This Side of Third

…and second

Misplaced My Motivation


Here I sit, finally prepping for the start of the new school year.  After this past year, and with new developments, and a smidge of self-pity, I already want the year to start so it can be over so next summer can arrive.

I’ve done nothing school-related for the last month because I needed a break.  No Tweet Chats, no blogging, no shopping, no classes.  This is only the second time I’ve opened my laptop.  I did read three work-related books, so I guess I didn’t do nothing.  I just have no motivation to give more to a job that gave me nothing but grief, no matter what I did to change it. Especially over vacation.

At the end of the year, I was looking forward to this break so I could get education-related stuff done that I couldn’t get to while teaching.  I have two separate lists created to ensure I wouldn’t forget all the things I wanted to accomplish now that I had time.  Know how much I’ve done in the last month?  About 30% of it.  Once I got away from the school environment, I lost my motivation.

I’m like that with running, also.  If I don’t have a race looming in the near future, I tend to slack off on my runs.  My next race isn’t until September. That’s too far off.  I’m going to need to give myself a goal to keep up with exercising.  Hmm…  I have a month until school begins.  Wonder if I can lose 20 lbs….

Anyway… I suppose I’m nervous (nervous? no. concerned? not right. apprehensive? meh.) cautious about this new year.  When the entire SpEd team asks to leave the school for other jobs in the county (and outside the county) that should be a red flag.  Someone, somewhere, needs to recognize that.  So everyone received new their new positions in the county for the upcoming year.  Except me.  I’m still here.  With a new team. Although you can’t call it a team, because even when we were all still together, we were not a team.  That was frowned upon.  There was no SpEd team; only grade-level teams which the SpEd teacher was a part of.  Uh-huh.  I’ve been told that will be different this year.

I’m also on a new grade-level team than the last three years.  For this I am happy.  While not a fan of change, I needed to get back to the little guys. I’ve left third grade and returned to PK and Kindergarten.  I will miss my teammates in third, but the team in ECE is solid.  However, this blog is called This Side of Third (Third Grade Things).  Do I change it (This Side of Kindergarten)?  Modify it (FKA This Side of Third)?

I actually spent an hour looking at new blog themes here, and on WordPress, for inspiration. Nothing happened.  So, for now, even though it’s an untruth, the blog remains what it is.  Although, this happened:  IMG_0990  It’s tough helping mom with her blog and listening to jazz.

I know it seems like I’m always bitching about my job.  I DO love teaching. I just don’t like all the crazy that goes with it.  And if I don’t vent here, I tend to do it at work, and that gets me in trouble.

That Kid


Any teacher with a number of years under his/her belt has had That Kid.  When you have That Kid, you look like this, A LOT:



I have That Kid this year. It’s been a rough year with him.  I swore he was going to be the end of my career, either because I was going to snap and quit, or snap and get fired.  Luckily we’ve made it this far without either happening.

That Kid is oppositional, defiant, argumentative, disrespectful, difficult, exasperating, and uncooperative.  He refuses to complete work, won’t keep his hands to himself, argues with staff and peers, back-talks, doesn’t follow directions…I think you get it.

That Kid’s mom just had a meeting with his IEP team yesterday in which she pulled the “Not my kid” card.  “He’s never defiant or uncooperative at home.”  Apparently, her definition of those adjectives is different than EVERYONE ELSE’S as she then proceeded to tell us all the misdoings that go on at home. They sound strikingly similar to what we see at school.

I’ve tried my best to help him to read, write, calculate, be a better friend, a better student, a better person.  We’ve had long talks, arguments, staring contests, and even bribery.  Needless to say, it’s been a long year.  Actually, this is my second year with That Kid.  He hasn’t mellowed with age.

Today, 173 days into the school year, we took a step forward.

This is the last week of assessing the students. Grades are due Monday.  All teachers are shoving tests at their students to get those final grades, and the kids are wearing down.  I spent the afternoon with That Kid trying to help him complete his four tests.  Like…pulling…teeth.  For both of us.

That Kid had gotten most of one test finished, opting out of the final question because he couldn’t think of the answer, declined taking the math test (his strong suit), and only took the social studies test because I was doing most of the work.  He said, “All I want to do is take a nap.”  With 20 minutes left in the day, I understood.  He practically begged me to stop working.

