Tuesday, May 28, 2013

i am...

8 days away from summer vacation

waiting for the appraisal-man to come and appraise the property next door, so that i can discuss finances with the finance man on thursday and hopefully make an offer on the property by the end of next week

missing the beach after a wonderful, relaxing, fun weekend with my family

watching my alien stomach move like crazy as Peanut dances on the inside

sad that the smoothie-blender-cup got stuck in the smoothie-blender-motor-base, so both are stuck in the fridge until sweet hubby gets home from getting some allergy shots (and finishing his work day, too)

excited to see sweet hubby's boss during career day at my school tomorrow, talking to my students about her job as an interpreter, and hopefully in spanish

hopeful that sweet hubby will remember to buy a new gallon of paint for Peanut's room so that my little sister can paint the room (again) on friday, since the second gallon was originally left untinted and got mixed with the first gallon....

dreading having a teacher evaluation written on me by my principal tomorrow during career day activities when i have the "art" rotation (draw a picture of a career for a guessing game), but tomorrow would still be better than friday field day movie time

constantly kicking sweet hubby out of bed by accident with my gigantic but super comfortable body pillow taking up too much space or whacking him on the head

tired of the mess of my house being totally out of order from Peanut's stuff in piles everywhere when it should be put away in her room already

sleepy, sleepy, sleepy, but trying hard not to nap so i can sleep better at night

ordering some more shorts for the summer, since the ones i ordered before are too tight on my rear (funny how my entire body has expanded much more than i ever thought possible even though my doctor keeps telling me i've gained the perfect amount of weight)

cleaning out my teaching files and materials to make space for everything that comes with the new grade level

Thursday, May 23, 2013

10 more days of school!

And every one of them....
will be soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long.

But I can put one more finger down after each one of them, starting tomorrow.

This is cause for celebration!

Monday, May 20, 2013

I'm going with: or not. And I'll finish up by counting some blessings. It won't be all bad.

On the progress front.

I can't seem to get unstuck from the hurt of the way the whole situation at school with changing grade levels was handled.

I don't really want to leave my job for a whole year, or for forever, either.

I don't really want to stay at a job where I don't trust my boss, either.

I'm zero degrees closer to making a decision.

I don't seem any closer to forgiveness, either, although I think that it is probably necessary (and probably, eventually, the better choice).

I still have mean thoughts in my heart and my head -- especially a strong desire for the teacher/principal to experience great failure with this "experiment" that they are forcing me to be a part of. Not that I want my part to be a failure -- I just want that teacher to experience failure so great that she doesn't recover from it easily.

I don't think it is a good thing for me to want bad things for other people. I don't WANT to want bad things for these people, but I haven't been able to move forward. I don't know if it is the pregnancy hormones making me hold on to this for longer than I should, or an inherent character flaw, but something is holding me in this place of anxiety and anger that I don't really want to be in any longer.

I think, in general, I'm suffering some anxiety from feeling very out-of-control. I was feeling secure with the idea of teaching the same thing, at the same school, with the same expectations, while allowing for the freedom/lack of control of not knowing exactly how things will go when my daughter arrives. Having that idea of stability was apparently holding me together more than I realized. Having it removed has let me fall apart much more than I think is healthy for me, and unfortunately my response is not always to turn to God in trust.

As silly as it might be, in the long run, it is the little things that are undoing me -- a pretty decent school day followed by the news that the second of the two gallons of paint for the nursery was actually not tinted, three weeks after sweet hubby had originally planned to have the room painted and cleaned back up for me to re-start clearing it out. I can't get to the sewing stuff that I actually feel ready to work on....I can't figure out what to do with some of the furniture that we don't want to leave in the room but don't have space for anywhere else....Overall, I'm just feeling anxious and out of control.

I need to get back to remembering the good things -- the blessings. So here are a few from today/the weekend.
1. Supper with roommate -- just the two of us. Good time with a good friend.
2. 4 out 14 students in my poorly behaved group of students were absent/dismissed early today. This was truly cause for celebration!
3. Another teacher offered me (for free!) a barely-used car seat and extra base.
4. The owner of the vacant lot next door is interested in selling, and my mama's realtor neighbor suggested a very helpful real estate attorney to help me in the process of making an offer.
5. Sweet hubby spent some time putting away science and math materials from my classroom and backing up computer files for me on Saturday.


