Rules Of Teaching

I remember a few things from my undergrad studies very clearly. As I studied music and studied the theory of teaching, I knew there was only so much that I could learn as a student and so much more that I would learn once I was the teacher. As we studied methods of teaching and talked about different situations, I remember one time being told to never let the students see you cry. Once they have seen you cry, they know they have power over you and you have lost that class forever.

When we were in Idaho, a guy Ches worked with had apparently cried because of frustration in front of a class once. It was several years before we were there, but I’ll tell ya, the kids talked about that for years and years afterward. Those kids lost all respect for that guy. I don’t recall ever seeing one of my teachers cry, but I think I, as a student, would have reacted in the same way (after being afraid of whatever beating was waiting for me at home once my parents found out I was involved in whatever happened that would make a teacher break down like that). I’ve seen teachers lose their tempers. I’ve seen band directors throw batons, bullhorns, and stands. I didn’t lose respect for that. I was intimidated as crap, but I can handle someone losing their temper and yelling or throwing (I never saw anything thrown at a student). As a teacher, I work really hard at keeping my (very) short temper in check. It’s important to me that my students don’t see me lose control.

Teaching is tough. A lot of you guys are teachers, so I know you know what I’m talking about. It doesn’t matter if you are teaching in high school or elementary, in public school or private, in Sunday School or preschool. Teaching is just plain a hard gig! I do love it. I just know that it’s not the thing I should be doing right now, and so I’m counting down the months (soon I’ll start with the days) until the end of the school year.

I also teach at church. I’m the primary music leader. I get to teach all the children between the ages of 3 and 11. I have 20 minutes with the 3 through 7 year olds, then 20 minutes with the 8 through 11 year olds. I’ve never been that comfortable with this calling, but I do what I can. I work hard to find ways to teach these songs the kids need to learn, to keep their attention, and to have fun ways to learn and sing, too. I’m just mostly not comfortable because I’m not any kind of a singer AND when I do sing, I have a pretty low voice. Children’s songs are written kind of high. I cannot sing these songs! Add to this the fact that kids in that “tween” age are actually quite rude and mean. I’m learning to not ask open-ended questions, such as, “Do you think you can do that now?” because they will always answer with “NO!”

Things have been kind of culminating for me for a while there. I’m still trying hard, but I do not enjoy this calling at all. The bishop actually asked me recently about how it’s going and I answered with “I hate it.” I then corrected myself. I don’t really hate it. I’m just having a hard time and don’t feel like I’m doing a good job. I know there are so many other people that could do a better job, relate to the kids better, and actually get the kids to sing. So a few weeks later I was informed that they are currently looking for someone to replace me, but it might be a while. No worries. I’m still trying my darndest.

Today was one of those days for me. I’m not feeling in top form, I’m super emotional, and I’m still not enjoying Primary. I made it through Junior Primary okay, and then it was time for Senior Primary. The kids are always a bit tough, as I described above, but today they just weren’t in to being at church or something. They were very irreverent and very rude. I’m trying to teach them a specific song, and I just couldn’t get and keep their attention. It finally was just too much for me. I couldn’t give any more warnings. I couldn’t do anything. I knew if I opened my mouth, I would just start crying. I was done. I tried to pull myself together, but I felt like I was going to explode inside. I turned around and said to the Primary presidency, “I just can’t.” I couldn’t say anything else. I put down my book, and I left.

As soon as I left the Primary room, the tears started to flow. I left the building and leaned against a pillar to pull myself together, although that took quite a while to do. Not only did I lose it in front of the kids, I started to feel SO stupid for just leaving. I remembered the “Never let them see you cry” rule, and it just made me cry even more.

A member of the primary presidency found me and I immediately started to apologize, but she cut me off. She said that the kids were extremely rude and she apologized. She also said that they were being talked to now, it was deathly quiet, and many of the kids are quite emotional about it themselves. It was really good to have her talk to me and she really made me feel better about the situation. I didn’t feel great, but she helped me feel better.

I still feel like an idiot for just losing it like that, but I can’t go back in time. I will go in there next week. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do, and I don’t want the kids to think that I hate them, because I don’t. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t want to let them know just how badly they get to me, but I’m sure they know now. I hate that they’ve seen me lose control. Did I ever have control in the first place?

I’m trying to come up with a positive outcome in all this, but I’m having a hard time doing that. I know the kids will be super quiet and obedient next week now, but how long will that last? How will they treat the new music leader? And now how am I going to face going back there, even when I’m not in Primary? I’m sure it’s not as big a deal to anyone else as it is to me, but I still feel horrible. Foolish. Ashamed. Idiotic. Just typical Sariah.

Come Again?

