Day 12 – Uh oh!

It’s actually Day 13 right now… at 5:46 a.m. it hit me. I FORGOT TO SLICE!!

Yesterday was a crazy day! Students climbing the walls, IEP meeting, copier jammed. Then, at 2:40 I get a delivery of work-at-home packets to give to my students in case we close due to COVID-19. That sent the kids over the edge. “WOO HOO!!” Try to explain to third graders this is JUST IN CASE!!! “What does that mean?” Ugh. I had to explain to them they still needed to come to school today. It ought to be an interesting day… being Friday the 13th and all…

Day 13 Slice to come later…

Day 11 – Proud

On Wednesday evenings, I teach horseback riding lessons. I work all day, then go straight to the barn from school to teach my first lesson of the evening at 4:30. I’ve been doing this for — honestly, I’m not sure! I’m thinking close to ten years now. Horses have been my passion since I was a little girl. I’ve owned horses, competed, and still help my parents with the two horses they have at their house. I don’t have a horse anymore, so teaching riding is my way of getting “my fix”.

Six or eight weeks ago, one of my students, a girl of 14, fell off the horse she was riding. If you ride horses, this WILL happen. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I have fallen off. That doesn’t mean you’re a poor rider, it’s just something that can happen when you ride a 1,000+ pound animal with a flight instinct and a brain the size of your fist. When Ashley fell off, to me it seemed as though she didn’t fall too hard, and she did not hit her head (all riders wear a helmet). After making her stay sitting in the dirt for a bit to evaluate herself, I had her get back on the horse. She was more than willing, and she wasn’t hurt. Or so I thought.

As it turned out, Ashley had a concussion. Apparently, just the force and shock of the fall caused it. Four weeks – no riding – doctor’s orders. Week five arrives, and she cancels her lesson. She felt she needed one more week, even though she had been cleared by the doctor. The following week arrives, and she’s ready to ride. No jumping, though. No problem, and she did great.

Fast forward to tonight. It’s now been four weeks since Ashley’s been cleared, and she comes into the arena to check in with me before her lesson. “Am I going to jump today?” “I don’t know Ashley, are you going to jump today?” I ask. She gets a shy smile on her face and says, “I think so.”

Well, Ashley did jump today. The horse gave her a little trouble, but she rode through it, and helped the horse overcome the issue. Afterward, I asked her how it felt to jump again. She got a huge smile on her face. “Really good!” she said. “Were you nervous?” I questioned. She stated she was a little nervous to jump at first – that was how she fell – the horse shied away from a jump and dumped her over the side. I don’t blame her one bit for being nervous. In the end though, she said she had felt good. I’m so proud of her for working through the nervousness and “getting back on the horse”.

Day 10 – Haiku

Okay, don’t hate, but I really am tired of all the Corona stuff. Actually, I’m more tired of all these news reports about people going crazy buying up all the TP and hand sanitizer! Seriously people, take a breath, wash your hands, and move on! What are you going to do with all that hand sanitizer when this blows over in a couple weeks? I know… donate it to my classroom. Then I don’t have to spend my money on it next flu season.

Corona virus

Everyone is panicking

Don’t believe the hype.

Day 9 – 123!

Late last week I was scrolling my favorite third grade Facebook page when I happened upon a post that intrigued me. A teacher had posted a picture of one of those lap counter things with the number 375 on it. Apparently, she had kept track of student disruptions all day, and there were 375 times her teaching had been interrupted. Yikes! My group this year is… challenging. I thought this would be an interesting experiment, so I fired up Amazon Prime, and had my own handy-dandy disruption counter in about 20 hours!

