June 7, 2018

Why the last day of school is like a bad breakup...

EACH YEAR.

Each. freakin. year.

Around June, I have to end things with a classroom full of people that I have invested 9 months, 40+ hours a week in.

Who love me back just as much as I love them.

Who delight in our time together each day.

Who trust me.

Who I need more than they'll ever need me.

And each year, on the last day of the school, the world just goes on while I drive home and bawl like a baby to my mom on the phone about how amazing my students are and how I'll never see some of them again and how it's not fair that I have to go through this each June and no one cares and it's an endless vicious teaching cycle and people don't realize the bond we have and I'm sad and I'm fuss and I need ice cream and next year they will call someone else their teacher and then all of a sudden they'll be 16 and driving and they won't even remember me and...

you get the picture. It's a spiral.

To the world, us teachers celebrate with a bang of confetti on the last day! We are ready to dip our toes in the pool of summer while eating bonbons and sleeping til noon.

^^while some of that is true, it's not so easy to just peace out on the last day.

The last day of school is like a BAD breakup. It's like those breakups that you didn't realize were coming. The ones where you see them for the last time in your current state (in my situation, they are my students) and you say goodbye like you are supposed to but you don't realize how permanent that is this time. How the next few weeks will be so weird.

so quiet.

so different.

It ends the way each day has ended for the past 180 days. The last student steps on a bus that day and I walk back to my classroom alone. Like usual. I pick up my bag and my car keys, I move my magnet on the door and shut it, and I walk out. I start my car.

I drive home. All the same things I do each day. It's the next morning when it hits.

The next morning when I realize I don't wake up and come to see them. The next weekend where I'm not preparing to teach my heart out for their learning the following week.

And all of a sudden, they have slowly faded into memories. The names become a little fuzzy and their faces a little more blurry and as each year passes and more and more students squeeze into my heart, I remember less and less details about my other students. I HATE THAT.

I want to keep their faces, their voices, their crazy, their tiny little baby hands, and their excitement in my brain forever. I want to remember each kid and how their smiles looked and what they said that was funny and how it made everyone laugh.

I know it's almost impossible, unless I had some photographic memory to remember years worth of students names just pulling them from my brain. But there is something special that remains...which is why this is like a bad breakup.

That connection - oh that connection remains.

The minute I lock eyes with my former students in the hallways or see them out in public (hello Target!), all of that comes back. We spent so much time together, we did so many things together.

My heart strings are literally tugging as all the memories resurface with their face! The connection we had will never be lost and I hope my students always know they can run up to me with a smile and a hug! FOREVER.

Today, this last day of school, started just like every other last day of school.

I cried off my makeup on the way to school.

Then I held a tissue box at morning meeting, because we love each other so much and we just had the best year and the best class and the best friends and we won't ever forget each other, our classroom family, but most importantly, we won't ever forget to be kind.

We celebrated the rest of the day with fun last day activities and a dance party!

And then we cried some more and loved each other some more and gave a thousand hugs and said goodbye again.

And then, I walked them all to their buses and pickup lines and gave them the biggest hugs and the best smile I could.

Today is always the hardest day. I hate it. I despise it. Sometimes I wish it would never ever come. But like most things in life, it has too.

"It's okay, this change is good" I tell myself all day long.

Yes self, change is good. But that doesn't make it easier.

To my little Kindergarten friends, I hope you know how much you have given me this year. I will forever and always support you, love you, and cheer you on!!

Happy Summer!



May 23, 2018

Dear Tired Teacher

Dear Tired Teacher,

I see you. I see you downing that third cup of coffee, quickly.

I see you shuffling in to school each morning, your arms full of bags - your teacher bag, your purse, and shopping bags. Shopping bags filled with items YOU have purchased, from your own pockets. To help celebrate the end of the year with extra fun and special things.

I see you. Hitting your snooze button three times. Staying up late to finish report cards and assessments and data. Your fingers rapidly typing on a keyboard that lights up a dark space. Your tired eyes and body show the wear and tear of the past 9 months, your smile is tired too, the good kind of tired. The "I've had so much good hard fun that I need to sleep for a week" tired.

