Tag Archives: teacher

Teachers Pay Teachers

In my previous life I was a teacher. I taught middle school for 10+ years. Now I look forward to beginning the homeschool journey with my own children, which both excites and terrifies me. It seems there is so much to learn within this community and way of teaching, but I digress.

Really, this is a shameless plug in case anyone reading this would like to open a “Teachers Pay Teachers” store to sell curriculum, worksheets, lesson plans, etc. I am going through my old teaching materials to try to bring in a little extra money here and there. If I have time, I may even create something new.

Here is my link in case anyone is interested.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Signup/referral:mrselinares

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What Is Your Lens?

Tonight at church we were asked what our lens is.  How do we see the world?  What is important to us? How are we living that?  How do we want to live that?  The sharing was done in a big group format with at least 100 people present.  Not everybody shared, of course, and for me, that is a difficult forum to share in, although I have done it before.  I did appreciate the question, though, and part of me did want to share.  As I thought about what I might share, I realized that I do need to share, and this is the forum for me, at least for the moment.

It’s funny, because I teach a personal development class to pre-teens, and this is one of the topics we discuss: Paradigms.  What are your beliefs?  What is your point of view?  What is your perspective?  While I give examples from my life to them as I teach it, I haven’t seriously turned the question on myself and reflected upon it during a time when I don’t have a class of forty pre-teens.  

What is important to me?  What is my lens?  There are several obvious answers that first came to mind, but I feel like the obvious answers fall under a less immediately obvious umbrella.  

My lens is: Do hard things and inspire and encourage others to do hard things.  

Why is this my lens?  Because the theme of my life has been just that.  The obvious answers to the lens question were teaching and fostering, which you could basically simplify into one answer: children.  But in order to become a teacher and a foster mom, in order to remain in those roles, I’ve had to do hard things, things that I haven’t always wanted to do.  For heaven’s sakes, I work for two of the most complained about systems in the United States: the public school system and the foster care system.  If that’s not doing hard things, I don’t know what is!

So, why children?  I didn’t have the easiest childhood.  It’s not because I didn’t have two loving parents or because I had any kind of abuse or anything like that.  Things were just always hard for me.  I had an undiagnosed anxiety disorder for 20 years of my life, which affected me socially, academically, and emotionally.  The challenges that I faced caused me to constantly have to do things that were hard.  I’m not talking about hard things like singing the national anthem in front of a stadium full of people or running for class president or running a marathon, which I did do later in life at the age of 30. I’m talking about hard things like answering a question when the teacher called on me in class or trying out for the high school basketball team or going to a school dance or even going outside to play at recess.  I couldn’t shy away from doing hard things.  If I did, it would mean never leaving the comfort of my home.    

My difficult childhood is the chief reason I became a teacher.  I had so many teachers who were angels here on earth for me.  Mrs. Kuykendall, Mrs. Raymond, Mrs. Niednagel, Mrs. Rodal, Mrs. Jones.  Many of them saw tears and comforted an often scared and emotional little girl or pre-teen or teenager.  They made me feel loved and like I wasn’t crazy and like everything would be okay.  They inspired me to want to be that for someone else.

Fostering was born of a desire to be a parent, a maternal instinct that I’ve had for years, a love of  babies that rivals that of most people I know.  It became about the most selfless act I have ever attempted and about learning to become a little more like Jesus.  It became about loving a baby so much that you feel like they are your own and then giving them up to their parents or family members or adoptive parents and trusting that God has a plan for them, a plan to prosper them and not to harm them, a plan to give them hope and a future.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

So, my lenses are inspiring and encouraging people to do hard things, doing hard things myself, and taking care of children in the public school and foster care systems…always with God as my guide, loving, obeying, and serving him.

 

 

 

Dreams

At four in the morning, when you’ve had to change your pajamas twice from being spit up on, and you will soon come to the realization that you are not going back to sleep before your 5:30 am wake up time, it is hard to say you’re living the dream. I am living the dream…God’s dream for my life. The cool thing about God’s dream for my life is that it addresses the desires of my heart. The inexplicable thing about God’s dream for my life is that the way in which he chooses to fulfill the desires of my heart are completely different than the way I dreamed they would be and prayed they would be.

Jeremiah 33:3 (NLT)
“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.”

