Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What's Up October

It's the last Wednesday of October I'm linking up with MelShay, and Sheaffer for this month's What's Up Wednesday post.


Every month we answer the same few questions based on how things are currently going in our lives. 

The questions are...


What am I eating this?

I haven't had a hamburger in a while. This is a traditional Senegalese burger with fries served right inside the burger. Typically it has a fried egg on it too, which is good. But I passed on that part this time. Y'all, this is the best burger I've had in a while!

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What am I reminiscing about?

My brother and sister-in-law have been married 8 years this month. It seems like just yesterday. My brother and sister-in-law were totally meant for each other. They make such an awesome couple. They really do!

What am I loving?

Oh my word, y'all... Do you want to see an answer to prayer? Look at that up there. It's an A/C. ...something I totally haven't been able to afford here, but thanks to the awesomeness of God, this heavenly coolness is now a permanent fixture in my bedroom. It's still Hot Season here in Dakar, so when you walk outside, you feel like you've stepped into a sauna. So yes, I am definitely loving the blessing of having an A/C at home!

What have I been up to?

Parent Teacher Conferences all week. And I am once again reminded of just how truly awesome it is to work with such good, easy to work with, parents. What a blessing!

What am I dreading?

I love spending Thanksgiving with my AGWM family here. They're awesome. They are. But I'm dreading being away from my family for Thanksgiving next month. Holidays are some of the times I miss my family the most.

What am I working on?

Each Monday, I introduce the week's spelling words to the class. We review them, clear up any misunderstandings. And then once everyone's started on our introductory assignment, I pull one of my friends back to my desk, so we can translate her list into Korean. This helps her understand the words so she can then go do the assignment, like everyone else, in English. If the roles were reversed, I know I'd be so confused! But her? She does it like a champ. This girl amazes me!

What am I excited about?

I'm super excited about a surprise I'm ordering for my 5th graders for a fun "rockstar" themed Christmas gift. I can't wait to see their faces when they open them :)

What am I watching?

I got hooked on Drop Dead Diva recently. It has had a couple fast forward worthy episodes, but other than that, it's been really good.

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What am I reading?

I have been reading One Plane Ticket from Normal. What a great book! It's both entertaining and informative. I'll be blogging about it soon. 

What am listening to?

My kids are practicing for their Christmas program. So now all they hum or sing ALL throughout the day are songs from it. So I'm sure I'll have every single song memorized, myself, but the time December rolls around. I know their Music teacher will be happy to hear how often they're practicing :) 

What am I wearing?

Y'all... My clothes are all fitting looser/better. And that's awesome and great! It looks like I'll be hitting up a few thrift stores (saving money) when I get back to the States in December to get some more work clothes that don't fall off of me (I'm talking to you favorite pair of pants).

What am I doing this weekend?

Our school has Harvest Fest on Friday evening. So I'll come out and eat dinner to help support our Senior class fundraising. Then on Saturday, I'll spend some time working in my classroom and maybe even sneak a nap in, too. I'm living the life man :)

What am I looking forward to next month?

Women's Retreat is next month. Yay for a weekend away at a hotel with AC and a pool and delicious food and fun people and learning more about God and His Word and so on and so forth... And Thanksgiving will bring days off from school and a delicious meal with my AGWM family. ...all of which is pretty nice :)

What else is new?

My 5th graders are currently knee-deep in multiplication studies. I'm trying to find more fun activities for them to do to learn this semi-complicated mathematic skill. The majority of them know their facts. But it's when we move into multi-digit multiplication that they seem to struggle. So if any of my teacher friends (or non-teacher friends too) are reading this and have an idea for a teaching strategy or an activity I could use to help with this, please share. 

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And then each month, there is a special question for the month.

This month's question is...

What is your favorite Halloween memory/picture/tradition?

Honestly, Halloween's not my thing. Growing up, we'd go to the Harvest Festival thing at church if they had one. Sure, it's cute to see the kids in their costumes. But that's it. I realize that Halloween isn't always all evil, but it's just not my thing. Halloween candy, though? Yes, please :)

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Quirks = Awesomness

Tuesday was busy and then I had other thoughts on my blogging mind Wednesday. Yesterday was super busy. So I'm finally joining Andrea's Show and Tell Tuesday link-up. 

This week's prompt was...

Share about the quirks and other little things that make you, YOU.

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* One *

I have a truly horrible memory when it comes to most books and movies. I can read a book or watch a movie and forget it shortly thereafter. That's why I don't mind reading the same books and watching the same movies over and over again.

But with that said... I can read a book for school (either as a student or a teacher) and I can remember it just fine. As for movies... I can totally remember and quote Sweet Home Alabama like nobody's business :) 

I know that seems strange. But it's true.

* Two *

I can remember names and dates better than anything. If I find out your name, I'll never forget it. If you tell me your birthday once, I'll never forget it. 

