Mental Health

Let’s take a moment to discuss mental health

I don’t know why this is a taboo in our community. We neglect it consistently and it’s slowly killing us.

We as women are worse. We shoulder EVERYTHING!

I picked up one of many things from my mom and I am struggling to change one major thing. She passed on to me the idea of not being a burden to people. So I keep A LOT to myself. It took my mom passing away for me to realize I needed to take my mental health more seriously. I started seeing a counselor along with my daughter. Yep! I know insert gasp…..black people seeing a counselor???!!!! What about Jesus? Don’t you trust Him to see you through your trials and tribulations…..look let me stop you right there

red stop sign

 

Yes I grew up in the church and yes I believe in Jesus and all that jazz but let me drop this nugget you won’t sit around and pray a broken bone away, you take your behind to the doctor…. you have to put some work in behind those prayers. There are people, professionals who went to school and specialized in various things to assist you because you just can’t do it yourself. So going to seek help does not mean you lack faith. If anything it means you are putting your faith into action. It takes a strong person to say hey I need help let me go get some help. You were never built to do this life journey alone.

Now when reaching out for help or talking to people about your problems, you do need some discernment. You can’t go depending on everyone. You should have AT LEAST one person in your corner you can rely and depend on. Someone that whatever you tell them stays right there with them and the four walls. You don’t have someone, use a journal, write those thoughts down get them out. Shoot talk to yourself if you need to. They have counselors you can talk to online for a fraction of the cost. Research local support groups in your area.

We check our physical health from time to time. Yet we constantly neglect our mental health. I won’t give out stats and data because all you need to do is look within yourself. Stop and take some time and listen. Listen to your body.

backlit beach dawn dusk

Take five minutes out your day and just empty your mind. Start a journal. We have so much in our minds it’s ridiculous. We carry so much inside it is making us sick.

I know as a single parent. I feel like I NEVER have time to just have an emotional meltdown and feel all the feels. Well one day while tucking my daughter in for the night and after one “mom” too many from her. I just sat on the floor and cried. EVERYTHING I was holding in just came pouring out. My mom being sick, a recent break-up, being an expat, being a mom, being single, being a single mom, being a woman…all of it just came out. I knew I needed to seek help. I wasn’t crazy but I needed someone to help me process my life. I put it off. I didn’t think I could afford it. I didn’t think I could trust someone enough. I didn’t think I really truly needed it. I mean hey I could pray, I could write in my journal, I could take of myself by myself…..yeah, okay WRONG

My mom took a turn for the worse. She was released into hospice care. I came home and one week after I came home my brother and I were making phone calls telling people our mama had passed away.

Something about being in the room as your mama takes her last breath does something to you. The grief of her death was overwhelming. I cried for simple reasons. I cried for big reasons. I just cried all the time. I didn’t know what to do.

I started small and joined a Facebook support group….yeah I swear that made it worse seeing all these post of people who had lost their mom. I got my daughter into counseling with no problems. Me on the other hand I was scared. I didn’t want to acknowledge that I needed help. I didn’t even want to acknowledge that my mama was dead. I finally sought out help. I felt the world being lifted off my shoulders as I talked with my counselor.

She is helping me take care of myself. I take time each week to get a massage. I take time each day to carve out at least 5 minutes to myself. I have a mediation app on my phone with a reminder. I am slowly getting back into yoga. I have an adult coloring book. My mama always said “I have lived my life, you need to live your life”

Well I can’t live this life half-assed. I can’t live this life neglecting myself. I have a daughter watching my every move. I want her to see my happy, not grumpy as she puts it.

We have got to stop neglecting ourselves.

We have got to stop shouldering the world.

We have got to learn to let it out.

UPDATED

I started writing this thing weeks ago and never published it. I didn’t think I was fully finished and guess what? , it’s not. In the past week two celebrities have committed suicide and now social media is a buzz about suicide hotlines, how to help someone who needs help, mental health, depression….you know the normal hype social media does when the wound is fresh.

I had to stop and re-evaluate somethings.

adult art conceptual dark

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I observe people a lot. We have lost the art of creating meaningful relationships. How many Facebook “friends” are your friend in real life? How many followers on Instagram are your “followers” in real life. We put on this social media facade. We post this happy life. It’s time to pull the mask off. Stop hiding behind posts, pictures, and tweets. Get out and have a conversation. Look at your friend and say “How are you doing, no really how are you doing?” Would you even know if your friend or family is hurting? Would you know that someone is struggling? So many of us smile and walk around like nothing bothers us. Then we go home, shut the door, crawl under the covers and wish to die or cry ourselves to sleep. We go through the motions called life but deep down we are hurting.

I remember the first time I knew someone personally who committed suicide. Shook my world to the core. I had so many questions but not one answer.

I know what it feels like to not trust people and afraid to open up. Look I am here to tell you re-evaluate your friends. If there is not one somebody in your life you can talk to, remove them or remove yourself.

It’s 2018 mid way through the year. We should not be afraid. We should not hurt in silence. The suicide rate should not go up. Depression should not be taboo. Seeking help should not be taboo. Mental health should not be neglected.

I encourage you to take a moment and unplug from social media for the day. Go out and talk to real people. Pick up the phone and check on someone. Just to say hey. When you are down and out, depressed, not feeling yourself, you are not going to reach out to people. Make some genuine friendships. So when you say “hey I’m here if you need me” they know they can pick up the phone and call. Drop by and say hey. Sometimes just being there means so much than spitting out all the cliches.

 

 

 

Advertisements

When Tragedy Strikes

I’m gonna share a story that hits especially close to home and I have permission to share..

It begins summer of 2013….well actually spring 2013.

I finally finished school and I received my degree YAY!

