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There are five school day wake-ups left this year. I am not sad.

This has been a rough year for behavior. My own students’ behavior has improved greatly over the year, this has been a goal, but they’re still not where they need to be. We’ve been working on basic things all year long, like being respectful, not putting hands on other people, and raising hands when there is a question as opposed to just shouting things out. The exception is my first hour. They’re pretty awesome, for the most part. Of course, there are many great kids in my other classes, it’s just an uneven ratio this year and I’m exhausted. Not from the teaching, you understand, from everything else.

The students who aren’t mine, who pass in the hallway, enough of them are ridiculous enough to mentally drain me almost every day. You would not believe what happens in the hallways of a middle school sometimes.

Seriously, this is the most difficult job I’ve ever had, and I’ve been through a few since I started babysitting at eleven years old. Babysitter, waitress, hostess, retail worker, historical presenter (on a historic farm), carriage driver, educational programs presenter, and administrative assistant, just to name a few. Those people who think we have it easy because we have a few weeks off in the summer (when we attend workshops, trainings, and mandatory meetings) can take a long walk off a short pier; this job will kick your butt, which is why so many new teachers don’t make it the first five years. I took a break a couple of years back, which was a really good thing for my mental health.

At work, I have to be the adult, I have to set the example. That’s part of my job.  Sometimes, I’m not a great example when I’ve been pushed to my limit. When I screw up, I apologize, not for being angry, but how I handled it. Since I became a teacher eleven years ago, I’ve probably been called every name in the book, in a few different languages, no less. It gets to you, especially when it happens on a daily basis. Not an excuse, my skin is a lot tougher than it used to be and I’m constantly working on it. Sometimes, I really wish people could see how their kids really act at school, but like my brother said, those parents would probably blame the teachers.

So, at the end of this school year, I’m not looking for accolades, pats on the back, or anything else. I just want peace and quiet for a while. I want to not be called names and talked back to. I want no one to laugh in my face. I no one to blatantly lie or cheat and think I’m stupid enough to not notice or figure it out. I want to be myself for just a little while, to go to the bathroom when I want to, and to not grade. Not. One. Single. Paper.

Teaching is not for sissies.

Happy Summer!

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I’m jumping on the review bandwagon for the end of 2015. My train of thought won’t be terribly long, just a little recap of this year.

2015 was alternately awesome and difficult at the same time, although many of the difficulties had a role in pushing some of the awesome things forward. Let’s start with the not-so-good, shall we?

Crappy Things About 2015:

  1. Depression. This was a bit of a tough struggle this year. I think a lot of it had to do with my current job situation, but a supportive family and an awesome therapist got me through the worst of it. Depression is no joke, though. If you can’t shake feelings of hopelessness, self-loathing, or defeat, if you have a case of the blues that is just not normal, or you have a desire to hurt yourself, please set up an appointment with your doctor immediately. He or she can point you in the right direction for you to get some help.
  2. Job Frustration. There are a lot of good things about the place where I work, it’s the line of work I’m in that brings me down. Much of the parenting I see makes me fear for the future. Don’t make excuses for kids’ bad behaviour. Have them acknowledge their mistakes, fix them, and move on. Stop looking for someone else to blame. Hire (or watch) Super Nanny to build some parenting muscle and to put accountability where it belongs.
  3. Religious Extremism. Yeah, ISIS (or ISIL, or whatever you want to call them) is a top contender here, but so are religious groups closer to home. It horrifies me to see people who identify as Christian call for violent measures to rid the United States (or the world) or people who practice a different religion, who come from other countries, or who are just different in general. That isn’t what Jesus preached and that’s not what I stand for. Do we need to get rid of the bad guys? Yes, but the wrong people are being targeted. Maybe we need to review the First Amendment instead of being so hung up on the Second Amendment. We may be one nation under God, but the right to practice any religion is protected here. Anything else just divides this country even more than it already is.

Really, those were the worst parts of the year, at least for me. There were only three major categories, but each of those was enough to negatively affect my life. Now on to better things.

Awesome Things About 2015:

  1. Italy. My mom took me to Italy last June and it was fabulous. Hot. Very, very hot, but fabulous. We learned a lot of valuable things, such as the gypsies throughout the country make the pan-handlers in Detroit look like amateurs and that they don’t take kindly to being told off. The traffic in Rome is deadly and Italians are extremely patient with foreigners trying to speak Italian. The gelato, REAL gelato, is amazing, as are the wines.

337We saw priceless works of art that made me cry for the sheer beauty of them (La Pietà, the Sistine Chapel) and walked where the apostles did. It was an experience of a lifetime that I can’t wait to do again someday, except the next time I go, I will spend more time with my dear Italian friend Sabrina.

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2. New Career Opportunities. More on this in another post. Good things are happening!!!

3. Oldest Child Went to College. I miss Oldest Child. I miss him terribly, but he is very happy where he is. College life agrees with him. He has always been independent and he’s had a fairly easy time navigating dorm life. A parent wants a child to be happy and he is. That makes me happy, in a bittersweet kind of way.

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4. Theatre. I love my theatre, the Players Guild of Dearborn, to be precise. Last spring, I got my first non-musical role in To Kill a Mockingbird and was able to be the assistant director for The Miracle Worker this past summer-into-fall. My theatre family is wonderful, patient with me, and I’m so lucky to have found them. I’m looking forward to 2016.

