Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nothing Like Putting in 12 1/2 Hours!

I'm spending my morning how I've been spending almost every morning since moving in to this house... enjoying my coffee on the patio.

This morning is a lot cooler than it has been the past few days... only in the 60s.  Which makes for perfect patio sitting, coffee drinking, weather.

However, this morning, there's a grasshopper that has to be the size of bird somewhere close to me... and it's freakin' LOUD!  Which is not only annoying the heck out of me, but it's also giving me the heeby jeebies because I don't know where it is, and I hate grasshoppers.

At any moment I'm expecting it to fly out from hiding, straight on to me, which will cause me to go in to a major panic frenzy.

So, I'm going to try and focus on my blog...and try to ignore the pesky thing.

Yesterday was quite the day.  I left here at 7am and didn't pull back in to the driveway until 8:30pm.  That's a long day.  For anyone that thinks that teachers only work from 7:30am to 4pm needs to know that rarely is the case.

The reason I had to stay so late on this occasion was because it was open house.

I spent all day long in my classroom, minus a three hour break for a meeting and lunch.  So, for about 7 hours, I was cleaning, moving around furniture, labeling, and decorating my room...ready for the curious faces that would want a first glimpse of their new classroom.

I had a really good day...right up until a few minutes before Open House started.

I had planned on attending Jelly's open house with her towards the end of my open house time.  I'd leave early, and my team was going to cover my classroom while I was gone.  There was just one problem - I didn't clear it with my principal.

The primary principal had told me to get my team to cover, my team had agreed to do so and told me that was basically the norm for teacher parents that had kids enrolling, but I had forgotten the most important part...and that was getting the OK from my boss first.

So, I was devastated when I heard my principal tell me that I couldn't leave during open house.

It wasn't her fault.  It was mine.  Had I thought about it and talked to her sooner, I would have been able to set up a time earlier in the day to take Jelly to meet her teacher and have a private open house without it interfering with my own responsibilities of being in my classroom.  The superintendent was going to be visiting our school during open house, and I just couldn't be missing if he happened to drop by my room.

To make matters worse, poor Jelly had to have a tooth removed at the dentist yesterday afternoon.  It was a tooth that had been giving her some problems, and they thought it best to just remove it and put a spacer in until her big tooth came through.  Except they couldn't get the spacer to stay in...and so now she has to go back and have a mold placed in there.

When Hubby and the three kids arrived at my classroom, I took one look at my poor baby's swollen face and almost broke in to tears.  Here I was spending all day long in my classroom preparing for the kids that were going to be mine during school hours, while my own biological kid had to endure a pretty invasive dentist appointment without me AND then had to hear that Momma wasn't going to be able to go with her to meet her first ever "big school" teacher.

Cue violins and Kleenexes.

Thankfully, Hubby and Peanut came to the rescue to take Jelly to her open house and at least let her see where her classroom is, meet her teacher, and get an idea of what will happen on the first day of school.

After I kissed Jelly goodbye, dried her tears, and told her how sorry I was that I couldn't go with her for such an important event... it took me a while to compose myself so that I didn't break down in to tears.    Thankfully, only one student came during the time I was seriously off my game.  Her mother had witnessed my tear fest with Jelly, and completely understood my sadness.  Phew.

Once I got to talking with my new kiddos and parents, though, I was able to compose myself and do what I needed to do.  Calm the fears of the nervous kiddos that started to appear to check the place out.

I didn't have a bad turnout.  About half of my new kiddos showed up.  Some just came in to see their desk and the room and left.  Others had questions and were curious about some of the things they'd be doing in 4th grade.  I had several parents who wanted to talk, and ask questions, and offer their support and encouragement for the upcoming year.  

By the time it was all over, I was exhausted but felt much better about my own personal problems and my own nervousness about the new school year.  I think I'm going to have another great group of kids for my second year teaching...and another group of supportive parents to help.

I had one really good connection with a parent.  The minute she walked in, she looked at her daughter and asked her what she wanted to tell me.  This happened to be the child that told me at the Block Party that she was sad I was going to be her teacher.. and scared... because she'd heard I was mean.

The mother looked at her daughter, and the daughter then looked at me and apologized for calling me mean and for judging me before she had the chance to get to know me.


I was flabbergasted.  I had a few kids that had heard I could be mean, and were a little nervous for the same reason.  But, here was a mother who was not going to tolerate her child judging a person based on what she'd heard before getting to know me.

Score a big WIN for that mother!

I, of course, accepted the girl's apology.  I then told her that one of my biggest rules for myself in my classroom was that I didn't judge any child based on what I'd heard from previous teachers.  I told her that my own son had been treated unfairly in school for many years because of teachers passing on stories to the next teacher (in a different school district)...and for a while, he hated school because of it. I shared with her the story of a young boy from my previous year who came to me with all sorts of horror stories.  I made a pact with him on day one that I wouldn't listen to anything I'd been told about him, and that he had a clean slate with me.  He ended up having a great school year, and hardly got in to any trouble because of it.

She seemed to lighten up a bit, and a little relieved by my tales.  She told me that she'd gotten in to trouble quite a bit the previous year (I knew that already, but didn't let on).  She told me that she was scared I'd think she was a bad kid.  I told her that there was no such thing in my room.  I didn't have bad kids.  I had kids that made some bad choices occasionally, but as long as they were honest and admitted their mistakes... it was always worked out and we just moved on.

I think she left a lot more excited than when she first came in...and I have a feeling I'm not going to have as many problems with her had we not had our little chat.

It's stuff like that situation that really gets me fired up and ready for my school year.  I start to hone in on which kids need the most support and encouragement.  I realize how much impact I can have on the lives of these kids if I just give them a chance, support them, and help them learn from their mistakes.  I didn't tolerate my own child being punished for past mistakes, and I'm certainly not going to do that to my students.

When I did finally make it home, Jelly was waiting to tell me all about her open house.  She wasn't upset or mad that I hadn't gone.  She was excited and told me that she got to color for a while and that her teacher seemed really nice.  Phew again.  She did, however, use her superpowers of guilt to persuade me to let her sleep in my bed with me.  I figured it was the least I could do based on the horrible day she'd had without me.  She told me how excited she was for her first day of school, and about getting to ride the school bus.  I told her we'd sit this evening and fill out all the paperwork that was sent home with Hubby for me to complete.  She was happy, so I was happy.  

Today is the last day of preparation before the school year begins.  I don't really have that much left to do.  Lots of stuff to make for our fun back-to-school activities... but that's about it.  Then, I'll be coming home and getting my own children ready and prepared for their first day back to school.  Showers.  Back packs ready.  Lunches prepared.  Clothes laid out.  Bedtime stories.

I can't wait!

So...let the fun begin!


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