You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: My Life as a Teacher, Summarized in fb Posts

As my time as an 8th grade Reading teacher on my current campus comes to a close, I find myself spending more and more time reflecting on the last four years. As our principal often quips, “It takes a special person to work at 32nd and P. This job isn’t just a job; it has to be a calling.” I perused my facebook history to see how my mindset and approach to teaching has changed over the last several years.

My experience as a public school teacher for the last four years, summarized by facebook posts:

 

15. “What a great time to be a Knight…here we go!! Have a great day!! We’re ALL IN!!”
–rose colored classes that is the usual attire for the beginning of every school year

 

14. “O.L. kids working hard the day before a holiday break. Makes this teacher-mama proud!”
students

— The “hey, I just might change the world!” optimism of the first holiday break

 

13. Student quote of the day: “oh, him? That’s just my cousin. On both sides. He be from my mom and dad’s family.”
I’m 99% sure she wasn’t kidding.
Happy Friday, family!

— She wasn’t.

 

12. “Taking Camden on a walk. Passed a pencil lying in the grass. Why is my first instinct to pick it up?” #teacherlife

 

11. 7. That’s how many of my 8th grade students were sent to the office today while I was home with a sick baby. Pray for their little souls tonight, because tomorrow is judgment day. “I’m comin’. And hell’s comin’ with me.”

— Affirmation for a job well done is making a 14-year-old boy tear up with remorse.

 

10. “Hey teachers….It’s a new day, new lesson….we got this!!! Have a great day!”

— The beauty of teaching is that there’s a fresh start every day.

 

9. “Forget jeans day on Friday– what I really get excited about is Tennis Shoe Friday!”

— My feet on Monday= Iron Man. My feet by Friday= a cranky toddler.

 

8. I love it when students urgently care about their grades the last week of the semester.
–Said No Teacher Ever

— Explains the onslaught of students begging for tutoring the last week of every grading period and semester

 

7. “Oh good gravy! I dropped this twice this week already, both times referring to my 8th grade students.” -with Allison, my (bail bond) buddy
jail time

 

6. {December 12, 2012. Trying to make sense of the Newton, CT tragedy} “Ran home for a sec during my conference period and my house is a wreck, littered with evidence of a rushed morning with my boys. But how dare I take one second or one mess for granted. At least mine are coming home tonight. As a parent, I can’t even comprehend. As an educator I’m enraged at the awesome responsibility we’ve come to obtain.”

 

5. “Today, school is optional on our campus. It’s a student holiday, but with STAAR tests the next couple of days, many students have chosen to come anyway to attend our STAAR Camp. My heart is SO HAPPY with the hard work that I’m seeing. I needed that– to see even some “hard” kids, wanting to learn. Good luck with testing this week & Go Knights!”

— Ahh, there it is. The reason I became a teacher in the first place.

 

4.

standardized test

 

3.

dos equis

 

2. “Today is National Nut Day, which should obviously be a national holiday for middle school teachers! These kids are NUTS!!!”

 

1. The most profound statement I’ve heard in a looooong while, and written by one of my 8th graders nonetheless: “Don’t let the weight on your shoulders keep you from getting up. Let the weight make your legs stronger so you can never get knocked down.” Awesome insight from a kid without parents, who’s covered in tattoos and shows the kind of maturity that comes from being forced to grow up too fast!

— … And the reason I am still teaching today.

 

And one story to grow on:

A few years back, one eighth grade boy was clearly having a bad day. A co-worker of mine pulled him aside and talked to him privately, hoping he would open up about what was so obviously bothering him. “Miss [the generic term for all female teachers, apparently in the entire universe], my girlfriend said she’s pregnant.” I’m sure a look of concern passed over my caring colleague’s face as she tried to figure out what to say next… but he spoke up before she could respond. “But she can’t be. I took one of those pregnancy tests– I peed on that little stick and it said ‘negative.'”
Oh, well, good. In that case, crisis averted.
You can’t make this stuff up.

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Kumbaya and all that other crap

I’m a facebook junkie.

I am.

I feel no shame in admitting it.facebook_logo_detail

Like any other social media outlet, facebook has its advantages, disadvantages, and at some point people who will use it for purposes of exploitation. This week especially though, I appreciate it. Several heartfelt posts I read recently prompted some incredibly meaningful conversations– like real ones, face-to-face discussions, not just cryptic messages left in the comments of the post.

I find it interesting to note the overriding sentiment behind the posts I’ve read lately. What I keep hearing these days is that people want to know they are in like company. The posts catching my attention feel a lot like distress calls. Apparently people, present company included, want to know they’re not alone, that they’re not the only ones experiencing struggles or battles or frustrations, no matter if the situations are serious or so inconsequential the whole thing becomes hilarious. Regardless, the resounding cry seems to be “IS THERE ANYONE ELSE OUT THERE WHO UNDERSTANDS WHAT I’M GOING THROUGH?”

Each time I’ve read between the lines– “DOES ANYONE ELSE FEEL THE SAME WAY?– there have been, of course, many people who reached out with encouraging words or funny anecdotes to showcase their own weaknesses. And I love how all of a sudden facebook has become a new way to minister to people looking for assurance.

I’ve responded with similar words online before, but twice just today, I reminded a couple of dear friends, “You are not alone.”

It all started with this chick’s blog– Lisa Jo Baker apparently. Never heard of her before last night. But she wrote an AMAZING and UPLIFTING piece titled “Grace for the working mother and her guilt” and I caught a glimpse of it on a friend’s facebook wall.  Well, shoot, down here in the ‘suthin parts like Texas, all us lil’ ole’ teachers were gearing up to go back to work this morning after enjoying our two week Christmas break. This is Texas, the tip of the Bible belt. Most of us will forever refer to this time as the Christmas Break– not the “Holiday” break. map with texasI hate to stereotype, but let’s face it. Most teachers, at least here in Texas where I’m from, are females. And most of us have families. And most of us were dealing with some pretty hefty, Texas-sized emotions as we faced the prospect of leaving our little ones and going back to work after the break. And on Sunday night, on the eve of the great slap in the face from reality that is called Monday Morning, that blog Lisa Jo wrote spread like wildfire among us teachers.

In fact, I was so moved by it that I re-read it again today. And here’s the best part, y’all: that blog, and just as importantly, the sharing of that blog through facebook, led to conversations today that I just consider priceless. Several of my friends and I were handed the opportunity to look each other in the eye and speak the words, “Oh, girl. You. Are. Not. Alone.” And I felt connected. Reassured. Encouraged. My resolve was strengthened. I still didn’t have all the answers, but I was comforted in knowing that neither did they. I was not alone.

photo credit: bangsandabun.com

photo credit: bangsandabun.com

In a world characterized by technological advances quicker than the speed of lightning, I understand the disadvantages of our plugged-in lifestyles. You’ve heard people quip how this generation is more “connected” than any other in history, and how they’re failing to make meaningful interpersonal connections despite the availability at their fingertips.

But today, I am grateful for technology.

Lisa Jo What’s-her-face understood a deep-rooted dilemma facing working mothers on a Sunday evening. She shared her sentiments on a blog. Encouraged friends and readers shared her blog on their social media pages. Several hundred (thousand?) more encouraged readers shared those social media pages. I have no idea how many hits Lisa Jo has recorded so far for this particular blog post, but I consider the whole effort worth it. She wrote words I personally needed to hear. Even more importantly, I was led to share my experience and encouragement with face-to-face friends.

And those are exactly the kind of meaningful interpersonal connections we’re working so hard to protect for the next generation.