Tag Archive | teaching

Crash Course in Volleyball Anyone?

If you are a Beach Boys fan, you should be familiar with the song “Be True To Your School”.  I don’t know why, but I have always loved that song.  I also know from past experience that our small school community is an awesome group of caring families.  Yet, I was still blown away from the loyalty and willingness that I encountered when I sent out my S.O.S. message.  I asked one mother, who had two children that were old enough, if one of them would be willing to be a stand in for one night.  Luckily for her children they did not have a current sports physical on file, because she was willing to throw them both into the ring with no volleyball experience what so ever.  You gotta love those moms who will volunteer their kids willingly and without their children’s knowledge.  He he he

The next mother I texted had asked her daughter and the daughter was willing to step in because her school needed her.  Her mother had told me that her daughter did not know any of the volleyball rules, but if her school needed her, she would be there for them.  The mother told me that she could tell her daughter was doing it out of an obligation to her school, not because she really wanted to play.  That was a bit of an eye-opener to see a young girl that had that sense of loyalty to her school at such a young age.  That shows how well her parents have raised her.

I had spoken to one of the faculty members earlier in the week who had mentioned that they would have loved for their daughter to play volleyball, but her daughter was not interested.  Well, I decided to send an S.O.S. text to her, hoping that her daughter would stand in for one game.  She asked her daughter again, yes, this mother asked her daughter.  The daughter was willing to try, but she really would feel better if she had someone work with her on what to expect.  So I volunteered to give her a crash course the day before to the game.

There was one other girl that I had spoken to about playing for the night.  She was very eager to try, even though she had never played before.  So I sent her mother a text and got her approval for her to play.  After I had found a second girl that was willing to play Friday night, I got back with the mother of the loyal daughter.  I told the mother that her daughter was welcome to play for our team if she wanted to AND if the mother wanted her to.  I knew that she was a mother of four children and that her girls already participated in gymnastics.  So I didn’t want to put an additional task on her plate.  The mother appreciated my offer, but said that if I was covered for the game, she would prefer her daughter did not add another extra curriculum activity.  I told her I totally understood and appreciated her daughter’s loyalty for her school.

After school Thursday, I arrived with a volleyball in my hand and a plan to give a crash course on volleyball.  I was hoping to use the school’s gym for the practice, however, it was being decorated for Grandparent’s Day.  So I ended up giving the two girls a crash course on the school playground, during a heat advisory.  So the heat was on in more than one way.  It was physically hot outside and I was teaching them everything they needed to know about volleyball 24-hours before their first game.  No pressure!  I decided that if I didn’t die of a heat stroke, then that was a sign that I was making the right move on getting a make-shift volleyball team together.

The crash course practice went pretty well and the two girls were willing to try.  So I gave them the run down on what to expect at the game.  I showed them how to serve and bump the ball.  I gave them a chance to try it a few times.  Then I explained to them that I was not expecting them to be this ultimate superstar on the court.  I was mostly looking for them to be a physical body to help us make a team.  I told them if they hit the ball over the net that was great.  However, if they did nothing more than stand there, I would be okay with that.  The girls were enjoying the crash course so much that they were asking if it was too late to sign up for volleyball.  I told them that they were more than welcome to join the team if they liked playing Friday night’s games.  I left the school that night with a pretty good feeling.  I knew that I had enough players to make up a team.  Whether they won or lost didn’t matter to me, they were going to be able to play the games and that was the most important part.

Assistant Volleyball Coach (Life After Layoff – Chapter 29)

Remember my last post, where I stated that I have no athletic ability in my bones?  That is still true, but I love my son enough to step out of my box and be the Assistant Volleyball Coach for his team.  Boy, I hope one day he realizes how much I love him.

My two oldest, Marie and Patrick, played on the volleyball team at school last year.  However, this year they had to split the grades apart and there was a possibility that Patrick’s team wouldn’t have a coach.  Since I know how much he loves volleyball, I volunteered to be the Assistant Volleyball Coach.  With the understanding that I know nothing about coaching volleyball.  I told them that if they just needed a warm body to fill that space, I was the woman for the job.  They were okay with that and so now I am finding myself going to volleyball practices every week.

I never really plan on doing a lot at the practices.  Yet, I always end up coming home exhausted from shagging balls.  No matter how tired I am, I have a good feeling about helping out Patrick’s team.  He is on a team of 4th & 5th grade boys and girls.  There are only 2 kids that returned from last year, so we mostly work on fundamentals for the new players.