I see you repeat the directions, the same directions that have existed from Day 1 of school. The same directions your students seem to have forgotten at the end of the year. I see you remind students to walk in the hallway, to be kind to each other, to go get a tissue. I see you review and repeat and remind and reiterate everything...EVERYTHING.

I see you at recess. For the second time today. I see you giving your kids extra vitamin D and extra time to run off that end of the year crazy. I see your eyes close, a sigh leave you as you open the door to the outside world. I see you thankful for a sunny day. I see you ready to let your kids move and be kids. I see a weight lift a little as your kids run into the sunshine, screaming and laughing and letting go. I see you fix every scrape and wipe every tear and tie every wet shoelace.

oh tired teacher, I see you. I see you sending those emails and making those phone calls and missing your lunch. I see you dealing with happy parents and parents that aren't quite so happy. I see you trying to remember to tell every parent every thing you need too, trying to decide which is the most necessary to tell them, remind them, and encourage them.

I see you making those end of the year decisions. I see the paperwork. The filing. The organization that goes into the end of the year. I see the stress wearing on you. I see the way you continue to care for each student in your room, even while you are accomplishing ten thousand other tasks.

I see you. I see you second guessing your entire year. I see you questioning every teaching method you've tried, every lesson you've planned, every book you've read. I see you worried, did you do enough? I see you pouring over scores and reports, determining if you did your best.

Tired teacher, most importantly...I see you smile, I see you remember. You remember where your little friends were in August and you can't help but be proud of where they are now. I see you blink back those tears at the thought of losing your little people to another grade, another teacher. I see you worry about their summers, their tummies, and their little lives. I see you pray they will forever be kind and caring. I see your desires for each one of them. I see your heart bursting and overflowing, with a mixture of bittersweet. A bittersweet mix of the dire need for rest and the desire for this group to never leave and for this season to never end.

Know you will you make it to the last day, you will feel all the feels and miss your kids. You will also have a much welcomed and much needed rest. This summer will restore your soul, your patience, your body, your eyes, and your brain. You will come back ready to give your all to another set of students. You will return ready for another 9 months of your dream job. You got this!

oh tired teacher,

I see you, I feel you, I know you...because I am you.






May 2, 2018

Teaching & Infertility

Oi vey.

A month ago, my birthday weekend, as I sat crying on my bedroom floor, alone at home (husband was out with the dog at the dog park), frustrated that once again my cycle had arrived (but also happy that my cycle was finally regular - LONGG STORY) and trying to bring myself out of a mental breakdown, I could feel God wrap his arms around me. I could FEEL Him grab my hands as I held my palms out. I could feel Him in the room....

....I thought for sure that this month was our month.

Now all I see before me again is charting, temperature taking, counting my days, when do I ovulate?, trying to figure out the best time, supplements, vitamins, - the list goes on.

My husband and I have been trying to conceive for six months. Over this time period, I have realized how being a teacher has affected my journey to motherhood.

-I've wanted to be a Mama for as long as I can remember.
-I CHOSE education because my heart for children is HUGE

...but those are small factors that are playing into the really hard feelings I'm experiencing today.

Teaching HIGHLIGHTS, EXAGGERATES, EMPHASIZES every negative aspect of infertility.

-I'm surrounded by children all day long
-I give 100% to other people's children when it's been really difficult to have my own
-I love on children who go home to parents that don't want them or treat them poorly
-I spend every waking minute planning activities for children who aren't mine
-I pray about, worry over, and love on other children at night
-I deeply feel the emotions (whether happy or sad) of these children day in and day out

As I sat in my crying state, I couldn't help but just be plain mad. WHY did I have to be a teacher and be forced to wake up each day and be faced with 20 small, adorable, beautiful, amazing reminders that I didn't have my own small, adorable, beautiful, amazing child.... WHY. WHY did I have to have a heart for children that's so big that sometimes I don't even know what to do with myself? WHY did I choose this career path for my life? WHY is it hard for me to get pregnant? WHY do I have to go through this? "Like, God, I know I'm supposed to learn something from this or find something in this, so if you could just make that clear now, that'd be cool."

