Friday, December 29, 2017

How Can It Nearly Be New Year's Already?


How can it already nearly be New Years??? I feel like this year just started!! And, sure, a lot has happened this year but I haven't accomplished much of what I wanted to accomplish! To that end, today I will be blogging about my goals for 2018. I don't really want to call them New Year's Resolutions because I have a...umm...sketchy track record when it comes to keeping New Year's Resolutions but I have some goals that I want to achieve. Are my goals similar to your goals? Are your goals better than my goals (if they are, please don't hesitate to share your goals with me). So here we go! 

Goal #1: (picture is from last year's yearbook)

Pass off the yearbook to someone else. I've gotten myself in way over my head when it comes to all the things I'm trying to do at school - yearbook, Beta Club, team leader, SIC, TOY, etc - and with family illnesses and other things outside of school, something's gotta give. I want to focus more on Beta Club and creating engaging lessons for my students so I'm going to be trying to find someone else at my school to take on the yearbook next year. Ideally, I hope someone will want to "shadow" me this semester to find out exactly what yearbook takes before they take the reins themselves next year! 

Goal #2: 

Be better about blogging. I really want to build my platform (and not just so I can find a publisher for my first-year teaching book) and I know a way to do this is through blogging but we all know that I am not the best at remembering to blog or setting aside time to do so. My intention this year is to blog 3x a week and also have a better social media presence. I have the Twitter, the Instagram, the Pinterest...I just don't know how to effectively use them. I'm hoping to learn! I bought a $35 ebook that has helped me...not at all. So I'm hoping that in 2018, I will become better at social media and my blog.

Goal #3: 

Continue to create engaging, thought-provoking lessons for my students. I've tried to do more student-centered learning this year (stations, projects, etc) but it's super easy to fall back into the rut of PowerPoint and lecture. Right now, with my dad being really sick, I don't have lots of time to commit to creating new lessons but I hope to continue to improve on this. Of course, as soon as I have all my 6th grade lessons down to a science and fully engage-able, they'll probably move me to 8th grade. ;) 

Goal #4: 

Return to Harry Potter World!!! This is a lame goal, I know, but it's my goal nonetheless. I bought an annual pass last June and have only been the one time. I'm hoping to get out there at least once in the spring and again in the summer but we'll have to see. Timing is hard. And the money thing...even though I don't have to pay for tickets, a hotel room for one ain't cheap! 

Goal #5: 
Finally adopt a dog. I really think this could be the year. I would maybe like to get my feet wet by fostering more first. And it could be that I just continue doing training type things at the shelter (I really want to get to the point where I'm training commands to long-term pups to make them more adoptable) and Belle remains an only child but we'll see! My plan for the immediate future is to put in a fence (I'm waiting for my tax money but then I should be able to get one, yay!) and then be open to adding a new family member. There's a little pocket pittie currently in one of my favorite rescues that I have my eye on...but I can't even think of adding a dog to the family while my dad is sick.

Goal #6:

Sell Norwex. This is something that I have wanted to do for months now and the timing just hasn't been right. I really love their products and believe in the cost-saving, healthy mission. Plus, apparently you really can earn like $500 a month with just one party a week! I do not know that I will be good at selling Norwex but it's something else that I really want to try. It's getting out of my comfort zone. I'm trying to be bolder! :) 

So those are my main goals for the year (not mentioning the regular goals like losing weight or exercising more). How about you? What are your goals for 2018? Probably better than mine. Sound off in the comments and let me know! 

For now...that's a wrap! 

Monday, November 27, 2017

All Too Overwhelmed

I'm just coming off a 3-day holiday - Thanksgiving. Add that to the weekend and I've technically had five days off in a row. That should be a lot, right? Plenty of time to catch up on sleep, binge-watch some TV, visit with family, get some serious R&R. Right? 


I feel as if I didn't get any relaxation over the break and as I think about what's coming in the days ahead - those three weeks until a very short Christmas break - I am beginning to feel as if I am drowning. 

