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Seven Weeks – Hurricane Fatigue

Seven weeks have passed since Hurricane Michael hit my town, and one word describes the prevailing feeling around here:  tired.

I know that we just had a week off of school (Thanksgiving), and that we are only three days into the our return, but after talking to fellow teachers, a common thread repeats itself – we are tired.

I’ve mentioned the phrase “hurricane brain” a few times here, but I think we’ve moved into the next stage of recovery.  Yes, we are tough, and yes, we are proving ourselves to be resilient; however, we are paying a hefty price as we are saddled by the weighty feeling that comes with unending exhaustion.

Most of us are back at work.  For teachers, that involves a crap ton of planning, which was an all-encompassing task before the hurricane.  Now, we are doing this and then going home to deal with insurance adjusters, contractors (if they even call back), damaged roofs, and missing fences.  We are getting bills adjusted (hello, Xfinity, but why is my balance still wrong?), spending inordinate amounts of time in the car (traffic is still a nightmare), and trying to figure out how to shop for Christmas gifts now because most stores are still closed.

It doesn’t help that as we drive, we pass unending piles of debris lining the roads.  Getting to our homes requires us to dodge the contents of entire homes.  This is a draining experience when you do it day in and day out.

You know the feeling you get when your house is dirty?  Not only is it an eyesore, but you’re tired just looking at it and feel a load lighten after you’ve cleaned.

This is how we are living.

Every single day.

The only reprieve we have is when trucks come by and pick up piles of debris.  For now, they are only handling the trees and other vegetation.  Those piles are never-ending.

The sad thing is that our kids are coming to school absolutely exhausted.  Many of my students told me that Thanksgiving had been awful because they’d had to work.  I’m seeing evidence of their fatigue in the stories they are writing.

There’s really no downtime, which is what we need to mentally and physically recover.  If we’re not busy trying to think straight, we are still clearing out debris or helping others with their own cleanup.

Putting coherent thoughts together is proving to be difficult as well.  Today, I was able to get my room ready for my 5th period class (I have planning fourth period), and it was the first time since early October that I felt good about my little corner of academia.

We are all out of sorts since we are sharing classrooms and making do without many of the things we left behind at our home schools.

One way I am finding solace is, ironically, through nature.

The same hand that allowed Hurricane Michael to ravage the landscape I call home is also painting the most gorgeous sunrises I’ve ever seen.

I might not have seen these if I didn’t have to leave the house at o’dark thirty for work.

These are sunrises I might not have noticed if I didn’t have to walk my dogs on a leash in my own yard because my fences are gone.

Seven weeks might seem like a long time to some people, but for those of us trying to recover from this storm, it feels incredibly short.  I, for one, look forward to the day when I wake up feeling refreshed, not weighed down by the heaviness that descended the moment I heard that a Cat 4 storm was headed my way.

A friend commented that with all of our personal issues:  my ankle, the Mr.’s sickness, and now this storm, we’ve certainly had no rest for the weary.  She spoke truth.

When GMA Came to Town

It’s Sunday morning, and as I’m sitting here enjoying the quiet and my hot chocolate, I’m also beginning to contemplate on tomorrow – the start of our first full week back to school.

The three days we were back before Thanksgiving Break were short, intense, and emotional.  It was probably a good thing we didn’t have to attend five days, because I don’t know if our hearts could have taken so much so soon.

Before I jump into the week ahead of me, I want to take a few minutes to reflect on the week that’s just ended.  Also, this post is long.  Please bear with me and read to the end.  I promise that you won’t regret it.

The week was one that was filled with incredible high points.  Probably one of the most memorable was when Good Morning America came to town.

Yes, that’s right.  Good Morning America.  As in the national morning show that’s on ABC.

You see, it all started with an idea that started with one man (or was it two?) and quickly escalated into one that involved hundreds of people.

If you’re new to my blog, let me just give you the short of things to bring you up to speed.

I am a teacher, and I live in Lynn Haven, Florida.  On October 10th, Hurricane Michael hit my beautiful corner of the world.  Officially, it was a Category 4 storm, but everyone knows that the winds far exceeded the 2mph difference from it being bumped up to a Cat 5.

Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base were leveled.  Surrounding cities such as mine were left nearly completely devastated.  Every home and business was damaged, many to the extent that they are unusable.

