Posted in Random Thoughts, relationships, Teaching, Uncategorized

Another Year Come and Gone

It’s been a while since I sat down to write about things. This year has been a roller coaster for me emotionally, and it has been rather hard for me to think of it all and put it all down on digital paper, as it were.

I don’t know that there weill be any rhyme or reason to the blog I am going to post. I’m not sure if it will make any sense, other than to me, and I think I’m okay with that. I don’t believe that I will ever be a famous blogger. I won’t make a ton of money pouring my heart out to strangers about the things that matter to me most. And I am okay with that.

Anywho.

We had graduation yesterday evening. It was the second class of students that I have seen all the way from their freshman year to their senior year. Chances are it will be the last class of students that I will have that will do that. That in and of itself is enough to cause me emotional distress. If there is one thing that I have loved in my life more than being a mother, it is knowing that I have been trusted with the care of other people’s children. Even for a few months out of the year, I am blessed to be a part of these kids’ lives, and I get to watch them grow and transform.  And nothing has been as satisfying as watching my kids grow from lanky, awkard freshemen, to more awkward seniors.

One of my students burst into tears as we waited for graduation to start. I pulled him close and gave him a hug, reminding him that this was not the end for any of us. In some way, I think that those were the words that I most needed to hear, and so I shared them with him.

He had much to overcome this year. He battled with some internal demons only to come out of them on the other side, hopefully happier and healthier for it.  I like to think that I have done the same.

It doesn’t really matter what I teach next year. It doesn’t matter if I don’t get to call these kiddos my own. It doesn’t matter if I gain the ire of an administrator or a parent for a few moments. Because I know, that deep down, I have made a difference.

Each year, I have my senior kids write a letter, talking about where they think that they have grown and changed. Inevitably, it becomes a letter to me about what they have learned in my class and how much they are going to miss me.

The words they left me with this year brought me to tears. And yet, they are happy ones. They will serve as a reminder in the days, weeks, months, and years to come that I was here and I made a difference.

And so, Class of 2017, I want to thank you. Thank you for going on this journey with me. Thank you for letting me inch a small part of myself into your lives. Thank you for touching my life in ways that I never thought possible. I am so very proud of each and every one of you. I know that you will go far and do great things.

Maybe one day you’ll actually help me open my bookstore. How cool would that be?

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Posted in Random Thoughts, relationships, Teaching

‘Tis The Season

It’s that time of year again, the one to reflect on the events of the past, the things we wish we had done, the things we wish we hadn’t done, and anything and everything that has made us think or feel anything over the past year.  Some people use it as a time of joyous reflection, others of morose despair. Me, I like to think of it as a mix of the two.

This year has been a lot of everything. I have a lot to reflect on. Who I am. What my life is like, and if I ever thought it would end up quite like this. Where am I going from here. What my career is going to be. Who am I going to be.

I look around my classroo mas I type this, knowign that this might very well be the last holiday season spent within these walls. I am met with a feeling of bitter sadness.  If there is anything in my life that I have loved outside of my blood family, it is this. This little corner of the building that I have carved out and made my own.

I look at my students, see their smiles, their strange quirks, and I love them for it. Even the one who tries to pretend like he’s writing but is really watching Gary’s Mod videos. Like, seriously, your computer screen is facing me. You aren’t fooling anyone.

And I am going to miss them.

You know, today, I got word from a couple of my students that their writing was chosen to be featured on an online website for young writers. How cool is that? Not that it matters to anyone but me, but dang, it makes me proud.

The year hasn’t been all bad, though. This has been the most amazing year with my son. He’s a little over one now, tottering around on his own two feet, making me laugh at every turn. I always knew I wanted to be a mother, but seeing him just solidifies it.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this article. Not that anyone reads this stuff to begin with. I just think that I needed to write something about what I’m thinking and feeling. -shrug-

I guess I’ll just sign this entry off here, for now.

 

Posted in Marriage, Motherhood, Random Thoughts, relationships, Teaching, Uncategorized

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ah yes. It is that time of year. The one where everyone gathers together and discusses what it is that they have to be grateful for. And while this year may not have been the best for most of us for one reason or another, I can honestly say that I think that there are at least a few things that we can be thankful for. And here is where I will post my list.

