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Yo.

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Hello!  I’m Christy.

In a nutshell, I am a:

  • Mama
  • Teacher
  • Soon-to-be published author (March 29, 2018!)
  • Grief survivor
  • Podcaster
  • Over-sharer

I think you’ll love it here if you have ever tripped up the stairs, if you love to read, if you love true crime, if you have any kind of emotional baggage, if lots of people stress you out (or don’t), or if you have at least one child who is obsessed with Halloween.  🙂

At any rate, I’m glad you’re here.

XOXO,

Christy

Trauma.

We make fun of buzz words, I know, but trauma is something that’s really weighing on my mind as we head back to another school year.

Last summer, as a lot of you know, while my husband was traveling overseas with high schoolers, I got a call from a caring and kind family member, who mentioned that my mother-in-law hadn’t answered her phone. This has happened before, and I had just seen her the night before last, and she had a Life Alert, so I wasn’t worried at first.

But an hour later, when I used our spare key to open the door to her house, I had never been so grateful that I had called in emergency help to watch my kids while I went over to check.

My mother-in-law was in her bed, but she wasn’t alive any longer. She had had a massive stroke overnight. I crawled up in bed with her and kissed her face and then got back out and screamed, and, honestly, I haven’t been the same since.

Going back into that house made me so physically ill that I would shake. The first time I went back in, to get something for the funeral home, I came out and vomited in the front lawn. Then, I sat in my car, shaking and crying, and wishing I could call my husband and talk to him, or maybe just be beamed up out of there.

I think of what police officers and firefighters and EMTs and our armed forces see every day and I just close my eyes and feel my heart starting to physically hurt. I think of what therapists and psychiatrists and our school psychologist and guidance counselor hear and see and know.

I think about how I am an adult, with resources-I’ve read books, and talked and written about it, and seen a therapist, and I still have moments. This morning, for example, I woke up and looked over at my still-sleeping husband. There was something about the way he was lying across the bed that reminded me of that scene, and I had an “attack”. I had to put my head between my knees so I could breathe.

And then, I think about what some of our children have seen or lived through. And how they come to school and most of the time we don’t even know. When I was a kid in school, no one ever would have known how big the fights between my parents were, or that I had been called a “cry baby-bitch” the night before, and those things are MILD compared to what some children go through.

I’ve been through training with trauma informed care for education, and, like I said above, I’m glad it’s a “buzz word” and that people are talking about it, but I still feel lost. I still feel like I can’t accomplish enough. I still feel like I’m letting all these kids down.

Do any of you work with children/adults who have experienced trauma? What about when you expect they have, but don’t know? How do I love and care and be there, but keep my own emotions safe in a professional way?

I’d love your ideas, resources, and suggestions!

Thank you to ALL of you out there who help others–you are the true heroes, yo.

XO

Christy

GET. LOST.

Last week, I was minding my own business, scrolling Facebook, looking  to find memes that I could twist around in order to support my major life decisions, when I came across one that made me … THINK. I know, I know, those of you who know me by now are shocked that I might read an internet meme and start thinking about it.

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But, you guys—it IS so weird. We form our opinions about people based on maybe one thing-something we observed, or even something someone told us! And our perspective is definitely shaped by other things as well.

I know that I think WAY too much about what others think about me. I’m always trying to be that person that everyone likes. And I’m pretty sure by now that we all know that when you’re trying super hard to BE something, you almost always fail.

That leaves me being my authentic self, and here is where that gets complicated. I’m not just ONE thing. I’m not just ONE way. We are all such complicated versions of ourselves, multi-faceted and full of layers.

I (and trust me, I know this is strange) like to think a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as a human being. You know how there are some (incredible) people who are so committed to exercise/health that they are constantly thinking about how to be healthier? This is me, except I’m fat and instead I’m constantly thinking about how to be a better person instead of meal prepping and tread-milling.

I read this, though, and something clicked for me. Something I definitely already KNEW, but didn’t know-know.

No matter how hard I try to use my words to build others up, I will mess up and I will say something horrible and mean accidentally.

