Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year, New Beginnings

Wow.  I haven't blogged in quite some time. Reading back on some entries, I can see how I let my emotions fuel my writing. While that's not always a bad thing, I think I'll start this year out on a more positive note.

Many things have happened since my last post. I met a wonderful guy, Chad, and we have been dating for a year. I still have my cat, Maxwell, and my rabbit, Jasper Ace. A new member of the family has been added--a Maine Coon named Duncan D. I'm still teaching, but at a different elementary school (and I LOVE it!).  Matilda and I keep in contact often and his mom lets him visit in the summer.  I finished my Masters' degree and am enjoying the slight increase in pay (but not the extra student loan I am paying back). 

Last year, my family took a cruise to the Bahamas. It had been a few years since we went on a family vacation and I enjoyed every minute (even though I was afraid to go on the top deck). Chad and I also took a few weekend trips: Indy, Nashville, and Cincinnati. Although I still have great plans to travel more, paying off my debts and sticking closer to home have prevailed. Hopefully, I will be traveling more this summer.

Hopefully, with the help of a relaxing cup of tea and a snugly animal or three, I will blog more this year and keep things on a more positive note.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Life is a Journey

"Life is a journey, not a destination." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Never have those words meant something to me until lately in my life.  I haven't blogged in a very long time.  Mostly, I've had nothing to blog about.  I haven't traveled, teaching stinks, and I've been drinking the same old Great Value brand tea.  I honestly had nothing to say.

Until now.

I've spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how I got to be 31 years old and have little to show for it.  I remember vividly, a little over two years ago, telling a close friend that I felt like things were looking up.  Well, I lost my grandfather to cancer, was placed in a different teaching position, lost one of my two cats, and lost Matilda McCheese. I'll be honest: that sucked.

I've been trying to pick up the pieces ever since.

The first thing was to have a nervous breakdown.  Not serious enough to require hospitalization, but close.  To someone who lives alone, it was a scary thing.

Next, I got proper treatment.  Turns out, I've probably had an anxiety disorder my entire life.  I think back now how I used to make myself sick before family vacations because I would be too excited.  And, my terrible fear of spiders, and all things eight-legged...

Then, I got to have Matilda visit for a month this summer.  We lived every moment to the fullest, and good thing too: his mom won't let him come back anymore.  Apparently, he would rather live here than with her, and she's tired of hearing about it from him.  So, the logical thing to do is have him cut all ties with me.  Uh, okay.

And...I still have the same job this year as I had last.  The one perk:  I actually know what I'm doing this year.  I am thankful for my job, but cannot wait to be back in general education.

So, that pretty much sums up where I am now.  I'm getting better, with the help of medication, good friends, family, and the best pets a girl could ask for.  

I'm even looking into going to Boston over the Fourth of July....something I've wanted to do for two years now.

I have no idea how I got to be 31 years old...and looking back I can say that I definitely would change a few things.  But, since I can't go back, I have to look forward at choices I can make that will make me say, "Now that will be something to remember!"

I need to remember:  I'm not in a race.  Rome wasn't built in a day.  Slow down.  Enjoy the moment.  Life is a journey, not a destination.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

High-Stakes Testing

I have to be very careful with this post.  I don't want to lose my job over it (those in the education field can empathize).  However, our school corporation has begun taking our state-mandated high-stakes test this week.  We'll have two sessions of it--one this week and one the beginning of May.


I haven't posted many teaching stories in my blog for a few reasons.  One being there are some parents who read my blog and I want them to know I enjoy teaching their children and I never want them to think I would tell stories about their children.  Another reason is that, this year, I'm pretty unhappy with my job and honestly don't feel like talking about it that much outside of school.  It's gotten better as the school year has progressed, but I am still longing for the day when I can get back to what I do best--teaching in the general education classroom.


That being said, I have a few things to say about the high-stakes test we're taking this week:


Number one: it's ridiculous to base student learning, teacher proficiency, and school growth on a stinkin' state-mandated test.  I'm sorry, but there are too many factors in the lives of the children, parents, educators, and administrators to base our pay, our yearly growth, and our children's successes (or failures) on one test.  For example, two of our elementary students and one of our middle school students lost their mother in a tragic accident last week.  Her funeral was today.  Although I am sure these kiddos will be taking the test next week, how well do you think they will be able to concentrate?  What about the student who was put into foster care for the first time?  The teacher who is trying to deal with personal loss?  The administrator who is unhappy with his/her job?  Everything factors into how well our school performs on this assessment. I can't believe so much is at stake with this test!


Number two: The vocabulary used in the tests is often unfamiliar to students.  As a special education teacher, I use "layman's" terms for my daily teaching.  High-stakes tests only offer technical vocabulary.  I was reading a question to one of my students (it's in his IEP that I do so), and he kept looking at me and saying, "What?"  I so badly wanted to say it in layman's terms so he could understand.  Instead, like a robot, I kept reading the prompt over and over.  He finally shrugged and started to write.  I moved away because I didn't want to see what he ended up putting down; I was afraid it'd break my heart because he didn't understand what was being asked of him.