God has always known that his plan for my life would be for me to begin fostering and then to begin dating the love of my life. He knew the challenges that would come from dating in a godly way while being a single foster mom and working full time as a teacher. He is with me every step of the way as I walk through this challenging but dream fulfilling time. He brings me joy and peace and patience and just enough understanding to get through moment by moment…if I let him…if I go to him and do this life he’s given me on his strength instead of my own. God is in my past, my present, and my future. He knows what will happen next with Baby Incredible and with my relationship with my boyfriend. He’s already there. He’s got it covered.

One year ago, I did not have any idea I’d be fostering. I didn’t even have any idea I wanted to foster. One year ago, I had absolutely no idea I’d be in love. I didn’t see it coming at all! God knew. He knows our future, and he will reveal it to us in his own time, which actually ends up being perfect timing for our own good. God gives us what we need, not necessarily exactly what we want, to the specifications that we want it. He fulfills the desires of our hearts according to his glory and purpose, not according to what we want and would be most comfortable with.

It seems like many people who are around my age (late twenties to mid thirties) are striving to discover their dreams. Some of them are believers and some of them are not. Either way, it seems that this age group brings with it a re-evaluative stage. Some people never really got settled into a career. Others did, but they discovered that career was not really for them.

Watching this in my peers makes me so incredibly grateful that I have been living my dream for the past ten years. Sometimes I lost sight of the fact that I was because there were more desires of my heart that had not yet been fulfilled. The truth is, God allowed me to know ahead of time, like from the time I was in elementary school, that teaching was the profession for me. He allowed me to achieve that goal in my early twenties and live out that goal for the past ten years. It is not lost on me what an incredible gift that is. I know so many people who changed majors in college at least a handful of times, trying to figure out what direction they wanted their lives to take.

In looking back on the last ten years, I do feel a little bit of regret that I sometimes didn’t fully appreciate what a gift I’d been given because it brought me so much sadness that my desire to get married and have a family of my own was not yet being fulfilled. Now that I am seeing more of God’s plan for my life unfold, things are starting to make a little more sense than they once did.

It is my prayer for myself and for my peers that I dream big for my life but that I allow God’s dreams for my life to be my driving force, even when I don’t like them or understand them, even when I don’t think the dreams God has for my life are big enough or noble enough, even when I think the dreams God has for my life are too daunting to consider taking on. God tailor makes our dreams for us. We need to trust him with them. He loves us more than we can fathom.

There are Superwoman Days and then there are Wonder Woman Days

Some days I wake up feeling ready to face the day.  Maybe I don’t feel totally rested, and more likely than not, I didn’t get enough sleep, but I feel pretty good.  I take Baby Incredible to daycare and head off to work.  As things come up in my day, which they inevitably do, – being a middle school teacher means being ready for the unexpected – I handle them with confidence and grace and wisdom.  Maybe a kid throws up all over my classroom floor.  Maybe a parent sends a five paragraph letter, addressing some concerns.  Maybe the fire alarm goes off unexpectedly, prompting an unplanned drill.  Or maybe, it’s just a “normal” day with preteens: teaching and redirecting and laughing and disciplining and lesson planning and paper grading and dress code violations.  I end my day at work and get to see Baby Incredible and his heart melting smile.  We go to whatever appointments we may need to attend that day, and then we come home to prepare for the next day.  When I have spent some time with him and then rocked him to sleep, I get a little time to myself before I get some shut eye.  Those are the Superwoman days.  The days where I feel amazed that I have been able to accomplish so much and do it with peace and joy and a seamlessness that can only be attributed to God working.

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And then there are days like today.  The days that may even start out as Superwoman days but end up being Wonder Woman days.  On Wonder Woman Days I end my day feeling as if I was hit by a mac truck.  I wonder how I ever accomplished all of the things I did.  I wonder how I didn’t say something completely inappropriate or mean.  Sometimes I wonder how I let that inappropriate or mean thing fly out of my mouth!  I wonder why on earth I’ve taken on so much.  I wonder when I will get a break.  I wonder how I will make it through tomorrow.  I wonder if I am on candid camera.  I wonder just how much more I can handle, and then I shudder at that thought, thinking it may cause something else catastrophic to happen.  

