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.

To Know Me is to Love Me

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I adore teaching.  It is truly something I am passionate and I feel lucky to have found it.  I was so excited last year because I found a school I fit in, a team I loved, a community I loved, and best of all… I wouldn’t have to go back to job hunting.

Early in our careers it seems like all we do is interview.  As a new teacher, it is normal to get bounced around from school to school.  Maybe you were a long-term sub, maybe they didn’t have the FTE to keep you, or maybe it just wasn’t the right fit for you.  Whatever the reason to be, that probationary period really sucks.  I hate that time of not being 100% sure if there is a job for me next year, if I will get renewed, if I’m doing all that I can be doing.

So naturally, that is where life has led me. Back to the interviewing stages.  The worst part of this process, now, is that today everything is done electronically.  Although it makes it more convenient, it’s hard to stand out from the 100s of applicants that are applying to the same job.  As my mother has always said, “To know me is to love me!”  And it’s true! I personally make the best impressions, at least professionally, is to meet me in person.

I remember my first interview right after student teaching.  I was asked about RTI (response to intervention) and didn’t know the acronym.  I was so nervous and right before the interview itself, my husband had accidentally taken my keys along with his to work.  So I was stranded.  Which left me knocking on my neighbors door in a panic asking awkwardly if I could borrow her car.  I left that interview knowing instantly… “Welp, didn’t get that job!”

It can be a frustrating experience – especially when you know personally how good you are.  You have been told from administrators, parents, students, and other colleagues.  I by no means am perfect.  I’m still very new and have no problem owning my mistakes.  I have a lot to learn.  But I want to learn.  I’m eager and willing to learn.  I’m passionate about teaching and want to grow as a teacher.  I want to be that teacher students look back over the years and think to themselves, “Man, that Mrs. B really made an impact on me.”

I just went through my first interview experience while living in Michigan now.  I loved the  team.  The superintendent acted very befuddled when I entered the office asking me, “Are you sure you’re in the right place? Who told you to come here? What position?” Which left my heart beating and me in a panic knowing my interview was in 8 minutes.  He then cut himself off, ” — hahah I’m just kidding! They’ll be right with you!”

The community is small.  I like that.  The people were nice.  The superintendent was involved and made connections.  Unfortunately, I did not get the position.  But that is not to say I didn’t make connections I could use in the future.  They gave me a lot of positive feedback and it just came down to best fit.

My husband reminds me that it all happens for a reason.  I believe that.  I have to believe that.  But it still doesn’t make it any less disappointing or frustrating.  Time will tell.  It always does.  And I know I will look back and be like, “Isn’t it funny how things worked out?”  Now that I’m settled and I at least got one interview under my belt, it’s easier for me to stay positive.  Hopefully that perfect job is just around the corner.  Until then, I’ll keep chugging along! 🙂

Keeping an Open Mind

For the last two years, I have been a 6th grade teacher.  I’ve coached middle school volleyball and soccer and really found my groove.  Middle school is where I felt I belonged and I was committed to the idea.  The fact that most people couldn’t imagine the idea of working in a middle school further confirmed the fact that I was someone who was right for the job – that I was someone who could truly relate to the kiddos and make a difference.

However, transferring my teaching license in Michigan has been quite frustrating.  In Colorado I was licensed K-6 for elementary school.  In Michigan, elementary school is defined as K-5.  Despite the fact that I passed the Praxis test and was endorsed in secondary Language Arts, Michigan doesn’t care.  They will not simply accept a passed test but rather expects you to complete a program and either major or minor in the topic.  I already have a Master’s degree, so having to go to school for the same thing I’m already endorsed in (assuming I am committed to secondary education) seems silly to me.  Lastly, I have to pass two Michigan state tests in order to receive an official teaching license – one of which has three subtests.  Needless to say, I have been quite disappointed finding out all the hoops I have to jump through to be able to do what I love.

Because Michigan only approved me to teach elementary school, I’ve had to adjust my whole mindset.  It’s something I am no longer used to and have to just start accepting that I could still love teaching elementary.  After all, I have worked with kids of all different ages and have loved it.  I went to school to teach elementary school because clearly I enjoyed that age as well.  I think I just have forgotten how much fun that age is too.

