Category Archives: bad days

Teaching Tuesday: Parkland

I have more thoughts and feelings about the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida than I am currently able or willing to express. I’ve spent way more time over the last few days engaging in debates with people who haven’t set foot in a school room since they themselves were in school about the “answers” to the problem of gun violence in schools. I don’t want to turn this post into a rehash of those debates.

For the moment, I will only address one, which was from a gentleman who declared that we really need to stop blowing this out of proportion as there have not really been 18 school shootings in 2018. In his opinion, if the firing of a gun was not during school hours and did not result in death, it should not really be called a school shooting. In his opinion there have really only been three school shootings this year. He then went on to say that we needed to stop making a big deal out of school shootings because kids shouldn’t be having panic attacks about going to school, especially since students were more likely to be attacked by a shark than to be involved in a school shooting.*

I side with Everytown for Gun Safety when they define a school shooting as “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds, as documented by the press and, when necessary, confirmed through further inquiries with law enforcement or school officials.”

The reason I use this same definition is because any time a gun goes off in a school, whether it is with the intent to directly harm students or teachers, an accident which happens because someone brought a gun illegally to school or an accidental discharge from a gun carried by school personnel, there is the potential for real harm to come to students. Whether that harm is physically from a stray bullet hitting a student–like in the case Castro Middle School in LA where a student brought a gun to school which accidentally went off and injured four people–or emotional from a child hearing gun shots in their school and worrying that someone is trying to shoot up their school, the potential for damage is still there and it is still great.

So while there have only been 7 intentional shootings at school during school hours–five of which resulted in injuries or deaths–there have been 10 additional shootings on campuses across this country, four of which resulted in injuries or deaths. According to many, these 10 shootings, which resulted in three deaths and four injuries should not be classified as school shootings because they didn’t take place during regular school hours with the express intent of causing injury. Of course, since four of those 10 shootings took place on college campuses, it’s harder to identify “school hours.” After all, students are on those campuses 24/7 and just because no one was injured doesn’t mean no one could have been injured.

People who are arguing against the label of 18 school shootings seem to want to downplay the reality of guns in schools because in some cases no physical harm was done and even in the cases when harm was done, it was often only to one person and often just an injury, not a death.

As a teacher, I find this idea appalling. The idea that anyone wants to downplay the mental of physical damage done by guns on our campuses is disgusting. Just because miraculously no one was hurt in some of these shootings that have gone on this year, does not mean we turn a blind eye and pretend they didn’t happen. Nor should we only count mass tragedies like what happened at Parkland as a school shooting.

The reality is that we have too many guns being brought onto our campuses. Each gun brought into our buildings, regardless of the intention of the person who brings it in, has the potential to do both physical and emotional damage to our kids. Rather than make semantic arguments about what constitutes a “school shooting,” we need to be addressing the bigger picture and making sure that our students and our teachers are safe.

*I did the research on this and according to National Geographic, the US reports about 19 shark attacks per year and has one fatality once every two years. This is an average for the last several years, but even so, so far there have been 23 people killed by shooters on school campuses this year and we haven’t even completed 60 days yet, so his logic is ridiculous.

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Teaching Tuesday: Teaching with a concussion

Although I do have quite a few sick days built up, I try hard not to take them. Considering the time it takes to prep sub plans, answer questions students email and then grade work they did while I was gone (not to mention trying to sort out the sub notes), it’s often easier to just suck it up and go to school.

Turns out that is so much easier to do with a cold or sinus infection or something relatively small than it is with a concussion.

I got my concussion on a Sunday. Thankfully the next day we were off for MLK Day. On Tuesday we had a two hour delay due to weather, so I was able to go to the doctor and still make it to school on time. In hindsight though, that was not a good idea. Tuesday was a pretty miserable day for me. Even with the break from teaching I got by coming in two hours late, by the time I got to my lunch/prep period, I was completely wiped out and my head was throbbing. I ended up napping for about 25 minutes on the floor of my classroom behind my desk.

I took Wednesday off of work for an actual break. And I felt a bit better on Thursday when I returned. Once again, by the time my prep/lunch rolled around, I was on the floor behind my desk taking another nap. Friday was a repeat.

While I got a lot more rest on Saturday and Sunday, it was still not enough. I went to school on Monday and before I even thought about getting lunch, I turned my lights off and slept for 45 minutes. I had to set a timer to wake me because I knew if I didn’t I’d sleep so long kids would be banging on my door.

Tuesday I did not get my nap. Not because I didn’t need it, but because I decided to take Wednesday off of work to rest up, so I spent my prep getting all of my plans in order. I was so tried by the time I got home from school that I was in bed a little after 9.

