Monday, September 29, 2014

Day 3--Woe Is Me

I don't want to be negative, but our fall break isn't off to a very good start. I've quarantined myself in the guestroom for two days and nights. I really don't want to spread this cold to my family, and I want to get better fast before we leave for Durango. I'm trying to rest, but I also feel guilty that I'm not engaging my children in fall break activities. Like what? I don't even know, but they shouldn't be spending so much time on the laptop, computer, Wii, and old deactivated cell phones used as mini-tablets.

I managed to take them to the library this morning, but they quickly tired of the books and are now watching "Night at the Museum." Maybe they'll learn some history. We did go outside and pet Ringo in the backyard, but after only fifteen minutes I had four mosquito bites and the kids had ten. It was 1:30 in the afternoon! What the heck?!

So this entry is mostly negative, and I already stated I don't wanna be like that. But this break sure could use a turnaround. Matthew just brought me get-well flowers in a Lego vase. It's a start.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Downside

If yesterday I told you all the good things about subbing, here's one drawback. I go to different schools, and all schools are full of germs. Even though I'm an enthusiastic hand-washer and I never, ever touch my face, the past two days I've had a sore throat and today it has developed into a full-blown head cold. That's no way to start fall break!

I'm fighting it with Zicam every three hours, drinking gallons of water, and resting. Cardio is supposed to be good for colds, so I woke up and ran this morning. Terribly. I was sluggish and so hot and even my ears hurt. What? Why?! I'm thinking the pressure from my cold made the iPod earbuds bothersome because, knock on wood, they've felt okay ever since. I just need to get rid of this bug and stay away from everyone else so it doesn't run through the house and ruin break. 

Geez. Stay in the moment, Sara. So for now I'm working on getting better. And I'm also definitely getting a flu shot this year.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Subbing Summary

On my last subbing assignment, this book was front and center on the classroom bookshelf. I'm not sure if it was a funny coincidence or if the teacher was messing with me. She had been Elizabeth's fourth grade teacher, so I think she put it there to make me laugh. It did, and when my students were at music class I read it, thoroughly enjoyed it, and would have read it aloud to the class if time had permitted, but her lesson plans were perfect and we had zero time to kill. It's a good read if you're looking to fill five minutes.

I am surprised at how much I am enjoying being a substitute creature teacher.  I do want to keep the kids safe, calm, and working hard, and because I don't believe I know more than the teacher, I follow her or his plan to the letter. If I feel like I'm losing them I pull out a book or poem, then we quickly get back to the instruction. I've learned a lot in a short amount of time, and I've also realized that I'm not as slow on my feet as I thought I was. My instincts so far have been pretty good, and sometimes I don't even know where that awesome idea came from. But it came to me, I implemented it, and by golly it is working! So the classroom time has been going swimmingly. Another plus is that there is no pressure other than the pressure I put upon myself to have what I would consider a productive and successful day. I don't set the plan, I just follow it. I don't grade the work, I just collect it. I don't have to attend days of training, and my job does not depend on twenty-five children who take tests in my name. I'm with the kids for six hours, don't have to deal with unhappy and ungrateful parents, and other than the evaluation sheets some schools use I am not subjected to stressful observations or employee reviews. I simply show up, do what I'm told, hold it together for a day (or sometimes a half a day), and go home. Being able to pick and choose the days I want to work and the assignments I want to accept is certainly a bonus, however I'm picking up more jobs than I thought I would so soon. Out of the eleven days I've been eligible to sub, I've worked seven and that included one day with two half-day assignments. Note to self: carefully consider those situations in the future because that's a little like trying to make a connecting flight in an airport.

I've subbed for kindergarten, first, second, and fourth grades so far, and when we get back from break I'm scheduled to be a media specialist (aka computer teacher--yikes) for a day and a half and a third grade teacher for three days in a row. I don't know much about computers. I'm pretty nervous about that assignment, but kids know how to use them so I'm hoping things work out okay. Besides, anyone can do anything for a day and a half. Though I haven't taught third grade, I've been to second and fourth grades so maybe third is everything good about second and everything good about fourth. By the time that three-day assignment is over I will have spent more time with third graders than any other grade, and I'll know for sure whether it's a grade I would want to teach again.

As for the schools, I've been to my kids' school twice, two other schools twice, and two schools once. That was a confusing sentence so I'll say I've taught at a total of five different schools. I dreaded going to two schools but I ended up having great experiences there, and the school that I thought would be wonderful was...not. Because of that, I have removed limitations and opened myself up to be called to any of the 29 elementary schools in our district. I'll go wherever the wind takes me!

It's really been an adventure. I love those so I think I've made an excellent decision to become a substitute teacher. The fact that I'm not that bad at it is a pleasant surprise. After subbing in fourth grade on Wednesday, the teacher called me late in the afternoon to let me know that he'd had a few not-so-good substitute teachers this year, and he was impressed that I had gotten his students to be so productive. This was the same teacher who came in during our reading rotations and brought along five other teachers who sat at the back table observing the students during their rotations and leading a reading group of their own. Though I knew he was in training that morning, I was not aware that his class was part of that training so I almost fainted when they all walked in. I somehow remained confident, continued to encourage the kids to work hard and quietly, and even corrected kids when they weren't doing what they were supposed to be doing. He appreciated my effort and asked me to come back to sub for him during his next training.

