A New Chapter

I’ve been quiet on the blog recently, which is not so unusual since I’m basically the worst blogger, but this time there was a good reason. For the last few months I’ve been looking ahead to the next year or two (or three or four), and assessing what I want to be doing, where I want to be spending my days, and what sacrifices are worth making to earn more money. After a lot of inner debate and talks with Matt, I have decided to resign from my job as an English teacher.

Because I’ve been on maternity leave since October 2014, it doesn’t feel as life-changing as it should. My plan was to return to work in September and when it came to childcare, we’d figure it out. Daycare or a nanny for Will, before care, kindergarten, and after care for Nolan, and lots and lots of money out the door. I heard repeatedly, “You’ll make it work! Everybody does it. It’s temporary.” And I told myself those things too, because they’re true! I know that if we went that route, everyone would be fine. Nolan would not be irreparably damaged from 10 hours out of the house, and Will wouldn’t forget who I am because he saw a nanny more than he saw me. But the idea of us as harried parents rushing out the door at 6:45, kids’ tantrums in the car, my guilt over missing everything at school, resentment about who does more around the house…I didn’t want to do it.

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I love teaching and I love my coworkers. Part of me is REALLY sad to not be returning to my department in September. Obviously having friends outside of work is important, but there is something special about having coworkers, built-in friends who you see every day, people you can laugh with and commiserate with over those daily shared experiences. When you don’t head to a  job every day, it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely, or to only surround yourself with one type of person (in my case, other moms of young kids).

So the decision has been made, the bosses have been notified, and the resignation letters have been mailed. Now onto the good things!

As much as I’d like to sit on the couch eating Trader Joe’s snacks and watching Gilmore Girls and Odd Mom Out, I obviously need to earn money. Oh, and take care of my kids. In these past 20 months that I’ve been home, I inadvertently got myself involved in a bunch of little projects and organizations. People who grew up with me or went to college with me know that I like to plan and organize, and I like to be in the know. So I Leslie Knoped all around town and worked with AMAZING people in my community to get full-day kindergarten in our district, and I started helping with the Greenlawn Civic Association. Do you know what both of those projects have in common? They are rewarding and wonderful, and they don’t pay me any money.

 

 

In my desire for a flexible schedule, I am incredibly lucky to have Beautycounter. I joined Beautycounter back in January of 2015 (I blogged about it here). In a nutshell, I teach people about the importance of safer beauty and personal care products and share Beautycounter’s mission and products.  Most of my work is done from home and even when it’s not, it’s sitting and talking with people over coffee, or presenting in someone’s home to a small group. It’s rewarding and fun and definitely does not feel like work. Health and wellness is something I’m passionate about and getting a paycheck for something so fun is pretty amazing.

The other opportunity that recently opened up to me is being a consultant with the Hance Family Foundation. Back in 2009, a terrible accident on the Taconic Parkway killed eight people including Emma, Alyson, and Katie Hance. Their parents started the foundation to “honor the lives of three beautiful sisters by ensuring healthy, happy, and safe children through innovative self-esteem educational programming and the support of children in need.” As a consultant I implement the Beautiful Me program, a series of workshops for girls, which focuses on self-esteem, body image, conflict resolution, etc. The program is adaptable for girls of all ages, so if you have daughters or you work in a school district and want this program, please let me know! It’s free for schools and paid for by grants, fundraising, and private sponsorship.

Without the uncertainty about the fall hanging over my head, I hope to be more focused on my family, writing, cooking, and community. I’m excited and scared and grateful you read all this.

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Sign-making Fail, Teaching Win!

One of my cutie little freshman came to me the other day to confess her recent graffiti spree. Apparently, there are signs posted all over the locker room warning students about recent thefts and encouraging them to lock up their belongings. She told me that all the signs had a big mistake on them, and that she, with the help of her pink marker, went around and fixed them all. Of course I made her take a picture and send it to me.

 

The there/their issue is really the least of this sign’s problems. According to the sign, even if the thefts only leave their belongings out for a minute, they can be stolen.

I can definitely get behind this kind of graffiti.

 

Newsflash

Yesterday, one of my freshmen was very excited to tell me what she learned in science:

“Ms. Post! Did you know that the baby isn’t actually in your stomach but it’s in your uterus??”

“Yes, I did know that.”

“Oh, well did you also know that the baby and the placenta are pushing on your bladder?”

“Yes. Yes, I did know that.”

Where’s Your Bra?

Sorry for my lengthy absence. I forgot that teaching is, like, a lot of work? And … I’m going to start ending all my sentences by lifting my voice in a question? Because that’s what the kids do?

Taylor Mali did a bit about this trend in speech a few years ago. Good stuff:

Speaking of how kids say the darndest things…

A few weeks ago my co-teacher was absent and a student inquired about it in a pretty strange way. The conversation went like this:

Student: Yo, Ms. Post, looks like you’re braless today.

Me:          I’m sorry, what??

Student:  You’re braless today.

Me:          Are you seriously saying what I think you’re saying?

Student (looking a little scared and genuinely confused): Um, I don’t know. I just said you’re braless today because Mrs. C  isn’t here.

Further confusion ensues…

As it turns out, saying I was braless was saying that my “bra,” or friend, was not there. I think he learned an important lesson after I explained that calling a woman braless was probably not the best idea.

Coffee Talk

On Friday a student asked me what illiterate meant (after mispronouncing it).

Discuss.

This is an area of teaching English that’s really a mystery to me. Teachers in other departments ask me, “What are you guys doing in there?? These kids can’t read or write!”  I don’t disagree but I’m also kind of at a loss at how to tackle that problem in high school. It’s pretty overwhelming.

What is it about quizzes?

There is something about taking a test that makes kids ask and say the strangest things. One of my favorite (read: most irritating) student habits is when they ask, “Is it multiple choice??? Is there matching?? Is there an essay???” as I’m handing out the paper. Gee kids, if you wait FIVE SECONDS you’ll find out. I gave a quiz last week that was separated into four sections, the first three were various types of character and style matching questions and then the fourth part (three questions) were free response.

After handing out the papers and going through the directions, one of the students gasped and said, “What are these???”   The young man next to her said, “They’re…free response questions.” She looked at me and asked, “Do I have to do them?”

Another trip to the Twilight Zone

I used to think that test days were the easy days. Once your test is made, no lesson to prepare, no PowerPoint to organize, a light day overall. And then four years ago I started teaching ninth grade. The questions, oh the questions!

An example: a question on a quiz was, what is irony? The definition had been written on the board and discussed during class in the days before. A student called me over:

Student (pointing to the question and looking up at me expectantly): I don’t remember the answer.

Me: Um, ok?

Student: But what should I do?

Me:  Try to remember? The definition was on the board and I said it would be on the quiz.

Student:  But I forgot. Can you give me hint?

Me: No.

Student: But I forgot.

Another question asked students to find examples of a metaphor in a poem. During the period, several students called me over:

Student (pointing to a phrase in the poem): Would this be a metaphor?

Me: Well, that’s kind of what I’m asking you so…

Student: Come on, you really can’t tell me?


I think the only logical solution would be to just stop giving tests. I’m sure the kids wouldn’t complain.