Wednesday did NOT turn out to be a break for me. Due to some pretty nasty weather, we had an e-Learning day, so I had to revamp my sub plans so that kids could do everything at home. I also had to supervise my own children so they could do their work (and my 7 year old needs a lot of direction). Plus, I had to answer questions from my own students all day. I finally couldn’t do it any longer and took an hour and a half nap. Since my children were done with their school work, they were darlings and played quietly so I could rest.

Not only have my own kids been pretty helpful with my injury, so have my students. They’ve been kind and supportive and not at all demanding, which is great. They think it’s hysterical that I’ve been napping under my desk and have offered me blankets and Advil. I haven’t taken them up on either. When they see my yoga mat behind my desk after lunch, they ask how my nap was. “Not long enough,” is my standard reply.

Teaching takes a lot of mental acuity and there is no moment when your brain can just sort of shut down and wander. I can honestly say I understand some of my students in a whole new way now. One of my AP kids just came in to talk to me because she too has a concussion. She apologized for not getting some work done and I told her not to sweat it. We’d figure it out as we went along. We commiserated over our pain.

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Throwback Thursday: The concussion blues

This post will have to be brief as I have to severely limit my screen time. It seems last week’s car accident left me not only with a smashed car, but also with a minor concussion.

Before I went into the doctor, I thought my headache and neck/shoulder pain might just be whiplash. I looked at some symptoms online and they seemed to line up with what was going on. Concussion didn’t even cross my mind as I didn’t hit my head on anything. Turns out that you don’t have to hit your head to get a concussion. You just have to rattle your brain enough. And when I got rear ended, my brain got rattled around.

Although I’ve never had a concussion before, I’ve had to navigate the world of concussions both with my students and two years ago with my own son. His former school had a completely amazing playground surrounded by a pretty big wooded area. The kids were building a fort, something that was part of the school’s tradition. My son was inside the fort when another kid who was adding on to it accidentally dropped a log on his head. Yes, you read that right, a log.

My poor third grader got one heck of a concussion.

He missed a few days of school, but even when he could go to school, he spent hours in the nurse’s office just resting. The school nurse and I were in frequent contact and each day she’d let me know how many times he came in and for how long. In the early stages of his recovery, he was there four times a day for at least 30 minutes. Having no prior experience with concussions, if I hadn’t known how much my kid actually loved school, I might have suspected he was faking his symptoms. But he hated missing class and fun with his friends.

As the days stretched on, he spent more time in class and had fewer brain breaks. It took him about a month until he was back to normal and it was an exhausting, upsetting month for everyone. He had to go to the doctor fairly frequently because there is really no normal concussion process for very young kids who get them. There is little research done on kids under the age of 12 who get concussions, so their reactions aren’t as predictable.

When my doc told me I too had a concussion, I had a basic idea of what I was in for. What I was not ready for though, was how tired everything makes me. On Saturday I went out to lunch with my family and then we ran a few errands–Target and the library. I was so exhausted when we were done (and we spent less than 30 minutes in Target), that I napped for an hour and a half. And I am not a napper. When all is right with my head, I nap maybe three or four times a year. It’s just not something I’ve ever been good at.

However, since getting this concussion, I have napped every single day. Sometimes multiple times each day.

While the headaches aren’t as extreme now, they are still ever present, a dull ache in the back of my skull. And the fog is still there. People have to repeat info to me. And I yawn every few minutes. Just folding a load of laundry makes me exhausted.

My doc said it may take a month to feel normal again.

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Teaching Tuesday: Snow days part 2

Thanks to the glory that is an e-Learning day (electronic learning), even when we have snow/ice days, my students still have access to all of their work and instead of losing a day and having to make it up on MLK Day or Presidents’ Day or Spring break, we get to count it as a school day and we don’t fall behind.

I LOVE the concept of e-Learning days. They are not always the most effective instructional days, but we can get some extra skills practice in and I don’t feel like we’ve lost much time.

My only complaint is that since snow/ice days mean power can go out or services can have interruption, students aren’t required to have all of their work completed until they return to school the next day. Now, if we miss a Monday and are back on Tuesday, that’s not much of an issue for me. However, we missed a Friday. And not just any Friday, the Friday before MLK Day, which meant my students got a 4 day weekend.

Now, I have no problem with my students getting a 4 day weekend. I got one too and was pretty happy about it. The only problem I have is that technically their material, which they should have had no difficulty finishing on Friday (since there were no power outages in the area) wasn’t due until Tuesday when we went back to school.

About half of my kids did the work on Friday. I was able to then grade it and feel pretty excited about having all of my grading done. However, as the weekend stretched on, only three additional kids did their work. The rest were waiting until the last possible moment on Monday (or even early Tuesday morning) to finish their work. So, instead of being able to use that extra time off to truly get caught up on grading, I had to wait and once again get behind on my grading.

