Author Archives: braveheart91

My Work Mom

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I’m going to sound really silly (or so I feel) writing this, but about five years ago, I met someone that I never realized would impact my life in such huge ways. She taught me everything practical there is to know about teaching, and she has been there watching and helping me grow in my profession ever since.

I remember entering the school in December, right before Christmas break. I met a bunch of people whose names I could not remember. I walked around some hallways that I would never remember how to navigate when the holiday was over. And then I went on my merry way, to try to gear myself up for the anxiety I was sure I would feel about starting to teach in an actual classroom.

Many of my friends know that I have always wanted to teach. Fewer know that I never thought it would be possible for me because of my anxiety. There were so many obstacles to maneuver around, that finding some retail sales job or simply living with my parents forever seemed like good alternatives to college and a career in education.

Somehow, while skirting around the high anxiety of actually staying on a campus and attending classes in a lecture hall, I managed to fairly happily make my way through college. Until that December. I struggled for weeks if not months to find a school that would allow me to complete my required student teaching hours. I never ever thought that the school I would go to was the one that everyone in my town always “hated”. I mean, some of us attended there, but when it came to sports, we were rivals in everything!

But I had no other choice at the time and I did what I had to. Which meant working meeting a bunch of new people and (hopefully) surviving the next three months teaching in a foreign place to me.

The funny thing is I remember leaving that day and feeling so much better about the entire situation. I felt my anxiety decrease tenfold, but I just always assumed it would come back the day before I was supposed to start working. That’s just how my body is. There was something that day though, about how welcoming the people were, that gave me hope that maybe I could keep myself under control and survive through those next few weeks.

Ironically enough, I was right. But I didn’t just survive without panic attacks; I feel like I excelled. Within weeks, my proctor and supervisor was pushing me to focus on the more minor details of my teaching techniques. He encouraged me to circulate the room more, or work to stop repeating the same words over and over again (which unfortunately, I still do quite often). He, like many others who got me through my life so far, believed in me and saw the best that I had to offer. He pushed me to bring that “best” out of myself and really make some progress in my career.

And while my family was always there supporting me, I feel that the biggest reason I was able to remain calm, work ahead, and truly ease my anxiety throughout those weeks was not one of those people.

No. It was the somewhat sarcastic, often funny, openly honest person who taught me what a “career husband” was and led me to believe that I could actually make something of myself in terms of teaching. I never thought I would want to teach at a brick and mortar school, but she taught me that even that was pretty cool sometimes.

I remember making so many embarrassing mistakes because of my young mind and my oversight of how different words and jokes can affect others. She was there through that too, teaching me that everyone makes mistakes, but you remember your’s and vow to never make the same ones again. She taught me the best method for running a classroom was through open and honest communication, but that it’s also always better to have a plan that can be changed at a moment’s notice.

By the time I left those three months, my position at that school was well known. I remember the salad and lemon cup that I ate for my farewell party, hosted by none other than the person I have been discussing. I still have all of the gifts that everyone gave me for my own classroom (though I’m unsure what to do with my name plate once my last name changes in a few short weeks).

My co-teacher even helped to land me my first job. First, as a substitute in the middle and elementary schools. Then, a few short months later, she pushed me to make contact with another person who not only gave me a full time job but also pushed me even farther in my career. And here again, my anxiety took over, and against her advice, I didn’t reach out to him myself. I was worried about the long drive, the fact that I would have to teach Calculus (which I HATED), and just the overall idea that I would have a major career where I would be impacting other people’s lives. But you know what? She didn’t let me skirt around that opportunity. No, she contacted that principal herself and shared my contact information. Before I even knew it, I was starting the first big job of my life.

I hate to admit that I lost a little bit of contact with her after I started my new job. I was pretty busy and spent a lot of time in my car after all. But for those first few years, I always remembered to send her anonymous birthday flowers and to make sure she knew I never forgot all that she had done for me.

Sitting here today, I don’t know where my life is supposed to go or what’s going to happen as I start so many new adventures in my life. But I am more than happy to say that this friend of mine is now my boss, now my resource, and now the person who suggested I take over their classroom when they decided to make a career change. And though I know that this job may not last forever, I am again astounded by the fact that this one amazing lady (whom I call my work mom) has changed my life for the better again.

