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Fast: Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday and I am jumping back into my favorite link-up, Five Minute Friday.

The end of this school year is coming up fast!

With only 20 days left in the classroom with these students, I am in full wrap-up mode. Next week, I am finishing up my final unit and moving toward assessments and final projects to round out the year.

As fast as things seems to be moving right now, I cannot say the entire school year has been this way. In fact, this has been the LONGEST school year of my career. We have done our best as a staff to transition back into our pre-Covid classroom management and curriculum, but Covid isn’t totally gone. And the scars they’ve left on the education system and our students has made it impossible to return to “business as usual.” This entire school year has been a fight to regain a semblence of normalcy in world that is still trying to define what normal looks like post-Covid. All of us in education have struggled with the balancing act of moving forward when things are still so affected by these past two years.

So as I think about how fast the end is coming I am both sad and excited. I am sad because I know that my year with these students was far from a usual experience. There were favorite lessons I had to scrap and assignments that had to be replaced to fit into this new protocol. I’ve created unique memories with this class, but I am still saddened by the fact that their 180 days in my classroom was unlike any from previous years. I am excited because we all need the rest that awaits us after May 27. Staff and students alike have earned this summer break–and it’s coming FAST!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Chaperoning DC: Arlington National Cemetery, White House, and Bowling (Day Four)

Arlington National Cemetery

It was a tranquil morning at Arlington National Cemetery. We had the privelage of presenting a wreath from our school during the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Four students were selected by a committee of teachers based on essay applications to be a part of the ceremony. Several of their parents flew to DC to surprise them that morning at the cemetery. This was such a peaceful morning of touring gravesites of people like John Glenn, JFK, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Robert E. Lee, Thurgood Marshall, and the grandfather of one of our students. As we walked through the site I was so impressed by the respect that was shown by the students toward the fallen heroes of our country.

Iwo Jima and The White House

On the way to the White House we stopped at several monuments outside of the city. Iwo Jima’s statue is a famous one as it honors all fallen soldiers from the US Marines since its inception. This statue is modeled after a famous image from the Korean War. Because you cannot drive up to the White House, the buses dropped us off at Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was shot and we walked from there to the White House. At this point, we had some time before our evening activities so we relaxed on the lawn and took in the sight of the White House for a while.

Bowling

Our final night’s activity was aimed at getting students’ energy out before the journey home the following day. We split into small teams and bowled at a local alley. Initially, we had hoped to view Sheer Madness, but due to Covid restrictions were unable to go to the Kennedy Center.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Chaperoning DC: Mount Vernon, Army Museum, Marine Museum, and a Dinner Boat (Day Two)

The second leg of our DC trip began bright and early. Each morning we congregated in the ballroom of our hotel to hear about the plans for the upcoming day and to hear announcements. With a group of over 120 students and staff members, there was also a birthday to celebrate each day and so we would sing to show gratitude for the birth of members in our group.

Mount Vernon

The morning started with a trip to the home of George and Martha Washington along the Potomac. Mount Vernon is a beautiful manor that has been kept relatively true to the way Washington would’ve experienced the home. Our morning tour included the symphony of nature with birdsong and water running below the estate.

Army and Marine Museums

The Army Museum is a relatively new stop on the DC Itenerary. We were fortunate enough to get the inside scoop on exhibits and artifacts from a local friend who works as a photographer for the museum. Scott now lives in Arlington, but previously lived in our town (and his stepson is married to my sister.) With this special tourguide we were able to learn to that the first ever humvee was placed on the floor of the museum. Additionally, all of the mannequins of soldiers were designed using body casts of real soliders. They were so lifelike that students questioned whether or not they were human.

Time Out for Facetime

The hardest part of the trip for me was leaving behind my family. Although I was busy all day every day I found small pockets of time to Facetime my girls and my husband back home.

Dinner Boat

The night wrapped up with the “Spirit of Mount Vernon” moonlit cruise along the Potomac. We were served a buffet of chicken, pasta, and vegetables and then a DJ brought music to the floor as we enjoyed ourselves as a group. The experience of witnessing the students dress up and have a great time was priceless. Somewhere in the ether there lurks a video of a chaperone dance that may haunt me for the rest of my life. But it was so much fun!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Explore: Five Minute Friday

Some weeks it feels like I am crawling to the finish line. This is one of those weeks. Spring break starts tomorrow and I’m dragging. Which is why having the Five Minute Friday community is awesome! It’s a built-in date with positive writers and a cup of coffee each week. This week our prompt is: Explore.

On Tuesday morning I will be joining 120+ students from the high school where I teach on a tour of Washington DC. We board coach buses in Ohio bright and early and by dinner time we will be in the US capital city. I am most excited about chaperoning this trip along with some of my friends. As history teachers, I fully expect us to nerd out at places like the Smithsonian and African American History Museum.

The last time I was in DC was college. I planned a trip for a Government course I took and we met with someone from the Senate on that trip. In high school, a family friend was married in the city and so I took a brief trip then as well. And of course, I attended my own 8th grade trip way back in…well, a while ago.

