Saturday, March 26, 2011


Two important developments in my life:

I got a job! For the rest of the year, I'm a teacher's assistant at the middle school where I coach. I got off the sub lists at my other schools and accepted this job offer because I was able to work in the classroom every day at the same place, without missing days that we have track meets. I essentially hound three students who are at-risk all day. They are in danger of failing, mainly because they aren't organized and don't prioritize their time yet. Part of my usefulness is to document what is happening so it can be presented for IEPs. I can truly help these students, and that feels nice.

The thing is, as was blatantly pointed out by a student one day, I'm not a teacher. And it certainly isn't social studies!

This kid simply put out in words one day what my apprehension toward this job is. It was the start of math class, and the teacher wasn't in the classroom yet. The natives were getting restless, so I decided to review what we had learned yesterday. When I announced this to the class and walked up to the board with the marker, I was met with resistance, groans, and the phrase, "But you're not a teacher!", which is exactly when the "real" teacher walked in, scolded him, and apologised profusely. She pointed out I was actually a certified teacher. But, in that situation, he's right.

I love having colleagues, they respect me, I'm doing important work, it's convenient in my life right now, but... it's not my end goal. It's not what I dream about!

Which brings me to the 2nd important development:
There's a job. It is a social studies job. It is in our school district. It was brought to my attention by two teachers in that building who are rooting for me, one of which is in the social studies department. I think it was MADE for me!

My sources tell me that a technology teacher is retiring, and leaving a few computer courses open, but it's not full time. Departments were asked where they needed another teacher. The one teacher pushed for social studies. He's pretty good at being a squeaky wheel and getting things for his department. As soon as it was posted, he let the English teacher that I sub for know to let me know. And they both said they would like me to teach there and they would write recommendation letters for me. YAY!!!

A job! A real job!

Now here's my problem (well, besides the fact that I still need to actually apply once I get the recommendation letters, still need to get an interview or two, and still need to get actually offered a job):

I am attached to my cross country and dance team kids. My biggest holes in my heart were put there by me doing what I had to do for myself and my family, following my dream, and leaving people I cared about behind. Not that they can't live without me, and they understand, but I just hate disappointing people that I'm fiercely loyal to. My former colleagues, my friends I have grown close to, my students I have taught and loved, and athletes I have coached and loved. Having to move away from them has broken my heart, and I dread doing that in this situation to further my career. But, teaching is such a big part of my life, having my own classroom is too much to pass up.

Ideally, what I would love to happen is that the school district I coach at would find a social studies position for me. Then I could stay and teach and coach. I would love that. I did ask the superintendent, who is the principal where I'm working now too, to write a recommendation letter for this. I'm hoping it will light that fire. I know there's a plan here somewhere, and it will all work out for the best. One step at a time, right?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Regulations and pre-school candy

The above picture is Addie's Valentine's Day booty. Half of it (the stuff on the right) is what we pitched. The stuff on the left includes the cards. Notice that it is mostly candy!

This year Addie went to Preschool courtesy of Iowa tax payers. The price for this was a whole slew of strange regulations. Some of these included:

No apples or carrots, because they are choking hazards.

No home-baked goods because they're not healthy and people could put poison and stuff in them.

So what does one bring for a birthday/half birthday/holiday party? Food items that are wrapped. What are some of the most popular to give 20 three and four year olds?

pixie sticks
crack dippers (I forget what they are called because I pitch them as soon as I get them out of her back pack, but they're the pouches that you dip a hard candy stick into and lick off the colored sugar.)

And this happens at least once a week, if not twice! The load is usually not one small treat per kid, but a small baggie.

I gotta say, who the hell gives their 3 or 4 year old any of this? Maybe as the teacher, if I'd had a particularly bad day, I may feed them snacks with a ton of sugar at say, 2:50, and promptly send them into their parent's arms, but that's because I'm vindictive.

Most of that crap goes in the garbage. And the stuff they can actually eat (or that we actually like) is too much for us! If they're so worried about the safety and health of my child, stop giving this stuff to them... give them an apple or carrot and we'll take our chances!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Today, they learned something!

I know they size me up. Most of my teaching career, actually most of my life, people have taken one look at me and thought they knew.

Knew I was soft.
Knew I was shy.
Knew I couldn't handle it.
Knew they would eat me alive.
Knew that I didn't stand a chance.

But it's them that didn't stand a chance. My classroom discipline motto has always been to speak softly, and carry a stick of chalk. Because I don't need to yell. I have other ways of getting what I want.

I am a manipulator. I foster relationships with my students so that they want to make me happy, make me proud of them. If I don't get what I want, I make it very clear that 1, they've disappointed me, 2, they should be disappointed in themselves, and three, they'll only get out of life what they put in. My genuine praise of them makes it this way. And it helps that I'm an expert at guilt trips. Learned from the best Catholics!