Yes, that was a boost to my self-esteem. It's also a boost when little girls say things like, "I like your dress," and "I like your shoes," and "Your fingernails are pretty. Oh! So are your toes!," and "Are you our substitute today? You're beautiful." Sure they're only eight, but I'll take what I can get. On the other hand, I encountered my first disrespectful kid yesterday. After I told him too many times to be quiet in the hallway and scolded him for bringing along his cap to music class (did you know subs are not allowed to take away personal items?), he developed an aversion to me. When they were helping their first grade buddies with a project, I approached him and his buddy and he walked away like I had the plague. "I don't want to be near you." "Why?" "You keep getting me in trouble." "No. You keep getting yourself in trouble." It almost made me laugh. I'm not in the business to make kids like me; I'm there to make them do what they're supposed to do. He walked back to our classroom quietly and didn't wear his hat. I considered that a tiny victory.

There will be good days, and there will be bad days. I'm facing fears and trying hard. I'm showing up and doing the work. I'm teaching and I'm learning. There's plenty of work, and I'm up for the challenges. So far, so good.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fall Break

Fall is breaking upon us!

Normally I view breaks from school as a mixture of welcome relief from homework yet also a terrible disruption to our routine. This time, however, I am sincerely excited! Maybe it's because I know I will not have to work for two and a half weeks. That has something to do with it for sure, but I think it's mostly because we have a lot planned during break and I'm very excited about all of it.

First, Grandma is coming to visit. Brian's mom arrives next Thursday, and she'll be here to celebrate Elizabeth's birthday with us. Second, Elizabeth is planning a campout in the backyard for her party. Third, we're going camping as a family one weekend, and last but most important Brian and I are going on our glorious trip to Durango to enjoy some beautiful scenery, cool weather, and each other.

Let that school bell ring!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Come on, Sara!

I may have come a long way, but there are certain situations in which my mind physically is not capable of being present. Or is it? Nevermind. It is. It is always capable. I think the real problem is that those situations happen so infrequently that I don't have many opportunities to practice or perfect being mindful at those times. They also always catch me off guard so my mind ends up spinning.

It happened again today. I ran into a person who was unkind to me, and although I've found my forgiveness it feels like I am never able to show it when given the chance. I don't know if it's a defense mechanism or what, but when we run into each other I am not myself. I feel like I suddenly turn aloof, and I listen with a rude sense of indifference. It gets worse when I open my mouth. Every word I say is stupid and spoken in a completely unsympathetic tone. I look and feel like a jerk but I can't find myself. I'm lost. I'm confused. I am spinning. Then it's over and all I think is, Damn it!

It's not that I have anything specific that I want to say or get off my chest. It's just that I want to be the person I really am right in that moment. I am not aloof, rude, indifferent, stupid, unsympathetic, or a jerk so why do I act that way? I'm not sure. You'd think that acknowledging it would be helpful and it probably is, but I've noticed myself doing this for far too long. So next time I will take a moment, and maybe a calm breath, and remember to be exactly who I am. Or I'm at least going to try really hard to do that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

90s Girl

This song came on the radio a minute before I got home. Because I'm one of those people who can't turn off a good song until it comes to a proper end, I sat in my car in the garage for an extra two minutes.

This song reminds me of high school and going off to college. That's the kind of music that was popular during our coming-of-age years, so I will always have a soft spot in my heart for grunge rock. We all loved Pearl Jam and Nirvana and I may have worn out my Stone Temple Pilots CD senior year at MAHS, but girl grunge like Hole just wasn't my cup of tea. There's something about this song by the Breeders, though, that I appreciate and I can't pinpoint why exactly. That's okay. I don't have to pinpoint it. I like what I like! Now that I'm a guitarist (can I call myself that yet?), I love the song even more. I just watched this video and that's Genevieve's cousin up there! Sweet. I'm sure hers is a nicer and more expensive Seagull, but it still made me feel pretty good about my purchase.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Man Camp

Brian and Matthew went on their first camping trip with the cub scouts last weekend. Normally it's Elizabeth and I who go off for a few days in the woods, but this time it was their turn. They left for Flagstaff right after school on Friday and came home early Sunday afternoon. The weather was cool, the air was fresh, I'm sure the pines smelled heavenly, and they only got sprinkled on for about ten minutes. The camp was filled with fun activities for the little guys, and both Matthew and Brian made some new friends. They had a blast together. Here is their weekend in photos. Brian promised to get a photo of them together on their next trip.

Matthew, bright and early Saturday morning

their campsite

their group

eggs and sausage for breakfast

making a paper airplane

launching his airplane

assembling foam rockets with help from his leaders

playing with a new friend (his buddy's little brother)

weird science

Garrett and Matthew


So fun!

Matthew, Garrett, and Edward

Camp just wouldn't be camp without a giant dirt hill to climb on.