Monday, November 28, 2011


photo   © 2008   bottled_void , Flickr
 My stomach is in a knot, my legs won't stop bouncing, and my fingers have been gnawed to a stub status. I have graded papers, check assessments to make sure that I'm managing appropriate intervention groups, and I've analyzed data to make sure that my students are making growth. I have given thanks for the amazing blessings in my life, filled my tummy with turkey and dressing, and have surrounded myself with loved ones. The stress and nerves are still there.

Report cards? Yes, those loom in the near future but they are only a loud blip on my radar.

Holiday craziness? Well, that's a given this time of year but my students are fairly focused.

No....I am being observed.

Bum...Bum my peers.

Not once, not twice, but three times tomorrow. I know that I should think of it as a compliment but I can't help but worry that I won't live up to expectations. What if my year off left me in the dust on new teaching techniques. Will they find something useful and helpful in what I do? I have analyzed my lesson plans and have given thought to all the possible things that could happen during each lesson.

Then, I took a step and realized that nothing goes according to plan in the classroom. That's how those teachable moments happen right? We are all very supportive in my building and we all learn and grow from each other. Maybe it's the perfectionist and overachiever in me...but I want everything to run smoothly and to feel like I contribute to others learning because I gleam so much from watching all of them.

I have an amazing principal who works a day into each month for teachers within the building to observe their peers. She calls it Collegial Learning and I have grown as a teacher because of it. I enjoy seeing how other teachers approach their craft, how they set up their rooms, and how they interact with their students. I scribble notes on my note pad, eager to pull every ounce of knowledge from the masters that surround me. But, when it's my nerves act up and I begin to question how and why I approach things the way I do. The people observing me may learn something, but I am definitely doing some reflecting of my own before and after my lessons.

Tomorrow will be a growing experience for me in many ways. When it is done, I will take a breathe....gather feedback from my peers...reflect...and then begin to stress about report cards. It never ends does it? Thankfully, I love what I do and wouldn't change it for the world. Happy Report Card Season and good luck!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Strong Willed and Angry

Night times have been varied in my home lately. They always start the same: snuggle time on the couch, teeth brushed, story read, story turned on, stars on, and kisses follow being tucked in tight. I also say the same words, "I love you! Now don't forget to stay in bed." If only this worked.

While trying to grade papers and catch up on DVRd shows, my ears begins to pick up a different script. Giggles and that really what I'm hearing? As I glance up at the clock, my blood pressure begins to rise. I pause the show and quietly tip-toe upstairs. The door is closed but a sliver of light lines the frame of the door. Not only are they up, but they've turned on the light. Brazen? You bet!  I swing open the door and put on my angry mom face. Yes, you know the one, the tear inducing eyes accompanied by the scrunched up nose and turned up lips.

"What are you two doing? Don't you realize that you both have to go to school tomorrow? You're going to be exhausted in the morning. Now GO TO BED!"

Bodies quickly move from one place to the next as they begin to snuggle back in. This is only the beginning of my night.

My body hasn't even made it back into the warm indent of the sofa when the pitter patter of feet begins. That can't be feet, it has to be the rain. I stay perfectly still as I give it another listen. You have GOT to be kidding me. I stomp, yes I am not being quiet any long, stomp my feet up the stairs to find my three-year old standing indignantly in the door way.

"Get your booty in bed!", I demand in the deepest tone I can muster.

"I NOT!", is the reply that is echoed back to me.

Yes, the blood in now boiling as I move my baby from the room he shares with is brother to the playroom (which has a toddler bed in it).

As soon as his body touches the mattress, he springs back up at me. My fair hair, fair skinned child is changing before my eyes. It's as if The Hulk is in my midst. Cheeks begin to turn red and his soft eyes are shooting daggers
"You stay here and go to sleep."

As I leave the room, the screaming begins. It varies from night to night. Tonight it's a chorus of "I WILL NOT!" and "MOM MAY!". It's not the mommy that whispers into my ears and makes the corners of my mouth rise. This "mommy" is harsh with an edge that makes your hair stand on end.

After he is worn out, I find my way back up the stairs. As I enter the room, the volume is cranked up but I can see that his swollen eyes are beginning to droop. This is my chance. As I wrap my arms around him, I begin to pull up the covers and explain how much I love him and that sleep is essential right now. The fight is over....sleep has won this time but the battle will be taken up another day.

As I get to the door, I hear a mouse of a squeak. What? "Mommy, I love you!" My icy heart quickly melts away as those 4 words remind me that this is just a blip on the radar of my life. These nights may seem to last forever but they are well worth the love that fills the rest of the day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


My parents always stressed the importance in pride when I was growing up. It's important to have pride in your work and to give 110% in everything you do. If you do that, you'll be appreciated for your efforts. I try to teach my students the same thing.

We were taking a reading assessment last week when I was reminded how rewarding pride could be. My class has been working on making predictions and supporting their opinions with evidence from the text. It was time for me to check their progress, so we read a story and then they were asked to make a prediction. Groans reverberated around the room....yes, I was asking them to write. How dare I!