As the days and weeks go by, I’ll be sharing more of my own pictures.  Because we went six weeks without cable or internet and had little to no cell phone service, I’ve been slow to get caught up.  I will, though, because you guys need to see what I and others have been living with.

Nearly all of the schools in my county were damaged, and many of them, including mine, have been closed for repairs.  Every high school is sharing space with another school.  My school, Bay High, is conducting class at one of our feeder middle schools, Jinks.  It’s the school that had its gym completely gutted during the storm.  High school students are attending class from 7-12, and middle school students attend from 1-6.

Anyhow, fast forward to the past couple of weeks.

Here’s a three-minute video that explains how this came about.

The staff started receiving emails about this exciting event, and we began sharing the news with our kids.  Donations began pouring in as companies partnered with Greg and Mr. Smith, Jinks’s principal.  Ernie Hall, from Just the Cook, also jumped in.  Volunteers were requested.  Invitations were sent home with students.

The local media picked up the story, and before I knew it, I heard that Good Morning America would also be covering it.

This was music to our ears.  You see, although we’ve had groups coming in to help our area, the news of the devastation and recovery had faded from the news outside of our locale.  We didn’t want to be forgotten about.  There were (and are) so many, many hurting people who need a lot of help still.

A plethora of students, teachers and office staff, parents, and others in the community not necessarily affiliated with the school answered the call for help.  I met a couple who were Snowbirds.  They were staying at the beach, had heard about what we were doing, and came over to help.  They were so nice!

Preparations began in earnest last weekend.  Trucks of supplies needed to be unloaded so that the kitchen and a pantry could be stocked.  Y’all, the pantry was for diners to shop in, for free, so that they’d have food to carry home and prepare.  Greg and company had thought of everything!

Last Monday, after I did my own grocery shopping for the meal I would prepare my family, I went to the school.  It was a buzz of activity.  There were many people in the kitchen cooking up turkeys and dressing.  There were people sitting in the cafeteria pulling turkey off of bones.

I wound up filling up baggies of ingredients needed to bake cookies.  Have you ever heard of cookies in a jar?  Well, think of this as cookies in a bag.

The Nestle Corporation had donated at least a truck (maybe more) of baking supplies.

The plan was to have volunteers take home bags of cookie mix to bake and return.  Each baggy made four dozen.

While we waited for more brown sugar to arrive, I counted how many bags, at that point, were left.  It was over a hundred.  I figure in total, there must have been a couple hundred of them.  I posted a request for assistance in my homeowners group on Facebook, and one gal answered!  I took four bags to her house and took four of them for myself.

With all of that baking ahead of me, I decided to pamper myself first and had my nails done – a treat since I hadn’t gotten all prettied up since September, before the storm hit.

Funny (and awkward) story here.  I didn’t know, while I was getting pampered, that I was sitting next to (and then across from as my nails dried) Greg’s daughter.  I mean, I suspected it was her, but I wasn’t sure.  I taught her two years ago when she was in the ninth grade, but the girl sitting in front of me looked a little more mature.  I found out the next day that it had been her.  Sheesh.  I’ll just chalk that one up to hurricane brain.  It’s a thing, don’t you know.

The Mr. and I ran out for dinner since I hadn’t been home all day to cook.  Did you know that TGI Friday’s has a vegan burger that looks and tastes like the real thing?  It wasn’t to my liking, but the Mr., a carnivore, said he’d eat it.

When we got home, we picked up my neighbor’s cookies (how she did them so fast, I have no idea).  Then, I got to work.

I’d tried to queue up the finale of Dancing With the Stars, but I got upset when my DVR had missed the first half hour.  I called Super Sis in tears.

Can I just interrupt my post for a second to tell you something very real?

Although we are nearly seven weeks post-hurricane, we are not okay.  We try to be strong, and for the most part, we succeed, but we are emotional wrecks sometimes.  It is the most random of things that make us cry.  It feels like we are menopausal – ALL THE TIME.

Super Sis was wonderful and talked me through my moment of crisis.  She told me that she understood that I liked to be in control and that nothing is in my control anymore.  The fact that my cable and cell phone service STILL go out without any rhyme or reason throws me into a tizzy, and it’s okay.

So, I had my meltdown, turned off the TV, and proceeded to bake cookies.

And bake.

And bake.

Do you know how long it takes to bake sixteen dozen cookies?  Four hours.  I kid you not.