  1. I am thankful to have a wonderful family that loves and supports me even when I’m a pain in the butt. That includes my family and my husband’s family, who have really become one in the same since we got married.
  2. I am SO very thankful to have given birth to an amazing baby boy on the 21st of 2015. He has made this the most amazing year ever, even in the face of some of those other things that made the year not so great.  He is just the best little boy ever, and I love him more than anything in the entire world. ♥♥
  3. I am thankful for my students. They are my first children, and even though they are not children of my blood, they are children of my heart. Every day they amaze me with new things, and they encourage me to be a better person, whether they know it or not.
  4. I am thankful to have an amazing group of friends who I can call family. Even though we don’t all live close, I know that I can pick up the phone whenever and still be greeted by a cheerful hello.
  5. I am thankful that I have a home and a roof over my head, heat to keep me warm, and animals who love it when I come home.
  6. I am thankful that those that I love have the same things.
  7. I am thankful for the blessings of my nephews, the one that is blood related, and the one that isn’t. They’re both adorable, and I can’t wait to watch them grow up to be outstanding young men…hopefully along side my own little man.

I’m sure I could come up with more. But today, on this last day of work before I go on holiday break, I have to say, I feel more blessed and thankful than I have in a long time. I know that no matter what happens in the future, I come from a place of love, light, and warmth…and that I will give that same back to those around me.

May you all have a wonderful thanksgiving, filled with the people, places, and foods that you love. May the next year be as joyous as this one was, and may you all continue to be shining examples of what a good person is. Enjoy your turkey day!

Posted in Teaching, Uncategorized

And So It Goes

Normally I try to keep my posts about work upbeat and happy. I’m afraid this isn’t one of those posts.

Let me preface this story by saying that I absolutely love what I do. I may not have always thought it was the best, and there are days that I’d much rather be at home with my son than with a raving mad bunch of teenagers. But, all in all, it is a worthwhile job. One that I find rather fulfilling.

That being said, I think it may be time for a change. Maybe it wasn’t the time I was ready for, but perhaps it is the time that a higher power thinks I need. Time will tell.

I began teaching the fall after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in English. I actually had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree until I ran into my high school French teacher. She told me of a program that the local school system had that would send you to some classes over the summer, put you in the classroom in the fall, and eventually give you a free Master’s degree. I didn’t have anything else to do, and kismet lead me down this path. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. So I applied, and was accepted. Looking back, part of me feels that it was probably a little bit because of my own teachers. My former French teacher was one of the mentors. My former calculus teacher, she was the lady in charge. If I had been someone else, I may not have gotten in at all. But they knew me, and I ended up joining the program, a bit more on track with a plan for my future.

I can’t say that my first year of teaching was anything but difficult. Not having any student teaching made the work even more complicated, but I persevered. Sure, my evaluations weren’t the greatest, but I was still learning, and I had a strong desire to learn. I wanted to get my whole body wet, not just my feet, and I ended up probably taking on more than I should have. I taught 9th grade English, both average and honors classes. One of my average classes was a collaborative class, which means that I had a large number of students with Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs, and that didn’t make the job any easier.

I remember having two kids almost get into a fight in my room that year. I remember being scared as the boy instead attacked one of my filing cabinets with his fist. The dents in that cabinet are still there, as is my memory of that student. There was much to learn about his situation in later years, and it still amazes me to this day that he was able to accomplish so much with his life. He’s currently in the military, and I keep up with him from time to time on facebook.

The next three years, I worked on my Master’s degree curriculum at night, and finished that degree work. My salary went up, and my responsibilities at work changed. I moved from 9th grade to 10th, and with the new curriculum came new challenges. But each year was more rewarding than the last. My students sometimes “hated” me, I always loved them, and we more or less ended the school years on a positive note. I had a few elective classes thrown in there as well, which helped to break up the monotony.

But then, in the 2011-2012 school year, I was thrown for a loop. I remember getting a phone call the Monday before I needed to be back at work…basically two full weeks before students were to show up. I wasn’t going to be teaching 9th grade, nor was I going to be teaching my 10th grade classes, or my electives. Instead, I was going to be teaching Creative Writing. Four sections of it. Each one different. The woman who had taught those classes the year before retired, and it was now my duty to take the program over from her.

