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Did They See?

This morning, three principals (mine and two from other schools), along with three District-based people, visited my classroom.  They were there to quietly observe my students and take notes about what they saw around my room.

Although I’d been warned ahead of time, I was still extremely nervous.

The fact that my students were taking a test to end a unit we’d just finished made things interesting.  The observers were extremely kind, though, and I was able to speak to each of them, at various points during the visit.

As I stood in the corner of my room, keeping an eye on my students, I tried to see my room through the eyes of my visitors.

Did they look at the back counter and see a hodgepodge and somewhat messy assortment of books, or did they see a few dozen pieces of well-read, teenage-relevant literature?

As they neared the front of my room, did they see a very un-elementary-ish bulletin board and a mess of papers and notebooks below, or did they see the affirmations that nearly 80 students wrote about themselves the first week of school…their promises to ignore the negative words around them and believe in the potential inside themselves?

As they turned and glimpsed shelves of books, hastily stuck here and there, did they see more evidence of a teacher’s lack of organization, or did they exercise their Superman powers to see through the book covers and into the stories themselves…stories that are resonating with my students and the different life experiences they bring into the classroom every day?

I wondered, as they spied the table in front of my room…the one with extra copies of the day’s assessment (this was, after all, the beginning of the day with many more students to test)…if they saw only a teacher’s basic supplies…sticky notes, staplers, paperclips.  Did they possibly notice my “Hot Reads” books…the ones I spend time reading aloud to my kids each day…the ones we talk about…make connections with…learn more about life through?  And those sticky notes…they did think they were just for marking random things, or did they know that they’re used as bookmarks in the classroom, faithfully moved forward through so many books until they either wear out or students finish their books…the same students who started the year by claiming they weren’t readers.

I wondered, as they asked my students, “What have you been studying,” and my students answered, to my heartfelt delight, “text structures,” if they heard more than rote language.  Was it possible that they were able to glimpse that students were learning history while in an “English” class…that they were discovering how certain stereotypes were created and fostered over the years?

Then, as these observers left the room, I wondered if they might have taken one more look back and noticed the cap and gown near the door.  Did they see these items as just that, or did they see students gazing upon the cap ang gown, envisioning themselves wearing these items in the next couple of years?  Did they see the potential the cap and gown represent…the whispered promise that anyone can become anything?

As they closed the door after their fifteen minute visit, did they see this poster?

Fifteen minutes isn’t nearly enough time to observe my students being all of these things, because in my class, we don’t just learn about reading or English, and we don’t just take tests (hardly ever, truth be told).

We learn about life.

We learn how to have manners, how to treat each other with respect, how to work as a team, and how to stretch our brains beyond what we think we know.

We learn that no matter what our home lives are like, the moment we step into the classroom, we are part of a family where we aren’t judged by our skin colors, religious preferences, test scores, or reading levels.

We learn that everyone’s opinions matter and there’s something to be learned from everything.  We learn that nobody is better than the person sitting beside or in front him or her.

We learn to dream big, aim high, and try harder when we fall short.  We learn that we will be held accountable for our actions, our hard work, and even our laziness.

I wonder…did my observers see the real classroom…the real people…the real hearts beneath the surface?

That Moment

You know that one of my favorite things about teaching is watching my students change from being non-readers to kids who cannot put their books down.

It’s a metamorphosis, y’all…a process I am honored to witness every single year.

This year, I am teaching two intensive reading blocks.  These kiddos have the pleasure (ahem) of getting read to nearly every day.

This year, we’ve read The Honest Truth (gripping), Stuck in Neutral (nail biter at the end), and most recently Life Happens Next.

The last book is a sequel to the aforementioned one…both written by Terry Trueman.

Stuck in Neutral is about a boy named Shawn.  He has Cerebral Palsy.  Everyone thinks he’s a vegetable.  He’s not.  He has perfect auditory memory and can read, when his eyes will light on text long enough for him to focus on it.  He also thinks that his father is planning to kill him.

Is your interest piqued?  I know that my kids’ were.

So, we read the first book.  I didn’t tell them there was a second book, relishing their anguish at the cliffhanger of the first.

I am evil that way.  It’s one of the fun parts of being a teacher.

