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Ready, Set, Teach!

This afternoon, I left my classroom around 3pm, ready to head home after a week of prep work.

Click to embiggen

The things I’d hidden away in June had been pulled out…the room reset.

Thanks to one of my school’s secretaries, my tables were located and needed only to be rearranged.  My favorite art teacher lent his muscle and helped me move the extra furniture out (see the before and after pictures below).

I’d loaded up my car with my much-beloved mini-fridge and boxes of notebooks and folders…an overflowing bag of novels balanced precariously on top…just another day at the office.

I’d created a poster for my door, following a template I’d first seen on Facebook and later printed from this website (found the markers at Joann’s Fabrics).

Although my teacher computer wouldn’t work the past two days, I didn’t let that stop me.

I rearranged books and created lesson plans.  I set up students in Remind 101, Plickers, ClassDojo, and my Smartboard response system.

I spent a lot of time with a couple of newbie teachers in my department, hired a scant few days ago.

They were stressing…majorly.  My heart went out to them.

Despite the numerous in-service meetings and endless to-do list, something strange has occurred.

I feel at peace.

I’m enjoying a calm that has eluded me the night before the first day of school in all of my previous years of teaching.

I don’t know most of the students who will enter my room tomorrow.  I have only talked with one, actually, and that was because he was good friends with a student I taught last year.

I’ll have over fifty new names and faces to memorize.

I remain serene.

I talked about this to Cinda, my friend and mentor.  She happened to call me early this afternoon while I was still at school.

She expressed pleasure at how far she’s seen me travel the past four years that she’s known me.  Though I expressed trepidation at teaching an ESE class this year, she allayed my fears and told me that I possessed the skills to teach these students…that she’d witnessed how I created relationships with children…how my classroom management provided much-needed structure and consistency.

And so I’ll head to bed after spending time in God’s Word.

I’ll thank Him for the confidence that the past five years has provided.

I’ll ask for His nudging when it’s time to wake up…I’ve set three alarms just to be sure.

I’ll read my First 5 devotion before I get out of bed, and I’ll spend time in prayer.

Then, I’ll greet my day, genuinely excited…eager to greet a new group of 9th grade homeroom students (my 12th grade homeroom kiddos graduated this past May after we spent four years together).

Ready or not, here I come…jumping eagerly into my sixth year of teaching.

 

Driving Around the Hodgepodge

I had to smile as I read through Joyce’s questions for this week…the theme coinciding with her many travels these past few weeks.  Glad you’re back from your not-so-vacation away, Joyce!!  Without further adieu, let’s get started!

1.  When was the last time you relocated? Did you move yourself or leave it to the professionals? Are you happy staying put or is there a move in your future? Best thing about moving to a new city or town? Least favorite and/or hardest thing about moving house?

The last time I relocated was twelve years ago.  The hubby’s work needed employees to accept positions in different office and even offered to pay for a moving company to do the whole thing…from packing to hauling.  We moved across the state to be closer to family.  In general, I’m happy staying put.  I don’t do change well; however, the Mr. and I are looking to move one more time in four or five years when he retires.  We’re planning on going back to Auburn, Alabama so we can be closer to our football team and reestablish ourselves back  in the “real” country.  The best thing about moving to a new place is discovering mom and pop restaurants.  We like to eat out and have begun to do so more now that the kids are grown.  My least favorite thing(s) about moving are 1) unpacking and 2) finding a new church.  As I said, I don’t do change well, and I am extremely nervous around people I don’t know.  I could easily be a hermit.

2.  When were you last ‘moved to tears’? Explain.

I was last moved to tears yesterday during my devotion time.  I’m using the new #First5app, a devotional app by the Proverbs 31 ministry.  Before I check social media or email or even step out of bed, I’ve been reading my devotion and praying.

I didn’t sleep well Monday night…anxious about school stuff.  Yesterday was my district’s first day of pre-planning, and I’d looked over my rosters of students the evening before.  This year, I’m teaching two level 1 classes and one ESE class.  As I read over their files, I began to feel overwhelmed and inadequate.  When it’s late, dark, and you’re tired, stuff like this gets super-magnified.  I may have slept two and a half hours total.

I woke up and found the following in my devotion…

God spoke directly to me with these words.  My room was pitch dark, the only light coming from my phone.  He was telling me that He saw me struggling but would cast His light on all of my worries…that He was there supporting me.

So yes, I was completely moved to tears.  To have tangible confirmation of my loving heavenly Father was emotional.

3.  Do you have rules about eating in the car…any forbidden foods? What’s the last thing you consumed in your car? Your go-to car snack when traveling long distance?

