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Teacher, Writer, Proofreader

Archive for the category “You Know You’re a Teacher When . . .”

Working On Me!

Since the whole Tinder-scammer fiasco last year (see posts below), I have had some pleasant dates with actual, real non-scamming dudes. However, I’m still trying to figure out this whole dating gig, even after being single for {cough}, let’s just say, a while now.

I’ve been on another dating site that has been a little less scammy, but I’m finding out more and more about myself as I trek along.

I don’t remember exactly how, but last summer, I stumbled upon multiple YouTube channels of these guys who provide dating and relationship advice to women. I’m a teacher, so that whole lifelong learner mantra stands true with me. I’m a sponge for information, especially when it’s secret intelligence that promises to enlighten me about the male psyche and how the hell I can avoid the emotional peril and perplexities I’ve encountered throughout my not-so-impressive dating life. So, I subscribed to a few of these guys’ YouTube channels.

Now, these experts charge for classes, webinars, downloads, and videos because these are their businesses. But, they also offer free tid-bits, to lure you in. I don’t mean that negatively, though. Truly, the only reason I haven’t already purchased one or more of their programs is because I’m an Oklahoma teacher, and I HAVE. NO. MONEY.

Let me tell you what their videos have done for me thus far.

  • They have encouraged me.
  • They have reminded me that I’m valuable, and that I need to act like it.
  • They have made me more aware of times when my behavior or attitude exudes insecurities instead of confidence.
  • They have shown me that I sometimes allow the negative and hurtful things from past relationships (dating or platonic) to dictate how I perceive the world, my circumstances, and men.
The main takeaway for me is this: Work on me. Make sure I’m happy within myself before I add a long-term relationship to the mix.

Now, I’ve known this in my head for a long time, and I thought just knowing it to be true was all that was necessary. But it’s not. I have to work on it, apply it, keep learning about myself and adjusting accordingly as I go. It’s not an overnight thing. It’s not a I’ve got it, I’ve arrived thing, either. It’s a growing, cultivating work of art. Yep, I’m a work of art and God is the artist. I know that analogy is overused, but it’s true. And I like it, so there. 😉

Does this mean I’m not allowing myself to meet and talk to guys? Nope! I’m just doing it with incremental confidence. Baby steps. Keep learning, keep trying, keep enjoying.

Tell me in the comment sections what you’ve learned about relationships and yourself lately.

Below are the aforementioned Tinder posts, in case you missed them. Know someone on Tinder? Share these posts!
  1. My Tinder Mission
  2. Tinder BS-O-Meter Sounds Again
  3. Actual Tinder Scamming Profile
  4. Tinder Photo Swiping
  5. Bye Tinder, I’m Swiped Out!
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Writing Prompt Day 7: My Hopes and Dreams

Well, this is a little overwhelming. I’ve got lots of hopes and dreams.

  • I dream of my degree actually paying off. Of paying off debt that I’ve accrued from living paycheck to paycheck on an Oklahoma teacher’s salary.
  • I dream of getting my freelance writing/editing/proofreading business off the ground to, at the very least, supplement my teacher pay.
  • I dream of traveling the U.S. and any place where I can bury my toes in the sand, listen to the waves, and enjoy the mood-lifting sunshine.
  • I dream of loving and being loved by a man who brings out the best in me. I want a relationship in which we encourage, challenge, and support each other; in which we are better people together than we are apart. I dream of having authentic, honest communication with him. I’ve waited long enough to know who I am, know what I’m worth, and know what I have to offer. I don’t say these things lightly or arrogantly. Anybody who really knows me, knows that to be true.
  • I hope that my family and friends know how much I love, need, and appreciate them.
  • I hope that others see me as a caring, grateful person.

That’s all I can come up with for this sitting. What are your hopes and dreams? Share them in the comment section! 🙂

 

A Teacher’s Decade: Suck it up, Buttercup!

Wednesday the 25th marked the official ending of my tenth year of teaching and my second year at Hefner MS. Unfortunately, the infamous Oklahoma budget cuts have forced me and many other teachers to leave our exceptional coworkers and administrators. Apparently, reading classes aren’t important enough to keep as core subjects if your school isn’t already a Title I school. But, whatever.

Experience and college degrees speak volumes in education, right?

Let’s talk a second about tenure and years of experience. The two are not compatible unless you stay in the same district forever. My 10 years of experience doesn’t count. My coworker’s 16 years of experience makes no difference. One of my social studies friends who has taught for ten years and enhances classroom learning with his military and travel expertise is still job hunting after being “let go.” We three have only one or two years each in the district. So, we are in the group that gets cut first.

Additionally, some districts and states won’t accept all of a teacher’s years of experience from another district or state. One of my colleagues has moved to Colorado. She already has a job lined up, but the Colorado district won’t accept all of her years of teaching science.

