Friday, April 11, 2014

It's That Time Again

Assessment time! And the last batch is always the worst least tolerable. First of all, it's the end of the school year and the kids start going nutzo (is it just me or did the nutzo settle in about a month earlier than usual???).  Second, the district, state, and other standardized assessments are a lot longer for the EOY (end of year).  Third, report card assessments (speak for themselves).

Anyway, it is SO HARD for me to stay motivated/encouraged this time of year. 

I mean..... REALLY HARD. (I promise there is a REALLY positive, happy-ending, silver lining coming up soon!)

From getting new students who are a grade below where they should be to students not being taken care of at home, from extreme behaviors to being expected to do a ton of extra new work outside of paid hours.  Not to mention being held responsible and accountable for 20 children and their actions. Any time we have to miss a day of work - whether it be for training, appointments, or sickness - you must create lesson plans any ordinary Joe substitute can follow (these take 2+ hours per day out-of-pocket). Let's hope to not get sick when all these loving children who love to hug get the flu!  That requires lots of prayer, lots of Emergen-C, and LOTS of hand sanitizer - AKA my best friend.

And the assessments. Ohhhhhhh Lawd, the assessments! TELPAS, DRA (3x a year), DMA (3x a year), CBAs (every 6 weeks), TPRI (3x a year), and 40+ report card assessments per student done 6 times a year for 20 students.  Assessments in kindergarten are one-on-one where teachers are either out of the classroom to pull students one-at-a-time or are working with only one student at a time while the rest are doing activities independently.  And they expect ALL students to be doing extremely well even though they know all students learn differently and come in with varying abilities.

Talk about pressure! 

Did that give you a headache? So sorry! Not intended to induce headaches.... perhaps I should have put that warning as the post name... "WARNING: May cause headaches from run-on sentences about all of the "funnest" parts of teaching"..... Naaaaaaa! :)

Without appreciation, gratitude (yes, we will stay an hour after school with lots of children while we wait for you to pick them up!), or bonuses (cha-ching?).... all the pressure/tension can really build up. And drive ya BANANAS!

Luckily, I know this wise man (who is also kind of a goofus whom I happen to have the pleasure of dating for close to 6 years now) who said to me after a vent session:

"Well, if your job doesn't occasionally drive you crazy, then it's probably not much of a job worth having.  Only the things you are passionate about will sometimes drive you crazy."

Well, that shut me up for a few minutes!

WOW.  Men may be goofuses sometimes, but they can also be smarter than you (even if you're used to being the smartest person in the room all day). :)

 He is so right!  I would hate to be some drone sitting behind a desk having no human interaction, not trying to make the world a better place, and having zero passion about what you spend the majority of your life doing.

Yes, it may drive me crazy that I feel like no one respects me or appreciates all the work we teachers do. And that sometimes I am so dadgum busy that I don't eat lunch or have a restroom break all day. TMI? My bad.

But I'm CRAZY about these kids!  And they can make me CRAZY proud and CRAZY happy!

For example, while giving above mentioned zillions of assessments, I truly get to see just how much they have learned.  Let me tell you what, nothing gives you job satisfaction like seeing a student who knew 2 letters when you received them and couldn't write a legible sentence for months turn into a student who reads on/above level and write beautiful, meaningful stories (and sweet letters to their teacher).  That is VERY satisfying! "Look, Mom! Look what I can do!  Isn't that AMAZING?!?!"

There's nothing quite like being called "Mom", "Mama", and "Mommy" by children who  are NOT my actual children.  I was told just yesterday by a student's mother after I said something about not being a mother, "actually, you are and you've got more kids than us mothers." Um, humble moment.. I guess I am like a real mom? I wouldn't know!

There's nothing like hearing "I love you" at LEAST 20x per day. Seriously.

There's nothing like when you are teaching adjectives (yes, to kindergartners) they describe you as: beautiful, strong, sweet, tough, loving, cute, smart, etc. and hearing "OH MY GOSH YOU LOOK SO PRETTY!" on a day where you kinda feel like crap-ola.

There's nothing like putting so much time and emotion into students struggling with their home life, and finally seeing them be truly happy when they are at school.

There's nothing like being told "I'll miss you!" when they are just going to lunch and will see you in approximately.... 25 minutes.

There's also nothing like students who have to hold themselves back from giving you a kiss and telling themselves "I just want to kiss you, but I keep forgetting you're not my mom!"

Aaaaaaaand there's nothing quite like the one student each year that just can't help themselves from stealing a kiss on the hand/cheek when you're not prepared for it. (Can you put hand sanitizer on your face???) Then having to explain to them that they really need to save their kisses for their moms and saying "my favorite things are hugs, anyway."

There's nothing like having that one or two sets of parents each year (yes, only one or two out of 20) who let you know how much they appreciate you.  Thank God for them!

There's nothing like getting to know the quirks of each little individual and giggle about the things they say and do.  They are just too cute.

I cannot tell you how many art masterpieces I have received.  Enough to fill a few suitcases, probably.  I get at least one each morning.

Sure, people will always say that "it's just kindergarten", that it's all just fun, games, songs, play, and naptime (can't tell you how much I WISH we had naptime).  It is an extremely difficult career - in ways that most people will never understand.  It goes without much appreciation, respect, and growth in salary.  Yes, it's wrong and unjust, but I would choose it time and time again.

AND, people, just QUIT IT with the "oh yeah, your job is SOOOOO hard (rolls eyes), must be nice getting the summers off!" Of course we love having summers off!  If we didn't, they would have to hire hundreds of thousands of new teachers each year... I think we'd all be dead.  Really.  And that would just be sad. Besides, most teachers spend their summer planning, organizing, buying supplies and other various things for their classrooms (do you buy lots of stuff for your job with your own money?).

There's a reason why nearly half of teachers leave the field after just 5 years.  And one third of all new teachers leave within 3 years.  If you ever find yourself thinking "Self, let's learn about something new and mind-boggling... one of the great mystical mysteries of the world!", then research the teaching profession the way it is today and how it's changed.  Even I can't (and really kind of don't want to) comprehend all that goes on in the world of education.

For all my teacher friends, YOU GO GIRLFRIEND!  You've made it past the burn-out mark! Congratulations!  Let's throw a party!  I appreciate you!  I respect you!   I support you!  I would give you bonuses on being awesome and passionate if I could!  I would dedicate a whole month of pampering you if I could!  I would give you a bonus each time you actually take a shower in the morning before work!  I would like to give you a bonus for each time you bite your tongue during parent/teacher conferences!  I would like to reimburse you for each premature gray hair on your head!  I would like to hug you and tell you how awesome you are every time you feel unappreciated!  Heck, I even would like to be like you!  You is kind, you is smart, you is important. And never forget it!

It's that time again.... that time where we feel over-worked, over-stressed, over-excited, and over-loved all at the same time.

Bring. It. ON.

This post is not a vent session.  It is a teacher-empowerment session.  It has its own set of trials and tribulations as well as its own unique set of rewards. 

Also, check out my newest Easter FREEBIE on my TeachersPayTeachers site!

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