The World According to Jenna

The World According to Jenna

My boyfriend has already titled the book we are going to write (though the name “Jenna” may change….:)). I’m a loud, tempered, Italian- and along with that, very opinionated. The book idea came up one day when I went on several rants about the way things should be. And it was further confirmed that this needed to happen when we realized all I ever do is express my feelings on how I think people should do things (ahem…Zach….), or how I think things should be done, or how I think certain things are silly and unnecessary, and things I don’t think people do enough of. Here a couple of examples for chapters (forewarning- I give my blunt opinions.)

Wedding Photography

“Wow babe! Look at the picture of the way we set up our tables! Let’s get this one blown up and have it hang in our living room so we can remember the table cloths and how many chairs were at each table!”

“Let’s get the picture of the guest book so we can remember who was here! We could just actually look at the guest book, but let’s get the picture so we can have something to remember the moment!”

I get it. Weddings are special. I’ve never had one, and who knows if I ever will, but I’ll tell you what- I don’t want to pay a photographer for a bunch of pictures that capture the kind of linen I chose, what my buffet style selection of food looked like, and what kind of pens were used to sign the guest book.

People. Scenery. That’s what I’ll want. Please, spare me the dainty little details. I don’t need pictures to remind me of my champagne glasses.

Kid Shoes

BY YOUR 5 YEAR OLD SLIP ON OR VELCRO SHOES FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS SANE I CAN NOT SPEND HALF OF MY DAY TYING SHOES UNTYING THE KNOTS THEY TIE IN THEIR SHOES WATCHING THEM PUT THE LACES IN THEIR MOUTHS OR UP THEIR NOSES OR IN THEIR EARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You get the point.

Clearly this book would need some solid work. It will be my job to rant and Zach’s job to put it all together coherently and satirically. We’re really excited. We’re buying voice recorders. One for me to rant to when he’s not around and one for him to carry around so that when I go on one of my rants he can capture it.

This will be fun. 🙂

Beach hair

The best hair, is beach hair.

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I never used to think that. I always hated my curls. I hated the way the humidity would take my 30 minute straighten job and turn it in to a frizzy mess. I hated the way my hair would look so big

Now, I love it. It is when I feel the best about myself. I love the way the salt forms the curls. I love the way the humidity can either make them super curly, or a little looser. I love the way the wind blows them and gives my hair serious volume.

I feel confident, sexy, fun..I feel free and adventurous.

However, during the winter months this style is almost impossible (even with Not Your Mother’s Sea Salt Spray). It’s super hard to maintain when I’m not constantly drenching it in the ocean and letting it air dry with the windows down on at 40+mph (though over 65 and I can look like a troll :)).

Or maybe it’s just a feeling thing. Maybe it’s not so much the actual hair as it is the feeling I get during the time my hair looks like this.

I don’t know. But whatever it is, I can’t wait for. Beach hair is the best hair.
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Ohh, parents! This one’s for you~

Parents- I’m talking to you. What do you want to see on your child’s report card? What type of information do you want their teacher to tell you? And how do you want it reported? In language that you struggle to understand or have to Google? Or in basic/blunt statements- “Your child can read at grade level”? Do you want pages and pages of abstract words trying to define your child with numbers or letters that you barely comprehend? Or would you rather a short synopsis from your child’s teacher describing their academic and social behavior, highs, and lows?

I’m completing my report cards for my kindergarten students and I am frustrated, annoyed, and disappointed. I strongly dislike filling these out for many reasons. I don’t think they accurately portray the child’s strengths and weaknesses, I don’t think it is parent (or even teacher) friendly, and I don’t like the ambiguity and vague nature of the descriptors.

In “The World According to Jenna” (a book that my boyfriend and I hope to write and publish someday- that’s a post for another day), I would grade my kindergartners on the following:

Can they recognize/write their letters?

Do they know letter sounds? (___/___)

Can they recognize sight words? (___/___)

Do they demonstrate the following skills needed to succeed reading at intended grade level?

Use picture to tell a story

1-1 matching

Decoding skills (beginning/middle/end sounds)

Etc…(you get the point)

What level are they currently reading at?

Can they write a sentence?

Can they write multiple sentences?

How high can they count?

Can they count by 5s/10s? (how high?)

Can they recognize #’s 1-20? (can they recognize more?!)

Can they write their numbers?

Can they add within 5?

Can they subtract within 5?

Can they add within 10?

Can they subtract within 10?

…you get my point. The “basics”. And the language- parent friendly, am I right? Currently our report cards say things like “Applies grade-level phonics skills to decode words” and “Writes using basic print concepts.”

To us (teachers), it’s easier to understand- we hear those terms on a more frequent basis and we use those terms when creating goals and providing our administration with information- all because those terms are “correct” and “more professional”. But what about those who don’t know what those terms mean? Does a report card filled with that language appeal to parents who don’t hear that language? And does it even really paint an accurate picture of their child’s abilities?

