Sunday, May 30, 2010
Hi there, my friends!!
I have had such a lousy week with boxes and packing taking over every spare moment of my time and my thoughts. This has been one of the most thankless jobs I have ever done with somebody doing everything they possibly can to make the job harder and more painful for me. Friday topped it all...
I got to work so sore that I could barely move and I forgot my tens unit and my water. It was all I could do to just sit down for a while, but the gal who I work with part of my day was finally freed up and allowed to help me. (I can't remember if I mentioned that my assigned helper had a total tragedy in her life--she had a phone call that her father had been seriously injured in California, and before she could make arrangements to fly there, he passed away. I am so sorry for this hard working, kind lady.) The alternative was for the gal I work with to help me out, but just as my boss came up with all kinds of things to keep me from packing, she has done it with this gal as well. However, on Friday, she was the driving force in activity. I did a lot of sit down, organizing type work. I had an appointment with my GP during my lunch time (and who has remembered to eat at lunch all week? I have worked through without taking a break of eating most of the week, because I am determined to get this stuff done.) Anyway, it didn't take him 2 minutes to understand that I have been doing things that aren't good for me--I explained the problem to him ad he wanted to know why the school district didn't get me help--I explained about the lady's father passing away. He answered that he was sorry about that, but they have an obligation to get me real help. He wrote me the following note: "Sylvia has chronic back pain and needs help to avoid pain. Please provide her with assistance as per the Americans with Disabilities Act," I had an okay check-up, BP is still OK as is my heart and asthma is almost non-existent these days. My weight was down some 15 pounds since I saw him last. I'll need my fasting bloodwork next time I see him to check choldesterol and blood sugar and vitamin levels...
Anyway, I went back to work with this note in hand, but my boss was gone for the day with the 5th6th grade classes for their field trip to Chicago. I went back to my room and ate a bit and got back to serious work. My friend who was helping me leaves work around 3 ish. My husband showed up to pick me up at 3:30 and I was wrapping things up when I tripped over something and hit the floor very hard. I have a bruised behind, a big bruise on my upper right arm and shoulder where I hit boxes, my bottom hit the floor, my right leg hit the file cabinet and is now so bruised after my Wednesday fall that it makes you wince to look at it. My right ankle is sore as well. I certainly was lucky that my husband was there when it happened because if he hadn't helped me to get up--which was no easy thing with my knee replacements that you cannot climb on and my fused spine--well, I wouldn't have gotten up of of the floor without him. I am stiff and sore all over--and when I was at the pool today, the life guard was particularly worried about me. It took all I had to do my exercises.
I went toschool with one of my sons, my daughter and my husband this morning and got a lot of things ready for them to take to the church. As they did that, I organized things that needed to go to the other school and worked on cleaning up and organizing in my morning scvhool room,. They got back from the church in time for us to go home and get ready for the pool--their summer hours on Saturday for open swim are 1-2:45 and I wasn't about to miss that. (They are also closed on Sundays for the summer, so I won't get to go to the pool for two days in a row. I am sad about that as well, but I'll find something to do.) After we went to the pool, I went back to school with my husband a different son. My husband had to leave to take our daughter to a party way out in the boonies and to pick our oldest son up from work. I worked at my afternoon school for a couple of hours and then went back to my morning school. I got a lot done there...We left at 8:30 PM. I am about worn out--and I am not going back until work on Tuesday. My husband is purely exhausted and I feel sorry for that, but he helped me with it today and two weeks ago. I have been working on this for days.
In any case, the good news is that I am feeling like I might get it done after all. I feel pretty good about what is left there--but I also have this big pile of paperwork that is needing my attention. I am now up to 5 sets of test scores from 21 teachers and I cannot do my required work without their scores. I am going to do what I can and submit it that way with a note explaining the issue. This is one of many issues that I have been dealing with for the past seeral years and quite frankly, I am weary of chasing people down and begging for them to do what every elementary teacher in our district is expected to do.