It has been quite an experience and I’m glad I volunteered for the job.  I may not be able to show them what to do on the court, but I can tell them how to behave.  I can teach them about sportsmanship and teamwork.  So you see, even when I’m not substituting, I am still out there teaching the kids something.

It Will Be Okay (Life After Layoff – Chapter 23)

If you read my last post, you know that I was struggling with the devil on my back.  But no more, because ‘It will be okay’.  I had doubts of my future and my capabilities in myself.  But no more, because ‘It will be okay’.  I started reading the bible and although I didn’t find the answers clearly stated in the scriptures, I found something I can’t explain.  Because I now know that ‘It will be okay’.  So I guess you could say I found peace, strength, comfort and perspective in the scriptures.  I found my foundation again and I am grounded enough to say to myself, ‘It will be okay.’

How do I know this?  Because the devil has tested me the last 48 hours and I have not faltered.  I have stayed calm and stayed strong enough to keep my eyes on God and continue to find peace in knowing, ‘It will be okay.”  I will not lie, my biggest weakness in my life is the importance I place on money in the bank account and the control I want over my future.  These are two things I have always struggled with and probably always will.

I know that money is not the center of the universe, but I feel better when I know that I have a little cushion in our checking account.  I have never wanted to be rich, because if you have a lot of money it’s hard to know who likes you for you and who likes you for your money.  However, I don’t like to worry about where the money is going to come from.

I also try my best to let the future be the future and not try to control it.  But that is not something I am always successful with.  I have learned throughout my life that worrying about what the future will not make things any better.  In fact, worrying about the future will not only ruin the future, but also ruin the present.  So I try my best to live for today and leave the future in the future.  However, it is hard sometimes to not get overwhelmed with what my future has to bring when I am trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  But I know that ‘It will be okay.’, because I have my Lord to depend on.

Like I said, I have been tested in the past 48 hours by the devil and I am still standing.  The devil knows my weaknesses, which is why he reared his ugly head in the form of a potential NSF fee in our checking account and having our central air unit stop working on the hottest day of the summer.  But, ‘It will be okay’.  Because I have God on my side and through my faith in him, I know that I can get through anything.  You see, the devil might have placed these obstacles in my way, but my Lord was helping me overcome every one of them and even giving me a glimpse into my future.

I thought our checking account was fine, but Frank was concerned after I had went food shopping.  So I looked up our balance online and found out we had a possible NSF waiting for us.  Thanks to Frank’s inquiry, I was able to transfer some money over from our credit union to cover the shortage.  But God didn’t only help us financially in that one event, he also helped me emotionally.  You see, my credit union is at my old job.  So when I went to withdrawal some money I was able to see my old friends Shelly and Dee Dee.  Answering their questions about my summer and my future plans helped me more than I can explain.

You see, we are friends on Facebook, so they know what I have done this summer.  However, we don’t really chat on Facebook, we just like each other’s post.  So having a chance to have a real gab session with my old friends gave me some much-needed comfort and support.  So out of a bad thing, came a good thing.  Isn’t God great?

Later that day, after picking up the kids from school, our A/C blew a fuse.  So during the hottest point in the day, the bank sign read 107 degrees, I was running to a hardware store to buy a new fuse.  Of course, I was not able to get it at the first store, which made the situation even more stressful.  To make a long story short, one of the new fuses I bought blew out right away, so we needed an electrician.

Great, it was the hottest day of the summer…On a Friday evening…and our A/C was out.  But ‘It will be okay’, because God was with us.  The fact that our checking account was not currently extra fluffy with funds didn’t help the matter.  But you see, in the darkest hours God’s love shines even brighter.  I had called our A/C guy, but the call wouldn’t go through.  So what now?

Thank God for Facebook and old work friends.  One of my friends from work had posted her husband’s A/C business on her page a couple of months back.  I had pocketed that info into my brain and was very glad that I did.  It took me some time to find the post again, but I did.  My friend’s husband was willing to come out that night.  I didn’t ask how much it would cost, because we were cooking in the house. I just trusted that God would help with the money situation and I was right.

God sent my friend and her husband to our house sometime around 10:00 pm that Friday night.  Even though it took some time to get it going again, he got the A/C to work again.  It was a temporary fix, so we still need to get some working on the fuse box done.  But the air was on in the house and that was all that mattered at the moment.  After spending an hour or more time at our house…working in the dark…in the heat, my friend’s husband refused to take any money for what he did.  He said he didn’t fix anything, he just got it going again.  God bless that man for all he did!

