P. S. Chocolate Is In The Bottom, Left Drawer

Dear Mrs. S,

Hi, I am Lacey, the side of you that can still sleep in until 10 in the morning, wears pajamas later than I should, and actually watches The Tonight Show now since (my pretend biffle) Jimmy Fallon took over.

I am wrapping up a fabulous Spring Break. I didn’t leave my hometown, but that’s okay. It was needed. I caught up on some mighty fine television and also a few chores. I cooked three (!) Pinterest recipes. I got reacquainted with my summer love, Aloe Vera, after getting fried on that particularly warm March Day. I remembered why the Lord invented sunscreen. I attended a wedding of a high school friend (and cried marveled that it’s been eight years since I graduated). I actually read a book that didn’t mention anything education or Dr. Seuss related.  I kissed some friends’ darling babies, hugged said friends and other girls I love, and I even made a scrapbook.

Well, I uploaded photos onto Walgreens’ website. And clicked order.  Then, I drove down the road to pick up my lovely photobook that I tirelessly assembled by clicking and dragging for at least fifteen minutes.

But that totally counts in my (scrap)book. That way, my future children will be able to see their Daddy’s total joy when it came to posing for a selfie when waiting for a table at O’Charley’s in 2013.

I’m about to go away during the daytime, and you, Mrs. S, are going to take back over.  And to be honest, you’re feeling a little glum about school starting back. Granted, a large chunk of this is due to the alarm clock blaring at dark-thirty in the morning.

But that’s not all of it.

Not because you don’t love your students (or your coworkers). In fact, they’re what motivate you to get out of bed and face the day.

A day that (can) consist of continuous reminders that sometimes your good is just not good enough. Not through people you love’s words, but by people outside your classroom walls. Your school walls. People making changes to your profession that you once couldn’t wait to be a part of, but now you are asking yourself if it was worth all your effort. People that have never stepped foot into a classroom other than to make an appearance during an election year. Or sometimes people who have, but haven’t in years. People who have forgotten that students are human beings, not a number.

(The same goes for teachers, by the way).

A lot has changed in even those short four years you’ve been the leader in that classroom.

But one thing hasn’t. The kids.

So, this is my reminder to you. My plea. Enjoy those children. These next nine weeks are the most stressful, but also the most fun. Get through the rest of March and April. These next few weeks are the most grueling of the year, but you’ll soon be able to say you survived. Take it one day at a time.  Work hard everyday to prepare those children for tests that you may not agree with, but that are your responsibility to make sure they are prepared.

Speaking of, be an advocate for your kids and your profession. When the opportunity arises to speak, do so.  With passion. With respect. And with those first graders in mind.

Make it as fun as you can. Take brain breaks. Explain why they missed questions in review (because they will miss questions, despite you teaching it 290 different ways and times). Better yet, have them explain why they missed it. Make sure they are learning. Those tests are important, but if they’re just memorizing, you’re doing a disservice to those kiddos (and the Second Grade teachers will come hunt you down).

After those tests are behind you, keep learning, but add some things in that you just couldn’t squeeze as much of before now.  Do science experiments. Make scavenger hunts. Read a story (or – get this – two stories). DO  A CRAFT! Spend time on writing for fun, not a score.  Celebrate good behavior. Give a hug as they are dismissed each day. But soak in these last few days with this class.

Remember that these first graders will be fifth graders before you know it. Your very first class that knew you as “Miss Greene” is moving on to middle school this summer. And every time you see them, you become a Ma-Maw thinking, “They grow up so fast.”

These first graders will too. And they’ll forever remember you as their first grade teacher. Let it be a memory that they’ll treasure.

And while not teaching those youngins, keep your spirit up. Keep dancing with those colleagues that have become your close friends on Friday afternoons. Have date nights with your husband. Balance. Allow yourself two days of the week to stay late(ish), but no more than that. Have yourself ready to teach those babies the next day, and the rest will be there.  Keep school (physical supplies but emotional feelings too) at school.