I sent him on a bathroom break (an extended break, as he always plays around in there).  While he was gone, and with the help of my trusty co-teacher, we set up his test to answer that one, last question.  He answered, I wrote, he was done.  With 10 minutes left in the day, I told him to grab a Chromebook (his most favorite thing, ever) and be done with testing for today.

That Kid got a Chromebook, packed up, walked over to my desk……and thanked me.  Sincerely.  “Thank you for letting me get a Chromebook.”  And then he did something I will hang on to for the rest of my life.  That Kid hugged me.  A true, honest, heartfelt, hug.  He has never hugged me before.

With 7 days to go, we did it.  We made a breakthrough.  We finally made that connection.  That Kid just made my year.



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Teacher Appreciation Week


Teacher appreciation week isn’t about the gifts, kind words, or treats. It’s about the boy who wrote an essay and stated that I’m one of the best teachers in the world, who’s helping him to be a handsome man, and that if it weren’t for me (and his homeroom teacher) he wouldn’t be writing that essay.  It’s about my kids scoring Effective and Highly Effective on their Student Learning Objectives despite that fact that I’ve gotten Needs Improvement and Ineffective on my teaching observations all year. THAT’s what matters to me. Believe in yourselves, teachers, because your kids (and I) believe in you.


The Ravings of a SpEd Teacher with 26 Days Left

  1. A resource room is a separate, remedial classroom in a school where students with educational disabilities, such as specific learning disabilities, are given direct, specialized instruction and academic remediation and assistance with homework and related assignments as individuals or in groups.  (

According to Wikipedia, a resource room is an asset to education.  So why have they gone by the wayside?  Why can’t children with special learning needs access this help in the public school?

“A class room where a special-education teacher works with a small group of students, using techniques that work more efficiently with a special-needs population is resource room. A resource room provides needed students with additional help while letting such students remain generally with the mainstream.” (

As stated above, U.S. Legal states the same information.  A resource room is a separate classroom where students visit, not stay, in order to get the specialized instruction they need.

Here is a link to a PPT that shows how a resource room works, presented by the National Association of Special Education Teachers.

So why don’t these rooms exist?  Maybe they do where you live, but not here.  This is why:

“Special education services should be delivered in regular education classes (not special classes, separate schooling, or other removal from the regular ed environment) except “when the nature or severity of the disability of the child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.””  (

The nature and severity of many students in my county warrant the need for a resource room, even for only part of the day.  That’s not happening, and is not likely to happen any time soon.  I think that’s a disservice to our kids that need it the most.

I’d really like to teach in a resource room.  I never wanted to be in the gen ed classroom.  I used to have a self-contained classroom for children with autism.  It was the greatest job.  I’ve only ever wanted to work with special needs students.  Now I’m in the regular classroom where it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to meet my students’ needs.

The general ed teachers now have some very difficult students in their classrooms.  These teachers didn’t go to school for special ed.  They’re not equipped, and often don’t want to teach these populations. How is that beneficial to the students?

We need to bring back the resource room in public schools.  I don’t see it as a segregation of sorts.  I see it as it was intended~a room with minimal distractions for direct, specialized instruction for students with IEPs.  How is that wrong?

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A Time of New Beginnings


Spring and Easter are occasions for rebirth, new growth, emergence, and reflection. That’s just what I did this weekend.

I started counting calories again, I said a few extra prayers, I took time for myself, and I also did something scary. I took a leap of faith and trusted in the season of renewal.

People get settled, complacent, entrenched in various parts of their lives. Some may not even notice. I noticed.

Many people allow this settling because they don’t like change. Change is scary. Change is uncertain. Once you get past the scary, though, change is exciting!

My leap of faith may not turn out as I hope; however, change has begun. Even if it’s only been in me. 😊

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Do Titles Matter? I Guess They Do.


I want to begin this post by saying I have nothing against paraprofessionals (teacher assistants, to the layman).  Many of my dearest friends are paras, and some of the best times I’ve had have been with these awesome women.  They do as much work for the students as teachers do, and are paid less than half of what teachers are paid, with no guaranteed job security from year to year.

That said, I have been feeling pretty…crappy for the last 24 hours about something.  It’s almost too embarrassing to admit to the general public.  I guess in the grand scheme of things it’s not all that bad, but for some reason, it’s effected me.

A parent was very nice and sent a letter (email) of thanks to the principal of my school as well as the superintendent stating that her child’s teacher goes above and beyond to help the child and communicate with the parents and generally is just awesome.  I agree.  She does do this and more and does it for every child in her class.

