Thursday, August 21, 2014

I probably shouldn't say anything....

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I actually made it through a day at school without getting a new student!  26 and holding for two days in a row.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Looking for a sandwich

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Before the first day of school was over I received my 25th student.   

It was a long exhausting day!

As the students entered class, I showed them where to place their lunchboxes, asked them to put all the supplies they brought in in a large bag and place it in the corner of the room then gave them a coloring sheet to complete while I talked to their parents.

On parent asked why the supplies were going in the corner and laughed when I explained that I couldn't let them have the scissors and glue before we had talked about the correct times to use them.

When it was time for lunch, I had the kids with lunch boxes line up first.  One little girl had a small freak out because she needed to get her sandwich.  I asked where it was and she pointed to the corner where all the supplies were. 

I took a deep breath and walked to the corner with her asking why she hadn't put her lunchbox where the others were.  Using her 5 year old reasoning, she explained that it wasn't a lunchbox it was a sandwich.

We found the bag with her supplies and she quickly pointed to the box of sandwich baggies and proudly said, "See!"

I couldn't help but laugh as I explained that while there was a picture of a sandwich on the box there wasn't actually a sandwich on the inside.

Monday, August 18, 2014

On the first day of school.....

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Dear Aala, Angie, Marcella, Brandon, Jediahluis, Alexandra, Analia, Kayla C., Celestte, Darnleigh, Trinity, Aaron, Ryan, Andrew, Kyle, Isaiah, Mario, Anne, Kayla O., Danilo, Bayron, Jordan, Kristeen and Nigeria:

I am your kindergarten teacher and I don't think you are going to like me very much.  I don't blame you, after all, you're only five.  I blame all those people that make way more money than I do and have nothing better to do than point out everything that they think teachers are doing wrong.

Those people who make way more money than I do, think they know you and what you need more than I do.  They have put certain rules in place that I am forced to follow no matter what I think of them or how wrong they are.  They think you will become a better student because of these rules.  They don't care that their rules drain all the fun out of learning or that you may not be ready to learn new things on their schedule.

Right now, you are just a name on my class list, but in about eight hours you'll walk through the door of my class room and become an actual person to me.  You're going to become one of  "my babies" and you won't like it when I tell you that.  Even though I don't yet know what your voices sound like I can already hear you saying, "We're not babies!"  You won't like my explanation about how no matter how old you are you will always be your mommie's baby and that as long as you're in my class you will also be my babies.

This is where it starts to get tricky.....you see, all those people that make way more money than I do also insist that you aren't babies.  They insist that I have you walk in the door on the first day of school and immediately put you in chair and begin the long journey of getting you prepared to take a standardized test.  If you don't believe what I'm saying now, you will in a few short hours.

They don't care that you may or may not have gone to preschool.  They don't care that you may or may not be shy and scared.  They don't care that you may or may not already know your letters or numbers.  They don't care that you may or may not know how to write your name.  They don't care that you may or may not have slept in a warm comfortable bed after eating a well balanced dinner.  They don't care that you may or may not be coming to school with your own pencils and crayons.  They don't care that you may or may not already have friends in the class.  They don't care that you may or may not be leaving your mother's side for the first time.  They don't care that some of you may or may not come into the room crying.  They don't care that English may or may not be your first language.

They don't care....They don't care....They don't care!

Want to know what they care about?  They care about that standardized test.

Those people who make way more money than I do don't understand why we need art and music and free play and time to just talk to each other.

They don't understand that not only is it fun to draw and color just for the sake of coloring, but that it is also an awesome way to express yourself.  Your scribbles will become drawings that tell about adventures, both real and make believe, that you have experienced.  Those drawings will evolve into more as you tell the stories that inspired them.  They don't understand that these things may inspire you to become an artist or a writer.

They don't understand that music is another way of expressing ourselves and our feelings.  They don't understand that music can be used for learning as well as fun.  They don't understand that the songs we play and learn and dance to may inspire you to become a professional singer or dancer.