That's a bunch of blessings. There are more, I'm sure, but those are the ones that come to mind the quickest.

And now, it's time to pray for the tornado victims in Oklahoma.

Friday, May 17, 2013

progress, or not

There was a cookout for teachers during our lunch today -- I ate the lunch sweet hubby had packed for me, anyway, since I don't eat hamburgers or hot dogs (I eat turkey burgers, or chicken burgers, or chicken-dogs, but no red meat or pork products). The insurance/retirement guy was there with ice cream sundaes for all of us -- I guess I met with him in either december or january, and he didn't know I am expecting a baby! He was a little bit surprised. I can't remember exactly when I met with him, but I might not have even known I was pregnant yet! It blows my mind how much has changed in the past six months!

In a couple of weeks, I'll meet with a financial adviser to talk about the feasibility of taking long-term child care leave after maternity leave in the fall. I'm sure it will depend partly on me learning to stick to a budget, and partly on how many hours sweet hubby works this summer and fall (while I'm out on maternity leave), and partly on a little bit of luck/blessing.

So far, though, simply knowing that I have the option of deciding that I can't handle returning to work next year and leaving Peanut at home/daycare while I struggle through creating/translating/finding/learning new material and working with younger, less independent students has made me much more accepting of changing grade levels. My partner teacher keeps coming up with new things to put on our "pros" list -- not having certain other teachers' kids, working with a new team of younger teachers (two of whom are young moms, too), no state mandated standardized testing, etc. I'm hoping that sweet hubby will spend some time with me in the classroom cleaning out third grade materials, putting away things that are mine and won't be shared, saving all the files that I painstakingly created and translated to flash drives and an external hard drive, then wiping them from my school computer/school network, since I'm going to be a witch and not share with the teacher who requested the move.

I'm in the process of setting up a meeting with the recommended teacher from another school -- hopefully she will be open to me copying all of her computer files and such, and picking her brain about what I can expect from this new age group, especially as far as language and math skills are concerned.

I'd still rather stay in my current grade level, but clearly that is not one of my options at the moment.

My hallway team and a few other teacher friends hosted a baby shower for me and Peanut on Wednesday afternoon. I was impressed by the number of gifts that came off my registry -- it made me think that I did a good job in choosing things and also that I chose a store that is convenient enough for lots of different people. When I was getting married, my mama insisted I register at certain stores, but I wanted to register at others, so I ended up being registered at something like 5 or 6 different places -- and we received the most random assortment of things we didn't really want. I'm hoping that won't happen this time -- if Wednesday's shower was any indication, it will be much better!

I've come down with a little bit of a cold, or a relapse of allergies -- a persistent tickle in the back of my throat by day and stopped up sinuses by night. I hope it doesn't last long. I've started eating the honey again, even though I'm not a huge fan of honey.

Tomorrow is operation "kill the vines" in our backyard -- I'm hopeful that I can convince sweet hubby to complete this operation while I'm at yoga with my mama tomorrow morning, since I'd rather not actually participate in the yard work.

And here we are at 27 weeks!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

options

I have options!

I feel like there is a light at the end of a dark and stressful tunnel!

I met with the HR lady today about maternity leave, and she presented me with an option of which I had previously been unaware.

As you know, I've been moved to a different grade level for next year, taking the place of the teacher who requested to move into my current spot, and who is known to not actually use appropriate materials for immersion in her classroom, and also being required to work hand in hand with this teacher to let her "help" me adjust to the new grade level at the same time as I'm more concerned with spending time with my baby girl.

I've been very upset about it. Many sleepless nights, some pleas for help and assistance, grudging enlistment of another immersion teacher at my school (and perhaps forthcoming another teacher at a different school), lots of tears, a conference with the director of the immersion program, more tears....and now I finally feel like I have an option.

Did you know that beyond FMLA there are provisions for long term child care?

I had no idea!
Apparently, if I choose, I can take the WHOLE YEAR (unpaid).

THE WHOLE YEAR.

Without resigning.
Without breaking contract and risking unemployment the year following.
Without having to look for a new job.
(Ok, yes, without receiving pay beyond the vacation/sick days I've accumulated over the past four years.)
Without having to work with the teacher I am dreading working with, who has put me in this whole position to start with.
Without having to stress out about whether teaching materials are translated into Spanish.
Without having to spend lots and lots of time away from my baby girl.

