More Than Just Jitters.

My teeth are brushed, my hair still damp, my fan (and mind) spinning.

I’m staring at the ceiling because I can’t sleep.

My lunch is packed and in the refrigerator, my coffee mug set out on the counter, my outfit hanging by the door.

Tomorrow is the first day of my fifth year teaching.

Every year this happens — this “first day jitters” kind of deal. I’m beyond thrilled to start the year and get to know my new students. I’m always a little nervous at least, because I want to make sure I don’t forget something big to tell them or show them. The first day of middle school is huge for these kids and I’m determined to make it a positive experience!

But tonight isn’t normal first day jitters.

I’m lying here awake because I feel so incredibly grateful to be this excited about my job.

Seriously, this is like second Christmas for me.

The blessing is real, y’all — I get to go to work and teach kids about the wonders of our world. I get to show kids their own hidden talents and help them realize their potential. I get to facilitate the learning of young people who might march for civil rights, cure cancer, or go live on Mars.

I get to work with a fabulous team of human beings who are dedicated to doing what’s best for kids.

I get to wake up in the morning and know I have a job that provides me with health insurance and the ability to pay a mortgage.

I am so thankful for these things. I am so thankful for the people in my life who aren’t at school with me every day who encourage me, love me, and challenge me. I can only hope to be a conduit of blessing to those around me wherever I go.

While I definitely have first day jitters tonight, I stand in awe of so many blessings God has granted me, including the passion He wrote on my heart to educate young people.

Here’s to a brilliant fifth year, friends — full of gratitude and constant amazement.

The Days Are Getting Longer.

And I mean that in a good way.

I actually left school and the sun was still out at 6pm today — MIRACULOUS.

Longer days mean warmth is on its way. On my way into school this morning I noticed that on our school’s marquee/sign it mentioned the dates of spring break.

When the dates of spring break are on your school’s sign, you know it’s close.

Ultimately, this excites me. By the time fall rolls around, I’m usually ready for the cooler weather and the cute scarves and boots and jackets — but right now, I’m ready for a little sunlight in my life. It’s been cold and rainy lately, and that doesn’t do well for me OR my class.

Cold + rain = crazy kids. Here’s lookin’ at you, indoor recess!

Despite my dreams of sun-kissed recess in short-sleeves, I’m realizing just how long some of my days can be. The last couple weeks have just seemed so stressful. I don’t really know if “stressful” is even the right word, because it’s not that I feel unprepared or anything like that, but it’s just so much is going on all the time. I have deadlines for this assignment to turn in and a meeting for this on another day plus a surprise parent meeting on that other day and just so much going on.

I don’t know if this has anything to do with the recent full moon, but my kids have also been kind of off the wall. I’ve had quite a few social problems lately, with things ranging from bullying (girls are the meanest) to petty in-class arguments. I don’t really know where all of this is coming from, and I’m doing my best to deal with it, but it definitely adds a lot more to my plate.

This afternoon I had to call Child Protective Services about some things going on with a kid in my class. The whole time I was on the phone I could feel my stomach turn with each note of the “soft rock” transfer music. I knew stuff like this happened — I saw it in a documentary once (so if I saw it in a documentary, I know it’s true), but never really thought that I would have to deal with something like this. I’m really grateful to the administration who helped me out with all of that mess and who followed up with me — that situation made me uneasy for the rest of the afternoon.

Sometimes I look at these kids who have attitudes, who are angry, who are disrespectful, and I can’t help but wonder what could have possibly happened to them to make them so mad at life in only eight or nine years.

Isn’t that sad?

I have kids who come in with unsupportive parents — parents who call their kids stupid. Kids who come in with attitudes — attitudes of low self-esteem and self-hate. Kids who come in disrespecting other people and school property and themselves.

That disrespect is the worst. It’s poison.

It’s like all these kids just kind of feed off of each other. One kid has an attitude and doesn’t do his work spurs another kids to talk back and not do her work which causes another kid to get distracted. It’s a vicious cycle.

Honestly, I’m really tired of this cycle, and I think any teacher would be. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that continued positive behavior interventions will do the trick, as well as constant praise and positive reinforcement. Today we brainstormed ways to earn pom poms for our pom pom jar, and some of their ideas were so good! My favorite one that a student wrote on the board said simply, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Marlon, I couldn’t have said it any better.

Even though the days are long and I’m tired almost every day (read: all the time), I like knowing that the days will drag on more as we progress toward spring. And if I’m being honest, I kind of like getting home before it gets dark, too.