Then, as if a heavenly light switch was turned on, I realized something special about being a teacher who struggles with infertility. While the struggle is never light no matter who you are, as a teacher, I get something special that other occupations don't get amidst infertility.

Teaching adds a positive light to the dark time of infertility.

-I'm surrounded by children all day long
-I give 100% to other people's children when it's been really difficult to have my own
-I love on children who go home to parents that don't want them or treat them poorly
-I spend every waking minute planning activities for children who aren't mine
-I pray about, worry over, and love on other children at night
-I deeply feel the emotions (whether happy or sad) of these children day in and day out

^^that's right...those negative aspects are the same as those positive lights.

While I might not be able to have a little tiny babe of my own just yet, I still get to be in the joyful (sometimes gross, taxing, and tiring) arena that is teaching (and let's be real...kinda like parenting). If I worked in an office or store or food service, I wouldn't have this same experience.

While I might not be able to love on one little kiddo of my own just yet, I get to love on 20 ALL DAY LONG!

While I might not be able to create a safe space for my own little friend that looks like a combo of me and Mr. Green just yet, I get to create a safe space for my 20 friends who desperately need one.

While I might not be planning pinterest crafts for my own little artist/musician/creative superstar just yet, I get to plan 8 hours (8 HOURS!) of activities daily for my 20 little friends.

While I might not be able to pray with my own little one at bedtime just yet, I get to pray for my twenty friends (and the twenty from 2016, and the twenty from 2015) and I get to show them Jesus in my actions and my words.

And while this journey has been nothing near easy and there are some sad, tough days, I can't say that I'm not blessed and I can say that this perspective...

this perspective of those positive lights

has made all the difference.



This post is dedicated to my twenty sweet, beautiful, kind, loving little people....
 I can't tell you how much you have lifted me up this year. You'll never understand why my eyes get so shiny as you smother me in group hugs. Or when I look away smiling as you all unanimously decide in fits of giggles that I don't need to have any babies because you are ALL mine, my children, and that you are all going to live with me and drive Mr. Green crazy on purpose. I am forever thankful and grateful for the whole lot of you during this season of my life. You make each day hilarious and amazing and each week full of joy. I have no doubt God planned each of you to be in my classroom this year because He knew that I would need you more than you would ever need me.

April 29, 2018

Beat the Sunday Blues


Let's be real, even though teaching Kindergarten is my absolute dream and I wake up excited to go to work every day, the Sunday evening blues still happen to me.

You know those feelings?

The moment when you realize that you HAVE to set an alarm tomorrow. That reality that lunches need packed, meals need prepped, and we are back to the daily grind of Monday through Friday!

I believe that people who don't enjoy their job have the Sunday Blues, but I also believe that people who enjoy their job have the Sunday Blues too!

I love me a weekend respite of time with family and friends and wine and my pets and my couch and let's be real, netflix! Haha! Sometimes it's REALLY hard for those weekends to end. It's REALLY hard to think of the energy I'll need for the coming week.

As teachers, I think it can be really hard for us to end the weekend time with our families only to have to give so much of ourselves each week. However, HOLD THE PHONE, because I have come up with a way to beat the Sunday Blues.

The first step is recognizing when the blues are beginning to set in.

I like to call them "fuss." I recognize my fuss when I start to complain about stupid things that I do daily that aren't really a big deal but I decide to make them a big deal because the weekend is ending (example: a load of laundry, unloading the dishwasher, making dinner, etc). Maybe, another sign of fuss is the fact that I'm clearly getting a little irrational.

I also start to procrastinate. I keep pushing things off (which is extremely unlike me) and I start to take FOREVER to do the simplest thing. I also basically do nothing and don't prepare for Monday and spend hours thinking about how Monday is coming and I have so much to do but I'm not even attempting to do it.

Once you realize you have the Sunday Blues or you start to feel them coming on, I want you to stop yourself....and do these next few things...

