Saturday, November 02, 2013

Thirty Days of Thankful...Day One & Two


November is finally here, and it's right up there as one of my most favorite months.  The leaves are all changing to the most beautiful of colors.  The weather is getting a lot cooler, and jackets and sweaters start to make their comeback.  And, my second favorite holiday comes around....the one that really drives in how thankful I am to have such a wonderful family.  

Which is why, November is a perfect month to do a series of blog posts all about the things that I'm thankful for.  Thirty Days of Thankful.  

I'm sure you've seen the little posts popping up all over Facebook.  I'm participating in that...and I'm also participating in the Instagram 30 Days of Thankful, too.  Then, I get to come here and completely explain why I'm thankful for the things I pick.  Sounds like a lot of fun to me!!

So, I didn't get to start yesterday morning, so I'm rolling Days 1 & 2 together for this post.


Let's start with my job....

In my very strong opinion, being a teacher is one of the most rewarding, emotional, heartbreaking, hilarious, creative, exhausting, energetic, and fun jobs on the planet.  And it's all of those things EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

It's the only job I've ever had that can make me go from extremely happy to extremely mad to extremely excited to extremely sad to extremely EXHAUSTED in a matter of a few hours.  And, it's happened, much more than you'd think.  The emotional rollercoaster that a teacher can ride in one day is exhilarating and terrifying all rolled in to one.  There have been so many days that I've laughed till I've cried and cried till I've laughed.  And it's not because of the teaching part most of the time, but because of having so many demands that aren't written in the neat curriculum document that's given to us at the beginning of each year. 

And another perk of being a teacher is the exposure I get to working in different fields.  I wear so many hats at work, that it's sometimes hard to remember that I'm "just a teacher".  I am a parent (to children I didn't give birth to), a nurse, a counselor, a maid, a financial advisor, a coach, an administrative assistant, a detective, a scientist, and a janitor.  Daily.  How many other jobs do you know that you get to be so many awesome things?  And I'm sure there are some that I'm forgetting.

It's amazing how many times I've heard in my one and a half years of teaching how easy teaching is.  How thankful I should be to have such an "easy" job.  I still get a good laugh when someone tells me I should be thankful for so much time off, such short work hours, and so much flexibility in what I can do each day.

Well, wherever that's written in my contract, I've yet to find it or receive any such "perks".

Now, I can't complain about the time off.  I work 180 "contract" days a year.  That's less than half the year.  I don't have to go in to work on weekends or major holidays.  I don't have to go to work for about 8 weeks in the summer.  And that part really is awesome.  But, not many people know about the working from home days.  I may not be in the classroom on the weekends, but I'm working for most of those days.  I may not have to work major holidays, but I'm still spending several hours of those holidays working on something to do with my classroom.  And in the summer, I may get several weeks off... but last summer I think I had about two weeks off that I didn't spend one bit of time worrying about lesson plans or getting my classroom ready.

Which rolls right in to the "short" work hours.  I arrive at school at 7AM each and every day.  And if I get out of school before 5PM any day, I consider it an "early night".  More than half the school year, I am in my classroom until close to 6PM each evening preparing for the next day or getting paperwork done or  talking to my team about tests that are coming up or deadlines that we have.  So, on average, I work about 10 hours a day.  Not exactly what I consider "short" hours.

Lastly, there's not as much flexibility in the classroom as many people think there is.  Sure, I can teach how I want to teach, but I have to teach what I have to teach.  There's standards and pacing guides and deadlines that I have to follow, and time management is crucial.  If I don't get to something in a day, then I better figure out a way to fit it in somewhere else.  There's so many projects and creative ideas I get and would love to put in to my teaching, but time just doesn't allow for all of them.  Pinterest is great for dream about.  I have tons of ideas on my Pinterest boards that I'd like to somehow incorporate in to my classroom, but the cold truth is that most of them will probably never see the light of day.  Maybe after I've been teaching a few years, I will discover the secret to how so many teachers are able to come up with and use those wonderful ideas.  But, I'm not there.  Yet.

But, putting all those misconceptions to the side, I wouldn't trade a single one of them to do anything else.  And, I'm perfectly content with people continuing to think that stuff about teachers. Because with those misconceptions come so many more that people aren't aware of.  The real meat and potatoes of doing what I do.

I didn't become a teacher to teach.  Or write lesson plans.  Or grade papers.  I became a teacher so that I could impact the lives of kids.  I can't say how that impact will take place, because each child has their own unique situation and set of needs that I need to hone in on.  But, I consider it the biggest perk and challenge of my job to find out what it is I can do for each student in my classroom, and make it happen.  The needs could be building up their confidence or their self esteem, just giving them a place to feel safe, challenging them to do something they never thought they were capable of, being a shoulder to cry on, giving them their own goals and inspirations, and the list could go on and on.