Anyhoo, the second book picks up where the first left off, introducing a couple of new characters.

My kids have been mesmerized.  Shawn’s personality comes through loud and clear…sarcastic but oh so relevant as a teenager.

I finished reading the book today, and I decided to share the author’s notes at the end.  I remembered being blown away by the fact that Mr. Trueman based his characters off of people in his own life.

My kids were in awe, and they had great questions about what happened to the “real” people.

So, being the fangirl that I am, I tweeted out to the author.

And he responded.

Don’t you just love being acknowledged by royalty?  In my world, authors rank right on up there with Prince William and Princess Kate.

For real, though.

Here’s what I received late this afternoon…

As I’m typing this, I am literally giddy.  I cannot WAIT to share this tweet with my kids.

It is a moment like this that solidifies their journey as readers…connecting with characters…reaching beyond their own lives in their quest to understand others.

I mean, y’all…you should have seen my kids’ responses when a character in the book passed away, unexpectedly.  The class had begged for “one more chapter.”  I had acquiesced to their request.

And then the character died.

And the room was dead silent.

For longer than a minute.

Until they blamed the gal who had finally convinced me to read that chapter.

Nobody saw it coming.  This would have ranked as a first class blindside on the show Survivor.

The fact that they were flabbergasted was “that moment.”

It was the moment that preceded today’s “moment.”

In the course of the year that I have my kiddos, we string many “moments” together that keep the kids coming back year after year until they graduate.  We often talk about books.  Sometimes, they’ll borrow some from me.  Mostly, our exchanges are about the bonds that we formed while they were students in my class…teacher to student…human to human.

So, I thank authors like Terry Trueman who stick their necks out and write about difficult topics to get us to think outside of the box…to ponder on things that go beyond the surface…to pick at feelings we didn’t know we had.

When Today is Hard

Gosh, but yesterday was one of those hard teaching days.

Well, actually it was only part of the day but still.

When things are going well, and then they don’t, it’s easy to doubt myself.  This year has been complicated two-fold with a broken ankle and the Mr.’s recent health crisis.  Questions constantly swirl in my mind.

Am I really a good teacher?

Am I still connecting with my students?

Am I leaving a lasting impact on their lives?

That’s when God gently reminds me that yes, I am, doing all of the above.

Running into this precious sweet girl…a young lady I taught six years ago…

She was in my first class at my current school…my second year of teaching but my first as a reading teacher.

I had no idea what I was doing with this prep.

This young lady sat in the back of my classroom, smiled, and nodded at everything I said.

I kid you not.

She lit up my world every day she was in class, and let me tell you, I don’t remember her missing many, if any.

She continued to brighten up my days each year that she was at my school until she graduated.  She and I are friends on Facebook now, and I love watching her continue to mature.  She is incredible.

I ran into her at Walmart when she had taken the day off of work to raise money for her church.

Go ahead and let your heart take that in a moment.

Every time we get together, she thanks me for being a wonderful teacher and getting her through her ninth grade year.

I love her, that’s for sure.  She made me a better teacher and a better human being.  She’s as beautiful inside as on the outside.

And then on Saturday, while out shopping at the mall, I ran into a current student of mine…another ninth grader.

She’s rough around the edges, y’all, but I love her.  I don’t know why the toughest kids manage to burrow their way into my heart, but they do.

She insisted that we take a selfie, and I acquiesced.  She often tells me that I’m her favorite teacher.  I think it’s because I don’t judge her.  I just listen.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t speak up if I think she needs to clean up her act, but I love her no matter what.

Thinking about her brings to mind one of my favorite students ever.  I’ll call him KH for short.

He was another ninth grader I taught about five years ago, I think.

I ran into him when Chicky was up here a couple of weekends ago (I should have started this post with him so it would be chronological…and the fact that we are working on text structure in my class has obviously left its mark on my brain…ha!).

Anyhoo…he was a dream to teach…once I got past his tough exterior.  What a teddy bear this young man is.  Every time I see him, I have to give him a hug.  He’s in college now and doing well.  I’m not surprised.  He’s always been determined.