She also mentioned his reading intervention teacher and how lucky her child is to have this person.  It’s true.  Our interventionist is truly great.

She also mentioned me, the teacher assistant, who also shows a lot of care and concern for her child’s education.  Nice, right?  Sigh.

I guess I get it.  Her child is not in special education (but soon will be) and she has no cause to think of me as a SpEd teacher, even though I’ve been introduced as such.  She’s not the first parent to do this and I guess she won’t be the last.  It still stings, though.  Like, a lot.

Both the principal and the superintendent answered back to the original email.  They thanked her for the email, stated they agree with her about the child’s teacher, and that the intervention team works very hard to ensure students are successful.  Notice anything missing?  Yeh. Me, too.

No one addressed the error of my being a special education teacher~not teacher assistant.  Sure, maybe the superintendent doesn’t know.  I’ll give her that.  Maybe the principal didn’t want to make the parent feel badly.  Maybe she included me in with the intervention team.  Maybe she never even thought to correct the error.  Maybe…

After the year I’ve been having, this just tops it off.  I was at work by 7, asked for plans for review before 8 (because paperwork is the most important thing in teaching~not progress), had one of my students refuse to do his work, stayed until after 4 because an IEP meeting I’d been in since 2:45 went a little long (while I watched a co-worker walk out at 3:45 without a word because the duty day was done), only to come across that chain of emails.  I was pissed, but I thought it was just me.

I am lucky to work with a good group of supportive teachers.  The classroom teacher was appalled about it, and the intervention teacher apologized.  I was quick to let her know the apology was unnecessary.  They, and a few others who’d heard about it (not from me~I was too upset to say anything), offered me their love and kind words.  It was nice.

Again, in the grand design, I suppose it’s not all that horrible, but it does hurt.  It’s just that when you go above and beyond for your students, spend HOURS and DAYS (and nights) working on IEPs, progress reports, charts, cues, research, lesson plans, data collection and crunching, assessing, and, oh yeh, teaching, it’s a bit disconcerting to hear you’re only thought of as a para.  Especially by those that know better.

No Pity. No Sympathy.


I live in an area that is quite impoverished.  Most of the students in my school are on ‘free and reduced lunch’ and we send food bags home to a few families on the weekends so the kids have something to eat.  Poverty’s not pretty.  Someone once told me that there’s no shame in being poor; it’s just mighty inconvenient.  However, that’s not what has me furious.  It’s what often comes with poverty (at least around here it does) that has me upset.  Addiction.

It took me five attempts just to write that word.  I hate that word.  I just feel like…it’s…an excuse. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a drug user, or an alcohol abuser.  Maybe it’s because over the years I turned to food for my feelings in stead of crack.  And again, that was an excuse.  I was sad-I ate.  I was happy-I ate.  I was stressed-I ate.  All just excuses to get to the Double Stuff Oreos in the closet. I’ve managed to put a stop to that, for the most part.

The reason addiction bothers me so much, and the reason I have no sympathy for those in addiction, is because I see what it does to the children.  Mostly it’s the youngest children.  They haven’t learned to cover anything up yet.  They come out with whatever is on their minds.  Older kids know what so say, and how to deflect.

The other day was an emotional one.  After a pretty good reading intervention group with my Kindergarten kids, one of the 5 year olds told me his dad was in Florida.  When I asked if Dad was visiting Disney, the child told me in the most matter-of-fact tone that dad gets high and had to go to Florida to get the dope that comes in the little blue baggies.  Holy shit.  He’s talking to me about this like his dad is going to WalMart to get bread.  Holy shit.

Thankfully the three other boys were unaware of the meaning of this conversation, and calmly and cheerfully I escorted them back to their classes.  The other two adults in the room could barely contain their astonishment.  I had to contain mine.

I don’t know why this affected me so much.  I’ve heard similar conversations from kids in the past.  So I found our in-house DSS worker (yeh. In-house.), broke down in tears, and let her know the conversation.  She was very understanding, told me she’d look into it right away (she did), and said, “This is addiction.”  I understand where she’s coming from and why she said that.  I don’t understand that as a reason.  I don’t accept that as a reason.

I don’t care if you want to do that shit on your own.  Go ahead and destroy your life.  Please leave my kids out of it.  Don’t use, deal, discuss, snort, sniff, shoot, beat, hit, punch, scream, bleed, tie-off, or otherwise put my kids in the vicinity of this shit.  That five year old kid, who doesn’t know his letters, letter sounds, or how to spell his name after a year and a half of school deserves so much better than what you’re giving him.