It is now seriously Sunday morning--falling asleep in the middle of things is what I have been doing sincethis box packing stuff started. The pool is closed today and tomorrow, so I won't get to exercise quite the same way for two days. I have a lot of sit down work that has to be done--it is supposed to be a beautiful weekend, so I may go outside and do it. I will also go out and play with the kids and the dogs. Our front porch is totally covered with stuff I have brought home from school--but the guys here know what has to be done in order to take care of getting this stuff a better place. I am going to enjoy the rest of this weekend. I am looking forward to my family and some peace and quiet that doesn't involve boxes. My first job is to get up from here and see if I can move without all of the pain I have had since falling. That will simply be a mystery to us all until I update you later.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Today was the day that I got to work on packing all day. I had some help for about half of the day before she had to go work in classrooms. I was told today that none of my nice metal bookcases could go to the new school. I was also told today that I had to go spend tomorrow out on the playground during "Field Day" rather than packing. Grr-rr. That happened after I fell this morning--I was trying to catch a stack of books that were falling, I tripped ont he chair next to me and hit the control to my wheelchair and it trie to run over my ankle. It wasn't very pretty and the bruises and scratches that I am now sporting aren't pretty either. I approached her at lunch time (which I didn't take so I could work) about staying at my morning school because I have a lot of work there. I spent the biggest part of the day emptying out the kids book baskets and sorting them to go back to where they belong--big job considering that eachof 37 children had at least 30 books in their basket for independent reading. Anysay, she was eating a cupcake when I approached her--it had blue frosting on it and she had gotten some on her face. I told her that she had blue on her face and she sarcastically answered me, "Well, of course I do." I wasn't trying to be rude or unkind...Anyway, then she commented on my haircut and then asked me if I was still going swimming. I told her that I was--everyday. Her answer was, "Well, you look like you've lost some weight." I was so underwhelmed that I asked for permission, got it and got out. I have worked for this woman for 5 years and I have lost 90 pounds...a little weight, okay, then.
The pool has been nice, warm water, and good behavior for the past two nights--Hooray, my body and brain has needed that. I believe that I could sleep in the pool, it really makes me feel so comfortable. I tried to do my water exercises on land while I was waiting in that library on Monday, and at first, it didn't feel like much, but I quickly learned that I needed that water resistance to be able to move like that. It was another "aha" moment for me.
I want to share some information from our report form for the "Moon Walk." It gives conversion factors for changing exercise into "miles walked" equivalents. I realized that there are others here who could use this information...
EXERCISE CONVERSION INTO MILES
Reference pf some conversions courtesy of "Walk the Four Seasons" by Robert Sweetgall
From the Participant's Mileage Log from the Quad City Health Alliance and the Wellness Champion
Activity CALCULATOR Formula
Steps / 2000
Biking miles (on road or paved trail)-(miles) x 0.3
Off-road biking miles (rigorous terrain)-(miles) x 1.5
Aerobic Dancing (hours) x 3.0
Water Aerobics (hours) x 1.5
Canoeing/ Kayaking (moderate)-(hours) x 2.0
Canoeing/ Kayaking (vigorous)-(hours) x 3.5
Hiking miles (5% grade)-(miles) x 2.0
Running (miles) x 1.5
Swimming (miles) x 3.0
Rollerblading (miles) x 0.5
I hopethat some of you can put this info to good use. Have a great week and holiday weekend!!
PS I couldn't get the chart to stay in the form of a chart. The figure that begins with either / or x tells the math function you need to use and the number afterwards tells you what to do. Forexample, if you swim for 3 miles, you multiply that amount by 3 to get the actual amount of distance that would be if it were regular walking.
I'm going to sign out again, Good night, my friends!!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I think that I am running on empty between all of the activity I have been involved in and the stress in my life. I had a blog started last night--actually almost finished, and I fell asleep writing it. It disappeared when my laptop turned itself off when the power cord got disconnected. Go figure. It was 94 degrees here yesterday, broke a temperature record. The pool was especially relaxing last night--and since I turned in my letter to the management about some of the problem youth in the pool, I was able to tell this froup of 3 very naughty boys that I had done exactly that. One of them left the pool and the other two became civilized after some 40 minutes of breaking every rule int he book--even after the life guard took them out of the pool for a time out. I suggested that certain repeat offenders could only be at the fitness center a limited amount of time a day unless they were with their parents. You wouldn't believe how many kids get dropped off at the fitness center around 5 PM and aren't picked up until well after 9 PM. I don't know what happened to the idea of family dinners and homework and reading, because these kids aren't doing any of that. The fitness center is being used as a place for parents to throw away their adolescents who aren't old enough to drive. These kids terrorize other patrons and ruin family fun and fitness activities. Most of them don't come to the pool, but hang out in the shower room and the basketball courts and the snack room. I wrote a letter and detailed the issues with the lack of handicapped shower space and these problem kids who take up all of the staff's time and are so disrespectful that their comments and actions are offensive.