Here's two examples:
Tough guy in cross country tells off a janitor before practice after she yelled at him to get off a table. I made it clear he needed to apologize to her. He did. No yelling.

Dance team seniors want "a life" and only want to perform at 5 home games. I bargain for 8. They ended up with 15 performances. Manipulated.

So now I am the only female coach for track, in charge of mid distance and distance. I feel I'm taking some grief from the guys. They don't know me, they figure I'm no expert and they don't need to listen. The first practice they had me we did a ladder up to 600 meters. After we got to the top, my declaration of heading back down was met with groans and whining. After some warnings from my cross country kids who know better, it continued. To which I said, "Oh, I'm sorry! Did I say 400 meters? I meant 600! Here we go!"

But today, after a few cocky comments and not paying attention, I gave them a very hard day. They learned after the 5th hill to stop asking when they'd be done. They stopped complaining by the 9th hill. They started listening to me on the 13th hill. After the small hills we headed to the notorious "Dam" hill, which is painfully long. one asked if that was our destination. I smiled and they replied "Yay?" (as if saying, oh my god I'm going to die, but I'm going to try!). I rewarded them by telling them instead of 2 hills, as I had planned, because they didn't complain, they would only do one. And finally, after 17 small hill sprints and 1 "dam" hill, when asked if they were tired, they said yes. When asked if they had a hard but good workout, they said yes. And finally, when they were asked if they were done, one said, "NO!". I smiled and said I loved the attitude, was proud of them for working hard and not complaining, and that yes, they were done! They told the head coach they had a great workout. I think they learned something today!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Scattered thoughts

It's been a while since I've written. I have so many different components in my life, it's hard to get one theme down in any given post, so I've been avoiding it. And I've been busy! I've been doing 3 or more days of subbing at 3 different school districts.

I'm finishing up coaching the dance team. This coming Monday is the Strut Your Stuff show, a fabulous end to our great season. There will be 16 routines, which includes their 2 "award winning" state routines, 5 routines they choreographed themselves, 5 solos, and grade school kiddos. It will be quite the production. I've even started working on next year, if it's not too presumptuous to assume that I will be the coach again, and booked hotel rooms for state competition. Just to brag, it's closer to the events center, has free parking, free breakfast, and a pool, and it is LESS THAN HALF of what we paid for this year!!! I love a good deal!

And, I've been hoodwinked, fairly willingly, into being the assistant coach for girls track, concentrating on the distance! However, I'm being constantly tested by the boys and their coach, who I'm trying not to peg as a chauvinist, but I suspect he is. Last week he told me not to run with them, but to stand in the hall and babysit, making sure no one walks. Then he changed the plans without consulting us when he said he would show me how to use the weights, and yesterday he cancelled an appointment again. His boys also got a taste of "Coach Rudd means what she says." After making it to the top of a ladder workout at 600m, I said it was time to go back down to 400. Whining and asking if I was serious was met with "Shut up!" from my cross country runners who know what I'm like. It continued, so I said, "Oh, I'm sorry, did I say 400? I meant another 600! Here we go." They didn't complain as much after that. Today will be a three mile run. Can't wait to see if they have learned their lesson.

I've signed up for an 8k next weekend. I hope it gets dramatically warmer. I'd really like to run in 50 degree weather, as opposed to 20 degree! Competition makes me nervous, but I'm going to do it anyway. It is good to work to overcome fears, especially since my team will be going through these same fears this season.

And I've picked up a job. The same school I've coached at has offered me an aide job to 3 students who are at risk. I go back and forth about it. Professionally, it's a step backwards from teaching and pays less per day than subbing, but it does make me more invaluable to a great district, will allow me to build relationships with colleagues, is a steady pay check, will allow me to have a regular routine, and allows me to be there and working despite the meet schedule for track. In addition to that, I can be very helpful to these students, and that's what it's all about, right? I will start in 2 weeks.

And then there's the rug rats and hubby! Addie aced her "Kindergarten Assessment Evaluation" with flying colors! Or, because I have no idea what kind of questions it involved, and the general comments were, shall we say, VERY general, I am more or less assuming my child scored off the charts and should be classified as no less than a genius! Regardless, it says that she is ready to go. Emily is pretty much potty trained. She is ever so proud when she poops, and insists on showing us, and I am most impressed, usually because the kid can poop like an elephant! She has a few accidents now and then when she's playing hard or sleeping, but hasn't worn a diaper for a good 3 weeks! So nice! Jeremy is working on his special talent of carving Jesus. He got another commission from a church in Ames to do their processional. It looks awesome! He is truly gifted!

I think that's all I've been up to! Now maybe in future posts there will be less topics!