Friday, August 10, 2018

Last of the Summer Wine

This morning, I woke up with a lump in my throat.  That tingly, hard to swallow feeling when you're on the verge of tears.  Then it hit me... Today is the last day of my summer break.

On Monday morning, I will be returning back to work for the 2018-2019 school year.  For the first time in 6 years, today brought me a sadness.  A feeling of panic, almost.  Does it really have to be over so soon?

Before anyone gets on their soapbox about teachers getting 3 months off, don't.  Just don't.  

First off, we do NOT get 3 months off for summer.  I taught summer school for the first 2 weeks of summer break, so my summer break didn't start until the middle of June.  I have had 8 weeks off work, NOT 3 months.

OK, I know, 8 weeks is by far a lot more than most get off of work each year.  Most people have to work 20+ years to even get 4 weeks off during the summer.  I'm not complaining.  Seriously, I'm not complaining.  I'm extremely thankful for getting so much time off work.  It just doesn't make it any easier to accept when those 8 weeks come to an end, and I'm faced with the realization that I have to start wearing work clothes and limiting when I can go to the bathroom, again.

It's weird, actually.  For the past 5 years, I'm ready to return back to work by the middle of July.  Around that time, I start cracking out my curriculum guides, lesson plans from last year, and start Googling for new lesson ideas.  I usually spend a week or so planning the first few weeks of school, I go back to my classroom the minute the floors are finished with their waxing, and I'm ready to jump into a new school year.  Usually, I'm just bored of being home, and I'm ready to start to just be doing something.

This summer was very, very different.  

If you read my post from the other day, you know I had a miscarriage this summer.  Not the fondest of summer memories.  I spent 2 weeks teaching summer school, sharing my excitement of my pregnancy with my co-workers, only to find out 2 weeks later that there was no baby.  You also know that the miscarriage did a lot in bringing my husband and I closer than we've ever been.  It also affected me in a way I didn't expect.  For the first time IN MY LIFE, it made me want to be a stay-at-home mom/ wife.  

Believe me, if you know me personally, you'd know that me being a stay-at-home mom/ wife is NOT something I'd ever in a million years thought I'd want to do.  It's just not (or wasn't) me.  I've had a job since I was 14 years old.  Working outside the home is something I've always done, and what I've always wanted to do.  It gives me interaction with others, I learn a lot, and it keeps me busy.  I like being busy.  

This summer, I've been busy.  Busy dealing with emotions.  Busy with rediscovering myself.  Busy with analyzing what I want out of life.  Busy writing, building my blog, and learning about the world of being a freelance writer.  Busy keeping my house clean, laundry done, and making sure food is ready when my husband comes home from work.  All from the comfort of my home, in my pajamas.  And, despite all the trauma, I've been happy, completely content, and enjoying the experiences as they've been taking place.

Through all the turmoil, I've found a new passion for my writing.  Casey forced helped me to start writing again, as a way to deal with everything that's been going on.  He inspired me to start a new blog, start telling my "stories" again, and even told me that I should look at doing some writing for money.  After a couple days of research, I found a site that has given me some small writing jobs, and they have been fun.  It's also been really nice to "work" on my own schedule.  

Once Casey leaves for work, I check emails, I respond to comments, and then I write my blog.  Once that's done, I work on any articles I'm writing or editing, or apply for some writing or editing jobs.  Then, I get my cleaning done around the house or I watch some TV.  I periodically work and clean throughout the day, and then start getting ready to make dinner.  It's become my routine, and I've really got to love the freedom of working when I want, cleaning when I want, and just being able to watch some TV or take a nap if I want.

It has been such a relaxing, carefree summer.  And now, it's over.

My summer isn't going to impact my job.  I'm still a teacher, and still love teaching children.  It's just that I've found a new appreciation for being a stay-at-home mom/wife, and it's something I'm now considering if Casey and I are blessed with another baby.  

Of course, I don't know if I'll ever be able to make enough money writing from home to quit my job.  Bills still have to be paid, food still has to be put on the table, and 2 incomes are needed to support our family.  Teaching has been my passion for 25 years, actually doing so for the past 6.  I love teaching.  I just love taking care of my family more.  

It's going to be a tough transition, going back to work.  I know my summer won't have any impact on my actual work.  I'll still be a kick-butt teacher.  In fact, rebooting my love of writing will actually make me a better teacher.  I teach reading and writing because I love those subjects, but being able to share my own experiences with my students makes me a better teacher, in my opinion.  

I'm going to miss being home.  I'm going to miss the free time I had to write.  I'm going to miss cleaning the house and cooking dinner for my husband, when he gets home.  I'm just going to miss the relaxing, less stress, laid back environment that I've been soaking up for 8 weeks.

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.  It's time to suck it up, put my big girl pants on, and face that my care-free summer life is over.  

My hopes are that I will eventually get pregnant again, my writing career takes off, and I may be able to consider being a stay-at-home mom at some point.  Until then, it's time to get my head back in the game, get ready to inspire the lives of my students, and go back to the joy of juggling work and home.  