I mention the “beat, hit, punch, scream, bleed” in the previous paragraph because later that same day, I had an IEP screening meeting with a woman who is raising her four great-grandchildren, ages four and under.  Why? Because of addiction and the violence that seems to stem from it.  The little boy we discussed will turn 4 in March.  He throws raging tantrums, hits, throws things, screams obscenities..and has seen his mother and two year old brother beaten to a pulp.  Any wonder why he acts out?

So many stories like this (like the first grade child put in foster care because they found coke in his system, and not the good kind) occur not just at my school, by at many others across the country.  How do we stop this?  It’s not enough to have our yearly Red Ribbon Week when we educate the kids about drugs and alcohol.  Do we make the parents watch that God-awful Intervention show?  Force tough love down people’s throats?  “Sober up, or else” doesn’t deter people.  We need to find something that does. Maybe a harsher “or else.”

Here’s a thought: don’t start using drugs and you won’t become addicted.  Sure, some may have experimented with a few things in college and they haven’t turned it into an addiction.  That’s great. But that’s not everyone.  Why tempt it?  This is why I have no pity or sympathy.  You did it to yourself. No one held a gun to you and said, “Do this or else I’ll kill you.”  OK.  In the rare instance that this actually happened, I’m sorry.  Otherwise, just say, “no”.

Say NO to a life of poverty, to a life where you’re scraping for money for your next fix, but ignoring the fact your kids have no food or clothes.  Say NO to living in fear of sickness and death.  Say NO to a life of lies, a life of not knowing who to trust, a life of alienating those that would help you if you’d let them.  Say NO to the violence and the heartbreak and the self-loathing.   Say NO to putting your kids in an intolerable environment.

Get help.  If not for you, then for your family, your children.  Ultimately, it should be for you, but if you aren’t there yet, do it for the most important people in your life.  Parents, talk to your kids.  Not just in a passing way, but in a serious, meaningful way.  Be vigilant.  Get the message through.  I am so blessed with the family I have.  They made it a point to drive this home.

Get help.  I don’t want to have anymore of these conversations with my five year olds.  Thank you. (Worldwide) (Local)


Just a Few Thoughts


School Districts: When paperwork takes precedence over progress and rapport, it’s time for Education to step back and take a look at itself.  Why is what Education looks like more important than what Education is?  (That’s a horribly constructed sentence. Sorry.)

Federal Government: It’s 2015. Let two legal, consenting adults to marry the person they love. Man-man; man-woman; woman-woman~Love is love. Let the Lord sort it out in the end.

Sports Illustrated: 12 is not plus-sized. Get over your sanctimonious selves.

Parents: Vaccinate your kids. Seriously.

Fox News states the president is looking for authorization to attack ISIS. Dear Mr. President: You have my permission, authorization, and blessing.  Go!

Did I miss anything? If I did, feel free to add it below.

Reflection on my Christmas Break


We were given an unprecedented two weeks off this year for Christmas break.  It was wonderful.  I lazed around and did almost nothing.  That’s not true.  I ate.  A lot.  Cookies, bread, chocolates, popcorn, and cheese all found their way in.  Alright…I let them in, who am I kidding? 

I also watched all the Christmas shows and movies I could find.  I typically do not watch those cheesy Hallmark/LMN mushy romance movies.  I can’t stand them; however, plop a Christmas bow on them and I’m all over it.  I can’t get enough.  Window Wonderland, Fir Crazy, Let it Snow, Meet the Santas, and many others were watched several times those two weeks.  I think on December 26th, 2014, the Hallmark Channel announced that it’s Christmas season for 2015 begins on November 1st.  It’s on my calendar.

ABC Family channel had their 25 days of Christmas and I couldn’t have been happier.  These are the shows and movies I grew up with.  The Heat Miser and Cold Miser never get old, and Scrooged is a favorite for a much deeper meaning than the movie provides.  Of course every time Christmas Vacation is shown I watch it.  Ev-er-y time.    

ABC Family also had their obligatory Harry Potter weekend.  The Hubs is sick to death of HP.  I watch them whenever they’re shown, and always cry from the time Dumbledore dies through Snape’s memories in the pensieve.  Always. 