But more than anything, as I sit here reviewing her plans and lessons from previous years, I realize just how truly she impacted my own teaching. Her planner… looks exactly like mine from previous years. Some of our worksheets are exactly the same (though this could be attributed to the fact that we used the same textbook). Even our sense of organization and using binders for blank copies and answer keys are the same.

I’m finding that I suddenly don’t feel like I’m starting a brand new job, but that I’m returning to one after many years of absence. And while she won’t be in the classroom right beside me, I know that my work mom is just down the hall any time I need her and that she has saved me hours upon hours of work by teaching me her organization skills and teaching techniques so that when I take over her classroom (which in my mind will always be her’s), it will already feel at least partly like I am in control, know what I’m doing, and will not be bogged down having to recreate every assessment and assignment and lesson.

So to that person, who I truly hope reads this, I can never thank you enough. The progress in maturity and my career may not be solely attributed to you, but you’re the one who has always been there guiding me in the right direction. And even though I am determined to come up with another way to thank you, I hope for now just knowing how grateful I am and how much I am starting to take after you in terms of my career will help you to realize that every day I spend in the classroom is just another tribute to you and your amazing educational skills.

I’m excited to see what my new job is going to bring me this year, and I just keep praying that starting it in the same week as my wedding will not bring back that anxiety too badly. Here’s hoping anyway, right?

~B

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Struggling Today

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Yep, that’s right. I’m having a rough day. I mean, everything is working out okay, but I am struggling to understand why some people step into leadership positions (for jobs or otherwise) when they have no intention of being kind, considerate, or helpful to others around them. The biggest thing I have ever learned from teaching is that the job is NEVER about me. I have to force myself to look out for my needs, my health, and my happiness. Luckily, I like the job, but unless I focus on doing things for myself, they don’t get done. Other people have equally (or more so) selfless jobs, but not everyone treats those jobs the way that they should.

Why am I struggling with this in particular? Because at the same time that I land a job in a religion-based private school, I am also having to switch churches. Don’t get me wrong, my faith is not changing or being swayed by anything going on, but I have never been so ashamed to be in a church before in my life. Moreover, the person who is supposed to be giving me religious guidance is doing nothing really but to make me wish people weren’t so gossipy and selfish.

As I sit here writing, I’m trying not to sound selfish (or feel selfish for that matter) about the decision I have made. I’m trying to remember how much it means to my grandmother for me to attend church with her (though she’s never said so out loud). I’m trying to remember how important family is to me and how I feel so amazing knowing that I am sitting in the same pews that my ancestors have sat in for over 80 years now. And yet I cannot bring myself to go back.

So this week, I’m determined to go to the same church that our wedding officiate will be attending. In fact, he’s the senior pastor there and is more than understanding of circumstances that change your life in ways you never see coming. He, thankfully, has recognized that I am trying to lead a faithful life and to be a more regular attendant at church. And more than anything, he believes in me and would sit down with me any day at any time to give me advice or help through any situation.

I haven’t had a super great pastor or reverend to look up to in a long time, and I’m not excited about switching churches (again), but I feel like this is a change my life needs right now. I just pray it turns out well and that I can find myself with less anxiety about simply attending my church on Sundays. Here’s to hoping!

The Sneaker Catastrophe

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My sister brought her dog over to my house yesterday so that I could puppy sit. That left me in the house with three tiny black dogs who are all willing to cause plenty of trouble in their own way.

There’s Duncan: the one who doesn’t like loud noises, refuses to enter the kitchen, loves being outside, and does not go where you ask him if he doesn’t want to.

Then there’s Jasper: I think he’s the cool, chilled out one, though he is also mine. He’s the oldest of the group and acts like the father. He’ll put them in their place if need be.

Finally there’s Zoey: She’s my dog and my fiance’s (though mostly his) and just turned 3 months last Thursday. She likes to chew on everything, eat everything, and has recently learned to dig holes. Though her potty training continues to improve, she sometimes has a “set back” day where she acts like she should just be left outside the entire time so I can stop cleaning up accidents every ten minutes.

