Bittersweet Goodbyes

I would love to write an beautifully eloquent post like Alicia did here, but I honestly don’t have it in me right now. I said goodbye to most of my sophomores today. I managed to keep myself together until the last hour of the day: my favorite class. Before school, two of the girls from that class came by and gave me flowers and a present. They asked me to open the present in seventh hour…I didn’t cry until I opened it. Yesterday we went outside to enjoy the nice weather and the girls had a classmate take a photo of the three of us. The present was the photo, enlarged and in a frame they had decorated. The class was full of thoughtful, sweet kids like that. I’m heartbroken to think that I won’t be there to watch them continue to grow and graduate.

As teachers, we try very hard not to have “favorite” students, or at least not to show favoritism. I have a few students from this year that I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life. The sweet girls who told me that I was an inspiration. The ones who wrote me notes telling me that I’m their favorite teacher (these are high school sophomores…they don’t say that to adults very easily). Best of all, though, was the note from my favorite student. He told me that I am the first teacher to have a significant impact on his life. That’s why I teach. I want to make a difference, and teaching is my calling. Yeah, yeah, it sounds silly, but it truly is a calling. I can’t imagine loving another job as much. I should say I love the teaching part – I’m not so fond of the meetings, administrative garbage, or political b.s. that’s present in every school.

So much for an upbeat post. To counteract the depressing thoughts, here is a completely ridiculous song from Cheryl Wheeler, one of my favorite folk singers…

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The day that changed everything

I know, I know, it’s been weeks since my last post. I just reread that post, and realized that things changed dramatically over the course of the remaining weeks of my long-term position. The position ended about a week ago, but I was kept on as a building sub, so I am at the school every day. It’s a great position, because I don’t have to wonder each day if I will be subbing, and if so, where I will be. The teacher I replaced will be gone again for about a month in February, and I am looking forward to being back in my classes.

You read that correctly. After my ranting post, and continual head bashing with the students, I finally came to the conclusion that I had better lighten up. One of the essentials of being an effective teacher is an ability to be flexible and to be open to change. Without a revamp of my attitude, I was going to end up either totally burned out, or locked away in a mental hospital.

The day after I came to this conclusion, I went into class with a different attitude. The student I had been in conflict with almost immediately commented, “You’re in a really good mood today!” to which I responded, “I decided I’d better not be grumpy, because when I’m grumpy it makes you guys grumpy, too.” I would love to say that it was all smooth sailing from there, but it never is compeletely smooth. That’s okay, because that’s part of teaching. Things were much more comfortable in the classroom, however. I lightened up, and so did the students.

We joked around more. I made sure I asked them nicely to do things, even though the instinct was to just tell them to do it. Please and thank-you will get you everywhere with teenagers. Unbelievable! They don’t often say it to me, but my courtesy to them significantly improved their attitudes.

The girl I spent a couple weeks fighting didn’t stop talking in class. She didn’t suddenly put in enough effort to pass. She did share with me, and the rest of the class, that she nearly died from doing tainted drugs.

Wow. That hit me. Hard. All I could think about for the rest of that day is how horrible it would be to come to school and discover that one of my students had died due to drug use. It sat very heavily on my heart, so I asked one of the experienced teachers in the department what he would do. He suggested giving her a card that let her know I was concerned. I did this, and gave it to her the next day after class. The day after I gave it to her, she came up to me before class and gave me a hug and told me how much it meant to her. She said, “You’re the only one. None of my other teachers did anything. I don’t think they really care.” I know they do, but there isn’t always time to reach every troubled student.

That was the real change. She didn’t stop talking in class, and she was still disruptive. But she treated me with respect. She started coming to my classroom during the last period of the day, because that was when I had a prep period. As a teacher, I am supposed to make her do work then. I didn’t. I just let her talk. I discovered over the course of our conversations that her Mom doesn’t get to spend time with her very often due to divorce agreements. I don’t know the circumstances behind it, but I do know that teenage girls desperately need a female adult in their lives. I became an adult that she can trust.

Teaching is only about ten percent content area. I am a counselor, a confidante, and sometimes a mom to my kids. That’s the true measure of my success in the classroom. The students are my kids, young adults about whom I care greatly, and I miss them. Six weeks ago, I questioned whether I really should be teaching. Now I know that it is what I am supposed to be doing. There are days that are exhausting, both physically and mentally. It’s never easy, but it is rewarding. I want to be one of those teachers that kids come back to see five years later, just so they can tell me what they are doing in life. Thanks to some truly awesome colleagues, I think I’ll get there.

