Return of the Hump Day Hotties

| Wednesday, August 25
It's been a while, but I'm back with two hotties I could probably never tire of looking at. It's been a long few weeks with the back-to-school stuff and life, but I'm getting into a routine, so I hope I can get back to regular posting here very very soon.

Thanks to those of you who've stuck around with me! You're the best!

And now, these two are two of the hottest con men on television today. Well, one is a definitely con, the other is the "hitter" on a con team. What can I say? Without further delay, I give you Matt Bomer of White Collar and Christian Kane of Leverage, two shows that have kept me entertained all summer long.

Enjoy! And for those of you back to school (for work or personal study) I wish you a great year!! Mine sure is off to a busy but good start!

When being a teacher hurts...

| Thursday, August 12
Today I've been dealing with one of the saddest situations of my teaching career. You always hear, going into a career in education, not to bring your students' baggage home with you. You need to keep school life and home life separate. But when you're dealing with the livelihoods of children, it's pretty much impossible not to get emotionally involved. There are students you stress about whether their basic needs are being met, the ones who keep you up at night worrying, the ones who you wish you could bring home with you because you just *know* you'd give them a better home environment than they currently have.

These are the students who break my heart. It's impossible not to build relationships with students, because even the Harvard Principals Center found in one study that the one single thing that has the biggest impact on student achievement is whether or not their teachers care enough to form a relationship with them.

Four years ago, during my second year teaching, I had two such boys in my class. Today focuses on one of them. He was from a rough family whose step-father was a large, scary, verbally abusive, drug-dealing (rumoured), "hood rich" man. He scared the living daylights out of me, and I never had to deal with his mouth directed at me personally. I just witnessed it directed at others. And I was terrified.

Needless to say, DCS was involved in this boy's life. During his sixth grade year, he was pulled out of his home and sent to live with an aunt for about a month. Then, after a home visit that was obviously all an act by the kid's parents, he was returned to his parents. Another month or so, he was pulled out and sent back to the aunt, and a formal DCS hearing was held. This time, he was taken away from the abusive, drug-ridden situation for good. But sadly, when he was sent to a group home in the spring of that year, he was taken out of our school, as well. I no longer had any interaction with him, but I still wondered about him every once in a while.

Fast-forward three years. Last year, a former teacher from our school, who is now an instructional coach, ran into him at his high school, where he was a freshman, and an outstanding varsity football player. He told this woman to tell his 6th grade teachers he was, "doing really well." He also said that he really appreciated all we had done for him. He was in foster care at the time, but apparently it was a pretty good situation, so it seemed.

Then last night, I heard briefly, via Twitter (since I don't watch or listen or read the local news ever), that there had been a shooting in the west part of our city - which is the suburban side where we live. Other than the thought of, "Oh, wow. That doesn't happen out here very often," I didn't give it much brain power.

This morning, while I was sitting in a meeting with my fellow 5th grade teachers, I got a text message from a 6th grade teacher I used to work with. It turned out that the victim of the shooting had been this former student of mine, a 15-year-old boy who was a promising football player and was attempting to get his life back on the right track after having been raised in such unfortunate circumstances.

Today was the first time I had ever gotten news about a former student of mine that shattered my world. I had been holding out hope for this boy for 4 years. And now, it's all gone. And I don't even know who to grieve for. He had no real family to speak of that was involved anymore, because he wasn't even with that same foster family from a year ago. It hurts. Not quite as badly as losing a person who was very close in my life, but still, a child, taken out of this world way too early. And I like to think that I had been instrumental in trying to start that turn to the right direction and rehabilitation.

It's made me realize what an impact these kids have on my own life, and how I hope I've done the same for them. I mourn the fact that the world has lost someone who could possibly have been the next great NFL star running back or a great dad, brother, or friend. And I just don't know what else to say. I just hope that I did help him out in the 4 years since our paths crossed.

I Don't Have to Prove Myself

| Tuesday, August 10
 ^not me^

So, I've officially started my new job as 5th grade teacher as of today. The teachers are back on contract, but we don't have students until NEXT Tuesday. Which is also my 29th birthday. Anyway, back to my point I was trying to get to before I start rambling off into space.

I've now met all of my colleagues except one who's not been at the school yet due to family issues, and from what I've heard keeps to herself all the time anyway. There are a total of 8 5th grade teachers in our school. 5 of them have made me feel super welcome and comfortable ever since I thought I might be getting the job. I met 4 of them at professional development curriculum workshops the week between getting the call from the principal and the "official" call from Human Resources. They were super nice, come to check on me, joke with me like I'm already a part of the crew, and one has even come to *me* for teaching advice.