No matter how hard I try to be flexible, someone will think I’m spineless or can’t stick to a decision.

No matter how hard I try to be compassionate, someone will think I only care about myself.

No matter how hard I try to be understanding, I’ll miss something and someone will think that I can’t put myself in anyone else’s shoes.

That even though I remind people all the time that even though I may seem outgoing, I have almost-crippling social anxiety and I panic when I see people I know, especially people that I know dislike me (like you, who may be reading this, even though you unfriended me on Facebook long ago for a reason that I’m not quite sure of, but spent a while wondering, and then just decided that you hate me). So if I seem like I’m making a beeline to get away from you— yeah, I totally am. Because I don’t know what to say and I hate that feeling!

So, let’s face it: it is OFFICIALLY time for me to STOP worrying about what everyone else thinks of me.

Except … I’ve said that before. And I haven’t done it. So, now it’s time to make an action plan!

Here goes:

I know the feeling that I get when I feel that someone else is making negative assumptions about me. It’s shame, it’s wondering if they are actually correct, it’s berating myself for whatever I did to make them come to that conclusion.

When I start to get that feeling, I will:

  1. Tell it to get the EFF away from me
  2. Write down 5 things I love about myself
  3. Write down 5 things I’m grateful for

I’ve got to let go of trying to live up to this idea that I can be the person that everyone loves, that can see right deep into my heart, that only brings joy and doesn’t ever make anyone mad. I have got to realize that even when I think I’ve proven to others that I have the best intentions, they will draw their own conclusions.

I have GOT to remember that even though I overthink and go around and around and around, I STILL MISS THINGS. I still say hurtful things. I still make (plenty of) mistakes, because …

Wait for it, yo …

I am HUMAN. (Hint: so are you!)

So, I’m going to revel in the fact that I can be different versions of myself to different people, and that if it helps someone else to make me their villain or their hero, that’s pretty cool. And I’m gonna tell that horrible judgy feeling to GET. LOST.

XO

Christy

Does Intention Matter?

You know there are memes and quotes and anecdotes that will support whatever “side” you’re on, right? Sort of like you can find research to support both sides of a claim-nothing is very simple when it comes to being a human being. For example:

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vs.

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Life is full of perspective and points of view, and they are all shaped on a number of things. Your background, your experiences, your biases, from who you seek advice, where you get your news, mental health struggles, trauma/abuse and more.

The thing about morals and ethics is that there are certain things we can all agree on, no matter who we are (think: the golden rule), yet it’s really not black and white because of how many different ways we actually see a situation. And whether we like it or not, what we see is somewhat already shaped by our natural bias, by our experiences, by that whole list of things I added above.

Lately, though, what’s been weighing on my mind has been the concept of intention. The purpose behind our actions, or lack thereof. The thing about this issue specifically is that there is no way to really know someone’s true intention. We can guess, right? We all can speculate, we sit and we analyze, we discuss what that person is going through (according to us, of course) and we draw conclusions about what happened.

Wouldn’t it be fair, though, to admit that we can speculate all we want, but we don’t really know?

This year, especially, I have grown and changed a lot as a person. That is to say that I’ve experienced some growing pains. I’ve had to become extremely comfortable with knowing that people dislike me, or are angry with me, or are making judgments about me that I cannot control.

(Ok, so I became a little more comfortable. Not extremely comfortable.)

Most of it I’m proud of, some of it I’m not. You know that expression about how you can only take so much before you blow?

I blew.

I got so tired of hearing the same stuff, seeing the same actions, being somebody’s villain, that a few times (2 come to mind immediately) that I completely lost it. Once was yelling. Yelling like someone who had had.enough. Yelling in a completely angry, irrational way.

Do I wish I could have stayed calm? Of course. But do I regret losing it like that?

Nope.

Because I know that my intentions were good. I know that I am ALWAYS doing my best with any situation that comes my way, with whatever I have at that point. I know my heart. I know that my intentions are always good.

But then, in the end, do my intentions even matter? Because people decide why I did what I did without asking me. Or even if I get the chance to share my intentions, I’m not believed.