Next up certification…thats a whole different story. Needless to say I became a certified teacher.

I also discovered I was pregnant. I later miscarried. This was a devastating miscarriage that I struggled to cope with. In the midst of this struggle my mother shared she has breast cancer. I still can’t place into words how I felt.

I do remember thinking I’m not ready to lose my mom yet.

My mother was and still is a fighter. She followed doctors orders to the best of her ability. I moved back in. This I later regretted.

Let me explain why. It wasn’t just me that moved in. It was myself and my child. I didn’t want my child to see granny sick and deteriorate in front of her. I wanted Elise to keep happy memories of her granny. I also wanted my mom to be sick. I didn’t want her to put on brave front for the sake of us. I also didn’t want to be in the house if something happened. Yep I’m a punk. I know my limits in life. I was also tired. I have been the one to ALWAYS be there when my mom was sick or had a surgery. I was tired being the oldest and shouldering these responsiblites. It’s not fun sitting in the waiting room waiting and waiting. ICU sucks. Middle of the night phone calls are the worst. If my mom didn’t feel well I wanted her to not feel well. I didn’t want her glossing over the pain or the illness.

I moved 8 hours away that December to Maryland. I needed space to breathe and I needed the rest of family to help out. There were other reasons for my move. I was mad at the boyfriend who recently decided to move to Germany. I swear this was country number 48 (I’m exaggerating but he was living his life and I wasn’t. I waiting on him to come to the states something that looked like it was NEVER gonna happen… but this post is not about that)

I moved to Maryland and mother was allowed to be sick. My brother stepped in when he could. The rest of the family helped out as well along with her church family. Her spirits were high. The cancer went into remission. She returned to work. I went abroad…. the cancer returned.

My mama’s exact words “go live your life. I’ve already lived mine” I went abroad with no regrets. She went back on chemo and quit her job. A schedule was created to get her back and forth to the doctors. She had people she could call if something happened.

Summer 2017. I’m home for the summer break. Something happened with her left leg. The details of this is still foggy. I remember when she fell and she never fully recovered. Later I would discover something about blood clots that was getting bigger and the blood was not flowing properly. Again the leg issue are a lot of foggy details. Remember I’m abroad and my mother is that woman. Strong. Stubborn. Brave. She keeps things to herself because she wants nobody feeling sorry for her. I would have made arrangements for help to come live in the house but I know she doesn’t want that. She wants her independence and does not want to rely on anyone.

Fall/winter 2017

The situation is getting worse and I’m not being told the whole story from her. I am relying on my brother to give me full story. The cancer has started to spread. Something is going on with her left leg that has caused it swell and provide her a great deal of pain. She is taking pain meds like it’s candy. She’s stage 4.

January 2018,

Hard cold hard facts present itself. The cancer is spreading. She’s in constant pain.

She’s having a hard time coping with things. She wants a second opinion. Doctors are waiting on her to come to terms with her current state of affairs.

Things are being put into place for the inevitable.

I am a ball of emotions. She has no clue at this point that know. She’s sheltered me my whole life. I get it I’m a female. I’m a whole lot more fragile than my brother. I’ve got an entire plane ride ahead of me that I am not looking forward. I have no idea how to explain this to Elise when the time arrives.

You are never ready to lose a parent no more than you are to lose a child.

February 28, 2018

It’s my birthday and my brother is home with our mom because she is in the hospital. Last week she didn’t receive her chemo due to an infection in her leg (the good one). She was in so much pain they admitted her to the hospital.

A conversation was had about Power of Attorney and DNR.

Palliative care was called in. Yep new to me. Basically they are the step before hospice. Hospice will be called in when she’s ready to be done with chemo. The doctors don’t suggest she stops chemo and she’s not ready to stop chemo. Someone will come to the house and check on her.

I legit may not have time to say my goodbyes and will have memories to hold me.

I am torn about trying to get home because it’s not just me. I have to consider Elise seeing Granny sick. It’s not that my mother looks different but she’s not the same either.

There is a possibility that the cancer has spread but they can’t do the scan until week of March 14. (Health insurance issues and getting approval)

The doctor says she has months not years and anything can happen within those months. It will happen quick. Here today gone tomorrow kind of deal.

I don’t know how I feel. I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to see her before she goes.

When my dad died it happened quick. One minute we were making plans for him to come home and the changes in our diets, next there was funeral. I didn’t get chance to prepare. Even now I can’t prepare. There is a 24 hour plane ride ahead of me with and a child I have to keep calm.

This was supposed to a happy birthday and I am sitting here holding back tears and I want to fall apart but who’s gonna hold me?

March 3, 2018

She’s finally not in pain and can go home. Her sisters, church family and friends have setup a round the clock schedule to help her out at the house. She lives alone and needs help to get round the house. The best thing for her is rest. She’s not one to keep still.

I have made the decision not to go home because I can’t put Elise through that. I’m not ready to lose my mom.

March 20 2018

The time has come. Hospice has been called in and I’m looking for flights

March 22, 2018

The shock has worn off. I think I have stopped crying. We fly out Saturday morning and will land Saturday night in Charleston. I will spend the next 3 weeks (at least) with my mom and family.

Life is too short. Work will continue without me. I will pack a good bit of our things.

March 27, 2018

It’s been a whirlwind of emotions. I am home helping out and spending time with my mom while I can. You can never really be prepared. I am happy she is still in good spirits.

People hear hospice and think death is coming today. Not necessarily. She’s still up and moving around. Slowly and painfully but she’s home and still able to do things for herself.

March 31, 2018

My mother passed away. I got to spend a week with her.

I know she is no longer in pain.

There are things you just never can really prepare for and hurts like hell when reality hits.

