Pablo’s Story

I made this two weeks ago, but couldn’t figure out how to upload it. Yes, I know I have uploaded videos before, but I couldn’t remember how I did it. Sigh. Technology is hard. And one more thing: when I say tests are dumb, what I meant is–STANDARDIZED tests not designed with English Language Learners in mind–are dumb. Just wanted to clarify.

Click below for VLOG number two:

We are in this together

I’ve been writing a ton recently, but all of it feels too personal or too fresh or too dark or too much to share with the internet at this moment. 

And yet, here I am now, in my bed, trying to sleep, and I suddenly feel the need to write something. So I’m typing this blog out on my phone, and I guarantee you there will be typos and awkward sentences because I may not even proofread it. 

You guys, my students come tomorrow as I am entering my 18th year of teaching. I am excited. We (the teachers) are just as nervous and have just as much adrenaline as the kiddos who walk through our doors. And it’s because of one reason: we want to make this year their best, and we know how important that first day is for setting the tone of the school year. 

So here I am, thinking about those kiddos, and thinking about my own kiddo who is nervous.  She doesn’t want to go to school because she’s kinda wired like me in that she is a ball of nerves. But she’s doing it anyway, and took photos of all her school supplies because she absolutely loves school supplies, and she’s thinking of how this new school year is always a chance to start something new. 

Every school year, I am nervous, because it is new. And every school year, I am excited because it is new. It’s a rebirth. It’s a new opportunity to show up and hone my craft. It’s a new chance to be real and loved instead of shiny and perfect (Glennon’s words, not mine). 

This summer I participated in the Hoosier Writing Project and met a group of teachers who inspired me to keep writing and to keep teaching. I also traveled to Mexico for a yoga retreat in a remote location that was only reachable by boat.  At home, I went to the farmers’ market and went to the pool with my daughter. I cooked and I wrote a lot of stuff that was the darkest and deepest stuff I’ve ever written. I met some interesting men who weren’t right for me. I argued with my daughter but also let her sit on my lap as much as she wanted to. I let her watch a ton of television and I didn’t feel guilty about it. I took my dad who has Alzheimer’s and my child on a vacation to California and I felt so many emotions during that trip that I had forgotten how it feels to be so up and down. I cried at the airport when two TSA agents didn’t understand why the airline needed me to walk my dad back to the gate. A TSA agent named Svizak came over to me, and said, “We will make this situation work. We are in this together,” and showed me such kindness that I cried even more with him because I felt safe and understood.

That was my summer. It was lovely and beautiful and hard. And now, I am ready to begin again. 

We have got this. We can make anything work. We are in this together. ❤️ 

Everything is Awesome and Hard

So the last couple of weeks have pretty much been loco. 

My exhusband has been in the Dominican Republic for three weeks. This is awesome and also really hard. It’s awesome because I get to have my daughter 24/7. And its hard because I get to have my daughter 24/7. 

And when I say 24/7, I REALLY MEAN 24/7. Because she even goes to my school now.  

(I know you really want to make fun of me for holding my second grader, but occasionally it happens. Especially when it’s been a long day and she jumps on me.)

She’s not “in my class” but she’s in the same building. This is also really awesome and really hard. It’s awesome because I love seeing her so happy here and I can spy on her and send spies to spy on her. It’s hard because I’m trying to do reports after school and concentrate on writing eloquent emails and I hear my child singing in the background about “whip me nene or watch my nene” or whatever that song is that all the children are singing nowadays.

And I’ve been SO excited to see my students. And I’m over the moon that I have 40 NEW KINDERGARTENERS in my English as a Second Language Program. I love seeing these bright eyed babies walking into school with their brand new backpacks, ready to conquer what lies in front of them. They are SO brave; because this is SCHOOL. And some of them don’t even know what school is or what their teacher is saying or when they will get to eat lunch or play outside. But they just do the next thing and figure things out and hug their teachers and grow up so quickly in that first week. It’s do or die for these kindergarteners. And they always just DO because they quickly learn to be brave.

I love observing my students who are new to the country take in all the bright colors in their classrooms and school supplies and computers and calculators. It’s culture shock in its richest form–with the word, rich, being a double entendre in this situation. Everything about this country and this new classroom may feel expensive but also complex in the new textures and sights and sounds. 

I have been teaching ESL for fifteen years now. There are so many anecdotes I could tell you about my students. Some of the stories are really funny. Some of them are really sad. Others are both funny and sad. But I will tell you those stories another day. Because today, I only want to say one thing. And that is that I continue to be amazed at my students’ bravery and coping skills.

I mean, can you imagine suddenly having to attend school in a foreign country, not understanding the language spoken around you? Can you imagine how hard that lovely brain of yours would be working for 7-8 hours straight, trying to understand what’s going on? Can you imagine not knowing what time you are going to eat or why you are suddenly singing a song in a language you don’t know or why the other kids who DO know your language, but have been here longer than you, just seem to “get it?”

Can you imagine? 

They are so brave. Their little brains work hard and even if their parents don’t know how to help them with their homework, they figure it out and grow up quickly. They learn how to speak, listen, and then read and write in this new language. They develop this gift of bilingualism–a gift that I pray will not be taken for granted. 

So tonight, I am up past my bedtime, because I can’t stop thinking about them and their smiling faces and how they inspire me to be brave everyday. 

There are times I just want to lie in bed and play Candy Crush or Candy Soda Crush or Words with Friends or read People magazine. But when I think of my school babies–I suddenly remember that I am here to fulfill a greater purpose than to score 20,000 points in Candy Crush. 

I am here to do good and to be brave and to connect with people. And now I must go and do that. That’s my legacy.

I am thankful. And you should be, too. Because we are here to do great things.