Thursday, October 27, 2016

So... now it's over...

Yesterday, I used this sad llama to show how I felt about leaving my students

Today... I don't know... I have to try to find a sadder llama.  I don't know if there's a better embodiment of my heartbreak than Kuzco sitting in the rain as a sad llama.

Maybe a sad elephant.

Yeah - just imagine the saddest thing ever.  If you aren't crying - here's a BuzzFeed article to help start the tears.  Read that and then come back to me.

Ok?  Are you crying now?  Because I am.  I didn't even have to reread that article.  Just finding the link made me a little misty.  Don't judge.  It's been a rough day.

Today started like any other normal day.  Actually, it started earlier than most normal days because I had to get all my grades finalized so I went in early.

Before school even started, my neighbor came in to give me goodbye treats.  They were amazing and I ate way to many of them.  Again - this is a no judging post.  She gave me a sweet card and I started crying.  Yeah.  Notice how school hadn't even started yet.  I knew it would be a tough day and so I didn't even bother with eye makeup.  That was a good choice.

The day went largely as expected.  I cried a lot.  My students cried.  I had 3 girls burst into tears in class.  That part was unexpected and made me cry more.

I got lots of hugs from coworkers and administration and even students.  One girl hugged me every time she saw me in the hall today because I "tore her heart out and stomped it on the floor."  A bit dramatic, but sweet, and sad.

Having to say goodbye to everyone was much harder than I thought it would be.  Saying goodbye to my classroom was hard.  I have been a teacher for my entire adult life and now, just like that, I'm not.  I know a few of my Boyd classmates were teachers as well - and one of the associates I will start working with on Tuesday is a former kindergarten teacher.  I've been told teachers make good attorneys - and it makes sense.  We understand bureaucracy and are pretty self sufficient.  But, a big part of me will miss being surrounded by students every day.

Over the years, I have taught grades 7-12, including alternative, night, and summer school.  I have had all levels of students, from remedial and English language learners, to advanced.  I cannot choose a single student or a single year that has been my favorite, because there are so many.  I can tell you about times it was hard to continue teaching or students that have really tried my patience, but truthfully, those are the exception rather than the rule.

Four and a half years ago when I started law school, I knew this day would come.  And maybe in some sense I knew that I wouldn't ever be a career teacher.  As one student told me "Miss, you are really strict, you don't have to follow ALL of the rules."  I'm a rules person.  As a teacher, you have to pick your battles and let some things slide.  I always struggled with that.

However, that's probably the same thing that will make me a decent lawyer.

I managed to pack everything away into a few small boxes, a tote bag, and of course my coffee maker (priorities).   It was weird.  I think I take more with me on a long vacation.  And I was able to distill 10 years into those few boxes.

One of my friends told me today "You know, you can always teach in the law program at [the magnet] high school."  And that made me smile.  Because she knew that deep down, no matter what job I had, I would probably always be a teacher.

(one more sad llama for the road)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The end of an era

Today has been absolutely heart wrenching.

I saw half of my students for the last time - since my school is on a block schedule, I only see my students every other day, making today the last time I will see many of them.

That also makes today the first real slap-in-the-face reality of leaving the classroom.  I have been a teacher for 10 years, plus some student teaching and that weird year in China, so... let's call it 12 - which is the same age as many of my students.  I have been a teacher since before most of my students could walk, or talk.  To them, it is a lifetime.

And I guess in many ways, it's a lifetime for me, too.

For the past ten years, I have woken up every day and gone into a room of young people where I was expected to be the smartest person in there -- or at least the one that knew what was going on...

Usually that was the case...

However, that wasn't always how it went.

Teaching is much harder than I ever thought it would be.  I also like it a lot more than I thought I would.  I hate the bureaucracy of teaching, especially in a large district like this.  I hate the never ending paperwork and things to sign.  I hate forgetting when I sign them and getting in trouble.  

But I love students... 
Ok... not all the students...  

But over the years, most of my students have been wonderful people that will probably go on to lead amazing lives.  I've known many of them to get married and start families of their own.  They go to college.  Some have even become teachers -- which makes them poor.  That part is sad, but it makes me happy knowing that good people like that are carrying on to love students in the classroom.

Since this is so incredibly hard, I'll write more tomorrow when I stop crying... 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The State of... everything that's not okay.

I haven't written anything for quite a while.  Largely, that's because I spent the past (almost year) focusing on finishing law school, graduating, and passing the bar.  Fortunately for me (and my husband), I did all of those things.  Yay me!