Next up……

So I’ve finally accepted a job and we will be moving to

and these are the only clues you get.
First thing that came to mind was I’m gonna be 12 (13 hours during daylight savings) hours ahead how is watching football gonna work….how does watching live TV work period….it doesn’t. I won’t be able to watch live and function the following day. Making phone calls will be interesting to say the least. The 8 hour time difference is bad enough.

I will be living in Wuxi (wooshe). Yep had to look up how to pronounce it correctly. Here I just got used to Arabic and I’ve picked up some words now I have to learn a whole new language. I’m excited. I have already connected to two other ladies who will be at the same school and coming with children. EXCITED!!!!! I won’t be the only black face. YAY!!!!

I’ve downloaded Duolingo and Rosetta Stone to help me with learning Mandarin. I’ve even have the urge to brush up my Spanish and re-learn French. I just need some notebooks and index cards. Time to become multilingual.

I hope the excitement doesn’t wear off.

I will be a kindergarten teacher at a bilingual international school that will be an IB school. My resume is shaping up to be pretty darn amazing. They will provide training as well. So I won’t be winging it. LOL.

I gave myself a raise. Elise is covered(tuition, flight, insurance, visa, etc) and will attend school with me. I will still have housing provided. My insurance, visa, and flights provided as well. Elise over the top excited. She gets grass and snow again. She’s making plans of places she wants to visit. I’ve showed her places we can visit.

My mama is finally realizing that I will not return stateside. It will pretty much take an act of God to get me stateside again. I am looking at land in Kenya…yep I was serious about it. I need to actually get serious and start talking to people and making this happen. I even toyed with the idea of property in Ecuador and Belize. I am working on my legacy. Leaving Elise something other than debt.

Shedding light on Education: arming teachers Part 2

The internet is abuzz with the latest required that is trying to come down the pipe. LET US ARM TEACHERS!!!! This is the answer, apparently, to school shootings. Let me get this straight the problem with guns it bring in more guns. Okay I’ll bite for about 5 seconds.

I teach kindergarten. I am armed. How does this work? Do I keep the gun on me or locked away? Do my students know I am armed? Do my parents know I am armed?

Let’s say the gun is on me. What do I do first secure my students BY MYSELF because I don’t have a teacher’s assistant? or Do I leave my students unattended and go charging into the hallway? or Do I secure my students and if I see the shooter shoot to what Kill or disarm in a classroom full of five year olds? Let’s hope I am in my right frame of mind.

Now what happens next let’s say I shoot to kill or disarm, there is now a body bleeding in my classroom in front of my students. Who in the entire hell is gonna provide the support needed for this? How am going to function as a teacher as a person after that? There are grown ass men and women who suffer from PTSD from combat. I just created a combat type situation in a classroom, in a school.
There are not enough counselors for this one. Trust I will not be the same after that, nor will my kids.

Okay let’s say the gun is locked away. What do I do first secure my students and hope I’m in my right frame of mind to go unlock my gun and go shooting? Remember I am still by myself. Kindergarten numbers can range from 15 to over 30.
What if I am not in my room. Let’s say I am coming from lunch with my students walking in a line. What if I am coming from recess? What if I am at recess? What about specials that is clear cross the other side of campus? What if I am out sick that day? What if I am in meeting? What if…..

Okay what if my kids know. How are they feeling about this. I asked my daughter. She said she would be “weirded” out by all this. She would not feel safe. So if the gun is supposed to make students feel safe why doesn’t the student feel safe?

When did the answer to gun problems become let’s have more guns. I am no criminal but if the police does not scare them I am pretty sure my 5’6 150 lbs (work with me) self with a gun will not scare the criminal either who is carrying an ASSAULT RIFLE!!!!! When you have FOUR officers who did not do their job to serve and protect, then what me as the kindergarten is supposed to step in and say “I will serve and protect” Where do I put that in my lesson plans? Where is that in my contract?

Oh let’s not forget I get a bonus to carry but I don’t get a bonus for my masters degree and I barely get a raise for my years of experience. I don’t get a bonus for copy paper that will actually last me all school year. I don’t get a bonus for ALL the things I buy out of MY pocket to ensure my student have what they need to succeed for the school year. I don’t get a bonus for the SAME damn PD (professional development) EVERY YEAR!!!! I don’t get a bonus to unpack the standards of common core. I don’t get a bonus every time they change the curriculum. I don’t get a bonus for the RIDICULOUS amount I have taken out for health insurance.

You wanna arm teachers, well I call BULLSHIT!!!!

If I fail to protect my students I will be my fault!!!! Pretty sure they gonna tie this my end of the year evaluation that will label me effective or ineffective.
Little Johnny finds my gun and pulls the trigger….Yep my fault.
Little Suzy sees my gun and has a fit and tears up my room because she had a flashback to when daddy shot mommy… YEP my fault.
Fifth grader up the hall who is distraught over whatever 10 year old are distraught about, knows who in the building has a gun comes to room gets said and BAM 1. kills himself or 2. shoots up the school……good lord the paperwork behind that one….YEP my fault

Teacher now feels threatened. Teacher now has the right to shoot…..Hmmmm who gets the pass?

You have seen the RISE in videos where kids are fighting teachers, throwing chairs, tearing up classrooms….imagine what will happen now that teachers are armed. There will WAY TOO MANY loopholes.

There are kids who have to dodge bullets on a daily basis because of all the violence in their neighborhoods. Schools are their only safe haven. Now you wanna take that away.

Little Johnny picks up a stick and hits little Suzy with the stick. I take the stick away. I don’t give one to Suzy and say hit him back. Do know how many kids will start picking up sticks hitting each other?

