Friday, October 30, 2015

Five for Friday - Happy Halloween!

Happy Fri-yay!  This week has been the looooongest so far this year!  Full moon?  Check.  All day meeting away from school and have to plan for a sub?  Check.  IEP meeting over my entire lunch period?  Check.  Observation by my principal?  Check.  Halloween party?  Check.  Whew!  It's been a long week but we survived and we're still smiling!  Today was probably the busiest day of all so I thought I would share just what my day loads of crazy fun.  

We started our day wrapping up our shared reading unit.  This week we are learning the words 'she', 'he', and 'be'.  We read our little book copies of "Halloween Fun" and worked to locate our sight words in the story.  We circled 'he', highlighted 'she' and underlined 'be'.  We then listened to some fun Halloween music while we practiced our kindergarten coloring.  Thriller anyone?!

Next up, it was time to carve our class pumpkin!  We had received this pumpkin a few weeks ago when our class took a field trip to the local apple orchard.  The kiddos have been chomping at the bit to carve it and I happily obliged today!  It amazes me every year how many children have never carved a pumpkin and felt the inside of one.  I tell my kiddos it's a kindergarten requirement to have a childhood and carve a pumpkin. They loved it!

Can we all just take a moment to praise God for the person who invented candy corn?  Seriously.  My favorite fall treat ever.  My mom used to send me care packages in college with bags and bags of candy corn and pumpkins.  Yummy!  For a fun treat, we spent a little time patterning and eating today!  We talked about ABAB and AABB patterns.  It was tasty work!

I totally forgot to get any pictures during our class party (#TEACHERFAIL).  But I did get a picture of this UH-MAZING witch our art just 'whipped up' for my Pin the Wart on the Witch game.  How beautifully talented is she?!  We are so blessed to have her!!!

Our day was full of fun, but my favorite part of the day, by far, involved this little guy.  Meet Wilbur.  He is a pig that is displayed at the local hardware store for people to come by and pet and check out.  He is seriously, the sweetest little pig.  EVER.  (And he has the BEST name!) 

Our building recently held a few fundraisers for United Way - one being a "Kiss the Pig" contest.  Each teacher had a milk jug pig labeled with their name in our front lobby.  Students could bring in change and put it in the pig of the teacher they wanted to see kiss a pig.  The top 5 teachers would then have to pucker up! 

Well guess who won first place...

We didn't find out who the top five teachers were until the assembly but I had a good feeling I was going to be called (we did a count half way through and I was in the lead - didn't help that my daughter was campaigning for her class to put money in my pig too!).  I thought it might be a good idea to get acquainted with my new beau so Wilbur and I spend some time together in the hall.  Cutest little pig ever!!!

At first I was a little nervous getting close (I mean it is a pig.  In front of close to 500 students.  Screaming.  You never know what could happen...)  But Wilbur was so well behaved!  He even put up with my bright red lipstick!!!

Click on the pig below to check out the video of our 'special moment'!

♥  I think sweet Wilbur kind of liked being loved on.  ♥

And we raised over $800 on the Kiss the Pig contest alone!  

#compassionthroughaction #teamorchard #unitedway

I hope you all have a very happy and safe Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Teacher Life: A Blessed Burden

Hi friends.  I am so, so sorry I've been absent for a while.  These past months have been all consuming - physically, mentally and emotionally - and, let's be honest, I'm just trying to keep my head above water...

I have sat to write this post countless times and every time I'm unable to finish it.  I haven't blogged in about three months for several reasons and I'd like to share a little bit of an explanation. Not because you necessarily want it. Or need it. And not because I enjoy sharing my personal life.  Maybe it's because I want to get things off my chest. Maybe because I'm a mentor this year and want to share some advice to new teachers. Or maybe because I just feel a calling to say something. Either way, allow me to explain....

 I have always had a passion for teaching.  I am a teacher.  It is just as much a part of my identity as saying I am a woman or mother. I work hard to be the best teacher I can be and with the beginning of this blog and my TeachersPayTeachers store, I have taken my passion for teaching and helping others a step further.  However, my personal (i.e. non-teaching) life has simply needed my attention more in the past few months.  My blogging, creating, and teacher life has quietly taken a backseat until I felt ready to dive back in. 

During last year's school year, my life changed.  I became a single mother. My then husband and I separated and later filed for divorce. I will not go into details for the sake of his privacy, mine and our children's, but I will say the past year has changed our lives drastically. My girls and I have had to learn a new way of life. A new routine. A new structure to our lives and our home. We sold and moved out of our house and we are learning how to start over. 

At first I was grateful for my career.  Through all of the changes - the ups and downs, the uncertainty - teaching and my passion for it was always a constant.  In all honesty, there have been many times it was the one thing I felt I was doing right.  In the past year, I threw myself into my classroom.  I put all of my extra time and effort into my students.  I was more productive and organized than I had ever been, simply because I didn't know what else to do. 

However, things slowly started changing...for anyone who has been through go through a period of intense self reflection.  Who you are essentially changes.  You are no longer a wife.  Or a husband.  Part of your identity changes and with that you reconsider the other pieces in your life that make you who you are.  During this time of reflection, I took the opportunity to evaluate where I was putting my priorities.  One thing I realized was just how much I had depended on my identity as a teacher.  So much so, that, I admit, I hid behind it.  When I was overwhelmed or facing something I didn't want to deal with, what did I do?  Throw myself into work.  When I was avoiding something that was uncomfortable, what did I do?  I spent more time at school.  While the rest of my life seemed to fall apart, I focused my attention on teaching - I guess in hope that it would be one thing that didn't.  I was letting my career consume me. My passion had taken over and, quite frankly, it was no longer a blessing, but a burden. 

By the end of the summer, I recognized that I needed a mental break. Not very good timing considering school was starting in a few weeks...but still, a break was needed. I've spent the last few months focusing on myself and my children. Growing my relationship with them and with God. And mostly just enjoying life and the small the blessings I have every day. 

I still love teaching. It's still just as much a part of my identity as being a woman and mother. But now I'm not hiding behind it. I'm embracing it. And I'm taking time to also be a friend, a sister, a daughter, a sports fan, a runner - just me. And in the end, I honestly feel like I'm a better teacher. 

Not to sound dramatic....but in the past year, my teaching career really has saved me. Given me something firm to hold onto. Something I could feel confident about. 

It has also taught me that, to be a better teacher, at times it's ok to walk away.  You don't have to be the one at school late every night. The one working all weekend, every weekend. The one with the best lesson plans or elaborate activities every single day. Or the one with the prettiest, brightest, most well equipped classroom.  

The one thing that matters most in the classroom is simply you and your heart. Take care of yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Call a time out. It's ok. You may be a super-teacher, but your alter ego is still human. As teachers, most of us strive for perfection. It's a part of us.  And it's hard to let go of. Trust me.  I'm still working on it....But I'm not perfect.  No one expects me to be.  And the same goes for you.  So spend time with your family. Have some fun.  Laugh. A lot. Teaching can be a huge part of who you are - but take time to discover and nurture the other parts of you as well. Make time for you. Your students will thank you.