education, family, retirement

80 Points!

In a teachers life this is a happy dance. I have choices. Kinda. I am not quite ready for retirement but yet I am. The freedom sounds enticing but I still want to teach. I doubt this will leave my soul. So, here we go again, options for a life after I am starting to pursue. My online Outschool acceptance/classroom is up to date but I no ideas for a class as of yet. None. Next up, interviewing for online tutoring to hopefully start this summer and keep it going throughout my final decision to stay or go. Hoping my three followers will guide me with possible class ideas that will entice kids into extra classes outside of the school day. If you have kids, know them etc. etc. Please share what type of classes that woukd interest you and yours. Below is my Outschool dashboard. Please send me your ideas.

Thanks in advance!

https://outschool.com/parents/97d6cb8e-35f2-4cc2-a888-32db5b15410e?signup=true&utm_campaign=share_parent_link

education, fitness, goals

In Training…

Yes, it begins. In education we call this time-period eternal damnation. It is a combination of the daily springbreak shuffle and the beginning of testing readiness for the state tests which grant us our precious 301 monies. As an aside, this never should have been the teachers carrot to success =money. It begets deranged teachers and students who have figured out (long, long ago) that they can pass to the next scholastic year even not on their best days. Even with failure. We cannot control their mindset on that day. I have created cheers, given out gum and mints (now banned), stretch yoga breaks. Prep talks, adnauseum and hyping the importance of the test. It is my only scripted moment of the year. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Other infamous Livingston end of testing activities are bubble parties, classroom bracelets with positive mindsets (doing this one, this year). But even with the review preparation that I begin this week. I cannot begin to guess the outcome. So, my money, hangs in balance and I NEED the funds. To end my aside. Let’s think and use these monies correctly, for the teachers, end the hoops as I can guarantee I am jumping. Enough of that.

To describe an average day, to anyone who is not in the trenches, from the Superbowl onward, is possible. However, no one believes me. Even my husband says I embellish. Nope. All real. Twenty-three years of stories locked up in my head. I have thousands of them which do not make for cocktail party dribble, unless you find another teacher, and frankly by the weekend we don’t do outside parties. We are in hiding. My stories range from the sweet to the disturbing. Currently, my kids are in the disturbing stage. This will pass. I hope.

Prior to the Superbowl, I had weekend outings and a life outside of my classroom. It was a focus. I was succeeding. But no more. I am tired, mentally exhausted, drained, and waiting for my life to resume the last week of May. This week did me in. So, this weekend while in my state of lucid hibernation I made a pact with myself. Instead of the wait and hide weekend system I have been using, I am going to go into intensive training for the final semester of school. Which in my mind compares to any long distance sport. Here we go!

*Note* obviously not based in science but then neither has the last few years. Take ideas, use, modify, but most importantly get ready for Spring in the way that it suits you. For example my goal is one evening out a week. That’s it. However, you may be introducing much more into your life outside of school. Bravo. Here are my tips to simplifying life and building the strength I will need to not dive into my currently weekly hibernation. Here we go:

1. Unless you love cooking don’t meal prep. Frozen dinners were created for teachers. Use them.

2. Stock your room with flavored water, soda etc as if you are a camel. Instead of schelping. Order and deliver to your school. Simplicity is everything as we near the end.

3. Order everything. It saves you approximately four hours a week. There is no reason to go into a grocery store. Ever. My extra four hours saved will be used to hang out with the hubs who is often left out my long work hours during the week and on the weekend.

4. Go to Mexico and stock up on ZPacks. Truly. Take vitamins daily and drink Emergency powder every single day.

5. I cook simply and from a frozen state. I do air fried shrimp, chicken, fish, and simple low calorie Chinese mixes and thus always have lunch remaining, if frozen is just too chilly. Take away. Cook, keep it clean and make healthy choices but don’t stress yourself out. Keep. It. Simple.

6. Log your foods and steps. I use My FitnessPal and it keeps me away from my recent over indulging through the holidays and an injury.

7. If like me and you have a few Covid-19 pounds. Work to get eating healthy and find your daily movement pl. Every Damn Day. I am now a morning spinner staring down the barrel of 200 rides. Another post.