So then, in the end, does it matter if what I do is coming from a place of good intentions?

I just want to say that I think it still does. I think it matters. Even if it’s just for your own heart.

On a simple level:

Someone stands you up for a coffee date.

A) she was in a car accident

B) she just didn’t want to come and didn’t bother to let you know

That’s different, right? When you don’t intend to hurt someone, the hurt they feel usually goes away. We’re always looking for that reason–and, frankly, sometimes in this complicated and messy life, you are not the only person that’s being factored into decision making.

As an educator, we spend a large amount of time trying to figure out what a student’s motivation/intention is for their misbehavior.

A student is acting out in class.

A) the night before, his dad was arrested and taken to prison

B) he is trying to be funny to get attention from his peers

Which one diffuses the situation? It’s almost like we breathe and we say, oh…ok. There’s a reason for this. It’s understandable. That poor baby.

But, maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe we should treat A and B equally and not care about the intent. (I will say that as an educator, my initial response will be the same, I don’t want you to worry! But getting to the bottom of the why is so, so important).

It personally helps me-I’m often comforted by the explanation, by knowing that what hurt me was not intentional. For me, it makes a difference.

What do you think? What are your experiences? Do you think intention matters? Does it make a difference? Do you listen to people’s intentions, and seek to find out if you don’t understand? Do you believe them when they tell you? I hate even saying this, but … do you believe in the “benefit of the doubt?”

 

Dear Teachers in May: I see you, yo.

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Dear Teachers,

Yes. It is, in fact, the 367th day of May. There is a full moon, I just saw 17 black cats, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to rain every single day this week, scheduled to the exact time of recess.

I heard you the other day when you said, “Don’t LICK THAT GNOME! OMG!”

I saw you when you made every single kid line up and personally look at the pair of socks that have been in the hallway since November. “LOOK ME IN THE EYE AND TELL ME THEY’RE NOT YOURS!”

I can read your mind, and I know what’s going on in there is not pretty. I know you’re saying the swears. Even the super bad ones!

I can smell the rotting contents of your lunch bag, a compilation of “Whatever is left in my refrigerator” that can be carried in a bag and *isn’t moldy. Your lunch account is empty, and let’s face it, it’s “cook’s choice” for the rest of the month anyway.

We’re all hitting the snooze button on our alarms like 13 times, telling ourselves, “Well, my contracted time is 8:00, but I think there’s usually some wiggle room there, and I spent all night at home working on report cards, so technically, 8:13ish shouldn’t be a big deal.”

The sweet and funny quirks of our students have now become unbearable. A fire rages within you with every tap-tap-tap-tap of a pencil. You wonder if there is actual fire coming from your nose and mouth when you send the kids back to their desks to work and on the floor in front of you is everything from broken pencils to bookmarks to a “Unicorn that’s pooping rainbows” *Squishie. You know you can’t scream, “I SAID PICK YOUR SHIT UP” so you have to breathe in verrrrryyyyy deeply and say, “Boys and Girls, another reminder to bring back to your desk EVERYTHING THAT YOU BROUGHT UP WITH YOU OMG PICK UP YOUR PENCILS I WANT TO THROW AWAY ALL THE PENCILS AND MAKE YOU WRITE WITH THE TEARS FROM MY EYES.”

Your exchanges with parents are now similar to this:

Dear Parents,

Here are the updates for the week. Don’t forget Friday at 10:20 is our assembly!”

 

Dear Teacher,

Thanks for the e-mail. Can you tell me what time the assembly is on Friday, though?

 

Dear Parent,

Maybe, I don’t know, you could read the email that you just replied to, the one with “Assembly Time” as the subject?

Here’s a thought: look at one of the other places I sent that time home: your kid’s folder, I’ve brainwashed it into their brains, it’s branded onto their ankle, I’ve whispered it into the wind and sent it directly into your mind.

Oh, oh! I know! You could look at the school calendar. You could look in the school newsletter. I’m pretty sure at this point you could find the answer in the stars.

10:20 a.m.