I decided to start after our math block – around 9:30. First disruption: student K. shouts out (while I’m trying to start social studies), “Mrs. Van Horn, should I go now?” K. wanted to know if it was time for him to leave for his intervention. Never mind that it’s MARCH, and he’s been going at the SAME TIME since September! Ugh. Anyway, CLICK #1. Social Studies wasn’t too bad, maybe 5 or 6 true interruptions. After social studies, the class went to specials, then returned for the last 30 minutes before recess – phonics. Oh boy! By the end of phonics, I had over 40 interruptions. Truth be told, a good majority of those interruptions were from my little friend K. He has been a challenge all year.

Toward the end of the day, I asked the kids if they had noticed me doing anything different today. They did notice me clicking, but they didn’t know what it was for. “Do you click that when you are stressed?” one girl asked. “No, but I get stressed the more I click it!” I then showed them the numbers. “Are you counting when people are talking?” “Are you counting when people shout out?” I then explained to them I was keeping track of how many times my teaching is interrupted. “Oh.” Most of them got really quiet. Some didn’t think our number was too bad, others thought our end of day number of 123 was way too high.

What will prove to be interesting is tomorrow. Today I had five students absent. Four of those students tend to be interrupters. I wonder how my data will change. I do plan to keep track of the end of day numbers, along with other data such as absent students and maybe phase of the moon??!!

The best part of the day though, was after school, when one of my students came back into the room and commented that she couldn’t believe there had been 123 interruptions. “That’s not so good.” she stated. “We have to try to get less tomorrow.” Great idea, my friend!

Day 8 – Sunday blues

It is inevitable… around 3 or 4:00 I start to get crabby. I think just about any teacher knows why… the weekend is winding down, it’s time to get those papers graded, lesson plans finished, etc., etc. Tomorrow is Monday. Back to work.

I am trying not to be crabby. The sun is still out, and it’s after 6 p.m.! That makes me happy. The front door is open, trying to get some fresh air into the house. More happiness.

I can’t really complain about the weekend, though. It was fun… Shopping with friends on Saturday… Brady Bunch Trivia Saturday night… and today my son performed with his jazz band before the Chicago Wolves game at the Allstate Arena. They did an awesome job!

Sunday evenings are still a bit of a buzz-kill, but I am grateful for the fun we had. 🙂

Day 7 – Warning signs…

It started Wednesday morning. The stuffy nose – just one side, though. Then, later in the afternoon, a sore throat. No, no, no, NO! This canNOT happen! I can’t be getting sick. I had a sinus infection last month. Got the antibiotics, didn’t feel too awful, didn’t need to take any sick days. Then the flu started in my building. I successfully avoided that, thankfully. I have been taking lots of vitamin D and C. Drinking lots of water. Washing my hands, using hand sanitizer. Not sure how much drier my skin can get!

My students have been pretty healthy overall. I have also drilled into them the importance of covering coughs and elbow sneezes. Unfortunately though, the adorable baby that sneezed in my face last weekend hadn’t had the pleasure of my tutelage. Yep. We were at a friend’s house on Sunday, I was holding the eight-month old. The snotty nose should have had me on guard, but I wasn’t quick enough. Ahhh-choo! Right in my face. Needless to say, when I went home I gobbled up Airborne, vitamin C, vitamin D & lots of water.

So… today is Saturday. I still have a sore throat, still a little stuffy, but hoping for the best. Stay healthy, my friends!

Day 6 – Little Things

Friday, finally! It’s been a bit of a rough week. I had to take a half day yesterday to take my son to the orthodontist, and let’s just say my class was less than stellar for the sub. My teaching partner sent me her note, along with a note from two female students complaining about a boy who sits near them.


I was NOT in a great mood this morning. Feeling a bit under the weather + tired + frustrated. Knew I was writing behavior referrals for at least four students, trying to contact the parent of a particularly difficult student has been virtually impossible, plus I was meeting with the principal after school about that very same difficult student.

BUT — As I walked into the building, on my way to drop off my lunch in the fridge, a colleague asked me (in that knowing, sympathetic voice), “How are you doing Mrs. Van Horn?” “Not great,” I had to admit. She then proceeded to tell me that on Election Day, when lunch has to be in the classrooms, SHE would be supervising my class, so I could get out of the room and have a quiet lunch. I practically cried! Thank you, M.! You have no idea how much that made my day!