I’d love to write a paragraph about each child to their parents. That paragraph would be filled with their child’s strengths, sprinkled with a few things they need to work on, and topped with their behaviors and personalities that I see in the classroom. I want the parents to know that I see the whole child. I observe and teach the whole child, not just parts.

I hate filling out report cards. But report card time means conference time; and I love mid year conferences.  I get to shower the parents with their students work, growth, and funny stories. I can explain everything I want to (within a 20min time period) and hope that the parents feel confident in knowing where their child is academically, socially, and emotionally- again, it’s all about the whole child, not just the “school stuff”. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Where my 20-somethings at?!

I am 25. Right smack in the middle of this “20-something” ride in life.

I live on my own, but still call my mom to remind me how to cook chicken. I pay my own bills, but still ask my dad to take me school clothes shopping (a tradition we had every year since I was in kindergarten). I can do my own laundry, but once, I went a few loads only washing with fabric softener- my boyfriend had quite the laugh when he tried to do laundry at my place one day and found out that’s all I’d been using.

I have far too many blankets for one woman to acceptably own. I eat way too much rice for someone who spends hours on Pinterest. I trick myself in to thinking I’ll actually to yoga at home by keeping my yoga mat in the middle of my living room floor (complete with 5-10lb free weights in case I get real ambitious thoughts). I pretend that I know how to keep clean yet I constantly forget to buy bars of soap and end up washing with shampoo and conditioner. I like to think that I can handle danger, but I still sleep with a full set of Christmas lights plugged in. I try to budget $50 or less a week in groceries but I spend at least $20 on things like dark chocolate M&Ms, pre-made fruit and yogurt cups, and my favorite baked cheddar chips. I complain when I go to the gym every night and still look and weigh the same, then I remember I live off of rice, dark chocolate M&Ms, fruit and yogurt cups, and baked cheddar chips. I act like I’m tired enough to sleep for 12 hours straight, yet I spend a good portion of my night scrolling Instagram and reading Buzzfeed articles.

I enjoy the perks of living on my own, but I miss my mom cooking dinner every night. I love having a place to escape to when my overly extroverted self gets tired, but I long for the days my sorority sisters lived within 5 minutes from me. I still want to play intramural soccer, dance in talent shows, and gossip with my girlfriends, but I don’t have the time and access to all of that any more. I want to take trips and adventures, but schedules never match up and the thought of leaving the couch and Netflix seems daunting to some.

20-something. I’m not quite the adult that my kinders believe I am. I put chips in my sandwich (ahem- “playing with my food”), I throw fits when I’m tired or hungry, I light up with I see ice cream, I love running around in the grass barefoot, I like to be taken care of, I hate being told what to do and I want to take naps in the middle of the day.

20-something. I’m not quite the adult my parents think I should be. I don’t always get my oil changed exactly when I need to, regardless of how many times they remind me. I don’t know how to do my taxes, no matter how many times they’ve showed me. I still need constant reaffirmation that I’m cooking something right, even if I’ve sent them 10 pictures of what it looks like. I still need their vote of confidence before I make any sort of “big” decision (yes, that includes their approval of that cute dress I want to buy or the a-okay that eating pizza after my work out isn’t a total waste).

20-something. I’m still the 6 year old who loves to color. I’m still the 10 year old who loves to learn. I’m still the 14 year old who loves to gossip. I’m still the 17 year old who wants to be old enough to stay out past 9pm, but young enough for daddy to still give her an allowance. I’m still the 19 year old, who’s rebelling against the rules and seeking acceptance of her peers. I’m still the 21 year old who loves to go out. I’m still the 22 year old who’s scared to leave her 4 years of comfort and friends and start a career and a life of her own.

20-something. I can not explain you. I can not define you. I don’t want to. You scare me and you excite me and I’m not sure if I want you to end or if I want to stay here forever. I love the options you give me but hate the restrictions (why can you only get in free when you’re under 9 or over 65?). You’ve got me growing and changing, living and learning, crying and laughing.

I’m an “adult”. As in “I pay my own bills but I still say righty-tighty, lefty-loosey to figure things out”. 

Delta Phi Epsilon ~

Today is a super special day.

Today is the day my sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, turns 100Lucky to be DPhiE! 

Joining Delta Phi Epsilon was 100% the best decision I’ve made thus far in my life. It gave me a home full of unique and amazing women; and those women have been supportive, encouraging and loving as well as spontaneous, crazy, and unforgettable. The memories I’ve made with them have been nothing less than some of the best times of my life and I will never forget the late night McFlurry runs, venting/hysterical/mind blowing therapy sessions, pre-gaming before parties (always better than the actual party), sunset runs and sunset drives when we were too lazy to run, and other random and enjoyable adventures.