That worked well back in History class in school :)

* Three *

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I'm a big ol' procrastinator. Seriously... I will wait 'til the last possible minute to get a job done. And honestly, 9.99999 times out of 10, that works out really well for me. So there ya go :)

* Four *Image result for meme hearing people chew

I can't stand to hear someone chew. And crunching on ice? Oh my word... That's the worst!

* Five *

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I have issues with the texture of certain foods. Jello, cottage cheese, yogurt with fruit pieces in it, anything even remotely slimy... Ugh! I'm shuddering now. Seriously, I can't even handle writing about it right now. It's gross. It's disgusting. Yuck!

* Six * 

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I am by no means fluent in French, but I do know enough to get by pretty well at stores, restaurants, church, etc. But if I'm with people who speak better than me, I freeze up and let them take control. I get embarrassed to speak. The same goes for any words/phrases I know in other languages. If I'm around someone who is more fluent than me, I freeze up. I'm so afraid of making a mistake. I want to be perfect before I communicate with them. It's THEIR language, after all. I don't want to mess up. 

And yes, I do realize these 6 (and oh so many more) quirks make me so very weird. But that's okay. After all, it's the quirks that make me awesome. Right? :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Thoughts on Grief

*Disclaimer - Before reading this post, you should know that it's truly a hodgepodge of thoughts and is a bit random and kind of jumps around a bit...

It's been 1 year and 6 months since my dad passed away.

Actually, it's been 543 days, but who's counting?

And sometimes it feels as if it were only yesterday.

Not long after my dad died, someone told me that grief is like an ocean.

And I've found that statement to be true. It really does come and go like waves. You never really know when it's going to hit you.  Sometimes the wave of grief is so strong that it feels almost like a punch in the gut and it totally takes my breath away.

A truly well meaning person told me the other day that you have to eventually throw out the grief. You can't dwell on it forever. She wasn't even talking about my grief. She was talking about someone else she knows that lost a loved one a few years ago. 

And while I didn't actually respond to her RIDICULOUS comment, I so wanted to... I wanted to say, "Are you kidding me?! Have you ever lost someone close to you? Clearly not..."

Unfortunately, grief is something that will always be there deep down inside you. And just like those ocean waves, you never know when it's going to rear its ugly head.

While looking for a quote for this post, I found the one below. I thought it was a great explanation of the reality of grief. ...far better than I could have explained it myself.

Grief is hard. But we need to go easy on ourselves. 

It doesn't matter if it's been a month.

...or a year and a half like me.

...or if it's been 10 years. Or 20. Or 100. 

The point is simple.

We need to give ourselves (and others) permission to grieve.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Who? Me?

There's no way this post could be about me....

There's no way that earlier this week, I'd send a friend the meme below and then both of us would totally agree  on the fact that being an adult is hard sometimes. Who? Me? No way...

My crew had a basketball game yesterday. There's no way I'd get up early on a Saturday, the one day I could sleep late and go watch them play. Who me? Of course not... 


Oh and when that basketball game that may or may not have happened, there's no way I'd enjoy a Dr. Pepper while working on grading and report cards. There's no way I'd been saving this one can for just such a day. No... I'd never do that. Of course not...

There's no way I'm homesick for Fall in Alabama. The cooler temp's, the leaves changing colors, everything... Nope. Of course not. That'd be just silly...

There's no way KIDS CLUB this past week was about the Shoes of Peace, including a game where the kids have to put each other's shoes on. And past that, there's no way I caught this adorable sweetness during the game, making it a definite Aww moment :)

No. Lesson planning is surely not easier when candy's involved. Do you really think I would say that? :)

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And I know these orange flowers didn't catch my eye on the way to the school yesterday. It's not like, in the midst of such a sandy place, God will still allow pretty flowers to grow. Surely not...


No. It's just not possible that I've fallen in love with these Rockstar themed numbers for my classroom. That'd be just pure silliness...


You know what else is silly? The idea that I'd love watching the teamwork between my students. Seeing them interacting, and learning with one another. Who would love that? :)


And there's no way this little cutie couldn't understand why she couldn't have my undivided attention the other day. I mean, it's not like she's saying... "What do you mean you have to do work? Why can't you just hold me?" :)

And there's surely no way that volunteers from each grade were asked to pray in chapel on Friday. And of course my heart didn't melt at the sweetness of their prayers...


Oh, and in case you made it through this entire post and didn't realize...

There's absolutely no way I'd ever be sarcastic in this post. Sarcastic? Who? Me? :)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Q & A

What's on the agenda for today?

I'm at school. My students had a basketball game this morning. So I came to watch it. And after I publish this post, I'll do some work in my classroom for a few hours. 

How's your week gone so far?

Umm, I posted this on Facebook on Tuesday. Does that explain? :)

No... In all seriousness, it really hasn't been that bad. 