Is there any other profession that doesn’t really take into account all of your education and experience besides Monster Ed.? If there is, please inform me.

I call our educational system Monster Ed. because students are not a priority, at least not to those who are making the laws and mandates. It’s never really about the kids, and it certainly isn’t about the teachers. It’s about the almighty dollar, of course.

Perspective

However, since April, when my principal reluctantly conveyed that I would be looking for another job, my mind was bombarded by words that I say so often to my students.

In response to their, “That’s not fair!” declarations:

Life’s not fair. If anyone tells you that it is, they are lying to you. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome the obstacle. There’s always hope.

  • [sidebar] This reminds me of a Princess Bride line when Whestley says, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Then, there’s the less formal bit ‘o wisdom:

Suck it up, Buttercup! Put on your big-girl pants!

  • [another sidebar] Oh, look! Another reminder of The Princess Bride. Happy coincidence!

So, that’s what I’m doing. Just call me Buttercup ’cause I’m suckin’ it up, putting on my big-girl pants, and thanking God that I have a job in place at another school, same district. Change is never easy, but it prompts us to learn and grow. What’s happening in our state’s budget crisis isn’t fair, but I have to go with hope and overcoming the obstacle. If I don’t, then my words to my students are empty–and I don’t like that.

Thanks for reading. I’d like to hear your stories of “suckin’ it up” during this budget fiasco (link to my letter to legislators). Please share! 🙂

My First Letter to Oklahoma Legislators

Instead of joining educators at Oklahoma’s state capitol Thursday, I composed a letter to my local officials, for the first time. It took me much longer than I care to admit, and was sent late last night to my district senator and representative. As I reread it, my editing brain was wishing I would’ve started writing the letter before yesterday to give myself more time to polish it. Ha! Oh, and the next time educators invade the capitol, I plan to be there.

Today, the proposed state budget passed. From what I understand, meeting after the normal session could have produced a less detrimental budget, regardless of the extra money it would have cost taxpayers. But, it is what it is, for now anyway.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that our upcoming presidential election is truly the most ridiculous and infuriating political show I’ve ever seen. I’ve also realized that I need to get my butt in gear and make better efforts to educate myself about my local government and get involved in the process. Maybe, just maybe, I can have a voice in my state.

Here’s the body of what I emailed last night.

My name is Amanda and I just finished my 10th year of teaching middle schoolers. The entire 10 years have been a struggle, but this year has been the one in which we educators have felt enough is enough. 

Due to budget cuts, I had to leave my current position because all core reading classes at my school were eliminated~~reading classes where I taught reading comprehension strategies and skills that students need in order to be successful in EVERY class and EVERY subject.

Additionally, my team of teachers who worked extremely well together has been completely dismantled. When a group of teachers can collaborate successfully together, the students benefit, the teachers benefit, the administration benefits, and the parents benefit~~what happened to “Don’t mess with success“?

 

Below is a snapshot of a letter that one of my sixth graders wrote to our principal last Friday, the last day of school. My principal shared it with me and the other teacher mentioned, and now I’m sharing it with you. I’ll let her words speak for themselves. 

 

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Thankfully, my principal recommended me to another principal in the district, so I do have a job for next year; however, I know great teachers who don’t. And that’s unacceptable.

I don’t know all of the inner workings of the government and politics, but I’m trying to learn and listen to people who know. I can’t tell you how to do your job any more than you can tell me how to do mine. But, your decisions do affect my job, my livelihood, my co-workers, and my students. So, please listen to educators and encourage your colleagues to listen. REALLY listen.

We cannot take any more cuts. Period. I’m in debt because my paycheck only goes so far and things tend to break. Like, hot water heaters, fan motors on the air conditioner, car stuff. I drive an ’02 Honda Civic with an oil leak, a beat-up back end and 207,000 miles on the odometer. I live in a 950-square-foot house built in 1946. I don’t subscribe to cable or Netflix because that’s an unnecessary expense that I can’t afford. I wish my college degree would pay off more than I paid in. 

I’m not trying to lay out a sob story for you, I’m just being honest and trying to do what we teachers teach our students to do: think critically, problem solve, fight for what is just, contribute to society instead of sucking it dry, and be a person of integrity.

 

So, that’s what I’m asking of you. Please use your political power to do what’s right for all of us. Do not pass the budget as it is. Rework it. Use the rainy day funds to calm this storm for our state. Or please explain to me why that wouldn’t be a good idea. I’m teachable!

One other item I’d like to address: We do NOT need standardized testing companies making profits off of our kids. We do NOT need to spend millions of dollars on standardized tests. These tests do NOT facilitate learning, nor do they assess and measure all types of learning. They steal ridiculous amounts of instruction time and cause unnecessary stress. For what? We teachers can’t look at the tests to see where our students had trouble. The students can’t even see what items they missed in order to figure out what they’re not understanding. Don’t you think eliminating standardized tests would make more sense than eliminating teachers?