And then there’s M, a sweet girl I taught either three or four years ago (there goes that time thing again).  She did the high school graduation thing and has been trying to find her way.  She recently came back into my life because she works at my physical therapist’s office.  She came and sat beside me during my second session and encouraged me.  She texts me to see how I’m doing.  I’m working with her to help her pass one of her college entry exams, so we have dinner together sometimes.  She’s becoming a friend now.  The mentoring hasn’t stopped, but it’s on a more adult level now.

I could keep on describing my kids to you, but you’d probably get bored and stop reading.

The point is that when I’m feeling like I’m not making a difference, God puts the kids from my past forefront in my mind.  He reminds me that I didn’t think I was having an impact back when they were in my classroom either…that I doubted myself back then.  Confidence is something I have always struggled with.

Even though I can’t see the changes immediately, God is working on them.

And so I go forth, a little battle weary some days, but trusting in His plan and looking to Him for the energy to push through even when my feelings have been hurt or when I wonder if I’ve said or done the right thing.

When today is hard, I need to revisit this post and praise God for what He’s done, what He’s doing, and what He’s going to do next.

Seven Weeks Post-Op

Today marks seven weeks ago that I had surgery to repair my trimalleolar fracture.

It’s hard to believe that it was two months ago (11/13/16) that I fell and broke my ankle in three places!

I hope you’re not getting tired of these posts, but I need them to document my progress.  I also hope that they’ll be a source of inspiration to others who may be going through something similar.

I’ve got to tell you that I feel as though I’ve come a long way this past week.

I enjoyed one last day before I had to go back to school.  A nap was in order.

It was short-lived, though.  I got up and prepared another batch of the Soul-Soothing African Peanut Stew.  I wanted to have something for lunch the rest of the week.

I had a cute helper.

I went out to check the mail later in the afternoon and, on a whim, decided to see if I could crutch my way to the corner of my street.

I did, and when I got back to my house, I decided to put on the new ear buds that the Mr. had given me for Christmas…the ones that record my heartbeat and calories burned…and made another round!  I wound up walking almost a mile!  It was the first mile I’d collected for Charity Miles (check out the free app) since November 13th, the day I broke my ankle.

I cannot tell you what an emotional lift my walk was to me.  The longer I walked/crutched, the more I could envision myself walking normally again.  My gait became more natural, and I began pressing less and less on my crutches.  The weather was gorgeous that day, so being out and about was therapeutic.

We resumed school the next day.  Gambit was not amused.

It was my first day back at work since I got my boot on the 23rd of December.  Thank goodness I’d had practice walking around on crutches.

I dressed up in one of the new outfits the Mr. bought me after Christmas.

I took my scooter to work each day last week, but I only used it a couple of times.  I was supposed to be putting 75% body weight on my foot, so I knew that taking the easy way out by relying on the scooter too heavily would hinder my progress.

The first day back was a little tough, and my ankle swelled pretty good, as did my foot.  Still, I managed a fun dinner out, in the middle of the week, with my hubby…along with a rare glass of wine…rare these days because I’m being extra careful with what I’m putting into my body so the focus can be on healing.

Thank goodness for Epsom Salt!  I bought this from Amazon.  The salt is finer, so it dissolves a little better.

Last Wednesday marked a BIG milestone for me.

I got to sleep in bed WITHOUT the boot!

It was the first time in almost two months that my foot wasn’t confined while I slept.

I still kept it elevated on a pillow, but y’all…to be able to turn, gently, without five extra pounds weighing me down…

Oh my goodness!

When I woke up, nearly all of the swelling in my leg was gone.  It looked nearly normal.

Needless to say, I love bedtime now.  I’d dreaded it up to this point because I never slept well.  My sleep quality is slowly improving each night, although I am being super-careful not to twist my ankle when I turn over at night.

I went walking again on Thursday, but I think I overdid it a little.

By the end of first period on Friday, my ankle was shot.  I still have one area that hurts with regularity.  It’s the area where I think I have a pin, and it feels like a super-bad blister when it starts hurting.  The skin around it also gets red.

I took pictures of it and sent them to my nurse.  She still hasn’t responded.  Ugh.  I suspect that she must be out because she’s always so diligent to reply.