Now that I’ve graduated, I miss having car fulls of sisters blasting music and singing loudly. I miss meeting up with them for lunch dates and wasting time, when we all should have been doing something more productive. I miss seeing our letters everywhere  and getting a smile or a hug from sisters on campus. I miss being surrounded by a group of women who have made such an impact on my life. Without DPhiE I wouldn’t have my best friend, my perfect Little, and my soul sisters. These women are undoubtedly the rock I needed through my first 20-something years of life, and the rock I still lean on today through text messages, shared Facebook posts, and girls days when the time allows.

Besides the friendships, I gained self love, acceptance, and confidence, as well as a lot of support, encouragement, and shared experiences. All my life I’ve felt “not good enough”, and even now I think it from time to time, but I put a lot of focus on one of our philanthropies, ANAD, and through that I found support, comfort, and encouragement to beat those feelings of self doubt and low self worth/esteem. These women make everyone feel so beautiful- inside and out- that it’s hard to ever feel down just knowing I’m a part of such a wonderful organization.

I am so proud, so happy, and so, lucky  to be a unicorn. YITS!! xx

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Fulfilling recognition

It is always nice to be recognized, especially when it’s unexpected recognition from your superintendent.

This is my 3rd year teaching. For the first 3 years in my district, new teachers need to complete a portfolio. The portfolio focuses on your student growth goals and professional goals, as well as a reflection piece. The portfolios are turned in at the beginning of March and our principal passes it along to the superintendent.

I received an email yesterday from our superintendent regarding my self reflection. In short, he enjoyed it. For him to take the time to personally email me made me feel very fortunate to work in a district where this kind of thing happens.

In case you are curious, here is part of my reflection:

“What is it that makes a teacher finally feel like they’ve got a handle on things? Is it how neat their classroom looks? Is it how much growth their students have shown? Is it how detailed their plans are, or how put together they look on paper? What about how many times they’ve made their students feel loved? Or how many times they’ve made their students laugh by being silly with them. Maybe it’s the way the teacher feels at the end of the day, when she shuts the lights in her classroom off and goes home, only to keep thinking about her students and what she can do tomorrow to make it better than today. Maybe it’s when she can seamlessly reflect on her daily experiences and continue to learn and grow from them without feeling like she failed; only realizing that every experience is a learning experience and that she, too, is exposed to new things every day, just as her students are. Teaching is different to everyone, but to me it’s the confidence to make a mistake (even in front of students, teachers, and administrators); the ability to take criticism, advice, ideas, and opinions and reflect on them to adjust or change your teaching style; the courage to try something new, even if you’re unsure of the outcome; the strength to love even the toughest of behaviors, and the attitude to make the classroom a fun, safe, and loving environment for your students to learn and grow academically, mentally, and emotionally with your genuine smile and encouragement.”

What is money really worth?

I work a full time job as a teacher. My salary is tolerable for a single woman making a life for herself, but laughable if I were trying to start a family.

I work a second job as a waitress. I work 1-2 nights a week to make a little extra “fun” cash- I use it to get my hair done, go on a trip, or buy endless articles of clothing at Old Navy.

I spend my weeks alone since my boyfriend lives away, so the night(s) I go in to work aren’t usually taking away from our time together (though occasionally, it can). I block off my weekends so that I know I don’t get scheduled for a shift and lose out on lazy Saturdays and productive Sundays; but sometimes I wonder how much I’m missing out on, money wise.

My dad is a money guy. Not in a ‘bad’ way, just in the way that made me super diligent with my money. I have 2 savings accounts, I never carry a credit card debt, and I only keep enough in my checking account to pay my monthly bills. I also keep a piggy bank for even “extra” savings for random/last minute things (like the time I wanted to buy myself a $70 shirt for my birthday…..every penny came out of my piggy bank that’s tucked away in my bedroom). I’ve had a job since I was 13 years old, I worked 2-3 jobs all through high school and college (being an RA was one of them-saved me tons of $$), and now, here I am, graduated, working a career job, yet still working 2. My dad was always…encouraging…me to make money. Save for everything. Save for the things you know will come up, save for the unexpected. Work every chance you can while you’re young, have “fun” later.

My parents worked (and still work) so hard to provide for our family of 4. We had everything we needed and most things we wanted growing up. My brother and I both had some assistance paying for college, and even now, 3 years moved out, I still get a $20 slipped to me from both my parents most occasions that I see them, and my mom is always asking if  I need things like toilet paper or frozen chicken. They have given me so much, and I hope some day to be able to take care of them.