They see free play as a waste of learning time.  They don't understand the necessary social skills that can only be learned through this type of play.  They don't understand that playing with blocks may inspire you to become an architect or an engineer.  They don't understand that role playing may inspire you to become a fire fighter, a doctor, a chef, an actor, or even, heaven forbid...a teacher.

You don't know those people who make way more money than I do.  You don't know about the rules they set or the demands they make.  It's because you don't know them that you won't blame them for all the things you'll be forced to do this year even though you're only five.  You won't blame them for all the things you won't get to do either.  You will blame me and I am afraid that is why you won't like me.

You will blame me.  You will blame me because I am the one you will see everyday.  I don't blame you, though.  After all, I understand that you are only five.

There are lots of other things that you don't know.

You don't know that I have asked repeatedly why there are so many of you when according to state law there should only be 18 students in our class.  I'm not asking this question because you aren't wanted or loved, but because it isn't fair to you or to me.  Many parents say that they choose to have one or two children because they can give more time and opportunities and one or two then they can to three or four.  It's the same for a teacher.  Our time together is limited and now it must be split among 24 of you instead of the state mandated 18.  You don't know that there will undoubtedly be even more students placed in our room.

You don't know that I have always heard the beat of a different drummer.  You don't know that I have
never been one to bow down to authority or that I have a hard time following rules and guidelines that I find stupid and unfair.  You don't know that it is because of this that there will be moments in our class when the door is closed and no one is watching that we will color and sing and dance.

You don't know that I understand your need to run and climb and slide and scream and pretend to be a super hero or a princess.  You don't know that it is because of this that there will be moments on the playground that I will ignore the command for "structured play" and simply let you be free.

You don't know that in these moments I will learn more about who are and who you will become than those people who make way more money than I do will ever learn from the results of your standardized test.

You don't know that we have a magical room filled with books that some people call a "media center" or a "library".  You don't know that you probably won't be allowed into this room this year because it's reserved for older students and the need to prepare them for yet another standardized test.

You don't know that I have spent the last few years asking, "When are we going to stop looking at the data and start looking at the kids?"  You don't know that the most common answer I get to this question is simply a "look" from our principal.  You see, he's one of those people who make way more money than I do.

You don't know that two weeks ago I sat in a meeting where someone told me, "You may as well forget about doing The Polar Express and Dr. Seuss and The Wizard of Oz."  You don't know that I went home that day and cried.  You don't know that you are actually, kind of lucky, to have a teacher who sees the importance of not forgetting about these things.  You don't know that no true kindergarten teacher would ever even entertain the thought of forgetting about these things,  You don't know that it was also on that day that I decided to order over $300 worth of Dr. Seuss themed items for our class.  

You don't know that I have said, "I don't want to work here anymore.  I want to work for someone that actually understands and cares about the primary grades!"   You don't know that YOU are the reason I'm here.

You don't know that I'm writing this open letter to you.  You will probably never read it.  In fact, the chances of it being seen by more than just a handful of people are pretty slim.  You don't know that I would probably get into trouble if those people who make way more money than I do ever read this.

You don't know that I will always fight for you and for what I believe is right and against what I believe is wrong.  However,  if any of those people who make way more money than I do ever ask me about this letter, I will probably just hand them a Dr. Seuss themed pencil and let them figure out the rest on their own.





Sunday, August 17, 2014

I tried to run away today!

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The last two weeks have been horrible for me.  HORRIBLE!

School is starting.  Changes have been made.  People have been moved.  Backs have been stabbed.  I've heard nothing but, "You can't", "You don't", "You won't", etc.

HORRIBLE!

It's taking a big toll on me and my spirit and my soul.  A bigger toll than I can even start to explain.

I woke up this morning and got angry because I didn't have any Pop tarts.  Seriously!

