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Today,  my husband took our dogs out to the bathroom to take care of business. Twas like most other potty breaks, beginning with Gracie whining at the door, the battle to put her leash on, the trip down the stairs hoping not to run into any other dogs in the narrow hallways, the quest for the perfect poopy patch of grass, and then the clean up.

However, unlike most other potty breaks, during the clean up time, someone driving by decided to take it upon themselves to yell at my husband between the big dump and his walk to the bag station a few feet away.  As this unidentified person drove past they yelled at my husband to “pick that expletive up!”

My husband shared this with me in his ever calm voice while on his way to pick me up while I was walking out the door ready to leave work for the day.  I thought about getting mad, and then just decided that this best represented my day, life, and people, so instead I laughed because after a day like today, laughter is what I needed.

Today has sucked.

For reasons I’m not going to share.  The only important thing to know is that it totally bombed and by God’s good grace I walked away laughing and loving what I do.

After being let go from my job last year I have been fueled by the insecurities of what I did wrong and what might go wrong.  I have been determined to show the world that I can do my job, that I can do it well, and that letting me go was a mistake that no other boss would want to make.

Today I have finally had to face the foolishness and emptiness in this motive as I learned one of the crappiest life lessons EVER:

Sometimes you can work your expletive off.
You can do everything by the book.
You can honor those in charge.
You can even be acknowledge as excelling.
You can do this with integrity.
You can give literally everything you have to do the job right

but one person is going to drive by, see a brief snapshot, make an assumption, and you come out looking like:

the lazy one
the rebellious one
the rude one

I was so angry. So angry today as I watched everything I had tried to build come crumbling down. By the book I knew I still had parents to contact about grades, but quite frankly I wanted the book to go to hell.  I wanted to go home, curl up in a ball, maybe cry, maybe just groan as I fell asleep, dreading the next day of work.

However, by God’s good grace I began my phone calls.

And I had one beautiful, wonderful, hilarious, student pretend to be his Dad when I asked to speak to his parent. Oh my gosh I almost started laughing while still on the phone! I was asking this student “are you sure this is the parent or guardian of . . .” trying to hold in the urge to burst out laughing.  It got even funnier when I called him on his obvious lie, made him hand the phone to his parent, only to end up talking with his younger sister. His sister was not as determined to keep the act up and quickly caved, admitting she was indeed not a grown adult responsible for this student.

I laughed and I laughed while talking with my precious wonderful hilarious student, reminding him to study for his final tomorrow and telling him what he needed to be aiming to make on his exam.  I hung up smiling, loving this student, with the faces of so many others flashing before me.  My heart grew warmer and warmer despite the heaviness of a truly sucky day.

And that is when I finally, finally, gave up on trying to please everyone at this school, maybe in this world.  These other people, they’re just people driving by, making assumptions based on their limited views and personal experiences, and they’re all different and inconsistent, and I can’t keep working and living to please them, because I will never be at peace, and I will never be fulfilled.  Maybe one day they will say great job, but the next they’ll be yelling from their car for me to “pick that expletive up!”

I am here for the students, for these wonderful, beautiful, hilarious, precious students.  For these growing adults with the hearts of children.  My heart beats for them, my service is to them, everything else is just expletive.

And finally, most importantly, I throw off these desires for the ok from others, seeing how God has compelled me to places where I face everything else I try to worship.  I see He brings me to a place where my soul says “all I need is You.”

I see in this place that I truly don’t care where I am, what I do or who I am with, so long as God is there and that HE is for me.

I am thankful that He is challenging me, breaking me, enticing me to come closer into His presence.  I am glad that he lets me see that life is not always fair, that things and people will not always make sense, and that sometimes, yes, you will do everything right and this world is going to yell at you to pick your expletive up. I am glad. So glad, because I can refocus on my home, refocus on my maker, my Father, and I can say: Your will be done.

Your will be done.  Wherever I go, whoever I’m with, whatever I do, your will be done.  I don’t care if I’m homeless, I don’t care if I’m in Houston, Malaysia, the moon, I don’t care if I do or don’t have money, I don’t care if I’m teaching, advocating, parenting, I don’t care, so long as You are with me and that You are for me.  Because if You are for me, everything else and everyone else can drive by all they want, who, who can be against me.

Bring on the rain, the war, the pain, the sorrow, drench me in the sufferings of this world, You are my God.