It’s good to know that there are good people in this world.  It’s good to know that I have friends like this.  Come to find out, my friend’s husband took the time to fix our A/C for free and he had to get up for work the next morning.  I don’t know what else to say except, God is Amazing!

The miracles have not stopped there.  God fixed our current situations, but he also gave me a push into my future.  I have gotten a few responses back from some substitute teaching jobs that I have applied for.  So it seems that God still wants me in a classroom.  So it looks like God is pushing me in the right direction and my plans of being a teacher might come true after all.  God is Awesome!

So, my friends, if you are struggling like I was, I highly recommend you crack open a book.  Not just any book, but the bible.  Open up God’s word to your mind and heart and see what he can do in your life.  He will work miracles in your life…if you let him.  God bless and remember…It will be okay!

One Month Down…One To Go (Life After Layoff – Chapter 17)

I have survived one month of summer school with my kids.  There has been a lot of crying, moaning and whining these past four weeks…the kids have done their own share of it too.  🙂  But there has also been a great share of activities, laughter and memories being made.  I will admit, this summer has not turned out the way I had planned.  We all have had to readjust to life as we knew it.

I had to get past my unreachable dream of getting the kids to do actual homework on work sheets.  I just can’t get all of them to sit down and work on Reading, Writing and Arithmetic like they would in school.  One reason is because they are at a variety of learning levels.  So each one has to work on different things.  That would not be a problem if they didn’t all need me to sit down individually with them to get the work done.

I am only one person (something I have to remind them of often) and I can’t juggle four different lesson plans at the same time.  Another reason is some of them are more willing to work on traditional homework and others seem to think multiplication sheets were created by the devil.

Once I realized my dreams of traditional homework was not going to work, my life got a bit easier.  It eliminated some of the frustration I was feeling and got me out of the defeat mode I have been in.  Yes, my kids got me to that breaking point of giving up on my dream to become a teacher.  That is, until I changed my teaching methods.

I wanted to pound knowledge into their head all summer long, but now I see that there is a reason for summer vacation.  It’s because the kids need a break from school.  So instead of trying to keep them in the school mode, I have gradually eased them into a life learning mode.

Marie has summer homework that her teachers gave her.  She has been working on it sporadically.  She has always enjoyed school and likes to do homework, so I don’t have to give her too much of a push to work on things.  However, she wants to work on fun learning, like completing a multiplication worksheet that looks like a coloring book page with a picture incorporated into the assignment.  It’s like a paint by number picture, but you have to calculate the multiplication problem before you know what color to use on a specific area.  That is all fine and dandy, but there is more challenging things that she could be working on.

For instance, my 13-year-old has no concept of money.  She would be an ideal victim for a currency switch.  She could take a $20 bill to buy a $2 hot dog from a vendor and not realize she was cheated when they only gave her back $8.  She doesn’t have the monetary sense that Patrick has.  It’s just not one of her strong suits.

Since Marie is not good at calculating change and because she continues to bug me about when we will buy school supplies, I decided to have her help me with my bills the other day.  I always make a little tally sheet of all the bills that are due and the money we currently have.  So that I can pay all the necessary bills and still have some money in the back for the unknowns.  So the other day, I called Marie in to help me with this chore.  I gave her a pen and paper and told her what our checking account balance was now.  Then I gave her the bills that needed to be paid one by one.  I had her subtract each bill separately to see what the new balance would be.  I did the same calculation on another piece of paper.  We often arrived at different answers.

As we were doing this task, Patrick came along.  Patrick is my “Anti-Math” child, but he wanted to ‘help’ too.  However, he didn’t want to use a pen and paper, but was willing to use the calculator on my phone.  So as Marie and I calculated the new checkbook balance manually, Patrick was double checking our work with a calculator.  Was Patrick getting the same knowledge as Marie?  No, but he was at least working with numbers and learning how to use a calculator.  So in my mind, it was a small victory on my part.  Plus, I needed someone to double-check my own work.