Little Johnny has a cavity. You don’t blame the dentist. Let’s blame the teachers for not discussing the important of brushing your teeth during health and safety month.
Little Suzy is obese. Who do you blame? Let’s blame McDonald’s, can she drive there? does she have money, a job? do you blame the doctor? Let’s blame the teachers for referring to McDonald’s in the lesson.
Little Matthew is an active shooter? Who do you blame? but the solution is arm teachers? Let’s blame the teachers because we should know when a kid will become an active shooter because we are with them from 7 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday.
Little Amy gets pregnant at 16. Who do you blame? Oh yeah I forgot that’s our fault too because we didn’t tell her about safe sex…but wait they took that out of schools, we shouldn’t talk about sex
Little Boy brings a knife to school. Who do you blame when he stabs 16 people? Oh yeah our fault too we didn’t check his book bag and bring to the attention of admin.

We already have trigger happy police officers. What about trigger happy teachers? What about those teachers who don’t have classroom management and are afraid of their students? What about those teachers who teach at teach alternative schools?

Do you see how INSANE this is. We are over worked and underpaid. Not all of us are mentally stable. I am certain there was teacher somewhere this week that yelled SHUT UP to the class because they were frustrated. I am certain some has yelled or heaven forbid even cursed. Someone has walked out the classroom just to breathe. Someone didn’t walk out the classroom. Arm this same teacher with a gun, what will happen? That gun may come out as an idle threat.

If a regular person does not need a mental evaluation to carry, will the teacher?

I am confused (no I’m not) as to why America is the ONLY country that has this issue.

So mentally unstable people only exist in America? NOPE

America is the ONLY country where it is easier to go purchase a gun than it is to buy white out!!!!

Think about it people started getting high off of white out, now you gotta show ID.
Some idiot was being stupid at the airport and good lord now you gotta do everything but get naked to prove you aren’t gonna blow anything up.
They steal certain products at the store, they lock them up and you gotta ask someone to get it for you and then your product will be at the cash register waiting on you.
You have to pass a series of test to get a driver’s license.

I am almost certain the 2nd amendment was not created for this extra we got going on in America. Guns are not beautiful. Guns should not be glorified. I mean a gun show….really people?
However those of us smart enough to know follow the money and you see why guns are easy to get and why there will not be any real gun control or new laws passed or guns being banned.

My point until they
1. pay teachers more (we should be making 6 figures within our first 3 years) I will not carry
2. provide better health care I will not carry
3. provide me with a teacher assistant I will not carry
4. reduce my class size I will not carry
5. provide schools with adequate resources in the form of teachers to ensure each and every child’s needs are being meet I will not carry
6. until parents are held accountable and responsible for being involved in their child’s education I will not carry
7. until these lawmakers are required to spend an entire month shadowing a teacher then spend once a week in the classroom for their entire time in office I will not carry
8. until they do something more effective than arming teacher as a response to gun control I will not carry
9. until the community is involved in a partnership with schools I will not carry
10. until they stop placing EVERYTHING in our laps making us responsible for things we are not responsible for I will not carry

I WILL NOT CARRY!!!! I will not even trust my co-workers if they did. I know a few right now that would shoot a kid. I know a few right now that would shoot themselves. I know some that would leave their gun out on purpose just to see what would happen.

Shedding Light on Education: why we leave

What started out as a few Facebook posts has grown and festered in my soul.

See I am an educator by birth. I was born to do this. I didn’t wake up one day and say “oh this will be easy let me do this” No honey, I would play with my toys and pretend I was teacher and they were the students. I can remember my 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 12th grade English teacher. Why do I remember these teachers because they made education real. They made school fun and enjoyable. I remember my 7th grade teacher. I don’t remember what subject he taught but he was the one that taught how not to be a teacher. That man got on my nerves and made my skin crawl. He would snatch my books from me and call my mom. This was the first time I ever felt like reading was not a good thing. I knew I wanted to be a teacher that shared her love for teaching and wanted to make school enjoyable for my kids. I teach kindergarten and I am sometimes the first teacher they will ever have and I am their first experience with school. I want it to be a good one. So I come to my classroom and look around. How can make it warm and inviting. I look on the internet for various resources. I dig into my teacher supply and pull out from previous years. I go to the store and purchase new stuff. WITH MY OWN MONEY!!!! There is no budget given to me that says “here you are teacher go buy what you need” I have NEVER been given a classroom stipend. Why do think places like http://www.donorschoose.org and http://www.adoptaclassroom.com exist?!?!?! We come out of pocket every year to decorate our classrooms. We come out of pocket to motivate students with stickers, pencils, erases, small toys, etc. Then the lovely ISR says here is $250 at the end of the year for your trouble. I spent that on classroom supplies alone to make sure ALL my students have school supplies and to keep extra supplies. Crayons break. Pencils get sharpened down to the eraser. I swear they eat the glue. I want to paint…yep I gotta buy paint. I want to lose my mind and use glitter….yep gotta buy that too. Any arts and crafts I have to buy. Remember they cut art out the budget and kindergarten is the new 1st grade, so we don’t need those things….WRONG!!!!

Kindergarteners are still children who enjoy making things. When kids can touch and manipulate what they are learning the more likely it will stick into their little brains. I can’t lecture them by direct teaching. Noow students need to be responsible for their own learning. It also needs to be fun. If a child has never used a pair of scissors or held a pencil or used thier fingers to paint or made a mistake, their foundation is shaky and their future will be challenging and difficult at best. As a 10th grade teacher you don’t want a child who still struggles with fine motor skills. I love all this technology. I really do but let the children get messy. Let them cut paper.

You want a doctor who has held a scissors simce they were at least 5 or one who started cutting at 18?