1. Remind yourself that this is going to be a weekly battle unless you change your mindset
2.. Look ahead to next Sunday's calendar
3.. From here on out, make sure to only plan life-giving stuff on Sundays (this could be different for everyone. For me, this means...no school work or homework or work work or yard work or any work. This means church and family time and fun time and most definitely a nap).
4. Be intentional about your Sunday plans and implement some Self Care
5. RESET YOURSELF ( I have started considering Sunday as the BEGINNING of the week rather than the end - this allows me to start my week off slow. Coffee with the sunrise, church with great people, lunch out with my love.)

As soon as I decided that Sunday was the beginning and not the end, I changed my Sunday blues. Do they still happen? Yes, sometimes. Does the fuss still come? Absolutely.

But the mindset change is all the difference! Happy Sunday, teacher friends! Here's to a new week! :)
I spent this past Saturday with my husband at our local Chick-fil-A doing Touch A Truck where families can bring their kiddos to come touch, see, and sit in lots of cool transportation!  It filled up my weekend soul!


P.S. I would just like to take a hot minute to apologize for my lack of blogging. I have a lot going on behind the scenes with my blog, but nothing quite ready to be published yet. I also have SIX WEEKS - YES SIX! - left in my Masters' program and I am up to my eyeballs in that. But I promise, I'll get more consistent again soon!

March 3, 2018

Let's get Flexible, Flexible! - My Kindergarten Journey in Flexible Seating

Happy Saturday!! Today, I wanted to write about flexible seating in my classroom. At this point in the year (March!) and with many thanks to Donors Choose, I am now 100% full on flexible seating in my classroom.

I wanted to give you a flexible seating classroom tour!

I also wanted to fill you in on some tips and tricks I've learned along the way.

1. I introduced each flexible seating item ONE AT A TIME. Because I was waiting on pieces to come when Donors Choose projects got funded, they had to be introduced one at time. So...every time I would bring in something new, we would have a class conversation, talk about rules and safety, where and when they'd be able to use it, and how to use it. I found this system extremely beneficial! My mind is still working on figuring out how next year is going to go with introducing the flexible seating to my students.

2. Because of flexible seating, my students no long had assigned seating which meant no name tags. This is very important in Kindergarten, because they are learning to write their name!  I didn't realize this until about a week into 10% flexible seating and a kid said, "But Mrs. Green, how do I make my J?" and I was like AHHHHHH. So. I made cups and they have their name tags and scissors with them!

3. ^^ going along with #2. Because my students no longer had assigned seating (and all of my classroom tools - scissors, crayons, etc are community supplies) anytime a child left his/her seat, we didn't know who had been sitting where or when or how or why or all of the above. This became extremely difficult at snack time and we didn't know if it was an empty space or the snack helper's space or if that friend was in the bathroom. HOT. MESS. So, the blue cups have saved the day again by saving their place!

4. I allow my students to move places and spaces with each transition of our day. This gives them the opportunity to try out different seating throughout the day. At first, I thought this would be hard, difficult, and a terrible thing happening in my classroom EVERY MINUTE. But in reality, it has become really fluid. Kindergarten has so many transitions throughout the day (sometimes within 10 minutes) and it allows the students to grab their name cup and find a new spot. It switches things up! It allow them to sit in new spaces and places!

5. If students abuse it, they lose it. Straight up. That's it. Like.....the wobble stool is over your head because you decided to wave it in the air? NOPE. You are rolling on the yoga balls like a nut? DONE. The floor pillows are for hitting your friend? SSTAWWWPP. They know, it all started on the first day when I laid down the rules. If you don't use the seating in the correct way, then you lose that seating for the rest of the day. (Sometimes the week - depending on severity ;) )

6. It has enhanced classroom community. Friends, I was floored by this. FLOORED. I thought friend groups would try to sit with friend groups, and kids would be trying to save seats...but my friends have really sat with many different people at each transition. They are created new friendships, connected with old one, and my classroom community has really flourished. I was worried cliques would start at the leaf pillow table or friends would want to all sit together at each space, but they really have chosen the bet spot for them and it has created an AMAZING community!

