adding ginger to your sass

GingerSass - adding ginger to your sass

I don’t do enough.

This is my current workday schedule. As implied by recent educational developments and discussions, I don’t do enough to get my students where they need to be.

4 AM – wake up, get dressed
4:30 AM – eat breakfast
5 AM – do my hair and makeup
5:30 AM – leave the house
6 AM – arrive at school
6:05 AM – put my bags down at my work station
6:15 AM – make copies for each of my classes
6:30 AM – set up each of my 4 shared classrooms 
7:20 AM – stand in the hallway and greet students
7:27 AM – 2:38 PM – follow the following schedule, depending on what day it is, rotating class days and periods everyday, 5 days a week*


*During hall duties I am often asked to cover other classes since we have a sub shortage in our district. During Common Planning, I am either grading or developing curriculum with my colleagues. More times than not, we use this time to grade a myriad of state and district mandated common assessments we are required to give our students during the 3-4 days a week we see them as a result of our schedule. During my prep period, I am either grading, developing work for my students, planning lessons, calling parents and guardians, having meetings with supervisors, or running around the school to get questions answered for myself, my students, or their parents/ guardians.

2:28- 4-4:30 PM –

Mondays: staff meeting, department meeting, or professional development
Tuesdays: Office Hours until 3:20, then grading until 4:30
Wednesdays & Thursdays: grading/ record keeping/ organizational teaching tasks/ photocopying until 4:30 (if I’m lucky)
(Fridays I force myself to leave by 3, unless there’s a school event my students are involved with that I wish to attend. Then I may be at school until 8 or 9.)

Also, on any given night, I’m usually up until 10 or 11 grading, writing lessons for my 3 different class sections (in 2 weeks my schedule changes for the 2nd semester and I get to plan for 4 completely different classes and grade levels!), preparing material for class, researching articles to use in class, thinking of ways to engage my students, and thinking/ worrying about my students and their home lives.

I wouldn’t mind the fact that the governor wants to extend the school day and year, except he thinks I’m not doing my job, and that teaching is cozy, easy work. If you want to extend our hours, so be it– just extend our benefits and salaries as well. I’m in one of the lower paying districts in NJ in comparison to my equivalents in other parts of the state, and I highly doubt the governor is willing to compensate for me adding another two hours to my work day. I’m emotionally and physically drained more often than not. I love teaching, and there’s a reason I entered this profession. Now, I’m second guessing what this profession is turning into.

I also question what will happen to my school community. Some of my students have 2 or 3 jobs after school so that they can support their families. Other students are expected home by 3 in order to pick up and/ or care for their younger siblings and, in some cases, their own children. Some teachers work part time at second jobs in order to make ends meet. Other teachers are spending a fortune on childcare and dropping off their kids before the sun rises in the morning and picking them up at 5 or 6 in the evening, when most daycare centers close.

I went into teaching because I wanted to make a difference. I went into teaching to change lives and educate the world’s future. I went into the education field to change– and save– lives. Between “teaching to the test” and trying to meet student growth objectives, somewhere the desire and yearning for educational and personal growth and development has been forgotten.

It’s okay though, I shouldn’t be worrying about any of this. I don’t have a right to, as, when it comes to teaching, I don’t do enough.

Teacher Gifts

I love BlogHer dearly, and I love reading Jenna‘s posts, but today I was filled with inexplicable frustration as I read her “7 Out-of-the-Box Ideas for Teachers’ Gifts this Holiday Season.”

The gift guide is cute, sweet, and tries to help parents find a gift that teachers will actually want or need. There are two things I took away from this piece:

  1. Teachers expect gifts during the holiday season.
  2. All parents and students can afford to get their teachers gifts during the holiday season.
This sign appeared in one of the copier rooms a few weeks ago. Typically, "copier" would appear where "SCHOOL" has been placed.

This sign appeared in one of the copier rooms a few weeks ago. Typically, “copier” would appear where “SCHOOL” has been placed.

As a first year teacher in an urban district, I barely expect my students to have a writing utensil every day. I would never expect my students to give me a gift– sometimes I can barely expect them to give me their homework! My students are working after school to support their families. Some of them are trying to help keep their families afloat and pay the rent. Others are trying to put food on the table. Some are struggling to afford to take care of their own medical expenses or their own children.

My school district is odd in the sense that it has some students who are fortunate enough to be from financially afloat families, and others who are fall below the poverty line. I have students who live with their parents, students who haven’t seen their parents in years, and students who live in group homes.

Last year, I wrote about the over-abundance of love I received at the end of student teaching, and how much it shocked me. It still does.

I would never expect a single gift from a student or a parent or guardian, and I never will. Being given the privilege and adventure of teaching their students is enough of a gift to me.

So, for those of you who may not have the ability to thank a teacher with a gift, or those of you who do not have the time to offer any assistance to a teacher (which, by the way, might actually be more stressful to teachers than helpful!), I offer you this simple “Urban School Teacher Gift Guide” for both students and the adults they may live with.

“Urban School Teacher Gift Guide”

  1. Thank a teacher for being a teacher. Telling a teacher “Thank you” can go a long way.
  2. Encourage your student to complete his or her classwork, and to hand it in on time. If a student fails to do so, encourage him or her not to approach the teacher arguing about the work, but rather politely apologizing and asking if it would be okay to hand it in during the next class period. I will always (secretly) accept late work with no consequences if I am approached respectfully. It also makes my day when schoolwork has been completed.
  3. Wish a teacher happy holidays and a happy New Year. Tell a teacher how much you’re looking forward to seeing him or her after winter break. It will make him or her feel amazing.
  4. Just smile.
  5. Again, say thank you. A “Thank you” is far more valuable than any gift I could receive. I have thank you notes from the students where I student taught locked up in a safe box. I will never get rid of these treasured, genuine words of appreciation.