Before You Poke Yourself In The Eye…

(Despite a bit of what one might call a liberal use of choice words, this post is really meant to warm the cockles of your heart. Seriously.) (Am I the only one laughing at the word “cockles?”) (I mean, have you ever heard anyone say, “Geez, I think I need to go see the doctor. My heart cockles are feeling funny”?)

Oh man, is it FEBRUARY or what?!

It’s cold, it’s gray, there’s probably way too much indoor recess going on (which results in too many horrific afternoons) and those days where you just want to pop in a movie and sit quietly in the back of your classroom and, I don’t know, file things quietly, are happening WAY too often.

PLUS, in addition to your friends being all antsy, and crazy and UNABLE TO SIT STILL AND FOCUS, February is always the time where it feels like the pressure is ON. And not in a “I have so much to do!” way but in a “Holy sh*t! How is it February already and I haven’t even started the unit on (insert topic here)! And what am I going to do about so-and-so’s reading?? Wait, are those more papers I have yet to correct over there?!?” way.

Throw in the whole Snow Day Clusterf*ck and you’ve got yourself a real reason to want to poke yourself in the eye.

(For those of you not in the Wonderful World of Teaching, a Snow Day Clusterf*ck translates loosely to the collision of two competing realities for teachers in various parts of the country based on their respective weather patterns. On one hand, you have teachers who have had SO MANY snow days that they are literally sweating a little over the prospect of having to make up all those days and have now reworked their lesson plans and schedules for the ho-jillionth time in order to accomodate all those days off. Honestly, their plan books are so littered with arrows, post it notes and cross outs that they more closely resemble the part of movies where they show the serial killers bedroom that is filled with all sorts of creepy clippings and notes than they do actual plans for children. On the other hand, you have teachers who have had mountains of snow dumped upon them yet their schools REFUSE TO CALL A SNOW DAY most likely because they work in a city and their students are able to walk to school. Unfortunately, this means ritualistic waking a dawn to listen to the news to watch that little scrolly thing at the bottom of the TV only to routinely be enraged disappointed that they have school, but now they’re running late because they were watching the freaking television instead of getting ready and will probably get to work with seconds to spare because of all the treachery. Once these teachers get themselves to school, they find that at least 1/3 of their students are absent – again, because of the treachery that should have caused school to be canceled or at least delayed in the first place – and realize that they have to alter their plans since teaching new content on a day with so many absences is really just shooting yourself in the slush covered snow boot that totally ruins your outfit foot. Don’t you think the term “Snow Day Clusterf*ck” sums all that up quite nicely?)

Again, you can see where the desire to do some eye poking comes in, yes?

And then you start to feel bad because teaching is really one big roller coaster of emotion and you know that you’ve been less than perky in front of your friends. Or maybe you feel like you aren’t as well planned as you should be. Or maybe you’re feeling like that lesson on rocks totally could have gone better. Which leads to wondering whether or not you’re cut out for this job at all. Which leads to wondering if you’re little friends are going to remember all these frantic moments. Which leads to something I like to call a Shame Spiral. Shame Sprialing is bad.

So if you are mid-Shame Spiral, or really, in those very early stages of Shame Spiraling, know this. At the end of the year, most kids will only remember the fun times, how much you loved them and all that they learned. They won’t think about the homework papers you never got around to grading, or the time that lesson blew up in your face, or that you left one of their art projects abandoned and unfinished in the back of the classroom because sometimes you bite off more than your schedule can chew in the project department.

They will have memories that sound like this:

(I took the liberty of going through notes from my former friends since you probably have very similar notes, but no time to actually look at them in these moments o’ crisis otherwise known as February.)

“I will miss the silly sentence board, because it was so silly. I will miss my job because it is fun to have a job. I will miss Mrs. M because she was the best.”

“I’ll miss Mrs. M. because she is the best teacher a kid could have. I’ll miss the class because it is so colorful.”

“I love when I have a classroom job.”

“I’m going to miss Mrs. M. and my friends because they treat me good. And I am good to my teacher.”

“I will miss all the things we did because I love writing and reading so much.”

And then AND THEN PEOPLE, when you are true rock star (which I know you all are) like Big Mama Mimi is, you get an email, out of the blue, that sounds something like this:

“I’m not sure if you remember me, but I was in your class from 1996-1997. At that point I was best friends with So-and-So, and we begged you to put us in the same class for the following year. Well, all these years later, he is still my best friend, and we both just graduated from college.

A few weeks ago we were discussing our grade school days, and how much we enjoyed you and your class. I hope this does not come off as weird to you, but we were both wondering if you
would be willing to meet us for lunch sometime. I can assure you we will not try to sell you anything or insist you pay (a joke, we both have jobs), we are just looking to catch up. Both of us have aspirations of leaving this state in the near future, and this is one of the things we wanted to do before moving.”

And I die.

So put the pencil down, take a deep breath and know that you will get through February. So will your friends.

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  • Oh Mrs M! You caught me in the middle of poking myself in the eye, and then I stopped to read you and now, I 'm lol and life is good again!

    February 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm
  • Oh, that last one is especially awesome! My husband in a high school teacher, and he constantly gets emails and texts from former students, and they come by and visit his classroom when they are on break from college. It's always rewarding to know you did a good job and that your students enjoyed your class and remember you fondly.

    February 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm
  • Yes…February…indoor recess.

    I broke my foot two days before Christmas and since then my principal has been doing my recess duty. Yes…that's exactly right. He has been going upstairs at noon, gathering up the 70 odd kindergarteners (with the help of the media aide who shares the duty) and actually walking with them outside to the playground. Yes…THE PRINCIPAL IS DOING RECESS DUTY!!!

    Except when we have inside recess, that is. See, I have a broken foot…and I'm rolling around on one of those little knee scooter things. I can roll around the building, so if we have inside recess I can just roll on up to the Kg rooms or roll along beside the students as we go to the gym (if it's empty).

    I thought it was very nice that, as a reward for the pain and suffering that I have endured with a heel broken in 3 places, I wouldn't have to have recess duty until I was healed (a healed heel, as it were). But, *&%$ if February didn't mess things up with grey days, cold temperatures, slushy playgrounds…resulting in indoor recess.

    On the other hand, when I do go up to the Kg rooms for my inside recess time, I'm mobbed with, "Mr. B. how is your sore foot?" and "When will you be able to walk again?" and "We miss you when we're outside" and many, many little smiles. Sweet.

    February 5, 2010 at 9:05 pm
  • Awwww….that's so awesome!!

    I was out at a bar with my sister not too long ago, and hell if I didn't run into a former student! Talk about being freaked out!! He was too damn sweet, and said I had always been one of his favorite teachers. Those are the moments we are reminded of why the hell we do this every day! 🙂

    February 6, 2010 at 3:58 am
  • You hit the nail on the head! With state tests looming, I am stressed and know it will remain that way until the last day of school…79 days away. Yep, I'm a counter!

    The relationship students have with their teachers is a very special one. My husband and I were in the same fifth, sixth, and seventh grade class. Both of us had a very good relationship with our sixth grader teacher. We both continued to visit with her over the years and she made sure she kept tabs on us as well as all of her former students. Fast forward 10-12 years, she tells my now hubby where I am working and he comes to visit. We've been married almost 9 years now. And of course she went to our wedding and baby showers and we still correspond to this day! You just never know!

    February 6, 2010 at 12:46 pm
  • Wow, you just make the 100th Day, Lincoln's B-Day, President's Day, Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day seem like a priviledge. Here's to March!!!

    February 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm

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