This morning I woke up to streams of light coming through our curtains. Not good, not good...I bolted out of bed and looked at the clock: 6:47 a.m. I should be 20 minutes down the road by now. Somehow, my alarm's volume had been turned down to zero and I couldn't hear it. I jumped into the shower and was out the door by 7:05. Traffic was bad, but I managed to get to school by 7:50. On the rare occasions that I've been late like that before, it usually messes me up for the whole day. It just feels like I'm constantly behind no matter what I do. Once the kids got into the classroom, though, things were so busy, I quickly forgot about my rushed morning.
Our busy morning gave way to a somewhat relaxed afternoon. We discussed firefighters and fire safety in Social Studies, which of course, led to many questions regarding extremely specific circumstances. Where kids come up with this stuff is a mystery for the ages. At least they're thinking, I suppose. Some kids were concerned about the possibility of a fire at school. I explained that we would do what we always do during a fire drill.
"But what if the door is blocked by FIRE??"
I said we could go out the window.
"Will we have to smash the windows??"
No, I said, we could remove the screen and open the windows. The glass is about 1/2" thick, so you could throw a chair against them all day and probably not do too much damage.
"How do you get the screens off?"
A demonstration of how to remove the screens and open the windows ensued. I discovered that the space between the outside brick and the window was filled with spider nests and all kinds of nasty looking stuff. The windows were quickly closed and the children returned to their seats.
"Mrs. Phillips? What if, like, what if you lived in a mansion and you were way up high on part of the mansion and like, you couldn't jump out the windows because they were so high up??"
This question was quickly taken care of by asking if anyone lived in a mansion. One boy insisted he did, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't.
We also discussed the reasons for calling 911. I said it had to be a huge emergency (like a fire) for someone to call 911. I stressed that if you called it and there wasn't really an emergency you could get in big trouble. Then, I had someone ask this question:
"So...when should you call the FBI?"
How do you even answer that?
"Umm...well, you don't ever need to call the FBI. That's not really what they're for." I didn't mention that if the FBI is called in, the emergency is going to be way bigger than just a fire. But since I didn't want to get into the history of the FBI, who works for the FBI, how you can be in the FBI, where the FBI lives, or stories about how someone's grandpa's cousin's brother was maybe they think at some point in the FBI, or any other such questions, I decided to drop my explanation at that and take the kids to recess.
This morning I drove to school (tired, the Oscars went so late last night), but enjoying the bit of sunshine that seems to come earlier and earlier each day. As it got lighter and the thermostat on my car dashboard got higher I thought it would be a pleasant day. Highs in the 60s was what was predicted on the weather websites I frequent. Thunderstorms (a hint at the summer I am just barely able to make out over the horizon now) were due to roll in late in the afternoon.
The school day began, busy as usual, my kids a little more mellow than usual (not complaining), and the sun was streaming through the classroom windows. I told them how warm it was supposed to be and that they probably wouldn't need their coats at recess (cheers abounded).
Mid-morning I took a spare second to quickly check my email and found this:
"We are under a tornado watch until 4:00 p.m. Please review your Tornado/Disaster Drill procedures especially since we have all moved. And, we will probably be having indoor recess."
Wait...what?! I checked a weather website and saw that, indeed, a storm was closing in on us sooner than expected. The kids were working away on stories they're writing, so I thought I would tell them of the recess scenario and briefly go over our disaster drill procedures after having collected their work.
The kids gathered on the carpet and this is what happened:
Me: "Guys, I have some news. You're probably going to have indoor recess today."
The kids cheer collectively--for whatever reason, indoor recess is special and wonderful.
Me: "It looks nice out right now, but by the time it's time for recess, it will probably be raining. There's a bad storm heading our way and there will probably be some thunder. Also...deep breath...we are going to review our disaster drill rules because...another deep breath...we are under a tornado watch."
At this point, several things happen. One little girl immediately gets tears in her eyes, two of the other girls look at each other and start giggling, and all the boys' faces light up like I just told them I was giving them all candy and ice cream.
