Thursday, June 30, 2011

Confession Time

....I watch ABC Family

.... and sometimes the Disney Channel.

BUT, they sometimes provide me with good teacher tid-bits.  For example, as a middle school teacher, I deal with a LOT of bullying in and out of the classroom.  Sometimes it's in=person, and sometimes it's a cyber bullying.  I just saw a commercial on ABC Family (as I'm watching Mrs. Doubtfire and flashing back to my childhood) that's for an ABC Family original movie called "The Cyber Bully."  I hope it's school appropriate so that i can show it in my classroom on a sub day or something when it's not convenient to do a traditional lesson.

A period of Mourning

Have you ever believed in something with your whole heart?  Have you then gone out and trumpeted the cause and told everyone you know and everyone you meet how great it is and then worked your hardest to help it come to fruition?  Have you then seen it wither before your very eyes?  The "rose-colored" glasses are hard to lose sometimes.  I mean, really hard.

I finally feel like I can write about something that's been going on in my life for awhile.  I've been mourning the loss of my dream.  It's a pretty terrible thing to go through.  Luckily, I've had some truly wonderful people to grieve with.  We were all going through the same thing, so as terrible as it was, we could lean on each other and make the situation a little more bearable, at least.

When one of my girlfriends returned from a six week maternity leave, she looked and seemed to feel better than the rest of us.  She repeatedly told us how terrible/ exhausted/ run-down/ miserable we all looked.  (I mean, she was much more delicate about her wording...she does have manners.)  She was right.  We had to come to terms that we looked worse than the mother of a newborn baby and two toddlers.  Let's just say it wasn't exactly the best time for my ego.

So, somewhere around this time, we realized what it was that we were going through, and what had changed in all of us.  We were going through the five stages of grief.  We were grieving for the school we thought we were building.  Some of us were in different stages than others, but if you looked around, you could clearly see the stages of grief in all of us.  Yes, I know it's a little silly to think about comparing the death of your goals to an actual death, but I think in a strange way, it's almost more intense than the loss of someone beloved to you.  I know that this has been equally as hard for me as the death of loved ones I was very close to.

Five Stages Of Grief
1. Denial and Isolation.
2. Anger.
3. Bargaining.
4. Depression.
5. Acceptance.

Stage 1- Denial and Isolation

This was the time when we all kept thinking "Today it will be what it's supposed to be.  Well, yesterday wasn't it. TODAY will be the day. Nope. Tomorrow will be the day!"  Then came the time when I locked myself in my classroom and hid during my planning period for about three weeks because I just couldn't stand the denial and how upset everyone else was, too.

Stage 2- Anger

I have never in my life been as angry as I was at some of the situations and circumstances of the past school year.  I mean, there were times that I was furious.  Now, I don't experience this emotion frequently, so it was difficult for me to handle, especially when I had to go back into my classroom and continue teaching my day like it was normal.  I'm not sure how healthy it's long for this stage to last, but I think I was at least partially in the anger stage for a solid 6 + months.

Stage 3- Bargaining

This was when started arguing with myself and fighting extra hard for things to change to the way "they were supposed to be." funny idea we have...I'll work extra hours if it'll make things become the way they're supposed to be.  I'll do whatever it takes if things will just be the way they're supposed to be and the kids and staff will get all the benefits they're supposed to get.

Stage 4- Depression

This was by far the longest lasting and, in my opinion, most severe stage.  It's pretty self-explanatory.  I didn't want to get up and go to work in the morning, I didn't want to be there when I was there, my work ethic withered because I was so upset and discouraged.  We were all terrible for each other and didn't seem to do much to bolster each others' mood.  

Stage 5- Acceptance

I only recently reached this stage.  This is when you accept that things will never be as they were 'supposed to be,' regardless of how hard you try, how much you beg and plead, and cry, and pray, and wish and hope.  Things have changed, the depression is lifting, and you are able to accept life (or the situation) as it is, and move on.

That's exactly what I'm doing.  I'm moving on! I accepted a different job before our return contracts were issued and am so excited to be embarking on a new adventure.  I'm not sure that my new school will be my "forever school home," but it's a huge step up, an excellent opportunity for me to develop as a professional, and a lot of it's goals are very similar to the very goals I hoped to be able to achieve this past year, but was not able to due to all the roadblocks.  This new (to me) school is established, has a great infrastructure, a fantastic and experienced administration, and a friendly, experienced, knowledgeable, helpful staff that has VERY little turnover, which means everybody is successful.  I hope and pray it's a great year!  Anybody else have grief that they're going through or are able to get past?