Because if we had had a regular school day on Friday, all of their work would have been turned in to me and I could have graded it over the weekend, then come to school with a completely blank slate.

Instead, I got to start the week off behind (again). This is particularly frustrating to me because my own children got all of their work done on Friday.

If my 10 and 7 year old can do it, why can’t all of my 17 and 18 year olds?

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Throwback Thursday: Car accidents

car crash 1It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a car accident. The last car accident I was in was about 13 years ago. My husband, who was then my fiance, and I were driving home from dinner on a cold winter’s night. The roads were slick and my husband saw a row of cars in front of him that were stopped for some reason. Luckily he wasn’t going very fast, so he put the brakes on, but since the roads were slick, he still slid into the car in front of him. It was a pretty small tap and I don’t think any damage would have been done if the SUV behind us had not slid into us as well, pushing us farther into the car in front of us and them into the car that started it all by stopping in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. No one was hurt and we all were able to drive away from the accident.

Then yesterday happened.

I had just turned out of my neighborhood and was on my way to the grocery store when I saw cars up ahead of me stopped so that the lead car could make a left turn into the church parking lot. I put on my brakes and since it was a little slick out, had some trouble stopping. I pumped the brakes like I’ve been taught and although I slid just a tiny bit sideways, was still able to stop in plenty of time without leaving my lane or hitting the cars in front of me. My stop actually left me with almost a full car length in front of me, so I was relieved.

Well, until I grabbed my tea and glanced in my rear view mirror to make sure it was clear. It was not. I saw the black mini van heading right toward me and I knew there was no way she was going to be able to stop in time. Even though I saw the impact coming, I was not ready for it. She slammed into me and my car jumped forward a bit. My head followed suit. So did my tea, my cellphone, my CD’s…pretty much everything in my car.

After the shock of the initial impact, I went to reach for my phone, which I always place in a holder on my dashboard, and realized it wasn’t there. It had been thrown onto the floor of the passenger seat along with the CD’s which usually sit in a nook near my gear shift. My steering wheel, dashboard, and windshield were covered in tea that I’d grabbed to take a drink from. It tea was in a travel mug with a pretty small opening, but the impact shook me enough that it was everywhere.

I got my phone and called my husband. I was only about a minute away from my house, but on a fairly  busy road and I asked him to call the police for me. Then I got out of the car to check on the damage.

The back end of my car was pretty ugly. The bumper was cracked just about everywhere and barely hanging on. The rear panel was smushed in, which meant my trunk was pushed in. In fact, my trunk is pushed in so that both sides are now exposed to the elements. I can look into my trunk while standing next to it. My driver’s side tail light is busted as well. And there is a rather large dent on the upper part of the trunk. My poor car is not a pretty sight.

A police officer showed up pretty quickly. We pulled our cars, which were still driveable (hers did not appear to have a scratch on it), into the church parking lot. I think I was in a bit of shock. I understood what was happening, but I felt like I was working in slow motion. The officer asked me if I was ok and I told him I was. Within about twenty minutes we were able to leave and I went straight home.

Thankfully my children were not in the car with me. Not only do I think it would have scared them, but it turns out that I’m not quite ok. As soon as I got home and had a chance to process it all, I realized my shoulders and neck were sore and my head ached. I sat down in my favorite chair and pulled the heating blanket on me because I was freezing. It was a darn cold day and waiting outside with the accident for about 40 minutes had set a real chill into me.

When I’d thawed a bit and my husband got everyone some lunch, I took a big 800 mg ibuprofen pill to help with the pain. It didn’t.

I ended up taking 3 more over the course of the day and they did nothing to make me feel better. I took a few short naps and when I woke my headache was gone for about 5 minutes, but then it came right back. I’ve now had it for about 26 hours. My neck and shoulders are pretty sore too.

Luckily we are off school today, so I got an extra day to recuperate. I tried to get in to see my doctor, but she was booked solid, so my appointment is first thing tomorrow morning. I’m not sure what can be done, but I figure I should probably get checked out to make sure there’s nothing serious going on.

As soon as my husband gets home we are going to pick up a rental car. Although my car can probably be driven, I don’t feel safe making my 45 minute commute to work (with my two kids in the car) in it until it’s been inspected, which won’t happen until later this week.

So far I’ve spent two hours on the phone (two different calls) with my insurance company. I feel a little better about everything because the accident was not my fault, but I know it’s still going to be a real process getting it all taken care of.

I feel bad for the other driver. She was so upset. It was her son’s birthday and she was just trying to take him to a late breakfast at Denny’s. She had a lot going on in her personal life and was a wreck. I did my best to calm her down and tell her it would all get worked out. I know it will, but we both had pretty rotten days yesterday.

