The Downside to Snow Days

The Downside to Snow Days

I’m not sure if I got more excited about snow days as a kid or as an adult. There is something magical and wondrous about a snow day. They're almost mythical in some places.  

There were times as a kid where I would pray for a snow day. It was one more day to snuggle back under the warm covers. It was one more day to put off homework, and one more day to not worry about assignments. It was one more day to sip hot chocolate and play with my friends. Snow days were amazing.

But not for everyone.

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Don’t Ever Lose This

Don’t Ever Lose This

Thoughts of teacher burnout, stress and frustration swirl around in my head. I can't help but think about our finite time, attention, and focus.

You lose control over your time at school. Those decisions are made already. Classes that have to start and end. Staff meetings on Wednesday. And lunch break from 11:27 to 11:30.  

Your attention is lost the same way. You can only pay attention to so many things in a day. Many things demand it whether we like it or not. You have grades, standards alignment, lessons plans, report cards, 504 paperwork, tutoring documentation, and figuring out how to keep wads of wet toilet paper off the bathroom walls.

But here's the thing you can't ever lose—

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The Personification of Sunshine

The Personification of Sunshine

It was an energetic Monday morning in my classroom. The kids were whirling with talk of weekend exploits and who brought what for snack.

It was also the day after my birthday, so I was feeling pretty good. Birthdays can be full of stress and expectations. The day after is always better. We finished our morning journal writing. and got ready for our class meeting. We always called them our round table.

I’m a believer in classroom rituals and traditions. I always had a tradition with round table and birthdays. If it’s your birthday, then you get an entire round table dedicated to you.

Each person says something meaningful or encouraging about the birthday boy or girl. Then we all sing “Happy Birthday” as I strum along on my guitar. Super fun, right?

Only I never expected to be the one to receive a birthday round table.

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5 Dangerous Things Breaking Bad Taught Me About Teaching

5 Dangerous Things Breaking Bad Taught Me About Teaching

I can’t think of a single TV show that gripped me like Breaking Bad. Sure there was Star Trek: The Next Generation and The X Files in high school. Not too long ago The Shield had me hooked. And The Walking Dead still keeps me thinking. But none of those shows` put a stranglehold on my mind like Breaking Bad.

I watched the pilot years ago in some kind of Amazon video trial. I heard a thing or two about it. I was intrigued when I saw the cover image of a middle-aged white guy standing, gun in hand, in his tighty-whities while a gas mask and battered RV sat in the background. I’m so glad I decided to watch it. I was hooked like a street druggie on some of that sweet baby crank.

The series finale aired a few weeks ago. Even though I knew it was in its last season, it was still sad. It was the same type of feeling I get when I finish book series or an incredible novel.

It will be hard completely saying goodbye to Breaking Bad. I’m still thinking about the nuances in the finale. It was an incredible run.

More than just entertainment, I’m glad the show reminded me of some dangerous truths about teaching. I say dangerous because not following them could have dire consequence for you or your students.

Here are five dangerous truths about teaching that I learned from Breaking Bad.

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My Biggest Failure as a Teacher

My Biggest Failure as a Teacher

I can’t be that teacher to every student.

It took me a while to learn that. It’s easy to buy into the Hollywood super teacher mentality. It’s alluring and sexy. It’s exciting and makes for a great screen play. It’s also complete fiction.

I had my biggest failure as a teacher this year. It wasn’t failing to get my report cards done on time. Although I’ve done that. It wasn’t losing a kid on a field trip. Although I’ve done that too. It wasn’t setting off the school alarm and having a subsequent conversation with district security. Again, I’ve been there. It wasn’t even forgetting to put a kid’s picture in the school yearbook. Guilty again.

This time was a biggie.

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She Smelled of Feet

She Smelled of Feet

She smelled of feet. A perfectly normal five year old otherwise. She just smelled like feet. I would go on to realize that many kids had a distinct odor. Sometimes nice like fruity shampoo or laundry detergent. Sometimes not like ashtrays or feet.

It was her shoes. Or rather, her sockless feet inside of her shoes that produced the smell. They were a flat, brown situation with a single velcro strap. In my naiveté, I wondered why her parents just didn’t buy her more shoes. Like I said, a sweet girl otherwise. 

There was a natural curiosity about her that only a kindergartener possesses. Constant questions were all part of a normal day. A child’s eyes see things that adult eyes cannot. Children haven’t yet been spoiled by the can’ts and doesn’ts.

There was an underlying sadness behind her tentative smiles. It was like the sun struggling to come around from behind an ominous cloud. I wouldn’t put my finger on it until much later in the year.

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