7. Flexible seating is another classroom management piece. Keep this in mind!! If you feel like your management might be lacking right now (or something you need to strengthen) or if you feel like you don't want to add something else to your plate  - then don't. You don't have to have flexible seating in your classroom to create a great classroom experience or learning experience for your students. But if you want to have flexible seating - you have to manage it, and manage it well in order for it to be successful.


If you are on a flexible seating journey, I'd love to hear how it's going for you! Or if you have any tips or tricks to pass on to others! If you aren't and want to know more, please ask away! And if you are considering it, I hope you take the plunge. I have loved it!!







February 25, 2018

All about that Balance

hi friends!

I'm taking off my teacher hat for a minute and putting on my wife and fur mama hat.

One of my goals for 2018 has been to get even MORE organized than ever before while MAINTAINING my sanity. I know... tall order, right? :) I have realized that time is of the essence in this beautiful life and I truly want my time to be spent efficiently.

There are a few things that are against me...
1) I'm extremely OCD obsessed with keeping my house clean.
2) I'm deeply passionate about my job - I get there early and I say yes to too many things
3)  Netflix is a trap that can consume me for days, leaving all house chores to complete themselves

But, I have decided that we as busy teachers, wives, and mamas dedicate ourselves SO MUCH to just that - being a teacher, a wife, or a mama (or all 3!!)! Simple things like keeping a clean home can become overwhelming.

...or if you're me...you just let it all pile up until Saturday and you spend 8 hours undoing Sunday through Friday messes and become frustrated with a whole day wasted.

(seriously...this week I had dishes from Monday in the sink ON FRIDAY, four loads of clean laundry scattered in "piles" around my bedroom floor, buffalo chicken dip crusted on my counter from LAST SUNDAY. (I know, that's disgusting) and just an all around dirty house!)

The next issue with ALL things balance is that healthy, fit lifestyle that so many of us crave but have no time for!

So! That being said! I've researched, I've talked to real life mamas, I've spoken with real life teachers, and I've shared coffee with real life wives who are done with the struggle bus of keeping a clean home, doing a great job at work, and having time to have a conversation with your husband and make connections with your kids. We have a really big (some might say tall ;)) order to fill and sometimes it leaves us emotionally drained with not enough time left over to laugh, or converse, or just simply watch TV.

*Disclaimer: This is not just for people who LIKE to keep their house clean. Maybe your messy and you need some help organizing your cleaning process to help you keep the house clean? Maybe your a husband looking for ways to help your wife out throughout the week? This is for you!!*

With my conversations and my own experiences, my newest product is a Cleaning Schedule for Teachers and Mamas and Wives who need to keep their sanity. :) This is going straight into my kitchen command center so I can keep my house clean, keep my day job, and keep my sanity.

Who knew that simply by "checking" or "inspecting" things around the home throughout the year could prevent major costs or fixes when things go wrong?? My monthly lists include a lot of check-ups to make sure things are in proper order - they should take no more than 15 minutes for you to do a quick check of the specified item to make sure things are working correctly! I did a lot of research and compiled common things to make one huge list! I hope you enjoy!


 



My freebie is posted here - it only contains the weekly cleaning schedule.



My full product is posted here - it contains the weekly cleaning schedule, a day by day cleaning schedule, a daily to-do list, and a monthly home care schedule (most components will be available in multiple sizes for whatever your needs may be!)

^^I'm going to try to follow this - and see how my balance and organization goals play out!

February 18, 2018

How I invite Jesus into my Classroom



The shooting on Wednesday, February 14 has given me a lot of feelings. Feelings of hurt, feelings of even more extra love for my students, and feelings of terrifying reality. I can't help but rely on Jesus in times of terror, in times of sadness, and in times when our nation is shaken to it's core.

One of my favorite hymns sings;

"My hope is built, on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus name."

^^ Right now, that's all I can do.

I posted a quote I typed up a few weeks ago that said, "My classroom runs on coffee and the grace of Jesus." In the description of the quote, I wrote how when I extend grace to myself and my students, it shows how they can extend grace to others...

and how we can start to make the world a nicer, kinder, sweeter place - one Kindergartner at a time!

Ever since I posted that quote, I've really considered the other ways that I invite Jesus into my classroom.