I did a practicum in a preschool, I’ve done a practicum in a 2nd grade classroom, I student taught 4th grade, I taught for part of a year 5th grade, and then have done 2 years in 6th grade.  I loved 4th grade – in fact I thought for a while it was my ideal grade.  I loved the 2nd grade practicum – the students were cute, they felt safe with me, and I wanted to take them home as one of my own.

So despite the fact that the idea of teaching little ones scare me, I think it’s because I’m nervous I may not be as strong as I once was teaching those topics.  However, I have an interview for a 1st or 2nd grade position (it may have changed now so I’m not entirely sure) and I need to start getting excited.  There are a lot of benefits to teaching elementary school as well – particularly less grading.  Regardless of what I teach, as long as I have a good team and I have a sense of confidence teaching what I’m teaching, I know I’ll be successful.  I know I’m a good teacher.  I’m passionate about teaching, and if that enthusiasm continues, I know I will only grow to be a better teacher and hopefully become a major asset to any school I’m at.

For right now, I need to go with the flow.  I need to keep an open mind and just embrace where life takes me.  God has a plan for me and I need to relinquish any control I’m trying to hold on to.  Let’s be honest, I really don’t have any control.  I make plans and God laughs.  So keep your fingers crossed because one way or another, I will have a classroom of my own once again!

I Sound like my Father!

I feel that now that I have taught English/Language Arts, perhaps I have become more snobby about the language itself.  Perhaps I feel like I am entitled to an opinion seeing that I have had to teach the subject, clarify the grammar rules, and grade countless writing assignments.  Or perhaps I am simply more aware of what our language is developing into seeing I am surrounded by middle schoolers who want to incorporate “bae” and “lol” into their essays.

I have even had students write “IDK” as an answer and then put in parentheses “I don’t know in case you don’t know” – spelling out that abbreviation as if I’m old and have lived under a rock.  I’m sorry, child, but my generation invented those little acronyms.

However, it’s come to a point where I am so disgusted in what my generation has created and what society has enabled us to do.  I have a pet peeve of people using the word “good” inappropriately when they should use the adverb “well.”  This is such a common mistake though, that I believe the language has probably made good an adverb by now.  For those of you who don’t know what an adverb is, it’s a word that describes a verb.  The words: are, is, am, was, have been, are state of being verbs and you use adverbs to describe them.  So when someone asks “How are you?” You respond with “well,” not “good” as that is an adjective.

Okay, enough grammar – however that really does drive me crazy – and I appreciate any/all of my students who attempted to correct their ways while in my class.

I have a best friend that loves the word “cray.”  And she’s not alone.  I will say I think she intentionally says it around me because she knows how disgusted I am in it.  I know so many people who use words like these and they honestly don’t even bat an eye when they use it.  They think it’s normal.  It’s the lingo, it becomes normal.   But isn’t it sad when words like “twerking” and “bootylicious” are legitimate words according to the dictionary.

They added another definition to the word “literal” explaining how the word can be used to emphasize something.  However, by adding that definition, they have literally cancelled out the definition of the word.  There is no longer a word that means literally as its definitions are contradicting.

I just find it sad because our language can be so pretty.  People used to write song lyrics and poetry that had such depth and complexity.  Instead now we are left with “Oh baby baby baby, please oh baby baby baby….” – how poetic.

On a regular basis, I told my students there was no need to cuss because there are so many other ways to say what you are thinking or how you are feeling that make you come across far more intelligently (contrary to the fact that I do indeed cuss like a sailor when I’m not teaching).  However, it is true.  When you are able to use larger words you come across as more educated.  People do take note of that.  They see you as polished and they do respect that.  So why do we keep wanting to dumb everything down?  It starts out as a joke and then it becomes a reality.  It is crazy to see how our language has evolved and somewhat sad to see what the language has lost.