I was scared. I scrambled that entire time I was back at work. I wondered what I was going to do. I had no idea how to teach Creative Writing. In fact, during my degree work, I had never even taken a class on Creative Writing. I had no idea what I was doing. On top of it all, the woman who retired left next to nothing to help me, and when I reached out, I got the minimum help back.

My classes that year were a struggle. I had three classes which had only known the other woman as their teacher. One class was completely new, but a vast majority of them had no interest in writing whatsoever. There were plenty of days that I went home crying that first year. I struggled to make it work, I worried that my teaching career was going to be over so soon. But struggle through I did, and I made it out the other side.

Years passed, and I finally got the hang of it all. I love my program more than anything else that I have ever done as an educator. I feel as if I finally make a difference. My students come back and tell me about the impact I have had on their lives. I see my same students every year…it’s no longer an “unknown” filled with fear. My classes are my home away from home, and they are my little school family. Before I had my own son, these kids were my children, my babies. It’s so much more than I ever thought it could be.

And that’s where it goes, itsn’t it? You get comfortable. You feel that you are finally doing the thing you are supposed to be doing, and then things get shaken up.

Last week, I was told that the classe that I had grown to love, were no longer going to be mine. I hadn’t done a good enough job with recruiting new students to the program, so a new teacher would be taking it over in my stead. Someone who has ideas. Someone who is good with PR.

And I broke down.

I knew that it wasn’t going to be a good meeting as soon as I got the email. I was a bundle of nerves, planning for the worst. And the worst wasn’t far from what happened.

No, I still get to teach, but I will be back to my old classes, teaching English once again. The students that I’ve grown to know and love won’t be my babies anymore. They’ll be with someone else while I watch from the sidelines.

And it hurts so much. And it scares me.

Because I believe, in some part, about fate. Perhaps I got too comfortable. Perhaps I loved something a little too much. And now, it is being torn from my arms.

Whither shall I go from here? I don’t know. Will I stay? Will I teach somewhere else, do something new? Perhaps I will find something else to take the burden of this memory from me.

Whatever I do, I will carry my love for this program with me every day. I will continue to seek out my former students. Continue to make the connections that were ever so important to me. And I will remember what it was like to once love what you do with ever fibre of your being.

I will miss all of my babies. I will mourn over my loss. But I will remember that it is never the end. The road keeps going ever onward. And I will keep on trudging along.

Posted in relationships, Teaching

Back to Work

Hey everyone! I apologize for the seemingly ridiculously long hiatus. I figured that I deserved to spend the summer with my son, and boy, was it amazing. He has grown so much in the past several months, and now more than ever am I convinced that being a mom was always something that I should be.

Now, however, I am back to the old heave ho, teaching my students once more. This year I have my four Creative Writing classes, but I also have College and Career Prep. This class is more or less a class to teach kids how to apply for colleges, and if they choose not to go that route, how to be an adult. My goal is to make the class interesting and relevant.

It’s funny, because one of the students in that class got into a pretty in depth conversation with me. We were having a study hall period, and the student asked me about having a house. She didn’t know that most people take out a home loan and have to pay on a mortgage for 30+ years.

How is it that we are trying to prepare high school students to be able to go out into the world, and they don’t even know things like that? I have seniors who have asked me to show them how to fill out a college application because they don’t know how to do that…and they’re supposed to go to college next fall. They don’t know how to fill out W-4s when they get jobs. They don’t know how to fill out a job application. They don’t know how much a car costs or what a livable wage even is.

So I’m going to try to teach them some of those skills. It boggles my mind that we try to make sure that they can regurgitate answers on a test, but we don’t make sure that they can do things that they will absolutely need to know later in life. No one is going to fill out loan paperwork for them. No one is going to do their taxes for them for free. They’re going to have to figure it out on their own, and even then, I think a lot of them will get it wrong.

In saying that, I pose a question to my readers. Is there anything that you felt that should have been taught in high school that wasn’t? Any sort of skill that is invaluable as an adult that you had to learn on your own through trial and error? I’m interested in seeing what you all think. Perhaps I can take some of those suggestions and put them into my curriculum.  Thanks for reading!