This trip is a special one. Usually the DC trip is an 8th grade adventure, but because the current freshman and sophomore classes did not get to go (due to Covid) our district and trip coordinator worked together to make sure these students get the opportunity to explore the city that is so critical to America and our history as a nation.

So please say a little prayer for my safety and sanity as I embark on a five day excursion with students and colleagues.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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The Ameri Brit Mom

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Carry: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday and welcome to the latest edition of Five Minute Friday‘s link-up. Each week bloggers around the world use the same prompt to inspire short pieces that they spent five minutes crafting. For years, this community of writers has been a great inspiration to me and supported my blog and business. I love showing up to share pieces and read posts from my FMF friends.

This week the prompt is: Carry.

Educators are in the midst of a discipline upheaval. Even the most seasoned teachers are experiencing a lack of respect and discipline from students in their classrooms. Teachers around the world are leaving the profession at disturbing rates and many blame the pandemic of student apathy for ending their careers.

Like all educators, I have faced some of these problems this school year. I have outrageous stories about the actions and words of students in my school that I would never share on the internet. Most days I find myself disheartened by the way in which students disregard their own learning and expect the teachers to cater to their needs and desires.

While many are tempted to blame the blatant lack of appropriate social skills, I believe that the issue facing students in 2021-2022 is of a different origin. Sure, the pandemic hasn’t helped. But in my humble opinion, we are teaching students who are carrying more than any other student population of the past. And this calls for a shift in our mindsets as teachers.

There have always been students living in poverty, unsafe homes, and states of mental health crises. But what the students of today carry that is exclusive to this crew is the collective experience of the past two years.

They have grown up in a world where the grown-ups have set poor examples on self-control and peacefulness.

They have traded much of the primes of their adolescence for a world of fear and apathy. Life has been uncertain for most of the days that their memory serves.

As adults, we are equipped with the ability to perservere and we remember a world before all of the disruptions. These students have no True North to which to look when they need to remember that these struggles are temporary.

Instead of finding myself burnt out like so many other educators, I am looking for ways to help students to carry these loads. I find that when I try to ask about the issues they shoulder and give them voice in the classroom then many of the discipline issues subside. Being reactive is no longer an acceptable role of a classroom teacher. We must meet our students and give them space to let down the loads that they bear in order to rest. We must help them learn to carry the loads that show no sign of disappearing anytime soon.

As much as we long for our controlled environments before the pandemic, we have to admit that those days are behind us. We will never again live in a world that Covid-19 did not touch. So instead of trying to run things the way we always have, we must remember that the goals of teaching have shifted. Before we can teach a student to read, we have to build their strength as individuals so that they can continue to carry those things that weigh heaviest on their shoulders.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Trial: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday! It’s a snowy one today in central Ohio. I’m home on the couch watching more snow fall atop the 2″ we received earlier this week. It’s Friday which means I am joining my Five Minute Friday linkup where writers around the globe unite weekly to share our writing based on a common topic. This week our topic is Trial.

five minute friday

Two weeks ago my nine year-old came down with Covid-19.

Thankfully, her symptoms were mild and only lasted a few days. We decided to vaccinate her and I think that really helped to prevent worse symptoms. Last week, in the thick of it I wrote a post, Covid in the House.

Anyway, this week’s trial has been cloaked in blessing.

Our three year-old’s babysitter is now ill and I was looking at the potential for another week off of work as a result. Childcare in the time of Covid has been very difficult for all families with young children. We love our usual sitter, but there are not many people out there willing to step up as backup sitters. In addition to the lack of people willing to fill-in when needed, my husband and I are both teachers. Nationally, there is a shortage of substitute teachers and so there is added pressure to be present each day of school.

The biggest trial striking this household right now is finding help when our usual sitter is sick because it is really critical that my husband and I get to school each day.

Right now, it seems like there isn’t much blessing cloaking this trial, but that’s where I point you back to my introduction. It has snowed in Ohio (or been subzero temperatures) all week. I only had a substitute in my classroom for one day as opposed to five. The weather swept in and helped to solve some of these trials for us.

BUT…

Snow days are not the long-term answer to the trials facing working parents in our world. We are expected to find reliable childcare amid a pandemic, and get ourselves to work despite the fact that we may be putting the health of our family or caregivers at risk. Nationally, substitutes are difficult to find because pay is too low to balance out the health risk and stress level of filling a need in the schools during a pandemic.

I know this is not a trial exclusive to my family. So many are struggling to find a safe place for their children to go while they provide for their family at work. In some professions you can work from home or take the day-off without the worry of filling your position with a substitute. But those roles have trials of their own.

As we learn to move on with Covid in our world, there are unique trials for all ages and professions. We need to remember that each family has to sacrifice to make things work and when it comes to childcare–it would go a long way to offer help to young families if you are in a place to serve that need. Some families need a reliable full-time sitter, but many (like mine) just need some individuals willing to watch and love on our children when our usual sitter is out of commission.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Five Recent Updates…

If you have followed my blog you may have noticed that my posting schedule has been light over the past several weeks. Don’t worry…there are no plans for a hiatus or time away from the blog.

