will move into next year. Anything to remove myself from the portable/paneled cave that I currently inhabit.

One of the beautiful things about being a teacher is what I like to call THE RESET BUTTON. Remember that lesson that went south on you? You get a redo next year. How about that book you thought the kids would love that they loathed? Pick another one to takes its place. You know that kid that always has to have the last word? Another teacher gets to educate him in the next grade. We get to reinvent ourselves every year if we so choose, and that is such a heady proposition. Many people never get to try again in their profession, but we get that every year! For me, it’s such a blessing because I mess up. A lot. However, I hope that I learn from my mistakes and strive to do a better job the next time around.

Next year I get to try again in a bigger classroom. With bigger windows. 🙂

You should never tell anyone…

Standard

…that you can sew. Seriously. My friend Christa can probably attest to this better than I can because she is actually a bona fide seamstress. I can just sew straight lines pretty well. Curtains, pillows, that kind of thing. Even so, this is becoming a lost art, people. So when someone finds out you can sew, saaaaayyy the coordinator for your school’s fundraising auction, this happens-

Yep, those are t-shirt quilts made out of school shirts.

My original plan when I asked for the shirt donations was to make lap quilts for my classroom (I like it cold in my room). But when you end up with a bunch of shirts, it makes people curious. I’m okay with it because I was trying to figure out how to contribute to the auction anyway, but I felt PRESSURE because they weren’t just for my students to use during my class. Someone is going to buy those. Yikes.

I’m already pushing my entrepreneurial spirit to the limit considering I have a full time job, so I definitely won’t be adding t-shirt quilt maker to my list of money-making adventures. I don’t even think I’m going to make the lap quilts I originally set out to make! I’ll stick with the endeavors I’ve already started for now. I’m sure it will preserve what sanity I have left.

Maybe. 🙂

I hope everyone has a blessed Easter weekend. Have fun with your family and enjoy the lives that the Lord has so lovingly given you.