I asked my class to remember 3 things.
1. To use their best handwriting
2. To make sure their capital letters were in the correct place (those pesky D, N, and R seem to pop up in the middle of words in my class)
3. To make sure that they support their predictions with evidence from the story.

Heads were nodding in acknowledgement and pencils began to dance along the tops of papers while Matt Nathanson played in the background.

I have one little girl who always seems to be disheveled. She comes into class with papers hanging out of her folder, her hair dances to it's own tune, and breakfast is usually in one hand with her coat dangling from her fingers. Neatness is not her strong suite but she tries.

Today was this young ladies special day. As the children began to finish their assessment and books began to open around the room, this young lady tugged gently on my sleeve. A crooked smile appeared on her face, her cheeks became rosy, and her eyes began to sparkle. Immediately I knew that this was going to be a special moment. As I looked at her paper, I was able to read every word clearly and there were NO capitals in the middle of her words. This is the first time her paper has been capital free and she knows it.

"This is fabulous! I can tell that you worked super hard on this didn't you?"

Her head began to nod like a bobble head doll, and her smile stretched across her face even wider like the Cheshire Cats.

"I am so proud of your hard work. This looks beautiful!"

"I took pride in my work....and you're write Mrs. G, it does make me feel really good."

What more could I say? I reached my arms around her and gave her a quick squeeze. I love days when you can pass along the joy of having pride in your work.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

High fevers, broken bones, and ER trips...Oh My!

Hello everyone,

I am so sorry to have not posting for most of October and the beginning of November. It has been an eventful few weeks. Let me give you just a taste.

It was the Sunday before conference week. You know, the frantic time of year when you are stuffing papers into folders to make conferences run smoothly. I had just tucked my boys into bed and had settled down to grade some last minute writing samples.

Brrrring, Brrrrring (Well actually my phone rings differently, but you get the idea)

My eyes went to the caller ID. It was my hubby calling from NH. I very excitedly answered the phone to find a groggy voice on the other end.

"Hey, I want to start by saying that I'm fine."

Never the way to start a conversation. My heart began to pound it's way up my chest. Panic began to shake my hands as I quickly asked, "What in the world happened?"

"I broke my leg playing hockey. I'm in the ER and it looks like I'll have surgery tomorrow to put the bones back together."

Clean brake through the Tibia and Fibula
Worry, panic, sadness, and finally guilt kicked in. I am in WA and am not able to be by my husband's side while he has his first broken bones and surgery. Yes, you read correctly, my husband has never broken a bone and he is now in the hospital by himself. I quickly run through the list of things that need to be done...who to call, how to arrange for him to get home. I apologized multiple time for not being there and promise to find a way to get there as quickly as I can.

I hang up the phone and begin to make phone calls to his parents and mine. What am I going to do?

As I am pacing the floor downstairs, I begin to hear barking noises coming from the room upstairs. My oldest son must have passed his bark to my 3 year old. I calmly walk upstairs, trying to put my broken husband out of my mind for a moment. I cradle my big baby into my arms and helpless watch as his coughs rattle his chest. Not only is my baby sick, but his asthma is in full effect. As I push syringe fulls of medicine into his mouth, I rock him gently in my arms. Eyes begin to close while his hands grip the Gatorade bottle like a lifesaver. As I inch my way upstairs, his chest continues to rattle. I prop him up in my bed and begin the search for his inhaler. I should clarify that his asthma only seems to be bad when he's we don't use his inhaler often.

Where is that darn inhaler? I search every inch of the house in is no where to be found. I will go to the doctor tomorrow to get a will be OK.

Yeah, I don't think so. I climb into bed only to discover that my son is struggling to breathe. I put Vicks on his chest and stand next to the steaming hot shower so the steam will open up his airway. Nothing seems to help much. When the sun begins to rise, I decide that it's time to visit the ER.

After a quick run into work to prepare for the sub...I am on my way to the ER. As my son is being worked on, my husband is in surgery to get plates and screws put into his leg. Both of my boys are hurting and all I can do it wait on the sidelines.

A few pins and plates later
5 nebulizers, an x-ray, and a few medicines later.....we are on our way home. My poor baby has had pretty hefty asthma attack and has croup. He is in good spirits and is breathing fine so I leave him with my mom and get my 4 conferences out of the way. I need to get them out of the way in case I'll be flying back East soon.

That night, my husband calls to give me the update on his surgery and asks if I will be there tomorrow to bring him home. My heart is breaking as I look at my recovering baby and hear my broken husband on the other end. What am I to do? Thankfully my husband's dad is there visiting for a few days so he will have someone to care for him for a few days. I book a plane tickets for a few days later. I am to leave on Thursday.

Wednesday night comes and I am back in the ER with my baby. This time it's a double ear infection. The plane trip will have to be delayed while I take care of my boy.

The new plane tickets are for Tuesday. One week with my husband while my mom takes care of my boys. Thankfully everyone is feeling well so the trip goes smoothly. My husband is recovering well and both boys are back to normal. The quiet house is now loud and rambunctious again.

As Thanksgiving nears, I am thankful for a family on the mend and hope that it continues.