Am I the only one who is sad when TV channels and radio stations go back to playing their normal routines?  It’s a bit depressing that all the happy, jolly, fun, jingly, stuff goes away.  I guess that’s what makes it special when it comes around again.  Thank God for Pandora and it’s Jazz Holidays Radio!  That plays all year. 🙂

I also decided, over this two week break, that I could, indeed, be a hermit.  All I need are books to read, knitting and cross-stitch supplies, coffee, and the Internet connection to order it all.  I’ll bet even the locusts and honey are appetizing if prepared correctly.  

Happy New Year, everyone!

Crisis of Faith


I think I’m having a crisis of faith.  Not in the Big Guy, the Original G, but in the profession I love.  I don’t want to be a teacher anymore, and it’s breaking my heart.

Prior to this writing, I’ve had frustrating days, weeks, and even a year or two.  They seemed to be never-ending, but in reality, they came and went with large chunks of time in between each rough patch.  There were specific times of the year as well: beginning and end of the school year, around report card time, multiple IEPs due at once, alternative assessments, etc.  Every teacher goes through these feelings.  If you haven’t, call me and tell me were you teach.

Never have I been so unhappy in my job as this school year.  Nor has this unhappiness been so pervasive as it is this year.  It seems everyone is feeling the way I feel.

I am always tired, frustrated, sad, angry.  I feel like I’m walking on eggshells, that everything I do is overly scrutinized, and I can do nothing right.  I’m nauseated on many days, my anxiety is getting worse, I know my blood pressure has gone up (people keep pointing out my red face-I know, very scientific), and I feel as if there is a giant weight on me all the time.

When I’ve felt crappy about teaching in the past, I was able to find something to keep me motivated.  The students, my co-workers, 8 weeks off in the summer.  Those are all good reasons to keep going.  Even those things aren’t working anymore.  I just feel like I’m working for nothing.  And it’s a lot of work.

It’s not a shocking statement to say that teachers are under-appreciated by so many non-educators.  We get it.  No one likes us.  What is disturbing is when it comes from within.  When you’re feeling beat down by your own kind. Shouldn’t we be advocating for each other?  Shouldn’t we be trying to lift each other up when so much about our job gets us down?

I just don’t think I have the patience, emotional fortitude, grit, or whatever new buzzword you’d like to throw in there.  Education is all about the buzzword.  And that’s the problem.  Education is not about education.

Education is about paperwork, planning, and staying in your lane, but yet diversifying just enough.  It’s about being precise and specific in some areas and not so in other areas or you’re teaching to the test.  It’s about doing what is federally mandated so we can get much needed funds that still aren’t enough, and still don’t solve the underlying problems.  Education has become not about teaching at all.  Teachers feel like they’re letting their kids down, and sadly, unless we’re OK with getting called on the carpet, there isn’t much we can do otherwise.  If you ask a teacher what he/she wants, it’s this: Just let us do our jobs.

Teaching is separate rules for different specialties.  Why do general educators follow one set of rules, and special educators required to follow another?  What makes those two professionals so different anymore?  We’re all in the classroom together now.  And why are there different rules and expectations for elementary teachers and middle/high school teachers?

Teaching is about making it look good.  It’s about showing how all our hard work is paying off, when sometimes, it just isn’t.  Kids fail.  Do teachers like that?  Hell no.  But many times, despite our best efforts, kids fail.  People need to learn to be OK with that, both educators and non-educators.

I do still want to teach.  I really do.  I just need to get out of the classroom.  Or maybe just out of the school system. I’m tired of being a babysitter.  Honestly, that’s what I feel like anymore.

I’d ideally like to teach at the college level, as well as other educators.  I love the direction education is going in with the technology available to teachers and students.  A job with SymbalooEDU, Edublogs, Edutopia, or one of the many terrific online education-driven websites would be wonderful.  To have a job in a field I enjoy (writing and computers-yes, I’m that nerdy) that would allow me to help teachers…well, that would be great.  I want to lift teachers up, help them take a load off, and let them know that someone does care about their profession.

Maybe I’ll start my own business.  I’ll scour the Internet. I’ll read all the articles, the journals, the papers, Tweets, and education websites. I’ll compile and report on what I find and share it out to teachers in the hopes of saving them time so that they can just teach.  Now if someone could take my caseload so I can do this, that would be great.  And if you like this idea, DON’T TAKE IT IT’S MINE!

Disclaimer: These thoughts and opinions are solely mine, and do not reflect those of any specific persons or school systems.




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