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Gotta Catch’em All!

The first few weeks as a teacher’s aide at a Catholic elementary school were both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Aside from learning new prayers, helping prep lesson plans for the day, and being responsible for 36 first-graders, I was also getting used to living in a new environment away from my hometown of Cutler-Orosi in the Central Valley. However, what helped me get through the difficult transition of living a little over two hundred miles away from home was the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed getting the opportunity to get to know each of my students and their personalities.

Some students were introverted and to themselves, yet extremely intelligent. Others were rambunctious and mischievous, yet extremely compassionate and caring towards their fellow classmates. The rest, of course, fell somewhere in between. All of this created a perfect storm of chaos inside and outside of the classroom. Name-calling led to a discussion about the dangers of bullying. Skinned knees on the playground emptied a whole box of band-aids. Excessive talking in church led to a bunch of shushing and a lecture on respect. However, I could have never been prepared for what occurred during my third week into the school year.

One of our students missed an unusual amount of days at school, which brought up some concern. After a while, the father of the student explained to us that his son fell down in the middle of night and could no longer feel the left side of his body– he had a malignant brain tumor.

My heart sank. I couldn’t believe that this poor child had something in his head that was literally killing him. His friends began to notice, too. During a breast cancer awareness fundraiser, one of the students asked, “If we donate money, then do the people we love that are sick get to stay alive?” During recess, students would say, “We wanna play Pokemon, but the only person that knows how to play it right is not here!” It was tough keeping my emotions in check and having a straight face in class when the topic came up, but just like any difficult time in life, the most important lesson that I’ve taken away from this current situation is to cherish every moment and to shift my perspective from, “Man, I’m tired. Today sucks,” to “Man, I’m tired. At least I spent my time and energy with some amazing kids today.”

As for the student with the illness, we’ve done some fun things to keep him engaged with the class whenever he gets the chance to visit with us. We had a Pokemon themed party with plenty of gifts and activities that gave him a smile brighter than the flame at the end of Charmander’s tail. He led prayers as the prayer-leader for the week despite feeling weak half the time. He watches his friends play on the playground, plays a bit of four-square, and engages in some light-hearted back and forth with me while we wait for the bell to ring.

Despite all of the adversity that this young man and his family are going through, I’ve learned how important it is to continue living life to its fullest just as he is continuing to do, day-in-and-day-out. As for care, I have taken the time to find something great about each day and something that I can look forward to in the future.

If he can fight his illness despite the chaos and adversity surrounding him, I know for a fact that as a teacher, I can pass on his message of perseverance and fortitude to this class and future students to come.

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Self care isn’t only for the weekend

Self-care does not have to wait until the weekend. As teachers, we never know what the day will look like. Some days, our students will be engaged in every activity we do, our lesson plans will be prepared, and the schedule seems to go by seamlessly. However, there are days where the classroom is complete chaos. Some students begin to jump off the walls, everyone’s minds seem to be on other planets and our patience as teachers begin to wear thin. Regardless, no matter the kind of day you’re having, as teachers, we need to remember to take care of ourselves first. If we cannot find time in the day to love ourselves, how are we able to provide that same love back into what we do? 

I believe that as teachers, we need to find little moments in our daily routine to make time for ourselves and see the light in the middle of our storms. I like to structure my day as routinely as I can so that I can improve on the habits I am trying to create for myself and complete any short-term and long-term goals that I want to achieve. This is what a day in my life will typically look like throughout the week:

4:30am: Snooze through my alarm a couple times, drink a glass of water, and then get ready to go to the gym. 

5:00am: Make it to the gym and begin a light workout. I roll out to the tiny gym at my complex and complain a little on my way there but I feel more prepared for the day after I am done

7:30am: Make my way through traffic and arrive at work where I check in with my master teachers and clear any questions I have about the schedule for the day.

8:25am: I greet the students that are walking in and help the master teacher begin their lesson plan for the morning

2:35pm: School is out and once again, I check in with my master teachers to make sure everything is set for the next day.

3:00pm: Depending on the day of the week, I will usually make my way to the gym (this time a bigger gym in the city) where I workout for another couple hours because I find that exercising helps me let out all my stress and achieve any workout goals I have for myself. My current goal is to do one pull-up because my “knees are weak, arms are heavy….mom’s spaghetti” (Eminem). 

6:00pm: This is the time of day where I usually get home and I cook dinner, and sit down for about half an hour to an hour to binge-watch episodes on Netflix or Hulu. Currently, my favorite is 90 day fiancé because there is so much drama that I am just so addicted.

7:30pm: This is the time of day where I finish up any homework or work related assignments that I need to complete. I also update my planner and cross off anything I have done and re-write anything I still need to do for the next day.

9:30pm: In order to wake up early, I need to sleep early. I have been waking up/going to sleep consistently for a couple years now and I find that this schedule works best for me. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed with work, I will stay up a bit longer but I always try to plan my day out in my planner so that I have clear tasks I must complete before I fall asleep. By the end of the day, I am so tired anyway that I never have trouble falling asleep.

In conclusion, although my day seems crazy, there are moments in between it all where I make time for myself and remind myself about why I do what I do. Because no matter how hectic the day may seem, there will always be tiny moments of happiness help us mentally battle the day.