~Aly

Posted in Motherhood, Random Thoughts, Teaching, Uncategorized

An Open Letter to My Seniors

Dear Seniors,

You will probably never read this, I know, unless you someday stumble upon this small corner of the internet. By the time you do read this, you will probably wonder if this was about you at all. You’ll have to count back the years, try to see if this was the year that you graduated. Try to remember my name. Who I was. What that class was like…

That crazy Creative Writing teacher…the one who left to have a baby in your senior year. The one that knew all of your crazy secrets and never told a soul. Or maybe that stuck up Creative Writing teacher who didn’t teach you a whole heck of a lot of anything. I don’t know. History has a way of changing the way we remember things, doesn’t it.

Either way, I figure I’ll write this now while you’re still here, fresh in my mind. While I can still look across the room to you all (okay, really five of you out of a class of 15…not that I’m counting) typing away on your computers, trying to finish up the last project that I gave you. That you’re finishing last minute, but hey, that’s okay. I’m ready to be checked out too.

I remember when you all came into my room that first day, some four years ago. Normally, freshmen are scared and meek, but not you guys. I think I was more awkward that day than you were. Though I tend to be awkward a lot, to be serious. We played the name game and I heard your names for the first time. Pronounced some of them wrong, of course. I always do. But you didn’t yell at me…no, that didn’t come for another few weeks at least, when you got a bit more comfortable.

I was learning along with you. Learning how to be a better teacher. Learning how to show you where to go and what to do here. You were learning how to feel each other’s personalities out. Sometimes you were fantastic. Other times…well, I can remember many a fight that first year. Ka threatening to hit everyone. An trying to fight Ka. Ky encouraging An. Dy laughing at everyone from the corner. And mostly everyone not doing the work. Wanting me to come up with “Creative Talking” ideas, so you wouldn’t have to write.

That first year was HARD. I remember dreading having to come back to you all in the fall. You probably knew that though.  You didn’t hold it against me though. We did lose some people from the program that year. Some chose to go elsewhere. But we moved on. You all grew up quite a bit over that summer. And you grew up a lot over the past 4 years in general. I suppose high school students always do.

But you all were the first class I took from freshmen to seniors. You were the first kids that I called “my kids.” Because you were. I didn’t have any babies then, and you guys were it. Whether you know it or not, I gave a piece of myself to you, and I will be sad to see each of you go.

Now we’re in the last two weeks together. I’m sitting at my desk, looking at those of you that are here, and I’m trying not to cry. Thank goodness Dy isn’t here to tease me about it again. I’ll try to hold it together on exam day. But you know how I am.

I will miss you all so much, even though I never would have thought it possible in the beginning. You have each left an indelible mark on my heart. I have been so proud of each of you for so many different ways. Here’s a short list of remarks I have for each of you.

L.G.- You have overcome so much since we have been together. Coming from another country, overcoming a language barrier, dealing with loss, learning about yourself, and becoming friends with others. It has been a joy to watch you grow and look at your writing progress. Even if it’s not always technically perfect, your words come from your heart and move whoever reads it. Remember when you read that poem. Remember how everyone reacted. It was beautiful and true, and so very you. Don’t let anyone try to take that away from you.

V.F.- Girl, you are a powerhouse. For someone who has been quiet for so long, I have seen your words come to life. You have so much to say and show the world. Please don’t stop writing. Even if it’s just for yourself. Continue to be an example of what people should be like (hey, we’ll forget what happened with Mrs. Q, okay?). You are an amazing young woman, and I can’t wait to see where the future will take you.

S.M.- I’ve seen you more than most, because I got to have you as a student every day this year instead of just every other day. If anyone in this class could make it as a writer, I think it could be you. And no one is more deserving. You have a drive that I haven’t seen in many of my students, and the amazing thing is that even though you’re going through senioritis, you are still pretty driven. I’ve dealt with a lot worse. But not only are you a great writer, you have to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. You are selfless and friendly to everyone. It will go a long way for you in the future. I will miss you…don’t forget about me, and try to mention me in at least one of your dedications, hm?

D.B.- I don’t think that anyone knows what you have been through as much as I know. I know you don’t like to talk about it, and you don’t like to use it as a crutch. But knowing what i know and knowing you, it just shows how strong you really are. Heck, I don’t think I would have held up as well as you have. Especially with your knee, and your elbow, and all of the concussions…Yep. You are one piece of work, that’s for sure. When you focus, you are amazing. And when you don’t…well, you know what happens. Pretend like life is a baseball field and you are the star player. Keep that in mind and you will do just fine. Don’t let anyone take you for granted. And don’t fall into the traps that people set you up for. Be yourself. Be unabashedly yourself. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or says…do that, and I’m sure you’ll be fine.