THEN — barely a minute later, another colleague walks by and says, “Oh good, there you are. Here.” She then handed me a can of Bubbl’r water. Oh my goodness! The happiness! Two simple acts of kindness – much needed today. Here’s to the little things that make such a big difference!

Day 5 – Don’t ask that question!

“What’s for dinner?” Ugh. My least favorite question. Reminds me of a meme I saw recently. “Who knew that the hardest part of being an adult is figuring out what’s for dinner every night for the rest of your life until you die.” Yep. It really shouldn’t be so difficult, but somehow, it is. We don’t even have any dietary restrictions in my little family. No vegans, no food allergies, no seriously picky eaters. Just a husband who likes meat & potatoes, a teenager who will eat just about anything, and myself – mostly gluten free by choice. Should be easy-peasy. Every Sunday morning however, before anyone else wakes up, I make a cup of tea and sit down with the calendar to plan the week’s meals. Basically, this involves checking the sales on my favorite stores’ websites, cross-referencing with what’s in our freezer, and then staring blankly at the computer and the calendar. Then I get frustrated because it’s taking me too long to figure it all out, and I usually end up planning meals from my rotation of maybe two dozen tried and true recipes.

I don’t mind trying new recipes. They have to be fairly quick, though. I like the “30 minutes or less” types of recipes because usually, by the time I get home from school, I am tired. The last thing I want to do is stand in the kitchen for another hour making dinner. So… who’s got some good, kid and husband approved, easy, not-too-time-consuming recipes for me?! Bring ’em on!

Day 4 – Good Advice

Walking through the hall after school today, I saw a colleague from a different building. She used to teach in my building, but is now in a different position elsewhere in the district. We stopped to chat for a bit, and I mentioned how I haven’t seen her on Slice of Life this year. T. initially sort of talked me into joining last year, and I enjoyed reading through her posts from previous years. When I asked her about SOL this year, T. said she was just too busy with other projects.

We continued to talk, me mentioning that I am worried that my posts on SOL will become negative because I have a tough class this year. I said I didn’t want to turn this into a place to vent. Obviously, I have other things going on in my life – family, friends, horses, etc., but lately I have been all consumed with my students and their poor behavior. I have been changing seating arrangements, contacting parents, talking with students, talking with the social worker, the principal, last year’s teachers… the list goes on and on.

Then T. said to me, “When things get rough, look for the lessons to be learned that day. Look for a silver lining. Make your posts about the good that came or can come from the day’s difficulties.” “Wow,” I thought to myself. What a great way to spin the bad into good. So T., I am going to do my best to take your advice, and look for the silver lining each day. I am going to find at least one good thing to take away from the events of the day. Thank you.

Day 3 – Reflecting

Tuesday – Saxophone lesson day. My son, not me. I have come to relish this quiet time in my car. My son takes private saxophone lessons, which are held at the instructor’s home, and I get 30 minutes of quiet time. So often, I plan to grade papers, or catch up on emails, but usually end up scrolling social media.

Today though, besides writing this slice, I am reflecting. I am wondering how today could have gone better for me and my third graders. It has been a difficult year. I have two especially difficult students among my 23, and now others, who before were “fine”, are joining in the chaos that seems to be the norm now. Even my “good kids” weren’t so good today.

When hubby asked how my day was today, I replied, “It wasn’t horrible,” I say. “Well, that’s good, right?” he questioned. I am sure he is hesitant to ask each day how things went, but he still does. More often than not, I break down in tears when he asks. I really try to leave it all behind by the time I walk in the door at home, but it’s not so easy.

So today… I sit in the car and reflect. My raised voice echoing through my own head, flashes of the “good kids'” sad (disappointed? frustrated?) faces. This hurts my heart.