No Substitute

I am not a very good sick person.  I don’t like stuffing my pockets full of Kleenex, dosing up on Sudafed, and trying to make it through my day.  But I don’t like the alternative, either.  Hunkering down in the house with a stack of unread newspapers, that novel I’ve been meaning to finish since last summer, lotion-infused tissues, a remote control and satellite TV isn’t what I’d exactly call my dream day off. 
No, I’m not a good sick person at all.  I don’t savor the time away from my students.  When a teacher is sick, there’s still work to do.  Teaching isn’t the kind of job a person just doesn’t show up for.  Those kids don’t sit quietly and study when the adult decides they can’t make it to work that day.  The substitute doesn’t just show up and create a fantastic lesson plan guaranteed to make them forget all about me.  Sad to say, when I get sick it just gets harder.  I’m stuck with what’s the better of two evils: trying to communicate intelligently to my students between blows of the nose, or trudging down to school in the dark to write step by step plans that anyone walking in off the street could present for four different classes?  Not an easy one.
But this week, I had no choice.  I was down for the count, and hunkering under the covers was my only option.  So I did what most teachers do-teach one day, write sub plans, stay home, teach the next, write sub plans, and stay home.
It’s not that I think I’m irreplaceable.  Hardly.   I know there are many young people out there looking for work, eager to earn a paycheck.  But in my experience, not many of them are substitute teachers.  Last year my students reported that one of my subs whipped out a grapefruit and proceeded to eat her breakfast at my desk during class.  Another one surfed cars.com on my computer.  And still another decided to ditch the lesson plans I’d prepared for my English class and instead gave a drawing lesson and then proceeded to decorate my classroom with student art work.
Now don’t get me wrong-there are some subs out there who do an awesome job.  They really do substitute for the teacher.  They take their job seriously, follow the lesson plans, organize the papers, and spend time helping students.  The problem is that these subs are the ones everyone wants, and when I’m requesting someone at the last minute those stars are not who are available to show up in my classroom.
So, I’m not a very good sick person.  Or maybe I’m just not very good at letting go.  I remember junior high-have mercy on the substitute.  It really is one of the toughest jobs out there.  But in the big picture, what difference does a day of chaos here and there really make?  Maybe I should just settle in, drink my herbal tea, catch up on the news, and get lost in HGTV and rest.  Maybe I’ll even get lucky when I go back to work, and those students will be glad to see me.  I know I’ll be glad to see them.  I’m really not a very good sick person.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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And the winner is….mamawolfe!

Do you ever have one of those days when you feel like you just can’t get it right?  Yesterday was one of those days- I was running late for work, my coffee spilled all over the papers I was supposed to be grading, I forgot my lunch, I ran out of handouts for one class, my kids needed to be driven all over town and back again, the dinner was less than Rachel Ray would whip up, and my children would NOT go to sleep!  Days like this just make me feel overwhelmed, unsuccessful and OLD.  They make me wonder how I can keep up with work, mothering, and life in general.  
And have you ever noticed that sometimes on days like this, something happens to let a crack of light in?  It could be an authentic smile from a stranger, or someone letting you go before them in the grocery store checkout line, or your partner surprising you with a clean kitchen when you return home.  At the very least, your dog might be happy to see you after a long day!
Today, my ray of hope came in the form of a blogging award.  My friend and fellow blogger Michael Ann from Thinking In My Head passed along the Kreativ Blogger award to mamawolfe today just in the nick of time! I love being a blogger.  The blogging world is an amazingly supportive community rich with wonderful, talented, funny, compassionate writers. 

The rules for accepting this award are to share a few things about yourself, and then to pass the award along to ten other blogs.  So if your day has been less than stellar, sit back, relax, and let some sunshine into your life!

Seven Things About Me:
1.  I loved college.  It was the hardest yet most rewarding job I’ve ever had.  I wish I had not been so eager to start teaching and had worked towards a masters.  Who knows-maybe that will be my next challenge!
2.  I just received a federal grant from the Department of Education to be a part of the Teachers of Global Classrooms program.  It involves 8 weeks of coursework on global education, two trips to Washington D.C. for seminars, and two weeks in a foreign country! I’m super excited!
3.  I love teaching middle school, and don’t love teaching elementary school.  I don’t like kids tugging on me all day, but I do like the unexpectedness of 12-15 year olds!
4.  I love baseball.  When I was a kid I played ‘Bobby Sox’-oh, so NOT a PC term!  I was a pretty solid catcher, and not a bad hitter, either.
5.  My favorite color is black.  Yep.  Black IS a color.  I wear black nearly every day-at least some part of my outfit.  My second favorite is leopard. I’m not sure that’s a color according to Crayola, but I love it just the same.
6.  I adore the ocean.  Actually, more being near the ocean. I don’t actually like to be IN the ocean-I get horribly seasick, and am not a very good swimmer.  I prefer cold beaches to warm-not a fan of sunbathing!
7.  I have been known to dance like nobody’s watching.  Actually, that’s probably a very good thing.  I’m not quite ready for ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, but I’m getting close!
And now, to pay it forward, please spend a moment to visit my nominees for the Kreativ Blogger Award!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Embracing the Scary – guest post for G. G. Vandagriff

