So, I've been back to work. That's why you haven't heard from me. I must say, the break did help. The first day back seemed SO long! But I got through the week okay -- tired, sore, exhausted, but not depressed or frustrated like I was feeling before. I don't feel like I'm carrying the burdens of months or weeks of issues ... just taking one day at a time. That's good.
It helps that I'm making some progress in the realm of discipline. At the beginning of the year, I thought, "These kids are so unbelievably good, they won't need any of the things I learned about discipline from teaching high school last year!" Well, those days are over, but I'm discovering that many of the secrets I learned last year work with this age, too.
The parents would have me believe that if I were just nice enough, if I had a relationship with their kids, if I understood them, I wouldn't have issues in the classroom. And, silly me, I put this idea into practice, even though I know from my years of nannying that there is no magical spell of niceness that can replace good, old-fashioned discipline and consistency. True, good teachers don't spend much time on discipline. That's because the kids know the discipline is there, even if it rarely has to be used because it isn't challenged. So consistency has been the byword for me -- fewer threats, more actual consequences. At their age, the main thing I can do is take away recess. And so that's what I do! The kids don't like it, but they respect it, and when I've done it even once in a day, to one child, not only that child but the whole class shapes up a bit.
Now, they are little kids and need positive incentives too. So I've been trying out the idea of contests. I have an equal number of boys and girls. (Also of first and second graders.) The other day, we had a contest running all day to deal with one of my pet peeves: rocking their chairs. They always rock their chairs back from their desks, and eventually end up falling over and hurting themselves. Not so bright, huh? Anyway, the challenge was to go without rocking their desks all day, and whoever rocked their desks the least would win. I kept track with tally marks on the board. The girls won, and they got stickers.
That worked so well that I'm thinking of making some kind of longer-running campaign, complete with a poster of some sort. The kids could move forward by raising their hand, being ready for the next activity the fastest, paying good attention, and backward every time they rocked their chairs, talked out, or goofed around. I'm thinking of using Lent as a framework, and having the two teams be Israelites in the desert, trying to get to the Promised Land. Think it would work? I will have to think of something nice as a prize, though.
There isn't much to my life right now besides work. I am just too tired when I get home to do anything at all. Even standing up is a huge effort. At work, I'm trying to teach sitting as much as possible, because I've found my back pain is directly related to the time I spend standing. But it's next to impossible to teach small children without standing up at least half the time, it seems. So, when I get home, my back is screaming in agony and it's all I can do to stagger out of the car and collapse onto the couch with my hot pad. The kitchen was a mess all week, dinner didn't get made, and laundry piled up. I'm trying to catch up with that this weekend! I tackled the kitchen today. Tomorrow, I want to vacuum, do laundry, and do some prep for dinners in the coming week.
I've been having an awful lot of false labor. When I'm home, I have contractions maybe every half hour or so, less in the morning. When I'm at work, it is at least that often and maybe more. Unfortunately, I'm too busy teaching to time them. I do know they get much more uncomfortable when I stand up. (It helps me remember to stay sitting!) The conventional wisdom states, "If you have four or more contractions in an hour, drink water and lie down to help them subside." That is all very well, but I don't know what they would suggest for elementary school teachers. I can't tell how often I'm having these contractions, and I can't lie down even on my free periods, because there is nowhere to go. So I drink water throughout the day, take it as easy as I can (which isn't all that easy), and try not to stand up unless I have to.
But, all in all, it has not been a bad week. If you're lucky, I'll finish the post I'm working on about women in the workplace and have it up for you sometime this week.