Posted in Education

Movie Day Win

We have been testing all day!!! It’s exhausting for all of us!

And I still have one class to “teach” at the end of the day. There’s no way I’m going to maintain their attention during instruction or a new concept.

So I tricked them! I told them that I wasn’t supposed to “just” watch a movie.

To get around it, I made an activity to go with the movie. Then we could all work and relax at the same time.

They bought it! 😂

They even thanked me!!

Now, why did I do this instead of JUST watching the movie? Because without a clear activity or direction, they are CRAZY at the end of the day. Not to mention, unwilling to work with me (not all) and more concerned with being social than their academic success.

I now have a class of students who are actively watching the original Jumanji and completing academic questions to match! Win!

Rolling the dice,

Teaching In Public

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Posted in Education

A Day Teaching Middle School in 25 Doggo Pictures

It’s teacher appreciation week! If you have no idea what teachers go through on a daily basis… you’re probably making decisions for all educators 🤦‍♀️ kidding! But only sort of…

Here’s a look at my day today in middle school (made more understandable by way of doggo photos).

  1. “Do I have to be up this early? I’m comfy with cuddly doggos. Snooze button!!!”
  2. “wait… I can’t be late! I’M THE TEACHER!!!!”
  3. “Must eat quickly!”
  4. “Oh! Hello students! I am wide awake and smiling even though I haven’t finished my coffee! I was almost late today. I was told about a student schedule change 5 minutes ago. I was told about a spec Ed observation in my worst class ten minutes ago. I know you need a smile and to feel important! I am trying my best to be everything you need regardless of my own state of mind or needs.”
  5. “Good morning! It’s time to work on your bell ringer! Please try each challenge and work for the next 5 minutes. We will go over it when time is over. If you are finished before time, please read.”
  6. My face when someone says, “what am I supposed to do?” “I don’t have a pencil.” “They won’t stop looking at me!” “Can you tell him not to touch my paper?” I can continue but, yes, these are SIXTH graders… in flippin’ MAY who don’t have a PENCIL!!!!!!! 🤯
  7. “I’m loving the participation but we need to remember to RAISE OUR HAND so everyone can be heard and be respected.” It’s. Flippin’. MAY!!!! 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️
  8. Start instruction… “why are you out of your seat?” Oh sorry, I’m not supposed to phrase it that way, “I feel disrespected when you get up to sharpen your pencil as soon as I begin instruction. Please go back to your seat and sharpen it at a more appropriate time.”
  9. Mixed emotions when I announce, “here is your notes page. We are going to go through this instructional video and take notes. I will pause the video as we watch so everyone can take notes and discuss the information. Please put your name, block, and date on your paper before we begin.” “Omg! Notes!?!” “Omg! We have to work?” “Can’t we have a free day?” “Why do we have to take notes?” 😳
  10. “So much writing! Why do I have to take notes again?” “Is this a grade?” “Can’t I just start the writing piece without taking the notes?”
  11. “someone is at the dooooooooor!” Even knowing the expectations… at least two students try to answer the door at the same time.
  12. “I’m bored. I mean, I have to pee. Can I go to the bathroom? … what do you mean not now? Ugh!!!!!!”
  13. “Pleas put your chair completely on the floor. I don’t want you to fall.” (I said it four times in ten minutes to the SAME student) “OMG! LEAVE ME ALONE!” (I couldn’t resist saying calmly and without emotion…) “I will if you’re sitting correctly.” And then moved on with instruction.
  14. The same student mentioned above crumples their paper because I won’t let them leave the room. I give them an extra copy. They crumple this copy because they are already behind and think I’m moving too fast because I didn’t go back for them to catch up. So, I give them a third copy and plan to assign them lunch detention. The student visits the counselor then returns.
  15. My face when that student catches up faster than any student who has been there the entire time. 🤦‍♀️ Why couldn’t you do that in the first place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  16. Raised hand, “Yes! What does this mean?” “What time is it? I’m hungry.” 🤦‍♀️😳
  17. My face as I say, “Thank you for raising your hand but that is an off-task question.”
  18. “What’s that in the window!?” My sanity FLYING away!
  19. “Let’s move on! Now that we are finished with notes, you have 20 seconds to put it in the notes section of your binder. (Counting) okay! You should now have your notes away! Let’s change gears to a group project!”
  20. “Group what!”
  21. “Do I get to pick my group?”
  22. “Nope!” 🤪
  23. This is the face I see… them hanging on every word as I explain the project… now that I FINALLY have their attention.
  24. “Wait… it’s that easy?” “Yes!! It is!” They had 15 minutes to plan a presentation for their class about 1 class rule. They were assigned groups and rules. They had to explain one example of following that rule and why it’s important for you to follow it, for your classmates that you follow it, and your teacher that you follow that rule. They present tomorrow!
  25. Bell rings! That means it’s time to go! MUAHAHA! Except!!! I intercept them at the door and make sure they leave one by one so they don’t sprint down the hall and fall on their face.