My day didn’t start out too well since I accidentally fell asleep shortly after my alarm went off. I was woken up by my sister banging on my door to drop off Dunc. And as soon as the dogs saw each other, it was terror all around. Even my “innocent” Jasper wasn’t enough to fend off the feuding that Zoey was trying to start between herself and Duncan.

Then, when I decided it would be great to go outside and just let the dogs run off all of their energy, it starts raining. And it rains pretty much the rest of the day. Of course this doesn’t stop Duncan from being outside; in fact, I think he might have enjoyed it more than sunshine!

Anyway, the dogs were basically terrors all day yesterday, including one of Zoey’s “set back” days, her new ability to almost jump onto our kitchen table and spill water all over my books, and Duncan’s insistence that he stay outside and get soaked before coming back in. Plus there was Jasper, who didn’t do anything majorly wrong. Yet, he wasn’t his normal fatherly figure in the house; he was happy just to trip me up when I was trying to go somewhere or to try to sleep on me when I’m trying to wrestle the other two off of each other. And so my day went…

Until it sort of stopped raining and I decided it would be good to get some of my (extreme) frustration out by taking a jog/dog walk down the road. Zoey is still too young to go too far from home yet because she doesn’t have all of her shots, but I leashed up the two boys and set out. I was excited because I had just downloaded a new app called “Map My Fitness” and wanted to try it out. Plus I ran much farther than usual, and ended up walking well past a mile in under 20 minutes. Unfortunately when I hit the 1.15 mile mark (or around about), my sneaker decided to break.

Before all of you track stars out there start to tell me, I will admit a few things: 1) I know, I should have been using actual running sneakers; 2) yes, they were really old too and I should have thought about that; 3) It’s probably much smarter to go running when someone you know could come and pick you up in an emergency; and finally, 4) I understand the implications of going running when it’s still sprinkling outside but I needed that exercise!

So yeah… here I am in my SUPER old Adidas sneakers that are, unfortunately, not intended for running. I’ve got Jasper on my left and Duncan on my right because they keep tangling me up if I let them on the same side as each other. Jasper doesn’t seem to care to run, Duncan doesn’t think I’m going fast enough. And yet I enjoyed myself! The road was a little slick, but not slippery enough for me to fall. Plus, like I said, I did some pretty good distance for being an out of shape asthmatic!

*Evil music enter here*

Then my shoe broke! The front half of the sole came off. At first I didn’t notice, but it shortly ended up curling and folding under itself so that I was walking on some pretty unbalanced and unsteady surface. Please keep in mind that I was over a mile from home.

On a normal day, I would have taken my shoes off and put my tough feet to the test. I would have turned around immediately and gone as quickly as possible home. But this was not any ordinary day. This day Duncan was with me; this day it was still spritzing and the roads were all wet and worm-covered. Also on this day, I had just decided to get into jogging down the road again after a pretty bad spill where I messed up my knee.

I think it took me almost 45 minutes to trudge my way back home with my broken shoe stuck to my left foot for my poor foot’s sake. Also with both dogs still trying to pull me home a fast as they could (or, in Jasper’s case, alternating between really fast and really stinking slow).

The reason I am even writing this is because it was hilarious now that I look back on it. It’s just my luck that 20 minutes in, I get a text from T saying he will be home late. So I had no ride either. In fact, every little piece of the day yesterday seemed to be one of those “just my luck” situations. I even had a thought at one point that I would rather have been at work changing people’s lives for the better than here at home dealing with dilemma after dilemma. (For the record, if you don’t already know, I’m quite the hermit sometimes. Under normal circumstances I would NEVER say I wanted to go back to work, even if I do enjoy my job most days.)

So the only thing that I can think is that there was some kind of moral here, some lesson to be learned. Was it that I should never ask for another puppy again? Or maybe just that I needed to take a break for a day and try not to do so many chores and take on so many responsibilities at once. Maybe it’s even that I shouldn’t be so worried about working out, though I know it’s healthy and necessary if I don’t want to end up looking like a tootsie roll.

In any case, God had some kind of plan for me. Or maybe it was karma… Either way, I leave you with this. Always wear good shoes when going far away from home with no way to get back. Never take those in your life for granted, because sometimes they aren’t going to be around to rescue you. And finally, even though we may not know where our lives are taking us next, just keep getting until you find out where you land. It may be a long process, there may be aches and pains and even some rain in your path; however; in the end, you will get right back home to wherever it is you belong.