In the mountains of Nicaragua

Just over a year ago I traveled with my two children to Nicaragua.  I learned HUGE lessons from this trip-some immediate, some upon reflection.  So when I was asked to be a guest writer about ’embracing abundance’ on G.G. Vandagriff’s blog, this experience came to mind.  Here’s a sample:

” I get really tired of excuses.  In fact, in my classroom when my 8th and 9th graders try to excuse their behavior, lack of homework, or unpreparedness I tell them kindly yet firmly, “Excuses are useless.”  Initially a quizzical look forms on their face, and then they start to stammer…which is exactly when I interject my reasoning.  Everyone has issues.  Everyone is busy.  Everyone can blame someone, something, or some “whatever” for anything.  But what’s the point?  It’s not about the excuse.  It’s about being responsible, respectful, honest and courageous enough to create the kind of success we want in life.  Some get the idea more quickly than others.  I just hope that before they end their year with me, they’ve at least thought about it…”

To read more, please click over to G.G’s blog-you’ll not only get to read the rest of my Nicaraguan life lesson, but you’ll find a blog and website full of intriguing writing.  G.G.’s bio says, “My new book “The Only Way to Paradise” is the result of intense immersion in the Florentine and Tuscan culture, and most of it was written there. Of course, the art and landscape are spectacular, but what makes my heart sing are the people. I think that they are born with a genetic tendency to agape (unconditional love).”

So go on, check it out! Why not?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Friday Photo: Digital Immigrant

 

Paul Mason Photography

Sometimes as I’m moving around in my day, an image gets stuck in my head that I can’t shake. Sometimes it conjures up a memory, a feeling, or provides an impulse to do something. Often, though, I just see something that I want to capture in my mind for no particular reason-it just speaks to me. I’d like to offer these images up for ‘thought contributions’-as a way to generate a community of ideas together.

Today’s photo comes straight from my uncle Paul’s portfolio.  I couldn’t have imagined anything better for my theme this week, as  I have come to the realization that I am not a digital native.

While I consider myself  ‘tech-savvy’, I have been humbled this week with the start of an online course on global education and the death of Steve Jobs.  Although a few years older than I, Mr. Jobs was definitely a digital native.  So it can’t all be about age…maybe there are levels of assimilation?  This course I’m taking has shown me that  I haven’t a clue how to attack digital text, do online mind mapping, or participate on online discussions.  I have quickly realized that I am a digital immigrant, and will have to learn a new language and customs to operate in this society…and I REALLY miss my old typewriter.

Are you a digital immigrant, too?  Can we ever break through the technology culture barrier?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was a young girl growing up in an old, small town.  She had long, straight chocolate colored hair and deep brown eyes.  Her oval face held a blank expression most times, as she was the type to watch and listen more than express what she was thinking or feeling.

One autumn day this young girl arrived at school.  She loved her school-it was clean, quiet, and full of places to play.  She loved her teachers, and was a quiet and obedient student.  Unlike most kids her age, what she enjoyed most about school was reading.  She was happiest when she was working alone in her books, learning about new people and places and things.  Also unlike most kids her age, what she disliked most about school was PE.  It wasn’t that she disliked exercise-actually, she loved playing softball, hopscotch and four square.  For her, PE was terrifying for one reason: DODGE BALL.

In her little old town dodge ball was the favored sport for PE class.  Students begged and pleaded each day to play dodge ball during their treasured exercise time.  And as convincing as the students were, the teacher almost always agreed. Dodge ball it would be.

From beginning to end, dodge ball was excruciating.  The two manly boys who were always captains lined the other children up to select teams.  First chosen were always the other ‘sports boys’.  Next came the ‘tom boys’, and then the cute, outgoing girls.  Last was always the oval faced, brown eyed girl.

After that exercise in taxonomy, the game began.  Circling around their prey, the ‘sports boys’ would throw the ball at each other, eager to show off their quick reflexes and agility.  The prey would scurry from one side to the next, not wanting to be hit yet not quite wanting to back down, either.  Then the ‘tom boys’ jumped in, dodging with grace and flexibility.  The cute, outgoing girls giggled, admiring the prowess of the young, manly hunters. 

The young girl trembled, knowing it was just a matter of time before she became the victim.  Eyes wide, she tried to avoid the flaming red sphere, but every time SPLAT! she took it in the stomach. On the back.  At the ankles.  Tears welled up in her big, dirt colored eyes. 

Not sure which was more painful, the sting of the ball or the burn of the humiliation, she attempted to survive.  The predators became more confident.  The giggling girls pumped their testosterone.  SLAP!  TWANG! Over and over the ball would smash the young girl down, the laughter of her classmates growing louder and louder and LOUDER.  Paralyzed with pain and fear and humiliation she froze, absorbing one sting after another after another.

And in that moment, relived thirty-five years over and over, she realized something.  The young chocolate haired, dirt eyed oval faced girl learned that she owed her classmates a thank you.  For what she realized is that those ‘sports boys’ and ‘tom boys’ and laughing spectators had taught her a very important lesson: dodge ball is the way the world works.   

And in that moment, decades later, she realized that like dodge ball, it’s easy to run away from what’s coming at you.  She realized that it’s painless to punch someone in the gut, slap them on the back, ding them at the ankles and go back for more.  Because of dodge ball, she learned that it’s hard to stand strong, take the hit, stay upright, and confront each obstacle hurled by others.  She understood that life really is about survival of the fittest.  And because of dodge ball, she survived and lived happily ever after.

The End.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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