About Me

I am a second-career teacher. In my other life, I crunched numbers as an accountant. Probably would have made a great math teacher had the thought occurred to me. No matter, I'm where I'm supposed to be; teaching third grade. Before that, 2nd grade and before that kindergarten. I have 2 grown daughters, 2 poodles, and 1 hubby. I live and work on Long Island.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
~ Cyril Connolly

Could Be Worse

When Superstorm Sandy hit our area at the very end of last October my neighborhood was left without electricity, heat, and hot water for eight cold and endless days. Despite the many inconveniences and our frustration with LIPA, we realized that we were lucky in the scheme of things. In fact, “it could be worse” became the mantra of all of us who met up in the local bagel shop, on the gas lines, or waiting for a hot cup of coffee.

Our district was closed for eight days. When the children returned to school they shared stories of ages old oak trees hitting their homes creating gaping holes in their roofs, losing power, playing Monopoly in candle-lit family rooms, and limited internet access without any electronic toys. Two of my sweeties with hearts of gold told how they, with their families visited hard-hit areas in Staten Island and Queens to volunteer their helping hands.

When our TVs came back on, we saw images of homes floating away and we listened to the horrors suffered by our neighbors in the metro area.  Even my eight year old students are old enough to understand how lucky we were and that “it could have been so much worse.”

Nobody dreamed we wouldn’t be exempt from making up the days. We absolutely, positively believed that the state of New York would excuse some of the 8 days and our district calendars would absorb the rest.

But alas! There we were last week.... enduring a full week's staycation in school and to say I was grumpy would be the major understatement of the century. That we had to work on Monday, the day of Presidents; the day the banks, post-offices and most schools across our great nation were closed really pissed me off. That we had a blizzard named Nemo on Friday and no school the following Monday caused a decision to stay open on Presidents’ Day that was downright wrong.

You see, we teachers and our kids need those days off. Our biorhythms dictate that without cyclical days off from school learning will not be optimal; teaching will not be either.

So we came to school. There were children out and a couple of teachers who couldn’t cancel vacation plans (poor things). But we came and we did our best. 

And this week it’s back to business as usual. But the cycles are off. Our bodies and our minds were due for a vacation. As a result, we're all a little bit off.

And yet; as crabby and discouraged as I feel, I know "it could be so much worse."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Teacher's Unconditional Love

I’m lucky this year. Each apple in the bunch is a good one. My students help me remember what I love about teaching.

If they don’t understand something the first time, they try harder.
If they don’t do their very best work, they accept responsibility.
If they make a wrong choice, they reflect and promise to think before they act next time.

They help each other and are kind.
They are extremely adorable.
When they arrive at school they say “Good morning.”
They tell me to have a great day when they leave at dismissal.

Their parents are realistic about their weaknesses and appreciate their strengths. They make sure their homework gets done nightly.
The apples don’t fall far from the tree, do they?

Today was Valentine’s Day. They literally showered me not only with chocolates, lollypops, cards, and hugs. They showered me with love.

I must hold onto these feelings of being loved unconditionally by my students because I realize it does not always happen this way in one classroom in one school year.

For now, I enjoy coming to work each and every day and I am extraordinarily grateful.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I will make time.

A Very Capable Student Teacher

Although it’s been over ten years that I left my old profession and became an elementary school teacher, I still think of myself as a newbie. This mindset serves me since I believe that a dose or two of humility keeps us grounded in reality.  In fact, I wish more of us followed this prescription.

Hoping to someday take on a student teacher, the thought of it scared the daylights out of me.  Continually questioning my ability and asking “What do I have to offer someone when I myself do not have all the answers?” left me feeling stuck in my own insecurity.

Until one evening at our much loved neighborhood restaurant, I was lured out of my comfort zone.  As Erica was serving our cocktails, she casually mentioned that she was studying for her master’s degree in education. As I am known to do, without thinking I instinctively invited her to visit my classroom for anything she needed.

Fast forward to one and a half years later. After performing countless hours observing my teaching and my students’ learning styles she has become my very capable, very confident student teacher. Her supervisor observed her last week and she was a smash! I will admit that at times during her lesson, I was ready to pounce but as I sat on my hands and bit my tongue I successfully kept my mouth shut.

And so, what did I learn? Ahhh……so many lessons.
First, I understand that a lesson does not have to be perfect for students to learn and learn well. Note to self: ‘remember this during my own observations.’
Second, I do not have to control every moment in my classroom for learning to occur. Another aside ‘it’s ok to let some things go.’
Third, I have taught her well enough that she has the ability and most importantly the confidence to begin to spread her wings and fly.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned was something her supervisor said to me as he was complimenting Erica’s instructional delivery. “As teachers, now more than ever, it is so critical that we give back and share what we know to new members of our profession.”

He’s so right and I’m so glad I left my comfort zone.