~B

The Mushroom Disaster

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I’m going to just start by saying that I am loving my summer vacation already! Today was especially good since it was the first day that I really got out in the good weather to walk with Jasper. Mostly because it has been raining every day for what feels like the past five years, but also because my knee is finally starting to heal from that stupid trip I took onto the pavement (but that’s another story).

Today was so good that I was enjoying my time outside with my pups and watching T do the weed whacking without a care in the world. I’m even looking forward to going out with my parents for a day tomorrow to some stores and things. And then I saw it.

Mushrooms

The first part we found… it looked like half was eaten. 

A single white and brown mushroom was hiding in the dog yard behind the tree that they spend a lot of their time around. I’ve heard a lot about dogs eating mushrooms and getting sick, but I’ve never lived in a really wet or really wooded area, so I wasn’t really expecting to have that problem. I didn’t even think that I had moved to the woods recently and that the dogs have started to eat everything in their sight… and in their yard.

Needless to say, I freaked out. Without knowing much about mushrooms at all, I had no idea if the thing was poisonous or not. I stopped T from working and we examined it together. It took us a while to realize that not much of the mushroom was missing. What worried me most though was that it had been torn to pieces and was uprooted from the ground. Who knew what that meant; I just played it safe and assumed it meant my Jasper had been digging up “weeds” again, this time in the form of a shroom.

Mushroom 2

Size Comparison… I had a 5 dollar and my hand nearby.

We spent probably close to an hour researching, though I called the vet hospital first thing. They told me they couldn’t do anything for me except to give me the poison control hotline’s number. The call would cost me at least $50 and would simply detail any treatment that needed to be taken for the dogs. The vet would then coordinate with the poison control case and treat the animals as necessary, for an additional fee of course. Otherwise, the vet couldn’t do anything to help me (which seems pretty sad to me since they are there to help animals, not watch them possibly suffer from poison…)

My mom got the same responses from anyone that she talked to, so before I knew it T and I were sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by our two dogs, staring at a mushroom on our table that was torn into pieces. We sent pictures to my family, who then (all three of them) spent time researching mushrooms as well. We settled on the fact that it is not a poisonous kind and the puppies should be safe. Even so, we have scoured the rest of the yard for additional monsters.

I also took some advice off of the internet and tried to give the dogs as much water as possible in order to help flush out their system. Just in case! I’m trying really hard not to worry about the fact that they may or may not have eaten a poisonous fungi, but I’m still having trouble not feeling stressed, exhausted, and worried after that dilemma.

Needless to say, if anyone reading this has dogs, please go out and check your yard right now for any type of mushrooms! I don’t care if you think they are safe or not, pluck them out of the ground (root and all) and get them as far away from your pups as you possibly can!

Heck, do this even if you have cats, chickens, or any other animals. Sometimes it’s just better to be safe than to be crying of worry. Take my advice, I know from experience…

~B

A Tail of Two Dogs

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Things around here have been pretty intense lately. As if my life doesn’t have enough other facets right now, the dogs are becoming one of the biggest and most frustrating experiences in my current world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of those people who clearly does their research before jumping into something as big as getting a puppy, but it’s exactly like having a child of your own. You never realize just how much you’re getting into, even with all of the research and discussions you have with experienced people. Sharing the frustration with T has been a blessing, but I worry that the stress will just keep building. 

Zoey is great. I’m not going to complain about her. It’s just so hard to keep up with the constant needs that she has. With only one of us at home most of the day, that person gets to be the sucker who is stuck babysitting every minute of every hour. If we take our eyes off of her for even a second, she’s into something or making a mess. 

We went to the vet last week and even asked him about whether there was any problem with the amount of water she has been drinking each day. At one point, we calculated it to be well over 56 ounces in a few hours. He says we are fine though, so we just keep letting her drink.

Unfortunately, that means potty time is all the time. She has really been struggling to not go to the bathroom in the house. Which is why this post is SO important! Today, as of me writing this post, Zoey has only had one accident in the house. That’s much different from the 8ish times she goes in the house every other day since we got her about a week ago. 