We eat in the car, although the Mr. doesn’t like things that are too crumbly.  Our car is only eight months old; the previous one had over 100k miles on it.  I can’t remember the last thing I ate in the car.  It was probably a bag of chips or a bagel.  My go-to car snack when traveling is jalapeno chips.  The Mr. and I have to check labels carefully, because most brands have milk in them.

4.  Share a favorite song relating to cars and/or driving.

Had to do some hunting before I landed on this…love me some John Travolta (although the lyrics are rather raunchy, are they not?  I just realized this while I was listening to it play!! Oy vey!!).

5.  What’s your most frequently visited drive-thru…Starbucks? the bank? the pharmacy? some other window?

It was probably a drive-thru to a fast food place.  For the last couple of years, Rooster has had a job where he often worked 5-9, so we’ve picked up some quick dinners for him and dropped them off so he could eat…because we pamper him, yes we do.

6.  He who hesitates is lost”…would you agree? When it comes to making decisions do you generally act quickly or do you more often than not fall into the ‘lost’ category?

I can’t say that I’d completely agree with this.  If someone hesitates, it could be that he/she is taking a moment to think through a decision ahead of time.  I’m that way.  I’m a bit of a slow thinker.  If I don’t pause, I’ll probably be lost in the next few minutes.  I need time to process things…hence, I don’t usually make decisions quickly.  That’s not to say that I’m not committed once I decide on a direction to go.

7.  When was the last time you got lost? Was it stressful or an unexpected happy adventure?

The last time I got lost, I was on my way to a baby shower.  I was already two hours late because I read the invitation wrong (I blogged about this), but I decided to make an appearance anyhow.  I could not find my friend’s house to save my life…despite the GPS.  I got to the house just as the mom-to-be, her mother, and her sister were about to leave.  It was very stressful, and I was mortified.  Fortunately, the young lady loved her hand-knit gifts, and all turned out well.

8.  My Random Thought

Have you seen any videos with Veronica-Poo Nash Poleate?

With the beginning of the school year upon us, I thought you’d enjoy the following.  She offers great advice for teachers (go ahead and watch, even if you’re not a teacher).  I laugh every time I watch it.  I will say that I’ve got the stank eye thing down to a T.  :)

The kids don’t start until the 18th around here, although I’m back at school in meetings and preparing my classroom.

63 Days

Today marks the end of my summer vacation.

It was 63 days of pure bliss.

Transitioning back to the working world is always difficult to me.  My summer breaks take me back to a time in my life when I stayed home with the kids, focusing solely on my family.

I’m content at the moment, though, because I have had such a terrific summer.  I’ve completely relaxed and did not allow myself to do anything work-related…well, except for one afternoon last week when I sketched out lesson plans for the first week of school.

I’ve also been centering my thoughts on God and His purpose for me.

I’m reading through a devotional plan at night right now (different from my #first5app), and a couple of verses stood out to me two nights ago…

What’s hard for me sometimes is the “willing” part.

I thrive on taking care of my family and can resent intrusions that interfere.  Yet, whenever I am interacting with students, I know, in those moments, that God has called me to work with teenagers.

I guess what I mostly resent is being overburdened with extra responsibilities that make fulfilling my purpose especially difficult.

I’m trusting God to help me even more with that frustration.

And so today, I begin the pre-planning phase of my sixth year of teaching.  I’ll meet new coworkers, sit through meetings, and continue tweaking the lesson plans I began last week.

Most importantly, I’ll thank my heavenly Father for stretching me…molding me into a person who, hopefully, reflects His glory.

Shopping Delights

Here in Florida, we’re currently enjoying Tax Free Week.  It’s something the state does every year, and it’s the chance for shoppers to save a few dollars while stocking up on new items.  I think the intent was for it to coincide with back-to-school shopping, but you don’t have to be a student to enjoy new goodies.

On Saturday, the Mr. and I headed out to the mall.  I had a few coupons and a gift card I’d found in my purse.  All were begging to be used.

Despite the thunderstorms that were dumping rain everywhere, we went ahead with our plans.  We enjoyed lunch at Uncle Maddios (lots of vegan options for me) before heading to Ulta, Nike, Victoria Secret, Loft, and Dillard.

I bought the following dress at Loft…

Truth be told, the dress looks way better on me (sorry, model girl).  I got the Petite Small, and it fits like a dream.  I’ve opted not to wear the tie with it.  It was $25.00 off, and I had a 15% teacher discount.

I also bought this shirt…

That’s not me in the picture, by the way.  The shirt was pricey and was not on sale.  Egads.  I did, however, have $17 left on a long-forgotten but newly-found gift card.  I used that along with my teacher discount.  It will look great with a pair of black pants I have.  I’d also like to find a black skirt to add to my wardrobe, but since I don’t like to shop, that might not happen for awhile.

Now, allow me to sing the praises of Dillard.

Oh Dillard…how I love your shoe sales.

