Monthly Archives: November 2008

Gracias

This will only be my third post this month. I know I have been slacking, but I also can’t believe that November is almost over, and Thanksgiving is tomorrow. While at times I feel as though this school year is d r a g g i n g on, at other points it feels like it is whizzing on by.

Tonight Jason and I leave for Disney World, along with my sister. Both of our families are already down there, and we are all planning on spending Thanksgiving together as one giant family, which will be nice. However, it will also be the first Thanksgiving that I can ever remember not being spent at my grandparents’, so I have mixed feelings about that. But I am super excited to spend 5 days away from school and schoolwork and grading and in the place where dreams come true.

I’ve decided to create a list of things that I am thankful for, in honor of Thanksgiving. Lately I have been feeling a little pessimistic, as I am adjusting to my new life as a wife and teacher and adult. Honestly, I have much to be thankful for, and it would be extremely selfish of me to ignore all the wonderful things in my life. So here goes:

I am thankful for my husband, my family, my dogs, my friends, my students, my co-workers, the St. Luke’s family, our new home that is warm and comfortable, good health, never going hungry, being able to pay bills . . .

A hot cup of coffee in the mornings, warm showers, the smoky smell of a fire in our fireplace, our comfy bed, road trips to Boston, the feel of snow in the air, my piano and its willingess to always be played, Top Chef, cookie dough in the freezer ready to eat, chapstick, a bookshelves full of books, Tranquil Mint body lotion, Bloomin’ Bagels every Sunday, Italian food, going to Rome for our honeymoon, early morning sunrises, NPR, the ability to express myself on a blog, music, shopping trips to the mall, my down-filled vest, cozy slippers . . .

This is only the tip of the ice berg, but from the rather trivial to the most important, I truly have much to be thankful for. So enjoy your Thanksgivings, and I’ll be thinking of you from sunny Florida.

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Manic Mondays

Every Sunday night, I get a familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach. As I sit on the couch, either watching  television or reading or grading, the same old nervousness creeps into my body as Monday inches closer and closer. Even as early as Sunday mornings, I am dreading the 5:45 a.m. wake-up call the next day that will pull me out of the warmth of my bed and into the grips of my students.

I am not sure why this trepidation has set in. While Mondays have never been my favorite day of the week, I have never really dreaded them either. And I don’t know if I necessarily DREAD Mondays, now either. In all honesty, they are not much different from any other day of the week (well, except the lovely Friday). Usually Mondays are spent with a bit more review than other days, and the glazed look in my students’ (and some teachers) eyes is a bit more pervasive. However, compared to any other day, the routine is the same, the periods are the same, and my energy spent is the same.

I’m trying to get to the point where I look forward to the start of the week. I am trying to get to the point where I feel really excited about going to school. However, some days I am so stressed out that I cannot help but long for Fridays and dread Mondays. I hope that this calms down after this first year or so, because it really stinks not wanting to go to your job every week. And that’s not why I got into teaching; in fact, it’s the very opposite. I want to teach because I like it – most parts – and I know that some day I could love it. But it’s taking me longer to get there than I would have hoped.

So when your alarm goes off tomorrow morning, and the sky is still as black as night, and you curse under your breath and say, “I can’t believe it’s Monday already,” know that I will be right there with you. And for now, I guess we just need to be grateful that Mondays only come around once a week.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to seventh graders.

Answer: it doesn’t.

I am big on respect. You give it, you get it, it’s as simple as that. Well, almost that simple. You have to earn it, more than others, depending on who you are. As a student, you need to give respect to a teacher. As a teacher, I will respect my students, but they also have to earn that respect as well. I am not going to give my students privileges if they do not earn those privileges. As a teacher, I will do my best to earn my students’ respect, but I also think respect comes with the job. At the beginning of the year, I even termed my rules “Respect Contract,” where students sign their name to a pledge that they will respect me and one another by following the rules.

My students, however, do not have this concept down. They do not respect each other, and some of them do not respect me. Oh, there are some who I have no problems with. They listen, they do what they are told, and I do not hesitate to let them have certain privileges. There are some who just blatantly disrespect me and other students, which I am working on. And there are some who swear they respect me, and consequently others, but their actions say otherwise.

As a middle school teacher, I am struggling with this concept of respect. How do I teach emotional, hormone-charged students, who often live in their own little world, to be respectful of one another? That if someone is annoying you, you do not scream “SHUT UPPPPPP!” at them, or if someone pushes your books off your desk, you do not push their books off their desks, or if someone calls you a name, you do not proceed to call them a WORSE one? I spent almost an entire period today explaining this to a class, in which they proceeded to argue with me about how I don’t understand how annoying it is. I replied that what is annoying is stopping my class every five minutes to tell them to not yell at one another, that responding in the way they do is even more distracting than the original perpetrator. To which, they reply, “But Mrs. Higgins, you don’t get it!”

They’re right: maybe I don’t get it. I don’t get how you can be so wrapped up in your own little world that you don’t understand that you CHOOSE to respond to others, that no one MAKES you push their books off or talk back or yell back or be generally rude. I don’t get how I can take ten minutes of my precious class time to explain to the class how we treat one another and what is not acceptable, and then ten minutes later a student goes and does the EXACT thing I tell them not to. I don’t understand how students can think it is perfectly fine to be chatting while I am teaching, but then as soon as another student does it, it is tattle-tale worthy.

This post makes me sound like I am not understanding or compassionate to my students. I am, I really am. I listen to their complaints and their gripes; I try to be sympathetic to their needs (and sometimes even wants). But I also know that there are days when these studens will have to deal with someone they don’t necessarily get along with, whether at school, in sports, or in the workplace one day. They will also realize that they cannot yell at one another, they cannot put up hissy fits, and they cannot whine and complain until they get their way. I am trying to teach them about respect, because I know that in the end it will benefit them greatly. It is a lesson that needs to be taught.

But, my God, is it a hard lesson to teach.

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