What were you doing 20 years ago?

I was 11 and in the 6th grade, about to move from Alabama to Louisiana. There were so many changes that year (home, friends, school, church, life, so much...).

Besides God, what has brought you the most joy in the past 5 years?

That's easy. My nieces :)

How are you different today from yourself 5 years ago?

I think I'm more confident in myself. I know I'm a far better teacher. I've faced difficult moments and decisions, and I rose above pain and heartache. I've drawn closer to God. I've gained new friends and learned just how valuable friendship truly is.

What's one good thing that's happened to you this week?

Well, among other things... 

The A/C in my classroom started back working. I'd say that's a good thing :)

Watch any good Youtube videos lately?

My students absolutely positively LOVE the Kid President videos. This is one of his newer ones. I think everyone could learn a lesson or two from this one.

If you could have been with Jesus at the time He performed one of His miracles, which would it have been? Why?

This one's tough. It's hard to pick just one... I'd probably pick the feeding of the 5,000. I would have loved to have sat there and listened to Him speak. And then of course I would have loved to see Him work His amazing miraculous power in feeding the crowd of people.

What quality do you value most in your closest friends?


Heard any good quotes lately?

"If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow." - John Dewey

What's the most challenging thing about being single?


Would you consider yourself to be more shy or outgoing?

I'm usually shy until I get to know someone. Then I open up.

What is one of the biggest lessons you've learned in the past year?

Sometimes God changes our callings. It may be for a short season. It may be for a long time. But it doesn't really matter how long it is. It's all about trusting in Him.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to your job?

teaching those society casts aside - removing ridiculously stereotypical unnecessary labels - challenge the concept of "can't learn" - promoting the idea that fair is not always equal - differentiation in the classroom - making my classroom a safe, encouraging, fun environment in which each and every student can learn - making sure my students feel encouraged, loved, valued, and educated

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It's Tea Time Y'all

It's time for another Coffee Tea Date. 

What's a Coffee Tea Date? It's a bi-monthly link-up, hosted by Erin and Amber, where bloggers pretend they're on an imaginary coffee date with a friend and sharing stories about work, family, life, or anything else that's going on in our life.

But as usual, I scratch out coffee and replace it with tea, because coffee's gross :)

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So sit back, grab a cup of tea, and join the conversation...

If we were on a tea date, I'd tell you that I'm so tired of the political mess in the U.S. I'm tired of hearing about Trump and Hillary. I'm tired of hearing people who call themselves Christian being so hateful toward one another when it comes to this election. I'm tired of all the lies being spouted off by both sides. And I'm sad... I'm sad that, in my opinion, we really just do not have a good choice for president this year. 

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If we were on a tea date, I'd tell you that I feel like I can never get caught up. I may or may not have enjoyed doing a whole lot of nothing Saturday. And while it was indeed nice, I paid for it on Sunday and will continue paying for it this week as I work every single free moment to stay ahead. This meme says it all...

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If we were on a tea date, I'd tell you that I've been drinking water like it's going out of style. I'll have an occasional glass of coke with dinner, but even that's rare. And do you know what's helping me stay on track? ...keeping this little beauty I picked up at TJ Maxx this summer full of ice water all day long.

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If we were on a tea date, I'd tell you that 8 years ago today, I gained the title of sister-in-law. I remember watching my brother as he saw his bride walking down the aisle. I remember seeing the love in his eyes and being so incredibly proud of and happy for him. My brother and sister-in-law were definitely meant for each other. They compliment each other so well. If one day I have even half the love the two of them share, I'll be happy.

If we were on a tea date, I'd tell you that my 5th graders have been begging to have debates in class. I'd tell you that I warned them it will not be just a simple argument from each side of the topic. Rather, it'll involve research, reading, writing, and public speaking. I'd also tell you that none of that bothered them and they were so incredibly excited when I told them we'd spend the next 2 weeks on this. And I'd tell you that the best part of this is that it corresponds with the upcoming unit in our Reading/Grammar/Writing unit. The timing absolutely could not have been better.

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If we were on a tea date, I'd tell you that it's so hot here right now. And it's not just the heat. It's also the humidity. It's so uncomfortable. Just sayin'...

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If we were on a tea date, I'd tell you that I first saw this graphic a while back, but it's always stuck with me. It's such an important reminder in eduction. What's fair for one may not be fair for all. You can't judge every animal by how it climbs a tree. How would that be fair?!

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And lastly, if we were on a tea date, I'd tell you that a friend shared this door decoration on Facebook the other day and I liked it so much that I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate it into my own classroom. How fun is this?!

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Monday, October 10, 2016

What scares me as a teacher

Last week, Andrea from the blog, Momfessionals, hosted her bi-monthly series, Show and Tell TuesdayThe prompt she gave was to share some scary stories. I normally link-up with her Show and Tell posts each month, but since I'm not the biggest fan of Halloween and scariness and that sort of thing, I thought I'd pass on this one. 