I’ve figured out that Saturdays are key days for sales.  I was on the hunt for brown wedges, and because I couldn’t decide between a couple of pairs, I bought them both.  The prices were that good.

Gianni Bini is my main squeeze right now, let me tell you.  The leather in these shoes are very soft, and the wedges make me taller with the added security that the heels I usually enjoy wearing don’t offer.

Please excuse the unpolished tootsies.  I sent the picture to Super Sis, and she called me out on them, as any sister should.

I really like the strappy-ness of these shoes.  I wore them to dinner after we ate and kept looking down at my feet with a smile on my face.

The other pair of shoes I fell in love with and purchased were these…

I think they look a little dressier than the strappy shoes, and the wedge is even higher.  The Mr. didn’t like the light colored straw-like wedge; he preferred the cork bottoms of the first pair.  We debated and fussed before he encouraged me to buy what I wanted.  :D

After we went home and fed the dogs (Pele had, apparently, already dined on papers that the Mr. had left on his spot in the laundry room when we forgot to crate him for the five hours we were gone), we headed out to eat, stopping at Sports Authority on the way.

Here’s the picture of the Mr.’s spot.  At least Pele left the lottery ticket alone…

The Mr. had a 20% Sports Authority coupon, and I was on the hunt for a pair of Nike shoes I’d seen at Dillard but had not purchased last week when they were on sale (they weren’t on sale this week).

I tried on a couple of pairs before settling on these…

It’s been a few years since I had a new pair of sneakers.  Let me tell you, they have come a long way!  These things felt like they molded to my feet when I put them on!  I’m hoping they will help me be a more efficient runner.  Heck…anything that helps, eh?

Thus ended our day of shopping.  It will probably be awhile before we splurge like that again, but that’s okay.  Our wallets need time to recover, and I need time to wear out all of my new clothes!

Project Me

You’ve probably heard of the show Project Runway.

After a conversation I had today during lunch, I decided to title this post “Project Me.”

The question that sparked my moment of brilliance was actually, “What project did you complete this summer?”

My church small group is comprised of mostly teachers.  We’re going back for pre-planning on Tuesday, hence the topic of our conversation.

As I thought about my summer, it was hard to find a “project” that I’d completed.

You guys know that I’ve napped, so catching up on sleep could be considered a major project.

I did a lot of knitting, watching Netflix, and reading, so those relaxing activities were also “projects” that I guess I finished.

The Mr. jumped into the conversation at that point and reminded me of my time in the gym.

Oh yes.

My biggest project…

Revamping me.

I’ve posted a few pictures here, and I’ve certainly kept a nearly-daily photo journal going on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Because I’m basic like that.

But I want to blog about it in more detail.

You see, last school year, one of my students told me I was “thick.”  To be thick means that you’ve got some junk in the trunk…that you’re curvy.

I have some serious body issues, remnants from a childhood that involved watching my mom constantly yo-yo diet.  I spent summers “starving” myself for a day or two, only to binge on snacks afterward.

I’ve never been what one would call obese; the only time I passed 110 pounds was when I was pregnant.

Still, I carry a poor body image…the flab in my mid-section is what my eyes zoom in on.

Hence the hurt that hit my heart when my student made the comment…and other students agreed with her…and it was mentioned frequently the rest of the school year…only to be confirmed by the fact that my clothes, indeed, were fitting differently.

Sigh.

Thus it was that I set out to improve myself by renewing my membership at the gym my church runs.  Rooster works there and was more than happy to sign me back up.

I started going back on April 23.  I was mortified at the jelly roll that hung over the new workout pants the Mr. had bought me.

I took a picture, though, because I am both basic and because I blog.

And then I started working out.

The first day was bad.  Really bad.  To the point where Rooster helped me with my first squat when I couldn’t get back up on my own.

Did I mention that I was mortified?

Back in the day, I used to squat a lot of weight.

I was so sore after the first workout that I didn’t walk normally for a week.

My attendance at the gym was a little spotty the first few weeks.  School was still in session, and at one point, I pulled something in my back, putting me out of commission for over a week.

I persisted and began leaving my gym bag with fresh workout clothes in my car each day so I could exercise immediately after school.

My summer vacation offered me the much-needed time, energy, and focus to exercise about four days a week.

One week, I hit the gym six days.  Rooster constantly encouraged me, gave me tips, and spotted me during certain exercises.

I remember the first time I sat at the leg press machine.  I couldn’t add any extra weight.  Week after week, I began adding more…

By last week, I’d gotten up to 170 pounds!!  It was a proud moment for me.

Last week, I noticed that I was wearing the same outfit as the first day I’d worked out, so I took a selfie.

When I put the pictures side by side, I got tears in my eyes.

You might not be able to see any differences, but my well-trained eye does.  How well we know our own bodies, eh?