Before the weather turned cold on Friday, I did manage to get out and about (despite my sore ankle)…

I’ve definitely gotten more adept with the crutches and move along pretty well!

The weather here in Florida turned bitter cold late Friday night and through the weekend.  I’d been told that I’d be able to feel it in my bionic ankle, and boy did I ever!  It ached so badly Friday and Saturday night that I had to take Advil.  I’m praying that this gets easier with each cold season.  I cannot like this.  At all.

I must have been exhausted after the first few days back to school.  I got the best sleep since before I broke my ankle.

All of that rest was good for my ankle.  It looked amazing when I woke up.

This is the side that hit the floor directly when I fell.

This is the side that has the plate.

This is the side that has the plate.

Gambit acts as my personal escort now.  He’s constantly by my side in the house…

The Mr. and I went to a movie Saturday.  We finally saw Rogue One, which we enjoyed.  I crutched my way around the theater and up and down the stairs about three times.  On the way back to my seat after using the restroom, I saw a guy wearing a boot.  Of course I had to talk, and I learned that he’d broken his bone above his ankle the week after I broke mine.  He’s sporting a plate and screws too.  He gets around with a cane.  It seems that I keep running into people with similar injuries.  It’s my own little family.  ❤

I found these cute socks at Kohl’s on Sunday when we went shopping after church.  They were on clearance, and I wound up getting them free after we used Kohl’s cash.

I also found these slippers, which I got free as well after using my store cash.

It hurts a little to put anything around the back of my right foot.  Considering that I broke a bone in the back, that makes sense.  It’s still swollen back there!

As my healing progresses, I am gaining more independence.  I can now get myself into and out of the shower unaided.  Yay!  I can also get myself into the bathtub, on those nights that I feel like soaking my ankle this way.  I still need help getting out of the bath, though.  I’m very afraid of falling again.

I can do even more things around the house.  I ironed clothes Sunday night after the Mr. set up the ironing board for me.  I only dropped a crutch twice and spilled a cup of water once.  Oops.

I haven’t gotten a bone density test done yet, but I’m already taking supplements…

Yeah, my house is starting to look more and more like your grandma’s house.

Here’s a homeopathic gel I read about online.

You can find Arnica in gel and cream forms.  I found the above at Walmart.  I’ve had burning pain since before my cast was removed.  Massaging my leg with coconut oil had helped a little.  This gel is magic.  I can put it on and be pain free shortly afterward.  I read about it on a broken ankle support forum.  Thank you, Lord, for allowing man to invent the internet.  🙂

So, that’s my update for this week.  I continue to be amazed at God’s grace and the way He constantly provides for me.  Every time I’ve been anxious, I’ve felt His Spirit calming me down.  Though I still sometimes question why I have had to go through this, I choose to trust the Author of my story.

Thank you for your continued prayers.  I know that they are a major reason why I’m healing…why I’m so close to taking my first steps unaided.


Back in the Saddle

Well, I guess you could say it’s official.

I am back in the saddle thanks to the scooter I blogged about in my previous post.

Here it is, Saturday morning at 6:23, and I realize that I’m falling back into my old patterns…not having a lot of time to blog.

Work, y’all.

Being able to get around on the scooter has been liberating.  It’s much more stable than the crutches I was using before and a lot less cumbersome than the wheelchair I’d been tootling around in at school.

Let’s recap my week, though.

On Monday, I resumed stations with my reading students.

Stations are centers that have various comprehension activities.  The teacher is always a station.  It’s where we get to work up close and personal with the kids.  You can see that the article I was using was relevant.

Meanwhile, the weather outside had turned yucky.  It did some serious pouring, which proved a challenge when the Mr. came and picked me up from school.

He was such a gentleman.  He gave me his heavy rain jacket so I wouldn’t get wet.

Oh man, but that guy is earning some huge gems for his crown in heaven.

He also helped me put my right leg (the one with the cast) in a plastic garbage bag so it wouldn’t get wet.  It was raining that hard.

Then, with my itty bitty umbrella that I happened to have in my classroom, he first took my stuff to his car and then returned and walked beside me as I scootered to the curb.

Getting down from the curb is always challenging…more so when it is pouring.  He got me in, and I had nary a drop of water on me, and he put the scooter in the back of his car.

