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Monday, March 28, 2016

2015-2016 The year of Zero Budget

At the start of the 2015 - 2016 school year I decided to make a few commitments:

1) I decided to give BACK all my budget for the school year to the superintendent.  I explained that all of my classes would be using recycled or repurposed items (basically trash) as we delved into the new technology standards (anything we could not find in the trash I bought with my own money).

2) I decided to put my students first...
ABOVE all else in my life.
My job as a middle school STEMs educator would come before my own needs...
my husbands...
even our furry baby Finn.
Our Furry baby Finn 
I would make a commitment to each and every one of my students.  I would help them reach the bar no matter what social, emotional or learning issues they may deal with....they were not allowed to fail...it would not be an option.

3) I would cut back dramatically on my endurance racing and instead focus on teaching my curriculum.
I made a commitment that no student would receive a grade in my course that they were not proud of, and that it would be my job come heck or high water to support them on their journey to this goal.

I do not regret a single commitment I made back in August.

Although there were days I was truly exhausted and overwhelmed.
There were days I would cry.  It seemed impossible with the number of students I had to give them the individual attention they needed and that the commitment to do so was making me physically ill.
Lack of sleep, exercise, personal time, along with the stress of meeting the diverse needs of so many students made me feel like a hamster on a treadmill....
there was no end in site.

There were LONG days I spent on the computer giving feedback to over seven hundred sixth, seventh and eighth graders.  My work day at times began at 4:30 in the morning and continued straight through to 7 at night. Every moment (whether spent on the computer editing work, walking around the class giving feedback, holding special lunch period extra help session or running after school clubs) was focused on my students and in truth 75 % of my day was spent interacting with my students. My husband would come home from work and find me eating dinner hunched over my chromebook.  When I was sick I had my chromebook in bed and the Hapara tab open interacting and giving feedback to the students and calling into the sub to let them know who was doing work and who was listening to music on Pandora. School days often came to a close with me falling into bed exhausted...rubbing calming lavender oil into my arthritic hands after 12 hour days spent typing feedback...this is what happens when you commit to a paperless classroom.

I would like to say that as the term comes to a close all of my students earned a B- or better.

but I can't...

Ten students earned a C or a D....
and
A handful of students did not have the modifications necessary to benefit from my class...

It is the few who fell between the cracks that I can't get off my mind....
you may say
Gosh that is only a small percentage...you teach over 700!
but
what if that small percentage
included
your
child?

This school year has been hard for me
I found myself so very tired at times...
so overwhelmed...
I never took it out on the students...
but
some days I felt like I was an actor on a stage
playing the role of me
and it was just a Saturday matinee...
not as big of a deal as a Friday night show...
sigh
I had nothing left to give after a day of teaching
nothing to my husband
our friends
my Finny
not even me....

Don't believe the old saying
"Those who can't...Teach"
I can do anything I put my mind too...
I have competed in endurance events and won when most people could not even make it past the starting line
and many of these events I did when I was very very very sick...

I have carried out every commitment I made in my life
even when it would have been easier to abandon them...
even when I had told no one...
so in the end I could have just walked away...

I can do anything
and I can do it all with
grace
honor
and
integrity

I teach
it is my choice
not a fall back
not because I can't do anything else....
I can do ANYTHING
I am a superhero

I
am
a
TEACHER

but

what about the handful?
I can't stop thinking about
them.....