Except when (more) new legislation is passed affecting your job and/or your salary. Then, you may totally vent your frustrations to your husband. And eat a bowl of ice cream as you vent.

To thrive as a teacher you need three bones: A wish bone, A backbone and A funny bone.

Most importantly, keep saying a prayer on your way to school each morning. Pray that you will be a light to your students and your coworkers.  Pray that your students will feel safe and loved.  Pray that your patience will remain on the toughest days.  Pray that you will give grace like you’ve been given. You will not always succeed at this, but that’s why you pray for forgiveness too.

OH, and please change your school desktop wallpaper back to the beach. That snowman is SO last season.

You’ve got this. See you after school, weekends, and in nine weeks when Summer Break begins!

(I know you’re not counting, but just in case),

Lacey

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Sittin’ in a Beach Chair on the Driveway

Happy (Well-deserved) Spring Break to all my fellow educators!

As I’ve said before, I am so terribly sorry if you don’t get a Spring Break.  I work in education to make a difference in a child’s life, but the breaks come a close second.

Especially on 70s degree days when I’m not trapped inside.

(I am totally ignoring the 40s in the forecast for TOMORROW. See no evil).

On this particularly warm day in March here in Tennessee, I spent my day as follows:

1. Go for a run jog walk.

Well, I did jog in intervals. I just jogged from the corner of my road all the way down the street TO THE STOP SIGN. I nearly died. After walking/jogging along a path in my neighborhood, I checked the handy-dandy “Map My Walk” app to see how many cookies I could devour tonight.  

And it had to be mistaken. I looked at the calories burned on my marathon trek. IT WAS EIGHTY-NINE MEASLY CALORIES.

I’m not sure that even covers one of the (delicious) “Skinny” Strawberry Cookies I made last night.

But just in case it did, I’ve had three today.

2. Vacuum/Clean out my car

Howie the Honda was in better shape compared to most, but when you grow up with a Daddy whose cleaning habits are akin to Danny Tanner’s, you know how your car should look in the interior.

Let’s just say he’d be ashamed of the three peanut M&Ms I found in the backseat floor.

At least I think they were peanut M&Ms. They were so, ahem, aged that it was my best guess.
3. Read my new book “The Antelope in the Living Room.”

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In case you’re wondering, this book is by Melanie Shankle. I read her blog nearly everyday and I love how she intertwines humor with faith with the normal day-to-day activities.  This book is all about marriage and I’ve laughed out loud multiple times already.

But that is beside the point.

(At this point, you may be wondering what the point is).

I found my beach chair, plopped it right below the steps to our front porch, put my Sprite in the cupholder, and read my book.

Oh yes, I got a few strange looks.

Was it the beach? No, but that’s okay. Because I was enjoying the breeze, the warmth after living in the tundra for three months, and my book.

I think a lot of time we look at other people’s lives and think the grass is greener (or the sand is softer, in my case). 

That couple who post essays of their affection for one another on Facebook. Weekly.

That coworker who gets all the kudos.

That Mama who cooks the perfect meal every night.

Their lives look put together, but what about yours (mine)?

Meanwhile, that couple might look to have a happy marriage, but your husband writes you surprise love notes or thanks you in person.  That coworker might be getting some well-deserved kudos, but you receive an out-of-the-blue email that is better than any kudos you could’ve gotten.  That Mama worked hard on that meal all day, but your husband complimented your frozen meal like it was gourmet.

Instead of sulking about what we don’t have, it’s time we considered how blessed we all are. It’s a daily reminder for me, too, so don’t feel alone when you find yourself on a guilt-trip.

It is all about perspective. Sometimes we forget just how great we’ve got it, including myself.

So, on our next gorgeous Tennessee day, pull a beach chair up next to me on my driveway.

I’ll even squirt you with a water gun if it makes you feel like you’re at the beach.

And I’ll definitely give you a strawberry cookie without reminding how many calories you (haven’t) burned.

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