Teaching is a hard enterprise and a job that doesn't end when the students leave. All teachers know this and anyone who knows a teacher knows this. It's stressful sometimes and overwhelming. My last post was on earning the holidays but the holidays aren't often enough. The weekends aren't enough. It's hard sometimes to feel as if you've caught up on enough sleep and enough just downtime

For me, I almost constantly feel as if I'm tired. I think about the cool project/teach-yourself lessons I have planned for this week and hope that they actually work because I don't have a backup. I spent my Sunday fine-tuning that project lesson, searching out websites for the students to use (because god forbid they actually research on their own), and making plans for this week. 

I'm the yearbook adviser and deadline is in less than 3 weeks. There's not a single page that's done - and we have 20 spreads due. Even the backgrounds aren't done. I need quotes and pictures and names and captions and I'm getting stressed out just thinking about it. 

Beta Club convention is in a little over a month and we sure aren't ready. At least we finally got the details pulled together for the trip. But we need to practice for Quiz Bowl, study for the academic competitions, decide if we're making a T-shirt, finish the set for the Living Literature competition, and finalize travel plans.

I won Teacher of the Year (which I'm very proud of) but it means extra work on top of everything else I'm doing.

Add to all that the regular struggles of being a person - hours spent chatting with AT&T about my Internet, worrying too much about what other people think about me (and unable to stop doing that, no matter how much I try), trying to be social and go to parties, yard work, and making sure that I visit my parents frequently - and life is pretty tough.

My job and life are often rough and tough but I'm trying to stay focused on getting work done and getting it done well. And hopefully, in January, life will be simpler.

Sorry that today was a lamentation post but I had a lot on my mind. Thanks for reading! 

For now, that's a wrap.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thank the Lord for holidays!

Am I right? Thank God for holidays seems to be the mantra of teachers right about now. I don't know about you, but I know that I barely made it to 3:45 yesterday without screaming at a another my the wall...

People who aren't teachers say "look at those teachers and all those days off they get for holidays! Look at them not working on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving! They get all those summer days off and a whole week-and-a-half for Christmas and don't even get me started on Martin Luther King, Jr. day!! Why do they get so many holidays?"

Girl, please. Don't even get me started.

My fellow teachers and I have earned these three days off that will go by in the blink of an eye.

How, you ask? Probably mockingly. Step back - I'm about to educate.

I earned this holiday by taking your child's disrespect when I asked him to sit down.

I earned this holiday by clearing my schedule for a parent conference with you three times and you never showed.

I earned this holiday by differentiating instruction so your child and yours and yours and yours can all learn the best way possible.

I earned this holiday by bending over backwards to accommodate all the parent wants me to do for their child who doesn't lift a finger.

I earned this holiday because of the 30+ kids in my classes who all want to chat and all want to be loud and don't believe in authority figures.

I earned this holiday by selling tickets at basketball games on a Saturday...all Saturday afternoon...

I earned this holiday by tying corsets at a pageant on a Saturday evening.

I earned this holiday by answering your emails on the weekend and at night because you want extra credit for your child who does not do work.

I earned this holiday by showing up to school even when I feel like crap.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg for me. Don't get me started on what other teachers have done to earn this holiday.

"So why do you do it?" is the common question asked after I (or any teacher, although most are probably nicer than me) unload on some poor, unsuspecting soul who complains about teachers and holidays.

This particular holiday is the perfect example of why I do it.

I teach because I'm thankful for the kid who tells me that my class is his favorite (well, mine and Coach Plumley's).

I teach because I'm thankful for the kid who tells me that he'll probably finish Animorphs #2 (a book series I got him started on) over Thanksgiving break and want the 3rd one when he comes back - and then he got super excited when I told him Jake became a Controller in book 6 and Tobias was the narrator of book 3, and Ax comes in book 4...LOVE! 

I teach because I'm thankful for the 3rd period class who put together a turkey costume last-minute and won the Turkey Strut (and looked darn good doing it and had a blast).