What I discovered with Marie that day was interesting.  She has a problem carrying over the one when you are subtracting a big number.  She was often a digit off with her answer.  So when she came up with a wrong answer, I would go over the problem with her again to see where she went wrong.  This is a problem that can be corrected with practice.  So it looks like she will be helping me with bills again down the road.  I was hoping to kill two birds with one stone and let her see that I didn’t have the cash for school supplies yet, but we had extra cash this week, so that lesson was not accomplished yet.  🙂

So in one task I was able to get Patrick involved with numbers and helped Marie with her subtraction.  Two victories in my book.  I have also noticed Patrick reading signs out loud lately.  Patrick is still working at getting to the reading level he should be at.  It’s a struggle to get him to read a book.  So if I can get him to read a sign at the zoo that says, “Caution, Do Not Touch”, then I feel like that is a pretty good accomplishment.

As for Ann’s life lessons, we have counted things along with Christopher.  I also got some lined paper that they use in Kindergarten.  You know, the kind that has a dotted line where the middle of the letter should be.  So Ann and I have sat down and written some letters.  She would like to write her ABC’s in order, but I need her to recognize each letter out-of-order.  Plus, I have decided that it would be easier to teach her to write all the lowercase letters that are similar.  So I had her write a lowercase “o”.  Then I showed her that if you make a line in front of the “o”, it turns into a “b”.  If you put a line behind the “o”, it turns into a “d” and so forth.  I was surprised to see how many letters we could make with an “o” as it’s base.  So Ann has worked on some writing skills and letter recognition in one setting.  Victory!

As for Christopher, who is always wanting to do what Ann is doing, I had him draw a circle to help with his motor skills.  Another victory!  Yes, these victories might seem lame, but I need to see some progress somewhere.  So as far as I am concerned, Summer School has gone a bit better…once I lowered my expectations.  I will leave the worksheets to the teachers at the kid’s school and continue to use everyday items to get the lessons learned.

The Dreaded Phone Interview (Life After Layoff – Chapter 7)

It’s Friday, the day I have dreaded.  Today is the day I scheduled my phone interview with a cell phone company.  I know this sounds stupid, but although I applied for the job, I really don’t think I can work at a desk job anymore.  Truthfully, I was having trouble staying awake at my last desk job.  I have sleep apnea, which started some time after my second child was born.  Well, that’s not true.  It started when my first child was born, but I didn’t get it diagnosed until my second child came along.  But that is another story in itself.  So the thought of going back to a desk job and fighting the sleep thing every day does not appeal to me.

But I had applied for the job, so I needed to follow through with my intentions and have the phone interview.  It hadn’t occurred to me until last night, but I really was lucky.  It was just a phone interview, it could have been a face to face interview instead.  Marie made me realize that when she questioned me about the interview.  She asked why it wasn’t going to be an interview in person.  I don’t know why, but I am very thankful it wasn’t.

Needless to say, the morning did not start out like I had planned.  The kids were tired from the previous nights activities, (read Head Out of The Sand) so they did not make it to mass this morning.  Well, Marie did, but none of the others did.  So I didn’t get to sit in church and pray for God’s guidance like I had wanted to.  Instead, I got the kids to school around 8:30am and we sat on the bench in the hall until mass was over.  There was not a lot of praying going on in that hallway this morning.  Oh well, you don’t have to be in a church to pray to God.  So when I arrived home, I sit in my quiet house and said a pray for God’s help on this phone interview.  I was nervous, sick to my stomach and very irritable.

The woman from the cell phone company called right at 9:30am.  The interview lasted about 10 minutes.  I am now breathing a sigh of relief, because the position she was interviewing for was the Financial Analyst job, not the Accounts Payable job.  So I explained to her the mix up I made when I submitted my résumé the first time.  She seemed to understand.  God works in mysterious ways.  The Accounts Payable job that I was originally applying for had already been filled.  Praise the Lord!  I don’t know if I have ever been this happy about NOT getting a job before.

So what have a learned from this?  Number one, I need to get the final things completed in my college enrollment so I don’t have to keep applying for jobs.  Number two, be sure the jobs I apply for are second shift or part-time jobs to eliminate any issues of having a babysitter conflict.  And last, but not least, keep my faith in God that he does have a plan for my future and it seems to still be pointing to the teaching field.  Man, I need a nap after this exciting morning.  LOL

What Does My Future Hold? (Life After Layoff – Chapter 6)

Great news, I finally got signed up for unemployment benefits and have actually received a few weeks pay.  However, to get my unemployment benefits, I need to apply for two jobs every week.  No problem, right?  This is the day of technology and a few clicks of the mouse will give you the power to send your résumé to a number of jobs.

