Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Best and Worst by @karilemor #RomanceGems


Back to School, Back to You is the theme for September for the Gems! Back to school can mean different things for everyone. Being a 30+ year teacher, it usually meant spending weeks and weeks cleaning, organizing, and decorating your classroom with colorful pictures and words. Labeling everything in the classroom with your students’ names on them.  Planning lessons that would engage every student. But now I’m retired from teaching, it takes on a new meaning.
Teaching was something I’d always wanted to do, so I thought I’d share some of the best and worst things about this career.




BEST

The kids - There’s nothing like a little child who looks up to you and wants to do everything they can to please you. Who wants to be just like you. I had a little girl in my class who wanted to get her ears pierced so she could wear small hoop earrings just like I did every day. Much later in my career, I had the daughter of one of my first year students. The mom (who I’d had many years ago) sent in such a beautiful letter to me, telling me how important her first year was at school (I taught Kindergarten at the time) and because of that experience, she also went into teaching so she could inspire young minds like I had. I cried. Yup, those are the moments we live for as teachers.

Sharing knowledge - Some days, as I leaned against a table chatting with the kids about our daily lesson, I would feel this sense of pride and rightness. Like this was what I was supposed to be doing. I loved when I had a student suddenly gasp, “Oh!” and their eyes lit up with understanding. Or when a child who struggled, got an A on a test. These were the precious moments when I knew I had made a difference in a child’s life. Or when parents would marvel at what their child had learned in school, specifically the non-curriculum stuff. That crust was the best part of the bread. That sleep is the best medicine. That making mistakes is okay. I stressed this one a lot. One day I was giving a spelling test on long O homophones. I’d say the word, give it in a sentence, then say the word again. I guess I hadn’t been paying attention because I said, “Whole. I ate the whole pizza. W-H-O-L-E. whole.” As soon as I realized what I’d done, I burst out laughing. The kids joined in and we all lost focus for a few moments. But it taught them that even teachers make mistakes. And we can laugh at these mistakes.

Changing lives - Every year I’d get lots of students who struggled in some area: academics, social skills, emotional skills, behavior.  But every so often I knew I’d had a huge effect on a child’s life. Like the boy who no one wanted to play with because of his behavior. So smart but didn’t know how to interact nicely with others. I put him and another bright child in charge of helping other students with their work. It was a new role he took very seriously. By the end of the year, he was loved by everyone.  Or the time I had a parent-teacher conference and told this child’s mom how great this student was and how well-behaved. The mom’s eyes opened wide and her mouth dropped. “You mean, my Nicky?” She thought I’d gotten her son confused with someone else, then went on to explain that he had gotten kicked out of pre-school for his behavior. But I’d seen the good in him and quickly squelched the negative behavior, and had him become my helper. He had an amazing year.  

As much as I loved my years teaching, there are also many downfalls which made me retire a good ten years earlier than typical.

WORST

Uncomfortable conditions - Not being able to use the bathroom when you need to. Old and run down buildings. Outdated books and supplies.  

Helicopter and Lawnmower parents who expected everything done FOR their child. Ones who never communicated yet expected you to know exactly what they wanted from you.

Administration who hadn’t worked in a classroom in many years (if ever - as some had been teachers of Gym, Music, Art, … and hadn’t taught in a regular classroom) who didn’t support you. Superintendents who didn’t care about the teachers (a school’s biggest asset) or the students, as long as the budget balanced and the test scores were high.

Meetings, meetings, meetings, that took time from our classroom, or from the time we’d be planning wonderful lessons for our students. Most of these meetings could have been handled through email.

Tests, tests, and more tests, so many that added to the stress level of both teacher and students. And it got to the point we had to teach to these tests and not to what the children really needed to learn.

Disrespect from so many in the community. People who think teachers only babysit. Earn too much money (I have a Master’s Degree with over 30 years experience and was making the same as my newly graduated son-in-law). Only work half a day and half a year. There were many days I was in my classroom until 8pm. Then I’d bring work home to do. While my own children had to deal on their own.

People who have no training in education telling us what to teach and how to teach it. Plus how to run our classroom. So called “experts” giving us curriculum that is pushed down so much the students are not developmentally ready to handle it. So they cry and have major anxiety.


I wouldn’t have changed my years with my students, but am happy I now get to spend my days writing stories of people falling in love. 