As proud of her as I am for this feat, I also got pretty upset with the pups today. I took the risk of letting them alone for just a few minutes while I finished gluing some cards together. The dogs have never had too much trouble getting along before, though each one is willing to put the other in their place as needed. But they’ve never really attacked each other, bit each other, etc. So I thought they would be fine. I left them together in a secured area with plenty of toys and distractions to keep them busy (in a good way). A few minutes later, I hear Jas’ snarls and Zoey starts to cry. By the time I got to them, there were little drips of blood on the floor. I picked Zoey up immediately, which led me to have drips of blood all over my arms. And the weird thing is I still have not found out where that blood came from. I checked her all over (and then checked him just to be sure), but could not find any open wounds of any kind. As a puppy mom, I’ve never had this happen before, even with Jasper and my sister’s dog. I was completely unprepared and started blaming myself for leaving them be for a few minutes. Then you know what I realized? This experience is exactly like having a human baby. Every parent thinks they’re going to do their best to be absolutely perfect and treat their baby like it’s the most fragile and precious thing in the whole world. But we’ve all heard the stories of the moms who have multiple kids and by the second or third one, the kids are allowed to play in the mud and eat food off the floor. I guess it’s not that we lower our standards, but that we understand the reality of children. They struggle to listen, they struggle to learn, and as much as we try to do the best for them, we sometimes don’t succeed.  

As I sit here writing, it’s nap time in puppy world. One dog is laying at my feet and the other is perched on the back of the couch by my head. I’m not sure how long they will sleep or how good or bad this day will turn out to be, but I thank God for giving me these tiny breaks and the small improvements that I have been seeing today. I love these dogs so much and I want them to be both safe and happy. Hopefully this is just a small sign that our lives are starting to settle down a bit and we can get back to having some relaxing moments together as a family.

~B

2017 Means What?!?!

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There are so many things going on in my life right now, I just had to write. The story for tonight is mostly inspired by one small, funny incident that occurred today (that had started in Fall 2016), but I feel like an update is in order.

This year is already turning out to be so ridiculously good, yet crazy, that I cannot seem to keep track of the events. Here’s the breakdown so far:

  • At the end of January, I decided to leave my teaching job for something a little less permanent. I went through the motions of exploring other career options, but landed back at teaching almost immediately. It must truly be in my blood; the thought of not helping kids like I love just haunted me for a few days. The next thing I knew, I became a substitute teacher for 3 different districts or companies. Now I can work easily every day of the week during the school year and have a pretty good pick of where and who I teach. It’s been just the stress relief that I need to rejuvenate myself in my career. It may be possible that I actually go back to my own classroom one day!
  • I spent all of February applying for/looking for jobs and trying to manage my money. Since that’s such a snooze, let’s just skip to March…
  • In March, I started to find my faith again. By teaching in a religious school, I found the motivation to reconnect with my faith. It surely hasn’t been easy. First of all, let me say that I never stopped praying, but I had not been to church in so long that I couldn’t remember the person who officiated there! As part of the Catholic school system, I am asked to participate as fully as possible in my faith. So, I started going back to church. And what makes me most sad is how politics and business get in the way of even things like religion and my praying. Due to these things, church can be so UNCOMFORTABLE! And it’s really a shame, because it’s one of the best ways for me to keep a special connection with my dad and grandma, as we are the ones who meet up at church every Sunday. I’ll be honest: I’m struggling majorly with the church right now, but at least I am back to praying and thinking in a more religious manner now than I was at this time last year.
  • Also in March, my sister, mom, and I took a girl’s vacation to the beach. It was FREEZING, but it was fun. That would also be the moment in time when my life really started to change. See, this is the first time I’ve been away from T since I moved in with him last year. It was awkward to not be together. Apparently, he felt the same. When we returned from our awesome vacation, he told me that he was going to get me a ring but didn’t know which one to get. We ended up shopping for engagement rings over the next few weeks, and then waiting what felt like years to actually get the custom order in! Even though I didn’t get a on-your-knee romantic proposal, I’ve come to realize that our memories of this time together are even more special than some big surprise. Let’s face it, T doesn’t really do the whole surprise thing anyway, and I would probably have just cried.
  • In April, we found out that the litter of puppies we were waiting on had been born. They were ready by the end of the month, so we spent weeks preparing for the arrival of our new little girl. Her name is Zoey, and she is the biggest handful ever! Never in my life, even while babysitting, did I ever feel so much like the mother of an infant before. I guess that’s because I’ve never had such a small puppy to care for in my life. Thankfully, T and I are working together to share our frustrations and excitements as she grows. Within this first week and a half, she has managed to learn many things. Things like: how to climb onto the couch, how to bite big brother’s tail, how to test our patience with going potty in the house (though we know this is not totally her fault), and how to destroy any stick or blade of grass in sight. Luckily, we both love her so much that it only makes us tired by the end of the day.
  • Now that it’s May, I’m in full swing doggy, summer, and wedding mode. We are getting married in just over 100 days! I only have 4 days left of work this school year, and we are watching a third dog for the next week and a half or so! (I’d really appreciate prayers for my sanity if you don’t mind.)
    • Our wedding is mostly all DIY. It’s going to be very small and very simple, yet nothing I’ve attempted to do for it so far has been simple at all!
      • My parents have been great at helping with the decorations and reception, but it took me almost a month just to find a pastor and make sure I could reserve the church for our special day.
      • I managed to get a dress pretty simply, but I had to order it on the first day I shopped for dresses since we are getting married pretty quickly.
      • As of today, our DIY invites are almost done (and are exactly what I wanted!) but they have even had their ups and downs. From a badly running computer program, to hand cutting numerous circles and shapes, to buying the wrong size envelopes and hot glue sticks. I PRAY so hard that nothing else causes too many hiccups. Yet, we have a long way to go. So mostly, I’m just praying that by the time August rolls around, T is not so frustrated with me and my wedding to-dos that he is still willing to put up with me long enough to meet me at the altar…