To clarify:

  • Yes, I'm a teacher who follows Jesus - and more specifically, a Mennonite! 
  • Yes, I teach at a public school and...
  • no, we don't talk about Jesus there - and I don't mind one bit!

Because in my experience, inviting Jesus into places and spaces is more about my actions than my words. He is in my classroom daily and I don't even have to mention His name.

I really thought about the opportunity that I am presented to invite Jesus into my classroom each day. I thought about the way that being a follower of Jesus has changed the way that I teach, interact, guide, and love on my students.

I can tell you one thing - without Jesus, I would definitely be less patient and less understanding. I wouldn't be as caring or as reflective. I wouldn't be so concerned with their well-being outside of the classroom. I'm not saying you can't be these things without Jesus, but I will say He is the defining factor in my teacherhood life that helps me, on the daily!

Here a few ways in which you too can invite Jesus into your Classroom.

1. Pray for your students - The coolest thing about Jesus is that HE IS EVERYWHERE. He knows when I'm talking to him or what my thoughts are. I send up prayers like nobody's business - super informal, sometimes just a glance towards my ceiling, sometimes within the middle of a hug. Nobody know's I'm praying, sometimes I just whisper a child's name. But I am praying for my kiddos.

2. Go the extra mile - go farther with each student! Check in, establish relationships with them and with their families. Make sure they are getting food to eat and clothes to wear. Do what you can to love them in all aspects, even outside the classroom. Extend the service and love of Jesus to them through acts

3. Emphasize empathy - something I make a priority in my classroom is empathy. We celebrate when there is cause for celebration with claps and cheering and hip hip hoorays! We love on others when they've lost grandparents or when they just plain feel sad. We have worked and learned and trained each other on how to be kind, be caring, and how to FEEL for others. These qualities established at 5 will surely go with them. They are learning to care, to rely on each other, and to be there for each other.

4. Forgive and Forget - this is a policy in my classroom! When students make weak choices, we talk about them, we forgive, and we move on. You can do it too! I never let something from yesterday enter today or tomorrow. I never remind them of what they've done wrong. It is in the past and their slate is wiped clean. Jesus gives us a brand new start each morning, I can do the same for my five year old friends.

5. Conversation in Conflict - I always found it almost funny how Jesus conversed in the middle of heated arguments....until I realized, he had it right. Have your students talk in the middle of something that might be upsetting them. Instead of tattling, have a space where they can go share their feelings. In the end, they enjoy being the ones to fix their problem, rather than asking an adult. No feelings are hurt, no one is "in trouble". Conflict happens, disagreements occur - WE ARE HUMAN. But how we handle those conflicts is how we learn to handle anything that comes our way.

6. Everyone comes to the table - everyone is welcome, everyone is invited, everyone plays. No one is refused, no one is turned away. If the game is "full" and someone else wants to join, we find a different game where everyone can play. The spirit of inclusion is not new to my classroom. Everyone comes to the table, literally, because typically I have 20 kids around my tiny table interested in something I'm doing.

7. Joy - inexplicable joy. Joy is my word of 2018. I've been finding it, searching for it, being given it in so many ways this year! But Jesus has always been a constant source of Joy. He gives us joy for each day, each week, and each year. My students think of me as "happy" and I hope that continues. I hope to sprinkle some Joy on them each day.



While I can't talk about Jesus with my students or teach them about Jesus, I can only hope these tiny seeds of Jesus-like qualities will stick with them, will be planted and nourished, and will grow into something bigger and greater than I can ever imagine.

I don't like being scared when I go to school. I don't like the overwhelming feelings of hearing the fire alarm bell go off for a fire drill.

But just like the good and regular school days, even on those scary days, Jesus is there. He's in my room. He's in my heart. and He's right there holding me, guiding me, and loving me through.

I felt called to be a teacher, I still feel called to be a teacher. I know that God gave me a heart for children for a purpose. I will show them Jesus as best I can in my actions, my words, and my love for them.

Happy SUNDAY, teacher friends. May your day, your week, and your school year be filled with coffee, the grace of Jesus, His unending love, and a bucket of patience as you learn with, love on, and teacher your little friends.