the toughest days of teaching

The toughest days of teaching
are not necessarily the days of
lessons gone wrong.
Sometimes they are just days
when things are out of your control.
Today I had to say goodbye
to one of my most favorite students.
The girl with a cheery smile,
and a love for school.
We have a pretty tight system
when it comes to attendance at our school.
Miss too many days,
and you’re put on an attendance contract.
Fail to meet it, and you’re out.
Makes clear sense to me.
I have no complaints.
How can you get an education if you’re never there?
And why must the teacher be accountable for
a student’s test scores when they are always absent?
But today,
it hurt my heart when it meant that this sweet girl
would no longer be my student.
It’s tough to be strong
when our 10 year old students
are playing Mommy at home
because her real Mommy
is too busy being a 20 something.
It’s tough to tell a child
that their childhood days are over.
They are now in charge,
even though Mom is supposed to be.
“You are in charge of you,” I said.
“You’re in control of your education.
Don’t let your mom ruin that for you.
Do whatever it takes to get to school.
This is not your fault.”
As I helped her packed her things in her backpack,
and tears rolled down her eyes,
I prayed to God that she’d remember this moment.
Remember how much school meant to her.
So that years down the line,
when things get harder,
she doesn’t quit on her future.
Because obviously her mother already has.
Today was a tough day in teaching.
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Ah-ha’s while running

I had the most amazing, 
mind-wandering
run today!

I think I love running the most
when it clears my mind
and I find myself with all of these new
revelations and “ah-ha’s!” about life.

Today was marked an easy day.
Easy days are harder than they seem.
I actually have to remind myself to
“Take it easy.”

So today, I soaked up everything I could
during my run.
Appreciated the squawking ducks.
Smiled at the cute little boys racing on their trikes.
Relished in the cool breeze,
and found myself grateful that the rain has subsided
for a few more hours.

And as I ran,
I was reminded that teaching
and running are quite similar.
There are days when teaching 
feels like a freakin’ marathon.
“Where’s the next mile marker?”
Which translates to:
“When’s the next school break?”

But then there are days,
like today.
Where I just soak it all in, 
and enjoy every last second of it.

Today was the first day back from Spring Break.
So, of course, the back-to-school
nightmares began on Friday night.
I had forgotten what days like today feel like.
So I dreaded coming back.
Drove my boyfriend nuts with my grumpiness.
Pouted all the way til’ bedtime Sunday night.

But then, today was here.
Ready or not.
And you know what?
It was pretty darn awesome.
The kind of awesome that I feel when
I see that mile marker that makes me feel,
“Really? Already? I’m flying!”
That brings the smile, and the sense of victory.

The kids were angels!
They must have gotten sick of staying home
with their boring parents.
(They must have actually missed me.
Though they’ll never admit it.)
They were excited!

You know how I could tell?

They arrived to school practically bursting
to show me their book project posters
for their Spring Break homework.
“Wanna see my poster?”
“Does this look okay?”
A few kids even knocked on my door early
just to ensure it made it to the classroom safely.
And I’ll have you know,
I never get early-morning visitors in my room.

Then,
in the middle of teaching the difference between 
an independent clause and a dependent clause
(BOOOOORRRRRING!)
one kid accidentally shouted “WAIT!”
because he was so excited to share his “ah-ha”
moment with us all.
And there it was:
the awesomeness.

Teaching is like running.
You feel like crap sometimes,
but mostly, you feel awesome!

Today, I’m feeling awesome.

And when I feel awesome,
I feel like running.

It’s a cycle.
But which came first?
The teaching, then the running?
The running, then the teaching?
I don’t really know.

All I know, is I feel awesome!

ms. grumpy

Whenever a break ends,
I always get grumpy.


I love my job.
I really, really do.
But I think when I take a quick little break,
I sometimes forget.
Who doesn’t love
shopping til’ you drop,
trying new recipes,
and spending time with those you love?

I’ve been spoiled!
Slept in.
 Watched March Madness.
Ran. And ran some more.
Baked biscotti.
Started Mockingjay.
Hid from the rain.

But back to school in a few days.
I’m grumpy.
But I’m sure those bubbly
5th graders will cheer me right up.

Shamrockin’ 2012


Well, I didn’t break the 
2 hour mark
today…

BUT!
I did break my PR
by 6 minutes!
AND!
I ran the ENTIRE race!
The whole thing!
(Other than through the aid stations
to get a quick sip of water without choking, haha.)

So my official chip time was
2 hours, 2 minutes.

Not too shabby!

