Tag Archives: teaching

Five reasons why today is a good day to be me

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1.  It’s Friday and I’m not at work.

I am a teacher and am on spring break.  I really don’t think any further explanation is necessary, do you?

teacher spring break

2.  Spring has sprung!

I’m not a fan of winter.  Or cold.  The first snow is kind of exciting, but then I’m done.  This winter seemed to have been especially long because we had NO SNOW DAYS off from school.  Can you imagine this atrocity? The only time we received a good amount of snow was on the weekends.  What good did that do us?  None, I tell you. Of course, we could have had 10 million feet of snow like Boston.  No, thank you.

winter is over

3.  The sun is shining.

I know you may think this is a repeat of number 2, but alas, you would be mistaken.  Just because it is spring in Kansas, does NOT mean the sun would be shining.  We have our fair amount of rainy, cloudy days in spring.  Sometimes we even have SNOW. A couple of years ago we had snow in MAY.  That’s just not right.  However, today the sun is shining, birds are singing and the future looks bright.

future looks bright

4.  It’s March Madness!

Not only is it March Madness, but my two favorite teams play today–The Wichita State Shockers and the KU Jayhawks! I have been hearing some smack about their mascots–the WuShock and the Jayhawk.

house united

I don’t understand this hatred because frankly there are much worse mascots.  Consider Xavier’s blue blob:

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Or let’s take a gander at Delta State’s Fighting Okra:

fighting okra

I don’t want to hear anymore about the ridiculousness of the WuShock and Jayhawk because your view is unfounded.

The only bad thing about this tournament is that WSU and KU are on a crash course to play each other this weekend. If they both win today, then they will play each Sunday and one team will be eliminated soon into the tournament. This match-up has been long awaited by many people in our state of Kansas. I would like to see them play each other, but not in these circumstances. The only thing I can say is let the best team win!

5.  God loves me.

Once again, this needs no further explanation.

So what makes a good day for you?

Who are you rooting for in the NCAA tournament?

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Happy First Day of School!

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Today is the first day of school. To be honest, I haven’t been too excited about the start of school. School means alarm clocks, endless lesson planning, infrequent bathroom breaks, gulping my lunch, and having to wear real clothes and shoes instead of t-shirts, shorts, and flip flops.

But last night I had a wake up call as to why I teach.

Last night was Back to School Night when parents and kids come to school to meet their teacher and drop off their school supplies. I am a Title I Reading teacher and I offer a Reading Workshop for parents and kids during the evening. Kids have some “make-it and take-it” projects to do while I provide parents with information on how to help their children become better readers.

I had several parents come with their kids. While I do enjoy talking to the parents (really!), I have to admit I like the kids a wee bit better.  (No offense, parents!)  The kids just crack me up.

Most kids, even if I already know them (which I usually do because we are a small school), come in my classroom a little shy.  But it doesn’t take long for them to warm up as I show them pictures of my family and pets and ask them about their new teachers and school supplies.  Backpacks are an important topic, especially to the younger kids.  By the way, Transformers and Frozen seem to be tied for first for Most Popular Backpack.  (And for those who aren’t up on popular trends, Frozen pertains to the newest Disney animated movie, not the temperature).

The kids soon are very comfortable in my classroom as they explore my reading tent (a $3 garage sale find!) and my stuffed book characters such as Clifford, Curious George, and Horton ($5 Kohl’s finds!).  They are soon informing me of such things as to how their baby sister eats dog food and the like.

I had two new young friends who colored beautiful pictures and then bestowed them upon me as gifts, which will proudly be displayed by my desk so I can look at them during the year.

Kids.  That’s why I teach. I can handle the early morning alarm, the necessity of wearing clothes I have to iron, the reduction in the amount of coffee I drink because I don’t know when I’ll get a bathroom break, and all the politics that seems to overshadow education these days because of the kids.

Kids are funny, forgiving, excited to learn, and are just happy to be in the moment. Isn’t that the way we should all be?

Happy First Day of School, everyone!

Marti Kindergarten edit

The Caffeinated Ginger with her kindergarten teacher on the first day of school.

Don’t go, Summer! I’m not done with you yet!

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I have to go back to work next week. NEXT WEEK! Seriously–where DID the summer go? It seems like I was just packing up my classroom and skipping merrily out the door into the sunshine, and now it’s time to go back. That fact is really messing with my mojo, people.

I did have an enjoyable summer break, and a productive one at that. I repainted most of the interior of my house. I finally got something hung on the wall over the stairway after living in this house almost 11 years and the wall is so thankful it’s not naked anymore. I cleaned out cabinets, reorganized drawers, and even had the gumption to vacuum under my bed. (I’m embarrassed to disclose how long its been since THAT has happened.) I even planned and held the First Annual Caffeinated Ginger’s Gab and Grub Fest at my house for several of my girlfriends, which was fun indeed. However, there are some things I did NOT get done since the school doors closed near the end of May.

