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Why I Can’t Just Be Fired

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Earlier today, in the throes of spelling-induced temper tantrum, a student asked me, “Why can’t you just be fired?!?”

(Allow me to take a brief sidebar here to thank God for giving me a pretty stellar filter. It sometimes takes a long time for words to make it from my brain to my mouth, and today, that was a good thing. Today, that quite possibly saved my job.)

I responded with something along the lines of “Because I do my work, and people who do their work do not get fired.” (Don’t let the punctuation fool you. Those were my words, but I was not that calm.) I was, for a moment, annoyed at the tantrum. I’d had enough of the whining. Then I pulled some empathy out of my back pocket (I always keep a little there for emergencies) and put myself in this little guy’s shoes. I get it, dude. I know that frustrated feeling. And honestly, I see your point. Firing me would have, in that moment, given me just as much relief as it would’ve given you. Thanks for thinking of me.

And now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the day (and the week, and the longest February in recorded history), I have a few thoughts about why I can’t “just be fired” – and why you can’t either.

Teaching is hard, y’all. We all know it. I’ve written about it before. It’s brutal, butt-kicking work, and it’s not the teaching part. It’s the other stuff. The stuff we can’t fix but really, really want to anyway. The stuff we think about when sleep eludes us at 3am. It. is. hard. So why do we do it? Why does anyone with an ounce of love for themselves sign up for this job? And why do we stay? Why can’t we just be fired?

Because we’re needed. I’m needed. You are SO needed. Great teachers are leaving the field at an alarming rate. 40 to 50 percent of teachers will leave teaching in their first five years. (9.5% of those are gone before they even make it through the first one.) Studies have confirmed this, but none that I’ve found have really put a finger on why. It’s definitely not due to a lack of talent or ambition, and it’s not always a lack of training or support. I think maybe it’s because you don’t know how very needed you are. And THAT, my friends, keeps me up at night. Because if not you, who? Who will do this extremely important work of training up future generations to carry on a functioning society?

I was filling half-empty water bottles with glitter glue earlier this week and thought, “I have two college degrees, and this is what I’m doing with them?” I have friends who’ve told me about similar feelings when they cut out piles and piles of laminated items or staple blank booklets together for writing workshop. Certainly, anyone can do this. Why does it need to be me? How about I go do something that lets me sleep at night and leave my laminated stack for someone else? I pass a billboard every day that says, “Want to teach? When can you start?” Let that guy come staple these booklets together. Can he start tomorrow?

The minutia is what wears us down, what sends us running for the hills, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not enough for you to just be fired. It’s not enough for you to throw in the towel. It’s enough to make you crazy, but please, please, don’t let it be enough to make you leave. As February comes to a close, take a minute to remind yourself of the reasons why you came here, and for the love, please remind yourself of all of the reasons to stay.

Seconds after today’s temper tantrum ended, that same student FINALLY finished his work and said, “Hmm. I thought I was bad at this, but I guess I’m not.”

Ditto, buddy. Ditto.



More Books of the Month

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As promised, I am adding more of my school’s selections for our Book of the Month program. See below for titles from earlier in this school year. I will keep adding titles from previous years over the next few weeks.

Enjoy!
JB

September 2013 Book(s) of the Month

Ish Cover   Sky Color Cover

Ish and Sky Color  by Peter H. Reynolds

2013-09 Ish and Sky Color

October 2013 Book of the Month

Fine Fine School Cover

A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech

2013-10 A Fine Fine School

November 2013 Book of the Month

Mr. George Baker Cover

Mr. George Baker by Amy Hest

2013-11 Mr. George Baker

December 2013 Book of the Month

Being Frank Cover

Being Frank by Donna W. Earnhardt

2013-12 Being Frank

January 2014 Book of the Month

 Sandwich Swap Cover

The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania al Abdullah

2014-01 Sandwich Swap


Scaredy Squirrel Cover

February Book of the Month

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Hi friends,

If you’ve read my blog from the beginning, you may know that I started a Book of the Month program at my school several years ago. I’ve written about it before, and I also shared it on my Scholastic blog last year. (See those posts here and here.) My principal and I visited a school in New York City that was doing this, and we fell in love. So with her support, I picked out ten titles, and we purchased 45 copies of each title so that every classroom in the building would get a new picture book each month to read and discuss. I had lofty visions about what might happen with this program, and I can honestly say that reality has exceeded my expectations. To have an ever-growing set of texts that every single student in the building has read is creating such a strong community around reading. Kids across grade levels are talking about books, and it’s so exciting to see how responses grow from PreK to 5th grade. I love everything about it and hope we can continue this program for many years! I decided to start sharing the titles on the blog, along with the letter that is tucked inside of each copy. This will hopefully introduce the book to you if you don’t know it already, and it will give you some insight into why I chose it.