My muffin top is nearly gone, thank heavens.  My hips, though, are what struck me the most.  They have slimmed down…a lot.  They’re tighter.  My thighs…oh word, but they don’t flap any more, and my behind is taut (just trust me on this…a rear picture will not be forthcoming).

I still have a lot of work to do.  I can’t say that I’ve done many exercises dedicated exclusively to my abs.  I’ve strengthened my core simply by lifting weights, but I haven’t done crunches since I hurt my back early in the summer.

So, that area will be one I begin focusing on soon.

I’m starting to train for my first 5k, which I will run with Super Sis in October.  I’m hoping that adding cardio to my workout regimen will help my middle section to gradually disappear.

I hope I’m not sounding vain or superficial.  This just happens to be something that makes me extremely self-conscious.

How my body looks is a direct reflection of how I’m taking care of it, and it leads to my mental state.  I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten more fit, my confidence has improved.  I’m eating regular meals; whereas, I used to skip meals regularly.

Tofu Scramble

My prayer now is that I will carry my workout habits into the school year…that I will still be as diligent as ever to take care of me as I was during the summer, because taking care of me will benefit all of those around me in the end…through my calmer demeanor…through my new, improved confident self.

Goal-Oriented

One of the things I am going to be more intentional about with my students this year is helping them be goal-oriented.

I know that this is probably why I have usually been successful at the things I’ve attempted in my own life.

I’ve always derived much satisfaction from accomplishing tasks.  This has included such things as learning to knit, obtaining my college degree, and becoming a teacher.

Although, in past years, my students and I have talked about goals, and I’ve even had them write a couple of them down on note cards that I’ve given back at the end of the school year, I can’t say that I’ve stressed the importance of creating an action plan and then self-monitoring periodically, reflecting on what’s working or not working.  That’s going to change.

Children need to be taught, explicitly, how to be metacognitive.  They need to learn how to evaluate their actions and the thinking process behind their decisions.

To help my students understand my revamped plan, I’m going to use myself as an example by listing my own personal and professional goals, which will probably look something like the following…

Personal Goal
Run my first 5k

Plan of Action

  • ✔️ Sign up for Color Run
  • Train three days a week using the Zombies Run app to track my progress
  • ✔️ Sign up for Hogwarts Running Club Platform 9 3/4 virtual race to stay motivated (who doesn’t like bling?)
  • Check in, via Instagram, with the HRC on September 1 when I’ve finished my training run that will double the 9 3/4 race

Professional Goal
Improve classroom culture

Plan of Action

  • Incorporate more Kagan Team and Class Building activities into my lesson plans (I didn’t do as good of a job with this last year)
  • Work with students to create affirmations and killer statements and gestures that will serve as reminders of how to respect themselves as individuals and each another as a learning community

Along with big goals, I’m going to have students create specific reading goals.  I read Penny Kittle’s book, Book Love.  She gives instructions for helping students determine how many pages they should be reading per week.  Her students write down their goals, and they assess their progress weekly and reflect on the numbers.  I just love, love, love this!

If you haven’t read her book and you are a teacher (home school, online, or brick and mortar), buy it.  You’ll love it too!

Back to my post…

After creating goals and action plans, I’ll have students place them into data folders.  We’ll revisit these goals and write reflections at least once every nine weeks.

It is my hope that as students see themselves taking steps toward reaching their goals…or even acknowledging backward steps, that they’ll take ownership of their learning, holding themselves accountable in the process.

Summer’s Waning Days

My summer vacation is ebbing away.

As always, this transitional time is difficult for me.

I’m caught between two worlds…my precious home life and a demanding work schedule.

It is around the beginning of August that my dining room table begins to look like this…

…caught in the cross hairs of my personal hobbies and work paraphernalia.

It’s not pretty, let me tell you.  You don’t even want to see my car right now.  I can’t take anything to my classroom because my floors are being waxed.  I’m not sure that I really want to go in yet, truth be told.  That would be like the clock striking midnight, and I’m still dancing with my prince, aptly named  Summer Vacation.

Even though I have an endless list of things to do before I step inside my classroom, I’m choosing to focus more of my last free moments doing what I love…

Eating lunch with friends…

On my way to meet Ms. L, Rooster’s former 9th and 10th grade English teacher…a fellow professional whom I adore.

The day after meeting Ms. L, I met Jane, my first teaching buddy. Four hours with this lady over lunch, and it wasn’t near enough time to say all that was on our hearts. I love her so much.

Squeezing in as many morning workouts as possible…

Knitting nearly every night…until my eyes can barely stay open…

Early Morning Rain Shawl

I’m mastering the art of knitting with beads!!!

Summer’s waning days…they always make me just a little sad and wistful.  I remain, however, grateful for the fun memories recently created and the time of rest.

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