That’s it. Sorry I wrote in bullets and made this very short. The dogs are running around making messes and trouble as I write, so this is the best I could do for now!

Oh, by the way, the story I intended to write about in the first place…

Today I learned a lesson about relationships that I hadn’t yet learned before. For months, I have been teasing T about being careless with his car keys, his tools, and many other belongings. Since I have known him, I cannot tell you how many times he has run a battery dead by leaving the car lights on, or how often he complains because he cannot find his key to run to the store. A few months back (possibly 6 or more), T officially lost his car key. It’s one of those expensive German things that cannot be cut or bought anywhere besides the dealer or it messes up the car and its engine. Anyway, he had to resort to the spare because neither of us could find it after hours and hours of searching. Today, as I reached in my purse to find a pen, I was poked with some long pole-like object. It was the end of his car key. Needless to say, I feel really bad and totally regret all of the teasing that I did. He is more than happy to pay me back by laughing at my stupid mistake, but we also never even thought to look in my bag before! I guess I’m learning that it really does take the both of us to keep a house and lifestyle going that is similar to what we were both use to at our other homes. And even then, sometimes it’s not enough to feel those mountains (or even just those mole hills) that have been popping up in life lately. But like I said before, hopefully he will continue to be willing to put up with all of it for the sake of having me in his life. I’m not quite sure that I’m so worth it, but I know for a fact that he is.

 

~B

Stations of the Cross and Update to my Faith

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I learned something new at work the other week. And, honestly, I quite like it. For those of you who are not Catholic, just try to follow along.

Each Friday, the kids travel to the church to participate in what they call Stations. It is actually the practice known in Catholicism as “Stations of the Cross.” Not being a Catholic myself, I did not understand that first day what stations were or why they were important. After my second day of participating (today), I have realized that this is a pretty unique process that truly means a lot.

Basically, there are 14 stations, or images, depicting the last few days of Jesus’ life and his resurrection. The priest, along with three students holding the cross and candles, walk around the church and stand under 14 different “stations”. These are statues on the wall that depict Jesus being nailed to the cross, Jesus carrying the cross, Simon helping Jesus, etc.

Along with this practice, there is a book. Each student has a copy of the book. As the priest names the station, the students kneel. They then say a short response, followed by a reading of the situation Jesus was in at that station. The priest follows with a prayer, followed by a congregational prayer. Then, a three-line hymn is sung while the processional moves on to the next station.

