It is March.
For me, that means we are officially in the third trimester and have three months left of the school year to go.
There are two ways to look at this.
Three WHOLE months?!?
Or . . .
Only THREE months!?!
Depending on the day (or the week), I go back and forth on which way I look at it.
All I know is that this has been a challenging school year, and when I look back at how it all started (delayed school start because of the Holy Jim Fire), it feels like it has lasted a hundred years. But it also feels strange to think that it will all end in just three months.
I know most of the time, if you come to read my blog, I might make you laugh or tell a funny story or just fill you in on what I’ve eaten that week.
Today’s is more of a REALITY post. You know, a good ole soul searching post. Basically, I need an attitude adjustment.
Because lately, I have not been having a very good attitude about school and my life as a teacher. In fact, I went to a Cal STRS meeting in January to see when exactly I can retire, and when they told me not for a LONG LONG LONG time, and FAR FAR FAR into the future because I started teaching way too young . . . well, I felt like curling up into a ball in a dark room and not coming out except to eat snacks and maybe look for a glass of wine, but, instead, I just ate an entire plate of pasta and had a bowl of lobster bisque soup. Steve and my parents were there, too, which held the dark room at bay.
Need another example of my poor attitude? For the first time ever in my entire career, I did not want to go back to school after Winter Break. I always want to go back. Always. I get the itch, I miss my kids, I am always ready to go back.
Not this year.
I have a tough class this year. There. I said it.
Oh my. That’s hard for me to admit because I’m always of the mind that it’s the teacher that makes the class and not the kids, but hello? Who the heck did I think I was acting all high and mighty and holier than thou. As if that other teacher who was complaining about her tough class was just not good with classroom management, or needed to take a chill pill, or maybe they had just given up.
I mean, WHO DO I THINK I AM?
Please serve me another piece of that humble pie, please. I need a BIG slice, thank you very much.
Let me clarify what I mean by I have a tough class this year.
I have terrific kids. I really do. And they’re kids! They’re funny and they try hard and they laugh hard, and they push and they shove, and they don’t follow directions the first time or the second time, and most often, not even the third time, but they’re kids! They’re small and they write me love notes, and they hug me, and they hug each other, and they ooh and ahh when they see a plane in the sky when we’re walking to the computer lab, and they collect acorns and twigs and grass, and they spill water, and they break pencils, and crayons, and headphones (that was this week), but they’re kids!
I AM UNDERSTANDING OF THE FACT THAT THEY’RE KIDS.
This particular class has a group dynamic that is just tough. It just is. There is no other way around it. I have seven kids on IEPs and three kids in the SST process and I ONLY HAVE 24 KIDS.
Do the math.
This means that I am always going to an IEP meeting or an SST meeting. And for whatever reason, even though we always have a floating sub on IEP and SST days, my meetings are almost always the first one at 8am which is before school, which is actually before our contract time, which irks me beyond belief because I know the one speech teacher, or the other speech teacher, or the resource teacher knows that I am a good sport, and that’s how that happens.
And it’s fine! IT’S FINE. It’s just a lot.
By the way, I do not even understand how a class of 24 kids can be louder and chattier and noisier than a class of 32 students BUT THIS CLASS IS CRAZY LOUD AND NEVER STOPS TALKING.
I’m not kidding.
There is a hum and a buzz ALL THE DAY LONG IN MY CLASSROOM.
Sometimes, I enjoy it.
Other times, I want to pull all of my hair out, and rock back and forth in that dark room I keep thinking about.
Someone cries every day. No matter what.
THERE IS CRYING EVERY DAY. And it’s not just me.
Like I said, if you can’t tell, I need an attitude adjustment.
As many of you might remember, a group of teachers at my school started a life group and we meet before school on Thursdays. Last year, we each took a week to tell our testimonies, and this year we are all studying one of the parables and “teaching” it to the group.
My turn was last week and my parable was The Ten Talents.
In a nutshell, God gives us all talents. In the parable, the talents were money. A master gave three servants money to hold onto before he went on a trip.
One servant was given 5 talents and he invested it. The master was so happy upon his return because the servant made 5 more talents!
The second servant was given 2 talents and he invested it, too. The master was so happy upon his return because the servant made 2 more talents!
The third servant was given 1 talent and he buried it to “keep it safe”. The master was NOT happy because the servant did nothing with his talent.
In real life, it’s actual TALENTS, such as being athletic or musically inclined, etc. And it’s also money. It’s anything the Lord gives us. And here’s the deal.
I was reading and studying and getting ready to present this to my group, and it was like HOLY COW, I AM TOTALLY BURYING MY TALENTS RIGHT NOW.
I’ve been so focused on just getting through this year, literally feeling like I’m just going through the motions, when I should be INVESTING all I have into what the Lord has given me.
And He has given me SO MUCH. I have been gifted with a wonderful school, an amazing team, the same grade for 22 years . . . I mean WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING THIS WHOLE YEAR?
Like I said, WHO DO I THINK I AM?
And I know I’m human. I know. I can have bad days.
But I’ve basically just been a big ole complainer. Really. I have.
And I decided last week when I prepared for this lesson TO GET OVER MYSELF. To take what the Lord has given me and use it for His glory.
And He has given me the TALENT TO TEACH. TO TEACH FIRST GRADE. TO TEACH LITTLE KIDS.
AND GUESS WHAT?
Pastor Rick of Saddleback Church always says “Change the way you think – it will change the way you act – it will change the way you feel.”.
AND IT’S TRUE.
I am changing the way I’ve been thinking. I ONLY HAVE THREE MONTHS LEFT WITH THESE KIDS! GAH! That is going to go by so fast and I do not want to waste another minute complaining about the dynamic of my group.
I do not want to waste another minute on things I can’t change like IEPs and SSTs. It’s my JOB!
I want to love on these kids. I want to make them laugh and smile and I want to meet their social/emotional needs above all else. Everything else, including reading, writing, and math is just a bonus.
And don’t get me wrong. Everyone in my life group was pretty much dumbfounded that I’ve been feeling this way. I can put on a brave face like nobody’s business. I don’t go around like Eeyore and woe is me. It’s just not my nature.
And I am pretty sure this class thinks I’m the most hilarious teacher they’ve ever had. 🤪 They have no clue I’ve been feeling a certain way. Brave face and all that.
It’s just that I KNOW. I know how I’ve been feeling and I’ve been hating how I’m feeling.
And . . . just for the record . . . this past week was a GAME CHANGER. Really. I was so much more at ease in the classroom, in my skin, in general. I was relaxed! I was not going through the motions. All because I kept praying and changing the way I am thinking!
In fact, I actually reached one of my little guys who I have been struggling with since August. Looking back, I could have probably had him in my pocket months ago, but I couldn’t get out of my own way.
And now I’ve got him right where I want him! He’s mine! He WANTS to be on Team Oldham! FINALLY!
Guess how I knew? I had started to read a chapter of Junie B. when the OT teacher came to get him. And he walked backward out of the room, and leaned in, and tried to listen to me with all of his strength, and then right before he reached the door, he asked will you read it again when I get back?
And I said, How about I stop now and we’ll finish the chapter when you get back?
The rest of my class whined and complained and I said I WOULD DO IT FOR ANY ONE OF YOU.
And they agreed and got over it.
And that’s when I knew. This kid is MINE! FINALLY!
These next three months are for the glory of God. I will not waste my talents!
I can do this!
WE CAN DO THIS!
We were born to do this!
And we only have three months to go!
LET’S DO IT!
All of this cheering is for my own self, obviously. I’m working hard on it. ☺️