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.
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Chocolate Chip & Peach Cookies

My kids drew things they know I love them more than.

After a parent told me that my empty bulletin boards made the room “look sad,” I had the kids decorate them.

Last Thursday was the 180th school day. My kindergarteners and I celebrated in the most appropriate way we could think of: by watching a Disney movie and eating sprinkle cookies. At 12:30, I hugged each of my kids goodbye, tried not to ugly-cry (at least, not in front of them), and sent them off for summer break.

However, just because my students are on summer break does not mean that I’m done and beach-bound. For the past two days, we teachers have packed up our rooms and stripped the brightly colored decorations off our walls. Our classrooms are huge, empty shells and the whole thing is, frankly, incredibly depressing.

My coworker and friend Lindsay has been using the hashtag “#99daysofsummer” in her Facebook and Instagram posts, so I’ve got to believe that’s how many days we’ve got until we head back to school for pre-planning. And knowing how fast 180 school days went by means that I’ll blink and all 99 summer days will be gone. Since I’m not willing to miss out on pretty much anything, I need to jump start myself. Enter: peaches.

For me, no fruit screams “it’s summer!” louder than a peach. (I know, I know, watermelons, but aside from using them in seed-spitting contests, I’ll pass.) There isn’t a dignified way to eat a whole, ripe peach. Go ahead, try to bite into a really ripe, sweet peach and not have juice drip all over your face and fingers. That mess means summer.

#99daysofsummer. Don’t miss a single one!

Chocolate Chip & Peach Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tbsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh diced peaches
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.
2. Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add in egg and vanilla and continue beating for 1-2 minutes.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.
5. Add flour mixture into egg mixture 1/4 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as-needed.
6. Add peaches and chocolate chips. Use a spatula to combine.
7. On a parchment-lined cookie sheet, scoop dough and roll into 1 1/2″ balls and place on cookie sheet about an inch apart.
8. Bake for around 10 minutes, until golden brown.
Note: because of the moisture of the peaches, cookies with more peach chunks may need to be cooked a bit longer.

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