But I’m not as good as them. I’m not as committed to working and saving money. I’ve given shifts away before, I’ve spent ridiculous amounts of money on things I really don’t need ($800 on a new paddle board, another $800 on a new bike…), I’ve taken multiple flights to see my boyfriend during times that I could have been making just as much as I had spent flying…

I just don’t care. I care, but not like they did. They cared about me before I was even me. They cared about their future and about how they would survive- I care about my April vacation plans getting me out of Maine. I care about spending my only 2 days off a week with my boyfriend and friends. I care about buying those cute shoes and that Ben and Jerry’s ice cream- even though the shoes will only match with certain outfits and the generic ice cream is 1/2 the price of B&Js. I wish I cared more about my future. I wish I knew what kind of future I was going to have. I feel guilty not working more and saving more of my money but I feel sad missing out on time and memories. I want to have fun now, not later. (But I’m also a huge planner- see my dilemma?)

What is money even worth? Is it worth the security? Is it worth the “things”? Is it worth the time and emotions that come with it? Is it worth knowing that it’s there for things, good, bad, fun, sad…do I really need it? Seriously…will my life be less if I didn’t have all that “extra” money sitting in my savings account? Some days I feel so guilty turning things down because I try to treat my savings account as “$0.00” even though it’s not…I’m saving my money…but for what?

I’d like to think it’s for fun trips and adventures, but I know I won’t spend it on that. Because I feel like there’s a bigger purpose for it. But WHAT? It aggravates me that I spend my time and save my money for some things and I don’t even know what they are. Yes, my savings account has “saved” me a few times in the past few years..I’ve been very grateful for that..but I can’t help but wonder what will become of this money. I’m a big proponent of the “what if I die” theory. My dad was never too fond of that one..I’ve tried it on him multiple times, and at this point it’s a “your money your choice” discussion, but he just never seems to “get” my point of view.

Will this money ever amount to something? Will I ever feel comfortable only working one job? Will I ever stop worrying that I’m not making enough for something? When is it okay to live and enjoy the money? Or should it stay locked up until it’s my time someday…

Naps in many places

I took a nap today. On my love seat of a couch, in sweat pants that belong to my boyfriend and a 10 year old ratty sweatshirt.

I could hear the constant hum of my refrigerator, my movie playing softly in the background, and the gusts of wind blowing my wind chime like crazy outside the door that was less than 3 feet away from me (oh tiny apartments….).

I desperately wish I had been laying in my hammock, swaying in the warm breeze with sounds of water lapping and birds chirping. My orange mesh shorts and plum purple sorority tank shirt, bare feet and tanned skin. Ocean air or mountain air, I can’t decide, I can’t play favorites there…I deeply enjoy the smell and feeling of both.

My mind changes. Now I want to be on my paddle board, the wind gently moving me across the smooth water top. Bathing suit, life jacket (safety!) sunglasses. Hot sun on my body, toes in the cool water for a nice balance of temperature; the sounds of nothing and everything filling my ears.

I’m back in my living room. Cold, alone, listening to 2 feet of snow fall just feet away from my head. I’m at my breaking point. This weather is depressing. My soul needs sun. My body needs warmth. My eyes need green grass, blue skies, and giant, puffy (non-threatening) cumulonimbus clouds. My hair needs the salty sea and the windy mountain air. It’s amazing what winter does to me, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It strips me of my happy-go-lucky attitude and the smile on my face fades like the color that drains from everything during this dreadful season. Someday I’ll live somewhere where winter doesn’t happen. Snow might, but winter itself is only but a tease to those who have never truly experienced it, but a welcome “treat” for those who lived with it their whole life.

For now, I’ll watch Mamma Mia, and plan my trip to Skopelos, because that’s the kind of place I need right now.

At least there’s wine!

It’s 3:30pm on a Monday. All I want to do is go home, pour a glass of wine, and eat food that someone else made me.

Instead, I’m sitting at school, eating cheese balls and pretzels, procrastinating on finishing an assignment for an assessment program I have been piloting this year.

I wish I were piloting a program that gave teachers an endless supply of sharpened pencils, or the freedom to teach drawing instead of writing. I wish I was collecting data on how many times I tied shoes, told a kid to blow their nose, or stared in disbelief at what someone was doing. (Excuse me? Please stop hanging off your chair like a sloth….)

Instead, I’ll document the data I collected on their reading and writing behaviors, how well they can persevere, and if their math skills are on par with where they “should be”.

And when I go home tonight, I still have to make my own dinner.

But at least I’ll have the wine. 🙂

Quick and sneaky leprechaun!

It’s that time of year again- the time when that pesky little leprechaun makes his way back in to the kindergarten classroom. What a mess he leaves behind! 😉 The kiddos will get a silly surprise tomorrow morning when they see he has arrived! He’s danced all over their tables, he’s clipped them all up to the top of the clip chart, and he took a bath in the sink! He’s left his little green footprints and tons of glitter everywhere. I do hope my kindergartners have made some traps this weekend to try and catch this little fella! He’s a quick, sneaky one…

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