Six Important Lessons

This year, I have an intern teacher in my classroom. It has been an interesting shift, but ultimately, a good one. I’m confident that she’ll be a good teacher when she gets her own classroom but in the interim, I wonder what, if anything, she’s learning from me.

Things I Hope I Teach My Intern

  1. You’re going to make mistakes. Yeah, I know. Way to start with a downer. It’s true, though. Sometimes it’ll be something small, like forgetting to make copies of a math worksheet. Other times it’s something more substantial. Regardless of the mistake, it’s what you do after that matters more. Those are the moments that show your character.
  2. Be humble. Whether you need to apologize to your students for your rotten attitude or you’re dealing with an irate parent, humility is the route you should take. It shows that you’re human too. However, be careful not to mistake being a doormat for humility. It’s a mistake I’ve made in life too many times to count and one that always ends poorly.
  3. If you’re not emotionally healthy, your class won’t be either. This one has actually been something I’ve continually had to keep in check. These kids in the classroom aren’t just sponges academically, they’re emotional sponges as well. When 85% of my class is having a rough day, that usually means that *I’m* having a rough day. Take 5 minutes to stop, regroup, and begin again. Similarly, these 5- and 6-year olds don’t actually have to dictate how I feel about my day. There is more to my life than just that classroom.
  4. Books and lectures cannot prepare you for what you’ll see in your classroom on a regular basis. Pain is a horrible truth in life and even more apparent when you’re a teacher. Kids will come back from long weekends with cracked lips, sunken eyes, and pouchy bellies because they didn’t have food to eat or clean water to drink over the past several days. Or they’ll walk in with dark bruises on their tiny bodies and be unable to tell you where they came from. Some will just sit in a corner and inexplicably cry. Some share stories of times family members have been forcibly removed from their houses, others tell you about that man from the park who touched them in their bathing suit area after he gave them candy. Learning that you’re very limited in what you can actually do for these children is beyond frustrating. These things will boil your blood. If you let it, all of these stories can pile up and overwhelm you until you throw your hands up and walk away.
  5. Love, first and always. I’m confident that this is why I’ve been successful in my career and still have a decent-sized portion of my sanity. I spend a massive amount of energy each day making sure that all of my students completely understand that their teacher loves them. Even the ones that drive me batty. Because regardless of how crazy that one kid makes you feel, that’s someone’s most important, precious thing in the world. Every single child deserves (and needs!) to hear that she’s wonderful, beautiful, creative, brilliant, unique, and every other attribute she possesses. Not just once, but continually. When you show people that you know they have worth, you build a stronger relationship.
  6. This job is so much harder than anyone outside of it believes. And still, it’s completely worth it.

Week 7

This past week I attempted to give control of my online dating life to one of my guy friends but it didn’t fit into his schedule for the week. I’m still curious to see if he’d get better results than I do so maybe this week he’ll have more time. Please Matt, for the love of GOD have better results than I do on my own!

Since I was on vacation last week, I don’t really have a list of the week’s events like I normally would. I do, however, have a letter to post and this week seems as good a time as any.

Dear Online Dating Matchmakers,

First off, yes, I do realize that the matchmaking done online is probably just a computer algorithm and does not come from an actual person. As much as I’d like to think that there’s some little old lady sitting behind a huge computer, scanning dozens upon dozens of profiles until she spots one and murmurs to herself, “oh, that one looks like he could be a good man for Kyla,” I know there isn’t (but I mean, come on now. Wouldn’t that be awesome?). Still, though, I have a few questions.

Question 1: why are 75% of my matches named “Keith,” “Charles,” or “Kyle”? “Keith” is my brother’s name, “Charles” is my dad and “Kyle” is only one letter off from my name. Was “his name is almost spelled the same as her name” one of the criterion in the algorithm? Because if so, you should maybe reconsider that.

Question 2a: A HUGE number of my matches are in the military. I’m a bit of a pacifist. Is it just that these are the men who’ve signed up for online dating or do you just think you’re funny matching me with them?
Question 2b: Same question, only about people who say they’d rather be outdoors hiking or running marathons than doing anything else. Is there a box I can uncheck for that? I’m pretty sure I need to do that.

And finally, the following is from an actual conversation that one of my friends had with one of her matches. While I realize this particular man is an outlier and not the standard, it needs to be shared (plus, she said it was ok).
“As for physical attraction…it is CRITICAL that I find a woman who would let me smell her bare feet every night, because the look and smell of a woman’s bare feet are absolutely the focus of my attraction (the more they smell, the better – I love the way a woman’s feet smell after having been in shoes all day. Maybe I’m weird, but I am who I am).”

I have no words. I do have a terrified, shocked scream for this particular interaction, but no actual words.

