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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!

Emerging from a Funk

Y’all, I have a confession to make.

I’ve been in a major funk this week.

The combination of saying adios to summer and holla new school year has done a number on me.

Yeah, the struggle has been real for this here girl.

One thing I know about myself is that I do not do change well.  No sir.  I am that kid who wants to throw a tantrum in the middle of the floor.

Real mature, eh?

On Tuesday, we began two days of meetings, and it was all I could do to hang on for dear life.

Now, let me tell you that I work with some fabulous educators.  They really are.  We have our quirks, and we fuss like family, but we do an incredible job with children who are facing so much adversity.

My not wanting to kiss summer goodbye doesn’t have anything to do with people.

The beginning of the year is freakishly overwhelming.  Like totally.

Hearing about new mandates being passed down from on high doesn’t always sit well either.

Good hair day; accurate expression

I try hard to be peppy, positive, and a team player, but I couldn’t find my mojo on Tuesday.

I wasn’t feeling well, the result of random headaches, although they aren’t constant like before.

It takes me awhile to process information, especially when I’m overwhelmed and a bit emotional (the two tend to go hand-in-hand for me).

It didn’t help when a teacher I have always gotten along with acted snarky toward me.  Grrr.  I later found a sticky note on my cup, and she apologized.

I love this lady; she taught both of my kiddos in middle school.  All ended well.

Sometimes, I forget that I don’t live on an island; we are all struggling, especially this time of the year.

I did manage to win a free Starbucks card when I got Bingo.

I must start being more discriminatory when I post pictures online.

I am not going to lie:  my less-than-stellar attitude, stubbornness, and sensitive nature did not make for a happy afternoon when I got home.

What do you do when you’re stressed?  I did a bit of late-night baking.

I like to fool myself into thinking I’m cutting calories in half by making mini cupcakes.

I found the recipe here and even managed to whip up the icing – at 10pm.

I should have waited longer to ice them.  They were a bit melted.  I took these into work on Wednesday so my taste tester friend, Leanne, could critique them.  She liked the mint icing.  Another friend, Penny (hey Penny, welcome to the blog), didn’t care for it too much, but she loved the cupcake itself.  The frosting wasn’t my thing either, so I’ll figure out a different flavor next time.

But I digress . . .

Wednesday’s meetings seemed to go by a little quicker, although I pretty much stayed in my shell again.  I felt so weighted down.

I worked in my classroom during lunch and got some books boxed up for my friend, Barbara.  She had loaned me a number of them eight years ago when I started teaching reading, and I had finally gone through them on Monday and pulled the ones I knew my students had not been reading the last few years.  This made room for the oodles of new books I’ve purchased recently.

Being productive helped me feel a tad better.  My classroom is my safe haven at school, and watching it come together was very satisfying.

We had one last round of meetings during our afternoon session before we got to leave.

I was still in my funk and checked in with a friend to see how she was doing.  Hearing her perspective on her day and her reflections on the week gave me pause.

This was the conversation I needed to remind me that I needed to snap out of it.

I realized that I was probably setting a poor example and giving new teachers on our team a bad first impression of me.

So, I’m swimming my way to the top of whatever huge wave I’ve been crushed under lately.

I’m trying to pray, although if I can be honest with you, I’ll admit that I wasn’t in a good place emotionally to pray Tuesday afternoon.  By Tuesday night, I was ready to talk to God and re-read my devotion.  I slept well that night despite the angst in my heart – proof that there is One who is able to pull me out of whatever hole I can’t find my way out of.

Please pray for all of the educators and others who work in the system.  Please pray for energy as we prepare for the littles of all grade levels.  We are already worn out, and the school year hasn’t even begun for many of us yet!  Please pray that those in leadership will make wise decisions – decisions based on what is best for kids – and that such people will see these students for who they are . . . young people with names and personal stories . . . not data points.

Thanks y’all!

Setting Up

Even though we didn’t have to report for school on Monday, I went ahead and got up early.

First on my to-do list was a walk.

It was 73 degrees – almost blissful when compared to the heat I’d faced the day before.

The sunrise was glorious.

I am so glad that the developer of my neighborhood left some of the natural foliage.  It’s a welcome respite from the sidewalks and streets that line my route.

It was just early enough to see a bunny friend.

Y’all, I put in some miles!  I was proud of myself when I finished.

When I finished, I gave the dogs some treats to placate my guilt.

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Then, I loaded up my car because y’all, we teachers bring a LOT of stuff home during the summer, and headed to the school.

When I opened my classroom door, this is the sight that greeted me . . .

It may look bad to you, but this was the best shape I’d ever found my room in.  The floors had been waxed, and some of the tables had been returned to their proper places.

After rearranging a few things, I got down to what my true love is . . . books!!

It was like a family reunion as I pulled each stack of books out from under my cabinets.

There were a lot of stacks, because I buy all the books.

I grouped the books by author, series, and theme and began setting them out on my tables, countertops, and book displays.

I set a few out to do as book talks the second week of school.  My plan is to have students read independently the first ten to fifteen minutes of class each day.