It sounds really boring, pretty long, and not very important if you don’t know the details. But what has been the biggest impact to me about this practice is the prayers that the students and congregation recite. At points they thank Jesus for dying for their sins. At other times, they are praying that they will never take for granted their ability to go outside on a sunny day when Jesus couldn’t even leave the cross. For each station, there is a prayer that the students hope will help them to lead better, purer lives. But these prayers are simple and truly connect to the children’s actual lives. I too find myself wishing for many of these prayers to be heard in regards to my own life.

Anyway, as I continue to work in the Catholic schools and attend church each Sunday in my own Lutheran church, I find that God is an important part of my life. I have found myself praying during my days at the public schools, and hoping that even my future plans will all work out okay. My faith truly is strengthening as it did a few years ago when I first started this blog. I hope it continues to do so.

In the meantime, if you are interested in more details about Stations of the Cross, try this website: http://www.catholic.org/prayers/station.php

~B

The End of a Really Long Week

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Just an update to my most recent post about starting my job at a public school district…

I completed three days in the district this week, with Wednesday off, and today (Friday) in one of the Catholic schools. I can now honestly say that I would give anything to be a teacher in that Catholic school rather than in the school district.

On Thursday, I had a half decent day. Students still tried to fall asleep in class and some were extremely disrespectful towards me and the class aide, but it was better than the beginning of the week. Until the end of the day… I was on my way out of the building and stopped by the office to say thank you and that I was heading out. The next thing I know, a uniformed officer, the assistant principals, and a secretary walk in with kids who are muddy, drenched, and bleeding. Apparently these students couldn’t even hold in their anger and rage for the five minutes from the classroom to the bus stop.

I again want to reiterate the fact that some of the kids in these schools say they hate the place because of all of the “crap” that goes on. I feel like these are the students who are being most overlooked as all of our focus goes to those students who try to rebel against the system. For the first time in my life, I question whether it is truly beneficial to force every kid to attend a school. Or, as crazy as this sounds, maybe there needs to be different kinds of public schools; those for kids who wish to be there, and those for kids who just need to get an education but will ruin everyone else’s focus every few minutes in a classroom.

In any case, I know after these three days that I do not have all of the answers. I’ve never punched anyone and couldn’t tell you the amount of rage it must take to lay your hands on someone in such a way. I have never fallen asleep in a class and cannot tell you how it makes sense for a student to fall asleep, not because they are tired, because they don’t care.

Is it parental upbringing? I’d like to think so.

But I’d also like to question why administrators, teachers, and heck… even the state, would allow such actions to continue with hundreds of students every day. While parents do have the most control over a students’ attitude and life, the kids also spend a lot more time in school than at home. So how come no one in authority seems to have any ounce of influence?

Maybe I will never know. Maybe we will never get these answers. Maybe Trump was right to nominate someone who is so intent on changing almost all aspects of the school systems. I’m just really not sure anymore…

What I am sure of is the fact that I love taking a pay cut to work in the Catholic schools. I am sure of the fact that I do not care to have a full-time job next year. And finally, I am sure of the fact that three little kindergarten girls made my day today when they ran up to me with hugs and said:

“Will you come in here and be with us again tomorrow?”

“I love you.”

and

“I hope you have the best weekend ever!”

Thank you kids, and thank you to the Diocese for giving me a place to go where such interaction can still exist with these students who are some of the kindest, smartest, and most compassionate people I have ever met in my life. I will be forever grateful.

 

~B

The First Day of a Long Week

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Well yesterday I did it! I had many firsts yesterday, including:

  • My first day as a teacher in a public school.
  • My first day as a teacher at an inner city school.
  • My first day as a SUBSTITUTE teacher in the above settings.

So yeah, a pretty big day. I know that I have said this before (whether on my page or not), but I have truly been spoiled by my teacher upbringing; from a small Catholic school to a private prep school, I have been showered with mostly students who have an almost angelic nature compared to some of their counterparts.

Now let me first say that I am not complaining about the job I had yesterday. In fact, I went back and subbed again for that same teacher today. I think the point of this whole post is more the fact that things are so extremely different. I wonder how many people have seen that and yet do nothing about it?