But then, as I was reading through some of the posts that people linked up, one caught my eye. Erika, from the blog, A Little Bit of Everything, went a bit of a different route with her post. She wrote about what is scary to a mom...

So that got me thinking...

I'm obviously not a mom. 

But I could write the post, discussing an area I do know.

So here ya go...

Do you want to know what is SCARY as a teacher?

We'll start on the lighter side...

It's SCARY when you realize that that cute 1st grader's happy dance while fingerpainting eventually turned into the pee pee dance. What's even SCARIER is that you only realized this when the puddle hits your bare foot - the one whose shoe you'd removed maybe just two seconds earlier.

It's SCARY when it's the first day of school and you have a class of 10 first graders and only you and one student speak English. Oh and did I mention that the other 9 students speak 9 different languages, none of which you know? Bring on the smiling and nodding :)

It's SCARY when a child yells out in the middle of class, "Diarrhea!" and starts running towards the door. And while you know you have to remind him that's probably not the most appropriate way to ask to go to the restroom, you also know it'd be far SCARIER to make him wait :)

And speaking of SCARY messes... It's SCARY when you hear that horrible sound of a child vomiting, only to watch, in what feels like slow-motion HORROR, as his vomiting starts a "chain reaction" and pretty soon multiple students are going at it. 

It's SCARY when you plan a lesson, activity, assessment, EVERYTHING, using technology in some form and you have no backup plan. You double check everything an hour before while you're on break. Everything's fine. But then when you start the lesson, NONE of your technology works. The electricity goes out. The wifi isn't working. Your computer freezes up. Your iPad won't work. And so on and so forth. Now, that's SCARY.

It's SCARY when you can say (and translate) the following with ease... "I have meetings with the 504 team for a child labeled as OHI, the IEP team, the GRE team, and the RTI team today. I have to conduct 2 FBAs on children with severe ADHD and/or AUT before I can meet with the BCBA to get a BIP. The student needs to see the SLP, PT, and OT, not to mention time spent with GE and SPE. But figuring out how to make it all work and not having to change his LRE is quite a challenge."

And I must admit... It's SCARY when you can wake up at 5 a.m., do a little lesson planning or prep work before work, put in a full 7 or 8 hours at school, participate in an extra-curricular activity for a few hours after school, and then not get home 'til 6 p.m. and still put in an hour or so of work, all before crashing after dinner... It's SCARY that even with all of that, you still love what you do and you go back to it day after day.

And do you want to know what else is SCARY?

It's SCARY that there are students out there (in every state, in every country) who need help and are not receiving it. 

It's SCARY that there are students without the support of a stellar education system. 

It's SCARY that there are students who struggle with the decision of whether they should stay in school or drop out. 

It's SCARY that there are students who don't have a good support system at home, so they only receive love and nurturing at school. 

It's SCARY that there are students coming to school hungry, without adequate clothing and shoes, knowing the only hot meals they get are the ones at school.

It's SCARY that teachers are told over and over again to differentiate their lessons, activities, etc. Then when it comes time to take standardized tests, those same teachers are told to force every single child to take a "one-size-fits-all" test.

It's SCARY that in some school systems (thankfully, not where I teach), teachers' hands are tied and they know they must teach to a rigorous set of standards that can, by no means, truly assess the students they teach.

But do you want to know what SCARES me the most when it comes to teaching?

It SCARES me that there are students who need help, yet do not receive it. It SCARES me that these kids get labeled as "problem children," "behavior issues," and "kids who can't learn." It SCARES me that society accepts this. And it 
SCARES me that far too often, the teachers and principals over the education of these children sometimes sit by and let this happen. It SCARES me that the ones who have the ability and power to do so choose to not advocate for the students in their care. It SCARES me that sometimes educators grow almost complacent in their roles and turn a blind eye to cases like this. 

Having worked in ESL, Special Education, and General Education, I've unfortunately seen this happen many many more times than I would care to admit.

But you know, overall, I'd truly have to say I've been blessed.

 I've worked in 3 schools for multiple principals. 

And honestly, 9 times out of 10, I haven't had to see those things I listed that SCARE me. 

I saw (and see right now) teachers, principals, and other administrators truly working their absolute hardest to meet the needs of each and every one of their students. 

I saw (and see right now) students thriving in school, all because there are teachers and administrators who love them and help them to succeed. 

I saw (and see right now) education professionals putting their heads together, coming up with ways to better educate the students in their care.

And that makes me happy. 

What a joy it is to know that we, as educators everywhere, are all working together for the good of our students.

Education is team work. It's teachers, administrators, students, and parents, all working together to accomplish the goal of every child succeeding in his or her own way.