 

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Wildcard Wednesday: My new phone

I finally got sick of having the world’s dumbest smart phone. Ok, that’s probably not completely fair or completely true, but calling it a piece of junk was being kind.

It’s my own fault. In an attempt not to spend an arm and a leg on a new phone, I opted for one of the cheapest smart phones out there. The phone itself was fine. The problem was that it only had 8 GB of storage on it and a little over half of that storage was used for all sorts of system files I had no control over and could not delete. Even though I bought a 16 GB SD card, it hardly helped. Only some of my apps could be saved to the SD card, so I was constantly getting the message that my phone was at low storage and updates could not be made.

Every photo or video I took had to immediately be uploaded to my Google account. I constantly had to delete my internet cache. I also had to uninstall updates for all of the apps that came preloaded onto my phone (like Google Drive, Hangouts, YouTube, Amazon, T-Mobile, etc).

It wasn’t horrible when this was something I had to do once every couple of weeks. I could even deal with it when I was doing it weekly. However, when it got to the point that I was getting that message every other day, I just couldn’t take it anymore, so I gave in and drove myself to the T-Mobile store.

While I did not go crazy and get a top of the line phone, I did make sure that this new one had plenty of storage. That was really my only must have.

My new phone has 32GB and even adding tons of apps directly onto my phone has left me with 16 GB left. And I haven’t even put my memory card into this phone yet. I can’t. I mean, it fits and everything and would give me 16 additional GB of space, but for some reason that no one at the T-Mobile store can figure out, my new phone will not recognize the audiobooks I have downloaded to the memory card. My new phone has Overdrive and has played every book I’ve downloaded from my local library, but for some reason it does not want to acknowledge the existence of the two dozen or so audiobooks I have on my memory card.

For now I am leaving the card in my old phone. I figure I can use it like an iPod and just play the books when I want to hear them. As soon as I finish them, I can delete them from my memory card and stick it in the new phone.

Aside from this strange snafu with the memory card, I really like my new phone. It’s still nothing overly fancy, but it does exactly what I need and didn’t cost more than my mortgage payment, so I’m cool with it.

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Wildcard Wednesday: Laundry is the bane of my existance

I do not like cleaning my house. I know that many people are in the same boat I am in. We clean because we have to, not because we enjoy it. Sure, there are those complete weirdos out there who love the thought of getting out a vacuum or a scrub brush, putting in some real elbow grease and getting things to sparkle.

I will never be that girl.

As much as I generally despise most household chores, I will admit that when I clean my kitchen or bathroom or living room, I do get a small wave of accomplishment and maybe even a bit of pride in how good it looks. It’s never long lasting and it’s never enough to make me want to clean, but it’s enough for me to at least feel good about the time I spent cleaning.

This is true of pretty much every chore I do around the house…except laundry.

Laundry is the bane of my existence. No matter how hard I try, there is always at least one load of laundry in my house that needs to be done. I’m not sure how it is even physically possible for four people to go through clothes the way that we do, but every single time I turn around, I have to throw another load into the washer. Rarely in my house does anyone wear more than one set of clothes per day. We use towels more than once. We wear jeans more than once. We wear jammies for multiple days. Every weekend I wash at least four loads. And yet one of the five laundry baskets in this house is ALWAYS overflowing.

Oddly, it’s usually my son’s.

I don’t actually mind gathering up the laundry. Putting it in the washer and starting it is on real problem either. Moving it from the washer to the dryer is pretty simple too. However, the second that drier buzzer goes off indicating those clothes now need to be taken out of the dryer and folded…that’s when my body starts rebelling and I do everything I can think of to avoid folding clothes.

I hate folding clothes in large part because no matter what I do there are always clothes to be folded. I feel like Sisyphus every time I even get near the laundry room. In fact, right now, I am staring at a clothes basket full of clean laundry that is just waiting to be folded and put away. And I know I have to do it because the next load is in the dryer, which stopped quite some time ago.

Despite my knowledge that I will eventually have to give up, give in and get folding, I have been known to hit the “damp dry” setting on my dryer two or three times to avoid the inevitable.

How can we have so much laundry? Why does it never cease? Why do I dream of being suffocated in a laundry avalanche?

Ok, it might not be quite that bad, but if I had to pick one task to never do for the rest of my life, it would be fold laundry. It’s not that the task is hard. It’s not. I know it. It’s so very simple. It’s just the frequency with which it has to be done that makes me look for absolutely anything, and I do mean anything, to keep me from having to grab that basket and start folding. I’m pretty sure I’d rather watch golf on TV than fold clothes.

How many times can I turn the dryer back on before I start doing real damage to my electric bill?

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