But common core doesn’t require basic skills. We have to figure out how to put that in our lessons and tie into what they are learning. I can’t tell you how times I have thought how on earth can I make this lesson fun and engaging. If I taught only using the teacher edition I would miss that child who is struggling. I would miss that child who is bored because they already have an understanding of what that teacher edition says do.

So we make fun learning centers with activities that they can do independently. Several reasons

1. It’s only one teacher in the classroom

2. It’s student led and they can teach and help each other

3. It’s review of skills and concepts

4. It’s one teacher and hi that one teacher now has to pull 3 to 5 kids to a table and support them with reading and math strategies

5. You need these learning centers to keep them busy but engaged in learning while you teach a small group of students without constantly stopping to answer a question about what to do.

These learning centers include writing, word work, computers or iPads (if you are lucky to have these things) math work, reading, seatwork, fine motor skill practice, etc. Long gone are the days of dramatic play and blocks, nope they took that out and replaced it workbooks. Write and write some more.

Then comes the testing. This is straw that is breaking many backs.

I did a stint in 4th grade. Yep I ended up in a testing grade. January I started. State mandated testing was around the corner. We have to test the kids. We have to see what they are learning. We have to see if teachers and schools are performing. We need the data. We need to know who will get the money next school year. We need to know who will have job next year.

We spent an entire month interacting with the text. Money was found for highlighters and paper to make copies. Day after day we took a text and we unpacked it. We looked for the main idea and the supporting details. Highlight your main idea and underline your supporting details. I still and to pull my small groups and read with my kids. I still had to teach the regular lessons. According to the data the kids didn’t understand main idea and supporting details. They also did not know how to write an essay type response to a story.

Look we were all stressed because this was high performing school. The kids did not have fun and they hated school. I hated it for them.

Testing comes around. I had my smartest stop in the middle of the test and burst into tears. He was frustrated. He was under pressure. He couldn’t do it. Trying to calm him down took 15 minutes and he could not get those 15 minutes back. I had kids with IEPs and 504s who got accomdations. I had a child just give up. I had a child who had an agreement on the playground and just couldn’t take the test upset. I watched and walked around. Nothing I could do. It was a state test. I could not look as if I was helping. No talking. Need the bathroom that took 3 teachers. One to walk the child. Another to come in and monitor. It was not worth it.

I moved to kindergarten the next year and wouldn’t know it they brought in a brand new assessment for kindergarten this year. This joint took a month to administer. You could only administer it one on one. It’s only one of me. Legit took a month. Asking five year olds a series of questions. I don’t even know what happened to that data. Then I had assess their reading levels. I had to math baseline assessments. All this went into my student learning objectives that was tied to my evaluations and will determine if I’m effective or ineffective. At the end of the year the district said I was an effective teacher. I left public school and went to private school. I felt like the pressure was lifted and I could breathe again. I had 12 kids. I had a dramatic play area, blocks, art, computers, iPads, you name it I had it. If I didn’t have it I could go and ask and I would get it. Wait, what? Where on earth do they do that at?

Only draw back, the pay. I took a 10k a year pay-cut. Oh it was nothing BUT God that got me through. So I begin to look back at the public school system but in a neighboring state. Then I became depressed. I just could not go back to a stressful situation of wanting to teach and be creative but can’t because lawmakers and EVERYONE not in my classroom and no tin education telling what I should be doing. I did not go to school rack up student loans not to be trusted to do what is best for my students. I stay current on the latest research. I collaborate with my coworkers in and outside my school building. If I don’t know I ask. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know everything but good grief I know that asking a five year old to sit still in a chair to answer question after question for an hour is INSANE. Asking a child who does not know a letter from a number to read is INSANE. Asking a child who is hungry and sleepy to sit, listen, participate, and retain information is INSANE. Asking a child to write their name when they can’t hold a pencil and they have weak fine motor skills is INSANE. So after deep thought and prayer I set my eyes on a career outside of education. That idea quickly left because 1. I’m too old to start over 2. I have maxed out my student loans 3. I was born to be a teacher. Then I went back to an idea I had back in 2013, go teach overseas. Maybe they will appreciate you more.

Look the benefits

  1. tax-free salary
  2. housing accommadations paid for
  3. utilities paid for
  4. flight over paid for
  5. summer flight paid for
  6. visa paid for
  7. added bonus travel is affordable

So why not because

  1. I am stressed out trying to make sure my ends meet and I can provide for my child
  2. I’m not appreciated as an educator
  3. I am tired of testing my babies
  4. I am tired of not being trusted to do my job
  5. The demands have NOTHING to do with the children
  6. When I sat in a staff meeting looking at the budget and my principal says “I see dollar signs on the students back” because she wants to know how much the district would pour into the school for a student.

Let me pause and interject some facts.

  1. Title 1 schools get money
  2. for every child on free and reduced lunch = money
  3. minority =money
  4. IEP/504= money
  5. SPED=money
  6. pass the state test=money
  7. fail the state test=money
  8. ESOL=money

oh it’s a whole list, who gets that money, I don’t know because it’s not the teachers. Let’s not forget those who misuse and don’t allocate the money correctly.

7. parents are not involved
8. the community is not involved
9. I was actually considering a second job (NO MA’AM I will not work 40 hours plus on one job and stay in financial lane and still be broke)
10. I was not built to pay bills and then die
11. I was not meant to struggle like this with a full time job
12. the kids are disrespectful
13. the parents are disrespectful
14. no support from the parents or even for the parents
15. we are legit blamed for everything wrong in education and when students don’t succed
16. no one is sticking up for us
17. current administration (I will not give a whole lot of time to this utter chaos and foolishness but really people DeVos and Trump???!??!??!)

