Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Slice of Life Tuesday--Moving out West!

Today was a big day. I officially told my school that I won't be back next year.  I'm leaving New Jersey, the only place I've ever lived, and moving out West to Denver!  And although I can't wait for a new start and new adventures, and lots of beautiful scenery, I can't help but reflect on the things I'm leaving behind to make this big move...

I'm going to miss my family--my parents, little brother, grandparents, and yes, my dogs.  They've been a constant source of love and encouragement and support.  I wouldn't be able to get through a single day without them.  

I’m going to miss the town where I grew up—despite heart breaks and fights and scapes and falls and a general lack of things to do—yet the perfect place to grow up.

I’m going to miss my school—despite my gripes and frustrations and tears, there’s been lots of learning and laughter and friendship and kindness and love. It's the only place I've been a teacher and it feels strange to be starting over as a teacher in a new school.

I’m going to miss my classroom--the biggest classroom I've ever been in, the one where I've  spent more time than any place else in the past two years; the place that's almost become a home away from home; the  place where there has been a lot of giggles and smiles and bright colors and mistakes and success.

I’m going to miss my friend just down the hall—our fourth period coffees and rantings and friendship; and her wisdom and generosity and joy for teaching—my reminder that if there's even just one teacher as inspiring as her, I'll never leave this profession. 

I’m going to miss that feeling of comfort and safety and companionship.  I'm going to miss the people who have changed my life in so many ways.

But I'm craving mountains and big skies and adventures out West. Today, I'll feeling a combination of excitement and fear and a little bit of sadness all jumbled up in one.  

However, I can't help but feel at ease and ready for the new things to come, though I'll never forget the people and places that I'm leaving behind.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Slice of Life Tuesday--Detention

Oh how warm weather, the end of testing, and summer just on the horizon can transform a classroom.

Needless to say, the past few days have been a struggle in my class.  My kids are craving summer--they're tired, burnt out, and long for lazy summer days, vacations, and NO SCHOOL! There are still six weeks left of the school year and so much more to learn though! But try and explain that to a group of rambunctious--yet fantastic--12 year olds!

As I try to muster my way through the finish line on June 21, my students are dragging behind.  They've been overly chatty and cranky and silly and sometimes rude, and that was especially true today in room 204 during 6th, 7th, and 8th period.  Hence, today's "detention"!

This was how our first "detention" of the year went, which lasted a total of 5 minutes, if that:

I scramble to detention in room 204. I almost forgot to show up--woops!

My sixth graders arrive--some giggling, some serious, some stressed, some out of it--as many sixth graders can be at all times--and many complaining and whining that they just don't have time for detention. And the first student to arrive is the one who is always the last to arrive to class--interesting, I think.  So you can make it somewhere on time! I knew it!

Some students scramble to my desk with things to discuss:

"I have a track meet that starts at 3:30 and it takes me at least 25 minutes to change!" (seriously 25 minutes to change and lace up your sneakers!?) 

" I have a lacrosse game that I can't be late to !" 

"My mom needs to take me somewhere soon!" Sigh. Ughh!!

Boo-hoo, maybe you should've thought about that every time you turned around to talk to your friend while I was teaching--I think to myself.  Then I guiltily remember I'm a respectable teacher and I shouldn't be thinking things like that, but hey, I just can't help it after today.

I signal my students to take a seat and wait for everyone to get here.  They're antsy, I can tell. They're genuinely worried about being late to practice, to their meets, to meet Mom. I start to feel bad. The final stragglers stumble in.

3:09- 3:11: 
I ask my kids to tell me why they think that we're here for detention.  Silence.  I stare at the clock.  Then a few hands.  One students says, "Well there are certain people in this class--not saying any names-- that were being rude and wouldn't stop talking--not me though!" I explain that it wasn't just a few select kids, but in fact, a large majority of our class.  I explain that we've got over a month left of school and we want to end it on a great note--not with detentions and frustrated students and certainly not cranky teachers who are normally cheery and smiling.

Another student explains that sometimes they can't help talking because "once one person starts, it spreads like a wildfire in block!" Hah, that's a good way of putting it--and he used a simile--so that makes me smile.  These kids somehow manage to always win me over.

I ask ,"What can we do to make our classroom run more smoothly? What can I do to help?" We brainstorm some ideas.

I remind them, "We still have 6 weeks of school and we've got so much more to learn, so let's try to do our best together! I've got some things to work on myself.  Last time  I see you for detention? Deal? Promise we'll all, myself included, try a little harder tomorrow?"

Harmoniously they shout, "okay" and bolt out the door so fast I can barely make out a goodbye.

So, I'm hopeful that tomorrow will be a better day--for teachers and students alike--when my students try to be better behaved, and their teacher a little more patient and understanding, and certainly less cranky.