8. Leave before 4pm.

9. Leave school at school. I still take school home on the weekend but not M-F.

10. Laugh. Enjoy. Love your kids. Your renewed bounce in your step from carving out your additional time, eating healthier, and moving might just cause you to retire after your official date. Or not. No judgment.

education

Take Out Your Phones…

The phrase take out your phones, in a classroom, is akin to waving a checkered flag while screaming “Start your engines.” The result is madness. But I did it. Three times. On purpose. Yup. Chaos. Such an overwhelming sensory day sends me home speechless. I can talk but I shut down to restart my own engine for the days ahead. If you met me I would strike you as a gal who is overly social, commands a room at a party, not the one that gives off vibes of a societal mute. Nope. But yesterday, they took my voice.

The phone is a tool for homework. Mention homework to any 6th grader. Read their faces. Then add phones to the sentence. It changes. Dramatically. Now, it is a doable project not a chore as homework as become archaic. Truth. My goal is to have them monitor their screentime. They will use this personal research along with how screentime makes them feel in an argument essay. This is probably, the best assignment I have ever given. So far, 100% of the students are completing the assignment and truly thinking about their use of screens. Their screen numbers are boggling my mind but it is 2022. We are all a bit attached in both positive and negative ways. Yes, I am doing the homework with them. Our categories are school screentime, entertainment, TV and games.

Every morning we decipher our numbers, how we felt, and what else we did after-school outside of screens. One student read a book. Truth, and his admittance caused sweet, honest questions of curiosity. Now, books have never gone away, but technology has replaced our literary heros. The library is foreign and the screen is accessible to all financial categories and lures our students down deep dark holes of gaming or social medial scrolling for the most part. I do have one kiddo that creates 3-D printing items during the week. Now, that is just cool and a great use of technology. But that is rare. Sadly.

For the last two days and throughout next week, we will share our screentimes. Our focus is what do you do besides screentime? Secondly, how many screens are going on at once? Finally, how does all that time on a screen make you feel? I am relieved to report that outside play still exists. Chores exist, family time still exists. But screentime is a predominant focus. Oh, multiple screens are open pretty much 24-7. Truth.

Beyond the initial joy of phones for a few moments that fateful day and the madness. We are all seeing screens a bit differently. I am understanding their world, and they are realizing what they are possibly missing out on in life. Hiding behind a screen does take away from humanity and growth outside of following their favorite social media influencers. Some, get pure enjoyment from screens, games etc. and this will never change. Others, however, are seeing that life is not one big Tik tok. A few are looking into online books. Unbelievable. Kids teaching kids where books exist with their beloved devices. All of this conversation is a real life moment with my darlings which allows me to build trust and gain buy-in to the essay beginning tomorrow. They have a voice on this topic and it will shine. As for my voice. It is back. Stronger than ever.

education

Turning Off

It is fall break. Some teachers travel to a variety of local or even exotic locations. I applaud them. My trip would be filled with constant lists going through my head. Passing the Versailles would be a blur and a waste. Ok. France is a stretch, on a teachers dime, but our 35th is around the corner and I am preparing a major bash. Obviously, in Paris plus more. But NOT over fall break. Nope. It’s just not me. Nope.

I am the ultimate of dull. I sleep, workout, wear nothing more than workout clothes or jeans. The old ones. Yup. Dull. I clean, cook. Kinda sorta on the latter. Take out fall clothes and say goodbye to summer ones. I grade, create lessons, and organize my weeks ahead. I nap. But it is my rest my way. I remind myself how much I like to putter. I like to clean, organize, and keep a home. I do. My biggest achievement over these few days has been the creating of the best baked potato that has come out of my kitchen. It was a moment. Yup. Dull. But am I? Nope. Not. At. All.

I take this time to reset as so much of my day is “on.” This is my “off” time to get me through until December.

education

Slightly Burnt But Not Charred

I am happy here…

It is that time of the year that teachers complain, complain, and complain. I don’t get it. The job comes with a massive description, and if you have ever met a teacher, you know that you are signing up for a mental challenge that can break most average humans. This only gets worse every year due to societal demands, social media challenges, pronouns, and the loss of basic childhood play. Let your kids play. Please. Let them be bored. Please. Social media. MONITOR. I am sure a course in spying is appropriate. Need help. I am the best. Ask my kid. In spite of all the daily craziness and absolute fabulousness, why do teachers complain? Not sure. To all of you in the greatest profession in the world. Let’s Stop. No professional needs to hear negative feelings or see tears over bus duty. Nope. Say it, get rid of it, and think of all the great of the day. Please. If I hear one more complaint over pay…please…fall break, Thanksgiving, Christmas break, spring break and of course the summer months. Stop. If you want a larger check, leave the profession. We will all be happier. If you are counting days until retirement. Take early retirement. If you cry daily. Get a shrink. Seriously. Go find your happy. I am in mine but the negativity is making me slightly burned.