I decided, on the spot, that there would be no cookies for my own crew.  It was a good thing I’d planned on baking pies and cakes!!

I watched the DWTS finale after I finished baking, minus the first thirty minutes, and headed to bed.

Tuesday morning loomed early, and I waited for my friend, Ciara, to get to my house.  She and I taught together eight years ago.  It was my first year at Bay High (my second year teaching – her first).  She’d read about the event on Facebook and wanted to help.  Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t experience a snafu or two.

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My Vitamix exploded when I tried to make hot chocolate.  Note to self:  use a bigger container.

I wasn’t going to be deterred, so I cleaned it up and made another batch.

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Then, I was ready to go.

Y’all, when I arrived at school, there was electricity in the air.  I kid you not!  There were people milling around.

The to-do list was long!

All that Ciara and I wanted to do was work.

We found our niche – slicing pies, cakes, and sheets of cookies.

I don’t know how many I cut, but I think it’s safe to say dozens upon dozens.

We would cut a batch and then wait.  Before too long, people would walk in with more that they had baked at home.

Funny story:  At one point during the morning, volunteers were asked to move their cars to the back 40.  Ciara and I couldn’t find our way back to the cafeteria.  In the process, I ran into a metal pole because I was looking elsewhere.

I saw this shirt on Facebook and need to order it . . .

The event was scheduled to begin at 3pm.  We had a meeting at 1:45, and man, did Greg and Mr. Smith get us in our feelings.

Our primary responsibility – to love on people.

Just look at this room full of volunteers . . .

What an adrenaline rush to look at those around me and see the names of the companies who had joined forces – all in the name of love.

On our way outside, we stopped and signed a banner that really said it all . . .

Yes, we certainly were standing strong!

We made out way to the tent outside.

It was set up with tables and chairs where people could eat.  For now, it was where we would receive our orders.  I felt a little like I was a tribute for The Hunger Games.  I got picked . . . to serve food!!  I was with my tribe, a sweet group of teachers I’m blessed to work with.

As we headed back inside and pulled our gloves on, I felt like I was on Hell’s Kitchen, except for the hell part.  We were amped up and ready for service.  I was not in competition with anyone.  We were all there to support each other and those who live in our community.  It was going to be a love fest.

I took my place behind the mashed potatoes.  I was ready!

The crowd was small, at first.  Things got busy closer to five as people were getting off of work.  We could hear music playing outside.  There were live performers.  Inside, there was a din of conversation happening.  We greeted people with smiles, tried to coax the kids to eat their veggies, and basically had the best time ever.

Local news stations filmed us and encouraged the public to come see us.

https://www.mypanhandle.com/news/thousands-eat-free-meals-at-bay-high-school-family-of-schools-community-thanksgiving-dinner-/1609793343

Despite spending nearly eleven hours on my feet, all I felt was joy.  There’s something to the adage that healing comes when you look outside of yourself to the needs around you.

We shut things down around 7pm, cleaned up a little but not too much (we’d been instructed to leave things a little messy for GMA the next morning), and headed home.

My shirt was splattered with potatoes, but that didn’t matter a bit as I drove home.  It was dark in my neighborhood since street lamps still don’t work, but there was light in my heart.  I do believe that I went to bed with a smile on my face (and a 3:30 alarm).

Wednesday morning, I got up way before sunrise was on anyone’s radar.  Ciara had texted me that she was on her way.  You see, Good Morning America was going to be broadcasting LIVE from Jinks, and we were all invited to be a part of it.

We were some of the first people to arrive.  It was neat to watch the crew set up.

A group of us who arrived early got selected to film something in the pantry.  The footage wound up being used as a promo for the featured segment about our school.

When the crowd got larger, we were asked to remove our jackets and head over to the other side of the cafeteria where the lights had been set up.  My friend, Tiff (the librarian at the middle school), Ciara, and I randomly sat down at the table closest to the lights.

Now, a bit of a disclaimer.  I’ve never really watched GMA, so I had no idea who T.J. Holmes was.  Now I do, and all I can say is that he was extremely personable and kind.  His producer was a riot!  She has a teacher voice and wasn’t afraid to use it to get us all to behave.  Ha!  We practiced how he would run in, slap hands with people, and then sit down with Greg and Mr. Smith.  We were told not to have our cell phones out.  We were also told, once Greg and Mr. Smith were taken out of earshot, that a surprise was in order.