I’m not that happy with my job right now. The kids are great, and the school is really a good enviroment to work in, but I just don’t fit in there. I’m not an early childhood teacher, and I’m not a general music teacher. I’m a secondary instrumental teacher, and I feel waaaaaay more confident in that area. I’ll make it through the school year, and I think I’ll be done. Things will be fine, but I’m sure there will still be lots of things there that baffle and confuse me.

Yesterday, at lunch, the “elusive elf” was brought up. It was explained to me that it’s like a secret Santa for the staff, but since not everyone celebrates Christmas, they have the Elusive Elf instead.

Ummm, aren’t elves the helpers to Santa Claus??? I don’t get it.

Once again, I’m somewhere where everyone is so concerned about “all inclusion” and not offending anyone that I don’t think it has been completely thought through. Maybe it’s just me, though.

WHY??? (A Complain-y Post. Be Ye Warned.)

My 3 Day Walk is almost here, and I’m NOT ready.  I still have to raise $450 (or it comes out of my pocket… guess who is giving up her next two paychecks????), my period started today (I haven’t had it since the beginning of September… I’m so unpredictable… it couldn’t wait ONE more week???  I won’t be done and comfortable by Friday!!), and this evening I wrenched my lower back (OH!  The pain!  I can’t move… I can’t stand up straight… ).

I still need to either borrow or buy an airmattress so I don’t have to sleep on the ground.  I still need some proper clothes to wear (I only have one actual pair of capris that I’ve been walking in, and I’m not wearing the same pair for 3 days in a row), and I need a new waist pack (mine is super small and only holds one water bottle, my cell phone, my driver’s license, and a small amount of cash and I need to hold 2 water bottles, my cell phone, body glide, chapstick, cash, ID, bandaids/moelskin, and an extra pair of socks to change at lunch time).  

I had a rotten day at church today.  The kids in primary can be so obnoxious.  Our primary program is in two weeks, and since I won’t be here next Sunday, we didn’t have Sharing time today, just singing time.  The kids groaned no matter what song I said we were about to sing.  They wouldn’t follow direction, kept talking to their neighbors, and some just flat out wouldn’t sing.  In Senior primary, when I mentioned I wouldn’t be here, the kids cheered.  Thank goodness primary was over right after that, because as soon as the kids were out of the room, I seriously started crying.

Dallin won’t eat food.  Well, he’ll eat junk food, candy, and cereal.  He didn’t have lunch (it’s not unusual for him to skip a meal or two) or dinner, but only wanted milk to drink.  I wouldn’t let him have any milk until he ate some food.  He is one stubborn kid.  He never did get any milk.  I couldn’t even get him to take one measly bite of food.  So no milk, no dessert… nothing!  The kid worries the heck out of me with his constant refusal to eat.  And he’s not the skinny kid in the family.  How is he getting enough nutrition out of cereal and milk and tootsie rolls??  I don’t get it.

I stopped taking my medication for about 2 months.  I think it was only 2 months.  Anyway, things were not good, and Ches got me a refill.  I’ve been taking it, and I think overall it has helped, but now I’m getting migraines a lot.  I think Welbutrin is not right for me.  I might have to go back to Zoloft, but I hate the way Zoloft makes me feel when I forget to take it even once.  I get all dizzy and feel like I’m about to pass out at any second.  So… off to the doctor I must go to discuss my options.

I think my job is great, but I also think it sucks.  I am not a teacher of young kids.  My degree is in secondary education, and I think if I’m going to teach, that is where I should be.  As sweet as the kids are (most of the time), I’m just not enjoying it like I want.  I am a firm believer in doing what makes you happy.  If I’m going to leave my kids with someone else all day long, I’d better darn well LOVE what I’m doing, not just tolerate it.  And then there’s the whole discipline thing:  I think that most of the classes are fine.  I can handle a little bit of extra noise.  i mean, I’m not in a normal classroom, and these are all toddlers and preschoolers and young elementary school kids.  I don’t expect them to be able to come into a large, muti-purpose room and stay on task 100% of the time.  My methodology is to essentially ignore the little disruptions.  If I ignore them, they go away.  If they don’t go away, then I deal with it appropriately to the situation.  I am so tired of having other people in the school tell me to always be right on top of these kids… to not even give them an inch… blah blah blah.  Just let me handle my classes, thank you very much.  If I have major issues, I will let you or the lead teacher (who is where I’d go to first, anyway) know and we will come up with a plan.  But I just don’t think things are THAT BIG A DEAL, so stop instructing me EVERY DAY on how to teach and discipline my classes.