The saddest part of it all is now this entire rant makes me feel like I’m my father.  I just hear his voice echoing in my head as I complain about what today’s youth has done to our language and how horrible it is.  I find myself nodding in agreement but also wanting to slap myself for sounding just like him as I have rolled my eyes to his rants so many times before.  I will say, though, when you see what kids try to write on homework assignments, tests, and essays – you may think twice about using the word “bae” or “cray cray” (which by the way has the same amount of syllables).  Either way, my students were told from day 1 that those words are not allowed in my classroom, and although they laughed they did follow that expectation.

So the Hunt Begins…

As you can tell from the title of this blog, the hunt for a teaching job has officially begun.  I have been filling out applications like mad online, posting on Facebook asking for any connections or suggestions in the area, emailing principals directly, and getting feedback from newly established friends in the area as well.

Emailing principals is hit or miss.  Some principals will look at your resume and perhaps consider you.  Others will see your email and immediately delete it as nobody got time for that.  It’s all a numbers game thIMG_0091ough.  Eventually something has to hit, doesn’t it?

I so badly want to be teaching.  It is something I truly feel I am meant to do and is something I am
passionate about.  Getting emails parents reaffirms what I already knew, not to stroke my own ego.

I feel that the emails point out how I already feel.  I strive so hard to build connections with parents and students and try to provide that positive feedback so students have a good feeling about themselves.  They feel recognized and it makes them want to come to my class.  Parents see that I am doing my best to recognize the best in their kids and communicate effectively with them.  Providing that communication makes us a team – they know I want what’s best so if I need help they are more willing to provide that additional support that will enable that success.

But how do you show that in an application.  How do you show principals and hiring teams that you truly mean it.  How do you prove you aren’t full of bullshit and you truly do the best you can to be the best.

I want to improve.  I want to be that teacher that families in the community hope to have when their children reach my grade-level.  I want to be the teacher students look back on and say, “Mrs. Budden was my favorite teacher.  She got me and she made learning fun.”

I’m not perfect by any means.  I still have a long ways to go to be where I want to be as far as my development is concerned as a teacher.  But teaching is something I am meant to do.  Teaching is a job that gives me a sense of fulfillment.  Even on my worst day, I still loved my job.  There were random things that made my day.  For example, I love playing music in the classroom.  I played “Man in the Mirror” while they were independently working and randomly, when the chorus hit, ALL of them just started singing it out loud.  I couldn’t be mad as it was done in unison so perfectly.

Although I love middle school, I’m willing to teach whatever I have to in order to be back in the classroom.  I just wished that I was able to better sell myself than answering generic questions on an online application that doesn’t enable me to truly show who I am as a teacher.  I want schools to see that I am a teacher that is passionate and a team-player.  That I enjoy being as involved as possible and am a go-getter.

So, if you happen to be reading this, and have connections within the Michigan school system – I welcome any help, suggestions, feedback, etc.  Starting anew is not easy.  Building those connections, making yourself new with no other connections is difficult to do.  But I’m hopeful and determined and I will be working in a classroom come this fall if it is the last thing I do.

 

Ups and Downs

The last 6 months for me has been a series of ups and downs, back and forth.  Essentially I’ve been on the longest roller coaster ever.

Quick recap:

  1. Brian gets relocated and moves from Colorado to Michigan in January
  2. We decide to do long distance until the school year is over – I’m very reluctant to leave – but hey it’s a new adventure
  3. House hunting
  4. House selling
  5. Move in with a friend and figure out what to do with the dogs until we close on a house
  6. House buying
  7. Negative pregnancy test after IUI
  8. The sellers from hell – back and forth, negotiating, tears, relief, take-backs, tears, frustrations, googling where to bury a body, move in
  9. Road trip #1 – moving the dogs out with dad
  10. Interview on the spot and a job offer
  11. Have to leave the school early, with a week and notice – lots of heart-breaking goodbyes
  12. Road trip #2 – Official move to Michigan — heartbreaking goodbye to my mom at the airport
  13. Settling in – loving the new house as do the dogs and building a community
  14. New job – lots of highs and lows all the time
  15. Starting the adoption process

 

So here we are now.  In a place where I have been struggling.  Especially these last couple of days or weeks rather.

