Mother nature granted me an unexpected January vacation. One of the biggest storms this area has ever seen blew through for nearly 48 hours leaving 30+ inches of snow behind. Needless to say, schools were closed. The actual blizzard left the world outside deserted. The wind whipped leaving whiteout conditions at times. The snow just kept coming.
I spent the days reading, baking, playing with the puppy, and lounging around.
After 2 days of being trapped inside, the sun came out and we were left with mounds and mounds of snow. The community seemed to band together and help with shoveling out cars, clearing sidewalks, and plowing the roadways and parking area. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people out and about in our neighborhood at one time.
Today, I returned to work – convinced that this only happened because we had a teacher’s work day today and a professional development day tomorrow. All the surrounding school districts are closed until Monday. I have to admit it was nice to go in and get things accomplished today – just feel a bit of “normal” after a week of being tucked away inside the house.
I have self diagnosed puppy anxiety.
And what exactly is puppy anxiety?
The anxiety a puppy owner has when they have to leave their puppy home alone in the puppy crate.
This is a problem for me because I never want to go anywhere because I don’t want to leave her at home alone in her crate.
Oddly enough, it isn’t because I worry about her being upset. Sure, she sometimes whines when we are leaving but she is always happy to see us when we get home. I turn on music that is for puppies with separation anxiety – which would be my Khaleesi. Or maybe it is me that has separation anxiety – I’m not sure.
My fear of leaving her alone is this panic I have about something bad happening like the condo catching fire and she is trapped in her crate. It is horrible – these negative thoughts. I know it is ridiculous.
I vowed this weekend to have a life and spend some time with my boyfriend outside of our home and without our girl. We went to dinner Friday night and did some shopping on Saturday. Both times we were only gone a few hours and she was fine.
I had to put out of my head all those negative thoughts. I question why can’t I just be a “normal” doggie owner and not stress these things.
I hate having these thoughts.
I am happy that I made steps to get out of the house and overcome that fear – both times, we had a nice time out and Khaleesi was perfectly fine when we returned.
It has been one of those days.
The kind that leaves you debating on whether you should just crawl under your desk in the fetal position and cry until you are allowed to go home.
My work is frequently unforgiving and unappreciative. Far too many hours are spent trying to meet unrealistic demands and expectations. But we all push forward and do our best because our hearts are in it for our students. Some days are tougher than others.
Today was one of those days…
The kind of day in which you feel like you’re standing on the edge of the cliff looking down at the rocks below… thinking it would be easier and less painful to just step off the edge.
Your eyes burn from holding back the tears of frustration and you know that having a complete meltdown in the middle of class would not be very good for anyone…
so, you turn to your team… a group of understanding people who have been exactly where you’re standing at one point or another… You give yourself a 5 minute break – a walk to the bathroom to lock yourself in and cry it all out before pulling yourself back together and returning to your class.
At this point you are able to put a smile on your face and make through the rest of the day knowing that tomorrow is a new day.
Here is to tomorrow… may it be located far away from the edge of the cliff.
Except for it really isn’t all that happy for many students. January appears to be the month of continuous testing – hours of instructional time wasted to exhausting amounts of testing. I will watch as my students become frustrated, have their spirits broken, feel bad about themselves, give up, and even have mini meltdowns at their desks.
As a teacher it is frustrating and heartbreaking.
On top of watching the students being fried by testing, teachers are still expected to maintain the fast paced pacing guide of instruction. We will have additional data demands that will come in the form of analyzing, logging, and meeting taking away from the small amount of time we have to accomplish our “normal” tasks.
The big welcome back from winter break kiddos started with the immediate DRA testing to determine the current reading level of students. These are individual running records and comprehension questions that have to be completed for each student. The required date of completion for these is January 15th. On top of DRA testing, the PALS window has opened and this set of required word recognition and reading testing also has a closing window of January 15th. PALS has several components including a whole group spelling test that must be graded and input into the computer, individual student word recognition in isolation which must be completed on the computer, and individual student running records with comprehension questions that must be input into the computer.