Come on, internet. Hook a girl up (just not with a creeper)!


Week 3: Red Flags for Everyone!

I probably shouldn’tve complained about last week being boring in my world of online dating. Although, it HAS been interesting, so maybe I should complain more often?

First, my new favorite thing about online dating: guys who have clearly cropped their ex-girlfriends out of their profile pictures. For whatever reason, I find that hilarious. I mean, come on. It’s really not that hard to adjust the picture so it looks correct proportionally instead of an awkward rectangle. My favorite thus far has come from a guy on eHarmony who, it seems, couldn’t figure out how to digitally crop the photo and resize it so the right half of his profile picture is a white box.

There’s probably a better way I could’ve said all that. You know, so it doesn’t come off with me sounding like a jerk.

Second, here’s the list of things I learned this week in online dating. Enjoy!

  • I should maybe put “I’ve never had a boyfriend” somewhere in my profile, as it scared two guys this week when they found out. Apparently that’s a big red flag for some reason. One would think that a lack of relationship baggage would be appealing and not panic-inducing.
  • It is unfathomable to some that I’m choosing to only have sex with my husband after we’re married. For me, it isn’t just about following a rule, it’s my choice. As I explained to one would-be suitor this week, I’d rather share my bank account with someone I’m not married to than share my body. Money is not nearly as personal and sacred to me.
  • I need to clarify to some guys what I mean by “not having sex until I’m married.” I mean no version of sex until after I’m married. So, guy who told me he’s totally excited about waiting until he’s married before he has sex again (he explained he had made some bad choices before but he wanted to wait from now on), offering to show me your shrinky-dink once we’re officially dating is not going to be met with the reaction you’re expecting.
  • If a man cannot remember exactly how many times he’s been arrested, he is not the man for me. #redflag
    • Side note: the acceptable number of times being arrested for me is 0.
  • I need a man who is ambitious. Something I already knew but was definitely confirmed this week.
  • I’m decently easy to talk to and I catch on quickly to sarcasm. (When they say, “she has a great personality” about me, they’re not lying. 😉 )
    • Some people mistake this as a deep connection and then decide we’re soul mates. Oops.
  • I do not enjoy being asked how much I weigh. I especially do not enjoy having a man guess what my weight would/should be based upon my height. #redflag
    • It doesn’t make it better if you tell me that you’re just checking to make sure you “don’t break me in half if we have sex.” #redflag
    • Also, see aforementioned bullet points about sex.
    • This was the same guy who volunteered to show me his business. And this was after I had explained what “no sex before marriage” meant to me. #BIGFREAKINGREDFLAG

There’s probably a lot more, but the Giants-Cowboys game is about to start and there’s a nephew here to have a sleepover. I’ve decided he’s more worthy of my time than the, umm, gentlemen (?) I’ve talked to this week. Hoping next week is more positive (or at least as entertaining)!

Old-Fashioned Letters

Today is the kind of day I wish I could pause. The kind where the sun shines brightly all day in the cloudless sky but there’s still a calm, cool breeze blowing. The kind where everything is still and peaceful. Perfect hammock weather, you know, provided you’re into that sort of thing, actually own a hammock, and have two trees in your yard to attach said hammock to. Of course, sitting on your back porch sipping lemonade with your feet propped up on an extra chair works almost as well. So well, in fact, that maybe you lose track of how long you’ve been outside and you discover that it’s actually much, much later than you thought it was. (DST 1, Me 0.)

Days like today help me plan my lessons. Not the sitting-in-front-of-the-computer, typing-it-all-in-and-making-it-make-sense part, but the what-do-I-want-my-students-to-actually-learn part. One of my goals as a teacher is something I won’t be able to measure: while I want my students to be excited about their education and futures, I want them to be good people. I want them to value kindness, have integrity, and to treat others with compassion. I want to build character that permeates into their homes. I want my students to love well.

But in order to build that kind of drive in my class, I have to already have it within myself. Anyone who’s been around children for long periods of time understands that you replicate who you are, mostly through your actions. So ideas of kindness, citizenship, and compassion have to be my first responses, not just words I say when two of my students are arguing with each other. And more importantly, building character is intentional, not just a defensive maneuver you squeeze in if you catch one kid pushing another.

This week we’re going to learn about writing letters and how important it is to take the time to send mail. Emails and texts are effective methods of communication, but there’s something special finding something in your mailbox that isn’t a bill or an advertisement for life insurance. At least, for me there is. It’s the feeling of being noticed, whether it’s a thank-you or a letter from a pen pal, where someone made an extra effort. For you. Because they value you and think you matter. And that’s what I want to teach my kids, both my future biological ones and the ones I parent for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week.