First Week Ponderings…

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Over the summer, several people have asked me if I like fourth grade better than third. I always remind them that I can’ t judge 4th grade by last year due to Covid guidelines, but that I enjoyed the year nonetheless. My first full week is finished, and lots of thoughts have been running through my head. I thought I’d share them in a blog post…

#1 – Some things don’t change.
I’m in year 26, but I still have spent the first two Saturdays in my classroom working on my lesson plans. I know in time I will be able to have my next week’s lessons & materials planned and prepped by the time I head home on Friday. Currently, I’m not there. Of course, part of the reason for this truth is by Friday afternoon my brain was “done” and couldn’t focus.

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#2 – New school years always bring excitement
A new class of students to build relationships with have joined me in my classroom. A new teacher, who is actually an old friend, has joined our grade level. A new “theme song” (parody) to go with my class theme. Yes, excitement always starts the year.

#3 – New school years always bring stress.
Yes, it’s not all fun & game or smiles & giggles. Test scores bring stress. New requirements piled on to our returning expectations. Having half of my class reading below grade level has it’s own weight added to the mix. Yep, stress is there…in abundance.

#4 – Bathroom breaks are not appreciated like they should be.
During the summer, I have the freedom to go to the restroom anytime I need to. However, unlike other professions, quick restroom breaks during the workday are not so easy to accomplish. They have to be taken during my students’ special class or when my kids take their restroom break. Normally, this is feasible, but when you’re also trying to drink a gallon of non-carbonated liquids a day and your bladder is 51 years old…my “teacher bladder” is getting tested. So, if you’re not a teacher, please appreciate the fact that you can use the restroom when you need to. It’s a blessing that you should appreciate.

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#5 – Planning meals is beneficial.
This year, the price for an adult school lunch increased more than a dollar a day. When I calculated the extra for a month, I realized that it was time to start packing my lunch. During the first two days, I took salad. It was good, but I had purchased the lettuce too soon, so by day two…I had to ditch some wilted leaves. My first full week, I took “adult lunchables” where I threw some salami & ham in a container with some mozzarella & Colby-Monterrey cheese. Then, I purchased some seed crackers…and voila. Day 1-Yum. Day 2–Yum. Day 3-Not bad. Day 4-It is what it is. Day 5-What was I thinking? So, this week…I’ve planned my lunches and the necessary dinners. Today’s lunch provides tomorrow’s lunch leftovers. I’m making pasta for Monday’s dinner, so I’ll have leftovers for Tuesday and maybe Wednesday. Then, I’ll throw together tuna salad for Wednesday’s dinner for lunch to be provided on Thursday and Friday. We’ll see how this plan goes….

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#6 – Summer messes up my routine.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my summer break. It’s great to enjoy morning walks. I look forward to lunches with friends. And…my early wake-up is changed. This summer, I thought I was being super smart. I didn’t allow my body to sleep “late.” I changed my 4:45 alarm to 5:45. Most mornings, I was out of bed before 6. With this beginning, I still found myself heading to bed on most evenings at my “school bedtime.” You’d think THIS would’ve made the transition back into “school mode” an easy one. Um, nope. You see, since I leave school twice a week at 3 to go exercise at the gym with my sister and once a week (or every other) I leave at 3 to go visit our other sister who is still working back to complete health from her battle with Covid…I’ve decided that my usual early arrival isn’t early enough. I’m attempting to get out of bed at 4:30 to be in my classroom by 6:00. So far, it’s worked once. However, I have arrived most of this first full week by 6:15, so I’m making progress. School bedtime is still strong, and most days I fall asleep easily.

#7 – Some things do change.
For as long as I can remember, the beginning of school would be accompanied with odd school dreams. Really, they’re generally full-blown outrageous. This year…so far…nada. No school dreams. Most mornings, I don’t even remember my dreams. Perhaps…#6 has caused #7?

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#8 – Buying school clothes is different as an adult.
Normally, I don’t buy “new outfits” for school. However, with the weight-loss of this past year and the decrease in clothing size, I found myself with a decreased school wardrobe. I remember several years ago how I would take my “little sister” shopping for 5 new outfits. She had a blast trying them on and picking what she’d like. Me? I went to two websites where I purchase a lot of my clothes. I selected “clearance” and picked “dresses.” Then, I filtered with my size and started browsing. Hand wash? Nope. Review says it’s easily wrinkled, Um, nope. Under $20? Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I ended up with, I think, five new dresses. The highest price was $25, so…my new school clothes are good-to-go. Plus, having a friend who can do quick alterations on the shoulders/neckline of dresses that are a bit big from last year doubled my dress closet. Score!

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#9 – There are more lessons waiting to be learned behind the teacher’s desk.
This summer, I finally finished my book, “Lessons Learned Behind the Teacher’s Desk,” and I’ve realized that each day so far…there’s been a new lesson. I may be starting year 26, but as I told my assistant principal last year, “I’m never too old to learn something new.” Of course, as I ponder the day as it ends each afternoon, I’ve realized that there’s probably “More Lessons Learned Behind the Teacher’s Desk” to compile by the time I retire…whenever that is.

#10 – We should all “Shoot for the Moon and Shine Like the Stars!”
Yep, that’s my class motto this year. Shoot for the moon and have high expectations and goals for yourself. Shine like the stars by making attitude & behavior choices that will allow you to sparkle and be a light in the dark. Whether you’re a fourth grader or a 51-year-old fourth grade teacher, you should do both. And…I aim to.

Now? I believe it’s time to take a nap. I mean, it’s Sunday. I’m a teacher. It’s what I do.

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