My other focus is on me. Yup at 58 gotta keep it going. Working out, eating right, and trying to laugh a bit more with the hubs and play, truly play, with my little nugget of a grandchild. Doing life through his eyes is my world because it was his daddy who taught me that little people would be my lifelong calling not just as a parent but as a teacher. Finally, happiness in the classroom comes from our life. While my pieces are pretty good there is one piece I want altered. My kid. ❣ it seems as if I have forgotten he is an adult. No one should be shocked. I need to get know the adult a bit better because he is amazing and that missing piece will take me from burned to a happy golden fluff ball! Or something like that. But right now I will settle for a pumpkin farm, polar express, and Santa workshop attendee. We will find our stride.

Before, I become charred from all the outside negative feelings and emotions coming from all sides, I have sent a daily intention to focus on the positive. What went right? What kid did I reach? What growth was achieved? Or how can I change my lesson to reach more? What made me laugh. The good stuff. I do not allow negativity to get me down. Now, that does not mean it has not entered this year. It has. Because of me. But after a couple weeks of extensive planning. I am good. Change of ways is good for all. Going from direct teaching to group centered is uncomfortable for a middle school teacher, far from perfect, but the seen daily growth is what keeps me on this path, which while rocky, due to a number of daily realities. Is a growing community of learners that are seeing their own growth, high-fiving me, and competing as to who comes to my table first! They want more learning and thus are working harder in all areas of the classroom to make our station rotations work. Which fills my heart and my world.

So, if you need your bucket filled. Count on yourself. Not others and remember why you do this adventure. It is for the kids and keep the door closed to negativity.

education

How to Say Goodbye…

How do you say goodbye to students you have never met? This year was virtual. My students are bubbles of all different colors and images. Just bubbles. Some, greeted me daily, others were hit and miss due to all different types of reasons. Now, don’t get me wrong I could recite a poem, grab some quotes, and call it a day. But that is cheesy. I am not, and truth be told, while my bubbles hated to share their faces for that next level interaction, we connected. I fought for those that struggled, texted and called parents daily, and begged for students to not give up when their lives were crashing around them. I am that teacher who cheers students on throughout their lives, and feels privileged to take home much more than a salary. I have memories for a lifetime and beyond. While never meeting my students I feel a connection that might be deeper than other years. We fought a pandemic together. Pretty strong. So this group deserves not only my gratitude but a few memories that made our year a bit brighter.

So 8th Grade class of 2021…Thank you for:

1. Laughing with me when for the 9,000th time I made a technology error, lost the meeting, forgot to record, re-record, figure out Kami and of course how much you hated Kami.

2. Going on a virtual field-trip with initial hesitancy and some sadness. We made it to the Capitol, with alot of help. All of your questions and grace made me proud.

3. All of your daily sweet greetings and 👋

4. Seeing your faces, once in awhile.

5. Your honest feelings about the pandemic, online life, and your hopes, fears, and dreams made my days in my bubble special.

6. Your constant questions and desire to be your best in a virtual surrounding which was challenging each and everyday.

7. Watching your excitement when the highschool counselors came to present and all the questions afterwards, along with the excitement of leaving the computer behind and celebrating school as we once knew it!

8. Your fear of failure and how all of you pulled yourself up out of virtual boredom to cross the finish line.

9. Having to tell you that promotion was virtual and how your sadness and excitement poured through the messages. Both feelings valid but filled with compassion for others.

10. Finally, thank you for being part of our countries future. Work hard, follow your dreams, spend your money wisely, and vote using research and your smarts to make our country a better place, travel, laugh, sing, and reach for the stars. You are our future! Congratulations!

Mrs. Livingston

Maybe this is their goodbye!

2020, education, life

Next year is 21…

Next year I will begin my 21st year of teaching. This year was hell. We can all agree. But what was worse than teaching to my little lost bubbles, was the digging deep to not emotionally lose them, and crying during the times I truly almost did. I found myself lost in my own shell as a teacher to the mysterious virtual world I lived inside. My normal soft hearted ways turned tough. With every new build of a virtual modules with countless varieties of materials needed to reach my peeps, another wall went up. The creative work allowed me to hide from our year long reality. I just kept busy. Each wall I built protected me from the kids truly difficult lives, and my own occasional pity party. Losing a year of human connection especially for a teacher is odd at best. It was hit and miss in the beginning but now I cannot remember what it is like inside the not so virtual walls of education. To me that is scary.

