Taking a Walk

I had to take my two dogs on walks this morning. I have a puppy and an older dog, so I have to take them at two different times because of the lengths of the walks and the speeds. I had a lot of time to think and ponder.

I miss my kids (students). I know for many that sounds weird and ridiculous. I know I should just be enjoying my long break and the added sleep. And I am, but I miss them.

I am a teacher. When I quit teaching to stay home with my children, I lost a little of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I feel truly blessed that I had those eight years to devote to my family and their needs. I really raised my babies, but boy did I miss the classroom. Each fall I would feel down and a little sad when I started to see school buses making their routes. Finally my mom witnessed my mood and told me it was time to go back, which  I did. I still listen to my mom.

My profession and the children I service are a part of me. They help define me as a person. Although I’m absolutely exhausted during the school year, I am fulfilled.

So I miss my kids. I miss their laughter and anger. I miss their curiosity and complaints. I miss their hugs and nudges. I also miss the challenge of finding ways to motivate them, teach them, and help them find their individual voices.

I will continue to rest this summer, but my thoughts will continuously return to the children I teach. I will plan and worry, laugh at remembered comments and discussions, conspire with fellow teachers on ways to make next year perfect, and sleep. I will sleep. After all, they exhaust me.

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It finally feels like summer. I have been able to sleep in, go to the pool, and visit the zoo. I also went to a local water park yesterday with my son, and yes it was our first time ever!  It was fabulous and it really felt like we were on vacation somewhere far away, not a few miles from home.

Ironically, all I kept thinking was how expensive it truly is to enjoy what the world has to offer. Guilt, worry, lament, I wish my brain could turn off the constant swirling thoughts. I mean, I work full time and so does my husband, we both have college degrees, and I even teach professional development classes on the side for additional income. Yet, I still contemplated buying the season pass. I realized after careful scrutiny that if we went 3 times the pass was paid for, so just do it! How many more years would my 11 year old really want me to go anywhere with him, let alone sit in a bathing suit with my bag of snacks and sunscreen?

As we were riding home my son looked at me and said, “Thanks for taking me, I had a blast, I can’t wait to go again next week, you really need to go on the Cyclone with me next time!” Then he proceeded to state that he can now say he has been to that particular water park and he rode a rollercoaster. Such an innocent statement but how many kids do not ever get that kind of chance?

Working with students who have families that struggle daily with just surviving has opened my eyes to the plight of so many. (And these people also work full time; they just are underpaid and underemployed.) You wonder why these children are afraid of so much in life, if you never have opportunities to explore the world and try things until you are older, it is scary. Many of our 8th graders are petrified to go to the Ropes Course field trip. They have never climbed on ropes before, let alone ropes that are high in a tree in the middle of the woods, many are afraid of heights, many are afraid of falling, many are afraid of water, bugs, spider webs, and many are just afraid to take risks.

In education we realize the importance of background knowledge or schema development. Experiences are what connect the textbook information to the real world.

Life does not open its doors fully and equally to so many; we must figure a way to change this and maybe we can create a glimpse of the beauty that the world truly has to offer and change lives in the process!



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It’s So Quiet

It’s morning at the Smith house. All is calm, even the two dogs. I think summer has truly begun.

Amy and I taught our last workshop for the summer. It’s so wonderful to meet other dedicated educators who love their jobs and their students. It seemed to go well and the students reacted enthusiastically to our ideas and humor. The class was man heavy, which was new for us so although we are usually very calm going into our workshops, we were a little nervous because of the larger group of gentlemen. But they were wonderful; full of energy, anecdotes and ideas. They cooperated during the activities with excitement and laughter. Wonderful.

ShiShi, our puppy is spaded and recovering. She’s laying around, wagging her tail listlessly. She’s not agitating our older dog, barking, nor begging to be played with. Melanie (my oldest) is working her first job and Brenna is attending summer gym. Audrey is out cold. It’s so quiet and I love it. I think I am actually relaxing.

These quiet moments are so rare. I sit at my kitchen table looking out my bay window. Usually I read and sip my coffee. I feel the need to share this blissful time because I know as adults we have so few and if you’re like me, guilt over everything else I should be doing begins to seep in. I’m not going to let it this morning. I’m going to read my latest romance (guilty pleasure), I will brainstorm lesson ideas and workshop schedules. I will go to the pool and swim, tan, read, watch my baby, and just be. I am so lucky.

Have a great day!

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Real Dedication

It is a beautiful summer Saturday. Lori and I both have graduation parties to attend, it is also Father’s Day weekend, and the weather is finally warm, sunny, and ready to be enjoyed. We are not relaxing at the pool; we are teaching a Professional Development class to other teachers who are not enjoying the gorgeous weather either.

The class is Teaching Students of Poverty at a local university. We taught all day yesterday too. We should be tired and annoyed that we are not enjoying our much needed summer break with our families, yet we are recharged, excited, and planning for additional presentations.

Why? Well we are a little crazy; however, the truth is we love what we do. We are on a mission to help educate every child and provide unconditional love, support, and inspiration to them, so they are able to reach their full potential, no matter what obstacles they face.

So teaching other educators to reach out to these amazing students is exciting. It is wonderful to be in a room full of passionate professionals who share the same goal. The closeness we developed in the two short days was heartfelt. It was magnificent to see grown men brought to tears while talking about their students and the challenges they face because they care so sincerely.

Education is truly a tough profession, especially if you care as deeply as the people we were lucky enough to spend two summer days with.

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After visiting and being inspired by the art museum the students were asked to write a poem about their feelings. This is one from a girl who has more chaos and sadness in her life than anyone should ever have, yet comes to school with a brilliant smile.

The cage around me, it feels like bars

as if I’m locked in a prison

I am trapped and can’t move

I can barely hear a sound

I feel the cold air going through me

I am alone

Trapped in a dark place

Do you know who is sitting in your classroom? Could this be how they feel? Maybe they need you to be their everything? It may be their only chance.


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