C.M.- One of these days, I’ll see you again, and you’ll be getting married. And I’ll just shake my head, laughing, because that’s one of the only things we talk about. Boys. And your family. Which is good, because you know what’s important in life. Family. And love. Just don’t get lost in other people. Don’t let some guy take advantage of that great big heart you have. Stand up for yourself, and don’t become the arm candy for some guy who doesn’t appreciate all you have to offer. Because you have a lot to offer. You’re amazing and fantastic. You can hold your own. So remember to do that sometimes. You’re worth so much more than you think!

C.W.- You’re another one who goes through a lot and doesn’t tell anyone. You don’t want to be seen for those things and instead want to be seen for who you are and what you accomplish. I commend you for that, because you are so much more than the obstacles you overcome. That is a part of who you are, but it is not all there is to you. You are bright, beautiful, and just one of the nicest people around. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone speak an awful word about you (Unless you count D, and he doesn’t count, because he says mean things about everyone. lol). Keep being the helpful, humble, sweet woman you are!

A.H.- The makeup world isn’t ready for your brand of fierce. And the world may not be ready for your brand of crazy. But that’s okay, because you’ve already learned that it doesn’t matter whether people are ready. They can take you or leave you as you are. Continue to refuse to compromise on your beliefs simply to make other people comfortable. You do you. Continue to do you. And you will make the world better for it.

K.H.- You weren’t even originally my baby, but you sure as heck made your mark when you came to me, didn’t you? And we didn’t hit it off at first. We bumped heads, quite a few times. And then a few times more. It didn’t make me hate you. You’re willful, sure, but you have a lot that you’re fighting against. Sometimes, it came out in fighting against me. I understand. You don’t let your circumstances be an excuse. You don’t try to use it as a crutch. But sometimes it’s okay to admit that you’re in a place where you need some extra sympathy. Because I’m all too happy to give it. You are amazingly talented in many ways. Don’t let other people try to make you feel as if you’re not worth it. You continue to amaze me with your accomplishments, and I hope to hear about many more in the future.

M.D.-You too have overcome so much, but I think that you don’t see it that way. We may not have always been on the best of terms, but I think that we have a mutual respect either way. You have matured and grown into a wonderful woman, one that I am proud to have accompanied on her journey. I hope that what you have learned at NH has prepared you to go into a career where you can spread your light to others. Teach other people to see the joy in dark situations. Help bring smiles to the people who need it most. Keep loving the things that you do, and remember that when you focus, girl, you can accomplish anything…and you’ll do it all while looking fabulous.

K.S.- I already wrote most of this in your yearbook, but I’ll place it here anyway. You have become SUCH a different person than when you were a freshman. Not in personality, per se. You’ve always been the dark, death-obsessed, fan-fiction loving, emo/goth girl. But you’ve lost some of that immature edge that made you want to punch everyone…or at least you’ve settled down enough to not announce it to the world. That’s a good thing. Punching people as an adult lands you in jail. You can think it all you want. Write stories about it. It’s a good outlet, no? Keep fighting the good fight, even if it’s in your head. Pick good people to hang out with. Remember that people aren’t always horrible, even when you think they are. I think going to school will help you see that some.

E.F.- I remember when you tried to convince me that your name was Leslie. See how well that worked? Instead, I’ve called you by your given name for the past four years. When other people called you by your middle name…nope. Why? Not out of spite, but because I want you to be proud of who you are and where you come from. Your name is your mother’s name, and it is a powerful one. It is unique, and it is so you. Whether you’re watching videos on the computer, or laying on the floor, or announcing to everyone that you have gone commando even when no one needed to hear it…that is the one thing that I can say. You have always been nothing but you. Continue to follow that inner voice and dance to the beat of your own drum. Sure, some people will look at you as if you’re crazy, but being crazy isn’t always a bad thing. It worked out well for me, I think. 😉

S.D.- As a freshman, you were quiet and meek. Slowly, you’ve grown into your own person, and if you told me that freshman you and senior you were the same person, I wouldn’t believe it. Every day is something different from you, even if it’s just your hair or your clothes. You are a chameleon, flowing with your whims and fancies, becoming one person one day, someone else the next. And it reflects in your words, and in the way people relate to you. You continue to surprise everyone with your candor and grace. I am so glad that I got to bear witness to your transformation over these four years. Some people say “Don’t ever change.” To you, I say, “Keep on changing. Be the best possible you you can be.”