On a different note, yesterday's Book Brigade went on as "planned." This "memorable event" blocked off several roads, including one well traveled road. The children from one building were picked up by buses at 9 AM and the kids were taken to a field/ park half way between the other school and the new building. They were lined up when they got there at arms length--and then they had to wait until the starting time at 10:00. I went tot he new building as assigned in order to find out that the contractors had these big pieces of equipment in the front doors and it wasn't accessible by the librarian or children. A decision was made to have the kids line up to the back door of the library to pass the books, but it turned out that there weren't enough kids to cover the distance between the schools. I was assigned to go into the new library and wait there to "open the door for the cart as it came in with all of the books." That kept me occupied for an hour and a half where nobody could see anyone who looks like me, in an empty room with nothing to do for an hour and a half. When the librarian got there with the cart, her comment to me was that "kids were out there dropping like flies." I heard a similar comment when I got to the other school as well--and it turned out that parents who went to this event went and got water for the children. On top of it, I understand that the principal rode on a "gator" with a driver and spent her time blowing an airhorn in everyone's faces. I saw a number of people with sunburns and who were pretty frazzled at the entire event. Then for more logic, they held an all-school outdoors recess afterwards in order to give the teachers their prep periods--and right after that was recess and lunch time.
I also found out that my helper from downtown was out of the office on Friday. It was a good time for someone to deny my closing the reading center and to cancel my moving helper from coming. That has been corrected and will start this afternoon. I actually almost finished my packing at one of my schools yesterday when two of my reading groups didn't bother to show up. (I didn't tell anyone that the reading center was closing, because I hadn't received permission yet. I know better thant o do things without a clear approval on it.) My friend from downtown also made arrangements for me to have help moving my things that are going home. He doesn't know that we have already moved some 60 boxes of books and materials home already. I will let him know that today. I was touched by that thoughtfulness though.
OK, I should have gotten ready for work about a half an hour ago. I need to scoot and get going. Take care everyone and have a spartacular day.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Hi there, my awesome friends!
I always know that worrying doesn't help me or anyone. If the worst comes to be, worrying doesn't help resolve the issue. If something better comes to be, worrying didn't make that happen. I wish I knew how to avoid it, but quite honestly, I don't. If I distract myself with other activities, I can keep from doing it while I am busy--but I end up back in the same place as soon as the activity s over. The reason I am whining about this really bad habit of mine is because there was no way I could have predicted how yesterday played out at work. If you read my previous blog, you know that this was on my mind--but there was no way to prepare myself for what actually went on.
It started with an 8 AM "standing" meeting about the Book Brigade. i have all of the details on how this is to work. She is expecting all of the staff at my morning building to ride on the school buses over to the new school. Then, she pointed out that, "Maybe I couldn't get on the bus." Maybe? She knows that I am not supposed to be climbing stairs and she knows that I spend most of my morning in a wheel chair. I was embarrassed enough when people started "arguing" about who would give me a ride. I tried to tell them that I would make sure I was where I was supposed to be multiple times--but it was such a game, like I was getting out of the awful bus ride on purpose. It reminds me of people who don't understand that a handicapped parking place is a necessity, not a perk.
I worked with my children in my morning building--the ones who came for their lesson and when I was through with them, I sorted out my professional books on the table for packing the ones I really need and use. The entire top[ of my table has stacks of books on it. As well, I packed a couple of other boxes and moved them (because I am feeling a crunch on getting my last 3 big jobs completed...packing, paperwork, and progress reports. I went over to shut down my laptop and saw that I had a new email. It was from my boss who told me that I could not close down the reading center for next week. Oh my goodness--her reason was that all of the other teachers had to pack too. All of the other teachers don't have 2 classrooms in 2 buildings. All of the other teachers don't depend on others to be able to do their job. (Yesterday, I only had 2 reading groups out of 10 that had all of the students. My attendance was 3/4, 4/4, 4/4, 2/4, 0/3, 1/5, 1/3, 1/3, 1/5, 0/3 which gave me 16/38 for the day--not even half of my students came for their lessons. To top it off, I need their test scores to do my paperwork and progress reports. These scores were due yesterday and I have 2 out of 21.) I cannot do my work without their students and their scores and both are out of reach--so I need to pack or I'm not going to get done. Also, with the kind of attendance I had yesterday, it is obvious that the teachers are caring whether or not I am seeing students...and I tried to talk to her about this. I was so upset about this. Part of my reality is that I ran out of sick leave in December and I am no longer on salary this year--they are paying me by the day or hal day that I work. That also makes me different than the rest of the teachers--because I am not getting paid for working after the last day of school. She knows this information, but nothing matters to her except her being in charge.