I can honestly say that I got tears in my eyes.  I’ve seen great reveals, so I was eager to see what was going to happen.

A group of people had been taken into the kitchen, and the rest of us were asked to be quiet.  This was where the live segment would start from.

The countdown began, and then were live.

It was all very exciting, let me tell you.  Panama City is not a large metropolis.  We are famous because of something terrible that happened to us.

Well, let me correct myself.  We are famous because we are rising from something terrible that happened.

Watch the video below (I’m actually behind Greg).

That donation at the end – T.J.’s tears – all the feels.

There was a collective pride in that room for what we had done.  We were humbled because we had pulled it off – in ten days time.  We had loved on those around us despite going back to our own damaged homes or in the case of many, hotel rooms or other places they now call home.

In fact, Greg lost his own home and is living in a camper on the beach side, yet he and his family gave up many days of their personal recovery time to spearhead this.

I don’t know about you, but this inspires me.  Watching my friends and complete strangers reach out to help others so tirelessly makes me want to be a better human.

We still have months and years of recovery ahead of us.  It is overwhelming when you look around you at all that needs to be done, but we are doing it together because we are #850strong, #panhandlestrong, and every hashtag in between.

Doing Things Old School

Monday night, I triple-checked my alarms . . . all six of them.

I couldn’t take a chance on being late.

I didn’t let the rain dampen my spirits either.

You see, for the first time in thirty-nine days, the student body at my school, including staff members, would be reunited.  We had been asked to wear red as a show of solidarity.  It’s one of our school’s main colors.

We had weathered one of the most horrible hurricanes to hit the United States, and we were eager to reestablish some sort of routine.

I had left the school the previous Friday thinking I was ready.

Ha!

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I don’t know that a person can ever really be prepared given the circumstances.

I wondered how many of my students would actually be at school.  I had heard that a lot of kids had left.  I was also concerned about the gamut of emotions that I was sure to face.  Although my school district had provided crisis training, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I grew nervous as I walked down the hallway to pick up  last-minute handouts.

I watched as teachers dropped their children off at the daycare on campus.  The district is providing childcare because most of the daycare centers in town are destroyed, and teachers can’t work if they don’t have people to watch their children.  Our daycare happens to be across the hall from my classroom.

We gathered in the small, middle school cafeteria since we weren’t able to return to our own school.  Our principal gave a great pep talk.

The mayor of the city even spoke.  A student prayed for us, and wow, can I just say how amazing it was?

Then, we went outside where the teachers held up signs with our names so our first period classes could find us.  It felt like we were elementary teachers, but it wasn’t a bad thing.  It was a conglomeration of pure joy.

The reunions were so sweet, and although I’d expected to spend the morning crying, I found that I didn’t.  I was so focused on giving the kids hugs and hollering out to students I’d taught in previous years that I didn’t have time to cry.

When we entered my room, the kids were greeted with this message . . .

They groaned as they realized that I’d retrieved my cell phone pocket holder from my regular classroom, but everyone put their phones away.  I assured them that they would have been very disappointed if I hadn’t.

Ha!

The day flew by.  It was extremely overwhelming.  Because classes had been shortened to thirty-nine minutes (four-minute class changes), there wasn’t time to catch my breath.  It turned out that although the kids and I shared a bit about our experiences with the hurricane, we always came around to the positives of it.  I was astounded at my students’ resiliency.  I attribute that to your prayers and God’s grace.  ❤

During sixth period, we had a special delivery.  My sister, mother-in-law, and another friend had sent items they’d donated via my friend’s son.  I took my class on a “field trip” to the bus loop where he had parked to retrieve the bags and boxes.

Getting outside was good because my classroom is one of four that doesn’t have a working air conditioner unit.  It was very, very hot and humid on Tuesday.  In fact, it was cooler outside than inside my room, so we enjoyed the fresh air while we retrieved the items.

Lunch was a bit of a cluster.  The plan had been to have our JROTC deliver sack lunches so the kids could make their way to the buses or cars without encountering the middle school students, but we were told last-minute to have them go to the cafeteria to pick up their sacks.  Every student in my district is getting two free meals right now.  It was a mess, and things didn’t go as smoothly as hoped.

I finally got to breathe at noon after the kids were gone.

Well, not really because I had to empty the garbage and sweep the room – all before the next teacher got to the room to begin his day.

We are having to do things old school around here because the cleaning crew assigned to our campus has been moved to another school.