You hung on a piece of wood, bleeding before those who cursed you.

You gave up heaven to be born in a manger with livestock to welcome you to this world.

You took on flesh and death and said “forgive them.”

You made the way for a gentile named Hailey.

If you are for me, who, WHO can be against me?

I love You and happy early birthday.

I’m alive.

and well…ish.

I feel like I should update this if I want to keep my blog alive, and I want my blog to eventually thrive, so living is a good goal for now.

Thank you for reading this, you are helping me, tell me you read it and I will write you a thank you card.  Seriously.

WELL.  All year I have been working and working and working.  I have come up against more trials than I could have anticipated at the beginning of the year, but they have forced me to grow professionally and I am a much better teacher now than 3 months ago.

I am thankful for the blessing God has given me this year, like my friend in the geometry team.  She is awesome and together we are not only alive, but actually doing well, but mainly we’re just alive.

Sometimes on our really good days we’ll even say we’re kicking ass

but on most days, like today, we’re just happy to survive till Christmas

We’re both first years so… we get each other.

A few weeks ago I went through a random cranky phase where I was convinced that all my hard work was pointless (I called my mom like 8 times that week complaining, so professional right?).

“Why work hard when you can NOT work hard and the outcome seems to be the same?”

or WORSE

“Why work hard when you can NOT work hard and STILL get ahead?”

The real world is confusing, so very confusing.

But finally, FINALLY, on one fateful day, the principal stepped into my classroom.

Things were not going well, comparatively.  The lesson was running as normal but this period the principal was in is my most high maintenance, I love them, but it takes everything in me and more to help this class stay on track.  The principal pulled a seat up next to my students, looked around the room and observed the lesson, then got up and left.

Moments later the bell rang, and I gathered my energy to get my next period started.

Finally lunch came and I ran to my teacher friend and told her what happened.  We sat and speculated for a while, I was totally freaked out.  Do I sound immature? I’m working on it.

After lunch I checked my e-mail before my students returned and I saw that the head honcho had sent me a message.  I took a deep breath, opened up the electronic letter, and almost started to cry.

“Great job”

There was more, not much more, but it is unnecessary to quote.

“Great job…”

oh LAWD!

So much work, so much time, so many tears.

2 words

Great job

Why do I believe in positive reinforcement?

Why do I use positive reinforcement so much in my class?

Why is my whole classroom management based first upon positive reinforcement?

BECAUSE IT WORKS

Great job.

Great job.

Great job.

I stepped away from my computer, I took a deep breath, “its all for you Dad.”

Though I love positive reinforcement

and though it is such a huge blessing to receive some from my boss

and though I’ve been waiting, at times in desperation, for a sign that my work has been on the right track

There’s only one reason, I really do any of this.

Thank you.  It’s all for You.

 

I have been going back and forth for a while now about whether or not I should post another blog entry.  It’s  hard not to picture people reading my entries saying negative things like “Oh no, not this again, insecure really? anxious again? seriously?” Maybe some “not this religious stuff again…” or “clearly we need to pray for Hailey, she has lost her way.”

I have no idea outside of the gracious comments I get from people about what the world (or small portion of) thinks when I write these entries.  I have received some very nice comments, texts, and compliments, to those people that not only take the time to read what I have to say, but actually write me or tell me about it, and thank me for what I write, it is such an honor, I really do mean that.

Sometimes I get a call from my mom, friends or family will be worried about me, or think I’m pregnant.  There is no bun in this oven, I can assure you.  But please don’t worry about me, just pray if what I post indicates I’m struggling.

It has been well over a month since my last entry.  I have made it through the first cycle and I am nearing the third reporting period.  I have been to football games, IDCs, SATs, Cohorts, practices, tutorials, pep rallies, and detentions.  I have had my fair share of bumps and bruises, I have laughed, I have yelled, and I have definitely definitely cried.

I have been learning so much about so many things, time management, student engagement, organization, working with strong personalities (using the polite word), working through extreme emotions, sticking it out, remaining professional, learning when to say no, and more.

I am being stretched to the point where many times I think I am going to snap.

I am being challenged in my view of education. So very challenged.

I have seen and come to the conclusion that the educational system in this country is broken.  In my short time I have not been able to come up with the reason for this dysfunction.

