Friday, January 31, 2014

Student Teaching

I was laid off back in February 2011 and although that was one of the worst days of my life, it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I had always thought about becoming a teacher (and even attempted to teach Middle School in the South Bronx at one point but good god, that was scary and I lasted less than one semester) but kept finding reasons to put it off. So when I lost my job, I started to think about going back to school and for the past two and a half years, have slowly been chipping away at a Masters in Elementary Education.

Going back to school allowed me to stay home full-time with Nathan, and eventually Ryan too, and go to school in the afternoons and evenings. My parents have watched the kids for every single one of my classes and Will has done weekend duty while I have spent hours reading through textbooks and writing papers. Without them, I never could have completed my program.  I have taken all 10 courses and passed all of my licensing exams so now the last step before graduating is a semester of student teaching. Full-time teaching means full-time childcare for the boys though so I had to enroll them in full-time daycare. I've been home with Nathan since he was 10 months old and with Ryan since the day he was born. Sending them to daycare 5 days a week for 8 hours a day has been a huge adjustment for all of us and we've experienced lots of meltdowns (from both the kids and me) and even a sick day already.

We are slowly adjusting to our new routine and although I do not like being away from my boys so much, the good news is that I love, love, love being in the classroom so that makes it all a bit easier to handle. I am in the first grade and I love everything about it so far. My coordinating teacher has 10 years experience and I can already tell she will be a wealth of knowledge for me and the kids are so sweet, I already feel attached to them. I taught my first lesson yesterday, how to write the lowercase e, and led a community meeting this afternoon, teaching them that school is a safe space where they should always feel welcome and accepted. Next week I will take on the morning meeting and read aloud each day. Each week I will take on more responsibility and the goal is that for the last few weeks of the semester, I will have total control of the class.

In addition to teaching full-time, I will attend a weekly seminar as well as build an extensive portfolio of lesson plans and assessments. It's going to be a LOT of work and an extremely busy 3 months but I'm up for the challenge. After I graduate in May I will most likely look for part-time work until the boys are older but for now it's full-time whether I like it or not. I have made myself a countdown sheet, which hangs in my kitchen, over a bottle of wine and I'm hoping that will get me through the really tough days.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My maniac

I lovingly refer to Ryan as my maniac simply because he never stops moving or yelling. It's like hanging out with... a maniac. I also call him Dino because he loves to screech, it's seriously like living with a pterodactyl. I was looking through some pictures and found the outtakes from our Christmas card photo shoot.

These pictures pretty much sum up Ryan's personality.

Never stop moving.

Never stop screaming.

Just never stop!

Even Nathan knows not to trust someone this crazy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

It's 11:55pm on a Tuesday night. Nathan just stumbled into my bedroom, put a stuffed dog in my bed and asked me to come back to his room and cover him with his blankets.

Who says late nights after kids are boring??

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Baby Steps

As parents, we are often told how much our children look like us. He has your eyes, she has your smile. For me, it's hard to see myself in my children. When people ask me who they look like,  I immediately think "I don't know, they just look like themselves."

But other times, it's like looking in a mirror, not because of how they look, but how they act. Nathan is a very funny, talkative, outgoing kid. But he can also be very shy and timid in unfamiliar settings. He is not the child to join in immediately, he takes a while to warm up. He holds back at first, observing and taking it all in. Once he feels comfortable however, he is a chatterbox, walking up to anyone and everyone and starting conversations with them. I am the exact same way.

It was a cold and dreary day yesterday. It was too cold to play outside and we had already been cooped up in the house for a few days due to the snow so we told Nathan we'd take him to Mall Tots, an indoor play space. He was so excited and when we finally got there he held my hand, beaming as we walked through the parking lot, telling me everything he was going to do once we got inside. But when we got there, he immediately hesitated. He looked around and maybe it was the loud noise, or maybe it was the group of kids he didn't know but suddenly he wanted nothing to do with Mall Tots.  He clung to my leg and told me he wanted to go. I was frustrated at first, selfishly because I had just paid a $5.00 entrance fee, but mostly because I knew he would have fun if he just gave it a chance. But there was no convincing him, he wanted to leave and when he started to cry, I gave in. I held his hand and walked back out the gate we had just entered.

It's hard for any parent to watch their child struggle but I think it's even harder when we see ourselves in that struggle. I could see on his face yesterday that he simply felt overwhelmed, enough so that he was willing to skip out on an activity he had been excited about all morning. I have felt that way many times. I know I've missed out on fun due to feeling shy in a particular situation. I find large groups of new people overwhelming, especially when they all seem to be the best of friends and I feel like an outsider. I will sometimes skip an event because I am too nervous to participate.

I will most likely always be this way but what I've learned is not to let it hold me back; to try to put myself out there, even when it's scary and I hope I can teach this to my children. We stopped at the food court yesterday and got a snack. We snuggled together and talked about why he had wanted to leave the playspace. He decided to give it another try and this time he ran through the gate and jumped right in. We stayed for almost two hours.

He might not jump in, but even if it takes baby steps, I hope he always joins the fun.