You all know that I could write an entire book on why I love my job.  The teacher part and because of where I get to teach.  That has a MAJOR influence on why I absolutely, 100%, wouldn't trade my job for anything in the world.  The kids I get to work with each and every day make it what it is.  And I just couldn't picture myself doing anything else ANYWHERE else.  

I live right across the street from a school.  Literally.  When I look at my front window, the view is of an elementary school.  Yet, I just couldn't ever imagine even flirting with the idea of trying to get a job there.  Because it wouldn't be the same.  It wouldn't be the same kids.  And it wouldn't be the same people I work with now.

Which is a great move-in to Day Two:  The people I work with.

I have worked in a few schools since starting my path to becoming a teacher 6 and a half years ago.  During that time, I made a few solid connections with other teachers.  I observed their teaching styles, I learned from them, I took note of their interactions with students and other faculty.  Yet, I can honestly say that in those 6 1/2 years and the half dozen schools I've spent time in, I have NEVER made the connections that I currently have with the people I work with.

I have one of the most supportive and encouraging teams I could ever ask for.  I work on a team of four teachers, which inherited the fourth member this year.  And, I've said this before, but we are like a little family of teachers.  

There's the strong willed "Papa Bear" teacher.  She is my mentor, and no matter what the situation is, I know that I can count on her to give me the advice I need EXACTLY how I need to hear it.  I know that she has my back, and will support me in whatever decisions I make when it comes to my classroom.  She challenges me each and every day to do what I think is best, and provides clear cut, no sugar coated advice on areas I need to focus on.  Others see her hard coating on the outside, but our little family also gets to see her warm, soft center.  She may let you know exactly what's on her mind, but she has such a warm heart.  I have teared up right along with her as she's shared stories of her teaching career, joyful moments, and why she continues to do it each and every day.  I absolutely LOVE her, and without her, my first year of teaching would not have been so wonderful.

Then, there's the tender hearted and kind "Mama Bear" teacher.  She is the poster board teacher of positivity and emanates pure, cheerful light wherever she goes.  She is the nurturer.  I've never heard a harsh word come out of her mouth, and when she laughs it makes your whole body warm up.  She is hilariously funny, and no matter how bad of a day I've had, I know that a few minutes with her will make it all better.  The care she has for her team is shown daily by the worries she often takes on for us.  She will do just about anything to help all us feel better, even if it means sacrificing her own happiness for a short while until she can get figure out the best way to help us all through.  I absolutely ADORE her, and without her, my first year of teaching would not have been so wonderful.

And, up until this year, I was the baby bear.  But, this year, I think it's more fitting that the "baby bear" roll goes to our new addition.  Last year, she was a 3rd grade teacher and this year she moved up to be with us.  She is, by far, the most sweet person I've met.  She came to us a little nervous, a little unsure of what the year had in store for her... and I can only hope she's as happy to be with us as we are to have her.  She balances our team out perfectly.  She is a Mama Bear in the making, and you won't ever hear a negative thing come out of her mouth.  Her love and kindness is apparent in the way she worries so much.  And that's not in a bad way.  She gives her whole heart to her students, and they are so very blessed to have her as a teacher.  Just as I am blessed to have her right across the hall from me.  She also has one of those addictive laughs that is true and contagious.  My only hope is that I get to know more about her as the year unfolds, because I absolutely LOVE working with her.

So, I guess that leaves me as the extra bear that's not involved in the well known story.. HA!  

My love of the people I work with doesn't just come from my team.  I also have an AMAZING administrative team.  My principal is one of the most devoted, caring, passionate people I have ever met.  Her love for her job and the children she gets to work with is apparent in everything she does.  She has created a culture in our school that boosts the students up, and gives them something to believe in.  She challenges the students to overcome any obstacles that may be in their way and truly makes them believe that they are capable of following their dreams...wherever they may lead to.  She also pushes me each and every day to continue doing what I'm doing, and to believe in myself.   

The assistant principal is new to our building this year, but he's not new to our school.  He taught in the school up until the year before I came, and so everyone knows him.  I don't.  Not really.  But, the limited amount of interactions I've had with him has been enough to know that he's also a perfect fit to our school.  He's always been there to help me out when I needed it, and I never feel intimidated to talk to him and share what I have to say.  

The rest of the faculty and staff are just as awesome, but there's just no way I can sit here and write about all of them.  I can just say that I am blessed to be in the same building with them, and working along side them.

OK, if you haven't been able to grasp why I'm thankful for my job and the people I work with by now, then I don't think I'll ever be able convey my message.  This is quite a post...but there are two days worth of writing here.  

I better get to getting, though, because I've got plenty of work to keep me busy today.

Have an awesome Saturday, everyone.  And be thankful.  For something.


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