So that is what I’ve done.  I’ve applied for one substitute teaching job and one accounts payable job a week.  I’ve applied for 4 jobs in the last two weeks.  Since the school year is almost over, I know that getting a substitute teaching job is probably not likely.  However, it might help me get my foot in the door for next year’s school year.

I applied at a cell phone company the first week.  I was interested in an Accounts Payable position.  However, after I had submitted my résumé, I realized that the job I applied for was Financial Analyst – Reporting.  This is a position I could do, but I don’t WANT to do.  My last position pushed me into a job like that, because all the things I enjoyed doing was taken from me.

So the following week, I applied for the Accounts Payable position at the same cell phone company.  If I had to go back into an Accounting job, which I really don’t want to, Accounts Payable is the one area of Accounting that I still enjoy.  However, I have decided I don’t want to go back to a desk job.  I want to be a teacher.  I want to help kids learn about studies and about life.

Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, that’s what I thought too.  However, something in my résumé has caused a recruiter from the cell phone company to want to go to the next step in the process.  A phone interview.  I know what some of you are thinking.  ‘Good job, you could be back to work in no time.’

Great!  But what will I do with my kids this summer?  I can’t leave them home alone and I can’t afford to send them to summer camp.  Believe me, I did the summer camp thing last year and I had to get a loan at the end of the summer to pay for the remaining weekly tuition.  Not to mention that most summer camps will not take a 13-year-old.  Most camps are for kids that are in the 2nd grade and younger.  However, I don’t feel comfortable leaving my oldest daughter alone during the summer.  I would feel better if my oldest son was at home with her, however, they couldn’t get through a day without fighting.  So what do I do?

Not to mention that I want to go back to college in the fall to get my teaching degree.  I plan to go back to school full-time, while the kids are in school.  So how do I go to school and work at the same time?  See my predicament?

I was told from the unemployment office that I could get my unemployment benefits and not have to apply for jobs if the college classes I was taking were “Approved Training”.  However, I can’t get my college classes approved until I register and start to go back to school.

To some people, this whole thing would not be an issue.  They might fix their job search log so it appeared they were searching for a job when they really weren’t and continue to get unemployment.  But my conscious won’t let me do that.  However, I don’t want to purposely screw up my interview with this cell phone company.  Because there is no telling if it will come back to haunt me later.

So what do I do?  I scheduled my phone interview for Friday around 9:30am.  This way I can go to mass with my kids Friday morning and pray to God that he will get me through this phone interview the honest way.  No, I’m not going to ask God to help me not get the job.  I’m going to hand it over to God and let him guide me in the right direction.

Maybe this opportunity will lead me in a direction that I would never expect.  Only God knows what I am capable of.  Only God knows what I am supposed to do with the rest of my life.  So I need to trust that God will put the right words in my mouth and lead me in the right direction.

I know that my words may sound like I am the bravest person alive.  Truthfully, as I am typing this, I am SCARED TO DEATH!!  Because I think I know what my future has to hold for me and what if God has different plans?  Why did my résumé have to be so darn appealing?  Why couldn’t I have been more of a screw up in my last job?  I know you are thinking that I’m joking, but I’m not.  These are the things that are going through my mind right now.

I guess you could say that I learned two lessons today.

  1. Applying to the same company for two different positions might have made them think I REALLY wanted to work for them.
  2. What I have planned for my future and what God has planned might be two different things.

What will happen at my phone interview on Friday?  I don’t know.  But I do know one thing, I am going to do my best to not worry about it.  I’m going to leave this in God’s hands and trust that he knows what is best for me and my kids.

Pennies From Heaven (Life After Layoff – Chapter 4)

You know that saying about pennies from heaven?  They say that when you find a penny on the ground, it’s a sign that someone in heaven is thinking about you.  After the day I had, that might be true.

I had a big day today, getting one step closer to my future job as a teacher.  When I was heading back to the job placement center after lunch, I found two pennies in the parking lot.  I picked them up, said thanks to my mom for the encouragement and walked in to talk to a college counselor.

Things went better than I expected and I left there with myself much closer to my teaching degree.  I was very pleased with myself.

Then I dropped a few books off at the library, before I picked up the kids from school.  It was then that I found another penny in the parking lot.  This time, as I picked it up, I knew it was mom’s way of telling me she was proud of me.  It brought a tear to my eye, knowing she was watching over me still.

Some people would tell me that those pennies were not from heaven.  They just fell out of a person’s pocket.  But I don’t believe that.  I believe that they are from my mom.