Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Are You As Excited About "Dr. Seuss Day" As I Am?

     Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, 1904.  This year, schools everywhere will celebrate his birthday all week and especially on Friday, March 1.  Since I just moved across country to my hometown, my cousin, a first-grade teacher, asked me to be a guest reader in her classroom.  Her students are dressing up as their favorite character that day, so I thought I would join the fun!  I am going to be sharing "Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!" because they have never read it in class and I love the book.  It was the book that Dr. Seuss was working on when he died.  Thanks to Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith, friends of Dr. Seuss, the book did not go unfinished.  Jack Prelutsky finished writing the book "Seuss-style" and Lane Smith created the illustrations.  When I was in the classroom, I always read it to my students the day before "state testing."  If you've ever read the book, you'd understand why.  It really communicates to students that they are prepared and know how to think; I think it helps students relax.
Since I'm reading the book, I thought I would dress as Miss Bonkers.  I found a dress at the local Goodwill store.  It is a little different from Miss Bonkers' dress, but it contains the same colors.  I also found a perfect red wig and a local beauty supply store.  I'll have to be certain to add pictures later.
What are you doing for Dr. Seuss Day?  Lindsay and I would love to hear your plans.

Have a Seuss-tastic Week!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

why i quit my teaching job mid year, too

I was reading another blog about this topic, and I was shocked at some of the hateful comments people left. Here was a teacher pouring out her heart over quitting and people were slamming her. Why? Because she wasn't superwoman.  If I could find that blog, I'd link to it so she knows she's not alone. Because...

I quit my teaching job mid-year, too.

I loved my school. I spent eight years at that middle school. They hired me straight out of college. Looking back on it now, I feel like my co-workers watched me grow up. They helped raise me. But, last year, I was like a rebellious teenager, ready to run away. I found my breaking point.

And  I broke.

 I always said that when I became a mean teacher, I would leave. And I was now a mean teacher. I was teaching an elective that the kids did not get to pick - Creative Writing. My classes were huge (35 and up) and I was also stuck in a windowless room, in the back of the school. For some reason, I landed a really challenging crop of kids. There was very little disciplinary support from the front office, and very few rules I was allowed to actually enforce with any authority. I was charged with making all my own curriculum but not given any direction, then I got slammed by admin for not being on pace with a non-existing learning schedule. I had one functioning computer for the students to use while the other elective in my grade level had a full production graphics design studio. Oh, did I mention the 35 thirteen year olds in the room? 

 I'm a good teacher. I know this. Perfect? No. Good? Yes. 

I love children. I love learning and I am constantly searching for new ways to reach my students. Also - I'm a great employee. I always do what I'm told, when I'm told. I constantly offer and give help to others. I practically made a career of scratching backs. I smiled and laughed when the other teachers called me a suck up or a do-gooder. So, I didn't think it was too unreasonable to expect people to do the same for me. Especially the people with the power. But all I heard from them was "NO".

During this time, I was serving as the yearbook adviser. I loved those kids. My yearbook kids were hard-working, sweet, and dependable. Additionally, I was working part-time for a virtual school as academic integrity support. These two second jobs were necessary because my salary was slashed 10% in the last three years of my employment with the county. When you're not making much to start, 10% hurts. It really hurts. 

So, when my virtual school offered me a full-time teaching job, at the same salary as all three of my jobs, and the opportunity to work from home, I was at once overjoyed and immediately conflicted. Would it get better next year? I didn't know, but honestly, I didn't want to know. If it was going to get better, I wasn't sure I wanted to be there anymore. I still didn't think I could do it. I didn't think I could go. Could I leave my kids? Could I leave my friends? Could I leave my school? 

Yes, I could. And I did. 

I agonized for weeks, but when the time came to make a decision, I went with the virtual school. I don't regret my decision, not for one minute. I had a matyr and a victim mentality at my old school, and I hated myself for it.

 I'm extremely supported at my new school. I get to work from home. AND... I'm still teaching. I get to spend one-on-one time with my students for however long they need me. My kids come from all walks of life - teen moms, hospital home bound, caring for sick parents, military families, and kids who just don't find the brick and mortar schools to be a good fit. Is is perfect? No. But was it the right decision for me? Yes. 

As teachers, we are here to serve the needs of others. You can't possibly do that if you're unhappy. You can probably skate by for awhile, but if you can't give 100%, then there's no way you'll get 100% back.

My students treated me like a princess during my last week, and their loving acts were not lost on me. It stung when my principal didn't really acknowledge my departure, in any official or private capacity. I chose to interpret his actions as a reaction to being hurt, and not really meant to hurt me. It was disappointing, but thankfully, my co-workers cheered me off into my new job and showered me with hugs.

 I did what was the right thing for me, and I know it was best for my students. They didn't need another disgruntled, angry, burnt out teacher. They needed who I used to be. I'm happy to say that my new students are getting to know the old me, the happy me, the true "teacher"  me. 

 Quitting mid-year? 

So worth it.