Me, quickly continuing: "Now, the chances of a tornado coming through this area is pretty much none, so you don't need to be worried." Girl's tears are suppressed, but she retains an extremely worried look on her face. Boys continue to look elated. "Do you remember how you're supposed to cover your head in the hallway?"
Bottoms go up in the air as heads are lowered to the ground and little hands cover the base of their neck (not heads).
Me: "OK, great. So, just in case anything happens we'll go in the hallway to be safe. Any questions?"
About 5 hands go zooming into the air. Here are just a sampling of questions I received:
"When is the tornado coming?"
"Can the tornado go under the doors?"
"What if I have to go to the bathroom while the tornado is out there?"
"Why do the teachers get to stand up and walk around while we're on the floor?"
"Can a tornado go under a building?"
"What if the tornado smashed through the windows AND the wall AND the hallway?"
"I saw a fox in my backyard this morning!"
"Should I go into my attic if there's a tornado and I'm at my house?"
"My bathroom has windows in it at home!! My bathroom has windows!!"
"Why would we get down in the hallway? Shouldn't we go outside if there's a tornado?"
"Could you ever have snow and a tornado?"
"How does a tornado form, anyway?"
This line of questioning went on for about 10 minutes. No kidding. Kids have a ton of questions about this type of thing. After answering ALL of their questions, we were mercifully interrupted by the PE teacher who had come to pick them up for PE.
After all of that, there ended up being no tornado (surprise), and the thunder was distant. It rained all afternoon, though. Made for a fun commute home (kidding).
This whole keeping-up-with-a-blog thing is a lot more difficult than it was in high school, I'll tell ya that. There have been occasions over the last several months when I've wanted to write, but eh--who has the time?
Anyway, I've given this blog a face lift and we'll see where it goes from there. I hope to amuse you with stories from the classroom, among other things. We shall see how this turns out.
Tuesday and Wednesday I was at the school until after 4:30. Tuesday I didn't get home until about 6:30 and Wednesday I didn't get home until about 5:30.
Thursday evening I noticed that little tickle in my throat. The tickle that all teachers dread. It's the tickle that might mean you're getting a cold. When I woke up on Friday, my throat was feeling even more scratchy and my tummy didn't feel quite right. But I headed off to school anyway. It was picture day, so you can't miss that!
The day went by fairly smoothly. All the kids looked so cute--the girls in poofy dresses and the boys with little ties and button up shirts. I wasn't feeling worse, but I wasn't getting any better. My stomach would go from feeling okay to feeling really nauseated. That's a good feeling.
Finally the day was over, carpool had ended, my room was packed up for the weekend, and I dragged my exhausted self out to the car and settled in for my normal commute home. I got all the way to the on-ramp for the Parkway aaaaaand...there's a police car blocking it! Sweet! I figured someone must have crashed on the on-ramp, so I would get on the Parkway going the opposite direction, make a U-turn and get on my way. Minor inconvenience, but I can deal, right? As I pass the on-ramp, I looked up to the Parkway and it looked like a parking lot. Oh, good. As I get on the Parkway heading the opposite direction, I'm weighing my options. I can do my U-turn and just sit through traffic or I can get on 95 South. I make a U-turn and pass a sign that says to expect delays on the Parkway for the next 5 days between where I get on and another exit several miles down the road. So there's no hope that the delay is short. I decide to get off the Parkway and take 95 South. Normally, 95 South at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon is just plain stupid. If you get on then, you'll be on it for a long time because it usually looks like this:
I hopped on 95 and there was only minor traffic! It was a little disconcerting, but I was home by 4:30! Not bad, considering I was thinking I would be lucky to be home by 5.
Anyway, by the time I got home, I was more tired and still feeling yucky. Then I started to think. I started thinking about a little boy who wasn't at school on Monday. He wasn't there because he had strep throat. He was back on Tuesday after having taken 24 hours worth of antibiotics. Now, 4 days later I had a scratchy throat and a general "sick feeling." I looked up symptoms for strep:
-very sore throat (check? It was scratchy, but not the worst I've ever had.)