The faculty gathered in the choir room around 12:15 for a debrief.

It was a good call because we had a chance to discuss what had worked and what hadn’t.  We wrote down questions and tried to come up with solutions.  Overall, we loved on each other.

The above and below pictures are post-Back-to-School-2.0 day.

The week flew by.  Every afternoon, staff members gathered in the media center.  We ate lunch together, laughed, and commiserated about some of the challenges we are facing.

Imagine living in your house for the first half of the day and then having an entire family move in for the second part of it.

That’s what it’s like for us.

Everyone changes:  Administration, Guidance, Attendance, teachers, paraprofessionals, and the custodians.

Guidance counselors are working in teeny, tiny offices; the Attendance ladies are sharing one desk while manning two phones; the principal’s administrative assistant is holding down the fort in an office that you need to drop breadcrumbs to so you can find your way out.

Teachers are operating with as few things as possible to minimize the footprints we are leaving in other teachers’ classrooms.  Some teachers are conducting their classes simultaneously in the library because they still haven’t gotten portables.  Can I just say that they are doing an INCREDIBLE job too?  I walked in two or three times during my planning, and the kids were working quietly.  It has been impressive.

So, it’s now Friday night, and although I am exhausted, I can’t help but be proud.

I work with some of the most dedicated educators around.  I haven’t seen a teacher who hasn’t gone the extra mile to make sure that his or her students have what they need.

There’s nothing old-school about the way we are loving on our children, providing a safe and enriching environment for them, and lending a helping hand to one another.

The Cure for Insomnia

If you suffer from insomnia, I have the cure.

It’s called teaching.

I promise you that you’ll be sleeping like a baby after Day 1.

I have always been a person who falls asleep easily; however, I started having problems this summer after I hurt my back and then, later, hit my head.

My woes ended the first day of school, though, because I hit the ground running and have hardly stopped.

I spent the first week and a half teaching my students my classroom procedures and setting expectations.

Buy-in is extremely important for my reading students, so I explained about testing options and the required concordant scores to test out.

My students are Juniors who have never taken the SAT or the ACT, so they had no idea what these score reports looked like.  I believe that it’s important to put kids in the drivers seats of their learning, so I showed them (and gave them copies).

I also had my students reflect on the spring test they took.  This is a form I created a few years ago.

Now, even though the first week was only three days long, this girl was beat!  I dressed down that Friday morning with the evening’s football game in mind.

Isn’t that shirt just the best?  I’d seen an ad for it during the summer and had ordered it right away.  I’d set it aside when it arrived in the mail, knowing that I’d wear it the first Friday of the school year.

The first game of the year was something special.  Our football stadium had been under construction for over a year, and we had the honor of hosting the first football match against a city rival.

I was a bit miffed that teachers were no longer allowed to stand on the track, close to our peeps, but my friend, Leanne, let me sit in the seats her hubby had paid for (teachers don’t pay, but these were reserved seats).  The view was incredible, as was the company.

This was the most moving part of the entire night.  I always think of my Rooster and his service to this country when the National Anthem is played.

My school beat the other school.  It was fun to hear the names of the football players making tackles or scoring touchdowns.  I still didn’t know their names by heart, so I sat with my class rosters pulled up on my phone, cross-checking names.  Ha!

I met friends for some post-game celebrating and then headed to home and to bed.

I think I’ll stop this post right here because y’all, it’s after 8pm on a Tuesday, and your girl is freakishly tired.

I still have so much to catch up on.  I’ll get there.  Eventually.  Just like always.

But seriously, if you need any help with your sleep, give me a ring.  There are lots of job vacancies in these here parts.  We’ll entice you with our beautiful beaches, great coworkers like Your’s Truly, and a never-ending stream of restful nights.

Year 9, Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of my ninth year of teaching.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself because it’s so hard to believe that so much time as passed since my first year.

I woke up before my alarm – typical for the first day because I always fret about oversleeping.

I made myself roll back over, though, and only hit the snooze one time before crawling out of bed.

I had miles to put in.

Yep.  Isn’t that the creepiest photo?   Here’s an even creepier one.

Ha!

The sun was barely coming up when I finished.  I snapped this beautiful photo of the pond across from my house as I made the final loop . . .

I was pleased with my distance.

I showered, carefully applied makeup, and dressed in the clothes I’d semi-agonized over the evening before.  First impressions are always important, even when your clientele is a group of teenagers.

