Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lesson Learned

Yesterday when the kids got home from school, they sat down to the kitchen table for their snack and Elizabeth said, "Oh. No." I asked her what was wrong, and she said she was going to get a zero for homework because she forgot her math book. Why not run to the school to get it, you ask? Well on the second day of school she forgot her math book and, that day, as I was driving her back to the school to fetch it, I told her that I would take her back to school just this once. If she forgot it again, she won't be able to do her homework for that night. She agreed that rule sounded reasonable and, remembering that yesterday, she didn't even ask me to take her.

It's a good thing, too, because if she had asked I might have taken her to get it. I could tell she was worried and I hated seeing her distressed about such a simple and honest mistake, but she knew the rule and she follows rules. As the evening wore on, it was obvious she was getting even more anxious about it, and she admitted she couldn't stop thinking about her math homework. I told her that her teacher knows she's a hard worker and a good student, but she also knows that she's human. Humans aren't perfect; we all make mistakes. Though Elizabeth was disappointed in herself, I told her that in the grand scheme of life, forgetting your book and not doing your homework for one night is not a big deal. I wiped away her tears and assured her it was a tiny error with very little consequences.

Though we could have easily fixed the problem, sometimes it's more important to learn a lesson in acceptance. This afternoon she brought home both her math book and her math book on CD. The book is now on our computer, and she'll never miss a homework assignment again. You can take that to the bank.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Closest Thing to Pet Ownership

This afternoon I opened the back door and this little guy wandered right in. He didn't stay long. He brushed up against me a few times and meowed and explored, but he can't be caged so he went on his way.

I love when Ringo visits. But I will admit I ran the vacuum right after he left. He's not an indoor cat, and I'm not a pet person. Yet we still make it work, somehow, some way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mindful Thought for the Day

It's ironic to listen to a Pema Chodron audiobook about mindfulness while driving.

I enjoy her. Her writing is insightful and inspiring. She either makes sense of it all for me, teaches me how to figure it out for myself, or tells me to just stop thinking about it already. She's a devout Buddhist nun and one wise woman, and I'm grateful my friend Jennifer introduced me to her. Well, not Pema exactly but her books. My library branch had only one of her books (which I read through twice already), but it also had two audiobooks that she wrote. I'd never listened to a book on CD before, but I was desperate for more Pema so I checked them out.

It's hard to listen to a book unless I'm sitting still like I'm in a class. I have no problem sitting down to read at my own pace, but listening to someone else read is difficult. I feel like I'm wasting time and should be doing something else too, like cleaning or making dinner. Then I figured I could listen while I'm driving, but that started to feel like a recipe for disaster. When I realized that I was trying to multitask while learning to be more mindful, I just giggled and turned off the CD. Then I put the books on hold at the library.

Monday, September 15, 2014

More of the Same

I'm far less interesting now that I'm a substitute teacher. Nothing happened today except I went on my second job, but you don't want to hear about every single one of them. How boring! I will say it went well. It wasn't as cushy as the first one because there was, expectedly, more instruction involved, and it was at a school that isn't as hoity toity. In fact, some of the kids were rather rowdy and there wasn't much staff support, but I made it through even though I was left to watch four second grade classes on the playground at recess. My sub plans specifically said that another teacher had recess duty that day, so I walked my students to the playground and when I went to ask the teacher if it was okay that I left, she asked if I wouldn't mind keeping an eye on them while she went to get a drink. It took her fifteen minutes of the twenty-minute recess. Well played, Teacher. I would have gone to my classroom to figure out a strategy for the next activity in my plans, but I'm sure she got a lot done in her classroom during that time. No one tell me she did any different!

Tomorrow I have a half-day assignment in fourth grade, and on Thursday I sub for second grade at my kids' school. I'm looking forward to that. I feel good about my performance at schools that are brand new to me, so I hope I can do even better at a site with which I'm familiar. Tonight I marketed myself in an email to our school's teachers, and the feedback has been positive. Hopefully they'll decide to call on me. Until then, I'll just keep on accepting jobs that feel right. And I promise to stop talking about it and go back to doing interesting things!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Modern Day Norman Rockwell

I see this commercial just about every night. I've mentioned before how I'm a marketer's dream, but check out this family of four. Look at their garage. Look at their shiny Lexus. You can't miss their Airstream. I don't know where they are, but I want to go there. I want to be there. I want to live there and live that lifestyle.