Now they want to freaking arm us with concealed weapons!!!!!!!

Look I already addressed this issue in a previous post so I won’t go into again.

For a career that creates all other jobs we get beat up on every side of this coin. It is like an abusive relationship and we wake up everyday hoping it will be better going back into the battle for more abuse.

Yes everything varies from school to school, district to district, state to state but good grief people. Look around you we are tired. We still love our careers but our careers don’t love us anymore.

Well enough is enough. I signed up on a website to start looking for jobs abroad. At least if I’m going to get beat up everyday pay me for it. Give me better benefits. I wanted that joy back before I finally gave up and left education all together. What was I going to do if I left education, no clue but I was not going to continue to take the abuse.

After I started my journey to teach abroad I discovered some things

  1. I was not alone
  2. It was and is a whole bunch of us teaching abroad
  3. It was and is a whole bunch of us who just decided one day to pack up and move abroad. Some with a plan some without. Some in education some not.

The decision to leave is never a light decision. There are many factors to consider. At the top of that list though better be YOURSELF. You cannot and should not live your life for others. Yes we wanna be close to our families. Yes we don’t want to leave the comfort of our lives that we have spent years building. You may not be that person that leaves with no plans of returning but don’t afraid to leave.

SHHHH I’m not supposed to tell you this

Okay let me tell you a secret….
When you come abroad you may run into situations and schools that hire people with not one single degree in education and they were hired solely based on their passport…..

I kid you not.

This would not bother me so much if these people at least came with some common sense. My patience is wearing thin with the nonsense. Apparently you can’t go to college for common sense. Lord I wish you could but this the world we live in.

Wanna know something else some of these kids are bad as hell. Not your typical bad….no these jokers are spoiled bad. I come from money and no one has ever told me no bad. I don’t care about my education bad. I know I will go work with my father, so why should I listen bad. Now this isn’t typical but it is reality. Unfortunately when you are hood rich education doesn’t matter. The boys already know my daddy is police officer, he will be a police officer. The girls, they are gonna get married and have babies. There are some that are bright enough for college and will attend college but baby it is WAY TOO many that will not graduate high school with real grades.

While I’m here on grade you have some schools that just give grades. Yep. Grades are given. Kid will have straight As and the wall will have more academic sense than that child. Kid will have straight As and can’t read past I see the cat. Kid will have straight As and cannot add, subtract, multiply or divide. Kid will have straight As and let’s face is dumb as a bag of rocks. Matter fact the rocks are smarter.

Guess what else you think the parent expectations are bad in America it is worse in some places. Check it and come closer, you will have parents that will expect you to teach their child 18 years of English in one school year (KINDERGARTEN!!!!) With no support at home. Utter madness I tell you.

And another thing…..some places don’t give a damn about education. They are more concerned about money and keeping parents happy. Man look the kids are already coming to school a year behind Americans. Meaning you will have 4 year old kids in the kindergarten using a curriculum made for 5 year old students whose first language in English.

Look through it all I would not change a thing. Well maybe a few things but I shut my door and teach my kids. I listen to the parents try my best to meet them half way. What I won’t do is place unrealistic demand on my students. What I won’t do is direct instruction. What I won’t do is complain when it is better than teaching in the states.

I am able to leave the curriculum and be creative. I am able to teach my kids. The babies that I have in my classroom not these imaginary kids that come with no issues and are on grade level. I am able to collaborate with my teacher assistant. I can make as many copies as I want. I can go and ask for supplies (this is still an issue cause let’s face it money doesn’t grow on trees but if the school won’t get it I have a few parents that will get what I need) I am able to instill a joy for school and learning. At the end of the day and school year I know I did the best I could. I have support. I am not afraid to ask for help and I get help when I ask.

I get frustrated but I leave that frustration at school. I have ample planning time. I don’t bring work home. So for me I’m good and I can deal. For some it’s too much and they can’t deal.

Know thyself.

SHEDDING LIGHT ON EDUCATION I’m not a miracle worker

SHEDDING LIGHT ON EDUCATION

Unrealistic demands in kindergarten

Let me start by saying I’m no miracle worker and I ain’t Jesus. If you as a parent are not working with me at home it makes my job just a little more difficult.
1. With common core kids are expected to read fluently and independently on level C by the end of the school year.
2. Common core says they should write a paragraph at the end of the school year
3. Sight words will depend on who you ask. I’ve heard, seen and assessed 39 to 100.
4. Add and subtract fluently within 5.
5. Count to 100 by 1s, 5s and 10s.

Now when you don’t help with the weekly homework packet or even look it, don’t come at me
When you don’t read with and to your child, don’t come for me
When you look me dead in my face and say I don’t have time but I want…..let me stop you right there.

I am not a miracle worker. Let me explain my day.
They have specials. Time not teaching
They have lunch and recess. Time not teaching
They have breakfast and if I’m lucky snack. Time not teaching
There will be students ranging from various developmental levels.
There will be anywhere from 18 to 36 students with no TA (could be higher or lower depending on the state most have no cap and some states have assistants)

Let’s be real some kids slip through the cracks.
Some kids are not motivated.
Some of these curriculums are outdated.
Some kids are so far behind when they start not attending any kind of preschool or Prek program and no one has worked with them at home, they can’t even hold a pencil.
The first 6 weeks of school is policy, produces, rules and consequences.
Some kids have developmental delays and behavioral problems.
Remember I’m alone in this classroom with all this.

We come in hoping to save, teach, and reach EVERY SINGLE one of our students.

Then admin comes down with extra.
The district adopts a new assessment.
Sept to Oct assessments are given.
Then again in Mar and April. I have done as early as February.
Guess what your child is not performing on or above grade level after I have pulled and used every strategy known to mankind I could very lose my job.

