Dear Parents…

I would like to preface this letter with the fact that I am not a parent myself and do understand that when you have children of your own, your perceptions do change.  With that being said, it seems today, that parents have this internal conflict with trying to form such a positive relationship with their child that they don’t know where to discipline and where to provide some leeway.  They have this vision of being best friends with their child and fear that providing boundaries and consequences will some how hinder their vision.

As a middle child, I certainly did not make parenting easy.  Despite my dramatic cries and tantrum throwing efforts, my parents managed to maintained a close and positive relationship with me.   They both made an effort so that I was comfortable coming to them.  I was never scolded for being open and honest and they did their best to truly listen.  At the same time I knew what their expectations were.  The expectations my parents held for me at home carried across multiple platforms.  These platforms included sports, friends’ houses, school, and even work.  I was to be respectful and help where I could; say please and thank you; be responsible; and not talk back to any adults.  These expectations helped me navigate through life and taught me a sense of right and wrong, moral and immoral, and that there were consequences for my actions (both good and bad).

I feel it is important to hold our children to these same expectations.  Children need to be aware what is allowed and what is not allowed.  They need to be taught these expectations so they can practice them and be successful in the real world – whatever their endeavors may be.  By having firm boundaries, children know what to expect.  They aren’t left in a gray area uncertain and questioning if they are going to get in trouble this time if they didn’t get in trouble last time.  This is where consistency and followthrough are important.  Threatening children with consequences and then not ever enforcing them teaches them that they don’t have to listen because those consequences won’t actually happen.  This could easily have a negative impact as time goes on if not corrected – just imagine Bobby in the work place not believe his boss will truly fire him if he doesn’t get his paperwork completed.

I also feel it is important that our children not only be held to these expectations, but made aware that these are universal expectations.  Children need to realize that they will be held accountable in all aspects of their life and that there will most definitely be consequences for their actions.  If you are disrespectful to your parent, you very well may be grounded, lose a privilege or be given an additional chore.  Likewise, if you are disrespectful at school you will lose recess (this is a debatable consequence and can be discussed at a later time); lose a privilege or be given an additional task. On the other end of the spectrum, students should also learn that if they work hard, are helpful, and go above and beyond that their efforts will be acknowledged (whether it be through a sticker; verbal acknowledgment; or even a natural, good, internal feeling).  I feel that if we want our children to be set up for success, not only do they need to understand these expectations but also understand that humility is an admirable thing.  Their ownership and honesty should be acknowledged when they take accountability (they should still have consequences enforced, but recognition for their honesty is a must!).  Accountability in the classroom is something that I see lacking greatly, today.

In order to ensure our children are set up for success emotionally and academically, we need to let them know that we are a team.  We need to recognize that despite the fear of burdening a parent-child relationship, there is probably some fault that the child can take ownership of.  We as a team, need to communicate with one another about what we are witnessing at home and in the classroom.  We need to acknowledge problems that are arising and positive behaviors that are also being observed.  We want the child to see and be aware that we are on the same page and that our expectations will be enforced across different domains.    Therefore, as a teacher, I need you to have faith in the integrity of what I am telling you.

As a teacher, I am in no way trying to tell you that your son is a horrible human being.  I am in no way trying to tell you that your daughter is the only guilty party in a given situation.  I apologize for any negative experiences you may have had with previous teachers, coaches, and/or parents of another child.  But please try to recognize that the majority of adults truly want what’s best for your child and are simply trying to reach out for help – help in managing a situation your child can learn and grow from.  Please do not automatically assume I am out to get your child or pass judgment on him/her/you.  And lastly, if you promise to not believe every single thing your child says about school, I promise to not believe every single thing I hear about home.

We are in this together.  In order to ensure success for our children we need to help them navigate them through life so they can be independent and good human beings.  They may fight you along the way, but I promise as they become adults, they will thank you.  But furthermore, they will respect you.

Sincerely,

A loving teacher trying her best

 

Making the Right Decision

life is sum of all decisions determined by priorities

My previous post discussed the frustration of having to interview.  For the most part, I feel I interview well.  I may come on strong, but I think it’s because I am not shy.  I don’t hesitate to answer questions and I try to come off knowledgable.  Most of the time, I feel this is accurately conveyed.  Fortunately, it was today.

Today, I interviewed for a 5th grade position about an hour away.  I was hesitant about the location but figured interviewing couldn’t hurt.  Practice makes perfect and it’s important to be open-minded.  At the very least, maybe I would make new connections that could lead me to where I am meant to be.