In addition to DRA and PALS, is the AimsWeb testing. This is a math and reading skills based time testing for comprehension and fluency. The interventionist comes in and completes the first round with the students as a whole group. The second round of testing will require students to be pulled out individually and tested.
And wait, that’s not all…
In addition to the DRA, PALS, and AimsWeb testing, the district requires students to complete student growth assessments (SGAs) three times per year. One of those times is in January. So students will spend one whole day completing a two part reading SGA, two afternoons completing a math SGA, and another afternoon completing a science SGA.
Keep in mind that through all of this testing, we are still required to give our end of the unit tests that fall within the month. So, my students will have both a science and social studies end of unit test in January as well. Students are also required to continue completing weekly spelling and vocabulary tests and weekly reading tests that go along with our reading series.
Once the madness of January is over, my ESOL students will begin their WIDA testing in February. This will require them to be pulled out of class over a period of time to complete the testing.
Once all of this is over and we can get back to a normal routine, we will start to look forward to doing it all over again in the spring… just before time for the SOLs (state standardized testing).
The entire educational system saddens me and people wonder why there is such an educational gap… when all you’re doing is testing… who has time for learning?
Whine over… pass the real stuff now.
It is no secret that education is become more and more difficult of a profession to simply survive in. Teachers go into this profession because we love children, love to teach, and have a passion for both in our hearts. We are frequently backed into a wall but what is expected us and what we feel needs to be done. Oftentimes, the reality of it all is that it becomes unfair to both the student and the teacher.
Some kids need more than what can be provided inside of a classroom. Teachers can do everything in their power to provide intervention services, advocate for students, get them identified and so forth and it still isn’t enough. Some students just need more than what a general education classroom can offer.
The problem is, getting them that support. The powers that be don’t want to make those changes or see students be placed in a different “status”. My guess is that the more students in gen ed classrooms and less receiving sped services or being in an enclosed classroom, the better it looks for the school. At some point, the wellbeing of the student has to be taken into consideration and the way a school “looks” put on the back burner.
I’ve learned a lot about the education system in the last few years teaching in public schools. My joy in my job has dwindled greatly since I first began. I find myself looking for an “out” that would still allow for the use of my degree and teacher salary (which is pennies but better than other jobs I worked prior). It breaks my heart because I love the kids and love being a part of their growth in learning but I’m exhausted and can’t keep going at this rate.
I’ve learned a lot about myself and a lot about what matters and what doesn’t matter. I’ve seen good teachers leave their schools, districts, and positions – some by choice and others by force.
I’m not sure what happened to the education I once knew – the teaching position I desired and loved. It feels like a distant memory that will never return.
Farewell winter break…
You were 14 days of peaceful bliss. You had no expectations for where I would have to be and when. You did not require me to review any data and did not weigh me down with last minute demands and impossible timelines. You were kind and allowed me to have time for reading a book, doing some artsy stuff, catching up on shows, writing, and spending time with family and friends. You gave me extra hours of sleep, long soaks in the tub, late night stand up comedy, and many glasses of wine.
Winter break, you were a good thing and we all know that all good things must come to an end…
You will be missed!
Back to reality tomorrow…
(looking forward to a visit from spring break in 11 weeks…)
Happy New Year!
With a new year always comes a sense of putting the past year behind and moving forward in hope with new goals and a positive attitude.
My plan (resolution – whatever you would like to call it) for the year 2016 includes:
building a stronger relationship with God
take better care of myself
read and write more
finish my masters and put it to good use
make more time for family and friends
and stick to my plans/resolutions for 2016
The year 2015 was stress both personally and professionally. I went through a roller coaster ride of emotions and at one point that everything I had worked for would be gone and all that I had been blessed with would be lost… but that didn’t happen and I prevailed.
It wasn’t without a lot of tears, a lot of sleepless nights, hours of research and persistence, physical and mental strength, and standing up and fighting for what I believed in…
It is nothing to be praised for – I am no super hero by any means. I’m just a person who loves strongly, has a lot of faith in God, and doesn’t give up easily – even when I want to.
So, 2016 is going to be the year – finally. A year of hope, a year of success, a year for building important relationships and finding that forever balance between life and work.
Happy New Year!