M.K.- Another one I’ve written for in person, but here are some more words for you, my dear. Your smile and laughter are infectious. Keep living life as if it’s some fabulous game to play. Don’t lose that sense of wonder and joy. So many adults walk around the world as if they’re waiting to die. Keep living as if you remember what it was like to be a kid. Play. Have fun. But don’t forget to take time out and do the tough stuff, even when you don’t want to. Then you can go back to being a kid again. Think of work as the respite from all that fun. Sometimes you just have to take a break and relax, right?

K.W.- My hippy dippy flower child. We may not have always seen eye to eye on everything, especially when it comes to more political discussions. But that’s part of what makes you beautiful. You don’t take any crap from anyone, and you stand up for what you believe in. I think that that is awesome. You remember exactly who you are at all points in time, you don’t compromise if you don’t have to, and you really embody the “treat others as you want to be treated” motto. The world needs more people like you in it, but I think you recognize that, and that’s part of what makes you so passionate. Keep spreading love, light, and joy to others.

A.K.- You’ve always had that special sort of voice when it comes to your writing. Whether you choose to be a writer in the future or not, I know that your words will have meaning. Publish a book of poetry. Write for the screen. Become a teacher. A doctor. Whatever. And whatever you do, don’t hold back. Speak the truth because you know how to say it. Write the truth because you know how to write it…in the most personal, painful, and beautiful way possible. Help others to see the truth. If you do this in life, there is no way that you will not be successful. I have faith in that.

To all of you, thank you for taking a chance with me as a teacher. Thanks for not being too hard on me as I was learning to be the best possible teacher I could be. I may not have gotten it all right, but what parent ever does? I hope that I have at least taught you one thing that you can carry on with you in the future. Don’t let anyone stifle who you are. Remember that when things look bleak, there is at least one person out there who loves you exactly the way you are. I may not always like you, but I love you.

Always and Forever Yours,

Momma A.

 

Posted in Motherhood, Random Thoughts, Teaching, Uncategorized

You Are Worth It

How often do we think about the lives of people who walk past us on a day to day basis How many of us think about the consequences of our words and how they affect other people? How do we deal with loss when it happens?

The school I work at was hit hard this weekend. On Saturday, one of our freshman students committed suicide. She had apparently been bullied by some girls and decided to end her life. Yesterday, for me, was spent talking with other teachers to try and find out who knew this young woman and lend my support to those people. Today, back at work, I see the consequences of the actions of a few. Never in my eleven years of teaching have I ever seen such solidarity from the students at my school.

We are a school of over 2000 people. This morning, about fifteen minutes after I arrived at work, there was a large gathering of students out in the hallway outside of my classroom door. At least 100 students. And they were all holding hands and praying together, those who knew her, and those who didn’t. I didn’t know this young girl, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel something. Life is precious and no one should ever feel that they are alone or worthless. No one should ever feel as if killing themselves is their last option.

Some of my students came by the room today, tears in their eyes. Although I have been a teacher for eleven years, I am not equipped to handle their grief. So I did what I could. I hugged them tight. I told them that they are loved. I let them know that I was there for them. The school has offered extra counseling services today, so I let them know of that. And I tried to let them know that even if they were feeling sad, there was someone out there who cares for them.

I remember being in middle and high school. I remember being bullied…no, tormented…by people all throughout those years. I wouldn’t wish that kind of a hell on anyone. But I had people who reminded me that I was worth it. I had a mother and father who tried to talk to me about what was happening in my life. I had people around me who listened when I talked. It may not have been much, but it was enough, for me. I only hope that people remember that sometimes that’s all that it takes.

No one should ever have to bury a child. I feel extremely sad for this young woman’s family. They now have to go on without her, and instead of seeing her bright face, they have to see her as a cause. She has become a rallying cry against bullying. She has become the poster child for what happens when people ignore an epidemic of words. It is not what her legacy should have been, but it is what it has become.