Number three: As a special education teacher, my kiddos are not learning at grade-level.  Guess what?  The state doesn't care.  If they are enrolled in a fifth grade homeroom, then they are taking the fifth grade test.  My students that I pull out of the regular classroom for instruction are at least one grade level behind their peers, oftentimes two or three.  I've agonized this week over how frustrated they must've felt taking a test that they couldn't begin to answer correctly, even with the accommodations they have in their IEPs.  I can only hope they guessed right or maybe had picked up some information in their regular classroom that could've helped them.  I was fortunate enough to give the test to third, fourth, and fifth grade, so I saw the difficulty level of each test.  If my fifth graders could have taken the third grade test, I think they could've passed.


I'm not writing this to knock my students; they do the best they can with their abilities.  They've shown progress since the beginning of the year, and I'm proud to say one of my fifth grade girls needs to pass her x8 and x9 multiplication facts and she will have mastered them from 0-12.  They progress at their pace and on their level, it just happens to not be at grade-level.


With all the pressure on educators from the state level, I wish someone somewhere could stand up for these kiddos.  I'm fighting my own battle between the adults in my students' lives; we all want what's best, but we all have our own definitions of "best."  If my kiddos could take an assessment that is based on their ability level instead of their actual grade level, think of how successful they could be and how much frustration could be taken off their little shoulders!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Moving On

It's been a week since C left.


And I'm moving on.


Monday was the first day I didn't feel like my insides were missing, or a volcano would erupt from my mouth (heartburn).


I'm healing and retraining myself how to live alone.


It's nice to come home from work and watch TV, take a nap, or both.


I can hop in the car anytime I want and go.


I don't have to do Algebra homework anymore!


I do miss C.  A lot.  He started his new school on Monday.  I hope he likes it.


Whether he likes it or not, I'm moving on.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Better

While not fully healed, I am better.

Time heals all wounds, so the saying goes.

I found out a few things about C's departure that I'm not sure are true, but those things have helped me move on in the healing process.

Some may have thought my last entry was a bit harsh.  Maybe it was.  All I can say is that it was how I felt at the time.  Writing heals me, and several of you have followed my adventures being a "foster mom" and I couldn't leave you all hanging as to what had become of our situation.

Plus, I needed to write to feel better.

I haven't written in the journal today, but getting all my thoughts and feelings out on paper helps so much.

I can sleep now, but not all night.  I still wake up with a jolt in the middle of the night.  My bible is right there for those times.  And when I still need comfort, the sound of the TV works wonders.

I'm eating more and I'm focusing on my job and my master's classes.  Cleaning the house helps work out some of my stress.

I am better.

Monday, February 27, 2012

C's Journal

My Granny pointed out that when has a lot on her mind, she'll write a letter to that person and then tear it up into itty bitty pieces.


Sometimes she'll keep it and reread it, then tear it up.  She says this helps.


Although I dream of becoming a child psychologist, I'm not big on counseling.  When I got divorced, I was happy and didn't need counseling.


Usually, good friends & my cats are my therapists.  God put them in my life for a reason, you know.


I'm still having a rough time dealing with C being gone.  I've broken down and cried twice, which is something for me because I never cry.


It's almost too much to take it.  I keep comparing it to losing a loved one in a car accident--he was here one minute and gone the next.  Literally.


My mind has been very active since C left.  I can't concentrate, sleep, or eat properly.  Those are three things I pride myself in being able to do, so I know I'm in trouble.


It's not too bad until I'm home.  I love being home alone, but this house is too quiet right now.


So, in taking Granny's advice, I started a journal.  Hopefully it'll help me work through the emotions I am experiencing, and maybe I'll learn a little bit about myself in the process.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gone

I'm hurt.  I'm also disappointed.

C is gone.


His mother took him back to Ohio after she spent 2 1/2 days in jail here this week.  He chose to go live with her.


I was shocked.


Seriously?  The same kid whose mother wouldn't speak to him for a week not two weeks ago?  The one who couldn't wait to get home from his great-grandmother's funeral so he could be home? Seriously?


I hurt.


My heart hurts.  My body hurts.  My stomach hurts.  My head hurts.


I can't believe he's gone.


C and I had a bad week.  His mother came Monday night and had court on Tuesday.  She was put in jail until Friday morning.  From Tuesday evening until Friday morning, C was unbearable.  I couldn't believe my sweet, funny, sensible boy had turned into an absolute monster. I knew he was going through a lot of emotions concerning his mother.  I never dreamed he was thinking of going with her to Ohio!


C, his mom, and his sister stayed at my house Friday night.  I wanted to give them some "family time," so I stayed at my mom and dad's.  (Nice of me, huh?)  He texts me today and asks what I would think of him moving.  I gave him my opinion, and he told me he'd decided to go back with his mother.  I couldn't believe it!


I didn't have the strength to go to the house and say goodbye.  They'll be back next week to move the rest of his things, but I won't be at the house.  I still can't believe he willingly went, and furthermore, I can't believe he left NOW instead of May when we had agreed upon!


I just can't believe it!