Teaching week 14


Sick. Not ready to be back from Thanksgiving break. Holding on. Counting down.

Thansgiving 2016

We road tripped to New Orleans for Thanksgiving again this year. This time with the girls and my mom in tow. It was a lovely week of sleep and delicious food.

We showed my mom around New Orleans, this being her first time visiting. We of course hit a cemetery, beignets in City Park, the sculpture garden, driving through the garden district, and of course lunch at Avery's.

We also spent a few days in Mississippi, always a lovely retreat. It was hard to come back.

Lost Maples

I thought I was majorly on my game when I booked not one, but two weekends at Lost Maples *a year ago* so we could backpack in the fall colors. But alas, both weekends I picked were still before the major color hit. We got a tease of color here and there but mostly not. Still incredibly worth it. Highlights for me would be finally getting Sylvie to nature pee and the glorious blanket of stars we saw as we meandered back to our tent. It was so nice to have a few days with the girls and no distractions (read: phones). Well, Sylvie did bring her graphing calculators (strange girl) so we were almost technology free.



And also, me.

The words to describe how I feel about this election are far beyond what I can muster today, after a night with little sleep. I am in complete disbelief. I feel physically ill. That this man and his insults and injuries, his bigoted policies, his outlandish lies is electable. I am grieving that half of my fellow countrymen decided that either his policies were great or his offenses were defensible. Either side of that equation is incomprehensible to me.

The past 12 months have been stupid emotional when I recount it all. I have dealt with domestic abuse of a family member, an exhausting pregnancy and miscarriage, a protracted and bitter fight with another family member, and some teenage antics that veer into the realm of personal harm. All of them viscous and taxing from a mental health standpoint for me. But honestly, this election cycle and this spectacular resolution totally ranks among the worst for me. It is more than I can carry and need desperately to find a way to set it down.

Teaching week apocalypse

I've been off the blogging train for a few weeks due to some epicly stressful personal events that I won't write about here. I'm struggling again with using a public medium to journal my thoughts. Because other people are involved, I don't always feel comfortable making the decision to disclose. Anyway, it has been one one of the most trying months of my adult life.

Enter election night and the nightmare that has unveiled. Teaching today has been so very difficult. It is the second worse day I have faced professionally. (It is thankfully second by a long shot.) There are so many of my students that are affected in a very real, very personal way by the election of Donald Trump. I have really struggled to maintain my composure at various points in the day. As have some of my students.

My greatest worry (for my students, the list of worries for myself, my daughters, and my fellow humans is longer) is that students will disappear from school because they fear deportation. The supreme court (at least currently) has guaranteed asylum at public schools for undocumented immigrants, but perception and fear are strong forces. How are they not expected to believe the man that has been threatening to deport them for months now? Students that do not get even the most basic education have such a small chance of being healthy contributing members of society. The path to shadow economies and crime opens wider.

Personally, I feel so disappointed today in my country. Minority poor kids are tragically accustom to being marginalized and dismissed. They know they have way bigger hurdles to face than their wealthy white counterparts. And yet they on a daily basis laugh, they shine, they climb. And this feels like we have failed them. These kids have been sent a message and it has been received loud and clear. They deserve so much more.



Some tidbits that got lost along the way.

Dog sitting Kathryn's lovely Leo. Getting to know and love him just a few short weeks before he died.

And then the boxer pups that Xandy and Kathryn got soon after.

Taking the girls bowling. Yet one more in a long list of things that Sylvie is motivated to work on because she "has to beat Hannah".

Some Friday night high school football.

Candy making class with Sylvie. Part of a birthday gift and lots of delicious fun.

Many trips to the dog park. Here is one of the rare times Sebastian shakes off on anyone rather than me.

 Sylvie celebrates the end of a very difficult six weeks with some Magic Sand. I was happy for the spontaneous purchase if it meant a Saturday away from the computer screen.

Sylvie's new after school pastime, blowing bubbles in the back yard with the dogs.

And a late night costumer party as the girls rummaged through the Halloween box in anticipation of the upcoming holiday.

Teaching week 7

I seem to have managed to injure myself just enough to prevent me from running. Yet again. This time it is my ankle and I have no idea what it is but I'm starting to get the idea that my body is done with running. I am always worried the lack of exercise will manifest as agitation and increased stress at work, but teaching is going well. There are some rough edges showing on bits of my classroom management, but my lessons are going well and I'm still happy to show up to work every day.

I'm finding a lot more peace with the bureaucratic distractions at work this year. They just don't bother me like they used to. Not unrelatedly, each year I have a little more time due to increased efficiencies, and this year I find myself with time to rework materials that I've been using and 85% happy with to a place where I'm more satisfied. Which of course makes lessons run more smoothly and increases my satisfaction as well as student performance.

I was talking to a fellow teacher at the copy machine this week (the state of the copy machines are, by the way, a huge source of frustration this year) and she joked about it being October, a notoriously low point for most teachers as they trudge forward with no real breaks until Thanksgiving. And I was transported back to my first and second year teaching where October was a daily struggle just to get out of bed. I hadn't even thought about it being "October" in that sense. I am definitely in a good place.

Teaching week 5


I feel a delicious amount of satisfaction when my gradebook is up to date. It reminds me of some of the enjoyment I used to get out of concrete and non-challenging routine tasks I would regularly perform in my last job. Not exciting or hard, but just satisfying to have accomplished. It is so much easier for me than lesson planning and the like.

I had a student trying to jab me this week and without giving it much thought he decided to tease me for being disorganized. I and all of the students within earshot just laughed. Of course I have many failings as a teacher, but disorganization is simply not one of them.

Gradebook, check. Neat desk and organized bins, check. If only that were all of it.

Teaching week 4


First week teaching sick. I was amazingly in a good mood but it is still a thing. Having your energy taken to 70% when you really need 103% is not fun.

Teaching week 3


I am always surprised how quickly my preparedness level changes. I can feel like I'm completely on top of my shit and then the very next day I'm working all evening because there's, big surprise, more! I know this shouldn't be surprising by now, I just happen to have a brain that really craves order as opposed to chaos. I do what I can to stay organized but it is truly never enough.

I had one day this week when I was feeling grumpy to do the job. This really is nothing remarkable as it inevitable for even the cheeriest teacher, but last year I had some pretty big patches of irritability (a lot to do with personal emotional drain from outside of school) and I felt a little panicked to feel that dark specter grab me so early in the year. Gotta breathe deep.