I have no idea why I thought there should be Pop tarts in the house.  I can't remember when I last ate a Pop tart.  I mean, it hasn't been days or weeks or even months.  It's been decades, people.  DECADES!

Angrily, I got dressed, grabbed the camera, blasted some classic Springsteen in the car and hit the interstate in search of Pop tarts.

I'm not sure why I thought there would be a need to photographically document the purchase of Pop tarts.  I'm not sure why I got on the interstate when the grocery store is literally blocks away.  Honestly, I didn't even realize that I had done either one of those things until some time later. 

When the radio station I was listening to no longer came in clearly because I was out of range it was like I came out of a trance and realized what I was doing.  I immediately had two thoughts...

1. I don't think I'm in Dade County anymore!

2. I can do this!  I can just keep going and never go back.  I have $60, a credit card, a half charged phone and a car that is still fixed wrong.  I can do this!

I decided it was going to be wonderful!  I would drive until I found some quaint little town in another state that didn't even have a school and then I would stay there forever.  I would be the mysterious stranger that was new in town and didn't want to talk about where she came from or why she left.  I would meet a tall, handsome stranger with a questionable past and he would remind me of what it was like to be happy and carefree.  Together, we would become the town's "it couple".

It was going to be just like a Nicholas Sparks novel and it was going to be awesome!

I knew that the first thing I needed to do was get off the interstate.  You have to travel on back roads when you are running away from the city and searching for a quaint town.  I mean, everybody knows that, right?

I didn't find my tall handsome stranger or a quaint town with no school.  I never even made it out of Florida.  But, I did find some interesting things.  Things that looked the way I felt.....empty, discarded, abandoned, unwanted, alone.






















Note to self and to others:  Take the camera and disappear more often.  It's the best therapy there is!

I stopped for gas and as I got back into the car I heard my phone ringing.  I didn't get to it in time, but it was Orange Croc Guy and I had missed several calls from him.  I sat there staring at the phone while trying to decide what to do when he called again.  The strangest phone call in the world went like this...

OCG:  Where are you?
ME: I didn't have any Pop tarts!
OCG: You eat Pop tarts?
ME: I have a sucky job and an even suckier boss and I'm not coming home because I don't want to go to work on Monday.
OCG:  I thought we had plans today...
ME:  I'm not coming home.  I'm running away.
OCG: You don't have to run away from home.  Quit acting like this...
ME:  Quit telling me what to do!  I'm tired of no one listening to me!
OCG:  OK, I'm listening...

SILENCE

OCG:  Are you there?
ME: Yes.
OCG:  Where are you?
ME:  I'm not sure.
OCG:  Are you coming home?
ME: No.
OCG:   Why not?
ME: There's no reason to.
OCG:  I bet you can think of at least one reason to come home if you try.

SILENCE

OCG:  Ginger?
ME:  Well....in October...The Walking Dead comes back on.
OCG:  OK, I'm gonna need you to dig a little deeper here.
ME:  There's Me-vember.
OCG:  Anything else? Anything at all?
ME:  Christmas...I like presents...
OCG:  OK, why don't you just call me back when you figure out what you're doing.

We ended the call and I hit the road again.  I found this place...

I decided to spend a little time here because I was seriously in need of some serenity!

It was while walking these trails that I decided I needed more than $60, a credit card, a half charged phone and a car that is still fixed wrong.  I needed some important things like clean underwear and a toothbrush.

After several hours and a little help from the GPS, my melt down was over and I headed for home.  Several hours after that, I arrived to find OCG sitting on my couch.

OCG:  You decided to come home?
ME:  I didn't have a toothbrush.

Right now, as I type this, there is a Walking Dead DVD playing on the TV.  There is an over sized, half full bowl of popcorn and four empty beer bottles on the table in front of me and OCG is snoring beside me.

Right now, as I type this, my life is good and I am happy and I never even got those damn Pop tarts.























Saturday, August 16, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

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