Okay fine you say I should. Well do you stop to think. There’s a child who came speaking no English but they are already 5 years behind because the curriculum and the standard don’t take that child into consideration.
What about that child who is moved around from house to house because mama is strung out on drugs and had no consistency. He can’t focus in class.
What about that angry child who’s mad at the world coming in tearing up everything not bolted to the floor.
What about the 3 hour lockdown because there is an active shooter outside the school.
What about the child who is hungry and sleepy who can’t focus on the lesson.
What about the fight that broke out in the classroom and no you gotta spend the next hour filling out paperwork while calming the class down.
What that IEP meeting that ran over my break now I’m not in my room but the first available teacher.
What about the lack of resources and funding.

What about….. the list can go on and on. It’s way too many factors that are not taken into consideration when we tie these test scores to teacher pay and jobs.

We do the best we can with what we have been given. Yes we dip into our pockets to purchase things for our classroom to ensure student success, but it takes you as parents to help us out. READ WITH YOUR CHILD! Make sure the homework gets done. It’s all practice. They won’t get better with just the teacher alone.

Show up to parent teacher conferences.
Stay in contact with your child’s teacher.

Those parents who are involved we can tell because it shows.

SHEDDING LIGHT ON EDUCATION

SHEDDING LIGHT ON EDUCATION:

Let’s talk health for a moment.

I’m pretty sure most of us get sick days. Now ask if we use those sick days when we are sick. I am sure way too many don’t use those sick days.
1. creating sub plans are a total nightmare
2. missing a day is crucial not only to us but the kids
3. you just never know what kind of sub will come into your room
4. admin can be cruel
I am guilty of coming to school sick. I would rather suffer through the day than call in sick. Creating sub plans with explicit instructions on what to do and how to do it, is a nightmare. Admin can sometimes give you a hard time. A sub may not even be available to pick up the job.
Don’t let your child end up sick….oh good grief

But we push through. Here’s the thing, we know it’s not healthy but we are dedicated to DEATH to this job. We don’t take it lightly. We take it very damn seriously. I have seen coworkers keel over in pain because they were sick or neglected their health. Really when do we have time to go to the doctor other than to take a day off or leave early or come in late. I have had coworkers blood pressure go sky high at work on the clock and the ambulance had to be called. The stress has caused people to have strokes and heart attacks sometimes in class in front of students.
We have cried through the pain both physical and emotional. We love our students like they are our own to the point we neglect our health and families.

Working in education is like an abusive relationship and we get up each day to return for the abuse.

This is to my educators learn to take those sick days. Take your mental health days. We all know we die today or tomorrow they will replace you. Take that trip. Take care of yourself to give the best of yourself.

SHEDDING LIGHT ON EDUCATION:
I pray for every educator that they make home safely to their family each night.
I pray for every educator to leave work at work to spend time with their families.
I pray every educator one day will have enough time to plan at school.
I pray that every educator one day will have an abundance of resources to reach and teach every child that enters their classroom.
I pray that every educator one day will make enough money where they will not need side hustle just to make ends meet.
I pray that politics LEAVE the educating to educators
I pray that every child that dreams of becoming a teacher one day does not become discouraged but encouraged to enter this field because all the extra is no longer present.
I pray that education will no longer be cut every time there is a budget.
I pray that educators no longer get burned out before they reach retirement
I pray that educators never have to decide between their students and theirs families

I wish there was some magic wand that we could create a perfect world, a perfect school system but there is not one. I pray every educator makes it to the last day of school alive and healthy. I pray every educator returns to education next school year.

SHEDDING LIGHT ON EDUCATION active shooter

SHEDDING LIGHT ON EDUCATION:
I was hoping not to ever post this one but I am in a number of educator groups and I’m becoming upset at this.
I am a teacher. I am here to educate your child. Taking a bullet is above my pay grade. It should not be EXPECTED for me to take a bullet for your child. I will protect them and try my damnest to keep them safe and ensure they make it home. However let us not forget teachers have families as well. We want to make it home to out families too.
I am appalled nope I’m baffled that their are parents and teachers who think and believe I am less than a teacher or should not be a teacher because I will not take a bullet for my students. Tell me when did I sign up for that?
Now the government thinks they should arm teachers! I can’t get enough paper to last a whole school year without coming out my pocket, but you got funds to train me and place a gun in my hand?
I am told I am ineffective if my students don’t pass the state exams. I am told I am ineffective if my students aren’t performing on grade level or above by the end of the school year. I am expected to work miracles in 180 days with no support from parents, minimal support from admin, no support from the district. Students who come from all walks of life with so many issues and problems that have to be addresses before teaching can even start.
Now I’m ineffective if I don’t take a bullet?
When did we place the value of education and teachers so low on the totem pole?

I know these children are on Twitter right now forming and organizing a walk out. I fully support it. I know in some areas teachers hands are tied and can’t walk out however those that do I fully support it.

Here we are at the start of the cycle shooting, outcry, prayers, hashtag, silence and repeat.

Go vote in midterm elections. Pay attention.

SHEDDING LIGHT ON EDUCATION part 2 work load

Sheedding light on education: WORK HOURS!

oh it must be nice to work 7 to 3 and get summers off and all the other breaks. Every single time I hear this I piece of me dies inside and a teacher loses her shit in real life.

