THIS ONE GOES TO ELEVEN

Follow me @jellison23

Follow me @jellison23

I HAD MY FIRST TEACHER TWITTER CHAT OF THE SCHOOL YEAR.  Once a week from 4 - 5 p.m. I get on twitter and talk with a bunch of teachers all over the world.  We talk about creating a positive classroom environment.  

I am stunned that it is already the beginning of another school year.  Summer always rushes past so quickly.  I always have a huge list of things that I'm going to accomplish this summer.  I never get them finished.  In fact, very often, I accomplish none of them.  I get sucked into the gloriousness of sleeping in and not having responsibilities.  Summer off is one of the big perks of teaching.  Of course, this summer I went to two conferences, and have had a bunch of meetings -- most through Google hangouts or Skype.  

This has been my busiest summer ever.  I also got to travel which I don't do very often.  I can now add Denver and Orlando to the list of places I've been.  I also, much to my offspring's sorrow, can now say I've been to both Epcot and Magic Kingdom.  It was pretty awesome.

I love my weekly twitter chats because all of the people who regularly participate have really positive outlooks, too.  It is great to hang out with people who have a similar life view.  Teaching isn't the easiest gig in the world, and maintaining a positive spirit is everything.

My current job is at a fairly challenging school -- at least that is how it looks to outsiders.  Most of our students struggle with poverty, and most of them have to learn English in kindergarten.  Many of them will be the first in their families to graduate from high school - some the first in their family to graduate from Middle or even elementary school.  But to be honest, it is a really awesome place to work.  Our staff has a united goal -- we are in the trenches together -- and that kind of united positivity isn't something that is easy to find.  I've taught in some fancy private schools where the kids had everything -- some of them anyway -- and that was challenging.  Parents had really high expectations for their kids -- they expected their kid to have the highest grade, be the best athlete, and the most beautiful kid in their grade.  Those kids carried some heavy expectations, and trying to convince them that effort and failure was a real part of life was very challenging -- especially if their parents were teaching them the opposite message.

I took The Boy and Girl to get some school supplies.  Nothing says the end of summer like a new box of crayons.  They of course, wanted all the things.  I pointed out that they didn't need All the Things.  I still love buying new highlighters and notebooks.  I love a spiral pack of index cards -- especially those fancy brightly colored ones.  I've no need for any of these things but love shopping for them.

My prize box at school has highlighters, markers, pencils, scissors, boxes of crayons, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and I even include some school uniforms my kids have outgrown.  It is pretty  moving to see a little 2nd grader choose a new toothbrush and toothpaste over candy because they don't have one of their own.  Hearing a 3rd grader say, "You mean these pants are free? Now, I can have two pairs!"  

I'm new to the public school system, and I don't completely understand how it all works.  It is strange that within the same town, one school might have a state of the art movie studio and another one no gym.  My own kids go to my school -- we actually live in a different school's official neighborhood.  When I talked to them about coming to my school I asked them to think really carefully about it.  "We have just that one playground."  I reminded them.  "You've seen it.  It is really small.  And your school has three playgrounds, so think about that."  It is hard to understand why that difference exists.  Our kids play games and run around but I'm sure they would love a big play structure.

I've only got a few days left where I can goof around and sleep late.  I used to force myself to get up early in these last summer days -- to prepare for the school year, but now my attitude is like, "Hey, you've only got these last few sleep-in days left -- LIVE IT UP."

The best thing about teaching as a career (beside having an influence on the future, and changing lives) is the way that you get a new year every September.  There aren't too many jobs like that. I get a fresh start.  August 17th is Day 1.  The future is as clear and empty as a brand new notebook.  I can fill it up with whatever I want.  I'm really pushing myself to be an agent of hope and encouragement this school year.  I want to avoid negativity like those Beach Body people avoid carbs.  I want to look for ways to encourage everyone around me -- especially those bogged down in negativity; especially those who feel left out and unheard.  I hope that by the end of this school year, my notebook is only filled with beautiful words.

Fingers crossed.

--Jen

P.S.  In case you are interested, I did not buy any coffee so I tried a cup of chocolate raspberry truffle.  It was horrible.  Tomorrow I shop!