The poor guy.  He was sopping wet when he got in the driver’s seat.  I felt so badly for him.  He had to change his clothes when he got home so he’d have something dry to wear when he returned to work for the afternoon.

By Tuesday morning, the rain was gone. I followed my regular routine to get ready.

During my planning period, I hunkered down for some serious grading.

I just cannot get caught up.

Having extra essays to grade that I was told would be graded by other teachers irked me…especially because these essays had been written over a month ago, and the kids had been waiting on feedback.  I could have provided this weeks ago.

I still have so much grading from the substitute work the kids completed while I was out.  I stuck half of the stack in my bag to go home with me.

Tuesday evening, I was back in the kitchen cooking for the first time since I broke my ankle.  I made Tofu Scramble.

It felt so good…so normal…to be sort-of standing in front of the stove again.  The Mr. was my sous chef.  Actually, he was watching over me to make sure I didn’t do anything risky.  He very, very protective of me right now.  This whole experience with my ankle has made us appreciative of good health and over-cautious with my activities until I am healed fully.

On Wednesday, I had Day 2 of my Clinical Educator training…

I did this training so I can officially mentor student teachers.

That afternoon, when I got home, I had goodies in the mail…

That eye shadow palette had been on sale for 50% off…a rare deal that I happened to see in an email and snatched up immediately.

I needed a new iRobot.  My other one began having problems before I broke my ankle.  Even though I’d ordered and installed a new battery, there were issues that I just couldn’t fix and couldn’t justify spending money to send off to have repaired.

The vacuums were on sale the day after Thanksgiving, so I ordered one.

Merry Christmas to me!

With three very hairy dogs in the house, this appliance is a MUST-HAVE.  Hopefully, the Mr. won’t have to run the upright vacuum any more, except to get in the crevices where the Roomba can’t reach.

Oh, and one really cool thing about the new Roomba is that it is wifi-enabled!  There’s an app that you can use to set up and run the vacuum!  It took me a few minutes to figure out how to connect to it, but once I did, I was actually able to change the schedule right from my phone the next day when we decided to run it a little earlier.  How cool is that?!

Wednesday afternoon, while I waited for the Mr. to return home from work, I did more grading (he’d forgotten to place my laptop within arm’s reach).

The grading though…sigh.

The Mr. didn’t feel like cooking dinner that night, we went out to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.  It was my first time there since I broke my ankle; it felt wonderful to be back.

Our server had a bit of a hard time understanding my order.  He wasn’t our regular guy.  I think he mistook my #3 request for three burritos.

I ate leftovers in my lunch for the next two days.

Thursday, I was back in my classroom, and it was a pretty easy day.  After school, the Mr. and I ran a couple of errands.  One that was important was getting a temporary handicap placard.  After going to the mall last weekend, I had quickly become aware of the need for parking spaces closer to the store.  I’m finding it challenging to navigate over the asphalt in parking lots; they are extremely bumpy and ridden with pebbles, which are rough on my ankle.

My doctor’s office was wonderful and emailed the form I needed within fifteen minutes of my request.  Getting the tag was a quick affair.

I have become very appreciative of such things as handicapped bathroom stalls and other accommodations for those who are not able to get around easily…things I never really thought much about before.

That night, I lesson planned…hard core…something I’d done every other night as well (in addition to the grading I was doing).  I’m trying to get my lesson plans written through the second week of January…semester exams.  My overachieving is necessary; being organized and ahead of the game will allow me to enjoy time with my family during Christmas break.

Friday could not get here quick enough.

I dressed down.


The weather had turned quite chilly, and I was all about being comfortable after dressing rather nicely despite the cast all week.

I had another rather easy day with my students.  We’ve started a new unit that involves a lot of front loading of terminology, so they got to take notes.

Chicky had taken a mental health day and had driven up here to visit a friend.  She stopped by my classroom and chatted with me for an hour.  Two of my classes were on a field trip, so I had an extra planning period.

It was wonderful to see her again.  She’d been such a blessing during my surgery.  ❤

When she left, she ate lunch with the Mr. and then hung around long enough to visit with us when we got home from school.