As I stated my chosen virtual world was sketchy at first but now part of me absolutely loves this new gaming world due to the creative methods of teaching, and let’s just say after twenty years I have done it all, literally. So this keeps my spark going. But that teacher part, the heart part, aches. That is something I cannot get back. However, since I am a positive gal I found a huge silver lining. My knowledge of technology went from a solid low single digits to triple digits on an average day. I began with just the basics of social media platform knowledge and texting with one thumb, which still plagues my cell saviness, but I am quick, know the lingo, and can challenge you on any tech platform to date. Ok. Not worth a year away from humans but the skills are priceless for my students and ultimate bragging rights for this old gal.

This post began with our recent “celebration” of the anniversary of hiding away from a virus that attacked the life we once knew. So much has changed. As a teacher at this time of year we start planning for next year. However, I do not know my next years direction. So the planning will have to wait. I am unsure of my school and grade level and at spring break this is frustrating but understandable. Districts around our state and the United States are still figuring out where our kids have been, as many have floated in and out of the public system long enough to be part of school, but educationally lost and without an actual daily home of learning. This did make me cry at night, in the beginning, but with the fortress I have built during this travesty, the tears have stopped. I am not proud of pushing away my feelings, but I had no choice. My long game was to survive the reality and damage education went through this year.

Next year, wherever I land, I will ring in 21 with joy and hopefully a softer heart. The outings will increase, the smiles will come back, and life will begin to make sense again. As for this year. I believe kids and teachers will eventually be ok. We all need a long summer of hugs and tons of fearless outings to welcome back a life after Covid-19. I will not forget this year, but perhaps, I will take more away from it aside from being ultra tech savvy. Just perhaps, I will enjoy life more sweetly than before and that will bring my hardened heart back to life.

echelon, education, fitness, goals, Peloton

50!

50 is a badge of honor in the Peloton world. I earned it. After my ride I danced…part tik tok and all embarrassing…no one was home. I inserted the word beast all day in every possible and impossible use just to tie me back to my tabata ride with Robin. The feeling I held with me that day and since this accomplishment is ecstatic as a beginner in the Peloton family. This is just one step one of many that I want not for the spin but the feeling afterwards. All these years I thought I would fall in love with a fitness routine. No. It is the moments after, that you fall in love with, that keeps you coming back. Ok the music and trainers are awesome, but it is the after.

My rides are saving my sanity. In a course of one week…deaths hit too close to home and my age, I became another pin cushion for Pfizer as I turned in my golden ticket for THE second shot, and muddled through the slight after feelings as the vaccine does it stuff. This was enough during an already over covidized lifestyle along with my yearly “I hate testing” mode that came kicking and screaming a few weeks weeks early. To add insult to injury my being raked over the coals for my ideals that state testing is the answer to everything or anything. It is my my opinion, but it was canceled quickly.

As a teacher, such speak is foreign to the trained union ears, but I have never have liked testing. Never. Ever. It brings out the worst in all teachers as they try to race to the top of the heap only to be publicly shamed if that years group does not measure excellence. FYI not every year brings testing success for a variety of reasons. It’s true. I have had great scores in my life, blue ribbon years in fact. How, I just teach. Thats all. You can’t push a score, child, or base your entire career around a number, but some do. I just teach and during testing I create cheers, dances, chants, and allow kids to breathe, chew gum, eat jolly ranchers galore as I just monitor and cheer.

As part of the canceled teacher culture. I am keeping to myself, teaching to my kids, smiling, and riding with numerical purpose. The new age of teacher (or those fixated on the score) has never understood me. We can’t all teach the same, test the same, be the same, and turn pages of text at the same time. However, we should all teach to the same standards at the same time with our materials of choice and share our knowledge and curriculum creation talents to bring the best to kids. If you love Common Core that’s cool, but in my opinion it has killed the overall creative spark of the teacher. Just my opinion. I love different. I create new lessons every year. I have never used the same plan twice. Ok, just one…but it’s really good. I will never change. Never. Truth be told I actually love a good test that shows a childs real growth or non-growth with the added caveat that the test must matter not for a pie in the sky score but true advancement. Give me any test that is meaningful to the tester and I am all over it as the purpose has changed. No longer is it a number it is a number for the child not the teacher. Big difference. We need a great test like Cambridge, ACT SAT, Stanford 9 that is used for student advancement. Not our current battle of the scores for only the teachers, districts, and states etc.