1. I did not train myself to become a morning runner.

I work out several times a week. I run, bike ride, and take a strength training class at the YMCA. But I do all of these things in the p.m. hours. I often don’t run until 8:30 or 9 p.m. at night when the temperature cools and the mosquitoes and toads come out to play.

My goal this summer was to train myself to become one of those irritating people who get their workout done before most people have had their first cup of coffee. My reasons for wanting to do this was because during the school year there are lots of activities in the afternoon and evening hours that interfere with my exercise time. Also, I’ve been wanting to do some races and most of those take place in the morning, so I wanted to train my body to know that no, it won’t keel over and die if it is put in motion before dusk.

I belong to a women runners’ forum on Facebook and I received wonderful advice from them about ways to train myself to get my run on early in the day. But it still didn’t happen. I really wanted to, but every morning the smell of coffee and the lure of enjoying lounging in my pj’s while reading the paper and watching the bird life in my backyard was just too much.

I am weak…so, so weak.

2. I did not get all of my library books read.

Every summer I have a long, tall list of books I want to read. I read for pleasure during the school year, too, but that time is regulated to only bedtime. During the summer, I have more time to read–on long car rides to vacation destinations, in the waiting rooms of doctors and dentists for routine examinations, while sitting in my camping chair at the lake, and on my back deck with a glass of cold iced tea. But I still don’t get everything read. I have a huge stack of library books on my nightstand that I haven’t cracked open, plus several more on my Nook and Kindle  that I haven’t enjoyed. Some of those library books are going to have to be returned to library unread and that is exceedingly tragic.

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3. I didn’t get that one drawer in the kitchen reorganized.

You know the drawer I’m talking about–we all have that one (if not two or three) drawer where it’s treacherous to put your hand inside because you never know if all your fingers will still be attached when you pull your hand back out. Well, it still looks like this:

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It is perilous territory, indeed. With pizza cutters, pastry cutters and steak knives living in this drawer, I’m surprised all of our phalanges have survived. What can I say–we like to live dangerously.

4. I did not get Bruno trained to fetch me cups of coffee.

This was truly my biggest and most important goal of the summer.  Bruno and I spent lots of morning time on the back deck drinking coffee this summer.  Me in a chair, Bruno on my lap, and coffee in my hand.  Very comfy–until my coffee cup runs dry.  The perfect situation would be if someone would go fill up my coffee cup so I wouldn’t have to disturb this idyllic setting.  Since my kids are usually still in bed, this chore should fall to Bruno.  But being a dachshund, he is just a wee bit too short to reach the coffee pot.  The solution would be to build some sort of step system for him to use to reach the coffee and creamer.  I guess that will go on next summer’s to-do list.  Until then, Bruno can just look cute, which is what he does best.

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Au revoir, summer!  Until next year…

goodbye summer

The Truth About Teachers and Summer Break

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Disclaimer:  I want to clarify that the following opinions and experiences are mine and mine alone. Teachers are not all created equal nor do we have equal job or life responsibilities.  So if you are a teacher, please take the following tongue-in-cheek.  Relate to the shared experiences.  For those opinions and experiences that don’t match with yours, feel free to say that the Caffeinated Ginger simply does not know what she is talking about.  I can take it. We gingers were born with thick skin.

There is always lots of discussion about the biggest job perk of teachers:  Summer Break.  Now before you yell, “I KNEW it!  They are only it for the three months of sleeping late and wasting numerous hours on the Internet and Netflix!,” let me tell you that the main reason I became a teacher is because I enjoy working with kids (most of the time) and I believe that teaching is a God-given talent that was bestowed upon me (most days).  However, having summers off was also one of the reasons I went into the profession–not because I wanted several weeks to “do what I want,” but because my duties as a mom come before my duties of a teacher and I wanted to be able to be home with my own kids when they were not in school.

I will admit that once 3:25 p.m. hits on that last required work day of the school year, I am OUT of there–don’t block my exit because you are likely to be run over.  In fact, on the last day of this school year, a huge thunderstorm hit right at quitting time.  Torrential downpour!  Lightning!  Thunder!  Most sane people would have waited the storm out before leaving the building.  However, “sane” is not a word used to normally describe me, so I put a shopping bag on my head and a garbage bag over my stuff I was taking home with me and headed out into the storm.

Marti Storm

I have no shame.

The first few weeks of summer break, “school” is not a word that is allowed to be uttered in my presence by my family. They know that saying the “s-word” can cause instantaneous death–or at least a dirty look from me.  My lanyard with my classroom keys is put deep into a drawer.  I do nothing school-wise.  No searching on Pinterest for classroom decorating ideas, no spending hours on Teachers Pay Teachers trying to find fun learning activities for my students, no reading education-related books. No, no, no.