So many questions haunt me as a young educator:

  • Is my content too basic?
  • Is my content relevant to my students future needs?
  • Are my students truly valuing this information, or holding it long enough to regurgitate it?
  • Is more information better for the students?
  • Is higher quality, but less information better for the students?
  • Are my students learning the sequential and logical thinking skills they need?
  • Am I a lecturer?
  • Am I a facilitator?
  • Are my kids motivated, if not why? can I change this?

And finally, as well as most painfully, how much of this dysfunction comes from the educational system, and how much comes from our culture? from home?

I had a student performing poorly in my class at the beginning of the year.  S/he came up to me at one point between classes (never a good time to talk to a teacher btw, super busy transitioning!) to talk about low scores and missed work.  I could tell this student was looking for an easy way out, looking to get me at a time when I was tired and willing to hand the answers over.

I looked this student in the eye and I told him/her “at the rate you are going, based off of the performance I have seen from you, you will not pass my class.”  The students eyes got a little wide, but s/he continued to press about coming in during my planning period to receive tutoring (also not ideal, as that is my planning period, a time to plan, not tutor, unless necessary then I will).  I told the student I would not work harder than her/him but s/he was welcome to come by.

S/he did, and as I suspected tried to get the answers out of me at the end of the day when I was tired. S/he even used the line “My math teacher last year would just tell me the answer if I came and worked and I would get a hundred.”  I did not have the patience nor the time to work with this mindset. I told him/her that if s/he wanted the grade s/he had to do the work.

By the end of my planning period one assignment had been completed and to my surprise, after refusing to hand over the answers the student had a relatively easy time solving the assignment. I told him/her “You have shown me now that you are capable of doing the work, so long as you turn in all of your assignments from now on you should be fine.”

In retrospect I don’t know that my methods of working with this student are ones that I will repeat, but I will say that I had a wonderful moment with this student later on when s/he stayed after school for tutorials for3 hours. That’s right, 3 hours!

For whatever reason this student decided I wasn’t a huge jerk and actually wanted to ask me some questions.  The first was “do all teachers know that they will be teachers in high school?”

This made me chuckle, especially considering I swore up and down that I would never teach.

After answering this question I was quickly asked “So, why do you teach?” A question I love to answer, and a question I am allowing myself the opportunity to answer right now.

I believe that teachers and education, have the ability to change the world. 

I mean this with all of my heart.

But more importantly, I believe that teachers and education have the ability to drastically alter the path of
one person’s life.

I don’t care who you are, male, female, black, white, blue, purple, rich or poor.  As soon as you walk into my classroom, you are equals. There is not one person that is better, there is not one person that is worse, there are only those who are going to choose to work, and those who aren’t.  Your family, your race, your social or economic status can not and will not choose for you, only you can choose to work in my class.  If you choose to work in my class you will do well.  I will do everything in my power to ensure that.

I don’t care how many doors you had open to you before you came into my class, if you come, and you work hard, you will have more opportunities by the time you leave than when you first came in.

Because education does that.  Education opens minds, it teaches people to think, to consider the world around them, question the world around them, care for the world around them.  Education teaches people to work, to solve problems, not ignore them, to push through unanswered questions to find resolution.  Education inspires, it sparks a human into action.  That action could be anything, finding patterns and making generalizations in math and science, creating poetry, refining the political system, starting a business, volunteering in developing countries, traveling the world for research and more.

No baby born into a rich family has any more right or is any better of a baby than one born in to a poor family.  Some may say that poverty is a never ending cycle, to that I would challenge that so is wealth.  If the poor learn a way of living that keep them poor, than the wealthy learn a way of keeping them wealthy.

It is in education that I find the epicenter of equality.

The bridge between races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, religions,  and gender. It is in education where I can once again say it does not matter who you are, where you have come from, or what ways of living you have learned already, here you are all equal, you all matter, you all have potential, and if you work, regardless of where you came from, you have the power to change where you are going.

Will you work? Because I am ready to work, I believe in you, and together, we can.

I believe in education, with all of my heart.

But I doubt in the way that education is functioning in this country. However, who am I to doubt this?  I have little experience, I am young, where are my statistics, my research?

Lucky for you, if you want to disbelieve me, you have all the power to do so, because I don’t have these things…

yet.

But I will.

And watch out for me.

I am determined to change this world, one precious child at a time.

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