I pray that her family and friends find peace. I pray that people see this and see it as a dire reminder of what our words mean and how they can affect others. I hope that those people who bullied her feel a change of heart. I have heard that students in this building are looking for the people “responsible.” I pray that they look inside of themselves and find that the anger they feel would be better channeled into something else.

To those of you out there who may be feeling the same way, remember this. You are more than just a name or a cause or a face. You are a person who is loved, who has loved, and has affected more people in your lifetime than you will ever know. Talk to someone. Don’t take that last step off of the precipice.

If you or someone you know and love is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255.  And if you are passionate about helping people who have hit this place, consider sending a donation to To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit that seeks to bring help and attention to people who self-harm, are addicts, are depressed, and are considering suicide.

Posted in Random Thoughts, Teaching, Uncategorized

Stressing Out

Ah, another musing brought on by a conversation with a student. If ever there was a career that made you think more about life and how we live it, teaching would be it. I never ceased to be amazed by how much I end up learning from my students.

Anywho, today’s musing comes from my conversation with a student about stress. And it made me think, how much stress do we put on ourselves that is unwarranted? How much stress do we try to take off of the backs of other people and place it on ourselves? How much worldly burden can we take on before it breaks our own backs?

I know I’ve done it before. I’ve sat down and worried myself over things that were needless. “What if I didn’t do this correctly?” “What if my principal didn’t like my lesson?” “What if I forgot my lunch?” All of these simple worries, scattered throughout my mind, each one a feather on their own, but together, a pile of worry that slowly takes a toll.

And it starts with the mental. You start losing concentration on everyday tasks. You try to calm yourself but can’t seem to think about anything else. Then it moves onto the physical. Your heart beats at ten million beats per minute. You get that sinking feeling in your stomach. You try to distract yourself with menial tasks, but keep coming back to the problems that burden you. They may not even be your burdens. Maybe you’re worried on behalf of someone else.

And what does that bring us, all of this worry? Are we better for it, in the end? I don’t think so.

Instead of enjoying the simple things that lay in front of us in abundance, we get mired in the quicksand of our worries. We can’t enjoy things for we are blinded. It hurts, it brings us down, and it affects those we love as well.

I’m not saying that all anxieties and worries can be put off easily, but we have to have something that we can do to save ourselves. Maybe it’s those coloring books that are all the rage. Maybe you get up from your desk and take a walk to get a cup of coffee. Maybe you write about it. Maybe you listen to music. Talk to someone. Something has to help free you of the burden and make you feel better.

For me, it’s a mix of things. Sometimes I’ll watch video of my son. Sometimes I’ll read. I do like to color. And it doesn’t always work, but for a moment, at least, I can clear my head and try to see the light through the clouds.

I hope that those of you who are suffering from some sort of worry today find a way to move past it. I hope that you find something that makes you feel even a tiny bit better. I hope that you make this day a positive one, and move forward with whatever it is that you’re doing.

If any of you have any tried and true methods of stress relief that work for you, let me know in the comments. And let me know of a time in which this has happened to you. I look forward to reading it.

 

~Aly aka The Mommy Gamer

Posted in Motherhood, Random Thoughts, Teaching, Uncategorized

On Being a Mother and a Teacher

Sorry about being away for so long…not that it was super noticeable. Such is the life of a mother, I suppose. I came down with a pretty bad cold, and then ended up on Spring Break…and that meant taking care of the Goober. Now I’m back on track and ready to write more about stuff and things!

Today’s thoughts come from a conversation that my students were having yesterday. They are often times some of the most insightful people I have in my life, surprising me at the most interesting moments. Yesterday was no exception.

So, I had given my students an assignment to simply write about their Spring Break. I know it wasn’t particularly interesting, but when you’re coming back from a long break, often times a simple, “Hey, we’re back here and we have work to do” assignment works best. My students were in various phases of their work. Some of them had thrown themselves into the writing, and others, per usual, were spending their time talking with someone next to them. They’re Juniors, I get it.

All of a sudden, one of my students pipes up with some random commentary. I’ll try to do her justice in my recollection of what she said.

“Mrs. A? Can I just talk for a minute? As I was writing, I had a thought. I’m almost an adult. I’m 16 years old. Soon, I’m going to be out of my house, going to be away from my family. Mrs. A…I’m scared. I don’t want to leave my mother! I just want to spend time with her. I think I realized that over spring break…I just wanted to be with her and spend time with her. And it makes me sad and scared to think that soon, I won’t be able to do that.”