It's fiction. Nothing's that perfect. Clearly, because who keeps their guitar in the garage with their skis and poles, bow, oars, mountain bikes, vintage camping gear, fishing poles and nets, and golf clubs? Wow. That's the most active and interesting family in the world. I'm a tiny bit jealous of that fake family. :-)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sounds Good to Me

I wouldn't go back to Facebook even though I am the last to hear news. Since we're no longer "friends," I occasionally check his website to see if anything's up. A new album is coming out in less than two weeks and I know a lot of the songs already? Well this is great news!

Friday, September 12, 2014

One Giant Leap

Yesterday afternoon I received my substitute teacher ID# and logged on to the phone and online systems. Within moments of going live, I suddenly found myself panicked that I could be called for a job the very next day. I decided to go online to see if there were any promising-looking jobs for which I could accept and, therefore, no longer have to worry about receiving a call. Of course, as soon as I accepted a job then there were about a thousand other things I started to worry about. I wasn't so much afraid of the first graders I'd be teaching; I realized that what I was really worried about was being harshly judged by other teachers and parents. I've heard around our school that "so-and-so won't be coming back" and "she's not an effective sub" and "I can't believe that sub did that!" Gulp. OK. I've learned from their mistakes, but that doesn't mean I won't make some of my own. So after not sleeping well last night and trying to calm down with some yoga this morning, I told myself that no one wants me to fail. For the sake of the children, they want me to do a good job. They are (or should be) on my side, so don't be afraid of them and ask for their help if you need it, Sara.

I made all our lunches last night, packed my pool bag (why, yes, that's the nicest bag I own), and slept about three hours. I woke up, did some yoga, ate a small bowl of cereal, and felt like barfing. I got dressed and headed out the door. Elizabeth took this first-day-of-school photo of me.

So I showed up this morning at a school I've never set foot in, ready as I'd ever be to keep order and teach in a first grade classroom. The front office lady gave me my badge and binder of information and led me to my room. She was very kind and pointed out the multi-purpose room, library, and playground along the way. My students had music as their special today, but the teacher next door was very helpful and told me where the music room was and where my class would line up at the first bell. So I went to get the students, led them to our class, and we got started.

The teacher left perfect lesson plans. A Friday first sub job was the way to go. It was a very good introduction because we did a warm-up activity for fifty minutes, had "calendar time" where we went over the date and such, had recess, and then came back to the room for Art Masterpiece. That's an art program taught by parent volunteers once a month, so I basically let the three moms do their thing. I scrolled through their PowerPoint and maintained order in the classroom and that was about it for an hour. Then, hey, it was lunch! After lunch, they read to themselves for about twenty minutes, we practiced their spelling words, we had two math activity rotations, a journal exercise, went to music class, came back and had a snack, the teacher next door came over to log on to the computer so our class could watch a video (per the lesson plans), and the kids packed up their things. There were two incidents of downtime, but I brought along some books to read to them in case that happened. They were riveted! Those were honestly the quietest times of the day. I have to admit I'm pretty good at reading to children. If I know the book well, I use a lot of expression and every speaking character has a voice. I've done that since my own kids were babies, and kids love it. I chose well for today's assignment; these books are right on for first graders:

It didn't all go swimmingly, though. I did my best to control the chatting, and I think I did as well as a substitute can do with that, but it wasn't always as quiet as I would have wanted it to be. Also, it's hard to keep first graders in their seats. One asked if he could sharpen his pencil so I let him. A few seconds later, another kid asked. I let him. Then very soon another asked, and I said, "You'll have to wait your turn." Then another one asked and I said, "Let me see your pencil. No. You can write with that just fine." I wasn't born yesterday, kids. I'm on to you! However, unless we were headed to recess in less than ten minutes, bathroom requests were always granted. No messes allowed.

All in all, it went really well. Parts of it were even fun, and the day flew by because I was always busy. Of course, I do realize it wasn't a very difficult day. I have a job scheduled to teach second grade at another school I've never been to before on Monday, and I have a feeling there will be more instruction required on a Monday. I don't know what's in store for me then, and I know every day will be different, but I am pleased about today's adventure and am looking forward to finding my way on future jobs.