After she left, the Mr. and I vegetated.

After a quick dinner out at a breakfast diner place we frequent, we settled in for the evening.  There was a Star Wars marathon going on.  We were both exhausted from my first full week back at school; not thinking about anything or really doing anything was a wonderful respite.

I guess the basic point of this post is to show you that I’ve regained some normalcy.  The Mr. is still working too hard in his efforts to take care of me (his #1 priority), do his money-paying job, and maintain the house.

I’m on the countdown to get my cast off.  The day cannot get here quick enough, but there are a lot of things happening around Chez Auburnchick before then.

Although there are still near-daily tears at various frustrations, I am constantly reminded of God’s grace during this healing season.

I am still #findingjoyinthejourney even in the midst of my forays into Teardom.

The kindness shown by everyone…students, staff, friends, and even strangers…has helped me see that there is so much good in this world.

Just when I am at my lowest, God reminds me that He sees me…that He is present during this time of waiting…that His plans for me are perfect.

Back to Work, Post-Op

Yesterday was a big day for me.

It was my first day back to work, post-op!

I had stayed home Monday and Tuesday, unsure about if I was allowed to go back to work.  After going back and forth with the doctor’s office on Monday (they were slammed from the holiday weekend), I had enough information to decide to stay home that Tuesday.  I wanted to make sure my pain medication was out of my system.

Monday afternoon, I wrote out lesson plans for a sub and emailed them to my friend, Megan, who is also my department head at school.

She was so efficient that she had the copies made and instructions laid out before the end of the day.  She’s a girl after my own heart! ❤

This extra day off turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I was able to go in for my first post-op appointment, which had been changed from Thursday to Tuesday.  I’ll give you more details on that tomorrow.

When we got home, I began revamping my lesson plans.  Fortunately, I was picking up where I’d left off two weeks prior, so all that was required was copying and pasting into my template and redoing my Smartboard file.  It took a few hours, but when I finished, I had enough to work with for a week and a half.  My plan will be to completely write my lesson plans through the first week of January.

Overachieving is just in my nature, y’all!

I did manage to relax by watching one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time…

I slept fitfully, as I’m prone to do nowadays.  I cannot wait to get back into my bed, but that is still a number of weeks away.  I don’t know if I was nervous about school or what, but I just could not get comfortable.

I woke up on my own at 5am and dozed until about 5:30 before I gave up and sat up to read my First5 devotion.

The poor Mr.  He’s not an early-morning person, but he had set his alarm for 6am, and he groggily got up, let the dogs out to potty, and helped me to the bathroom.  He set out a dining room chair so I could fix my makeup and hair while sitting down.

The Mr. fixed me a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice and a rice cake with almond butter.  I’m not a huge fan of the almond butter, even if I don’t mind it in desserts, but because it has a lot of calcium, I’m trying my best just to eat it and not complain.

I munched on breakfast while I got my face ready to face the public.

It felt good to straighten my hair.  I was pleased with what I saw in the mirror.

Then, he helped me get dressed, although he grumbled as I added jewelry.

He doesn’t do mornings well…or so I told you.

He fixed my lunchbox and got it, my school bag (every teacher has quite a few of these), and my purse out to the car.

His new responsibility…well, one of them…is taking me to school each day.  Because I’ll be relying on the generosity of others to take me home many days, he’s trying to do what he can to offset that.

First, though, I made him take a picture.

I did put on a flip flop when we got to the garage.

I’m desperate to find the black flip flop I’d worn on and off since surgery, but it’s gone missing.  Could you say a prayer that I’ll find it?  This is driving me a little nuts.

Anyhoo, we got to the car, and off we went.

We have not ridden to work together in a long time.  It was nice to be with him a few minutes before the crazy day that I was about to embark on.

As he helped me into school, I saw one of the administrators, and boy, was she unhappy.  She was more than a little upset that I was returning to school.  I must have looked pitiful.  The Mr. echoed her sentiments.  He had wanted me to stay home as well.  We just weren’t sure how this was going to work.

Another gal, Cindy, rounded me up a wheelchair, and off we went to my classroom.  I wish I’d gotten a picture of that, but I think that would have pushed the Mr. over the edge.

