Love is Peach-Os and Post Its: The Honest Account of My 179 School Days 

I started the school year alone, in a grade I hated, at a school with problems. It was my only option. No other school wanted me and I was thrown in a week before the kids arrived. 

At the end of my first day I cried from the moment I sat down in my car until I fell asleep. I could hear my parents wondering downstairs if I would even go in the next day. That went on every day for a week. My parents, who never let me quit a thing in my life, told me they would support my decision to quit. After that first week, I cut it down to every other day for the next month; then about once a week. By fall break, I had managed to make most of myself numb to it all. 

I knew I couldn’t leave. Mrs. K. had put too much on the line for me to just up and leave. I owed it to a group of kids whos’ families up and leave whenever they choose, to stay put. I made it through countless days telling myself I only had to do it for a year. I could do 180 days (179 of you remember my one sick day). I even applied for another job… I spent almost the whole year wanting to be somewhere else. I spent the whole year squatting in a room that didn’t feel like it was really mine. I didn’t move the furniture much. I barely moved the desks. 

Most people would, at this point, mention how they wish they hadn’t spent a year moping. I don’t regret it. I really, actually don’t. 

The numb started going away little by little. It was gradual and I didn’t notice it. I did notice the little bits of kindness that the others teachers showed me day after day. I couldn’t possibly have been fun to be around during that time but everyone kept me feeling like I belonged. 

Week days ending in Mexican food, Fridays laughing with so many good people, after hours laps around the school, watching sports, and holding babies… I ended up falling in love with my job, with my school, with the ridiculous weirdos I work with. 

Today was my first last day. Yesterday, I fell apart. The people around me stood up. They did what amazing people do and I did show up for work today. I spent the day being loved by my kiddos and thanking my amazing role models. 

Two or three of my students smiled ear to ear over their goofy award I gave them. I talked to them about making good choices and being ready for fifth grade. One student I fought with, scolded, took recess from, took to the office, who flipped me off approximately 9,000 times throughout the year, cried when I talked to them. The day ended with me tearing up holding some perfect gifts and being surrounded by my perfect friends. 

I know now that as teachers, we get into teaching for the kids but we stay because of the teachers. 

Your first year in the job, you learn something new every day. Every day this year, I learned that nothing is more important than the good people who smother you with love even when you know you are being hard to love. 

Love is post-its. Love is peach-os. It doesn’t let you fall without being there to help you back up. It’s there when you need it most and it’s still there when you think you can do it alone. Love is what makes us happy. 

I know I’m not going to love every day of this job. I’m just not. I won’t say it’s my dream job because it’s not. I will say, I found my dream team. The perfect group of crazies, weirdos, nerds, and wackos make it worth the shouting, office visits, flip offs, lies, tattling, and throwing things. 

If you can find your dream team, do. Stay with it. It’s worth it. 179 days have gone by since the first time I thought about quitting. I’ve wanted to almost every day since, sometimes multiple times a day. I’ve realized that the kids are why I do this, the teachers are the reason I stay. 

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Thoughts Before the Field Trip 

Laying in bed praying about my first field trip… 

God,

Please don’t let that one student bring her permission slip tomorrow! We’ve already made plans and it’s all good! 

If she goes… I don’t! 

God, if any of those kids say a word about me eating pretzels or drinking water on the bus to keep myself from getting motion sickness, I’m intentionally going to throw up on that one… please forgive me in advance…

Please don’t let anybody die… 

Please don’t let anybody escape… 

Please help me live through the anxiety of letting other people try to keep my class from dying…

Give me strength to make it through the day without having to eat school sack lunch…

Lord, have mercy on the student who decides to steal from the gift shop because mercy will be the last thing they get from me… 

Please keep my students from putting their mouths on other students, to bite them or otherwise… 

Give me patience so when I hear, “when’s lunch” for the 100th time before 10 a.m. I don’t loose my mind on anyone…

Please keep me from failing because yolo and that means everyone will remember everything I did wrong for the rest of my existence… 

Amen. 

Grading Re-Evaluation 

I have felt all year like I have not been doing my class justice in terms of grading and keeping my students responsible for their grades. I have been doing research about standards based grading and motivating students to feel responsible for their work. So many of my students are not motivated by their grades. I made a resolution to plan a better way for my students to track their assignments and be accountable for their learning. 