She mentioned that there wouldn't be instruction going on Monday and Thursday due to other activities, but that is only partially correct. On Monday, there wouldn't be instruction in the morning for the Book Brigade, but I have to attend this--so I won't be able to work on the packing and there will be instruction in the afternoon. On Thursday, there is field day, Lunch on the Lawn, followed by the 6th grade vs staff kickball game, and I am not expecting to do any instruction during all of this activity. I am so tired of fighting to get my work done and I am tired of being put in this position. I have asked for three things this year and have been denied all three things--this is one, getting ziplock bags for my students to carry their boos in was the second, and having the aide from my morning building to come to my afternoon building on one day to run errands upstairs for me because the aide in that building was gone for bereavement. I am "like" the other teachers when it is convenient for her and I am not "like" the other teachers when that is more convenient for her. She offered everyone $50.00 in supplies for second semester and I needed those bags, but apparently what I needed didn't count. The average class size is 24, but when I cut my load from 58 to 38, it was like I committed a crime. I don't think she can have it both ways.
I forwarded that email--which was in response to my Monday email--to my friend downtown who told me that he was going to tell her that I had to close the Reading Center. I am thinking he must not have been in the office yesterday, because I never got a response from him. I followed that up with a second email that voiced how upset I was. I deleted the two strong paragraphs of that before I sent it, but i did send it. He was the administrator who sat in on the meeting that we had when she wanted to discuss how "I don't talk to her." Hopefully, he is seeing why there are problems here and that I am not the source of the problems.
I have been packing and lifting as much as I can between students and during my lunch time. I worked last Saturday on some of this and I will go over there today as well. I have made a good deal of progress in both rooms, but as long as I am teaching, I cannot pack everything up. Each of my students (and the ones working with the aide) has a basket of books that have to be sorted and placed in their appropriate places, and I have to write individual notes to the families of children who have books that haven't been returned. I have already brought 30 boxes of books home with me and have at least 20 more to come home. My friend from downtown has recognized that given the fact that I teach 7 grade levels of children and have no "curriculum," that I am bound to have more materials that need to be moved. There are still a lot of materials that belong to the school to be packed as well--and at this point in time, that is certainly at the bottom of my list.
I also noticed that my body is not quite right after missing a couple of my workouts last week. The pool was cold last night, but it was quiet--for the first Friday ever. I don't know exactly how that worked out, but it did. I enjoyed it immensely, but my regular workout was a bit of a struggle. That seemed odd to me, but I guess it makes sense. I have got to order more pads for my tens unit, but my back seems to need a break from that as well--it is tender from wearing it and using it all day long. I had to use it at the band concert on Thursday because they held it in the gym and that means bleacher seating which is a bit much with my back.
I really try hard not to ask for anything special in relationship to my physical condition, but this packing to move is above and beyond what I can do. I am supposed to get my helper back on Monday, but how am I going to use her if I have to leave all of the things out so I can work with students? I sure wish I understood why my boss has requested me, when she doesn't want me around and chooses to treat me like this. I wish my body was in better shape too--and I wouldn't mind being one of her young teachers with cute bodies, but that is not who I am. I have a master's degree and over 50 grad hours beyond that, I am nationally board certified and I am a trained Reading Recovery teacher through the University of IL. I have been teaching for 24 years and have a thick file full of credentials and awesome evaluations, including one from her.
I need to get going--boxes and packing await--then I'm going to the pool. I am trying not to cry out of fatigue, frustration, and pain--but those tears may flow today. I sure appreciated all of the wonderful things that you all said to me yesterday--your timing was impeccable, given what was going on in my work life. thank you for caring and thank you for knowing what I needed to hear.
Gentle hugs on top of a big thanks!!
Friday, May 21, 2010
I'm worn out and it is getting pretty difficult for me right now. Packing boxes is really getting to me, my back and the rest of my body is aching and I am having trouble getting past it. I am struggling and I know it. I had my tens unit almost as high as it goes tonight and all it seemed to do was irritate me and annoy me. My pain meds aren't really helping me either, grr-rr. There are 8 days of school left and I have so much left to do that it is making me nervous.
On the very positive side, I went to Mason's show choir concert on Monday and it was so much fun. Tonight was the big band concert--they have the combined 6th grade bands play and then the high school, with a finale that includes everyone. Mason is a senior and I didn't realize what a good musician he is. He had a solo on the "tom toms' that really made me feel proud of him. Both he and my youngest son Micah are percussionists. Marissa is a freshman and she plays the oboe. It was a special time--and worth me missing the pool for the second time this week and the only time I haven't went. Marissa and Mason have a choir concert on Sunday--I hope to get to the pool for a workout after church and before their concert then. I love their choir concerts and a little birdie told me that Marissa has one solo and possibly two on Sunday. My children are so gifted, especially in music. I'm not sure where this talent comes from--I certainly have never been the type of musicians that they are.