I stayed until 2pm and headed home and relaxed the rest of the day.

It’s all about the pacing, y’all . . . slow and steady wins the race.

Weekending with Auburnchick

It’s Tuesday, and I’m only now getting around to posting about last weekend.

Yep, school prep is in high gear.

Sigh.

Let’s begin with Friday.  Gambit had an appointment for a bath, but I accidentally slept through it and had to reschedule.

Oops.

Although I didn’t have to go in to work, I was so overwhelmed with an already-growing to-do list, so I spent the day on that.

Lesson planning is extremely time consuming.  We don’t start school until the 15th, which means that we’ll only have a three-day week with the kids, but the planning is still intense even for that short amount of time.  There are so many routines and class norms, even at a high school level, that a teacher has to establish.

I’ve got two preps this year, which many teachers would trade their loads for but which is overwhelming for me.

I’ll be starting out by explaining to each group of students what their respective classes entail.

That’s my Smartboard file, which I create for each week as a visual for the kids and myself.

I worked all afternoon and was tired when I finished.  It wasn’t pretty, y’all.

Yeah, I think I stayed in my pajamas all day.  I really cannot remember.  That could have been the evening we went to Chili’s.  If we did, I changed clothes.  I promise.

On Saturday, I took Gambit to his appointment, which I’d smartly rescheduled for 11am – plenty of time for me to wake up.

He smelled amazing when I picked him up a couple of hours later.

How bad would it be to say that I don’t remember what I did the rest of the day?

Y’all, the struggle is REAL.  I know that I didn’t work because I forced myself not to.  I’m still recovering from my concussion, so I know that I can’t push myself too hard.

Oh, and how could I forget about the mail.  Look what I got . . .

I found the case on Amazon, but there was a card inside from fakemeats.com.  I think this was the actual seller.

And, wouldn’t you know it, but I found two or three recipes that include jackfruit in them in this cookbook, which I purchased around Christmas.

I’ll be sure to post the results of anything that I try.

Sunday, the Mr. had to go in to work.  I’d already elected to stay home from church because loud stuff still makes my head hurt.  He wound up needing to take my car since he couldn’t get into his work vehicle, which forced me to not run errands.

Darn.

I did get out and go for a walk, my first since June and really, my first workout of any kind since hitting my head.

I had signed up for the Half-Giant Half Marathon, a Hogwarts Running Club event.  Sunday’s walk was going to be the first leg of it since I knew I couldn’t make it the full distance.

It was a little later in the morning than I would have preferred, and it was hot as all get out.

I was careful, though.  Although I could hear my pace being announced through my ear buds every half mile, I tried not to let it stress me out.  Yes, I was going slow, but I knew that I needed to reacquaint myself to the whole move-your-body thing.

I had originally told the Mr. that I would only walk a mile.

He should have known that I wouldn’t stick to that.

Truth be told, I should have only gone two miles.  I wasn’t feeling very good when I got home – probably the result of the heat and my head hurting.

It felt good, though, to get out.

You can only put Baby in the corner for so long.

I spent the rest of the day, after I showered, in my pajamas while I binged on my new favorite Amazon Prime show, Bosch, and finished up a knitting project (pictures to be posted eventually).

Selectively Social

Thursday morning was my first pre-planning day at school. It was Day 1 of three of meetings.

It had been storming for over twenty four hours; my headache was worse than the day before.

I tried not to let that affect my mood as I left the house.

The theme of this year’s planning sessions is “We’re under construction.” My school is literally under construction with two buildings torn down and a new one on its way up.

The administrators had fun with the decorations. I may need to keep the hard hat to protect me from errant walls.

I said hello to a couple of teachers and got myself a spot where I could see and hear well.  If you’ve ever been in an educational in-service, you know that teachers are the worst about talking when someone is presenting information.

Ahem.

So, here’s the thing. Although I can talk a person’s ear off one-on-one, I just do not do groups well. I’m quiet. I’m content to sit on my own, observing others or lost in my thoughts.

If you’re an introvert like me, you know how much energy it takes to engage in social situations.

I needed to conserve my energy on Thursday. Fighting a constant headache had drained me.

So I sat, tried my best to listen to the information coming at me – most of which I already knew, and stayed aloof.

I didn’t go out to lunch, even though I was glad to be invited by a tender-hearted Freshman English teacher. I wanted to check on my classroom, but mostly, I needed to sit in the quiet library.

I was able to plan most of the first week of school and start work on my Smartboard file for those lesson plans.

I found the ninety-minute lunch break a blessed respite.

The afternoon session was taken up by ELL training. It was one of the best I’ve ever had, but I wasn’t up for all of the collaborative discussions and moving around. The trainer was a loud, energetic gal (a gem of a teacher, truly), which was hard on my throbbing head. I did my best (well, maybe not my best, but we all have our days), but it was a struggle.

I felt bad after I left. I had not spoken to a couple of people I’m close to. I had not introduced myself to a new teacher. I stayed in my shell, or rather my Hogwarts Running Club hoodie.

It’s hard when you’re introverted and shy. In the past, I’ve been accused of being a snob. Sometimes, people think I’m angry.