He and another teacher got my stuff into my room, and oh my gosh, can I just tell you that walking into that room was an experience somewhat like what I imagine Martha Stuart would have walking into my house.

All I could do was notice how messy it was!

Chairs from the previous day had not been stacked, as I’d taught my 7th period class to do.

Three Chromebooks were missing (we did find them), and magazines and books were scattered.

My heart.

I got so stressed, that I thought I felt my leg throbbing.

It was so bad, and I was beside myself.

I talked myself down and made some plans in my head.

Meanwhile, the Mr. was nervous as he helped me set up what I needed for the day…my chair, my pillow, and my crutches.

He did leave, eventually, and I felt like a new teacher on the first day of my career.

It was overwhelming.

But, I didn’t have long to wallow.  A fellow teacher came into my room with a heartfelt welcome back announcement, and we chatted.

He was followed by two other teachers, one of whom came over and gave me the biggest hug.

Other people stopped by, and boy, did they make me feel like I was home.

Before classes started, I attempted to wheel myself to the bathroom.

Can we talk about wheelchairs?

They are not easy to navigate!  I have a newfound appreciation for the skills of disabled people who play competitive sports in wheelchairs.  What coordination!  Coordination that I discovered I was lacking.


I saw my friend, LeAnne, in the hallway.  She was wheeling a scooter to me.  Perfect timing!  She took over pushing my chair and got me to the bathroom.

Folks, the sign of a good friend is one who will go in the bathroom with you and flush after you go.

I kid you not.

That sweet lady then pushed me back to my room, and we chatted.  She came by during planning period (we have the same one) and got me back to the restroom again.  Love her!

Meanwhile, class was about to begin.

My first period class…can I say how much I love them?  They came in kind of slowly, and we had a chat…how I’d broken my ankle…what I would and wouldn’t be able to do (pretty much nothing but facilitate class)…how I needed them more now than ever.

They stepped up to the plate!  We spent about fifteen minutes cleaning my room.  I was the maestro who conducted their movements.

Then, we got down to the business of education, and they cooperated fully.

I had planning next, so I got to pee and re-group, thank heavens. I snapped this selfie…

Next was my first of two groups of ninth graders.  They are a sweet group…eager to learn.  After giving my story, I let them read silently, and we did class.  What a relief!

Then was lunch, and I’ve gotta tell you that I was hurting and tired by then.  I tried to keep my leg up as much as possible, but it can get really hard.  I had gotten up on my crutches once or twice but had sat down as quickly as I could.  I know that I have to keep the swelling down for healing to happen.

Honestly, though, if I could have gone home at this point, I think I would have.  I heard my recliner calling out its siren song to me.

But I didn’t.

I sucked it up.

During lunch, I went to the restroom on my own.

No.  Easy.  Task.

Opening my heavy classroom door was a nightmare.  I saw one of my students in the hallway and asked her to help me, which she did.  Thank heavens.

Fifth period came in after class, and it was during this class period that I decided that I do not like to teach sitting down.  It’s not who I am.  I am expressive.  I move around a lot.  I get in people’s spaces.  I can see people when I stand and see if they are paying attention.

I am doing the best I can, though.

Then, the class that I knew would be the hardest came in.

I’d been told that they were noisy while I was gone.

Yeah, they came in that way.

They tried to sit in other seats too.

Let’s just say that our beginning chat wasn’t as gracious.  I asked them to not stress me out because I needed to focus on healing my bones, not my stress levels.

The first part of class went o-k-a-y.  Not perfect, by any means. It was challenging, and I was using every bit of patience I could dig up.

By 7th period, I’d had enough of their rude chatter and fussed at them pretty hard.  They were being rude, and I didn’t have time for that.

I reminded them that I was still in charge, even if I was sitting in a chair, and that I was putting their needs above my own.

That settled them a little, and they got a little quiet while they read during silent reading time.

I did get them to put their chairs up and, for the most part, they left my classroom in better shape than what I’d walked into.

The Mr. was able to pick me up after work, and I could have thrown myself into his arms if I hadn’t had the bum ankle and if I thought he would have caught me.

He got me and all of my stuff back to his car, and we proceeded home with me telling him about my day.