Your kid’s teacher

 

It’s getting rough out there. It’s time to prepare for battle. You need copious amounts of chocolate, Diet Coke, your comfiest shoes, a bull-horn, noise-silencing headphones, a “I don’t know what to do with you today” packet of word searches, and, of course, a reminder that:

You’re almost there, fellow teachers. And, let’s face it: you know you’ll miss ’em. XOXOXOXO

Christy

 

 

*Certain amounts of mold can be cut off

*I still prefer Squishies over fidget spinners, even when they are poop shaped.

The NFL ain’t got nothin’ on teachers, yo.

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Teeth disgust me. When baby teeth get really loose, children lose all ability to focus on anything except using their tongue to push the tooth all the way down, so it’s just hanging by a thread. I’ll be in the middle of reading aloud, all snuggled into my comfy chair, getting to the good part in Where the Red Fern Grows, and suddenly there will be a child standing practically right on top of me.

“Mrs. Wopat, my tooth is loose.”

I look up, check to see if it looks like anyone is bleeding or about to vomit, then I give my “I’m so angry right now that you interrupted me and you know read aloud is my favorite and I hate being interrupted when you know Billy is just about to catch the Ghost Coon” face.

“Uh-huh,” I say, looking back down at my book. “Ok. Well, when it falls out you can take it to the nurse.”

“Well, but look at how wiggly it is! Watch!”

I don’t know why I look. I know better.

Seeing teeth move makes me gag. This makes my class laugh, of course. And so now they do it even more often. I swear 4th graders lose teeth at quite an alarming rate. And apparently never at home!

I untie knots in shoes, feel heads for fevers, I wipe away tears, I discreetly give a granola bar to a kid who didn’t get breakfast, answer the phone when I forget to take attendance, take the lunch count, count how many milk cartons kids will take that day, I read a note left on my desk from a student that reads, “Last night my mom told me she fucking hates all of us,”, I start my class on a simple task while I take her out to assess the situation, I remember to ask how the hockey game was last night, and see how far he got in the 3rd Harry Potter book, I touch base with the special education teacher about what groups we’ll have in math, I chat with the gifted education teacher who has stopped by to see if she can support during reading today, I take a phone call from a parent who is angry that the students are still going outside for recess although it is icy, I see the guidance counselor walking by and she motions for me to talk quickly in the hallway, where I get a quick update on the case we’ve been working on to get free dental care for one of my students and update each other on the behavior plan for one of my students, I pat students on the back and make sure they are all greeted.

And then the bell rings for school to start.

There are so many professions in this world that are meaningful and fulfilling, and there are some that just seem like “work,” although we would be lost without them (think: garbage man, wastewater treatment plant worker), and then there are the ones that we could totally live without but get paid the most because of where our values lie (or at least seem to lie).

One day, during a class meeting, we were going around the circle, sharing what our dream job might be. I said a)writer, b)family and marriage counselor or c)cellist in NYC for Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. As we went around the class, nearly every boy said they wanted to play football for the NFL, and nearly every girl said she wanted to be an actress.  

“Mrs. Wopat? What’s wrong?” the girl sitting next to me asked.

“I can’t believe none of you said you want to be a teacher! Or a doctor! Or even an astronaut!”

“What’s an astronaut?”

“Well, teacher is my second choice, if I don’t get drafted right away!”

“A doctor would be ok, I guess, but I wouldn’t make as much money as Ariana Grande.”

I got really quiet. I tried to hold it in. Christy. Don’t speak. Now is not the time for a lecture. Just move on. Time to start math. MATH, Christy. Do you remember that?

“Everybody! Take a knee!” I yelled. My class huddled around me, on their knees.

“I want you to remember that I am proud of you no matter what you do in life, as long as you’re trying your best. Remember that if you want to be a professional football player, I believe you can accomplish that as long as you never, ever give up. BUT, I feel like I need to say that we probably celebrate sports so much because of all the money involved. I will say, though, that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be! Money doesn’t give you everything. My job is the best job in the world, I think. And I don’t get paid all that much.