There are still some details that need to be considered (like, a year of no pay) before any decisions are made.

But this feeling of having options?

It is amazing.

Pray that I will find the right information at the right times to make the right decision.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I have some great parents.

And I'm not just talking about my biological parents, or sweet hubby's, or our godparents, either.

I'm talking about the parents of my kids at school.

(They are mine. I claim them. As much as they drive me crazy, drive each other crazy, drive other teachers crazy....they are mine.)

They organized a baby shower at school so that my kids could help me celebrate Peanut.

There was pizza and cake and games and candy prizes and picture taking and a generous gift card, too.

It was loud and the kids were silly, but I think they were happy, too.

Now, if only the printer would print the thank you notes I've been drafting....

Thursday, May 9, 2013

i am...

still hoping the situation at school will resolve itself soon, although it seems that maybe i need to just get used to the idea of moving grade levels at the same time i have my first baby.

watching bad tv since the internet connection was too slow for netflix.

feeling the baby kick.

not excited about teaching tomorrow after three days of state testing.

also hoping i have enough activities planned for our wacky schedule at school tomorrow.

thinking the baby shower my students are having for me tomorrow will be cute.

covered in cat hair from my furry sweet kitty.

constantly checking my email in hopes of good news (i.e. the news that i won't actually be changing grade levels next year) but not really receiving the news i want.

enjoying a peanut-butter-fudge milkshake

thinking that it is bedtime, but with sweet hubby out for the night, it's hard to get myself in bed on time

just about 26 weeks pregnant and totally unable to control my emotions

glad sweet hubby has made plans to paint the baby's room tomorrow (grey -- not exciting, but hopefully pretty)

hoping to have some creative inspiration and follow through this weekend, whether sewing or framing or painting pictures for the baby's room

hoping the clothes i put in the mail to return to old navy arrive and are credited back to me pretty soon

counting down -- after tomorrow, there are four more weeks of school until summer!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

school drama, continued

It was a rough week.

The decision was made on Wednesday.

I didn't sleep more than three hours that night.

I cried a lot, prayed a little, wrote a little, looked up fun pictures to recreate for Peanut's nursery (to try to distract myself).

After I arrived at school on Thursday, I cried some more.

Thursday afternoon, I cried some more.

After I got home from school, I wrote an email detailing my upset to my principal. I sent it to my partner teacher for her opinion, and she said "Don't send it. Don't burn bridges right now." Good thing I didn't listen to sweet hubby, who thought it was excellent and should be sent right away.

Thursday evening, I went out to supper with sweet hubby and the movie night girls -- all of whom had been warned ahead of time not to ask me about school. We had plenty of other things to talk about, and a good time was had by all.

I didn't sleep much again on Thursday night, but I did start to find some gems. The first was this blog post, about knowing when to surrender. It was precisely what I needed to read at 3 a.m.

After reading, I emailed a few of my closest friends and asked for encouragement and advice. I think it helped me just to let a few more people know how much I am suffering mentally from this decision that my principal made. And their words of advice and encouragement, while they incited tears all over again, were wonderful. Their words were just what I needed.

Well, their words, and a get-away.

After my glucose test on Friday morning (I passed! No gestational diabetes!), and a nap, sweet hubby and I headed up to the mountains. It was a rainy, cold, cloudy, grey weekend. Perfect for cuddling up and sleeping.

I needed to sleep. I managed to sleep almost all night on Friday night. I woke up a little early, but was able to write some prayers down and refocus on other things. I started reading Madeleine L'Engle's A Circle of Quiet, which is apparently filled with more gems and ideas that I needed to find. A morning nap was followed by a lazy day -- the only times we left the cabin were in search of food -- lunch, home to nap, dinner. And I slept all night Saturday night -- it felt like quite an accomplishment.

When I woke up, I read a little more, thought a little more, and worked a little bit of Peanut's blanket. While I worked, I listed to Lori McKenna -- one of my favorites of all time -- and heard this new song. Yet another message that I needed to hear.

A couple of hours later, I crawled back into bed for another morning nap.

And now we are home, and I'm starting to feel anxiety once more at the thought of returning to school tomorrow.