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A Puppy Can Help After A Long Day

Working with kids, you never know what kind of day you will have. Kids go through and see so much that we sometimes forget that they can see. After tough days, there is one important thing you need to do. You need to take care of yourself and relax. That can happen in many ways. The ways that I take care of myself is actually spend some time with my puppy, Francine.

To me, there is no better feeling then seeing your dog so excited to see you after you have been gone all day. They act like you have been gone for years and they get so excited and they run around and jump on you and expect pets and love from you. My dog does this all the time. I will open my door and she will be right there wagging her tail and it already starts to make me feel better after a long day. Then I will sit and pet her for 15 minutes and then feed her.

I kind of use me having to take care of her as a way to take care of myself. I will take her for her daily walks and it helps me unwind and give me that time to get some fresh air and time off my phone. It was also a bit of exercise for me and for her too. I will usually walk her for half an hour around my apartment complex and I will being her in the grass areas so she can run around a bit. Sometimes I bring one of her toys she I can throw it and she can get some running in so it can give us more time outside. She loves her daily walks because she just likes to sniff the bushes and such to smell all the other dogs and cats that have been there that day.

Another way, my dog helps me unwind after a long day of work is just petting her. There have been studies that petting a dog can help relieve stress and calms a person. That is why college campuses will usually bring dogs on campus for people to pet during finals week when they are so stressed from studying and testing. My dogs loves being petted and there are usually times when I am taking her on a walk she will go up to random strangers and request for them to pet her. I usually get embarrassed and apologize right away though a lot of people say they do not mind since she is so little.

Though there are many other ways that I take care of myself after a long day, like drink take a hit shower or a bath with a bath bomb or drink some wine, I feel like my dog has helped me the most when it comes to having a long day at work. There are many other ways to take care of yourself and every person is different and I would enjoy to hear what ya’ll do to take care of yourselves.

Thank you and be amazing ya’ll.

 

P.S. Enjoy some pictures of Francine.

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+ Some Days you Throw it all in the Bathroom Trash

7:00 am- Wake up & Realize you woke up 30 minute late. Rush around the house throwing yourself and your bag together. Feed the dogs. Feed the fish. Pack a Trader Joes salad for lunch.

8:15 am- Start your jeep only to realize your phone is at 15% and your only phone charger is inside. Turn off the Jeep. Unlock the house and race inside to grab your charger. Start the Jeep and go!

8:30 am- Get on the freeway only to realize there is an abnormal amount of traffic and you will be late.

8:50 am- Arrive at work, only 10 minutes late phew. You still have time to prep before class. Walk to the equipment shed and begin pulling out all needed equipment for the day. Thank heavens you already pulled together the lesson plans before you left work the day prior.

11:45 am- After teaching three classes break for lunch. Wait impatiently to hear from your realtor on a house offer you made the night before. Make small talk with teachers in the lounge to seem stress free and put together. Spill ranch dressing on your shirt. Scarf down your remaining lunch in ten minutes.

12:45pm- Finally hear back from your realtor. Her text pops up on your fit bit as you are in the middle of teaching. Text reads, “They accepted a different offer, it wasn’t meant to be” Mourn your dream house for 30 seconds and snap back to reality as you dodge a frisbee headed straight for your head.

1:05pm- Walk your largest class back to their homeroom. Have a silent party to yourself because all students were on task and the class went smoother than normal. Head to pick up your next class and say a silent mantra in your head, “only two more classes, may this class go as great as the previous”

1:50pm- It takes all you have not to snap on your class that has been off task, loud, and disruptive. Signal all students to clean up, as you do this you notice one student is standing in the middle of the black top, surrounded by students throwing up everywhere.

1:51pm- Rush over and LOUDLY tell all students to give their classmate some space while the rest of us head back to class. Panic for :02 seconds….rush over to a yard duty and ask them to stand with the student while you take the others back to class. Explain to the students why it is respectful to give other students space and not draw attention to events in which are causing another student to feel ashamed.

2:00pm- Pick up your last class and head to the gym. Walk into the gym only to be met by people of the church cleaning up your equipment telling you they need the gym for an event and you need to hold class else where. Take a deep breath, and lead the children outside.

2:03pm- Give up on today. Instruct children to have free play using any equipment from the shed. Tell them it is because they have been awesome, and they have earned it. When in reality it is because you have hit your breaking point and need some wiggle room to breathe.

3:45pm- Arrive home. Let out the dogs. Put away your bag and left over lunch. Pull out your laptop for homework. Do the dishes.

4:45pm- Turn on the shower, zone out into the bathroom mirror as the water warms up. Think to yourself, I will take a quick shower, work on homework, start cooking dinner, then head to bed around 10:00pm.

4:46pm- Throw all your plans in the bathroom trashcan. Switch the water to the faucet. Draw yourself a bath, pour yourself a glass of Bogle Essential Red, pick out a Lush Bath Bomb and prepare to unwind.

5:30pm- As you throw on comfy clothes after the bath, call your husband who is still at the gym. Tell him you are ordering a pizza and can’t wait for him to get home so you can catch up on American Horror Story.

6:30pm- Curl up on the couch with more wine, pizza, your husband, and three dogs. Breathe a sigh of relief because you know you will be in bed by 8:30pm and tomorrow will be a better day…..