Yes, I am wearing wedges.  I’d been wanting to give this another try since they had not graced my feet in almost two years, before I broke my ankle.  Gianni Bini and first days of school go along marvelously, don’t you think?

I packed a pair of Vionic sandals just in case my feet gave out, which they did around lunch time.

I was pleasantly surprised when I entered my classroom . . .

Notice anything?

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Y’all, the cleaning crew had set up the chairs around my tables!  I always leave them stacked in groups of five to make it easier to sweep and mop my floors.  I have NEVER had a crew set up my room this way.  My room was so inviting!

I was a little nervous, as I always am.  Timing is a huge issue with me the first couple of weeks of school; getting back in the rhythm of the bells and planning each day’s workload can be challenging.

One of our art teachers sent out an email inviting anyone who wanted to go to his room for a pre-school prayer to join.  I did, and those of us gathered there held hands in a circle while he prayed.

It was wonderful – the absolutely perfect start to our school year.  I’m so fortunate to work with selfless educators.

I was also a bit anxious about how my newer and stricter cell phone policy would be received.

I had labeled every seat with numbers and had assigned those numbers to my roster of students.  Everything was done alphabetically and numerically to keep things easy for all of us.  As students walked into my room, I asked them to check the board, where I had the rosters and numbers listed, put their cell phones in the corresponding pocket numbers, and sit at the same seat number.

It was a beautiful thing to behold.

For the most part, the policy was well received, and I barely heard any complaints.  A couple of my classes had about half of the kids who put their phones up . . . until I told them that I’d be taking attendance based on the cell phones present in the pockets.

You better believe that those kiddos got up really fast and placed their phones in their appropriate spots.  Nobody wanted a phone call home that they had missed my class.

I did have a few kids here and there who either had not taken their phones to school or plain old didn’t have one because their phones were broken.  Hmmm.

Now, I am not dumb enough to think that some people might have been lying, but the cell phone policy I’ll go over with them today will explain, in detail, the consequences for being caught with phones during non-approved times.

This is the first year that I’ve been this strict.  I think that a few other teachers are doing something similar, so the consistency should help.

The morning flew by; my classes were angels.

I’m hoping that this wasn’t the honeymoon phase.

But seriously, my first period class is the smallest.  They were either still half asleep or their personalities just messhed well together because they were a true delight.

My bellwork was fun.

I wanted to do a different kind of icebreaker.  When students finished writing their responses, I did a stand up, hand up, pair up activity.  This is what took the MOST time and threw my schedule off.  Kids have to be taught EVERYTHING.  I put music on to get them moving around the classroom – 60’s music.  So much fun!  Then, I taught them guidelines for being good listeners and good speakers.  Everyone got a turn to share with their partners, and we shared out a few answers as a group.

Good times, y’all.

I have fourth period planning this year which runs into both lunches, so I’ve got an extra long time strung together.  I am not complaining at all.  Someone could market time and make out like a bandit!  I was able to eat leftover Mexican Quinoa Stew, which I’d made the afternoon before, and indulged in a homemade cupcake.

Lunch was interesting.  I got caught in a downpour as I made my way from one building to another.  The gutters around our school are horrible.  Water comes down between them, so you’re essentially walking through waterfalls when you go from one section of awnings to another.  I begged my principal for a ride in the golf cart, which has a roof.  I mean, this girl had straightened her hair for school.  I’d gone all out.

He handed me an umbrella instead.

Chivalry anyone?

Ahem.

Gianni Bini got wet, so I slipped into my sandals (my feet were thanking me), and I proceeded to teach my afternoon classes.

Night and day, y’all.

I think we should just do morning school and be done with our day.  Kids cannot function after lunch.  They just can’t.

One of my classes was quite spirited.  I suspect that they will be my challenge class this year.  The kids have some big personalities that I’ll have to tame.

Fortunately, my last class of the day, and also the largest class, was the sweetest group of kiddos.  I’m praying they stay this way so we can all end the day a bit quieter and calmer.

I stayed a little later after the final bell rang because who in the world really has their act together that first day?

That’s about right, y’all.

Honestly, though, I think the day went very well.  I am nervous about the lesson planning involved with my English 3 class (I have two sections this year), but I felt as though I exuded confidence in my reading classes.  I have kiddos who do not want to be in reading, but I think that as we proceed and trust grows between us (teacher and student), all will be well.

