Saturday, November 30, 2013

Happy post-Thanksgiving Caturday... remember to shop small businesses today to support your home town!

Ally & Scuttle

an ode to my favorites

Friday, November 29, 2013

I promise this post will not be as depressing as the last few...

Here are five favorite things I am super grateful for today & everyday.

1. My husband. Not sure if I would have survived thus far without Josh here to support me and love me and care for me during this tough season of learning, long hours, and sheer exhaustion. He has totally 100% held my hand the whole way, let me lean on him for comfort & support, and provided me with words of wisdom during my roughest of days. I am so blessed to work along side him.

eating dinner in my favorite place in the world... Paris.

2. My home. I love this sweet little tiny apartment in Ghent. I love that we can walk places. I love that Josh lets me decorate & redecorate & then do it all again. I love the steam heat in the winter. I even love my tinier-than-an-itty-bitty-mouse bathroom. I love the way the sun shines in through the bedroom window in the winter. I love this tiny space we call home.

3. My cat. In all seriousness, I truly look forward to coming home to the little cuddle-bug at the end of an exhausting day.

4. Café Stella. Your mochas are to die for. Your cinnamon walnut coffee cake is the dreamiest. Your atmosphere is comforting. And your food rocks my world.

5. Band of Horses. My favorite band... this album has gotten me through many-a-days at Booker T... you rock.... literally.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving day... I made an apple pie. My momma made everything else. It was a good day full of love and hair brushing by Savannah.


a filament of light

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today I am feeling the weight of the brokeness of the world. Last night Josh & I went out to dinner and were talking about our future and what direction we are heading. This kind of led into talking about the struggles we face at our job.

I often get angry with my students. I am constantly peeved by the lack of effort, the lack of focus, and the lack of value for education. It is beyond frustrating to see a good mind wasted into things that will only set them back in life.

I try to understand but my patience runs thin and my worldview is often skewed to how I grew up and my own experiences and environments.

Last night though, I reminded my myself in our conversation that I have to continually think about where my students are at and what they go home to. A good portion of my students leave school and go to houses- not homes. Many of them do not eat meals at night. Many are fatherless. Many are mothers themselves. They are surrounded by a culture that glorifies sex, drugs, gangs, and violence.**

I forget that the hour and a half I spend with them is just a blip in their daily lives.

I have been burdened with the brokeness of the world last night and today thinking about this and other things happening in my own life that just remind me that this world is not the way it was intended.

It should be different. The pain and brokeness is real and intense and it has only been intensified in my life since working at Booker T.

Confession: I love Blink 182. And their song "Stay Together for the Kids" has been ringing through my head today. "It's not right. It's not right"

Putting aside my own struggles and pressures in my job, today has been especially sad. The reality is sinking in and I have been left with a deep longing for something more for my students, my family, and my friends.

Glad to be reminded of this verse as I struggle with this:

10I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.11He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yeta no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 
Ecclesiastes 3:10-11

So after a long frustrating day of being painfully aware of the brokeness that exists in and around me, I sat at my favorite coffee shop, read a favorite book (Brave New World), and reminded myself of something a dear friend told me. In a culture full of darkness, I am but a filament of light in their lives. Regardless if they realize it or I realize it, or if it changes anything, I am there and it is not total darkness. Some good exists.


back to the basics

After much needed rest & time off, I am ready to get back in the game at work. I was able to reflect a lot on my last post, my mental breakdown of Monday, and my whole approach to teaching in general.

It has been good. Thank you for all of the support after my last post- I did not intend for anyone to pity me about the situation, I am fully prepared for worse days in my life. It is nice to know though that I have so much support.

One of the biggest things you hear among teaching circles now-a-days is "up the rigor in your class." and "raise the ceiling." So that is exactly what I have done. My team and I make honors tests and give it to our "regular-ed" students. We continue to ask higher level questions and make higher-level activities. However, my students are struggling. They are struggling so badly and I think that is adding to both their frustration and my frustration. I continue to ask & think to myself, "Why aren't they getting it? It's such a simple assignment! Why are they failing my class assignments? They are in high school now, if they can;t do this simple task, how can they do real life?!" I realize how harsh this may sound- but when the majority of my students are failing, you have to stop at some point and assess.

My students can not analyze a photo or political cartoon or answer a simple question or write a complete sentence or read information and answer related questions or analyze a map.

So after a couple months of throwing information at them and hoping they can do the assignments like I listed above, I realized: I have to stop wishing & hoping and instead show them how to do something.

So tomorrow, I my students and I are working on answering questions by looking at the question mode. "How? What? When? Why? Where? When? Explain. Discuss. Identify." We are going to answer all of those related questions about making a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.

I said back to basics didn't I?

man oh man.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

So not be dramatic or anything, but Monday was probably one of the most stressful and worst days of my life. Here's the scoop.

It started when I woke up at 5:15am. (I mean does it ever look like it's going to be a bright & sunshiny day at that wake-up hour?)

I felt awful- head cold, congested, chest tight, head ache kind of thing. Now in normal people job that usually means a sick day. But for teachers there is so much prep work involved in trying to get a sub and then ensure the plans are all there etc. It is kind of a headache. Plus I had just spent the previous day slaving over my lesson prep for that day. So I mustered up some energy and drudged along to the school.

The moment we walked upstairs it began to get hotter and hotter and hotter. And then continuing on to our classrooms it got even hotter. I opened my door and BAM!- a waft of hot stagnate air hit me.

The heat had been turned on from last weeks shiver-fest in Virginia, but never got turned off for the heat-up over the weekend. Consequently, when the temperatures were in the upper 60's & 70's over the weekend, our rooms got no ventilation.