I do, however, know that not very many people want to be teachers. And although it makes me sad, I get why. There aren’t tens of thousands of people cheering for me in a big stadium, and Nike doesn’t care if I wear their shoes, and I probably won’t ever get to come running out of the locker room through a lineup of cheerleaders and coaches and jump through a giant paper thing to make the print of my body in the paper and then have everyone screaming for me–”

“Uh, Mrs. Wopat? We get it,” one of the boys said, interrupting me.

“Do you though?” I pressed. “Because I need you to remember that your teachers keep on going, even though there aren’t a lot of cheerleaders out there! There are so many other important things you can do, and you have to do them even when other people don’t notice.”

We moved on to math then, and I thought Um, Christy? This is what happens when you try to lecture 9-year-olds. DUH. Of course, they don’t get it. They want to play football. Football is their life. Recess is their life. You did it again, with your incessant rambling!”

That afternoon, I got hung up in the lunchroom, talking to a teacher assistant. I had already sent my class back to my room, and so I was walking backward, trying to use my body language to show her that I, uh, kinda sorta needed to leave.

“So, then, do you think our next plan could be–” she started.

“I have to run! We’ll talk about this later!” I said and turned to leave.

“Ok, but, when later?” she pressed. This is not that important, I thought, shaking my head. I headed back to my room.

As I rounded the corner toward my classroom I heard a huge commotion. My blood pressure spiked. UGH. Seriously. 2 minutes. They’re in there for 2 minutes without me and they’re totally off the walls. What do we do after lunch? WE READ QUIETLY AFTER LUNCH. They will never learn. It’s March. I give up.

I had my teacher face on, and I was ready to give it to them until I stood in the doorway of my classroom and looked in. There was my entire class. Standing in a line, across from one another, holding their hands up like arches, cheering for me.

“And now, our starting QB, let’s give it up for MRSSSS WOOOPPPATTTTTTTT!!!!!!!”

My class cheered.

I was frozen in place, tears instantly in my eyes.

“Mrs. Wopat! Run through the tunnel!  We made you the tunnel! Do you get it?” a girl said. She nudged me on the back.

I ran through that tunnel, while 25 9-year-olds cheered and screamed and patted me on the back. Most of us were crying.

 

You ain’t got NOTHIN’ on teaching, NFL. Nothing.

 

 

 

OMG can we at least talk about it?

Disclaimer:  This post is not about anyone in my life in particular. I’ve been working on this draft for months, a little here and there, so I seriously promise. It’s not my passive-aggressive way of telling someone I’m angry by posting something about how you should communicate when you’re angry. LOL. Image 7-20-17 at 8.07 PM (1) 

I hate small talk. I don’t mean, like, pleasantries as you pass by someone. Those are fine (although I could live without the “how are you?” part because no one has time to answer that as you pass someone by so you’re just basically required to say you’re fine.)

I like to talk about the important stuff. I LOVE to know what you’re afraid of. What keeps you up at night. What are the parts of you that you wish you could change? What are your ultimate dreams and goals?

Chances are if you’re a close friend of mine, you know this already. Chances are that I’ve made you sit down and answer one question after another after another. And pretty much close to nothing that you say would change my mind about you, unless it’s hatred toward someone else.

Knowing all this background information about someone matters so much to me. Our past contains so many clues to our actions and intentions now. Have you ever had a moment when you find out a key detail about someone and suddenly everything clicks and makes sense? This happens to me a lot, especially with my students. One piece that I didn’t know about puts everything into place for me.

Relationships are like a dance, right? Except it’s like the “Jerk” dance that Eileen on Seinfeld does or Napoleon Dynamite’s butterfly moves. You just have no idea what’s coming next, yet you work to keep up. I am convinced that the ONLY way you can keep up is to COMMUNICATE. And I don’t mean talk. I mean to ask and share and seek information.

This year, for whatever reason, I’ve had some relationship issues at work. Maybe it’s because I’m doing too much outside of school and I’m tired, or because I have a class that needs a lot of me, or maybe because it’s now my 8th year here and it’s the witching hour or maybe it’s that I’m ready to be done teaching. Maybe it’s because I’m just a jerk?

