Triage

Triage- the process of sorting victims, as of a battle or disaster, to determine medical priority in order to increase the number of survivors.  

Lasts night on twitter it occurred to me that this is what we are currently doing in school these last few days. I know it might sound absurd but let me explain.

There is one student who is undiagnosed but exhibits behaviors of paranoia and extreme dillusional anger. His perception of reality varies day to day. He argues that everyone is being racist or demeaning or calling him awful names, when in fact he is the one doing those exact things. We teachers have to stop his irrational rants and try to help him see other students are not attacking him, while making sure the others are indeed, safe.

As we are dealing with this situation another student who has suicidal tendencies is smacking his head on the steel door frame, got to get to him quickly of course and call for backup.

There is a young student in the office screaming and kicking because of her disastrous home situation, school is the only safe place for her to show her anger. She is only in the 1st grade.

There is an 8th grade student who knows she is leaving the only “HOME” she has ever known where everyone loves her unconditionally. So, she is being as hateful and defiant as she possibly can to make the sadness in her heart seem less sad, being angry is a great defense.

Oh, did I mention this is considered the fun days of school? Ha, not to so many of our students. There are those who are excited for field day with all of the inflatable slides and games, the family picnic day with all the food, friendship, music, and soccer games, field trips to the parks, graduation breakfast and slide show, and final award ceremonies with clap out, but many cannot handle it.

Now do you see why I say we are like a triage unit? Every day we never know what we will walk into. And every night we think about how we handled each situation and lament over all of our decisions.

We love what we do and love our students dearly, but we also worry all summer for them. We pray and hope that our influence from the year makes some kind of a difference. If you read this, will you also pray?


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Ode to Drama

When I say, Drama, I’m actually referring to the middle school emotional drama, not  a drama acted out on stage or in front of a camera. Drama….In middle school it takes on a life of its own, and at the end of the year, well, let’s just say that everyone and anyone anywhere near middle school students should watch out and learn to downplay the action.

Today was field day at our school.  Super Games comes out every year and constructs giant blow up bouncy worlds and games so our kids can let go a just have fun. This is all well and good and I can tell you that the vast majority of our students loved it, but there were a few – both girls and boys, that spent most of the afternoon sobbing and blathering about something. Talk about exhausting.

Student emotions are at an all time high. Our kids are starting to realize that the year is truly coming to an end. Yes, they are happy to not have to wake up and do homework, but it is hitting them that they won’t be surrounded by their friends nor their teachers for close to twelve weeks. Our kids like us. We laugh with them, argue with them, protect them, comfort them, and just plain love them. They know that we enjoy their company (usually) and they know that without us for the summer there will be a huge chunk missing out of their lives. They are constantly asking me if I’ll miss them and what I’ll be doing over the summer.

I watched my students closely today. They were in their element with their friends, with music playing, and energizing activities surrounding them. I have been to field day every year for the past seven years and I can honestly say that this is the first time my kids spent more time on the sidelines staring, glaring, flirting, arguing, threatening, and crying. It was unbelievable. Then I realized something. I have taught many of these same students for three continuous years. I am an important part of their lives. Some of the students travel to their home countries over the summer like Argentina, Mexico, and Peru. They are going to miss their friends, boyfriends, and girlfriends, and teachers. Much of their security is ending on Tuesday when the final bus leaves our blacktop.

I will miss my kids. I’ll miss their smiles and laughter. I’ll miss their lame jokes and constant jabbering. I will also miss their hugs, their secrets, and their daily triumphs. Graduation is Monday night for our eighth graders. I love it and hate it at the same time. I am so proud of these children, but gosh, the halls and the classrooms will not be the same without them. Even the difficult students. I will issue a sigh of relief, but without them, my days next year will be irrevocably different. Oh well… life goes on.

 


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Change is Hard

It is the end of the school year. There are a million things going on at home and at school. There are graduations, award ceremonies, and parties to attend.  It is an action packed time of year. On one hand there is extreme excitement as the summer approaches, but on the other there is sadness that change will occur. It is inevitable, change; sometimes it is for the better, but it is always a nerve-wracking proposition.

As I looked at my own son today at his 6th grade graduation ceremony and clap out, I had mixed emotions. He is our youngest, so elementary school is over for us. Yes, our lives have become more freeing since the kids are now old enough to manage without us having to hover over them all the time, but…it is an ending and with that some loss.