I know I have been part of the problem by not making sure completing work is required. I have not made sure everyone turns in all assignments and learns what they need to learn. Many of my students are just taking the failing grades and moving on. It cannot happen again next year. 

So I have come up with the beginnings of a plan. First I labeled each of my students as motivated and unmotivated based on my observations throughout the year. I was surprised to see that the lists were pretty close to even. I really thought the unmotivated list would be a lot longer. I separated them in order to see if there was a difference in grades between the motivated and unmotivated students. 

Then I planned the whole week. Every assignment. I gave each of them a point value. Then I decided to level each amount of points like a video game. Since my week has 60 points total in math, I decided every 6 points would be a level up. So if after the first assignment the student gets 7 points they would now be level one. After the second assignment they might get 3 points and they are still level 1. If they get less than 75% on an assignment they must redo the assignment. 

So instead of feeling like they are loosing points on each assignment, they will gain points and level up. Every time they redo an assignment the first score goes away and is replaced by the new score. It all works the way a video game does. Each student has a score card in their binder where they track their points per assignment and points over time. 

I haven’t decided if there will be some kind of reward at each level or what. I am going to experiment next week with my kiddos. We’all see… 

The Things I Don’t Do

Today was a day of doing things I don’t do. I’ll start from most recent and work my way back. 

This afternoon I assisted the coach of a little bitty kid baseball team at their itty bitty kid baseball practice. I volunteered for crowd control and wound up sporting. I threw the ball. I threw it more than once… I did not hit a kid! I did not injure myself! I sported! 

The not so great thing I did that I don’t do had to do with blood. A student got a terrible nose bleed at recess today. When I went over to see what was going on, there was blood in the grass. So much blood I could see it in the spring grass… That was the first time my head started reeling.

I tried not to look at the blood too much. We got to the doors and there was blood all over him because she was letting it drip on the ground. I told him he needed to start catching it so it didn’t go all over the floor. It didn’t work out so well and there was blood everywhere anyway. 

We made it to the nurses office. When I walked out of the nurse’s office, the principal and I talked. She asked what happened. I told her and she asked me if it was his all over me… His blood… all over my tan skirt… 

Sheer willpower kept me upright as the office brightened then darkened a little. I repeated over and over to myself that it wasn’t on my skin and there was nothing to faint over. Also I think I subconsciously knew that if I fainted they would probably call an ambulance and everyone would find out about it. 

Don’t hit the floor… Don’t hit the floor!

I happened to have a pair of jeans in my car that the principal let me go get and wear the rest of the day. Then I washed my skirt in the sink. 

It was a bizarre day of doing things that I don’t do… 

Genius Hour

My students have been working extra hard on a preference based independent research project while were not taking ISTEP+ this week. It has been so great. One student wanted to do her project on the first artist. It has been so wonderful watching her learn about cave paintings and different famous cave paintings.

I asked her today if she expected to learn what she did. She said, “no but this is so much cooler! I thought I would learn about Picasso or something but these cave paintings are so cool!”

I love that this project gave her a new perspective on learning. She never knew that this information was out there and it just took a little push to help her learn something that interested her. I love teaching. I love that I have the opportunity to guide students in their learning without spoon feeding it to them.

Time Travel

One of my students approached me today and said, “if you could travel back in time and see one thing, what would it be?” 

I took a moment to think before answering, “I would go see George Washington be inaugurated as the first president of the United States.” 

He nodded and told me he would see giants… didn’t want to burst his bubble about giants not being real.

The student next to him looked up at me and said, “I would travel into the future.” 

I asked him what he would see and he shrugged and said, “I would go to McDonalds…”

I love my kids! If they could go anywhere and do anything it would be see giants or visit a future McDonalds. 

But Maybe

A lot is going on where I am. I’m sick and I refuse to take a day off to go to the doctor. ISTEP is coming up and the kids are stressing and I am stressing. But something about sitting in our school library with the  afternoon breeze blowing in surrounded by a group of people who are so kind was very eye opening to me. 

I like the place I am. I didn’t think I would ever think that. I didn’t think I would like fourth grade. Maybe it’s not the place I would like most but it’s the place I have come to love. Maybe it’s that my class has been really good. Maybe it’s my super goofball friends. Maybe it won’t feel quite like this every day.

But maybe things are good in the world.