While driving home from the interview, I received a phone call asking for permission to contact references.  Of course this was a good sign.  The principal did not hesitate to call all three references and got back to me within an hour or so.  As you have probably assumed while reading this, I was offered the job.  Despite my gut instinct, I asked for time to discuss this over with my husband and get back to her which she had no problem doing.

I rarely ask for opinions on Facebook.  However, I put it out there to get feedback on if an hour drive is a crazy commute.  I think it’s good to have different opinions and perspectives (in all areas of life) as it allows you to see things differently.  It pushes you to evaluate your priorities and has you question how best to represent yourself and your morals.

Driving an hour there and an hour back adds up quickly.  However, I would get to have my own classroom and do something I’m truly passionate about.  I’m eager to perform well and learn as much as I can – and I could do that here.  But the man, who would be my co-teacher, specifically said he is hoping to find someone who will be here and commit to this family of teachers.

The most popular response on Facebook suggested that I take the job, and if something better comes along to turn it down.  Although it is true this is just business and this happens a log, it makes me uncomfortable.  I don’t want to burn any bridges and I don’t want to screw anyone over.  I would hate to leave them scrambling at the last minute to fill the position.  At the same time, it’s a job – I could love it.  It would help bring in money so we can finally have the funds to adopt a child of our own.  Maybe it won’t be too bad if I find podcasts and music and use that time to decompress.  However, in the winters the roads are horrible…. and this mental debate goes on and on and on and on….

I think at the end of the day, when making a decision like this, you have to go with your gut instinct.  Despite needing the money, I think it would be unfair to take the job.  I can’t commit to being apart of the community long-term as I assume after a year or so that drive would eat at me.  I would much rather have a job close by and I think I need to have faith that it will all work out how it’s supposed to.

For me, it’s important I walk away feeling good about how I handled the situation.  Hopefully, the principal will appreciate my honesty and maybe even pass my name on to someone in my area.  I need to just trust that it happens for a reason, and the job I’m meant to be in will fall in my lap – even if the school year is inching closer and closer.  My priority is being with my family, holding up a good reputation, and finding a job that I want to be in for years to come.  Therefore, I think I have concluded this isn’t the best fit and I will need to respectfully decline the offer.

Silver lining: At least I’m in a position to turn down an offer.  At least I have an offer.  At least I had an interview and hopefully there are more to follow.

Missing My Erie Family

Growing up I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.  I have always loved working with kids.  The age of kids has gone back and forth; but the bottom line was that I would always be surrounded by young unpredictable little faces.  Despite not going straight into teaching once I graduated from CSU, I was always led back to the initial plan.  Who would have known that that plan would haveIMG_0166 had me teaching middle school?

I started off teaching 5th grade in a charter school that I learned to hate.  I was lucky enough to walk away a great friend and moved on into a K-8 school where I fell in love with middle school.  Because I was a late hire I wasn’t guaranteed a position which thus brought me to good ole Erie Middle School.

I had the luxury of teaching math and language arts.  I was placed in the 8th grade hall slightly isolated from the other 6th grade teachers.  At first I was slightly bummed but I grew to love it because it enabled me to befriend other grade-level teachers.  In fact I became what we called an “honored imposter” of the 8th grade team.

The teachers at Erie have this unique community that I haven’t seen in the other schools I’ve been in (granted it’s fewer than most veteran teachers).  For the most part, everyone is united.  Everyone hangs out together – across grade levels. People have been working at Erie for years and everyone knows all the families in the community.

On Fridays it’s not so much a question but rather an expectation and anticipation for afternoon drinks.  This is a regular thing and it is where all the teachers fall in love with each other.  We know each other on a personal level and therefore are truly a family.  Finding this environment was once in a lifetime (or so I’m told) and I had to leave it.

Do not get me wrong, I am proud of my husband and it’s the duty of a spouse to support one another.  But making the decision to leave Erie was the hardest one I’ve ever made.  It’s something I wish I could change – if I could pick up Erie and bring it to Michigan I would.

IMG_0167IMG_0153

I’ve been in Michigan for about a month now.  Yes it is very green.  Yes I am enjoying the community we are building.  Yes I LOVE our new house and so do the dogs.  All of that is good.  But I really really really miss my Erie family and working at Erie.  I feel like being in that school confirmed every and any doubt I ever had about my chosen career path.

I created friends that I intend making last a lifetime with a relentless amount of inside jokes the incorporated Fireball Whiskey, Unicorns, and awkward turtles along with the importance of rigor and assuming positive intentions.