To simplify the reason, my priorities have just shifted temporarily.

Summer is coming to an end and I am back in the classroom. Time seems to be elusive and I’ve had to make some compromises with myself to ensure that I am prioritizing my time in the healthiest ways during this season.

Life has been hectic, but enjoyable and I need to catch you up with where I have been and what I have done during the days between posts.

1. I started my 11th year as a classroom teacher

This is my typical first day selfie while working hard at my desk. The year is off to a great start. This year I also added Student Council Advisor to my list of titles. I am so excited for the road ahead.

2. This week I begin my final semester of graduate school

I took courses this summer on Dystopian Literature and Critical Race Theory (BLM in films). I have learned so much and the work has been manageable. I cannot wait to finish my degree in December. This semester I am taking a course on Indigenous People Groups and another on fiction writing. Additionally, I will be enrolled in a capstone program where I will be working toward a Masters Portfolio/Thesis. I have BIG writing goals for myself post-degree.

3. My youngest sister started working in the same school district as me

What kind of sister would I be if I didn’t buy us matching shirts for the staff first day? We are having a blast working on the same schedule and for the same community. I love hearing her stories and seeing the district afresh through her eyes. We don’t work in the same building, but how fun would that be?

4. It’s been important to reconnect with friends

The pandemic taught me that my friendships are important and gathering with friends regularly is important for my spirit and mind. I am lucky to have amazing teacher friends within my school as well as many friends outside of my teaching community.

5. My little gymnast is keeping me busy

I spend a lot of time during the week transporting and watching my little gymnast practice. Proud doesn’t even begin to describe how she makes me feel. We are praying that her gym will open up for competitions this year after a full year of no competition.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Teach: Five Minute [Friday]

Today I am joining the positive writing community over at Five Minute Friday  (a day late) for their weekly link-up. Each week we gather to write on a common theme. This week our theme is Teach.

Eight days in to the 2021-2022 school year and I have already been through so much: adapting to numerous administration changes, learning my role as a Student Council advisor, a 24 hour stomach bug, learning 150+ students’ names, and kicking off my courses in fun, interactive ways. In many ways it has felt like things are back to the way they were pre-Covid, but this week the pandemic kept rearing its ugly head in the background. A few students quarantined here and there, social distancing protocols, and the latest talk of reinstating mask mandates in the schools.

I’m not here to be political or to insert myself into the dialogue about our rights to not wear masks as American citizens. All I want to accomplish is a smooth, productive, and positive school year.

If we could leave Covid protocols to the previous school years and move forward with a clean, healthy slate that would be ideal. No one would argue that. But as my sudden illness this week proved, being healthy comes before anything else.

So those are my scattered ruminations after my first eight days. Things are going well and I’m trying really hard to ignore the fact that Covid is still trying to impact my school year. I’m ready for a normal year of learning and growing as a teacher and individual.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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From: Five Minute Friday

Today I am joining the positive writing community over at Five Minute Friday for their weekly link-up. Each week we gather to write on a common theme. This week our theme is From.

A Letter FROM a Teacher on Back to School:

Dear Students,

It seems as though summer was over in the blink of an eye. The mornings of wolfing down breakfast (sometimes in the middle of the day) before hours of playing are coming to an end. The late nights are also numbered. Soon enough, you will be dictated by the schedule handed to you by an administration team. You will wake up at the crack of dawn or before. Bedtime will be moved up so that you have the energy for the next day. Summer is coming to an end, but there is excitement in the air.

Who will be in your class? Who is your teacher? Which supplies should you bring on the first day?

And for those of you beginning at a new building–

Where will your locker be? How far is it from your classroom to the nearest restroom? Will you get lost?

Our minds can get cluttered with a concoction of excitement and fear and it can leave some of us with nervous tummies or struggling to sleep the night before. It’s okay to feel this way. It’s normal, actually. But I wanted to let you know FROM a teacher that we feel the same way.

I’ve had to adjust my bedtime too. I can’t stay up watching my favorite shows like I did this summer and I have been setting my alarm a little earlier so my body isn’t in shock when we go back. I am still waiting for that schedule from my principal so I can start planning when I will have time to go to the restroom and when my lunchtime will be.

Who will be in my class? Who will my own children have as a teacher? Will I have enough supplies for all of my students? Will my room be set up before the first bell of the school year?

This is a season of uneasiness for everyone. We all have unanswered questions and I haven’t even mentioned the hot mask debate right now. Give grace to those around you whether they are students, teachers, or parents. We are all getting back into the swing of things and we’ve been through so much over the past couple of years. Remember all that when you walk through whatever lies ahead and do so with bravery and confidence. But also, remember we are all a little nervous. And it’s okay.

*Please pray for me, my kids, and my school district. We begin classes next week.

The Ameri Brit Mom