I’ve was once told that being introverted was an excuse not to engage with people. That statement hurt my feelings and made me withdraw more.

Thursday, our principal advised us to stay in our lane so we don’t get caught up in or create drama among ourselves.

Y’all, I live in my own lane. I’ve seen what can happen when I veer away from it – I do dumb things like trip over dogs or walk into walls.

I really hope that people don’t misunderstand me. I have a sincere love for most people (sandpaper people not so much), and I am loyal as all get out. I’ll bend over backwards to help someone too. I’m passionate about what I do and give 150%. I think that’s why I run out of energy.

Ugh.

I wish I was an extrovert. I guess we always want what we don’t have, eh?

Maybe I should just stop worrying about what people think and just be me.

Now there’s a thought.

De Nile

Denial – It ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Oh Summer, how can you be over already?

Wednesday, I had to attend District in-service training, which meant that I was up at the butt crack of dawn.

Because I still can’t work out, I had plenty of time on my hands – a good or bad thing depending on your perspective.

I used it to do some baking.

Oh yeah.  I had those things in the oven at 6am, which I can prove with the InstaStory I posted.

I was showered and made up by 7 – the earliest I’d been up in a long time.

A bit bleary-eyed still

Thank goodness for Snapchat filters.  They make me look like I actually know how to apply makeup.

The dogs were a bit sleepy, but they didn’t mind that they got to eat two hours earlier.

As I left, I faced a bleary drive; the weather was supposed to be bad.  Traffic was heavy as I made my way to the college, where my training was being held.

I love this flag.  It is HUGE, and I get a lump in my throat every time I see it.

I had signed up for the Khan Academy session, which I use to help my students to prepare for the SAT.

I actually enjoyed the training.  Getting together with other educators across the district who have the same prep was akin to a family reunion.  We got to celebrate each others’ successes, which were incredible last year.

We broke for lunch, and I headed toward the beach to a little cafe that Chicky had found when she dog sat for us in June.

Take a look at the menu – a vegan’s dream!

I ordered the Power Wrap, and boy was it tasty!  I saved half of my meal and took it home for dinner.

I was impressed that the box was paper – not Styrofoam.  The fork was some sort of thin wood material, kind of like a tongue depressor.  It was a little strange to eat with, but I totally respected the care given to the environment.

They got us out of there on time, thank goodness, because this girl was a little tired.  It was POURING when I left, so I went straight home, much to the joy of my pups.

I spent the rest of the afternoon resting.  The Mr. and I ate leftovers, I watched Big Brother, and I headed to bed early.

The dogs were funny.  They always race to the bedroom because they want to snag the dog bed closest to mine.

Gambit lost out – a rarity.  He wasn’t pleased.

Pele, on the other hand, wasn’t going anywhere.

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Gambit tried to trick Pele off of the bed by running into the hallway.  Pele stayed put, so Gambit snuck onto the bed anyway.

It was really hard turning all of my alarms on that night.  As I thankfully found out earlier that afternoon, I had work the next day.  I’m glad that God stepped in and helped me figure out that tidbit.  I would have been in bed sleeping on Thursday.

Ahem.

I usually have three or four of them, just in case I don’t hear one go off.

Y’all, De Nile is a very big river around these parts these days.

Back to School Nightmares

The nightmares have begun – in earnest.

If you’re a teacher, you know exactly what I mean.

If you’re not a teacher but a mom, you’ll be able to identify with the phenomenon known as back to school nightmares.

When you’re an expectant mom, you have those dreams of leaving the baby in the car (so scary nowadays with all of the children dying of heatstroke in vehicles).

My teacher nightmares usually start up a couple of weeks prior to pre-planning; however, this year, I began having these dreams in June.

For freaking sake, can my subconscious please give me a break?

I’ve had about three dreams where I’m at school, and I discover that my classroom has been been changed – without anybody notifying me.  I actually told my principal about this when I happened to be at the school the morning after the first dream with a “Ha, ha.  Don’t you dare think of moving me.”

I need this shirt.  Seriously.

Y’all, this will be my seventh year in my room.  I love it.  It’s large, spacious, and mine.  Yes, I have laid claim to it.  It’s perfect for conducting reading stations.  My students do not sit in desks; they sit around long tables to better facilitate collaborative learning.  I had desks my first year at this school, and putting them together into groups was a royal pain in the rump.

Last week, I had a dream where I thought I had first period planning then realized, a little late, that I actually had a class.  Every teacher has made the dreaded run down the hallway when mischievous children are left to their own devices.  It doesn’t matter how old the kids are; they wreak havoc at any age.

A few nights ago, I dreamed that it was the first day of class, and my students – high school, mind you – would NOT SIT DOWN.  They were so, so, so bad.  I have good classroom management, y’all, but in that dream, I remember thinking that I had not planned well enough for the first day of school.  Maybe the dream was a warning that I needed to get on the ball with that.

Ahem.

I hope that one day, when I’m fortunate enough to retire, I won’t have these dreams any more.  I suspect that I will – at least the first year – when I’m establishing a new routine for myself.

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