Sunday, August 27, 2017

Seeing Things in a Different Light

I promised you a book review today. I like to keep my promises, when possible. The thing is, I really don't want to write about this book. But a promise is a promise.

I was introduced to "Teacher Misery" on Instagram. I randomly came across it one day, and it gave me a chuckle. Inappropriate? Sometimes. But it gave me a chuckle. You see, there's some humor that only a teacher in this day and age would get. "Teacher Misery" has a tendency to post things that I'm sure some teachers would like to say, but never would...for fear of losing their jobs. I'm not quite sure how she gets away with it, but...more power to her. Everyone these days seems to have the right to free speech...except teachers.

(Yes, this IS a book review. I'm getting there.)

After finding "Teacher Misery" on Instagram, I then discovered she wrote a book. I was intrigued. I figured it would be a collection of teacher stories to give me a bit of a dark laugh at the end of my long school days. I was wrong. Boy,...was I wrong.

Teacher Misery: Helicopter Parents, Special Snowflakes & Other Bullshit by Jane Morris (not her real name, of course) is a collection of teacher stories that would scare anyone off from teaching. The stories did not make me happy, they made me sad. They shocked me and made me shake my head. Do I believe them? Yes, I have no doubt every word is true, other than names that have been changed to protect the guilty...and the innocent. 

I bought the book expecting to laugh at the ridiculousness of our public education system in these United States of America. What I found myself doing instead? I found myself thanking my lucky stars that I've never had those types of experiences in my ten years of teaching. And I can honestly say that as lousy as some of my own public education was growing up, it was never that bad. Ever.

On a good note, the first week of school just ended on Friday, and it was a really great week for me. I can't help but thank Jane Morris for making it even more special to me than usual. In light of the things she has come up against, it made me look at my own school in a different light -  the kind of light that illuminates everything wonderful about where I work. I've always loved my job, always loved my students, but there are days that the red tape and bureaucracy of it all almost smothers me...

After reading this book? I will still stand up for what I think is right for my students, hold those difficult parent meetings, and I will still roll my eyes at how the public school system expects us to do all that they expect us to do in the limited time we have to do it,...but I will also give thanks, every day, that I work in a school where respect is required from everyone and students are loved and cared for, as they should be, and where most people try to give their best to make the world a better place.

God bless all teachers, wherever you are!

Monday, August 21, 2017

It Begins

WOOHOO! Today was the first day of school for my students and me! It's been a whirlwind of a day, and I have so much to do - but I'm so excited! It's going to be a GREAT year! 

And that is all I have the time I have to blog for now. I'll be back on Sunday with a book review. I promise.

(And have I mentioned that I absolutely have the very best job in the world? I do. I really do!)

Happy reading!

Sunday, August 13, 2017


I barely began reading The Summer Before the War, and I put it down. This is no reflection on the book or the author. It's a reflection on me and my life. Teacher in-service week starts tomorrow, and my plate has been loaded with school stuff for over two weeks now,...and I'm just getting started.

This bibliophile has had to put regular pleasure reading on hold. And I hate that. Reading gives me peace, but...I have big plans for this school year and, when I'm in a time crunch at this time of year, working on what is best for my students takes precedence over just about everything else. 

While I wish I was enjoying a good book right now, I consider it way more important to plan things for young people who haven't learned that joy yet. They are tough customers. They think reading is boring, and they haven't learned to value their education and their intellect...yet. But they will.

I won't take anymore of your time, as I have nothing to review. I hope you're reading something that you enjoy or taking a journey in a book you've always wanted to take. Books are filled with endless possibilities!


Hopefully, I'll fit in time for a book sometime this week and be able to tell you about it next week.

Happy reading! 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Upping My Game

Ah, yes,'s time for 'back-to-school' stuff to begin. For some, school has already started - but not for us. Not yet. I have one more week "off" (I say it that way because I'm actually working two days this week) before teacher in-service week begins, and...after that? We will welcome the students back with open arms and celebrate a new beginning! I always love new beginnings!

This year marks my eleventh year as a middle school teacher. To say I have seen my ups and downs...would be an understatement. My "downs" have never been my students. My struggles have been more about the grown-ups and the politics and the lack of funding where we need it most. But I am happy to say that, unlike the familiar public education statistic in this country, I did not burn out after my first five years. In fact, I burned brighter when I hit my fifth year,...and I burn brighter still.

Teaching is a calling. If it isn't a person's calling, they should not teach. Period. It isn't an easy job, but it is a necessary one...for so many reasons other than academics. Academics are, of course, what we teach, but good teachers do so much more than that. I cringe when I hear a teacher say, "I'm just supposed to teach, I'm not supposed to raise the child! I'm not their parent!" I think back to how many teachers I had who loved me, gave me advice, and felt very much like a parent to me. I thank God for those teachers every day. I wouldn't be who I am today without them.

Every child doesn't go home to warm cookies and milk. And, even if their home life isn't tragic, it can sometimes be lonely and children can feel emotionally neglected. Many parents work a lot of hours to make ends meet and their family time is very limited. Some parents may pay more attention to their dating life, their phones, and their "likes" on social media than they do their children. And, often times, phones have become babysitters to keep children quiet. If you think I exaggerate, go out to dinner at a restaurant and look around you. As our society continues to grow more and more narcissistic, at an alarming rate, what will happen to our children? What is happening to our children?

I say all of this to let you know some reasons why I haven't quit my job as an educator or tried to become something in education other than a teacher. I know how important my job is because I know how important my teachers were to me when I was growing up. Teachers have not become less important in today's society, they have become much more important. Does that make the adventure more difficult? Absolutely. That's why I said it has to be a calling, not a job.

I have maintained the same level of commitment and energy to my job for ten years. And now? Now, it's time to up my game, take it to the next level. And I've been working hard this summer to prepare to do just that. You see, I'm old enough to know that things don't get better unless you step up to help make them better. And nothing gets better from sitting around complaining how difficult things are or "how kids are today." My future students need me to do more and to do better - so I shall. :) 

As for books, I've not read as much as I usually do in the summer. I've been having fun outdoors, and I have been working on good things to help my students learn. Reading helps me with that, no doubt, but I've had much less 'quiet time' this summer for leisure reading. I have enjoyed every single minute of everything I've done, though - even the work part. 

I finished Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, and I absolutely recommend it! It is such a good story because, while it is fantasy, it is also reality. His stories are about how people relate to each other. He simply chooses a fantastical, magical setting and odd situations to put his characters in and see what happens. The audio version by him is a true delight! Neil has definitely stolen this reader's heart.

I am currently reading The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. I just started it, but I'm excited about it. I've read plenty of books around the time of World War II, but this one is in reference to World War I. I've read very little historical fiction for that time period. Since I'm so busy these days, I decided to download the audio for it as a back up, even though I'm reading the book. I thought I could listen as I take my morning walks, sometimes. Neil was excellent company on my walks, so I thought I'd give Fiona Hardingham (the Audible narrator for Simonson's book) a try. 

I hope you try something new! Whoever you are, whatever you do - I wish you a new journey, a new joy, and a new goal to reach for!

Happy reading!