At the same time we just lost a neighbor to a long battle with cancer. He fought long and hard with the bravery of a Marine Veteran. His family will now face decisions and options; they will have to move on. My graduating son and I got to attend a college football game with my neighbor Steve this past fall, it would be Ethan’s first and one of Steve’s last, so paradoxical.

I think that life is all about change and how everyone adapts to it. It is an emotional time, I watch my own students grow more anxious every day. They want to be out for summer, they want the freedom to sleep in and stay up late, but they also do not want the change. It is one of the hardest times of the year; I think I never realized it until this year.

With this thought, I plan to make the most of my summer and time with family and friends. If life is what you make it, I plan on making mine amazing.


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The End is Near

The end is near. That sounds so drastic, so dismal, so depressing. Yet….not so much.

The end of the school year is rapidly approaching for most of us educators. Some have already reached that mighty milestone, but there are others of us still surviving and slogging through each last day. Now that sounds dismal, but it is true.

With six school days left, I continue to have standards I just have to get through. In both of my language arts we are rushing to complete our novels. My sixth graders are loving The Cay and my seventh graders are fascinated with The Hunger Games. Not much of a surprise for my seventh graders but I’m super excited that my sixth graders have found a book they are enthralled with . It has been a struggle to find a novel they could sink their teeth into, but I found it.

My math classes are all assessed. I am so proud of their progress. It was a difficult road, but many of them have made incredible strides and all have gained self confidence in math.

Believe it or not, in the midst of the chaos educators start to look towards the next year. Principals are searching for new teachers to fill upcoming vacancies. Teachers are sending out resumes and filling out applications. Interview committees are made and time is spent after school finding wonderful and creative teachers to fill newly vacated positions. Lessons from the year are mentally scrapped and others are reworked and rethought. Goals are set for the next year and believe it or not, excitement for the possibilities of the following year start to rise. It’s crazy, this cycle, but I see it and live it every single year.

The school year never stops for educators. Like everything else, there are highs and lows, lulls in activity, frenetic activity, and rest. That’s why I love it.

 


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Sorry, But Annoyed

If you have ever read any of our posts you know we are committed to education, children, and inspiring hope through teaching to some of the most awesome, but needy students. So tonight as I talked with my own son about being written up 2 days in a row, yet did not receive any communication from his teacher, I am annoyed.

We kill ourselves daily to go above and beyond to help our students deal with life, anger, disappointments, depression, and anxiety. We build relationships with them that are genuine. I don’t mean just me or even Lori and I, I mean the entire staff. The principal has talked students down from all kinds of disastrous situations, the male teachers have become pseudo-fathers to many of our students, the lunch ladies provide free sandwiches to kids who forget their lunches on field trip day, the Spanish teacher coaches the track and soccer teams just so we can have one, some teachers anonymously pay for student tuition, uniforms, sports fees, one teacher washes students’ clothes so they are clean and buys shoes, soap, & socks for them and so on….so why can’t I even get a call or an email saying that my own son is falling apart?

He is in 6th grade and getting ready to transition to middle school. I teach 6th grade too. Our 8th graders (whom I also teach) are all falling apart because of the same EXACT reason my son is. They will be leaving what they know; they will go to a new school with new teachers, new students, new schedules, and more rigorous curriculums. They are afraid of the unknown and middle school students show anger, sadness, and being nervous in various ways. I know this and that is why I am trying to stay calm, loving, funny, and relaxed with my students. Can’t other teachers do that too?

This is why I am so upset. My son has NO previous record of getting in any kind of trouble. Can’t his teacher see that it is more than just him being obnoxious? If he is out of line BELIEVE me I want him to step up and take responsibility. I want him to be respectful and honest. I WILL NOT find excuses for him, however if I take the time to look at each one of my students’ every day and listen to them and hear what they aren’t saying, can’t I expect the same thing from someone else?

Okay, I vented enough. I apologize for the frustrated post. I just love my students, even when they are driving me crazy. That is one reason they are melting down. They are going to miss me and I am going to miss them. We all get it. Change is difficult. But I also love my son and feel badly that I cannot help him through this better at school. I am hoping someone steps up for him tomorrow; I will repost a positive response if things go well.

 


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