I’m currently recruiting for a company I once recruited for.  The position itself came up when I stated in a light conversation I could have been really successful had I been given the right manager.  So this was a 2nd chance at it.  A fresh attempt especially seeing I didn’t have a job in Michigan already.  This would keep me occupied.  It would pay more than teaching.  It would provide me time to finalize my temporary teaching license and time to get certified in middle school – something I had fallen in love with.  So when the job just fell into my lap and I was offered the position on the spot, how could I say no?

The adjustment wasn’t easy.  I’m one of those people that when you come up with a plan that’s what the plan has to be.  What the big picture will look like.  Going back and forth between two different potential outcomes drives me crazy and creates a lot of anxiety in me.  My vision was to grow as a teacher and retire after 35 years of teaching.  This was not part of the plan.

Let go and let God.

So when I decided to accept the position I had to just keep telling myself that maybe this was just a God thing – God had a different plan for me than I had envisioned.  My dad always said, “You make plans and God laughs.”  Because really, it’s all out of our control anyways.  Perhaps I was meant to be a recruiter after all.  I’m good with people, I’m social, and I work my ass off.  This location specifically needs people like that.  I could definitely be an asset.

Yes, I was nervous about what people would say and it was hard to think I could potentially be done with teaching.

“But you are such a good teacher!” or “I thought you loved teaching.” or the emails from parents, “You are my child’s favorite teacher.”

Reminder: it’s hard for me to think of going back and forth… I want an end goal.  I don’t want to teach, go to recruiting, go back to teaching, etc.  I want a career path that I stick with for 30 years.  Ridiculous.  I know

However, with a positive and hopeful midst and a sense of acceptance I allowed myself to get excited.  I met my boss back in Colorado and we had a good time.  We clicked.  We vibed.  I was getting excited about what I could bring to the team.  The first week of official week I felt I kicked butt.  I had a sense of pride and saw that perhaps a new career path could really be an option.

Then Brian got an email.  It was from my boss’s boss… the head of HR.  It read: Call me. We have a problem.

Apparently my boss had gone to the head of HR, very upset, and said that Brian told someone I was taking her job.

Wait… what?  Take that in for a minute… doesn’t that sound like such a middle school thing to have say outlaid as an adult?  Who goes to their boss and reports that? That sounds like something one of my students would report to me when tattling on a fellow classmate.

Anyways, we were dumbfounded.  I came back to work after that weekend with a knot in my stomach.  Here I just had a kick ass week and felt so confident and now that has all gotten messed up.  Rather than just brushing it off her shoulder, my boss then continued to state what other small things I had said that bothered her.  For example, “What will your role be when we hire our final recruiter?”  Apparently, that caught her off guard.

It’s been a series of those things for the last couple of weeks now.  I was so frustrated and called my mom crying at work one day asking what I got myself into?  How is it that it went from being so kick ass to just so tumultuous?  New beginnings always have ups and downs…but not like this.

So this is where I am now.  Struggling.  There are good days and bad days.  Good hours and bad hours.  She is okay with me one minute the next minute she seems like she is ready to kill me.  I ask her a question and she responds helpfully, I ask her another and I feel like I’ve poked the bear.  I did great while she was on vacation but she doesn’t trust me yet to go solo.

It’s truly shown me that I am really meant to be a teacher.  It’s what I love and what comes so naturally.  With teaching there is a sense of community.  Even if you don’t like your boss, you have 50 other people to lean on and confide in.  There is a sense of belonging and family and camaraderie.  We work together and we laugh and cry together.  When you think you have had a shitty day, some kid says something that is just so random you can’t but help and laugh.  I truly miss it.  And even on my best day as a recruiter, I don’t get that sense of fulfillment and confidence and pride that I do as a teacher.

At least I’m aware now.  I’m still trying to ride the roller coaster.  I’m still trying to go with the flow.  I’m still trying to let go and let God.  It’s a daily challenge.  But knowing that I have the choice to teach again means there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  And knowing that makes everything else okay.