5. My Family. I’m a lucky girl. Next week, Mr. Marty Man and I will celebrate nineteen years of marriage. We have three boys who never cease to amaze us, even if they can frustrate us now and then. (Or more than that, depending on the day.) We have our health, we have jobs that take care of our family, and we love each other. That in itself, my friends, is a reason to celebrate.

 

Happy New Year to you all!

 

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I read other blogs. Lots of them. Some I follow, some I read only once, for the sake of time or otherwise. I don’t have a job that allows me the luxury of surfing the net during work hours and sometimes I barely get to check my email or Facebook. Not on vacation, however. I’ve spent lots of time in the last week doing just that. My Words With Friends and Scrabble games are all caught up and I even started playing Trivia Crack against my husband and kids. (Why so many sports questions???)

Since I have had a bit more free time, I’ve also been able to explore some new blogs. One that I really enjoyed was from a labor and delivery nurse who humorously “exposed” lies that L&D nurses tell their patients. Not malicious lies, but explanations for some of the things that they do. For example, the reason that they wear face masks isn’t because they’re protecting patients from germs, it’s because after many hours of labor, a patient’s breath isn’t exactly sweet. Or the direction to press the call light if you need anything doesn’t mean anything, like getting a patient a drink of water, especially when she has visitors in the room who could do it for her, it means medical things. There were many others, some are gross that I won’t mention here, but any woman who has been through the labor process would be familiar with them. In short, it was hilarious, even on the patient end of it. I can compare it to the articles in Reader’s Digest, “What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You”, or “What Your Hair Stylist Won’t Tell You”, crazy or insensitive things that we, as consumers, do or expect from professionals.

There were, as expected, lots of comments. I was a bit jealous. What amazed me, though, was not the amount of comments, but that some people were highly offended by the article! They accused the author, who seems like a very caring kind of nurse, of being insensitive, of being mean-spirited. They told her that she should find another job, that she didn’t deserve to work with mothers and babies. My response? (In my head, because there are some creepy people out there and I don’t want to draw their fire.) GET A FREAKING GRIP!

Those that have worked with the public in any capacity know what I’m talking about. There are days when everything is fine, people are happy, and complaints are minimal. Then, there are the days when everything goes wrong. Prima donna customers who think that their needs are more important than anyone else. Customers who, even after bringing them five cups of coffee, insist that it still isn’t fresh and then don’t leave a tip. Parents who insist that their child does his homework on his own, even when it’s in the parent’s handwriting or who blame anything and everything else for their child failing/fighting/being a general pain in the butt. Potential brides who go to try on dresses in ripped up, nasty, underwear or who don’t shower. (Shudder. It happens. My mom used to work in a bridal boutique.) The point is, working with the public in any capacity brings its share of headache and hassle, even if the job is mostly a joy. Venting is normal, a healthy way to get things off of one’s chest in order to continue being professional and courteous, giving the best possible service.

When I worked for Greenfield Village, there was a building where several of us worked on a rotating basis. We kept a journal of what went on during the day; number of visitors, the weather, who had been working at the farm, general observations. Over the years, it also turned into a place to vent our frustrations with visitors who came and were less than courteous, crazy school groups, or just general nuttiness that sometimes happened, like couple discovered “getting it on” upstairs when they thought no one was around. There were also great stories in there about extremely cool visitors who were genuinely interested and wanted to learn more about the place or how things worked. It was a mixture of things and always entertaining reading. There was no foul language used or anything like that, just honest revelations about the day. I would say the 95% of the people working there loved their jobs, so this was by no means a “poor me” kind of a book. Reading the journal was one of the few things we looked forward to in that building, as it was not a high-priority building and didn’t get a lot of traffic. I used to get a lot of sewing done in there.

One day, when the on-duty presenter was at lunch, a visitor went beyond the barrier, a huge no-no, and read our book. Our book. The one hidden in a box, out of view. The one that we looked forward to reading. They raised a big stink and management took our book away. Sigh. This was unfair on so many levels. I could understand our book being taken if it had been lying out in the open for people to see, but no, this was something hidden away, supposedly off-limits to the public and for our private viewing. Not okay. And really, when you think of it, have you always left a good impression everywhere you go? I would venture to guess that every single person in this world has not always been a shining example of humanity in every place they’ve ever been. I know I haven’t. Even though I am someone who tries to treat everyone with kindness and respect all the time, I’ve gotten cranky over seemingly stupid rules or policies. Just the other day, I was rather irritated to find out that one now needs an appointment for passport paperwork at smaller post offices, after I had been waiting in line for ten minutes. I thought I would save time by going to the smaller one, but ended up spending an hour and ten minutes in the larger post office, in addition to the time I wasted in the small one. I’m positive that I gave the girl a cranky look, even though it wasn’t her fault, and my “Thank you”, with an accompanying sigh was not the best interaction she had all day. In her head, she was probably thinking that I was an idiot for not knowing the rules.  I wouldn’t be surprised, or upset, mind you, to find out that post office clerks keep a journal about their customers as well.

I guess my point is that people need to vent: Teachers, waiters and waitresses, flight attendants, doctors, nurses, lawyers, police officers, judges, baristas, pastors, everyone. It’s human nature, it’s natural. This nurse that set my whole thinking pattern off wasn’t being evil or mean in any way, she was just telling it like it is. (What exactly do you say when the baby’s name is a horrible choice? Is there any proper etiquette for that? I thought her approach was fabulous.) If you choose to read something like that, especially if it pertains to you, don’t get offended. Take it with a grain of salt and know that everyone is trying to get along the best that they can.

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