Monday, November 30, 2015

Wordy post

Sorry readers. This will be a words only post. I usually fancify my posts with pictures and colors and links, but I just wanted to say how much I needed this fall break.
I don't think I realized how burned out I was. There I was  thinking I was on top of everything and then something would happen and I would crash and burn.  I would get discouraged and think to myself, "Shouldn't this get easier?"  After all I am in my eighth year of teaching so I should be a veteran by now, right?
As a teacher, I feel like a super hero sometimes. Not because I feel invincible or have super human strength, but because sometimes I feel that when I am weak, or discouraged, I don't have the luxury of showing it. I'm supposed to have all the answers and know everything and be on my game all the time. These kids are counting on me. Teachers don't like to ask for help. We want to do it ourselves. Or is that just me?
It's hard for me to remember how I was my first year of teaching. I made lots of mistakes and tried to look like I knew what I was doing. I didn't. I did what all first year teachers did: survive.
But looking back, I envy that naivety. I wasn't yet beat down by the pressure of testing and teaching struggles and people looking down on my profession. A question I ask myself every year: Am I making a difference? Are these kids better off; are they well enough equipped?

I try to tell myself yes. But the nagging voice in my head is saying that I always need to get better.
And that's why I've been feeling so stressed. Because it's hard. Every year.

But this break helped me recharge, refocus, and remember why I chose this profession. Why I love what I do. I love teaching. I love kids. Today was such a good day. I was excited about what I was teaching and all the kids were engaged (for the most part) and on task. I got most of what I wanted to teach done today, which fellow teachers know makes that a pretty good day when you actually teach what you planned (yea!).

And the hugs. Oh those sweet hugs. And the "Ms. Kang guess what" or "Ms. Kang I did this.."
Or "I read a lot over the break." Or when they make connections in their learning. Melts my heart every time.

It's true when they say teaching is really really tough. But the rewards are tenfold.
I'll never forget an email I got from a parent thanking me for teaching his daughter and telling me that all my hard work and diligence would continue to bless her and those around her for a lifetime to come. That's powerful. That's super hero stuff.

So there will be times when I'll be superman with my kryptonite. Or like the Hulk when I'm frustrated. But it's days like this that I feel like I can take on the world. At least my classroom world.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


What does this word mean to you?
Webster defines it as a chance or possibility that  something will happen or exist in the future.  It is a quality that something or someone has that can be developed to make it better. It's an ability that someone has that can be developed to help that person become successful.

 I recently watched a movie called Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about an 85 year old sushi chef  who is constantly striving for greatness in his work and passion. His work ethic is inspiring and made me realize some things about myself as a teacher.

1. Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work.
 I don't know about completely immersing yourself but I think you need to dedicate your time and effort to improving a little bit each day. As a teacher I feel like I'm constantly struggling to meet the demands of my job; meetings and deadlines and forms, professional development classes, and emails. I sometimes forget that the most important part of my job are the kids. What I do (or not do) directly affects their lives and the path of their learning.

2. You have to fall in love with your work.
 There's no doubt that I love kids and teaching. I love the rare moments when every single child is engaged and working, and not for an external reward or to please you. When I see that genuine enjoyment and passion for learning, I think that maybe I'm in the right career. I love to see the growth from  the beginning to the end of the year. I'm so blessed and privileged to be a tiny part of their lives and sometimes I get so emotional when kids leave my classroom because of how much you invest in them. I still worry about MY kids. They'll always be my kids. I love my career despite the constant nagging I give, the extra 3-4 hours after school, spending money I don't really have, and the list goes on. But it always comes back to the kids.

3. Never complain about your job.
That one's tough. It's so hard not to complain about the things you don't like about work. This is something I really need to work on.
 There is also the issue of teacher salary, policies on education, budget cuts, and occasional views of seeing us as no more than glorified babysitters. Sometimes teachers are the last ones thanked, but the first ones blamed. But why am I trying to change things I can't control? Why am I complaining about things I don't even try to change? So instead of complaining, focus on what you can change. Focus on the good. Fortunately I am blessed to be in a school environment where I have full support from parents, staff, and administration. I have no idea where the teachers who don't have this support get their strength and energy.

4. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success  and the key to being regarded honorably.
This is also hard. Sometimes I wonder if I really am getting better as a teacher or if I am flat lining. How can I become better? What strategies can I use to improve my teaching skills? What will engage them the most? Am I getting through to them? Are they even listening to me?
These are questions I am constantly asking myself. I know I'm loving and caring and strict and teach them respect. I try to meet their individual needs. I wish there was a simple formula to being a great teacher. And it's hard not to look back and think if I had just done a little more, they would be doing better.
But doubts and regrets are useless. I live in the present. I have kids now.
Like Jiro, I want to strive to improve daily and never give in to the idea that I've reached my peak.
Potential. We all have it. It's not impossible if we have the potential to achieve it. If I believe the kids have the potential to learn, why shouldn't I have that potential also?

 I like this quote about perseverance where it says that perseverance is the hard work you do in the classroom after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. It's a struggle, but it's one I will keep doing because this is my calling. This is part of who I am. I am a teacher.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Back from my hiatus

I can't believe my last post was back in March! I didn't have anything particular going on except work, but I guess I started to drift any from blogging for a couple of reasons.

