Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I Just Happen to All of a Sudden Lose My Voice...No Biggie


I guess it's a really good thing that I blog rather than vlog, or there wouldn't be a posting today.  For the first time in....well....ever... I have lost my voice.

I don't know how or why, it just happened all of a sudden yesterday.  One minute I was talking in my normal voice, the next I was sounding a little hoarse, and by the end of the day I really had to strain just to get any noise at all to come out of my voice box.

Which probably didn't help my situation any.  But when you've got 20 kids you're trying to get ready to go home for the day, a voice is somewhat important.

I don't ever remember a time that I've completely lost my voice.  I mean, sure, I've had the raspy thing... the voice that sounds like I smoke 5 packs a day kinda thing.  That usually comes after spending an evening at a very exciting ball game or some kind of event in which I've spent a great amount of time screaming at the top of my lungs.  But for it to be just about gone, without any yelling or screaming, where I can pull off nothing more than a faint whisper?  Yeah...that's never happened before.

It's also strange being that the lost voice has come on without any other symptoms.  No sore throat.  No cold.  No fever.  The only discomfort I've had is when I first woke up this morning and my throat felt like sand paper.  When I try to cough, that doesn't feel too great...but not from pain.  Just an uncomfortable feeling, like there's something stuck in my throat that I can't get out. It's all just very weird.  I'm thinking it's laryngitis brought on by my allergies, even though I haven't really had many problems with my allergies in the past couple of weeks.  I've had some sneezing and runny nose, but that's about it.  

Under any other conditions, I wouldn't worry too much.  I'd go in to my classroom and milk this bad boy for all it's worth.  Tell the kids they have to be extra quiet because it will be hard for me to communicate if they are being too loud... you know, that kind of stuff.  But, wouldn't you know that today is a day that I have to get up in front of the entire school and speak?

Yep.  Today is our Terrific Tiger assembly.  It happens once a month, and each teacher selects a student from their class to receive the special award of Terrific Tiger.  I'm supposed to get up and share why I picked the student that I did and say some nice things about them.  Well, that is going to be really fun to do when I can't speak.  

Not only that, but tonight is Family Night.  Kids, parents, families all coming for a night of food and fun at school.  I don't remember a single Family Night where at least a couple of parents want to check in and say hi...again, very fun with no voice.  

This all may very well be my pay back for being a Ms. Crankypants yesterday.  Which I totally was.  It was a tough morning for my kids, because somehow being gone for four days made them all extremely tired, unfocused, and unwilling to participate in our discussions.  

By 9AM I'd already asked a student to wake up, and had asked several more to pay attention and stop fiddling with stuff in their desks.  Not only that, but I'd ask questions about some of the content we'd covered last week...in order to refresh their memories...and was met with nothing but blank stares as if they'd never heard anything I was saying before in their lives.  A ten minute review discussion lasted more like 30 minutes while I poked and prodded for them to remember and answer questions about stuff we'd gone in to great detail with just a week ago.

The fuel on the fire was when I asked for the one little homework assignment I'd sent home with them for Fall Break...and when I say small, I mean small.  It was finishing up a handout they'd started working on the last day before break that had maybe 20 questions total.  Which should have had several already completed before they left.  More than half the class didn't do it or didn't bring it back to school.  It probably wouldn't have been so bad had the offenders told me they'd done the paper and just forgotten it at home, or totally forgot about the assignment because they were having so much fun on their break... but all of the attitudes were "meh".  They didn't do it or didn't bring it, no big deal.  No rhyme or reason or explanation, it just didn't get done.

So, yeah, within the first hour of school I was pretty upset.  And it just kept getting better as the day went on.

It took over an hour to complete the spelling pretest because even though we've been doing a pretest every week since school started, they all seemed to have somehow forgotten the procedure for grading their spelling tests and writing their missed words on their spelling contract.  The amount of times I was asked which words were to be written on the contract  (even though they have ALWAYS just written the words they missed) or how to correctly spell a word, when it was right in front of them in their spelling book, just got my blood boiling.  

We then moved on to vocabulary, in which they were to write their NINE vocabulary words in to their reading notebooks.  This was new, but not exactly rocket science.  It took almost 20 minutes to get the class to write the words and then come up with a couple of sentences using the words.  Several had not finished by the time I told them we just HAD to move on.  Our reading block is only 90 minutes long... so with an hour long spelling test, and twenty minutes on one measly vocabulary activity... our time was just about up and we didn't get half the stuff done we were supposed to.

At the end of the day, when my voice was just about gone, I hit my breaking point.  All day long I had been reminding students to write their assignments on their planner.  Something I had told them, that morning, would be something I was going to start checking each day... so the "I forgot I had homework" excuses couldn't be so dominant.  After every assignment during the day, I had reminded them to write down their assignment, regardless of whether or not it was completed.  I want them to get in the habit of writing them all down  and checking them off when they are completed so that parents can start seeing what homework their kids have (per the many requests I received from parents at conferences).  At the end of the day, when it was time to check the planners, about ten students hadn't written a single word on their planner.  Again, no rhyme or reason or even remorse.  Just that "meh" look on their face... as if I had been lying to them all day long about checking it at the end of the day.  So, without a voice left to yell at them, I just started writing names down to spend a little time at recess thinking about their lackluster attitude.

This has to be one of the only downsides to breaks.  Although, I have to say that this is the first break that has been so bad.  We had a break last month, and the kids didn't come back in the zombie mode they returned in yesterday.  Heck, they weren't even this out of it the first week of school...coming back from a three month break.  Not sure if it's the change in the weather or that time of year where they get all focused on holidays... but I hope that they come back this morning as if yesterday never happened.

Apart of me feels like it's all my fault.  I mean, before the break the kids were really kicking it up a notch.  They were focused on making better grades, putting in extra effort to pass their tests, and I went several days without a behavioral issue.  And their hard work and dedication turned me in to Ms. Positivity.  I was spouting out sunshine and rainbows in just about everything we did.  But, maybe because they were being so well behaved, I was getting soft on them.  I was letting my guard down.  I was turning in to Mary Poppins of the classroom, and all of my kids know me well enough by now to know that's not my style.  I'm strict, firm, but fun.  Not offering out spoonfuls of sugar.  Maybe yesterday was a little test on their part... had my old ways gone forever?  Well, they were definitely given their answer if it was a test...and hopefully they don't need to keep testing the waters.

Also, I know that the week after conferences is tough.  A lot of kids get settled in to the mentality that I've met with their parents, I've given good news, and now they can just slack off because they don't have to worry about their parents finding out about it anymore.  Another myth I put to rest yesterday.  I informed all of them that each parent was just a phone call away, and now it was easier to call them because the parents all knew my expectations...that their children were living up to... and would be very disappointed to hear otherwise.

I have a strong feeling that today WILL be much better.  I will get my class back.  They just needed a day to shake off a few cobwebs and remember where they were and what they needed to be doing.

They've had their day, and I am sure that tomorrow's account will be many more roses and rainbows.

But, right now, I have to go and get ready for work.  Minus my voice.


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