I haven't had much time to get to SP, which makes me sad. I need you all and I need the things that I have done faithfully for so long. I feel like I am slipping a bit, and I don't know what to do. Everytime I see the long list of notices I have in my email for my team threads and the blogs I generally read daily, I feel a bit blue. I know that all of this will pass--yet I am overwhelmed. I haven't had time for much reading or crocheting or anything. Not only is packing boxes on my mind, but sorting out my things and finding a place for many things that I am bringing home. There are so many things going on at work that they are eating me up.
Our assistant principal has 3 nice large bookcases in his office that he doesn't need, so he offered them to me. My friend and helper from downtown let me know about them and told me to take a look at them, and if I liked them that I could have them. They are large, wooden bookcases with a lot of adjustable shelves and would be an asset to me. About the time I was making arrangements to get them, my boss came in and said, "Oh we don't want anything like that in the new building. I'll be getting you something new and nice." I asked her if they were already ordered and her answer was that she didn't know "exactly what I'd be getting, something from a library probably." I'm afraid that the plan is that I'm not going to have much if anything, so that there won't really be a place for my books. My friend from downtown told me a couple of days ago that if I could keep things down to 80 boxes that would be fine--when previously, I had been told that I could bring 50 boxes of material. I asked the boss if I could close the reading center after Friday (on Monday!) and she still hasn't told me that it was okay. My friend downtown has gotten me my helper back for on Monday and he told me that I didn't have to ask her again about closing the reading center--he would take care of it. On Monday, she is having a "book brigade" and is busing all of the students from my morning school to my afternoon school and her plan is to line the streets with children from that school to the new building, and they are going to pass library books from one child to the next to get them to the new building. We got an email today that said she is expecting all staff to participate in this. I am worried about being able to stand and help with this and I am worried about having my helper to pack while I now cannot be there to guide her. I guess that I am going to have to get somebody to take me from my morning building to my afternoon building along with my wheel chair. I am trying so hard to avoid using it, but this is too much for me. There is at least one major road between these two buildings and I am worried about that as well--I hope that she has gotten a permit to close part of that road off. She keeps telling us that this will be a "touching ceremony."
I also have my end of the year paperwork that I cannot do with out test scores from every teacher in the two schools. As of today, I have those scores from one teacher out of 21. I cannot do my work without them and I cannot write my progress reports without them either. I am becoming a nervous wreck knowing that I have all of this on my plate right now. This weekend, my husband is going to come to school with me to collect about another 30 boxes of books that I have to find a place for. I also have about 30 baskets of books and activities to take to the church for the summer program. I have to sort out all of my professional materials and determine if I can take any of them to the new school. I am having a hard time imagining how to work without any of these materials, I don't know of any teachers who can do their job without resources.
Obviously, I am stressed. 8 days is not very long to manage this kind of work--make it 13 if you count the two weekends in between. We are supposed to go camping over Memorial Day weekend, and I am afraid that I am going to be the one to ruin this family time. I still have a 20 year old child who needs my attention and I have put that on hold while I am managing this other stuff. I am wondering if there is a way to make this all be simply something I have to do, and to take the stress out of it. I have had to move my classroom 6 times out of the last 7 years and I am pretty burned out by all of this--and when you add in the issues that I am having for the first time over the amount of materials that I have (so I can teach 7 grade levels,) it makes this an entirely different process.
Am I whining? I really do feel like I'm in over my head and it is hard to get past this. I know that I can do this and I have help who is supporting me, but I still feel like the other shoe is going to drop on me. I am afraid of this making me feel depressed--I haven't been in that dark hole in a while and I just don't want to go back there either. I sure don't deserve all of this on top of the things that I have been dealing with for the past few months. I am also aware that at some point, I have to unpack all of these same boxes, into a partial classroom in the new building--the "showboat" as she referred to it--that I have never seen. The rest of the staff has toured the building, but I was never included because those tours happened while I was off on medical leave or I was still under the assumption that I wasn't going there.
I am a worrier and that makes me unsure if this stuff deserves a second thought, although I also don't know how to let go of it. I have had so much grief from my current position and it seems as if there is no end in sight to the problems. I have been teaching for 24 years and at this point of my career, I should be in a position that I love with a permanent classroom rather than in a high stress job that keeps me moving from one year tot he next at someone else's whim. I cannot help but to wonder why my boss requested me in the first place, when she obviously doesn't care to have me around. I guess that has to be one of life's mysteries.
All I can say is that I expect this to pass in time--June 2 is the last day of school and it will have to be resolved by then. That isn't too far away, and I will just have to jump through a lot of hoops until then. With a little help from above, I will make this work.
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