I mainly started a blog to record my daily (or in my case, monthly) happenings. Like an online diary. I've always kept some sort of diary since I was little. I think my first diary was at the age of 10. Writing has always come easier for me than speaking. I am not eloquent with the spoken language. I wish I was a great speaker but I'm not. But I think God gave me a gift and love for writing. When I couldn't convey in words what I felt or thought, I would write it down in poetry form or through a story. I would write about my day and how I felt at the moment. Sometimes I'll look through my old diaries and laugh because it's so funny to read back on the tween me and what I worried about.
Now that I'm grown up, I have different stressors and seemingly more things to worry about. I guess I felt like I was complaining a lot or writing about things that didn't matter. Not that my blog is well followed or anything, but there's also the fear of being known about; in a private diary, you can say whatever you want, but an online diary is different. The more I thought about it, the more I didn't want to write.
But writing is also a sort of therapy for me. It lets me speak when I can't. It's my story for those who will listen. Years from now, it will help me remember a time when I was blessed and be grateful, or when I struggled so that I can learn.
I've recently started my school year and I can already feel the pressure and stress to succeed. While everyone else's lives seem to be full steam ahead, I'm still at the station. My question of "Why, God?"  and "When, God?" seem to go unanswered. But I know God is working for my good. He is molding me and changing me. He is patiently guiding me on the path and steering me from harm. Instead of asking why and when, I need to be asking, "What next, God? What do you want me to do next?"
So in the daily grind of life, when stress comes my way, I always think of this verse in Colossians 3:23 that says:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
So no matter how you may feel, think that you are working for the Lord. It gives me strength and makes me think twice before complaining.
That being said, life is hard sometimes. I forget constantly how blessed I am. I feel like Dory sometimes because I praise Him one moment and turn around and forget everything I'm thankful for.
I want to write so that I can remember.

Lately I've been reading Paige Givens' blog and it's really motivated me to write again.  I don't have to have this wonderful life or exciting events to write a blog. Maybe this will give someone encouragement. Or maybe this is just an encouragement to me. Either way, I want to write again.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring Break Blog

Why do I only blog on breaks? I looked back at my previous posts and realized that I blogged during the summer and spring break 2014.

How can spring break feel so long and short at the same time?
It seems like forever since I've been in my classroom but the thought of going back to school tomorrow seems highly irregular and I'm displaying signs of avoidance, including trying not to look in the general direction of my huge crate of "school stuff" I brought home to work on. How cute of me.

Still, I know that starting tomorrow, I am in it for the long haul; Open House on Thursday, and then getting all my kiddos ready (as much as possible) for 3rd grade. It's a huge task, and every year I worry and wonder if I did everything I could. And every year, I start over again, hoping to be better.

Even though the break went so quickly, I am always grateful for a chance to recharge.

LOVE Columbian food! @Casa Vieja

Hands down BEST pie shop in the area

My free piece! Drunken Nut

Blueberry & Nectarine Pie
I used my last batch of blueberries I picked last summer. I took two recipes and tweaked them to make my pie. Recipe coming soon!

 Okay, so I am slightly obsessed with this movie. I got a chance to see an advance screening of it. I guess it was the first screening being shown because they were taking up phones. My other screenings didn't do that. And then we were wanded. In spite of all that, we (Mere) spotted the binocular guy in the theater to detect any light from cameras! Anyway, the acting was phenomenal, costumes, scenery, and casting were on point (although I kept picturing Bellatrix Lestrange when I looked at the fairy godmother). I love Lily James and Richard Madden; their onscreen chemistry was palpable! My friend was making fun of me because she was telling me something about the actors, and I said, "Yea I know that." And she said, "Of course you already know." She knew I had already researched everything I could about them. It's funny how they're both dating Dr. Who actors. I must start watching that along with Downton Abbey and Sherlock.

I'm also super excited about the live action Beauty and the Beast coming out in 2015!!! This is my favorite Disney movie, so they better do it right! Having Emma Watson, Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey!), Luke Evans (Hobbit), and Josh Gad (Olaf) as cast members is definitely a great sign of good things to come.

What else did I do on my break? I did boring stuff like clean my apartment and purge some clothes to donate. I also did fun things like paint, bake, visit friends, and read the dusty stack of books on the floor.

My goal this week is to not stress myself out over getting ready for Open House and enjoying the little things.
One of my favorite quotes from Anne of Green Gables is: Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.
So no matter what happens today, tomorrow always holds a fresh start; a clean slate. Here's hoping that you have a fresh tomorrow!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Typewriter series

I am thankful for...
               nights that turn into mornings
          light that filters through
          in drowsy moments
      sounds you can only hear with
               quiet concentration.
          home, and for those that call it that too
          a mind that speaks, music to drown in

       art to admire and be in awe of
          books books and books
          pages and chapters and real emotion
          over fictional characters

        sharp pencil points
                    forever memories

                   and faded memories
            peace and friends who remind me
            to smile and not fade away

           the ability to start over again
            seeing one more time
                       one  last   time

            if only in a dream
           all these pieces of life

            make me think
                     and thank

             the One who gave it all.