Tag Archives: memories

First week of school and my unexpected surprise…

Hello all! I’m excited to be back on here to update you on my adventures as a second year teacher. School in my district started this week, which to be honest seems way earlier than when I was in school. Summers don’t have quite the same connotation to teachers and students as they once did. With that said, I did have a great summer regardless. I finished up my master’s program (CADRE) in June. I went on a 2,800 mile road trip with my hubby and 3 sons… it was awesome! All-in-all, my summer was pretty full and rewarding.

Anyway, back to the topic of school. I met all of my new 8th graders and was able to easily determine on the first day those who will be quite the handful, lol. It’s always those attention seeking kiddos who are the most trying. By Friday, I had already assigned them one homework assignment, given them a survey, and had small group activities to work out our “Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible” classroom rules. They think I am a little tough, which means I’m doing my job 🙂

So, about that unexpected surprise… yesterday I didn’t quite feel right. I was kinda sad and felt like something was missing. I couldn’t quite figure it out. I noticed that I’d look at a student and would mention that so-and-so looks like so-and-so from last year, or talks like that person, or acts like that person, or has the same name. By the end of the day I was worn out and depressed, but I didn’t know why… then it hit me. I was mourning the loss of my students from last year. They were gone and I wasn’t going to see them again unless they visited me. This revelation caused me to start crying like I lost a loved one. It was horrible and not something that I’ve ever heard another teacher talk about. In fact, I’m crying right now writing about it. What’s even worse is that I was practically shoving them out of the door on the last day last year… now I want them back. I think that what this shows me is that I truly care for my students and that we built some really strong relationships with each other. I hope that this will be the case for me this year as well, and maybe instead of pushing them out the door on the last day, I will savor those last minutes with a new sense of knowing that I may never see them again but that we made a difference in each other’s lives.

Well, I need to get back to working on my class syllabus and preparing for open house. I will post again soon.

— Stephanie

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It’s not the end… It’s just the beginning.

I apologize… I thought I had posted about my last days of school awhile ago, but I can’t find that post… darn iPad app, lol.

My last day of school, with students, was on Wednesday June 1st. My time teaching 8th grade has been very interesting and educational, not just for the kids but also for me. But now, I need to take the summer to reflect on the past year and plan for the future.

I was surprised by how emotional the kids were… although, I think some of the girls thrive on drama and really played that part well. 🙂 There were lots of hugs and tears, and some surprises… One in particular really caught me off guard. One of my students, who was new to the school this year, wrote me a letter telling me how much I made a difference in her life and how appreciative of me she was. It was really amazing actually. I have never received such a humbling and heartfelt gift!

Then, on June 3rd, I presented on NBPTS’ Proposition 3: Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning. My presentation focused on creating classroom rules based on Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible (this was discussed in an earlier post). The presentation was done in the presence of other teachers, administration, family, and friends. I feel like this was a great way to show off my final portfolio and to listen to what my fellow CADRE members learned over the course of the year.

I finished the CADRE program on June 30th. I have never been so relieved in my life. I loved having the opportunity and privilege to get my Master’s Degree through the UNO CADRE Program… it has been the best and hardest time of my educational career… so far. I hope to continue my education, but I think it’s time for a little break.

Have a great summer everyone! I will post again soon.

— Stephanie

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Closing out a wonderful year!

YAY! I made it! … well, almost. We don’t get out for a little over a week, but it’ll be a breeze. This year has been amazing, educational, insightful (both about myself and my profession), and really hard; however, I wouldn’t give up my first year teaching for anything. I believe I have been blessed to have such a wonderful group of kids this year. I have been fortunate to have a great cohort of teachers to help me through my Master’s program. I have definitely been lucky to have had the stamina and strength to handle all of the challenges and pressures that come along with teaching 13 and 14 year olds.

Today my fingers itched to start taking down my bulletin boards and posters, to pack my boxes of teacher paraphernalia, and to begin the process of planning for next year, but, I didn’t start. It will be hard for me to say good-bye to this bunch of kids, but it will hurt them to see me putting the year behind me before they are gone.

Tears will be shed, but they will be tears of joy and excitement. Hugs will be shared, but they will be hugs of congratulation. High-fives will fly and knuckle-pounds will explode, all because we made it… students and teachers alike. Good-byes will be said, and for some it may be for good… but for me and my fellow teachers, we will hope for a future glimpse of the student we taught, just for a second, when they were developing into their adulthood.

I am so proud of what I’ve done over this last year, and I’m proud of who I’ve become; but, most of all, I’m proud of the lives who have touched mine, just for a second, when I was developing into my profession. It has been the exuberance… and trust… and trials… that these kids — my kids — have spread over my first year of teaching that will forever resonate in my heart.

I wish, just as most teachers wish, that I will not be forgotten. I will never forget my first year as a teacher.

— Stephanie

P.S. I guess I get to add a new tagline to my blog in a few weeks 🙂 I will no longer be a first year teacher!

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Suicidal Tendencies…

It really hurts and confuses me when kids believe that suicide is the best answer to their problems. Since I teach at a middle school, suicide becomes an increasing problem in these young people’s lives. My 8th graders are going through a very tough time in their lives; they are going through the bodily and emotional changes that everyone goes through at this age. I remember clearly how difficult that was for me, especially since I moved from one state to another in the middle of my 7th grade year. But why does suicide sound like the answer?