This is a shortened snippet of my daily life as a middle school teacher.

If you know a teacher, had a teacher, or are human… thank teachers! Check on them too because it’s May and most of us are not okay. We need a break. We need pencils. We need our sanity back!

Appreciatively yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Month

People with mental illnesses are often silenced because others don’t want to hear what they have to say, don’t understand, or their mental illness prevents them from speaking freely (or makes it very difficult).

What do you wish others knew about mental illness? Use your voice to spread awareness and understanding! ❤️

In solidarity,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Education, Mental Health

TV Wisdom and Teacher Reality Check

I won! Sort of.

I won Teacher of the Year (TOY) for my building. I continued and competed against the other TOYs in the district. They then had to pick the top few to continue before picking an ultimate winner.

After doing a lot of writing, agonizing, video taping, editing, revising, and sole searching… I completed an interview in front of nine people.

I ended up knowing half of them, which actually made it more nerve racking. I stumbled my words. I bounced my leg. I did everything in my power to not have a panic attack in the room. I smiled. I looked at everyone even though only one person asked the questions. I tried not to over analyze what their head nods or note taking meant. My brain shut off as I answered a question. When I thought I had answered it, I still had to ask, “can you repeat the question? I want to make sure I answered all of it.” I tried to continue eye contact even thought I wanted to stare at the ceiling.

I. Tried. Everything. I could think of to do my best.

It wasn’t good enough. I got the call saying thanks but you didn’t win. It was worded more elegantly but the main message came loud and clear.

The worst part? I hadn’t realized how much I wanted to win until I was no longer in the running.

I wanted something I could figuratively wave in the faces of anyone who told me I couldn’t, wasn’t good enough, fired me, looked down at me, threatened me, and more. Something that says, “you were wrong! I AM a teacher! And a damn good one too!”

Then, it hit me – tv wisdoms. A few sentences from a tv show turned me around.

Fixed? That’s not a thing. … My job is to give you the tools to get through the day.” -Dr. Iggy Frome, New Amsterdam s1 ep20

I didn’t need fixing. I needed to use my tools.

One of the best tools MY therapist gave me was like a reality check. I’m sure there’s a name for it but I’ve since forgotten.

I’m in a spiral of negativity. In my mind, not winning at the district negated winning at my school. Those people were right. I shouldn’t be a teacher. I should have been fired. They were right to give me an improvement plan. I deserved to have kids that cause me to evacuate my class and then be judged when I had to protect my students.

Reality check.

What’s the truth here? I WAS nominated and chosen as TOY for my building. I had FIVE different students nominate me. I had TERRIBLE school leaders that did not treat me with the appropriate amount of respect and seriousness deserved. I am currently working for school leaders who DO respect me and treat my needs and questions seriously. I won TOY in my second year in my district and my fourth year as a certified teacher (which is SUPER early to win in my area). I did something out of my comfort zone because my school leaders, students, and colleagues believed in me.

The other truth?

I feel like I may have been overlooked for some reason other than qualifications or qualities. BUT part of winning at the building level is interviewing the candidates the following year. SO that means I can help pick the next candidate based on honesty and integrity and influence others to do the same (if it isn’t already).

Oh, the irony… as if my mental health could pick a better time to take a roller coaster… during mental health awareness month. (Yes, I know that’s unfair of me but still not untrue)

Speak out, speak up, and love yourself!

Happy mental health awareness month!

Teaching In Public

Posted in Mental Health

Panic Attack Helpline

These things do happen… I may be able to cope with my anxiety but I still have panic attacks from time to time. I have found three things that help me in those moment.

  1. Manage my breathing – this is my first go-to strategy. Try to slow your breathing. Do the stereotypical, “breathe in… breathe out.” It takes practice and time but it helps me slow everything down and feel more in control.
  2. 5 senses – think of things for each of the 5 senses. It’s a bonus if you can do something with them. For example, I think of my sense of touch – petting my dogs. It’s a mental bonus if I can actually pet my dog as I think of the sensation. Go through every sense and really think about them. It takes your attention away from the attack and helps you ground yourself in the present.
  3. Rule of 3 – think of 3 positives, 2 deep breaths, and 1 goal or thing you can work on related to your current anxiety. This is something I made up for myself and especially works when I have anxiety resulting in overthinking or negative self talk.

What helps you when you have a panic attack or high anxiety?