But I opened up a blog that I enjoy, and what did I see? A bible verse, as if chosen just for me: "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." -- Exodus 14:14

Tomorrow after school, I meet with the coordinator of the immersion program I teach in. Wednesday after school, I meet with the 1st grade immersion teacher at my school. Hopefully somewhere in there I will find that I no longer need to feel as though I should be fighting.

Pray for me -- that I will be able to relax, to sleep, to focus on what is best for the students who are still in my classroom this year, and that God will be apparent in all of the details.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I'm kind of angry right now.

Not that it will do me much good, because there isn't really anything I can do about it. But I need to vent a little bit, and so I'm going to get started.

The principal of my school just screwed me over because the 2nd grade teacher wanted something she shouldn't have been able to have. What did she want? My 3rd grade position.

I have many concerns about this teacher's teaching practices, especially as they are related to teaching immersion, and also related to her ability to have students actually learn math and science content. The students who arrive to my 3rd grade classroom from her 2nd grade classroom are often lacking in basic skills, both mathematical and language. I have students in my classroom who arrived in 3rd grade immersion without the capability of asking permission to leave the room to use the restroom and without the capability of adding 1 digit numbers. This teacher, who voluntarily teaches in the immersion program, constantly uses resources in English in her classroom, speaks in English with her students, and allows her students to avoid speaking in Spanish (the target language in our program), all the while allowing them to "learn at their own pace" while not actually progressing in any content area nor in their language development.

Yet somehow this teacher, who last year confessed to me that she was barely passing her teacher evaluation, has become the golden child in my principal's eyes. When she suggested that she would like to move up with her class to 3rd grade, my principal, without hesitating, apparently told her that it sounded like a good idea.

I found out about this "good idea" through a rumor little miss perfect started -- she told one friend that she was moving, who told another friend, who told my partner teacher, who asked me whether I knew anything about it -- since according to the rumor, I had agreed to it and thought it was a good idea.

I did not know anything about it, and I did not think it was a good idea.

I still don't think it is a good idea.

I think it is a horrible idea.

Oh, wait. It's not just an idea anymore.

As of our hour long meeting today, during which little miss perfect sucked up to the principal some more, it was decided that not only am I moving to 2nd grade for next year, while I'll be out on maternity leave for the first 12 weeks of school, that little miss perfect will be helping me write my lesson plans.

You know, because she's so perfect and so willing to make this work, because she wants it so badly.

And because somehow she thinks that I will be convinced that it's ok to provide my long term sub with materials that are in English when they should be in Spanish, and that somehow it is ok for me to speak in English to my students (or have my long term sub speak in English), and somehow I would make a great teammate for working together as a vertical team with her and the current 1st grade teacher.

I'd rather peel my skin off with a potato peeler than have to sit in a room with her at any point in the near future and have her act like the expert on teaching 2nd grade immersion, when I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears the lack of success she has teaching immersion.

I'd rather pour lemon juice into a paper cut than listen to her whiny voice talking about "how wonderful it would be for the kids" to have the same teacher again next year since she "knows how they learn and where they are academically." It doesn't take long to figure out what kids know and what they should have learned the year before -- I'd prefer to be able to use the materials I've already created, translated, tested, and been successful with than to move to a new set of standards, needier children, more material creation and translation, and a new math curriculum on top of it all.

And this at the same time as I'm having a baby, becoming a mother, and missing the first 12 weeks of school.

If I weren't expecting the baby at the beginning of the school year, I would transfer to a different school, or break my contract and look for a job in a different district....But I'm stuck for this year.

I'm not going to be a good team player.

I'm not going to share all the hard work I put into 3rd grade.

I'm not going to share the resources I collected.

I'm not going to stay late or come in on weekends to get a 2nd grade materials collection started, like I did my first year with 3rd grade.

I will do the bare minimum. I will spend as little time at that school as I possibly can. I will speak in Spanish to those kids, regardless of whether I'm in the classroom, the cafeteria, or happen to see one of them at a restaurant one night. I will teach those kids the best I can for the little effort and time I'm willing to commit to the job, and when the year is almost over, I'll decide whether I want to stay another year -- supposedly moving up to 3rd grade again -- before moving on to another school, another principal, another set of people who might do a better job of acting like compassionate human beings who take other people's experience, opinions, research, and backgrounds into consideration.

My perception of these two people, both the current 2nd grade teacher and the principal, have been forever altered.

One day I'll forgive them. But I won't be forgetting.

I'm a teacher after all. I'm in the business of learning.