Thank you for your time and service! Have a blessed day.

I’m sharing this in order to encourage those of you who have been like me for way too long. We are disconnected from those who are making decisions for us. We take for granted that those decisions will be right and will allow us to go about our daily grind as usual. But, I realize I have to take more responsibility for what’s going on in my state. I can’t allow myself to be disengaged any longer with my go-to excuse, “I don’t like politics.” (I really don’t, though.)

I’m tired of sitting on the sideline and just accepting that nobody’s going to listen to me. That the powers that be are going to do what they want and we just have to roll with it, make the best of it, etc.

Though, I do believe these mottos have their places, I’m tired of teachers (and others) cowering and feeling defeated because they’re afraid of losing their jobs if they stir up trouble. Irony glares at us when we teach our students to think critically and to actively spark positive changes in their worlds while teachers walk on eggshells and jump through illogical hoops in order to appease mandates that only hinder the learning process. ARRGGGG!!! It makes me feel like a hypocrite!

But, I’m encouraged.

Educators are running for state offices!

I’ve connected with a group of Oklahomans who are, like me, absolutely fed up and ready to do something about it. Finally!! Check it out if you are so inclined.

Thanks for taking the time to read my “writes”! It’s late and my eyes are crossing. G’nite.

Let Yourself Off the Hook

Newbie teachers or teachers-to-be who have observed in my classroom will always get this advice from me: You have to learn when and how to let yourself off the hook.

We teachers go into this crazy, effed-up world of education with a mother load of idealistic goals and values, as I believe we should. Why would anyone do it otherwise? However, balancing those ideals with in-your-face reality is a constant battle.

It took me a few years to determine where to draw the line. I frequently have to reflect on what’s using up my energy and how effective it is. So I remind myself about the following:

  • I can’t be everything to everybody.

At first, I thought I was expected to be super-teacher and that I could make a huge difference in every student (inflated ego?); now, I’m a big believer that if I can’t seem to connect with a student, even after great effort, I have to trust that there is someone else out there who will make an impact on that child: Another teacher, a mentor, a relative, a celebrity, someone.

  • If I burn myself out, I’m no good to anyone.

With a minimum of 120 kids per year, I can either spin my wheels and exhaust myself trying to make mountainous strides with each student, or I can try to follow the motto, “Quality, not quantity, is golden.” (I don’t know if I made this up, or if I’m ripping it off, nevertheless, I’m using it.)

How do I decide who gets most of my attention and energy? Just constant reflection, awareness, and prayer. There’s no magic formula because students are people, not numbers.

If you have a teacher motto that you’ve found works for you, please share. Or, if you are about to embark on the treacherous journey of being an educator, feel free to ask questions. I might not know the answer, but maybe we can find it together. 🙂

Entitlement of Sixth Graders

Warning: This is a venting rant full of sarcasm that all frustrated teachers of middle school aliens will completely understand. Tread carefully if you seek to judge or are easily offended.

Disclaimer: I’m aware that not all students can or should be lumped into the following generalization. I’m not an idiot.

 

What the frack?! Why the hell is this generation so freakin’ ENTITLED?? Good grief! A frightening number of parental units are raising a bunch of whiney-assed, wussy kids who have no gratitude, and no clue what exerting effort entails. It’s like Garfield multiplied to the Nth degree. Self-centered, lazy sloths. (No disrespect to actual sloths intended).

Their motto:

The world revolves around me and should cater to my snarky, rude, disrespectful whims. Everyone, especially my teachers, should entertain me 24/7.

I get the fact that self-centeredness is a natural quality displayed in most adolescents, but at what point does it stop? I don’t see much evidence of the entitlement lessening as teens approach adulthood.

Who or what is enabling all this entitlement?

Thoughts?

Got a New Job!

The past three weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. After job searching since the middle of April, I finally (thanks to God) got a new job. I’ll be teaching 6th grade reading at a middle school on the opposite side of the city from where I’ve been teaching the last 8 years. Our kiddos come back on Tuesday, and I’m almost ready. 

I think it’s important to change things up a bit ever so often in order to keep from getting burned out or stagnant. So far, it’s been a good change. Especially considering I applied for non-teaching jobs because I was pretty much done by the end of the very, very long year. (More about this later).

At my new school, the other teachers and the principals have been kind and welcoming. They aren’t putting on a show, just real people. The way I like it.

I really want to write more, but I have to get my body clock in gear for getting up ridiculously early again. (Mornings are my most difficult challenge). So, with that, I’ll log of and get myself ready for sleepy time.

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