You see, I am young and can still relate to students in some ways. So I know how stressed students at the prep school used to be about the huge amounts of homework they were assigned every day. They were made to cram work for 80 minutes straight 4 times a day during their block schedule. And then, on the other side of things, I see an 80 minute block period being used in a public school for texting on cell phones, sending pictures on SnapChat, and blatantly sleeping in front of the teacher. I don’t care whether I am a substitute or not, the amount of concern that I have for our children right now is more extreme than I can detail.

So I’ve decided to keep trying. I’m going to keep working at those public schools, at those inner city schools. From my point of view (or maybe it was just this one circumstance) the kids aren’t super needy. But it is apparent that they need a firm hand and someone who will hold them responsible for whatever their future may be, even if it does not include a higher education. When I tried to discipline, they laughed in my face and acted as though they didn’t have to listen to me, as if I wasn’t an adult just like their usual teacher. Whether this is the stigma around substitute teachers or whether it is just their defiance against authority, I want to know! I want to try to find some way to make a difference in just one of these classes, to just one of these kids. I’ve been told I have positively influenced other students before. While those accomplishments may not have been as hard to achieve, I feel like this is more important.

So now my goal, regardless of whether I take a full-time job anytime soon or not is this:

  • Teach some students how respect can truly benefit them in the future, regardless of their circumstances.
  • Try to reduce the awful stigma surrounding substitute teachers, especially in the eyes of these students who are old enough to know that we are just humans doing a job like everyone else in this world. And, regardless of whether this is true across the board, subs have a lot of education under their belt and could probably teach the lessons their teachers had originally planned. It’s not our fault we are given meaningless activities and lessons as “busy work” so that their teacher can make sure their plans work for any sub, whether they know the material or not!

*End rant for now* Sorry, this just suddenly seems like a really bitchy post. But I’m so upset and uncomfortable with these past 2 days that I don’t know how else to let off some emotion!

 

~B

Another Mini Teacher Story

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Today was my first day at one of the smaller schools in my area since 2013. First, let me say that a lot of things have changed! I recognized the faces of some of the kids and faculty, but mostly it was all new, from the principal to the teacher next door to my temporary classroom.

I was originally called in to cover History and was pretty nervous to cover a class that I never particularly cared for that much myself as a student. Luckily, the entire day was great! I had 0, count that ZERO, behavioral problems except for about 4 distracted fifth grade boys. No one argued with me or tried to pull the “substitute teacher tricks” that many students do. For what it’s worth, the day went flawlessly!

But there were a few other things that peaked my interest that make me sit down to write this post right now. I’m just going to bullet list them with some small details for times’ sake. (Let’s face it, I really do enjoy writing, but I am craving some video games, good food, and time with T right now.)

  1. I showed up around 7:15 to be let into the building as instructed, but had to be let into the place by the janitor because no one else was there that early! Class started about 10 or 15 minutes after the office opened. Guess they weren’t expecting me to come in!
  2. I spent the day teaching history in an organized and large classroom. I thought it was great, but soon realized it was extremely hot in there! And let’s not even get started about the fact that my view out the four or five windows along the far wall was of nothing more than a cemetery and the back of some town buildings!
  3. One of the 5th graders saw my name written on the board and immediately asked me if I was related to some WWE person. Unfortunately, I thought they had said some “lady” (not WWE), and the name was very similar to my sister’s. I had the entire class in awe for about an hour before someone asked me if it was really true and I understood that I hadn’t heard the question correctly the first time!
  4. My (possibly) most favorite part of the day was the kindness and attention that I was given by the rest of the faculty. Sure, I was teaching in the classroom alone with the kids most of the day, but there were some very kind faculty around during recess, carpool duty, etc. One of my favorite kindnesses was to find out that the faculty eat lunch for free each day! I was sad to watch as everyone else ate today’s lunch while I ate my crappy frozen meal. But the good news is, the lunch ladies made sure I was aware of the free lunch and offered it to me for tomorrow’s yummy meal.

In the end, I had a pretty good day. I wish more schools would take care of their teachers (and especially their subs) the way this one does! Maybe I was just having a lucky day, but I can say that I am more than happy to come back and try it again tomorrow!

~B