I should also note that our rooms have no windows (the 1970's was just not a good decade for building well... anything really) 

So now I was (still am) sick and had to stay in the hot, hot, humid room all day.

Then the students came in, and it was every 10 seconds "it's hot." "it's too hot in here." "I can't concentrate." Many of my students could not stand it that they just up and walked out. You could say my stress levels were... high to quite high/out the roof, over the bay, and into the depths of the state above us.

It was a nightmare. And it was real. My patience was tested and I surely failed- tremendously. I got angry with my students. I do not know why I am so ashamed to type that on here. But let's just say a whole new Mrs. Henderson came out and looking back, I hated her.

After some refelction on the day and some good sleep Monday night, I went to school Tuesday and tried to be the Mrs. Henderson I wanted to be and was overly aware of my demeanor to the students and tried to push through the day. However, during the last block of the day when my voice had quickly deteriorated into a wimpy rasp, I knew I should probably plan for a break Wednesday.

So I am at home coughing, blowing my nose, drinking hot tea, taking medicine and trying to fight this thing before it gets worse.

Although I cannot stop thinking about how my students are doing- If the sub is competent or not. How I am going to play catch up when I get back. Just goes to show, no matter how mad the make me, I really do love my students- even the times I want to scream at them and when they drive me to be a mad woman.

Oh the life of a teacher.

Also, here's a little sneak peak of the Booker T. Washington yearbook... The best part?
We'll be right next to each other. Just like our rooms. Just like our life.


confession: dinner.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

So I have about 100 times more respect for working moms (& dads!) than I ever have before. With my experience so far, I cannot comprehend how I would be able to have a family and do this. Now I know I am a first year teacher and that is a ton of work in and of itself, and I know it will "get easier as time goes on." Even still, it just seems insane to me that some women actually do it.

I have a lot more respect for my working mom for a specific reason: DINNER.

My mom is the bomb at cooking. She always made meals for us growing up- and she was juggling a full time job in the Navy.

Confession... I have made a real dinner twice since school has started.  [insert gasps & dirty stares]

Now we still have our freezer meals we make but we have been eating out A TON for the past two months.  Every day I keep telling myself that "I WILL make dinner tonight... yup, tonight is the night. Dinner on the table will happen." Then life hits me like a ton of bricks  ungraded papers, data binders, power-points, lesson plans, jammed copiers, oh the list goes on & you get the point. When all that stuff hits me, and it is all of a sudden 6:30, 7, 8:30... I do not have the energy or patience to make a meal. All I want to do is eat and call it a night.

This has really been beating me down lately. I feel like I am stretched so thin- I want to be good teacher but there is all this extra "stuff" absorbing my time, I want to be a good friend & sister & daughter & wife & cook but I am consumed with work 24/7.

I have to figure out a system. We really only need two meal-makings a week since we have left overs for days usually. The crock-pot is surprisingly not very useful in our home because we leave at 6 am and do not get back until late.

Meanwhile, I will continue to try and juggle it all and balance everything... it may just take a little while until I get this thing down to a science... until then? Chipotle, Panera, Jersey Mikes, frozen chicken nuggets, here we come.

nerve damage

Saturday, November 2, 2013

As the school year goes on, my patience has run as thin as piece of chiffon fabric. At the beginning of the year, my students were the least of my problems. Working in an urban school surely has it's ups and downs in terms of the students. The student population is truly just different. The students have grown up in a completely different environment and you have to accept them as they are and not what you wish they would be.

So I admit at the beginning of the year I went in with this mindset. It worked for a while and slowly almost instantly the school began to drag on me. The work load of a teacher is absolutely insane- especially for a first year teacher teaching an AP class. The workload for an urban teacher is even more heavy. This week I realized that all of the stresses of my life that have been caused by my new job (not spending time with family or friends, thinking about how badly I want to sleep all the time, working dusk till dawn, spending money on school supplies, etc.) have also caused me to forget why I teach and how to be an effective teacher.

I had a student who came back a week and a half ago from 10 days outside school suspension. She did all the work I assigned her to do while she was out, provided her with notes from the unit, and she only had to make up the test. This past Thursday & Friday, our school had "amnesty day," which is just a day for students to catch up on missing work. Now whether or not I agree with amnesty day is a whole different store (I do not... but so many kids are failing and our school is under sever watch by the district and the state) but none-the-less we were required to do so. I asked my student to make up her test while others were making up work or doing another assignment. She started arguing with me in front of the class and I was already on my last nerve for the morning, so I got angry. Told her I was going to write a referral. Called her home in the middle of class (no answer). She was angry and refused to do any work. I was angry and refused to deal with the situation. As I sat typing up her referral, she asked to go to the bathroom. And something clicked. I realized that I am dealing with the situation in a way I never imagined myself doing. I called the girl out of the room to have a chat.

It went really well. I told her where I was coming from, how something like that would make me angry, and she told me why she didn't want to take the test. She apologized- I apologized. It was in that moment that I realized I have let my patience run too thin- things that don't even involve my students have gotten so that I am constantly on my last nerve even at the start of the day. I cannot let myself be caught up in the madness that surrounds me or I will never be able to handle my students the way I have always intended. I want my students to know I care- so it stops with me threatening them or being annoyed at their constant lack of progress. Instead it starts with me talking to them. Being real with them. Showing them that I am a human too.

This week Josh & I volunteered to help out at a school carnival fundraiser. Josh was dunked for 45 minutes in a dunk tank and I hung out with students and ran a cupcake walk. It was so fun to see the students let loose and enjoy life- and they had a blast watching me dance to their favorite songs like The Wobble & Soulja Boy. Apparently I have over 100 likes on Instagram from a students video post of me dancing....

teachers can have fun too :)

enjoy the weekend!


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