Frat Boys

From my dear roommate: "I'm drinking my problems away. I'm such a frat boy. AND I don't have a shirt on. Typical!"

She's wearing sweatpants and her bikini top since we just got back from the pool.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I've been on sabbatical

So, it's been a month since I last blogged. 4 weeks. That's a really long time!  It's an even longer time to have been away from my friends' funny (and just general life) stories that don't always make it into regular conversations.  It's been an even crazier than normal month, and I've been (as usual) busy.  I just honestly haven't even had time to THINK about blogging until this week.

I figured though, that since professors, researchers, etc. can go on sabbatical to rest and come up with new material and ideas, I can too.  After all, I am also a teacher and a science teacher at that, so I do my fair share of research trying to keep up with the educational field, the scientific field, and just life as a young teacher.  So, I call the last month "my sabbatical."  It's been an eventful, fun-filled month.  As busy as my body has been, my mind has been also.  Today marks the end of Summer Session 1, so I get about a week off before the next session.  I've come to accept that the last few weeks of each class are going to be jam-packed because, of course, God likes to test me and make sure I can juggle all my priorities appropriately.  For the last 2 1/2 weeks, I've been in New York State visiting my Mom and Dad's family, and enjoying spending as much time as I can with my little cousins.  Since I would be shocked and apalled if my little brothers gave me nieces and nephews, I treat my 7, 4, and 3 year old cousins as my nieces and nephews.

I've gotten to spend lots of one-on-one time with the oldest, as I've been homeschooling him while I'm here.  It's been a trip, although it's certainly not convincing me to move to teaching 1st grade.  I mean, I love the kid to pieces, but first grade just isn't my favorite.  He hasn't really learned how to learn new things that don't come up naturally in conversation and incorporate them into his existing knowledge, and this results in a lot of frustration and tears for both of us.  I mean, it's just so stinkin' sad when he gets upset!  I have a hard time standing my ground when I see how hard it is for him.  But y'all? He's gotta learn the basics.  Luckily, we can do things our own way because it's homeschool.  So if I spend 4 hours on social studies one day because that's the only subject that doesn't give us both fits, it's fine, as long as I make up the other subjects another day.  It's like only eating the food on your plate in a certain order.

Other than that, I've gotten to spend some quality time with the family I don't often get to see.  I love it.  My Memaw and I made a trip up to Niagara Falls (where she and my PawPaw were born and raised, and where I often visited as a child).  It was my first time having to use my passport to cross the Border to Canada, and I still haven't gotten used to seeing border patrol cars roving through New York and Pennsylvania.  Without fail, my first thought is... but we're so far from Mexico!  On the flip side, we're only an hour and a half or two hours from Canada.  I guess that's close enough for Border Patrol to be visible.

And I get to play with and learn with and watch three absolutely amazing kids grow every day! How cool (exhausting) is that?!?!

I figure the best (least verbose) way to tell you guys about how awesome this time with family has been is to show you in pictures.  I can't document it all, but here are some of the highlights:

Miss Emma, age 17 and cold, cold, cold.  Wearing a onesie that reads, "This IS my little black dress." Complete with pearls to keep her warm.

Artie, my little man, has been into EVERYTHING!  But isn't he just precious?

I got to re-visit the Roman Colosseum.  Only this time, Memaw and I built it.  Hey, Rome wasn't built in a day!

For a little boy turning 7, a Transformers themed birthday party and almost all edible Transformers battle scene takes the cake.

Transformers play-doh molds: make a vehicle, put it in the machine, and watch it pop out as a Transformer.

Johnny's Lunch- a local food joint and a community staple.  Coolest kids' meal ever!

Still into everything.  This is an action shot from a playtime.

Another action shot. My favorite.  Look at his face.

This little guy can get anywhere- even the top of the fireplace mantel- and open his container of treats with no help from his mama.

Niagara Falls- Double Rainbow

 Niagara Falls made of Legos in the Brick City in Niagara Falls, Canada.  A ten foot replica of the falls mad entirely of Lego pieces.
My favorite superhero, Spiderman, climbing the building behind the South Carolina State House.  Love my backwards state!

Hit up a live rock concert- complete with original AC/DC music.

Visited Canada.

Almost fell down the Falls- just kidding, but they are breathtaking, fast-moving, and HIGH!

This is how close the Maid of the Mist gets to the Falls-- no wonder they come off soaked!


Oh, and now that I'm done, I just found the button that lets me caption.  Something for y'all to look forward to! :)