And what’s great is,
I’m running another half in early May.
Ha, 2 minutes to reach my goal?
Piece of cake!

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The best part was
hanging with some of my favorite people before the race,
and seeing them cheer me on during and after.

Especially one boy in particular
who woke up at the break of dawn to be there,
Kiss me good luck,
cheer me on at mile 9,
and then head to work after it was all over.
What a keeper! 





so much to capture

So we made it!  We took the kids to the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco and it was a complete and utter success!


I remember the day I announced the surprise location of our field trip.  “We’re going to San Francisco,” I said.  A hush fell over my students and instant smiles appeared. 


lay in my bed last night wondering what this day would be like.  My mind raced in anticipation, half excited, half nervous!  Field trips are fun, but there are always hiccups.  I racked my brain hoping I didn’t forget anything, and praying it’d be a safe and stress-free trip.


And, my, it was!


The memories from this trip are priceless.  From one student shouting to me across the bus, “Miss Friedrich, this is AWESOME!” before we’d even gotten through Fairfield, to another pointing out cows on the hillside, this trip was simply magical.  


The moment I anticipated most was the travel across the Bay Bridge because I figured most of these kids had never seen the Golden Gate Bridge from afar.   Little did I know, on the way back, we’d actually get to travel across the bridge!  I got goosebumps as they pulled out their cameras to capture every last picture they could before we departed into the tunnel.  In addition, to the Golden Gate, they were mesmerized by Alcatraz, Treasure Island, and the cargo loading docks.  “Do they still have sharks surrounding Alcatraz?”  “Why do they call it Treasure Island?”


The day was spent “exploring” the Exploratorium.  The first half hour felt like a blur of jumping to one exhibit to the next, but as we got settled the kids started to really explore and enjoy the science behind each exhibit.  I cannot rightfully describe to you the kids faces and joy as they bounced around the museum.  Truly, this day was all kinds of “AWESOME” as my student had declared hours ago on the bus.

 (I wish I could put more photos!  Legally I can’t put close ups publicly.  Since these are far away or don’t show faces, I can post them.)



I was lucky to share this day with two other special people besides my 30 students.  My parents.  Since I my graduation from the credential program, my parents have made it clear that they wanted to be a part of any special trips with my class.  When they heard of this planned adventure, they generously donated to our trip AND volunteered to be chaperones!  I spent most of the day with their group of kiddos, and relished in watching my students share this day with them.  “Mrs. Friedrich, I know how this works!  I know how this works!”  As I reflected on the bus ride back, I was reminded of how lucky I was/am to have such great parents and how some of my students aren’t as lucky.  It gave me comfort that they were able to share this day with Mr. and Mrs. Friedrich, chaperones who willingly followed them from place to place and listened to every revelation with a kind and genuine smile.  My proudest moment from the day was when a girl on the bus to me said, “Ms. Friedrich, your dad is SMART!” after hearing him rattle off facts and dates about Alcatraz.


Again I sit here reminding myself how much I love teaching.  It’s days like these that trump all the 10 hour days, long hours grading, or even the grumpy parent here and there.  I am so lucky to share these impressionable years with my students and be there for all the “ah-ha moments” they are experiencing.  

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I never thought I’d be able to provide my students a field trip like today.  Thanks to the generosity of so many people, we were able to raise over $3,000 to make this day a reality.  I know, without a doubt in my mind, that this will be the highlight of the school year, and perhaps for some “The Best Field Trip Ever!”



thankful

I’ve always made friends easily,
ever since I was a little girl.
But these friends always came and went.
My mother always says,
“People come into our lives
for a reason,
a season,
or a lifetime.”
I’m not one of those people
who has friends from the third grade,
or friends I’ve known since high school.
In fact, I wouldn’t get caught dead
at my 10 year high school reunion
(which should be in 2012, by the way…).
However, I am reminded that the truest friends you’ll ever have
pick up right where you left off,
even when it’s been a few weeks,
months, or in some cases, years.
——–
Some friends and I got together for a happy hour tonight.
It’s been about a month or so since we’ve last seen one another.
But the conversation was full of laughter,
reminiscing, advice, and everything in between.
But it reminded me of the lesson I often preach to
my 5th graders:
Your true friends always find you.  They make time for you
and they never turn your back on you.  No matter how
long it’s been since your last converstation.
They always find a way to bring you up,
even when you feel at your lowest.
My dad always reminds me,
“Don’t hang out with mean people. 
Why would you want to waste this life of yours
on mean people?”
Tonight I am thankful for friends.