Requiem to Summer

Dear Summer,

Oh, how I miss thee already.

I miss sleeping in until 9am, staying in bed another hour, and slowly sliding out of my bed, no plan in mind and no lesson planning on the agenda.

I miss not being in a hurry because I don’t have anywhere to be.  I think the dogs will miss this too.

I miss working out at 11 or 12 instead of 4:30am.

It was a lot easier to see what I was doing without sleep clogging my eyes.

I miss no-makeup, messy-hair-bun, maybe-I’ll-shower, in-my-pajamas-by-4 days when the desire to apologize to the public at large, if I chose to go out amongst people, waned the further into vacation I got.

I miss lazy afternoons by the pool, or rather in the pool, and hours upon hours of leisure reading.

I miss Netflix binges until midnight and knitting to my heart’s content.

I miss being able to go to the bathroom whenever I want and however many times I need to.

I miss afternoon siestas – sometimes two if the need arose – because teaching is tiring business that requires months of vacation to recuperate from.

I miss afternoons spent in the kitchen, baking up all of the goodies that struck my fancy on Instagram.

I miss being able to put two complete thoughts together because my brain isn’t being pulled in a bazillion directions.

As I start my ninth year of teaching, leaving summer behind doesn’t get easier – the parting still brings sorrow to my heart.

BUT . . .

New batches of teenagers await my reading expertise and mama love.

They don’t know it yet, but they will thrive on the routines that make my classroom run like a well-oiled machine (if the stars align), not to mention the high standards to which they will be held.

I’ll spy pictures on my camera roll – reminders of warm, carefree days, and I’ll get wistful – especially when my nerves are fraught by the child who has asked, for the upteenth time, if the assignment we are working on is formative or summative (they’re all going to be summative by that point).

There will be days when I am so invigorated by my students’ aha moments that I almost forget about you (not quite though).

SO . . .

Though we must part for now, it is only temporary.

But who’s counting.

In the meantime, I’ll be doing what God has called me to do . . . bridge the gap between His littles and the big world that’s waiting for them after high school.

Getting Closer

When last I posted, I was emerging from my back-to-school funk.

Writing that post was cathartic; I woke up on Thursday in a much better frame of mind.

God, as always, was faithful and filled my heart with peace.

I got up early and walked almost four and a half miles.  This was the second and final leg of my Royal 10k, another Hogwarts Running Club race.  I am looking forward to the arrival of the race shirt I ordered and the medal!

Then, I treated the dogs to a banana with their regular breakfast.

When they finished, I headed to work.  I had an ELA meeting to attend, but it was helpful, which I appreciated.  I felt so much more with-it.  I like smaller groups, remember?

After the meeting, I was free to work in my classroom to my heart’s content.

Y’all, it was simply wonderful to be in my own space doing my own thing at my own pace.  I got so much accomplished!

The advice we always give new teachers is get your lesson plans finished first; however, as a not-so-new teacher (this is my ninth year), I like to start with my room prep.  I cannot function if my room is in disarray.

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I always like to add personal touches.  This is one of my favorite displays . . .

I can’t wear the sparkle heels any more, but I’m not about to get rid of them.

Another teacher came by to chat, and in the process, I mentioned that I was going to be at the school on Friday to make copies.  We didn’t have have to work that day, but my friend, Megan, has a key to the building that has the copy room, so she was going to copy stuff too.  I figured it would be easy to get in and out of there with teachers being off.

The teacher who I was talking to told me that the copy room was dead, and it might be a good time to go in.

Y’all, I almost ran there.  The place was indeed empty, so I got to make copies for ALL of the work we’ll be doing the first three days of school.

Take a look at this career interest survey I’m having my students fill out.

I’ll be teaching six classes of juniors.  I want to keep them thinking about their future plans.

I think that reviewing the results of this little test will be a great icebreaker!

I worked until 3 and headed home; it was time for a nap.

I was pooped, y’all.

After dinner, I noticed that my forehead was burning.  It’s still got some healing to do.

I watched TV for the rest of the evening.  Pele wasn’t amused; he came out of the bedroom to let me know that it was time to go night night.

So, as the 15th, the first day of school, draws nearer, I’m finding myself closer to being ready.  It’s definitely a marathon, where I’m pacing myself, as opposed to a sprint.  Rome wasn’t built in a day nor was my classroom!

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