Monday, August 22, 2016

Crying in the Chapel

If you cannot teach me to fly,
teach me to sing.

J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Look at me, forging ahead with my Monday routine despite monumental changes. I am proud of me.

I make no promises about next week, though. Or the week after that. 

There are no words for last week, but given this blogging format is word-dependent, I shall forage for a few.  

There were only four actual hours of "school" for me last week, & those came on Friday morning. While students didn't venture to campus until early Friday, campus was buzzing all week. I'll attempt to give some form & shape to the buzz so as to convey it to you, & also for myself so I can reread this when I am having a bad day & want to quit &/or throw things at students at some point in the future. By future I mean the next time a student introduces himself, smiles goofily, & tells me he hasn't read Lord of the Flies. I may return the smile, new pal, but the test will wipe yours off your face.

Ah, anyway, back to the pleasantness. Last week was my first inservice. Inservice is like a teachers-only pep rally of sorts, except it's not too loud &, at times, there is crying. I'll be honest; I wasn't overly giddy about my first inservice when I stepped in the shower at six-ish last Monday morning.

Monday & Tuesday were all-day affairs, & so it was decided that the children would be split; Reagan came with me to school on Monday & Tuesday (she was jazzed about going to her new school, even for inservice, as you can see below), & Henry alternated between grandmothers.

One of my favorite parts of inservice was the daily muffin I got from Daily Harvest on my way to the school. All of their muffins are divine, but the strawberries & cream (yes, that is cream cheese there in the middle) renders all other muffins irrelevant. 

Monday & Tuesday both began with all teachers meeting in the chapel. Monday morning I settled myself & Reagan in, her with her crayons & me with my coffee, & I sat there sipping my coffee & looked around & the tears were threatening before anyone even spoke. I won't take you on a moment by moment tour of my elementary, junior high, & high school years, but you make a lot of memories in thirteen years, & I was, for the first time in nearly two decades, surrounded by people who're very much a part of those memories, seated in the same chapel where my kindergarten graduation was held.

I realized that while I've been away - going to college, marrying, having kids, becoming a mature & productive citizen - many of the men & women who taught me & who were (& remain) dear to me have been steadfastly dedicated to what they no doubt, given what they're paid, see as their calling. The whole week had a very prodigal student vibe . . . not that I've been wallowing with pigs & blowing large sums of cash, but you get it.

While I did manage to sit & sip my coffee & gaze at familiar faces & not cry, the sniffles ratcheted up when the singing began. As the week unfolded, I teared up every time we sang. The singing was beautiful, but it also set off a siren in my head (& my heart) that I could not ignore, a siren that alerted me to the exquisite continuity in my life, which I absolutely could not ignore on Monday & Tuesday with Reagan seated next to me. I wanted to stand up & say, I am elated you're all still here! Thank you, thank you, thank you for preserving & continuing to better this haven to which my own children can now flee.

I didn't stand up & say any of that, but to anyone who observed my sniffling, well, there you go.

Of course there are new faces, too, & I have to commend the personnel folks on their hiring. Maybe they're all being nice to me because I am new, but I cannot say enough kind things about my coworkers, those I've known for years & those I met last week. I've asked some odd & silly things & made some requests that no doubt reveal my anal retentive ways (yes, the filing cabinet must go since it is not the same color or height as the gray one), & people have been nothing but gracious & accommodating. Tune in next week to see if we're all still honeymooning or if someone's getting on my nerves.

Reagan & I had fun in my room Monday afternoon. It is in an acceptable state now. I say acceptable because while I can live with it, & perhaps more importantly, teach in it, I am not done. I want a rug. And a pole lamp. And a comfy chair.

Here's the bulletin board in its completed state:

And a close-up of a few of the gems I hot glued to my pretty sky paper:

Pictured below is my biggest disappointment in the room at the moment. I quickly learned that Washi tape doesn't cling tightly to cinderblock walls, at least not in Louisiana in August. My book cover posters & my lovely Ernest Hemingway portrait are frameless at present. It grieves me, but I finally had to let it go (for now) & move on so I could, you know, teach. 

I also quickly learned that you can hot glue just about anything to the walls & it'll stick, so I'm considering some other options. It may be Christmas Break before I address the matter to my satisfaction, but I think you know by now that it will be addressed to my satisfaction. 

Neither of the kids joined me at school on Wednesday, for Wednesday was technology training day. It turns out I am joining the school at an ideal time as they're making major changes in the technology they use school-wide & so I am not the only one with a thousand questions. The high school teachers were grouped by department & for two hours on Wednesday afternoon, Mr. & Mr. I.T. (both absolute dolls who know a whole bunch of stuff) attempted to walk the English teachers through the new online system we'll be using to communicate with students,  take electronic attendance, & take electronic lunch count (in first period).

I have to brag on this I.T. squad the school has assembled. They are very smart & incredibly patient with gaggles of women who ask a lot of questions, both in person &, yeah, maybe via email at midnight the evening before school begins.

Friday as I was leaving campus half of the I.T. team told me he wants to meet with "y'all" again. I asked if by y'all he meant the English teachers, to which he replied in the affirmative. Perhaps while we're meeting, the English teachers might discuss with him the importance of saying what he means with purpose & specificity, such as, I need to meet with the English teachers again because y'all can't do math & I am concerned about you adapting to the new online grade book

I traveled alone to the school on Thursday as well. Thursday was Mr. FBI day. Mr. FBI's talk was a necessary but awful one, highlighting for teachers that there are sickos in the world & making some suggestions as to what we as people who work with children day in & day out can do to try & stand between impressionable young kids & the vermin that can come after them, often online.

Friday was the big day. BIG DAY.

It really wasn't a big day for me. High school students were on an abbreviated schedule so I saw each of my classes for fifteen minutes. I had just enough time to say my name, tell them I'd try & log in to the new online portal we'll be using to show them around for a minute (they don't have access yet), & then inevitably something didn't go as planned & boom, they were leaving.

Miss Reagan had a full day of school on Friday.

She is thrilled with kindergarten thus far. She didn't run great numbers Friday, which is about what I expected. I was near tears (again) Friday morning when Reagan & I were waiting in the turn lane to enter the school's parking lot. She asked me about all the traffic. I told her most of the cars would leave, that parents were dropping their kids off & then they'd head to work. She said, "But you are staying. This is your work." And she is. She is my work, & probably nothing I face in the classroom this upcoming week will be as difficult or frustrating as trying to sort out her insulin needs on her new  schedule.

Henry's first full day is today, & this all worked out well. I was able to focus all my fretting on Reagan on Friday, & today's fretting will be - if I am honest - split between Henry & how he's adapting & tonight's parent orientation. That's right, tonight, I face their parents. Stay tuned for an update on that . . . naturally I am expecting someone to ask why I have not hot glued a border around my lovely portrait of Ernest Hemingway & coordinating book cover posters.

I was actually back at the school on Saturday. Trey hauled a bookcase he's no longer using at his office to my room for me, but not before we all ate lunch out. Obviously given my disheveled state I took a gamble on not seeing anyone I know. But you know, now that I am rising early & dressing for work five days a week, Queen Elizabeth could be coming over Saturday & I probably still wouldn't wash my hair. 

So, I survived my first four hours with students. By the time you read this, Monday will either be going well, or I will again find myself in tears. 


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