Dealing with an attack or anxiety? Try the strategies above or below in the comments. If you haven’t already, consider talking with a doctor or family member about your anxiety.

Posted in Mental Health

Anxiety Manifesting in Reality

There’s still stigma attached to mental illness. I feel there’s only one way to combat that stigma – education.

As someone with anxiety, I feel the more I know about it, the more power I have over it. Anxiety is irrational and will be with me my entire life. It’s a friend who doesn’t know when they’ve overstayed their welcome.

Below are ways anxiety has manifested in my life.

Disclaimer – I am not a doctor or medical professional. Do not use this post as a diagnosis but rather to open a dialogue between yourself, your family, and your doctor if you feel you are struggling with mental illness.

Stereotypical symptoms (the true ones) –

  • Panic attacks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irrational thoughts
  • Overthinking

The not as talked about symptoms –

  • Feeling awkward (especially socially)
  • Wanting to be alone
  • Canceling plans
  • Difficulty taking a deep breath
  • Weight on chest
  • Irritability
  • Crying
  • Procrastination
  • Snapping at others
  • “Laziness”
  • Forgetfulness
  • Over/under eating
  • Feeling rushed or out of control
  • Heart palpitations
  • Eye twitching
  • Hands shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Flare up (if you have skin problems like psoriasis)
  • Leg shaking/foot tapping
  • Stumbling over words
  • Stutter
  • Repeating myself
  • Clenching teeth
  • Heart racing
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Finger or pencil tapping
  • Difficulty standing or staying still
  • Difficulty falling asleep and waking up
  • Pushing people away

And more. I’ve had all of these symptoms at times. But what they don’t tell you about anxiety?

If you are able to “control” or understand your anxiety, it can be a strength (at times).

Now that I have gone through therapy and medicine and research and soul searching and… you get the picture… I’m able to use my anxiety to reflect and plan.

I ask myself these questions:

  • What is causing me to feel that way?
  • Is that a valid thought or not?
  • If it’s a valid thought, what can I do about it?
  • If it’s not a valid thought, then what is the truth?

I’ll give you an example.

Earlier today, I was feeling a little antsy, irritable, forgetful, and had a difficult time taking a deep breath.

What was causing me to feel this way? Well, spring break is quickly coming to a close and I still have to finish grading, planning, copying, teacher of the year (t.o.y.) paperwork, new t.o.y video, prepare for the t.o.y interview, and housework. I also realized that I’m almost broke until tomorrow.

Is it valid? Absolutely.

What can I do about it? I spent three hours in my classroom today and finished 2/3 of the grading, all of the planning, and a chunk of the t.o.y paperwork. I have a plan to finish the rest tomorrow except the copies since I have planning first on Monday. As for the no money situation, it’s a valid feeling but I had to remind myself that I already paid my bills, bought groceries, and get paid tomorrow with no need of buying anything today.

This thought process made me feel more in control, validated, and even successful because it enabled me to make a reasonable plan and diminish some of my current stressors.

Knowledge is power. The more we learn about mental illness, hopefully, the more normal it will be to have and talk about.

Powerfully yours,

Teaching In Public

Posted in Mental Health

The Truth about Anxiety

I was diagnosed with anxiety in my early 20s. I wish it had been sooner. It would have saved me a lot of… well, anxiety! Not to mention, depression, self-esteem, and more. Putting a name to this invisible monster actually made me feel validated and normal (my relative normal).

Anxiety is real. Don’t let someone else’s ignorance or lack of understanding diminish your self worth.

You are important. You are worth understanding. What you are experiencing is real!

I talked more about this in my first post but my negative experiences changed my life.

It took college for me to get diagnosed with anxiety. It took two crappy jobs and a terrible principal along with irrationally irate parents (of one of my students) to get me to go back to the doctor. It took heart palpations, daily panic attacks, almost constant eye twitches, lack of appetite, and decreased social interaction to get me to admit and realize how physical anxiety is and to talk to my doctor about medicine. It took a year on medicine and a change of schools to get me to call a therapist. It took me 6 months, my doctor, therapist, and friends to get off the medicine and be released from my therapist.

Sometimes life’s hardest moments are the moments that will change your life. My life is not perfect (I mean, no one is really!) but my life led me to teaching back in my home district and married to a man who loves me with friends who accept me for who I am.

Don’t give up! Allow your experiences to lead you to the best parts of your life even when they feel like the worst.

You are enough. You are important. What you are experiencing is real and yes, there will be people who don’t or won’t understand. Give them time, space, or kick them to the curb. If they’re worth having in your life, they’ll find you worth understanding.

Anxiously yours,

Teaching In Public