I teach because I'm thankful for the boy who always says "Bye, Ms. Higdon," when he leaves in the afternoon.

I teach because I'm thankful to have a job that I enjoy doing.

I teach because I'm thankful for my colleagues who are awesome and wonderful and fun to laugh with.

I teach because I'm thankful for the Beta Club kids who spray paint their hands green while trying to make bushes for their Living Literature competition.

I teach because I'm thankful for administrators who go above and beyond for their teachers.

I teach because I'm grateful to be a small cog in the education wheel that will hopefully set some of these kids on the path to success.

Do I really appreciate holidays? You betcha. Are some days long and hard? You betcha.

But I guarantee you - there's not one teacher who's in this just for the holidays. And so while, yes, we did definitely earn our holiday breaks, we wouldn't miss a day with our children for the world (okay, well, maybe like a trip to Harry Potter World but you know what I mean.)

Happy Thanksgiving!! Eat some turkey!! 

For now, that's a wrap!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Beta Blues

I'm a co-sponsor of our Junior Beta Club at my school. And I love it. I don't get to do as much with it as I would like since my plate is pretty full with Yearbook and being a super awesome Team Leader (if I do say so myself) but I enjoy doing as much as I can with the Beta Club.

But right now, I'm having the Beta Blues. We're trying to go to our state convention in January and it just doesn't look like it's going to happen because of the cost. Sure, sure, we're a bit behind the 8 ball when it comes to figuring all this stuff out but life's just so crazy! When we finally got around to getting costs of transportation and lodging and all that fun stuff, the amounts floored us!! 

See, the problem is we've got only about 14 kids that can go. If you go with a charter bus company (the convention is in Myrtle Beach, about 4 hours away) the price tag was about $400. ACK!! What parent is going to spring for a $400 trip? Not to mention that with that price tag, our parent chaperones are probably going to disappear and quick. So we contacted another travel company and they said, "well, hey, we have this other school going with a small group, why don't you combine with them?" Genius, we said!!! 

Still, the price tag was about $300. There's weeping and gnashing of teeth over here in Greer, let me tell you. What would be ideal would be if the parents who are going can just drive the other kids with a waiver from their parents. Then the trip wouldn't be that bad at all! We're still waiting on the district to hear if that's acceptable.

And now we've found out that that other school is backing out. So we're back to our original $400. Looks like we won't be going to Beta Convention unless a miracle cross your fingers, 'kay? 

I mean, come on. An early Christmas miracle isn't too much to ask, is it? 

For now...that's a wrap.

Friday, November 10, 2017

For the Love of a Book, Week 5

I know, I know. You've missed my weekly "For the Love of a Book" series. You don't have to tell me. :) I've missed it too. I'm really bad at blogging during the school year. I'm working on it! Today's "For the Love of a Book" is a little bit different in that it isn't necessarily looking at a certain book that I'm recommending. I want to share with you how I'm instilling the love of a book into my sixers (at least some of them), one chapter at a time.

You know that I love Animorphs.

I firmly believe that this is a great series to hook students on. It's got action, it's got witty dialogue, it's got aliens and kids turning into lizards and eating spiders. Does it get much better than that? (And if you read that in a Chandler voice, kudos to you).

Anyway. Usually, each year I read this book to my students during FLEX time, which is like a homeroom. This year, we didn't have that so I'm reading a chapter a week on Mondays for their starter. At first, I was worried they wouldn't like it so I prefaced it with an explanation of how kids are always disgusted at having to listen to a book and by the end of it, they're begging for more. I figured maybe, if I was lucky, I would have one kid who liked it.

My kids love it. Each Monday, when I'm finished with the chapter, they BEG for more. "Don't stop!" "Keep reading!" These are constantly shouted out, no matter how many times I tell them that every chapter ends on a cliffhanger. But hey - they're invested!! 

Two kids are now on book 2 after having borrowed my extra copies of book 1. One kid is reading Alternamorphs each day in homeroom. One kid used the characters as examples in his English class. 