When I was 16, I was going through a really tough time, and I remember telling my mom that I wished I had the courage to kill myself. She looked at me very seriously and said, “Suicide causes so much harm to the people who love you and it is the most selfish thing you could ever do.” When I think back to that moment, I remember the shame and fear that I felt, because I knew that I couldn’t go through with it, but I also knew I said it because 1. I wanted to hurt my mom, and 2. I was asking for help by shifting the attention, albeit negative, to me. I was hurting emotionally and I didn’t know why. I had next to zero self-esteem and I perceived the world as my enemy, one that didn’t like or love me. I was convinced that I was going to feel that way forever. After that, I always think about how selfish suicide is and how it is a permanent solution to the person who takes their own life, but it is a life long scar to those left behind.

Here is an article about teen suicide statistics and risk factors. There are also links about related issues and suicide prevention. This is a growing epidemic that is quickly becoming the #1 cause of teen deaths. Bullying, in its many forms, is on the rise, which I’m sure is causing teen suicides to also increase.

You may be asking yourself why I’m writing about this. Why now? Well… I know of a girl who has tried upwards of 3 times to take her own life. She is only 14. Her family is extremely supportive and has been actively seeking the appropriate help… however, it just hurts to know that if she keeps trying, she will eventually be successful.

I have no dilusions that I will experience the loss of a student while teaching… especially since I teach in an urban district, but I hope and pray that if that happens to one of my own students I can look back and know that I tried to do everything I could for all of my students. Maybe that is also dilusional…

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Field Trip…

I’m about to head off on my first full day field trip as a teacher. We are going to the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City. I remember going there when I was a middle schooler; It was one of my fondest memories from middle school.

I have a bunch of kids from my rowdy 5th hour class in my group. I’m pretty nervous about that, but I think that it will be fun regardless. I just hope I can keep up!! I’m so tired right now that I considered laying on my classroom beanbag chairs to “relax” for a bit, but I think that will just make me want to sleep more.

This field trip will hopefully be a nice break from the chaos and stress I’ve been trying to cope with for the last couple weeks. I had to turn in grades last night, which was the most stressful undertaking in my life. I’d rather give birth again than have to post grades. But, ’tis the job and I need to get a better grading system to help make posting grades less stressful.

Well, wish me luck! We are leaving in 30 minutes. I can’t wait to get a nice caramel apple to bring home with me… I love Autumn! 🙂

— Steph

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10 days and counting…

Well not exactly 10 days… but that is the beginning. What do I mean? Well, my district starts new teacher training on August 2nd and we train until the 10th. The first day of school for students is the 11th. I’m kinda getting excited, but really nervous at the same time. I hope that I am prepared… well, I know I will be, but I hope it’s not too stressful.

My classroom… I haven’t seen it yet. I don’t get to go into it until the end of July or beginning of August. I’m nervous about my room. Is it too immature to have a theme for 8th graders? I’m pretty sure my 8th grade team had a theme when I was in school, but I can’t remember. I’m thinking of “Stories from Around the World” or something. I will let them make a passport and personalize it and every time we read a new story or book, we will mark them in our passports. Sounds pretty cool… to me anyways.

Lesson plans? I have the first 4-5 days of lessons done already. I’m pretty happy about this and even more happy that I’m not doing anything curriculum related. It’s all about the rules, procedures, and getting to know you activities… just like Harry Wong recommends. It’s after that that I’m nervous about. I am confident that it will be ok though… I have tons of strategies and knowledge up my sleeve. I feel like I could develop an entire unit plan pretty easily (said the NEW teacher after her Classroom Strategies class), lol.

Clothing… um, yeah — I’m a girl and a pretty stylish one at that 🙂  I have most of my teacher wardrobe planned out. I would like to get a few more items for the summer/spring portion of the school year, but overall, I am pretty prepared. I know a lot of veteran teachers push comfy shoes, but let me tell you… I love heals. I love how I look, and once they are broke in, they are more comfy and work better with my wardrobe. My only worry is that my student teaching calluses (I know, gross right?) are almost gone. LOL! That is sooo disgusting but so true!

Well… I think that’s all for now. Counting down the days and looking forward a new chapter. 🙂

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Emotional Good-Byes

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1108100/index.htm

Soooo, this article was very emotional. It really sums up how important tradition is in all aspects of my life. If it weren’t for the little things that I do with my kids and family each year, I would struggle when times get tough. These little gems of happiness get me through the roads that are hard to trudge.

I love putting Easter eggs in the front yard so my kids think the Easter bunny visited them personally. I look forward to putting treat bags on my front porch (and those of other little kids in my family), so they feel special because Rudolf was jealous of Santa and wanted to give them a present too. We always eat M&Ms when we watch movies, play Ispy when we are super bored, and say “I love you” even when we are really mad at each other. One tradition that I’m sad to say good-bye to is our Summer trips to the dollar theater, which is now gone. I have felt a little lost without this tradition. The stale popcorn, the sticky floors, the obnoxious arcade… the really cheap movies that we wouldn’t get to see otherwise. I LOVED it… and now I really miss it. I think it has affected my kids and me, and I’m sad to say that this Summer has not been near as fun as past ones. We really need to brainstorm…

This is why I think that tradition is so important. Without these little things to look forward to and spice up our routines, life isn’t quite as interesting. As a teacher, I believe that I need to incorporate these little traditions into my classroom to give my kids something to look forward to. I realize that there are lots of other things that make school, life, etc. interesting, but honestly… if students don’t have something they get to take ownership of and know they helped create, then the community will just not be as tight. I look forward to creating memories and traditions with my students. We may not have a “Butch” to carry to games, but we can start something that will transcend beyond their class and into their personal lives.

— Stephanie

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