I’ve been having a real hard time just enjoying my life.  It’s so easy to put on a fake smile and pretend that everything’s great, but I’m getting sick of faking it.  I’m pretty sick of being so lonely.  I go to the park with my kids for the playgroups and I try to talk to the other moms, but I just don’t feel all that comfortable.  One day, after school, one kid had his skateboard at the park.  This other kid, who is probably in 2nd grade, was riding on the other kid’s skateboard, on his knees, when he feel forward and hit his head on the cement.  Of course he starts crying for his mom, but she isn’t there.  Their house is literally across the street. So he immediately runs home.  The other moms say he’s not the type of kid to take comfort from anyone else, but he ran home, so I’m not thinking it’s a big deal.  Then one mom says very emphatically, “THIS is why you come to the park!  You have to watch your kids!”  The other moms all start agreeing and nodding their heads, and they are all talking around this one point, and all I’m thinking by now is “CUT THE APRON STRINGS!”  The kid is old enough to be by himself at the park across the street!  I let Aiden go to the park now all the time without me.  I don’t let Dallin or Parker go, but Aiden, I feel, is old enough to be able to play without my constant supervision.  The park is visible from my house, and Aiden has certain rules he knows and follows (like he is either at the park or at home… he doesn’t go to anyone else’s house, EVER, for anything), so I don’t really worry too much.  You can not watch your kid 100% of the time, ladies!  Let them learn to be responsible for themselves at some point!  (The mom most vocal has kids both older and younger than the hurt boy)  I’m also thinking that if this is how you are talking about someone who isn’t here, what are you saying about me, behind MY back!  Sometimes I’m not there, at the park, when the bus comes in the afternoon.  I would like Aiden to come home first, but most of the time he just stays at the park and plays (because all the other kids are staying and playing), and a couple of the moms mentioned that they have tried telling him to go home and check in with me and whatever.  So I’m wondering what exactly are they saying to each other when I’m not there.  If they are going to say stuff about the one mom and be SO rude about it, I can only assume you do it to me, too.

I’m sick of trying to make friends, but not succeeding.  I just don’t feel a part of anything, no matter what functions or casual meet-ups I attend.  I feel like an outsider.  I miss my old ward and my old friends.  I miss other places we’ve lived because I had such great wards and friends.  I loved my callings, and I loved the friends I had and the plans that we made.

I miss autumn.  It’s my favorite season.  Arizona just doesn’t get an autumn.  It goes from HOT hot hot hot hot summer, to summer, to a mild “winter” (which feels like summer to some of you, perhaps), to summer, and back to HOT hot hot hot hot summer.  It was in the 70’s all last week and it was wonderful!!  Aiden wore a jacket to school each morning (hey, it wasn’t in the 70’s yet that early in the morning) and the boys wore pants instead of shorts and I got cold enough to want hot chocolate at night.  Not that I ever need it to be cold to drink hot chocolate.  It’s just nicer.  But I miss a real autumn, with a cool wind, changing leaves, wearing sweaters and scarves, and seeing my breath in the morning before school (I can do without scraping frost off the car windows in the morning, however).

So, now you know why I haven’t written in a while.  When it rains, it pours.  I have tons more I could complain about, but I need to go to bed and get some sleep before another “fun” day of work tomorrow.  Oh, and I have to pray REAL hard that my back is better so i can function.  I guess tomorrow I gotta try to see a chiropractor.  I can’t let this be like when I hurt my back a couple months ago.  It was a couple of weeks before I was back to normal.  It sucked!!!!


I’ve decided to do it.  I’m going back to work.  It will be part time (2 days a week; 10 hours).  I will be teaching general music to toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary aged kids.  Not at all my specialty, but it’s music.  I taught two sample classes yesterday.  The older kids (3rd and 4th grades) loved me and asked their teacher today when I was coming back.  The younger kids (2 year olds) was a really hard class to teach, but I think once they get to know me and we have a routine, it’ll be a LOT better.  They were still pretty fun, though.

So, I’m going to be a working mommy.  Is it bad that I’m not looking at this as any kind of a long-term thing?  I’ll figure out by the end of the school year if I want to continue, I guess.   It’ll be nice to feel like I’m contributing to the family income, even if it only covers half the weekly grocery bill or something.  It’ll be nice to actually use the degree I earned 8 years ago.  It’ll be nice to have days where I actually get dressed before noon and get out of the house for something other than taking my son to the bus stop.  I’m focusing on all the positives right now, because I know all the negatives and if I start to vocalize any of my doubts or concerns I’ll be seriously regretting my decision.  This was a very hard decision to make, but ultimately I did make it (without help!!).

Now… I get to spend the next week coming up with a curriculum, unit plans, and lesson plans.  Whew.  The fun never stops, does it? 😉