Summer Break

The Road to National Board Certification Part 9: Moving On

Hey there, blogging world. For the tense and placement of time to make sense, I started writing this a month ago.

I just said goodbye to the kids today, and boyyyyy did it feel sweet. Don’t get me wrong—I’ll probably be glad to see them in the fall, but we definitely need some time apart.

This is pretty much how I feel:

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This final stretch was so, so rough. Like “I don’t know if I can do this one more day, let alone a year” rough. As you can see, I haven’t blogged. I pretty much did everything in my power to not think about teaching, education, etc. when I wasn’t at work. Each week I had a new plan for my life. I resigned each negative thought to “oh well. I won’t be back next year.” And National Board Certification? Meh. 1000 bucks down the drain, but to hell if I’m spending any more time on it.

It was excruciating—even if I was trying to dull the pain of whatever it was pulling me away from teaching (I’m guessing it’s all the factors that make up burn-out), it still made me feel guilty/bad teacher/deviant. I know you all can relate. Anyone who does something for an extended amount of time can relate.

Unlike most schools where graduation is pretty much confirmed by the beginning of the last quarter as long as seniors sit there catatonically absorbing those classes they put off until the end, our program requires seniors to be wrapping up everything they need to, whether it’s the research paper they have to work on, or extra work they have to do to finish their points, or passing our math proficiency test. As a family teacher (which is like a home-base teacher that advocates for a group of students), it is stressful. Part of getting a student graduated is on me and my colleagues, and it requires time and energy in addition to teaching our classes and going to meetings. I stayed with one of my students until 10 pm one night to try to get her to pass a math test, and while she didn’t get to walk at graduation, she finished her requirements the next week and got her diploma. The hard work paid off, but I was in such a funk that I didn’t even think about what primary role I had in this student’s success (attending a ‘no-nonsense’ charter school before coming to ours, she most likely would have not graduated this year). Another student of mine almost didn’t graduate, then did, primarily because of me. I think this is just sinking in, a month and a half later.

Amidst all of this, the NB puts their portfolio submissions due May 18th, right in the middle of the end of the school year craziness. I could have avoided this by not procrastinating, of course. But I didn’t. I turned my submission in three hours before the cutoff. I used my own personal time to take the school day off to finish it. I waffled between not submitting it, but in the end I didn’t have it in me to quit. Many thanks to my husband for giving me the straight talk via Shia Labeouf:

If you’ve never seen that, you’re welcome.

A few weeks later, I took Component 1. Besides being shuffled around like livestock at the testing center by the Pearson Overlords, it was pretty uneventful. I “studied.” I woke up early and made sure to eat breakfast. I sat in a chair for three hours and clicked what I thought were the best answers. I wrote essays to what I figured the National Board wanted to hear. Then I went home and watched Damages.

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(and Broad City)

I’ll know in December if I did well enough to keep my score, and I really hope I don’t have to take it again.

I’m finishing up writing this  mid-summer, unsure of how I feel about taking another year on again. Celebrations: I am done with the TEACH grant, and am hoping for some loan forgiveness after this year for teaching for five years. 

In about a month, I’ll start up again with the blogging thing, unless I hit some inspiration. Until then, I’m relishing every restorative day of summer spent with good friends and family, good food, outdoor things, and of course—my dog. If there’s one gift of teaching, it is summer break and all of the opportunities for rekindling relationships that get doused in the gasoline of the school year (did that sound too melodramatic?) Here’s an artsy dramatic picture of my dog to illustrate:
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-S

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What I’m Reading This Summer: Education Edition

‘Tis the season for getting into some good education books. I’m not in grad school yet so it’s good to get into some more academic reading.

1. Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle

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I have had this one since college, and it is always so inspiring to go back and get tips and ideas. Something I have always been struggling with is implementing a Writer’s Notebook like Kittle does. This year one of my goals is to be more intentional with it.

2. Productive Group Work by Frey, Fisher, and Everlove

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This was given to me *cough* last year *cough* to read by my new teacher induction coordinator and I still haven’t gotten around to cracking it open. Group work isn’t something that I would say I really focus on managing in my classroom, which probably means I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. It will be good to be more knowledgable about it.

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What I Learned in 2014/2015

Shout out to Sam G., who tagged me in her recent blog post! You have motivated me to write, lady. Please check out her blog–it has some great ideas that I’ve totally “borrowed!”

I have had about a month off teaching, and it has been a glorious month filled with everything not teaching related—climbing, hiking, a wedding, various bodies of water, catching up on old relationships and starting new ones, and the most glorious of all: gratuitous sleep. I mean, ridiculous amounts that I am (almost) ashamed of, especially since my husband just had his first 30 hour call shift. These things are necessary for recharging, but I caught myself picking up Penny Kittle’s Write Beside Them, getting ideas for my classes, and I knew it was time to start prepping for next school year and reflecting on the one past.

What better way to kick off my summer blogging than a good ol’ reflection? I made my kids do them, so I might as well have a taste of my own medicine.

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Teacher Talk: What do you do to kick back in the summer?

Ah, summer. No papers to grade, no lessons to plan, no kids, no…anything.

Summer can get kind of boring if we don’t keep ourselves busy doing something until the bells start ringing again come August.

For me, it’s catching up on blogs that I like: The Everygirl, Apartment Therapy. Edweek. I also do some reading (this year it’s been Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, Personal Finance For Dummies, and King Lear.)

I also drink lots of coffee, though that’s not too different from normal school-year behavior. Sugarbakeshop is my favorite place to plan, blog-surf, and chill. And it is dangerously close  to our apartment.

I also like to do my fair share of running if my knees permit it, and to keep the knees happy, I do barre here. BYSE4 is my new barre home, and I love it! Taking classes always helps me remember how to be a student and follow instead of  lead. It’s great, and it’s inspiring to see a good barre teacher in action!

Summer gives me time to refocus. I get to let go of the things that aren’t important and get myself ready to work hard during the school year. It really is a great trade off. I am so excited to meet my kiddos and start feeling like I’m actually doing something again!

Teachers, what do you do on your summer break? Are you working a second job? Planning lessons from day to night? Or are you maxin’ and relaxin?

Stay tuned for some exciting news tomorrow!

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