However, I've had a lot on my mind lately and I decided it was time to let it all out.
**warning - this is kind of long and ranty and mild profanity does appear in this post**

I'm going to vote tomorrow morning.  I like voting.  It makes me feel like I'm a part of something bigger than myself.  Nevada, fortunately, has early voting, which means I can go to the mall, get a corndog, and vote with very little fuss.  Voting on actual election day is kind of a pain, and I like this 21st century mall-based system I live in.

Like most people, I'm not shy about who I'm voting for in the election.

Over the past year, I've had mixed anxiety levels about a "President Trump" world.  Fortunately, as of now, I feel I can safely pack my suitcase and put my passport away.  At least I hope so.  At one point, It was a legitimately frightening prospect, but now, it's more like an annoying itch.

So, I'm not longer afraid of a dystopian society ruled by a megalomaniac with all the compassion of Kanye West and none of the musical talent.

But I still have a lingering fear.  I am truly upset by the world that I have come to live in over the past year -- and I fear it will only get worse.

During the past year, Donald Trump has shown America that it's okay to be a total asshole.  Not even the likable "Uncle Joe had too much to drink and now he's trying to lick the cat again" asshole, but someone that speaks his mind all the time, and confuses opinion with fact, and shows the world that if you don't like someone, it's okay to mock and belittle them in a national forum.

None of that is ok with me - as a woman, as a mother, as a human being.  How can we raise the next generation of children with respect and the courage to stand up to bullies when that is not what we are modeling.  We want to be able to teach all the right things:

  • We don't call names; 
  • we play fair; 
  • we don't yell and scream; 
  • we are kind to others; 
  • we don't interrupt; 
  • we don't quit when we don't get our way; 
  • we say "I'm sorry" when we hurt others.  

That is the opposite of what we are seeing on the national stage.

And now in the past few weeks, the hits just keep on coming.  He seems to have doubled down on the idea that women need to remain barefoot and pregnant, at home where they can't go around "thinking" or "talking".  Not only that, but it seems that the person wanting to be in charge of our country is modeling that it is okay to treat women like second class citizens placed on this earth for the amusement of men.  Again, not okay.  A few months ago, we all got into an uproar about the Stanford Rapist - a young man who managed to admit to a horrible crime and serve three months in county jail.  A few days ago, there was a similar case in Montana (it's worse, if you don't want to click on the link).  But somehow, a fair portion of the country has no problem with someone using wealth and power to do what he wants, when he wants, with whoever he wants.

Donald Trump is telling everyone in America (and technically world-wide) that this is okay.

On Friday, a girl came into my class and immediately told her friend about some jerk that thought it was okay to grab her butt in science class - a random guy that thought her butt was cute.  A boy sitting behind them told her "well, at least he didn't grab your p***."  I immediately stopped everything I was doing to explain to a group of 8th graders that none of that was okay.  You cannot touch another person without their permission.

I'm here to speak as a voice of sanity and remind us that it is NOT OKAY.  Nothing about this is okay.  I am not going to spend the next twenty years telling young women that they are probably going to be sexually assaulted, if not outright raped in their young lives and no one is going to do anything about it.  And if someone does decide to play the hero and do something, the assailant will spend a few days in county jail, or just get a stern talking to.  In Trump-land, these young women will be humiliated, denied healthcare at low cost clinics like Planned Parenthood, and forced to carry children to term because abortions will be abolished.  They will be reminded every single day of the horror that they endured.  That is not a world where I want young women to grow up.

But of course Trump and his supporters don't care all that much about the world I described, because they don't care all that much about women.

The Daily Telegraph has kept a running list of all of Trump's horrible sexist and demeaning statements towards women.  Seeing them all in one place (many with video links or copies of Donald's Twitter feed), is sickening.  He doesn't blink before calling out women for being (in his opinion) overweight, unattractive, sexually active, intelligent (which I guess is a bad thing), ambitious, or willing to speak their mind.  Based on his statements, the only acceptable women are tall models that don't talk a lot.

The worst part of all of this is that it isn't going to end on November 8th.  That's the part that makes me really upset and THAT is what I really blame Trump for.  He has made all of these behaviors the new normal.  If we don't collectively stand up and say "Nope, not in my house, Hombre," it's just going to continue.

For the past 8 years, we have allowed Trump and his comrades (yes, I used that word on purpose) to delegitimize our President for no reason other than he didn't like him.  We hoped that it would go away during the next election cycle.  We were SO wrong!

I am not going to listen to that nonsense for another 8 years.  If you don't like Clinton, that's fine.  Don't vote for her.  If you want to protest-vote for a 3rd party, cool.  But nothing about Donald Trump is presidential.  Nothing about him will serve as a role model for our future generations.  But, we need to agree as a country that we cannot allow people to act this way.  It's not okay.  It's not reasonable.  It's not moral.  And let's be honest.  It's just wrong.