So let me tell you what I do 7am to 3pm

Check it. First off I have to arrive before the students to ensure the classroom is ready to recieve them. Second I stay after the students leave to clean up from the day and prepare for the next day. I AM NOT PAID OVERTIME!!! Let’s add in those hours I take work home. Oh wait there a meeting! Upset parent gotta deal with that. Observations and walkthroughs. Data walls. Assessments on top of assessments. IEP meeting. Behavior problem meeting. Staff meeting. Team meeting. A meeting about a meeting. Lunch break? what is that. Bathroom break? man please. Want to know about all those cute crafts, worksheets, homework, centers…yep I paid for it out of my pocket because the paper supply at work is limited and my lesson plan is 17 pages for one subject for one day. Kids don’t perform well on assessments…I might not have a job next year and I am labeled ineffective. Kids come to school hungry, yep got snacks so they can focus. Kids come to school tired, go lay down for a moment. Kids some to school speaking no English, yep they gotta perform at the same level as the rest of the class. Professional development, not paid for but I gotta take them. Fight breaks out paperwork and now I gotta calm the class down like nothing happened. Little so and so and such and such comes in mad and tears up the whole room, yep gotta deal with that and document that.

I don’t sit and play all day. My five year olds are expected to read fluently and no just The cat sat on a mat. Nope try I must have grown over summer. My old shirt is too small.

They are expected to write a full paragraph that makes sense. With 4 sentences.

Reports cards due gotta sit and figure that mess out and write out nice comments about how little man is not the brightest in the class or how little girl is hitting and biting.

Wanna call home? Better pray that number works and they pick up and haven’t blocked the school number.

So those breaks I get, I earned EVERY last single one of them. Guess what nine times out of ten I’m still doing some kind of work while on break.

Shoot the kids start getting on each other nerves after a while and need a break to reset.

Those snow days yep I earned those too. You try having inside recess with 36 kids 2 weeks in a row because it’s too cold to go outside. You as parent may have one, two maybe even 3 kids at your house. I have 36 in a small room with desks and chairs. Emotions run high. Personality clashes.

Yep I earned early single second if my breaks.

So the next time you see a teacher don’t blame them for ALL the problems in education. Sit down and ask them how can you help thier classroom. Buy some school supplies. Don’t complain about the school supply list. We fund 90% of our classroom. We know there are kids who will not have NOT ONE SUPPLY because their family cannot afford it. Their family had to choose between food or school supplies.

Shedding light on education: WORK LOAD

So you think anyone can walk into a classroom and teach a group of kids jsut because they passed that grade and/or subject ions ago…..NOT

Lesson planning: I sit everyday, every week, every month, every quarter, every school year and lesson plan. I have to consider ALL my students and how best to reach them. I do not look at that Teacher Edition book and say yes this will work….NOT. How? That teacher edition book looks at the average child who is on grade level. That TE does not take into consider that child who speaks no English. That TE does not take into consider that child who is below grade level or even above grade level. That TE does take into consider that child who did not get any sleep last night because mama and daddy got into a fight and cops were at the house sorting through the drama, or there was gun fire down the street or they got put out their house, or the child went to bed hungry because there is no food in the house. The TE does not take into consider the child who comes into the school building hungry and looks forward to school because it’s a warm building with food. The TE does not take into consider that child with the learning disabilities. We are told to differentiate instruction with limited to no resources. We rely on each other to survive. I have legit typed up a lesson plan for one day for ELA and it was 17 pages. That did not include the 7 pages of small group instruction. Yep now I have to assessment my babies and group them according to ability and work with them in small groups to pull them up to grade level and beyond. Now the other students I am not meeting with I have create centers for them to be involved in independently. I cannot begin to tell you how much of my own limited personal money I spend on supplies creating centers that are engaging and appropriate. What works one year might not work the next. What the kids like one year they won’t like next year. There no such thing as lesson planning time. You find the time. You make time. You may come in early. You may stay late. You may even take that work home…..remember there is NO OVERTIME PAY so all this is free work.

Meetings: what little time I do have I get the joy of attending meetings. Grade level meetings. Parent meetings. Staff meetings. IEP meetings. 504 plan meetings. Admin meetings. I need to vent meeting. Professional development meeting. A meeting about a meeting. These aren’t short meetings either at best it’s 30 minutes. At worst it’s longer.

Parent concerns: this is mixed bags of nuts. You will get overly invovled parents. Parents you have to hunt down all school year. Parents you never see but see another representative. Parents in denial. Parents ready to pounce and fight at the drop of hat.

Students: they cuss you. They fight you. They pay attention. They don’t pay attention. They walk out. They spend all lesson in the bathroom or the nurse or the front office. They lie on you. They lie to you. They steal from you.

But you are to come to everyday with a smile on your face ready to face whatever life throws at you that day. Somes days are good. Some days are bad. Some days you are ready to throw in the towel. Some days you cry. Those tears can be tears of frustration, sadness, anixety, stress, or even joy. You cannot leave your work at work. You take those kids with you everywhere you go. How can I reach them? How can I teach them? Are they safe? Will I see them on the news tonight? Will they pass my class? You are constantly thinking about your students. Teaching is calling. Teaching is a passion.

Teachers should be the most respected profession on this planet because not everyone can be a teacher. Not everyone wants to be a teacher. If you ever get a chance talk to a teacher. Pray for a teacher. Help a teacher. Don’t critize and blame teachers for everything wrong in education or schools. How hands are tied. We can only do so much. Encourage a teacher. Stand with us when we demand more pay and better work conditions. Stand with us when we strike. We are tired and we want our jsut due. We want what is right and what is fair. Shadow a teacher just one day. Got time shadow a teacher for a week. Go volunteer at a school. Listen and observe. Half you are ready to kick your kids out the house during breaks and weather days. Imagine a classroom full with no teacher assistant.

Please stop and listen to educators. We are tired. We are discouraged. We love our job but something has got to give. We love our kids but enough is enough.