So how does my Peloton 50 celebration equate with my recent frustration surrounding my yearly testing woes. It is the difference between wanting the number and riding with no purpose. I worked for the number, I made the number happen. Our kids, especially our little humans don’t care about the number they just want the stress to go away. That feeling they have in their tummies and heads when some of our great teachers go overboard and our kids don’t see a connection to the test and life. Give it connection and we will see real scores that match to capabilities from our kids. But for now we are just ringmasters trying to squeeze out effort that many kids see no overall reason to give or just keep spinning with to please a system. Real meaning to testing will allow us to truly see the light of day. We would have invested kids, teachers teaching with true meaning, and correlation to the score and success which would have a higher impact on true data.

That’s all I want. That and my next Pelotin goal 100 by 4/19. Is it really too much to ask?

education, life

NCLB Dribble

NCLB is the worst policy that still stands. Find the data, test the child, re-test the child, find the data. Rinse, repeat but don’t leave them behind. Ever. While I do not have data to prove that NCLB has failed. I have observations. It has upped my stress levels, given no rocket scientist data points, or increased my value as teacher. The societal view of my profession has dropped, many our leaving, and our kids data is not stellar as compared to other countries, states, zip codes etc. I am a tester approximately 25% of the year and a data digger on my spare time. NCLB has done nothing for the state of public education and everything for the state of charter or private education. They test, yes they do. But for purpose not whimsy.

My educational fantasy is copying the English system. It’s ok to give them credit for a system that works (we won the war) and of course modify it so it is less class oriented. We should have exams, we should have top curriculum, we should have standards that truly point kids to university. But we don’t. Most of the world uses the Cambridge Curriculum and leveled exams that are administratered after all instruction has ended. Again, a fantasy. A few schools/districts are dabbling with Cambridge a system and curriculum with varied reading materials that don’t all come from a text. Real reading out of books. The idea. And their history comes from actual documents think Gilder Lehrman, not our washed out textbooks, which we continue to refurbish at great cost. Give me books and documents and I can create anything. But I am an antique. The new teachers unless they feel education in their bones do not have this gift. So give them a real curriculum to follow…Cambridge. If Arizona was brave and we spent the money once for this amazing stuff we would turn out kids ready for 100 level university classes instead of turning our 000 level students.

You get my idea. Less constant testing and a superior curriculum would have increased our overall numbers in our public schools. Instead, many districts will be closing buildings due to our parents fatigue with a system that is broken. All of this hurts my heart. I am an Arizona public school kid, a public school teacher and all I want is better. My question is how much longer are we going to wait?

education

All My Circles…

My traditional art wall lives via links and padlet…

Daily, I greet my sweet circles, AKA my “shy” virtual 8th grade Social Studies students. My love for them is overwhelming and my reason to get up and go down my hall, into my den, begin my classes, create new curriculum, record video and audio, track down missing students, daily grading and more. The work is the same as in person, but different, difficult, demanding, challenging, fascinating, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. My emotions fluctuate daily and the shortened commute (2 minutes flat) plus my absence from the stress that surrounds our ever bouncing educational system is a huge plus for my health and sanity. As the days pass I still long for small humans. Or do I? Are my growing feelings and pride over my little circles natural or unnatural. Whatever it is, it is virtual education, and I am at the helm. Now, I chose this life for my own personal health reasons, that was my decision for me, not for all in the education world, and not for all kids. My current circles are not going back to traditional. Their zipcode is at risk and many of their homeschools are still closed. These are my 8th graders, my future promoters, and they push me to make this year the best that it can be in this wild educational video game. Where kids are still kids and teachers are the daily video game. While not as popular as COD (Call of Duty) but a definite bitmoji style of fabulous.

I kept multiplying…
Some of my peeps…

As the days turn into weeks and the weeks into our second quarter my world is beginning to feel natural. Oddly so, to the point of my thinking that I might not ever enter the traditional environment again and finish out bitmoji style.

At the time of this blog. I can be whisked back into real-world teaching tomorrow or never. I do not know. None of us know. Some of my sweet circles are cracking at the edges and some are crazy confident in their new world. But when a teacher switch happens they all crack…I see it. They tell me. We work through it with words that I find, sometimes out of thin air, to patch the hurt. Most of the time I patch up pretty well and when it is too big, I call for backup fast. My sweet circles have a hold on me and at the end of the day, I am grateful for them as they make me be the best teacher I can be, no matter the environment.