Now, my students don’t normally talk a lot about their families, and when they do, I almost never get thoughts like these. Most of the time, it’s “Ugh, my mother is so annoying. She got mad at me over nothing!” But this…this conversation left me with a lot of thoughts. I listened to the rest of the class talk with her about their own thoughts on the matter, and it made my eyes tear up.

I think that part of it is again my newfound motherhood. That and my own connection with my own mother. It’s amazing how in hindsight we see things with such clarity. And it’s amazing how this one student sees with clarity right now how her relationship with her own mother is going to change.

While not everyone has a great relationship with their parents, seeing that they still exist makes my heart warm. We all go through growing pains with our parents, but knowing that time with them is precious is a valuable lesson to learn. Hearing that some of my students appreciate their parents gives me hope.

Do any of you remember having that feeling at any point? Are there any memories of your parents that you’d like to share? I look forward to seeing it in the comments!

Posted in Motherhood, Random Thoughts, Teaching, Uncategorized

The Trials and Tribulations of Teaching

How’d you like that use of alliteration? Beautiful wasn’t it? I’m not an English teacher…nope. Not at all.

Anywho, I figure since I’ve written at length lately about my own child, it’s time that I wrote about something that isn’t R but my other children. My students.

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from college with a B.A. in English.

And much like our character, Princeton, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. It really did seem like a useless degree…and for the most part it was. I had gone into English because it was the one major that wasn’t going to take me an extra year to finish when I transferred majors from Theatre Education (Yes, I use the British spelling. Sue me). I suppose that deep down I always knew I was going to be a teacher in one way or another. But at that moment, I didn’t know how to get started…didn’t know what I needed to do, what classes I still needed to take, nothing. I was lost.

So I went to a job fair, and there I ran into an old teacher of mine. My old French teacher, actually. And I can’t continue this story without thanking her. Because at that job fair, she gave me the guidance that I so very needed, guidance that has enabled me to have the career that I have had for the past 11 years. Without her, who knows where I would be right now. Madame T told me about a program that the school system had, one where I would take some classes over the summer, get a job in the fall, and have a free Masters degree by the end of three years. I signed up, was accepted, and began my journey as a teacher.

And a long journey it has been. In my eleven years, I have learned so much, not only about myself, but about the people in the community I serve, about the strength of students. Things that you don’t ever think about until you see them with your own eyes.

I started out teaching English to 9th grade high school students. It was not the easiest place in the world to reach kids. I was also 21, and students saw me more as a peer than as an authority figure, so it made things even more difficult. But as time went on, I developed my own style of teaching and discipline, and I’ve managed to make it through eleven years without too much of a fuss.

I currently teach Creative Writing instead of English, and that was a task in and of itself. I had never taken a Creative Writing class, much less taught it before I was given this program. I have never had to learn something so quick! But these past four years have been the best four years of my teaching career.

Where was I going with this? I don’t even remember. I just know that thinking about my students and the career that I’ve had so far fills me with a sort of nostalgia that almost makes me cry.

I ran into a former student two nights ago at Walmart. I couldn’t remember his name, but I remembered his face, and he definitely remembered me. He told me how he and his high school girlfriend were still together, how they had a son, and how he remembered me and my class. I don’t think much about the impact I leave. Sometimes I doubt that I leave much of an impact at all. But gosh darnit, if he didn’t look so happy to see me, and the way that he spoke about my class…it was one of those moments that I suppose every teacher gets. Where they realize that even though they don’t always realize it, they’ve made a difference to someone.

I talk about being a mother as if it’s this wholly new experience for me. But I suppose it’s not. I’ve had over a thousand children. None of them were mine by blood or birth, but they’ve all been mine for the short period of time that I knew them. And even if I can’t remember names any more, I still remember faces. I remember that once upon a time, they were no more than a fifteen year old with wide eyes, and maybe an attitude problem. And years later, they have grown into adults and remember me too.

If I ever have a bad day at work, at least I can sit back and think about those moments and be thankful that I have them. Because some jobs don’t have that. Even when my teaching time is done, there will be some part of me that lives on through the lives of my students. And that thought is comforting.

 

~Aly, aka The Mommy Gamer