I love reading it aloud. I love Animorphs. I love Jake, Marco, Rachel, Cassie, and Tobias. I love Elfangor and Ax and the hirac delest. But even more than that, I love that my kids are loving the book. Even the most die-hard "I hate reading" kid is into it.

And that's my goal.

Building literacy, one block at a time.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Parent Time!

Sometimes, the kids aren't even the hardest part of teaching. It's not the paperwork, either, although there definitely is a lot of that. It's the parents. 

You know I'm right.

The worst parts, sometimes, are the parents who are in denial or who think their child is God's gift to man and physically incapable of doing wrong. Sometimes, the parts of teaching that I dread the most are parent phone calls when the child has done wrong. They usually go something like this:

"Hello, is this the parent/guardian of Blank? (you can never be too sure if their last name is the same as their child's or if they are the parent/aunt/uncle/grandma/great-grandma, etc)...yes, this is Michelle Higdon at Greer Middle School, So and So's Social Studies teacher, how are you?...unfortunately, I'm having to call to let you know that so and so received a (insert consequence here) for (insert behavior here)..."

Sometimes, the parent is on board with you and the consequence. I called home for a disrespectful student on Friday - not what I wanted to be doing at 5:00 on a Friday - and the grandmother chewed him out on the phone. Did it do any good? I don't know. I guess we'll find out tomorrow. These are the good results though, because at least the parent is trying.

Sometimes, the parent just asks what the referral will result in and then says "thank you." No "I'll talk to him" or "I'm sorry." Nothing. I called home to a parent earlier this week and all I got was an "oh, wow." Yes, thank you. Thank you for dealing with it.

Sometimes, the parent believes the child and not the teacher. Earlier this week, I called home to inform a father that his daughter had been late to class 2x and the next time would be a referral. He was really supportive on the phone. Later that afternoon, he called me back and left a voicemail that his daughter had told him she was only late because she walked to class and everyone else flat-out ran and if she didn't run, she would be late.

Yeah. Because we totally allow 300+ 6th graders to run to class. Duh! 

Sometimes, the parent is emailing or calling and initiating the conversation on their own because their child is struggling or failing the class and it must be my fault because their child is brilliant and focused and how dare they fail Social Studies? Listen, parent, you don't want me to tell you exactly what your child is like in class. Your child may be the sweetest child on the planet (and I am thoroughly happy that these parents actually care enough to contact the teacher, don't get me wrong) but that doesn't mean their failing grade is my fault! 

Whew. Parents kind of make me crazy. This Tuesday, my team and I are having a Parent Conference Night (because we must be crazy) and are meeting with 14 parents back to back. 15 minute conferences. It'll be crazy but I'm looking forward to it because some of the parents who signed up are parents of good children and it'll be nice to sing praises instead of state condemnations for a change.

The IEP meeting and other parent conference I have scheduled for that day? Not looking forward to those as much...but they're part of the job! A job that, even on my worst days, I wouldn't trade for the world.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Whew! Made It Through Week One!!

To the creator of the above meme, I say "Amen, sister." Whew! I am exhausted!! But week one is over! Praise the Lord! Has it been crazy for everyone else? I know I missed Wednesday's blog post because I was so darn tired and busy! 

The first week back has been awesome. I've got really good (albeit chatty) kids and some seriously adorable little boys and girls. I mean, seriously. They. Are. Cute. I've got some that already drive me nuts (a little hyper boy in last period and a kid in 1st period who has a story for EVERY sentence that comes out of my mouth come to mind) but who doesn't have annoying students? Thankfully, I don't seem to have any really bad kids (knock on wood).

Flexible seating has gone AMAZING. I gave the kids free choice from Day 1 and they've done great. Only a couple kids have had their seats moved and they've straightened up pretty quickly. They're using the seating correctly. I even have the mats stored and they take them out if they want them. I'm going to just post some pictures from today's homeroom (that's why most of them are reading) so you can see and then I'm going home! 

How cool is that? I love it. Please leave me a comment! Have a good weekend!

That's a wrap!