My newest book, ELUSIVE DREAMS, the first in my Storms of New England series, shows us that school wasn’t a great place for Tessa. Here’s a little snippet when Tessa and Erik bring their son, Matty, to his preschool Open House.
~~

Tessa eyed the crowd and saw a familiar redhead. Paula Redmond. They’d gone to high school together. She hadn’t been one of the super mean girls, but she’d certainly never stuck up for Tessa as she was bullied and called names behind her back. No one had.
“Tess? You okay?”
Hiding behind Erik seemed a good idea, or better yet, running from the room and going to their nice, safe house. The music from Matty’s room reminded her the small boy was in there being brave without his parents. Shouldn’t she be brave too? For Pete’s sake, she was an adult. She couldn’t go around the rest of her life hiding. Dr. Sullivan had urged her to get out more only yesterday at their second counseling appointment. If Matty could do this, then so could she.
“I’m fine, Erik. I’m going to let Kiki play on the little slide.”
He walked off and she set the toddler at the top of the small plastic slide then let go. It was a short ride, but the child loved it and toddled back to the two steps to get to the top. She climbed them herself, then slid down again.
“Tessa?”
Paula stood behind her. Maybe she was still a coward, but she’d hoped the girl wouldn’t recognize her. Or if she did, she would simply ignore her like she had in high school. No such luck.
“Paula. Hi.” What else could she say? It’s nice to see you again? No, because it wasn’t. She had lots of faults, but she wasn’t a liar.
~~

Check out the first few chapters of ELUSIVE DREAMS for free on many retailers.

If you want info on my new books and some freebies I'm sending soon, sign up for my mailing list. I only send a post when I have a new release or am giving something away. No spam. 



Don't forget to enter our September Rafflecopter Giveaway – Back to School ... Back to You! The prizes are listed on our GIVEAWAY TAB above, along with the entry form. 

We have some fabulous prizes with YOU in mind so don't miss out.

Happy reading and may this month let you get back to you: your routine, your time for you and more...

16 comments:

  1. What a thoughtful post, Kari. I can tell you spent a lot of time weighting your pros and cons before retiring. Hopefully, your new adventures are bringing you joy.

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    1. Thanks!! I'm enjoying the full time writing gig very much!

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  2. My daughter Kari is a Special Ed teacher. I'm pretty sure she could have written the first part of this post. Like Nora, I hope you're enjoying your new adventures.

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    1. God bless your daughter. Teaching is hard enough. Working with children with so many diverse needs is extra challenging!

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  3. Eye opening, Kari. We had wonderful teachers for our children and I never once thought they didn’t do enough to teach or help our kids. A thoughtful post and thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank YOU for respecting and supporting your children's teachers!

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  4. Kari, I lasted as a teacher for 5 years. I made the mistake of giving Johnny what Johnny earned, not the grade his parents thought he should have. It wasn't a pleasant experience. And this was 40 years ago! I can't imagine teaching today. I admire those folks who are in the classroom teaching my grandchildren. They are heroes and heroines. And guess what subject my 6th grade grandson likes the best? English! Made his grandmother proud!

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    1. Being a teacher isn't easy yet so many think it is. Even harder now since kids have such a short attention span due to so much screen time and parents giving them everything the second they ask.

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  5. Thanks for reminding us there are some really great, devoted teachers out there. And how lucky we were as parents when our kids landed in their class.

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  6. Thank you for the post. I am a special education teacher and I appreciate your words. Nice excerpt, too!

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  7. Teachers are SOoo underappreciated!!! It makes absolutely no sense to me! I've had the honor or working with and learning from many wonderful teachers - all ages and grade-levels - and I'm always impressed by their care, concern, and dedication. I still look back fondly on some of my teachers, even remembering certain lessons. And I know my daughter would say the same. We often find our passions through our teachers. So, hats off to you! BUT...I did love seeing your post as a "writer on the road." So here's to more time for you, teach. Happy writing! :D

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    1. Thanks! For appreciating teachers and supporting them!

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  8. Every teacher probably agrees with your post, Kari. My daughter who has a Master's degree taught art in high school for 10 years. First 8 years were in a wonderful school district where administration fully supported teachers. Last 2 years in a different school district near where they'd bought a house were a nightmare. She decided life was too short to put up with what she'd been putting up with for those 2 years and resigned.

    She's now teaching again, not art, but teaching Chinese children how to pronounce and speak English that they've learned in their schools. She has one student at a time from kindergarten age through early middle school. She has a "classroom" set up in one of her extra bedrooms and does it all via the online interface and a video cam. She's loving it. The ability to do this is one of the best things from the internet.

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    1. Excellent for your daughter! The rate of teachers leaving the field is very high. Especially in the first five years. So sad.

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