During those initial weeks, that’s when I get started on my “List.”  The List is posted on my refrigerator and contains those “to-do” things around the house that I don’t have time to get to during the school year.  Lots of home improvement projects, some craft projects, errands, dental and doctor appointments, etc.  This summer’s list contained lots of painting.  Lots and lots of painting.  I am painting a large portion of the interior of my house and I. am. sick. of. it.  Ugh. Seriously–I could just throttle whoever put THAT on The List.  Oh, that was me.  Nevermind.

I also do some decompressing such as lunching with friends, reading some of that stack of library books that has been growing, going to the lake, and yes, spending some time surfing the Web and watching mind-numbing shows and movies on Netflix.

Then July 4 hits.

back to school

July 4 is the half-way point of summer break.  July 4 is the summit, the pinnacle, the apex.  After that, it is a very quick downward slide, or avalanche if you will, and the next five weeks or so seem to go by at lightning-speed until once again, the new school year begins.

Contrary to popular belief to those outside the academic world, even though I am not contracted to report back to work until August 11, that does not mean that I don’t start working on the new school year until then.  That would be suicide. Just this morning I spent time on the working on classroom decorations that will make my classroom an inviting place for my students.

I am a Title I reading teacher and my job is to work with those students who are below grade-level in their reading skills. We do diagnostic testing at the end of every school year to find out what each student needs to work on, so I already know what students I will be working with next school year as well as exactly what skills they are lacking.  That means that my mind is already starting to formulate and construct new lesson ideas to help make my students successful readers.

To keep my teaching license and also to move up on the salary schedule, I am required to take graduate level college courses. Next week I will be in the role of student instead of teacher as I take a class (at my own expense) to (hopefully) learn to be a better educator.  I am excited about it because of the possibility of learning new ideas to implement in my classroom and also because I am taking the class with a teacher friend of mine and we are already planning what restaurants to eat at during our lunch breaks.  Learning burns calories, you know?

Around the end of July, I will dig those classroom keys out of the dark recesses of the drawer and head back to my classroom.  At the end of each school year, we are required to dismantle our classrooms–bulletin board displays come down, chairs and desks are stacked into a corner, computers are unplugged and covered with garbage bags to keep out dust, and everything that is on the floor (area rugs, boxes, etc.) have to be put up on the tables.   Of course what has been dismantled has to all be put back together, so I will reposition everything in the classroom, start redecorating, and getting ready for the beginning-of-the-year open house and reading workshop that I present for parents.

game on

I am fortunate that I don’t have to work another job during the summer.  Several teachers take a second job during the summer (and even during the school year) to make ends meet.  There are also teachers who teach summer school so their summer break is significantly shorter than mine.

And you know that paycheck I get during the summer?  I am not getting paid for my time off.  I am salaried and my district is helpful enough to divide that salary in 12 equal monthly payments instead of paying me in 9 payments and making me forage for nuts and berries during the summer.

As you can see, the “three months off” is a myth.  Do I have extra time during the summer?  Yes.  But also do I often put in over 40 hours a week during the school year? Yes.  Do I often bring work home with me?  Yes.  Do I often suffer insomnia because I’m thinking about how to better reach and teach my students?  YES.

I will not lie that I enjoy having my summer “off,” even though it is not completely school-free.  However, once August comes, I am ready to go back.  I miss my students, my colleagues, the routine, and getting goosebumps when I am a part of kids experiencing success.  That’s why I’m a teacher.

teaching matters

Preschool Ponderings

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I work as a reading interventionist in an elementary school.  One of the perks of my position is that I get to work with preschoolers for about an hour each day.

If you have been around the 3- and 4-year old set, you know that they are a special breed of little people.  They are hilarious, constantly wavering between wanting to still be baby and a big kid at the same time, but most of all they are honest.  They have no filter–they just call it like they see it. They are either building you up or tearing you down.  No malice or hurt intended; they are just being candid about the situation.

Here’s a few preschool ponderings from the last school year:

 

Preschooler: Are you a grandma? 
Me: No, I’m not a grandma. 
Preschooler: Well, you look like a grandma.

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.  So this is how they view me?

old lady

 

After finding out I have a son named Jack, a preschooler asked, “Does he have a beanstalk? Does he have golden egg?”

Sorry, small preschooler, I WISH he had a golden egg (or ten) because that would make the question of how we are going to pay for his upcoming college education null and void.

 

While doing diagnostic testing:

Me: You are sooo smart!
Preschooler: That’s because I have 27 brains and they all work at the same time.

Could I borrow one?  My one brain hasn’t worked at 100% capacity since I first gave birth a couple of decades ago.

brain

 

From the mouth of a preschool boy to me: “I love your necklace. I love your shoes. Why, I just love everything you’ve got.”

Why, thank you.

 

Now, be truthful….do you have such fun conversations at your job?