Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Letter to My Students

The last day of school is a bittersweet day. I finished my second year of teaching fourth grade today. And while I'm ready for the rest and the adventure that the "off season" brings, there is something about hearing that final bell ring that makes me sad. I was blessed with a wonderful, sweet class this year. I liked being "Mrs. Burns" for them. I liked when they accidentally (and sometimes on purpose) called be "Mom". I liked their hugs, their sweet notes, and every time they said "I'll miss you". I am looking forward to getting a new crop of kiddos in August, but today I wanted to share with you the words I had to write to my second class.

As I began planning their end-of-year presents, I searched Pinterest and TPT for a cute goodbye poem to attach to them. And though the notes I found were cute, they didn't feel right. There was more that I needed to say before June 4th. So this is what I wrote. Not to brag on me in any way (that would be a short conversation), but to brag on a rag-tag group of 9,10, and 11 year-olds that captured my heart this year- through the good days and the bad.  

Dear Friend,
  We’ve had a great  year together! It makes me sad that it is time to say goodbye for the summer. Before you go, I want to tell you a few things.
  First, I hope you know how smart you are. Every single one of you. And I don’t mean you got good grades or made the honor roll. I mean that you are smart and capable in your very own way. You are uniquely you - the best thing you can be!
  Second, I had a wonderful time with you. You are funny and sweet and you make my bad days better. I hope you know that I have never been mad at you. I have never disliked you. I have only ever loved you. And when you love someone, you do your best to teach them and make them better. You were awesome when you came to me in August, but I hope that you will leave me smarter, stronger, kinder, and more polite.
  Finally, please know that I am always here for you. Always, always. I hope that next year, as a fancy fifth grader, you will come back and give me a hug and tell me how you are doing. Because I will never forget you. A mother never forgets her “kids”, and that is what you have been to me this year.
  Thank you for the laughs, the smiles, the hugs, the tears. Thank you for putting up with me, while I put up with you. Each and every one of you made me a better teacher.
  Have a wonderful summer break! Read lots of books, and then come back and tell me all about them.
  Your Teacher,
      Mrs. B


Have a wonderful summer break, teacher friends. Your break is well-deserved!

Monday, March 23, 2015

24 On My 24th

Yet another blog post not about teaching. They're coming- I promise.
Twenty four things that I am grateful for as another year of life begins.

1. Good health. God has brought me out of a dark place. Life is much different and I am so thankful.

2. Family. I am so blessed to live close to much of my family, and that makes me so happy. I am an hour away from seeing Cinderella with my Mom and sisters, and neighbors with my second Mom and Dad. 

3. My dog. You don’t understand that I own the cutest dog ever. In the world. And I love coming home to his goofy, tail-wagging, slobbery self every day. He makes me smile when I feel so far from happy.

4. God’s word and His promises. Where my words fail, His do not. Though I am full of doubt, sadness, and fear, his mercies are new every morning. May His words replace my own.

5. My job. Though it can be SO stressful, I know it’s only because I care about it so much. I am thankful for principals that back me up, coworkers that help me out, and kids that adore me even on my worst days. They make it all possible.

6. My kids. They have a part of my heart, even though they drive me crazy sometimes. But when I drive around town- it is their faces I look for on sidewalks, bikes, or roads. I scan newspapers and websites for their names or their families. I spend my money on them and things for them all the time. I leave work and talk about them- the funny things they said, problems I am trying to solve with them, great things that they did. I worry and I pray and I would give my life for any of them, good day or bad day.

7. Arkansas. I live in a beautiful state, surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers. Though I don’t like the bugs, I have a great view so much of the time.

8. Creativity. Though I am not as great as some, God has given me a sprinkling of this. It makes me good at my job. It fills bored moments with projects and ideas. 

9. My church. It has been several years since I have truly had a church family to call home. During that time, things happened that made us both untrusting and burnt out. So I am thankful to now belong to a church family that is different from any other I have encountered, in a good way. And I like that they let me hold babies, arrange large stacks of wood, and throw 80’s parties sometimes.

10. Books. I am thankful for a love of reading that has never faded. I am thankful that I get to spend my days buying and reading books for my kids, and for myself. And I am thankful for another world to slip into when mine just seems too crazy.

11. Jellybeans. Because that’s what I’m eating right now.

12. Instagram. This year I was able to start an Instagram account specifically about teaching. Over 700 followers later, I am grateful to be a part of a growing community of teachers online that share ideas, products, and encouragement with one another. What a joy it is to have access to all these other people that “get” it.

13. And on that note, Teachers Pay Teachers. Though I don’t make millions (I wish, right?), I love sharing the things I make for my classroom and helping other teachers out. And that little payout I get once in a while helps fund my purse/shoe addiction. 

14. Weekends and holidays. Because I need them and the sleep they give me.

15. Change. Even though it’s scary and annoying sometimes, I like a good adventure. God keeps us on our toes.

16. Pinterest. From last minute dinner ideas to parties and school projects, it’s a lifesaver. It’s my favorite mix of dreams and reality. 

17. Words. God’s words. Other peoples’ words. Sometimes mine. That God would give us brains to arrange words into beautiful songs and sentences is beyond amazing to me. 

18. Pictures. Because sometimes it’s good to look back.

19. Friends. There was a time in my life where I couldn’t really say that I had any close ones. So I am so grateful that has changed. I am thankful for friends that are family and have to put up with you. For friends that let you cry and complain and don’t make you feel bad about it. For friends that let you do crazy projects and let you be bossy and go out to eat with you. For friends that help you find a house. For friends that rant with you about work. For friends that generally like you, crazy hair, crazy life, hot mess self and all.

20. Food. Need I say more?

21. Road trips. Long drives piled in the car. Making up stupid new lyrics for Taylor Swift songs. Listening to podcasts. Complaining about the big fat dog baby in my lap. Keeping each other awake. Driving through darkness feeling like the only people in the world.

22. Music. My constant background noise. My escape. My long shower-taking companion. My get-pumped-up-for-work songs. My point me back to Jesus times of worship. 

23. Josh Samuel. Husband, friend, bossy-pants, forever love. Who buys me flowers and books. Who tells me to hurry up when I’m running late (all the time). Who takes me to church and Target and to see my family. Who lets me hold babies and talk about ten year olds all the time. Who buys me Disney movies and records HGTV for me. Who lets me sleep in and stay up late. Who makes me feel pretty and loved and makes me laugh more than anyone I have ever known. You are my everything on earth.

24. Grace. Without which I could not be here, typing this. His love knows no bounds and I am nothing without it. I am whiny and impatient and doubtful. But He never leaves me, only loves me. That is word-taking, mind-blowing wonderful.

Here's to 24 blessed years and hopefully, more.