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On Wonder Woman days, I need to pray with my friends.  I need to cry.  I need my boyfriend to bring me dinner at 8:30 at night because I haven’t been home but a few minutes and have zero energy to make myself anything, even if there were groceries in the house.  I need a hug and to be told that everything is going to be okay and that I’m doing a great job.  I need to be reminded of why I’m doing this and that God is in control of every last detail in Baby Incredible’s life story.  I need people to make me laugh.  Today, I got all of those things after my Wonder Woman day, and I feel truly grateful and blessed.  Thank you to those of you who loved me through my Wonder Woman day.  You know who you are, and you are blessings in my life.  

What I’m Noticing

I don’t really consider myself a writer, although it is one of my dreams/goals/desires to write a memoir.  That is part of the reason I started this blog.  Sometimes I feel like a blog needs to tumble out of me, words cartwheeling and backflipping onto the page.  I feel a strong urge to write and start composing an entry in my brain before I can get to my computer.  Maybe I am more of a writer than I think.  

As I was doing laundry and dishes, tending to Baby Incredible, taking out the trash, and putting things away when I got home this evening, I found myself itching to write a blog.  As much as I wanted to write, I couldn’t stop the momentum I had gained of feeding cats and baby, washing bottles and gathering spit-up covered clothes to wash.  If I kill the momentum of that, it ends…and I can’t really afford for that to happen.  

I finally sat down to eat dinner at 8:30, and I wondered where my day had gone, but I guess driving 40+ miles in traffic and teaching a full day will account for many of your hours.  I could stay up all night tonight and still not accomplish all of the things I “should” do, like sweep my apartment and grade 60 essays and fold the laundry and clean the bathroom and the cat box and clean my room and do some paperwork for the agency…I have a visit tomorrow from the agency social worker, and I know she doesn’t like it when I have “clutter”, but I am too tired and overwhelmed to really care.  

Overwhelmed…that is a word that comes up a lot in my vocabulary lately.  I sometimes think that I may be overusing it, and then I step back and take stock and realize that pretty much anyone in my position would be overwhelmed.  

Things I have noticed this week:

1) Every time I go to the store, I get home and realize that there was one more item I should have purchased and didn’t.

2) There is a never-ending pile of baby laundry and dirty bottles.  Even when I think I’m caught up in the moment, one more bottle or dirty bib or onesie pops up.

3) I forget things…a lot.  Things I forgot this morning: my classroom keys and my flash drive with my grade book on it.  Things I forgot last night: to take my antibiotics, even though I remembered while I was on the phone with my boyfriend.  I forgot by the time we hung up.  

4) I am so grateful that I live so close to work that I can make an emergency trip when I forget my flash drive and keys.

5) I have less and less patience for time wasters.  (example: A parent who wants to have a meeting because her child won’t do his/her work.  The child is capable and has shown that s/he can do the work.)

6) It can be really stressful to have people scrutinizing every little thing you say and do.  Students. Parents of students.  Social workers.  Birth parents.  Agency workers.  At the end of the day, I’m doing my best, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to hear any complaints or suggestions or criticisms.  

7) I am addicted to this baby’s smile.  He has the most amazing smile ever, and he uses it a lot.  I am in love.  

8) My cats miss me.  Yes, I am here and they are here, but they get significantly less attention than they used to.  When I began fostering, they were kicked out of my bedroom.  Last night, Cecily broke into my room, and I found her this morning curled up and nestled right next to me, her body heat the first giveaway that she was there.  She didn’t destroy anything or bother anything.  She just wanted to sleep next to me.  

9) Baby Incredible has quite the fan club.  Between my family, my church, and my workplace, he is LOVED something fierce.  

10) Mondays used to always be my least favorite day of the week, but now they are my favorite, because they are my only evening at home.  

11) I am learning that I don’t like asking for help.  I don’t want to bother people.  I don’t want to put them in the position of feeling weird about saying “no”.  I don’t want to put people out.  I don’t want to be “too much”.

12) I have to ask for help because there is no way I could do this on my own.  I am doing the job of two people…at least.  

13) I miss exercise.  

14) I have no idea what the future will bring with Baby Incredible, but I know God has amazing plans and that He is in control.  (And by the future I mean like tomorrow and the next day and the next…and also further down the line.  Everything is such a mystery, a completely unpredictable mystery.)