Tuesday, April 30, 2013

1: "Mama Sandy. Your hair be frizz-a-licious today."

2: "That mean you be looking ratchet."

3: "Ha! Two ways to say the same thing...and you complain about our vocabulary!"

Monday, April 29, 2013

22 Days!

I am completely willing to make a fool out of myself in front of my children if it means that they will learn something that day.

I have used face paint, silly string, water balloons, word games, relay races, and scavenger hunts to get my children out of their seats and into the wonderful land of English class.

I decided to start incorporating more props and costumes into my lesson plans last year when I was working at Wildcat Academy. That was the first time that my feather boa made an appearance into my classroom.

To get my kids invested in our SAT vocabulary lists, I have them put together quick skits. They are given four or five words in groups and fifteen minutes to come up with a scenario and dialogue that includes their respective SAT words and definitions.

I begin my lesson by asking them to do something I do every day: channel their inner diva! I put on my Jackie O sunglasses and toss on my boa and my babies know I mean business! It gets a few giggles out of them but I know they're paying attention. It hypes them up a bit to really want to match my level of enthusiasm about our group work for the day.

My inner diva was able to conquer today and last Friday (our academic kids are on an A/B day schedule) leaving only 22 days left for me to spend with them!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day 25.

I do my best to be a positive human being. But sometimes, life has a way of knocking you down.

The last three weeks of school have been tough. My kids are fantastic; they have never been a problem for me. But grading is starting to stack up and I can feel myself getting overwhelmed.

I have barely slept a full night since school returned from Spring Break. When I get too out-of-whack, sleep is the first thing to go.

After (FINALLY!) falling asleep at 1:30 a.m. (my college self just laughed hysterically) on Wednesday night, I woke up quite unhappy on Thursday morning and didn't think I would be able to make it through the day. When I got to school, I saw the STACK of unorganized papers on my desk and I was feeling very paranoid about getting through my week.

As my first period was continuing our film unit, I Google-d "encouraging Bible verses" to try to pep talk my way through the day. I rummaged through my bag for a Sharpie and set a seal of Truth on my arm.

"The name of The Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." Proverbs 18:10

Whenever my anxiety would spike or my to-do list would cause me to start hyper-ventilating, I would recite this verse in my head. I focused mostly on the "SAFE" part -- in case you couldn't tell from the bolded, capitalized letters. As all Beginning Teachers can attest, my contract with Trojanburg is up at the end of June and there's some question about how I will be paying my bills in a few months. However, Jesus has been more than faithful through my whole teaching process and in this moment, I am safe at Trojanburg. My bills today will be paid. I have a job now. Jesus tells me not to worry about tomorrow, and He is so enjoying teaching me that lesson.

Today, my kids are with me, we are learning and happy, and I am SAFE.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Love & Laughter

I was running around between classes today to get my books set up and my worksheets out of the printer when I felt a hand grab my arm. One of my children, one of my girls, was on the other end of that hand.

"Ain't ya gonna say 'hi' to me?" She feigned a look of hurt.

"I'm just running a bit late, baby, I didn't see you." My child accepted that answer with a pair of rolled eyes. She swooped her hand down the rest of my arm as we both rushed off in opposite directions, maintaining contact as long as possible. I winced at the possibility that that might be the only human contact she received today.

A few moments later, I walked into my classroom and there she was, waiting for me. She winked at me, both of us knowing that it wasn't the correct class period for her to be in my four walls; both of us knowing that I wouldn't kick her out because she would only go when she was well and ready to and she felt safe with me, and I would never deny a child security. She turned to her friends and kept up her chatter. As I walked by her, she stepped closer and wrapped her arms around me for a hug, just like every other day.

"Am I your favorite again today?" she whispered into my ear.

"You know it," I replied.

"But don't tell the others!" we whispered together, our little ritual coming to a close.


One of my students handed me a Diet Coke can before school today. I crinkled my eyebrows, silently asking her what this was all about.

"You were here until 6 last night. Drink the Diet Coke." She flashed me a smile before twirling her way back to her desk, saying, "Love you, Sandy."


My babies worked on a creative project today to go along with our "Romeo and Juliet" unit. My fourteen-year-olds were so excited to unravel the mysteries of Shakespeare that I convinced them were there. I promised them adventure,  love, peoples' lives forever ruined, and a few good jokes here and there.

As I walked around and monitored each group's reading, I overheard one of my children nudge her neighbor and say, "This is a good book. Me and Shakespeare get along just fine."


A week ago, the entire faculty at Trojanburg received an email from our principal letting us know that a student of ours had passed away that morning in a car accident. A few of my students knew her. It was not an easy day for any of us.

When something awful and unexpected happens, it makes us re-examine the small things and realize they are important things.

I can count the number of times on one hand that I have had 100% attendance in all of my class. Those are the days that I came home the most tired. The difference that one more voice, one more body, one more child in the room can make has always amazed me.

Last Monday, I had 100% attendance.

I did not come home tired that day, however. Just the opposite. I came home with tears of joy in my eyes and a smile on  my face. I, unlike a few of my colleagues, got to see every single one of my children on Monday. On Tuesday, I again had 100% attendance. I had two days with all of my children.

Wednesday was the last day before Spring Break and I knew the kids were going to be a bit crazy. I was so excited for their energy to fill my classroom. Normally I dread a break in routine (children thrive on routine and it's so very difficult to keep my head -- and theirs -- on straight when that routine is interrupted) but I was relishing their laughter and their squeals and their chatter. Laughter and squeals and chatter meant that my students were alive and thriving. It meant that they were present and awake and with me.

At one point on Wednesday, I was supposed to have twenty-three students in my classroom. I looked up and counted thirty-five. Students from other sections had chosen to come spend their time with me, within my four walls. They were safe here. They were happy here. They knew they were loved here. I welled up a bit because I knew that it was a small gift that they didn't even register as a gift, but I would always hold it in my heart. During a week when so many of my colleagues were hurting and so many of students had lost a bit of their innocence, my kiddos gave me the best gift they had to give: themselves.


I am unspeakably blessed. Undeniably so. I have more love in my life on a daily basis than most do in their lifetime. Last week did nothing but prove to me, once again, that the big things in life are actually the little things.

Like Friday night dinners with my family and a set of cousins who are my best friends. The people who make me laugh the most and the first people I turn to when I need to cry...

...a certain three-year-old who likes making silly faces at Aunt Reba and whose laughter lights up the entire world...

...summer days spent at the lake with my cousins and family, which are followed by summer evenings watching movies, eating junk food, painting each others' nails, and simply resting in the joy of belonging to and with one another...

...a reunion of my favorite people after a year of being apart. A weekend full of memories of the strangers who turned into family...


...or that moment when you realize just how glad you are that every member of your family is just as crazy as you are.
My all-time personal favorite though, are the little moments when someone chooses me to be with them in the room. Little moments where cousins come and sit down with you at church or an unexpected visitor shows up at my front door. The laughter of silent, inside jokes that can never be explained. The moment when a student picks you as their favorite teacher.
These small, irreplaceable moments are what makes up a person's soul.
"My soul is deep like the rivers." --Langston Hughes