Goodbye summer.  We had a great time together, and you will be missed.

'Til next time!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

5 Back to School Tips For Parents

Rejoice parents!! Your children are about to go back to school. Yes, the three longest months of the year are coming to an end, and you're doing everything in your power to contain your excitement.

You may have had back to school planned since the beginning of July.  You bought school supplies the minute they showed up in the stores, you have all of the first day outfits picked out, and you've stashed the case of wine you're going to use to celebrate on the big day.  I understand that it's a time when you're so excited about the kids being out of your hair, you don't want to think about much else.

Thankfully, I'm here to give you a few tips (from a teacher) about things you may not have thought of...

1.  Attend any back to school events or open house

Many schools offer a back to school event or open house so that you have a chance to meet the teacher your child is going to have, this year.  Your kids might be a little uneasy about which teacher they're going to have, so open houses give your kids a chance to knock out some of the anxiety.  They'll know where their classroom is, where they'll sit, and what they need to do when they arrive on the first day.  Plus, teachers really like to meet YOU.  

Tip from the teacher:  Teachers want to meet you, so they can get some insight on your child.  It's a great way of showing your child, and the teacher, that you care about meeting the teacher and hearing a little about what's in store for the school year.

2.  Ask lots of questions

Open House is a great time to ask your child's teacher any questions you may have.  This is a great time to ask what kind of learning is going to take place, what are the expectations on homework, what should you be looking out for in backpacks, how you get a hold of the teacher, and what are the teacher's expectations from your child.  It's also a great time to give your child's teacher some information on any issues or concerns you might have.  If you can't make it, give your child's teacher a call.  They are usually more than happy to set up a different time to meet with you.  

Tip from the teacher:  Don't feel worried about sharing concerns with a teacher.  They're not going to judge you if little Timmy has a hard time sitting still, or Timmy doesn't get along well with Lucy.  They NEED to know this information to ensure your child is comfortable in the classroom.  

3.  Have a talk about first day expectations

You've bought all the supplies, you've got their bags packed, you've met the teacher at Open House, and your sweet angel is just about ready.   Now it's time to have a little discussion about back to school expectations.  Gone are the nights staying up playing Fortnite, sleeping in until noon, and eating whenever and wherever they want.  After 3 months of being at home, it's time to remind your child that life is going to be a little different.  Make sure they go to bed a little earlier, and get up a little earlier.  Talk to your child about listening, following directions, and making a good impression.  Show them that you respect and trust the person that will be caring for your child while they're at school.  

Tip from the teacher:  By meeting the teacher, you've shown your child that you've made contact and that you can be reached easily, if needed.  Encourage your child to have fun, pay attention, and listen to the teacher.  If you ever have a complaint or concern, make sure you reach out to the teacher or principal instead of complaining to the child. 

4.  Find out about drop off and pick up procedures

The first day is always a busy time for drop off and pick up.  Many parents want to deliver their children and pick them up on the first day, even though the kids will ride the bus the rest of the year.  While that's perfectly OK, try to obey the drop off and pick up procedures.  There's really nothing worse, or more frustrating, than getting behind a car in the PICK UP LINE, when the parent parks and goes into the school.  The pick up line is for children who's parents are going to stay in the car and pick their kids up from a designated space.  If you're going into the school, park in the parking lot.  

Tip from the teacher:  As much as we know you want to walk Little Timmy to his classroom on the first day, it makes things so much more chaotic and cluttered when there are 200 parents shuffling through the hallways.  If it's NOT Timmy or Lucy's first time at the school, they know where everything is and they can get to their classroom.  You really don't need to walk your child to their classroom, that's what Open House was for, so they should know where to go.

5.  Avoid the "how was your day" question

The most common question a parent will ask their child on the first day of school was, "how was your day?".  The response is usually, "fine", or "OK".  And that concludes the first day of school discussion.  Instead of asking how their day was, trying asking questions they actually have to answer.  Here's a list of questions you can ask your child each day, that will actually give you some insight to how their day really went:
  • What did you do in your classes?
  • Who did you sit with at lunch?
  • What did you play at recess?
  • What is one thing you learned today?
  • What was one thing you didn't like about your day?
Don't let your child respond with answers such as, "nothing" or "no one".  Probe them for information.  This is your chance to find out what's going on while they're at school.  Sometimes, you'll find out about a situation that needs to be addressed or you'll be able to gauge how your child is feeling about school.  

Tip from the teacher:  If your child is reluctant to talk about school, bring it to the teacher's attention.  When the teacher has 20-80 students a day, they often don't immediately pick up if little Lucy isn't making friends or is struggling with a subject.  

That's it!! Your back to school tips, from a teacher to a parent.  This is the time to show your child that their education is important, and you support them getting a good education.  A child's thoughts and attitude towards school often comes from their parents view of the school.  If you want your child to have a great year, be involved, encourage them, and talk to them.  And don't forget, your child's teacher is available and willing to talk to you about ANY concern or question you have.

Have a great school year!