I’ve had family relationship issues this year, more than ever. Probably because of grief and death and break-ups and me over-sharing in the name of vulnerability, which makes me look more like I’m playing victim than anything else.

What do I actually think is causing these issues, though? The fact that I have stopped settling. The fact that I have said, “This is what I need.” And I’m certainly not saying that I’m giving everyone else what they need, but I’ll tell you what- nobody has asked me.

Nobody has said, “Christy. Please stop doing this. Or, I need more of this from you. Or, this hurts me greatly when you do this.” And so, instead, I sense the tension because that is how I’m built. I can sense it amongst people I’ve never met before and it makes me emotionally AND physically uncomfortable. When the tension involves me it’s even worse, especially if I don’t know why.

I am so physically worn down from wondering about who is mad at me for what reason, or if someone letting the door slam in my face is someone in a hurry or because I’ve ticked them off. I’m tired of advocating for kids and being made to feel like I’m some kind of selfish, horrible person.

And I’m tired of being the ONLY one who wants to do anything about it. Difficult conversations are just that: difficult. It’s not fun to tell someone that they hurt you. Sometimes, it backfires. This year, for example, I gathered the courage to confront a situation and was basically so condescended to that I felt just about an inch tall. It bombed. Oh, well, right? I tried.

There are so many times, though, where if I hadn’t said, “Are we ok? What’s going on here?” it would stay horrible and tense and when you’re made like me, when you carry feelings as I do, it is a physical and emotional hardship.

I often ask myself:

Am I imagining the tension? Leave it to me to be so egocentric that I think whenever anyone is upset it’s about me when it could very well be a million different things.
Is it worth it? Is it worth putting myself in this vulnerable position? What will I gain or not lose? And how do I know?
Why is it so easy to be upset about something, but so hard to tell someone about it?

I know I sometimes create “issues” that aren’t really there. But I also know that my expectations are high. And I’m not willing to bend on that! I want positive, healthy relationships where people value me and they value my loyalty and my willingness to learn and change. We live in this culture where it’s like, oh, you pissed me off, so bye! How in the world do we expect people to NEVER mess up?

When I say good-bye, it’s because I don’t see a willingness at all to communicate. To see another side of the story. I’m so often floored when someone shares something with me because I had NO idea. Throughout our relationship struggles with my mother-in-law, there was so much sulking on both sides, when we both really wanted the same thing: to be together! I wish I could’ve done something about that sooner, but, you know what? I was still a kid. I was only 25 when my father-in-law died from cancer and I didn’t know SHIT about what was happening. Those years for me–23-um, well, probably 28, were tough. I was trying to figure so much out at once.

So, I failed. And failed again. But all this loss in my life has taught me so much about both what I want and what I need to be.

I think it’s time that we start really communicating. You’ve got two jobs to play in this thought-first, you have to be willing to have a difficult conversation. And next, you have to be willing to listen and not immediately jump to the defense, which is our knee-jerk instinct.
So much of the time, it wasn’t our intent AT ALL to hurt someone. Sometimes they are just plain imagining it. Sometimes it was an equally shared kind of thing. But, if you can’t let them get through the “This made me feel like this…” then it’s not going to work.

I hear often that communication comes naturally to me. That I must have had good role models growing up. Here’s the deal: I’m self-taught. My parents communicated by, literally, screaming and swearing and throwing things. My siblings and I never actually shared anything except a bathroom. And that’s, I think, sometimes pretty typical. So I had to teach myself. And then get my husband to learn along with me. And now my kids. And it’s HARD, yo.

But it’s so, so, so worth it.

Keep on keepin’ on, yo!
XO
Christy

That time I told you that teachers actually need your help.

I love my students. LOVE. THEM. Every single day they make me smile, they make my heart dance, they make me frustrated, they make me laugh hysterically and make me roll my eyes so hard I can see the back of my head.

I love my school. I love hearing children read. I love watching them run and sing and dance and play. I love feeling like I have a family away from home and I love emails from students 5 years later that ask me the title of a book I read to them when they were 9. I love knowing that my words and encouragement could change a whole kid’s day around.

