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My time teaching is coming to an end. One more week and then my mornings will be spent editing my YA (Young Adult) novel, getting it ready for an editor’s eye.

How lucky was I to get to read Mystic to 6th graders for the past seven weeks? Little did I know how much stress it would cause. Every time one of the students asked, “Are we reading Mystic today?” I would hold my breath and hope for a positive response. So far so good. I haven’t received any sighs or jeers. Perhaps they’re savvy enough not to hurt my feelings.

I will miss all the, “Hi, Ms. Rausin’s” and even the hugs. I’m more of a: this is my personal space please keep clear type of person but the students have slowly broken through the bubble.

I will miss their laughter and their stories. Their one liners that make me chuckle. I will even miss the chaos of having three students excitedly talk to me at the same time. This was quite a shock after spending months alone in my office hearing only the voices of my characters in my head and the sweet songs of the birds outside my window.

I won’t miss the 4:45 am alarm. Nope. Not at all.

I discovered keeping track of papers and grades for over 120 students can be challenging. My elementary school training along with the mom in me had a need to seek out every student who didn’t complete an assignment and ask why. I soon learned that you can tell a middle school student eight times that a paper is due and hear eight different excuses with promises to turn in it next class. Lucky for me, I discovered early on the phrase that less conscientious students use to protect themselves. “I turned it in to you.” I know my own kids have uttered those words in the past. Hmmm. Now, from the teacher’s point of view, I see it’s a clever tactic to get out of an assignment. I will admit there was a bit of joy on my part when my answer to that statement was “I never collected the assignment. It should be in your folder.” Parents, if your kids say the teacher collected and lost their work it may not be completely accurate information.

I won’t miss trying to keep 6th graders silent in line on our walk to and from lunch. Yes, I’ve been known to bribe them with candy in order to keep my own sanity. Bribe… positive instead of negative reinforcement–A necessary rule because other classes are in session but It’s a tug- of-war that tempts students to find every other way to make noise other than talk. My solution…candy. I’m open to other ideas.

I will miss their questions. Their questions about books, writing, Mystic, life, why the neighbor handed them a flyer saying they’re going to hell when they knocked on the door trick-or-treating… Really? That was a question I never anticipated. Who does that to a child?

What I’ve learned

1. The value of five minutes. To a teacher five minutes can seem like an eternity. They can eat their lunch or get 20 more grades into Pinnacle.

2. Teaching means you are teaching everything! You’re not just responsible for academics. You’re a leader responsible for every young soul that looks to you for guidance. That’s a HUGE, EXHAUSTING responsibility, one that deserves a lot more pay for what they do.

3. Teachers have many meetings especially with parents. As a sub and a writer with an extremely sensitive soul, I didn’t have to attend any meetings. Thank goodness. I know my skin is not as thick as most teachers. Parents please be kind.

4. Teachers need each other. No one can really understand the job until you’ve done the job. You must put yourself in a teacher’s shoes to know what they go through in a week-a month-a year.

5. Teachers hold tremendous importance in our society. Sometimes they are the only role model/voice for children without proper care at home. They are the nurturers of our future generations and they need and deserve our support.

 

 

 

I’m in the middle of a deep sleep, dreaming I’m riding horseback at sunset or sitting listening to David Gray sing Silver Lining when suddenly blasting sirens interrupt my peace forcing me to open my eyes. I reach through the darkness to stop the horrible honking and will myself awake. It’s 4:45 am. Time to get ready for school.

Before my feet touch the floor I’m thinking of things to be thankful for. This cuts off all thoughts of wanting to climb back under the covers. Coffee! At this moment I’m very thankful for coffee.

It’s been years since I’ve taught full-time. And years since I’ve had the freedom to teach my own lessons, given only the Standards and allowed to create from there. The joy that this brings me is incredible, surpassed only by the joy that I feel being around the students. They’re independent, curious, searching to understand themselves, leaving their elementary years behind and becoming young adults. Sixth graders can go from perfectly peaceful to screeching laughter in two seconds reminding me of my own days in sixth grade when my math teacher, Mr. Jones, would tease the quietest of kids (me) just to bring them out of their shell to have fun with everyone else.

I’ve only been in the classroom for three days. There are over one hundred names to learn and personalities to understand. I’ve been called Ms. R.,  Ms. Raisin, “What’s your name again?” and K.D. I’ve given eight author presentations and next week we will begin reading MYSTIC. We’ve discussed disability, what it means to be paralyzed, wheelchairs, racing wheelchairs, inner strength, and treating others as we wish to be treated.  I’ve introduced my favorite books and encouraged them to learn about the authors who’ve written their favorite books. We’ve journaled and practiced vocabulary words on Quizlet. I’ve been handed four stories created by students to read over the weekend. Never before have my two worlds, teaching and writing, come together so perfectly.

I’m excited for this two-month journey in middle school. I hope I can teach the six graders as much as they’ll teach me.

Here are some more of my posts on teaching:

Bad Teacher or Bad Parent Teaching Students About Disability