Milestones

I started really cycling again last summer, after about twenty years. I rode a lot in high school: not great distances, but on a very regular basis. Last summer was mostly about building up my endurance, regaining fitness, and getting used to riding in general. Over the winter, I used the trainer at least a few times a week to keep somewhat in shape.

Using the trainer sucks, by the way. It is nearly as boring as watching paint dry. I learned that without any assistance, and I am dreading the months that I won’t be able to ride the roads this winter. I have decided to ride outside for as long as I can stand it this fall. I am a wimp when it comes to cold wind, so we’ll see how long I last. Anyway, I digress…

This summer has been about getting faster, improving fitness, and maintaining my sanity. I have gotten faster, I am in better shape, and my sanity is more or less intact. I didn’t set out with the last particularly in mind, but cycling became the perfect outlet for my frustration in the job search and life in general. As a bonus, I learned some new skills from my riding friends, and reached a couple of milestones. They may seem silly or insignificant, but they are milestones in my head.

The milestones:

  • I can ride down a hill and take my hands off the bars (insert, “Look, Ma, no hands!”) This might be foolish, but it’s all about feeling comfortable on the bike and having improved balance.
  • I can ride down a hill or on flats and corner easily just by moving one knee. I learned this one from watching Andy (and I later asked Suzanne, too)…outside foot down, inside knee just needs a slight outward movement, and you can take a pretty tight corner. While staying upright. Without falling, even.
  • I rode a Metric century. I originally wanted to complete a century this year, but didn’t do it. That’s ok, though, because my total riding for this summer was many more miles than last summer.
  • I can do a trackstand now. Whoohoo! I can’t maintain it for very long, but it’s pretty handy when I don’t want to clip out for what seems like the hundredth time on a ride with lots of stops. A trackstand was my fun goal for the summer: not an essential skill, but handy.

I have learned some things about myself, as well.

  • I don’t particularly like to suffer, but sometimes suffering through a ride feels good.
  • I am allowed to ride just for the fun of it! I have pushed myself during many of my rides this summer, and yesterday’s ride was specifically about enjoying the day and the chance to ride in beautiful weather. I rode faster and better during yesterday’s ride than I have on recent training rides.
  • I will always stop to save turtles in the road: I saved another baby snapping turtle yesterday. In fact, I didn’t just stop, but turned around and went back to save it. Softhearted, I guess.

As always, every ride is a good ride…

I have a confession to make

Hello, my name is Heidi, and I have a cycling jersey problem.

After The Masher purchase/ride, this will come as no surprise to any of my readers. All three of you…thank you! 🙂

I discovered today that Twin Six has posted their 2012 previews for both men and women. Usually I really like something offered for the guys that isn’t also available for gals, but not this time. In fact, this time I like the guys’ stuff, but love the gals’ jerseys. There is one I must have, mostly because it is incredibly sassy:

The Vixen - back

The Vixen - front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, of course, I also really like The Schoolgirl:

The Schoolgirl - back

The Schoolgirl -front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just love that little touch of plaid on the back pockets. Speaking of pockets, the T6 pockets are awesome! The jerseys I have all have three sections in the pockets, and the elastic at the top is just snug enough that you don’t have to worry about stuff falling out, even when you cram the pockets full.

No, I don’t work for Twin Six… although I bet they’re pretty cool/fun people to work with.

Finally, I may need to get the 2012 version of The Masher, because it is as awesome as the 2009 one that I have:

The 2012 Masher - back

The 2012 Masher - front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I might even like this one better than the 2009, which is saying a lot. The Masher I have is my favorite jersey, although last year’s Team Fatty is a close second. I just love the lightning bolts on the 2012! Awesome, and sassy again.

Hmmm, I detect a theme here…

I also like the Speedy Milan, but I couldn’t wear it. I am a terrible liar, and that would just plain be a lie, because I am not speedy. I am built for comfort, not speed.

There is one of the older jerseys that I have wanted for a while, too: The Bird from 2011. That teal-ish color is one of my favorites, and I like the more delicate design. It’s out of stock, and I’m not sure whether I should hope that they have it again. That’s $300 worth of jerseys so far!

Have I mentioned that I don’t have a full-time teaching position, and I’m substitute teaching until I find one? Not a great income, by any stretch of the imagination.

Yeah, well. At least they don’t come out for a while, and they will be available for quite awhile. Maybe that’s how I should celebrate when I finally get a full-time teaching job…