But if you do the math, here, that means there's one more teacher who doesn't fit into either of the above categories. And of course, she's the one who I share an office with and have to team-teach with. Right now, she's making me feel like I've got to prove myself to her for me to be accepted. I feel like she resents me because I took the position her best friend vacated. It really was bothering me, when I first started dwelling on it, because I'm honestly not used to people automatically not liking me without ever getting to know me.

Then I started thinking (along with encouragement from the Hub) that I don't need her approval for multiple reasons. First, I know I'm a good teacher. Parents are whining that I'm not at the middle school anymore because I taught their older kids and now they have more that are going into 6th grade, and they were hoping I'd be one of their teachers. Apparently, now there are parents making requests for me at the elementary school already. So, see, I know I must be good. The kids and parents like me for the most part. (And I'm not always the nicest teacher. I have high expectations of work quality and behavior.) Second, it dawned on me that this teacher that's making me feel this way is younger and has less experience than me! I definitely don't need to prove myself to a teacher who's been doing this less time than I have, no matter how great she thinks she is.

Plus she talks down to me and words things in a way that makes it sound like she's doing me a favor, like by "saving" me from having to plan both science and social studies, when she's just doing that because she doesn't want to teach social studies (because she's always taught science - always being the previous two school years). Or that she graciously "took over" the low-level math class that the teacher I replaced had taught the year before so I wouldn't have to "get dumped on". Seriously? Do yourself a favor, and stop being a martyr. You should be doing this to help the kids in the best way possible, not to make yourself look like a saint!

So, I've decided I'm going to tolerate her "living" next door to me until Thanksgiving, then pray when she goes out on maternity leave, that she does decide to stay out for the rest of the year. I just don't want to deal with such condescension on a daily basis.  It's not worth it. I'm better than that. I'm just going to go out there, do my thing even if it is different than the way she's "always" done it, and do what's best for my students. And continue to shake off the feeling that I need to demonstrate that I am, indeed, a good teacher and a fun human being. (Plus I like talking with the teacher across the hall better, anyway. She'll be my friend and let me vent. I can tell already!)

6 more days to get my room (and lessons) ready before the students walk through my door for the first time!!

Hump Day Hotties #14

| Wednesday, August 4
After taking a few weeks off for summer-y things, I'm back in action with a new hottie for ya! This time, as I've been LOVING the new season of Eureka and the fact that I saw the terrible Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason on TV the other day, I decided to dedicate today's post to James Callis. The first role I ever remember seeing him in was as Bridget's gay bff Tom in Bridget Jones's Diary way back in 2001. Then of course, we all know and love him/hate him as Gaius Frakking Baltar on BSG. He's been made a recurring guest star this season on Eureka, as well, and I'm seriously loving him on there. Again, a bit of a character who's very ambiguous. You're not quite sure if you should like him or despise him. I'm not gonna give anything else away for those of you who aren't at season 4 yet. He's even one of the people mentioned with a hashtag a few of us thought up a while ago: #guysinglassesaresexy!

See? Bridget's friends!


Almost Back to School

| Monday, August 2
I'm officially back to school in a week, but for those of you who haven't heard (via my eight million tweets about it), I will not be returning to the middle school or 6th grade next week. Instead, I got a last minute transfer to the elementary school next door. I'm gonna be a

This week I'm gonna be packing up and moving all of my stuff to my new classroom across the parking lot.

One of the reasons I didn't post anything last week was because I was an anxious wreck and didn't want to give anything away until it was official. I had gotten a call from the principal of the elementary school on Friday, July 23 asking me if I'd be interested. I told her of course I would be. But then I had to play the waiting game of waiting for our school district's Human Resources department to call and officially offer me the job. I had to wait a WHOLE WEEK! Talk about nerve-wracking! But they did call last Friday while I was at a 5th grade Social Studies workshop.

Yeah, I spent a lot of last week going to curriculum workshops for 5th grade stuff as well, since I wanted to be prepared if (when) I got the call with the official transfer offer. Well, I'm off to see my new classroom today. I'm super excited because I am going into a 2-year-old building from a 45-year-old building! Better lighting, better space, cleaner, and I'm expecting a healthier environment for me. No more moldy, musty old school!

I'll keep you all updated on what's going on in the Great Classroom Move of 2010!