I teared up a bit.  I was so tired.

As soon as I could, I climbed into my recliner for a nap.

Rooster called on his way home from work to check on me, and we have a wonderful conversation.  He’s doing well with his training, yay!  He listened patiently to me, and I just enjoyed the sound of his voice.  He’ll be home soon for his wedding.  I cannot wait to hug his sweet neck.

After we hung up, I snuggled into my pillow and got about two hours of a nap in.  I slept better than I had in days.

I woke up to the Mr. coming home from work.

We Face-timed our Rooster’s girl.  It was her birthday.  Such a sweet thing.  We enjoyed seeing her face and Rooster’s as he popped onto the screen.  ❤

Chicky called while the Mr. was getting ready to head out to grab some dinner for us.  She, too, was checking on my first day back.  Gotta love my kids.  They made me feel so special and loved.

Then, I did my thing…ate dinner, got a bath, and caught up on social media.

What can I ultimately say about my day?

It was so much harder to go back than I’d thought.

Thinking about how to do things sitting down was very challenging.  Not being able to run my classroom standing up was frustrating.

Going back did help my day go by faster.  Seeing my students again…most of them…made me happy.  Especially the girl who said she had three questions:

1)  Not a question…just a hug ❤ ❤ <3)
2) Could she sign my cast (no, because I’m keeping it clean for the wedding)
3)  Was I allergic to any foods because she had made a fabulous German Chocolate cake with vanilla icing that kind of fell apart but still tasted delicious.  I hated to tell her that I couldn’t have it because it had eggs and other stuff in it, but I suggested that she Google vegan cakes.  If she made one, I’d eat that.  I don’t know if she’ll follow through, but I loved her for all of her “questions.”  ❤

Each day will present its own challenges.

I think my biggest takeaway from the first day was that I need to take care of ME.  Simply being there and having a plan will be enough for the kids…so much better than a revolving door of substitutes who, though well-meaning, are not me…not trained for my kids’ specific needs…have not built the relationships with them that I have already this year.

Thank you for your words of encouragement and your prayers.  I covet them more now than ever.  I mainly ask for prayers for healing for my bones.  That is my number one priority right now.  Bone health, too, is a concern as I look to supplement my diet with calcium-absorbent foods that I actually like to eat or can tolerate enough to choke down.   Ahem.

Thank you all!!


Popular in the Classroom This Week

I snapped a few photos of the books my students finished this week…

The gal who finished By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead was mightily upset at the ending.

The reader gets no closure, and that frustrated her to no end.

I chuckled in understanding because I’d felt the same way when I read the book a couple of years ago.

As I put a new book into her hands, I assured her that she would get a resolution in the end.  She breathed a sigh of relief as she began reading.

The gal who read P.S. I Still Love You is tearing through my books this year!  She is one of the most voracious readers I’ve ever had.  She’s also got an open mind and is willing to read just about anything!  She already read the Lunar Chronicles series…a girl after my own heart.  One day this week, she got to school and pulled out three of my books.  She’d been holding them hostage at home, unbeknownst to me.

I was super proud of the young man who finished Takedown.  He’s one of my Intensive Reading kiddos…a nice young man…quiet.  It can be difficult to get my guys to read.  He’s already started on his next book.  I can’t remember the title.

The gal who read Burned eagerly began tearing into By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead.  In fact, we found a sticky note stating that this girl wanted to read it next…the result of a book talk I’d done the first week of school.

Everything, Everything was finished by a quiet young lady in my first period class.  I had training on Wednesday.  When I returned to school on Thursday, the gal was absent, but the students sitting at her table were quick to inform me that she’d finished the book.  I might have teased her on Monday about not finishing it for me last weekend.  I was eager to steal it away to read myself.

Needless to say, it came home with me.  I’m about a third of the way through with it and will probably finish it in the next day or two and then give a book talk on it.

Taking pictures of my kids with their finished books is a new thing for me.  I plan on putting the photos in my end-of-the-year class slideshows…the uncropped versions.  I cannot wait to see them sit up straighter as their faces cross the screen.  I hope they will be as proud of themselves as I am every single time a back cover gets closed.

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