adding ginger to your sass

GingerSass - adding ginger to your sass

I’m really bad at saying thank you.

For close to 2 months, I’ve been trying to find the words to say to thank the amazing individuals who sent books my way for my classroom and #Booksgiving.

I’ve literally been trying to write about my reaction to this year’s #Booksgiving for 3 weeks now. Every time I open my phone to upload the pictures I want to use, I come dangerously close to crying. 

Just know that I love each and every one of you who found me through The Bloggess, and I’ve spent a decent amount of time these past few weeks randomly getting teary eyed and showing my wife the HRC and Ms. Marvel and Amy Poehler and Issa Rae and dozens of other books you all have graciously donated to my classroom library.


I still can’t think of anything that isn’t rambling to say thank you with.

I’m really bad at saying thank you.

So, instead, I’ll share some facts. (I promise they’re not alternative.)

  1. So many books were donated to my classroom this Booksgiving that I actually had to go out and buy another bookshelf for my classroom. (Thanks for the $17 hook up, Walmart.)I then had to put said bookshelf together, WHICH I’VE DONE BEFORE THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Unfortunately, I kind of struggled putting this bookshelf together. My students started calling me “Barbour the Builder” and singing “Can she fix it? No she can’t!” They said this with love, and, much to their surprise, after a week long struggle, I finally got the bookshelf together. Can she fix it? Yes she can!
  2. Two weeks ago, after finally putting together said bookshelf, I started organizing my library. The big shelf the school gave me is for a hodge podge of everything. The one little shelf is for poetry only. The Barbour the Builder Bookshelf is a little different. My students and I had a conversation that went a little bit like this over it:Me: “Okay, I just put star stickers on all my poetry books so put all the starred books in the poetry bookcase when you’re done. These other books were all donated through this thing called #Booksgiving. The new small bookshelf is going to be where they go, the “The World Sucks But You Don’t” bookshelf, or something like that, cuz that’s why I requested all these books for you.”Student: “Ms. B., you have dinosaur stickers, right?”Me: “Yea, why?”

    Student: “Put dinosaurs on those books. We’re tough, but unlike dinosaurs we’re never gonna be extinct.” 

    You bet I got a little teary eyed over that.

  3. I’ve been adamant this year that my students have 2 choices if they finish their work early. They can either write and submit a creative piece for the school literary journal I run, or they can read a book. This has led to students spending more time on their work, students actually engaging in creative writing, and, to my biggest surprise, students actually reading. (In my 4 years of teaching, it’s usually only been a few students that actually are reading.)I’ve also told each of my classes that I’m willing to play matchmaker and set them up on a blind date with a book if they tell me a little bit about what they’re looking for/ what their mood is.It’s been working out really well. I even set up a student in a long-term relationship with Ms. Marvel!

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you to all of you who donated and believe in the literacy of teenagers.

You’re the best.

PS A few people have reached out to me and asked if there’s any way they can donate to my Donor’s Choose project I mentioned in my comment on Jenny’s blog. I actually made a new project. Today is #BestSchoolDay, and any donations made today will be matched by Aspect Ventures. It’s a shot in the dark, but I’m trying to fund 4 ipads for my classroom so that my students can make visual and audio poetry for National Poetry Month. If you can’t donate today, but can in the next 7 days, please use the code “LIFTOFF,” as donations up to $50 will be matched using that.

So. If you’d like my students to make some pretty creative visual and audio poetry for you, please check out iPads for National Poetry Month 2017! Thank you!

Burnt out

It’s been about a week since I’ve posted on here, successfully defeating my goal of blogging every day this year. The truth is 365 blog posts is A LOT, and it’s really easy to be overwhelmed by 365 of anything. For a brief moment yesterday, I even began to consider shutting down my blog.

Then, today, it hit me.

I’m not overwhelmed by my blog or my failed commitment to write something every day of 2014. I’m facing what so many educators– and students– are facing at this time of the school year: I’m burnt out.

It’s been a long first year of teaching, filled with so many changes in both my personal life and the educational world. I have my first “big girl job.” I’m engaged. I’m planning a wedding. V & I are vaguely looking into moving in together somewhere. I have standardized testing scores to anxiously await, district mandated writing prompts and reading comprehension tests every few weeks, rotating schedules to remember, and so much more. Like I said a few months ago, I don’t do enough. Add over 10 snow days to this school year and being the last school in the state to close and it’s an especially rough May– usually at this time of the school year, teachers and students can say they only have a few weeks left. We have 2 months left.

A few days ago, a list of 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout was floating around the internet. The list suggests things like having fun with students, redecorating, and taking care of your own health, just to name a few. I don’t think the creator of this list has been in a classroom recently, as most of the list seems unrealistic.

Instead, I remind myself to “keep calm and carry on,” a trite phrase I once despised. Even though I’m not the most religious person, I find myself silently reciting the Serenity Prayer when I find myself in a moment of frustration or disbelief.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

A year ago this face was a lot less burnt out.

A year ago this face was a lot less tired.

Tonight, I found myself reflecting on why I became a teacher, and pondering  what point I stopped referring to myself as an educator. A year ago, I had the honor of being considered as one of the speakers at the convocation ceremony for my Masters degree. I wrote a speech on why I don’t identify as a teacher, but an educator. My identity has slipped into teacher mode amongst SGOs, data, and talk of tenure, and I regret that. So, for the remainder of the school year, I’m going to do what I set out to do a year ago: be an educator, not a teacher. I want to change the world some how, some way, and I just needed a little reminder that this is a possibility.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day. To the educators out there, both in and out of the classroom, I appreciate you.


Today’s prompt (optional, as always) is a little something I’m calling “Twenty Questions.” The idea is to write a poem in which every sentence, except for the last one, is in the form of a question. That’s it! It can be as long or short as you like. 

Today is a half day before Spring Break being used to replace one of our snow days from this winter. There aren’t many students in school, and a lot of teachers are out as well so I’m currently covering a class. The following poem stems from the questions I’ve heard in class.

1942: Worthington (Ohio) High School- Don O'Brien

1942: Worthington (Ohio) High School- Don O’Brien


“Yo, did you save that snap chat son?”
“What is this?”
“What do you think it is, fool?”
“Excuse me, can I go to the bathroom?”
“Miss? May I go to the library?”
“Are you a teacher sub? Or a sub sub?”
“Anyone got a charger?”
“Wait… can I charge my phone, Miss?”
“Are you writing that down? I didn’t mean it, alright?”
“Want to see my grades?”
“Can y’all just shut up? Can’t a girl do her damn work?”
“Yo, why you so upset, Mami?”
“Who you calling Mami?”
“Miss, you hear EVERYTHING, do you have kids?”
“How old are you?”
“Where’s the teacher?”
“How did you find out?”
“Yo, anyone else buggin’ that we’re here?”
“Hey! Can I see the answers?”
Class dismissed.