-red throat, sometimes with small white or yellow splotches (not sure--my mouth is dark and I can't see inside it very well)
-fever (no fever!)
-general sick feeling (check.)
-lower stomach pains/ache (check.)
Hmmm...I was worried. Matt and I went to bed and I tried not to think about it.
This morning, my throat is feeling much better and I don't feel so yucky anymore. w00t!!! Hopefully I just had a little 24 bug of some sort and I'm fine.
So that's my week. Lots to do today and tomorrow...at least I didn't have to get up at 5:30 this morning.
It has crept up on me again this year. With the business of the beginning of the school year, it's hard to think of anything beyond the classroom walls. But last Monday, I turned around and there it was, staring at me from the end of the week. I haven't thought about it a whole lot over the last couple days...just brief snippets of memories and emotions invading my head every so often. I tried to push them aside so I could answer a question about the math lesson or settle a squabble between two students.
But now it's Saturday, September 11, 2010. I don't have to go to school today and while there are things around me here at home that could distract me, I know they won't. Even if I want to be distracted. Because what happened nine years ago today had such a huge impact on my life I can't ignore it. It represents a major dividing line: a line separating the young, naive me and the more aware, less jaded me. It destroyed a lot, but it created a lot, too. It destroyed the old world, the world where things happening outside my own circle of family and friends didn't really matter or have much bearing on my life. It created a new awareness and a new appreciation for our country and the things that happen outside of our country's borders.
Nine years ago, I couldn't fully understand what was happening. The images on T.V. looked like something from a movie, not something that was really going on in New York and in D.C. (just 15 miles north of where I lived). It was a scary day--do you remember? I remember every detail of that day: from the moment a girl entered our classroom at school saying something had happened in New York to coming home and seeing those videos for the first time. I remember lying in bed that night, not able to sleep--not wanting to sleep--worried that something else would happen in the middle of the night. Do you remember the next day when you woke up not knowing if it was really over or if there was more to come? I didn't know what to do other than watch news all day. What can you do on a day like that?
Now, nine years later, I still cry and still think about each moment of that day. I remember my own emotions, I remember the emotions of people on T.V., I remember the patriotism and unity that followed. And I hope and pray--so fervently--that this day is not forgotten.
After hours of planning with my other 1st grade co-teacher we found out the day before school started that we had reached the magical 28 children. Just enough to officially split us into two independent classes and gain one T.A. to share between the classes. All our planning, our daily schedule we had developed, our system of organizing materials, all our time and efforts went straight out the window. We suddenly went from being on top of things and ready for the first days to feeling like we needed another week to re-plan everything.
There were a few moments during that day-before-the-first-day-of-school as I was trying to redo as much as I could in just a few hours where I got that huge sinking feeling in my stomach and felt for a second like I was going to throw up. I knew I couldn't redo everything in that one afternoon. So I just focused on the first day of school. I wanted it to go smoothly for the kids and I knew I would have this lovely long weekend to do all the re-planning that needed to happen. The first day went pretty well and I spent the afternoon looking at our plans for days two and three and redoing them where needed.
All in all, things have been frustrating, stressful, and sometimes so ridiculous you just have to laugh. The kids seemed to have a good first week, though, and that's what really matters.
I spent this morning redoing our daily schedules. Normally, each 1st grade class has their own T.A. to help with our Language Arts block and teach Bible. Since there are so few kids this year, the school board only approved one T.A. for both classes to share. That means that we had to have Bible at different times and coordinate our Language Arts block so our T.A. would only be needed in one classroom at a time.
It was quite complicated.
I finally managed to work out a schedule that I think will work. We'll see.
There's still more to do, but at least some stuff is getting straightened out. Never a dull moment :-P
Oh, and P.S.
Do you know how I know that school has really started?
I went 11.5 hours on Friday without going to the bathroom. 5:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., baby.