I’ll begin with February’s title, which teachers at my school received today, and I’ll add previous titles in the next few days/weeks.

Enjoy!
JB

February 2014 Book of the Month:
Scaredy Squirrel Cover
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

February 2014 BoM


I’m still here!

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Oh. My. Stars. Nine months, you guys. It’s been nine months since I updated my website. That is ridiculous, and while I completely understand that my excuses will help no one, I will offer a few updates on my life by way of explanation. First of all, there’s a technical hurdle. I build my site with iWeb, which has been dropped completely by Apple and is only accessible on my desktop computer, which rarely gets any love since I sprung for a MacBook. So updating often is a challenge because I just don’t spend much time at all on that computer. (Come on, who wants to be held down to one location by a desktop?!?) ;)

On a more personal note, 2013 was a trying year in a lot of ways, but some persistent medical issues forced everything else in my life to take a back seat. Honestly, to say that this blog was in the back seat is only really accurate if you imagine that I’m driving a school bus. I haven’t even logged on to look at stats, which was once a daily occurrence, in several months.

Many days, just doing my job was an act of survival, so this poor blog just didn’t make the cut. But still, you came. You looked at pictures, you downloaded anchor charts, you saved prompt cards, you pinned to Pinterest, you emailed me even when I couldn’t gather a response. You came because you too are trying to survive in a job that gets harder every day. I am so thankful for teachers like you (yes – you!) who are so committed to learning and refining the craft of teaching that you seek out inspiration from every corner of the internet. Whatever brought you to my little corner, thank you. Thank you for seeking out more information on your own free time, which I know is an absolutely precious commodity that is in too little supply in your life. Thank you for working your tail off every. single. day. If you’re heading back to work tomorrow like I am, know that I am wishing only the best for your classroom this year.

I am doing well from a medical perspective, so I am committed to posting more often. However, I am posting this from my MacBook, which doesn’t solve the iWeb problem. So for now, I’ll leave you with a big batch of unorganized anchor charts. I promise I will get them on the site in a more organized fashion some day!

What else have I promised you that fell through the cracks? What are you wishing you could find on this site? Let me know, and your wish might just come true!

In 2014, may you be blessed and be a blessing.

XOXO,
Julie


So long, summer…

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It doesn’t matter how many hours I’ve worked since June; today is my last official day of summer, and I can’t help but think of the things I’ll miss about it. If you’re not a teacher (or someone who loves a teacher), you won’t understand. That’s okay. I’m not asking you to understand. (But in the interest of full disclosure, I do kind of want to punch you in the throat when you raise a condescending eyebrow and say, “It must be nice to have summers off.”)
I’ll miss my empty DVR, my well-loved spot on the couch, and my ultra-flexible lunchtime. My heart sank a little as I put away my suitcase – leisurely travel is a summer-only luxury. I’ll miss beautifully unimportant adult conversations that don’t include any acronyms, levels, or scores, and I’ll miss the freedom to uni-task. Mostly, though, I’ll miss the feeling of being at least moderately-rested most of the time.

For as much as I’ll miss about these lovely summer days, I’m filled with eager anticipation for what’s to come. There is no time brimming with as much hope and possibility as the beginning of a new school year. It’s a fresh start (a tabula rasa, if you will) for everyone – students, teachers, parents, and everyone who loves them. And who doesn’t love a do-over? I’m excited to take another stab at changing the world this year. But for today, I will happily watch some mindless television, take an hour and a half to eat lunch (at a restaurant!) with a friend I don’t see enough, and stay up later than I should for no reason at all.

So long, Summer of 2013. Thanks for the memories.

XOXO,
JB


Overhaul

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Hi friends,

So, I’m thinking about overhauling my entire site in these last few weeks of summer. This has been in the works for a while, as I use iWeb to build my site, and Apple abandoned that software (with no replacement) several years ago. This means I can’t access it on my MacBook, which is my go-to computer these days. It also means that my site isn’t benefitting from the latest in website development tools.

To the visitor, this will hopefully mean a faster loading site that’s just as easy to navigate and pleasing to the eye.

I’m assuming if you’re subscribed here, you’re a returning visitor, so I just wanted to ask for your patience during any transition time. (I’m not sure yet what that will be like or how long it will take.)

Hope you’re all having a fabulous summer! Would love to hear what you’ve been up to!

Julie


Lego Education

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Hi friends, and happy summer!

I just finished a phone meeting with a representative from Lego Education, and I’m excited to share that they’ve sent me some of their preschool products to try. I already love the products, and I haven’t even tried them with any preschoolers yet!

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Stay tuned for a post about how these Lego sets were specifically designed to support all kinds of early learning objectives.

Have a fabulous weekend!