The career of an educator has changed so much, though, even in the 15 years I’ve been in the profession. The expectations put on us are insurmountable, yet I don’t go a week without hearing about how easy our job is because we have summers off.

It is alarming how many educators that I know suffer from mental health issues (anxiety/depression). We are faced with feeling that we are NEVER adequate enough. That we are NEVER caught up. That we can do the right thing 1,000 times and it’s not noticed, but we mess up once, and we’re called out immediately.

We are facing classrooms full of kids with myriad issues: not just divorced parents, but parents with restraining orders against them, victims of abuse and neglect, kids whose parents are incarcerated, kids who are homeless and hungry. And this is all in my small town-we have a population of less than 10,000.

I am not naive to think that these issues didn’t exist always, but I insist that we are now responsible more than ever. Social and emotional issues are affecting all of us, and in a world where test scores are more important than anything, I get quite literally stuck on the fact that kids whose minds are wandering to the worries of their life aren’t exactly trying their very best on the multiple choice tests in front of them.

My 4th graders will embark on another round of state testing next week. We spend TWO weeks of class time taking these standardized tests. I’ve been stocking up on granola bars to feed hungry kids, and gum and hard candy as a teeny tiny gift. We’ll plan extra recess and a movie day at the end, but, you guys—it is SO.MUCH.TESTING.

It makes me physically ill to think about going to school during testing week. Because I know that in the middle of it all, someone might be pulled to talk to Child Protective Services, or miss school because they were at the parent’s house who drinks too much and forgets to bring them to school. They might rush through the test just to get done because they think they’re dumb anyway.

I used to spend quite a bit of time judging parents. I couldn’t even imagine what was wrong with them that they would treat their children like they did.

I know better, now, and so now I do better. I know that the support systems I have in my life are most definitely NOT in a lot of other people’s. I know that parents, with few exceptions, love their children and want them to do well. I know that they are human and they make mistakes and sometimes there are substance abuse issues and sometimes there are a lot of things we don’t know about.

But.

And this is a biiiiiigggggggg but. Teachers are being expected more then ever to step in and support and comfort the children in their class. To help teach social and emotional skills that are not being taught at home. To make sure that kids are fed and have clean clothes and personal hygiene products.  To answer phone calls and emails from parents immediately, and with a “customer is always right” attitude, although sometimes they are so far from right.

Perhaps you can see the cycle now. Parents are not healthy, which affects the child’s life. Teachers want to help but really cannot, and the issues seep in, causing the teacher to feel extra stress and worry.

I’ve been told I need to keep in mind the child’s home life. I’ve been told I’ve gotten “too close” to students who come to me for advice or for that extra connection (in other words, I need to be there for them, but not too often, because then they maybe won’t connect enough with other adults).

I’ve been treated SO horribly by parents – here’s a lesson plan for you since you don’t know how to teach writing (that one is extra ironic now), how dare you tell me my child needs this or that, complete harassment from a parent when I declined to be a part of their custody fight (as I only ever heard from one parent, I didn’t feel qualified), and on and on.

I’m telling you this because before if I were not a teacher I would have no idea. I’m telling you this because teachers need your support. I’m telling you this because we need you to stick up for us, whether it be with your drunk Uncle Bob, or in the online comments on the newspaper article about teacher salary.

I’m telling you this because it is referendum time. Schools need your support now, more than ever. I’m telling you this because we need YOU. Email your child’s principal and tell him/her how much you appreciate your child’s teacher. Email your school board and ask them what their plan is for rising student numbers in classrooms. Please stop complaining about school supply lists. Shift your mind to the knowledge that there is NOTHING more important than our children and those that take care of them. Vote yes in your referendums.

If you are able, send in some Ticonderogas and some goldfish crackers to have on hand in a classroom. Trust me, we always need them.

Write a sweet note to a teacher you’ve always loved. Encourage them to keep fighting. Some us are ready to give up and give in.

We need you now more than ever!

Xo

Christy