Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Orlando, where it's not Chicago, it's your host, the woman who (barely) survived her first week of school, Dawn Damalas Meehan!

Tonight's introduction was written by Austin who still misses home more than the rest of us put together. And now here are the answers to this week's questions.

wow [your teens have to catch the bus at] 6:15? when do they have to wake up or go to sleep?
Austin stays up late talking to his girlfriend. He wakes up 10 minutes before the bus comes, brushes his teeth, and runs out the door. Savannah goes to bed at a decent hour and gets up to primp before catching the bus. That's the difference between boys and girls.

6:15 AM? That is too early! What time is their school day over?
It's WAY too early! They get out around 2:00 every day, but Wednesday when they get out at 1:00ish.

Are you working at your kids' school?

What exactly are you doing at the school?
Beats me. I'm just trying to survive.

Really, what are you doing?
I'm working with the lowest performing kids; the ones who need some extra homework help and support. I help them to get organized, teach them how to form good habits, encourage them, and help them with their work where needed which means I have to have knowledge in each subject. Every day, I ask the kids, "Don't you need help with spelling? Grammar? Any punctuation questions? No? Nothing? Just math? Sigh."
Right now, I have kids in 6 periods a day. My smallest class is two kids and my largest is eight. Things will change after the first few weeks, however, and I'm likely to get more kids in my classes.

How do you like your job so far?
I like it, but it's exhausting. I'm not just tired because I'm working out of the house after being a SAHM for 17 years either. No, it's a different kind of exhaustion. I feel simply drained, mentally and physically. It's not like a regular office job where you can check your email, make a quick phone call, take a break, or go to the bathroom whenever you want to. People who work in education are "on" all day long. There's no downtime. You are always on and smiling and working and going... I'm not sure what I'll do if I ever have to go to the bathroom in the afternoon when I have four classes back-to-back.

Just wondering, do you have an education degree??
No. This is why I took that para pro exam a few months ago. I needed to prove that I know all this stuff so I could apply for the position. (BTW, I got the highest score possible on the test. Do you hear the crowd cheering for me?) It's a non-instructional position so I didn't need an education degree.

You really need to get to bed earlier. Let the housework slide so you can sleep.
Oh, I have no problem letting the housework slide, believe me! But I still can't go to bed early because I have to fit my writing jobs in somewhere. It's not optional. I love writing and I absolutely need the income it brings in order to stay afloat. Sooo, sleep will just have to wait for when I'm dead.

How are your kids adjusting to school?
They're adjusting, some better than others. The three youngest like their school and their teachers. Jackson and Savannah seem to be fitting in, making friends, and having fun. Austin, well, Austin is kind of shy. He doesn't make friends easily just because he keeps to himself, not because he's awkward or dorky or anything. He'll find his place to fit in eventually.

I still feel unsure of myself and probably will for a while. But on Friday, a student shared with me, a song she'd written herself. That was cool - that she trusted me enough to open up like that. I guess this new job might be okay. If I can get past the exhaustion. And the algebra. Oy.


Kila said...

Dawn, that sounds like a great job for you (as long as you get a bathroom break!). Just from reading you online, I can picture you doing well at that job, and the students are lucky to have you.

Hang in there, Austin!

Zarsky Family said...

I'm so glad everyone survived the first week! You are doing such a great job with your family :)

Patty H said...

I think you are a pretty down-to-earth person, Dawn, so I imagine the kids will be able to relate to you in a way they might not with some of their other teachers. I know it's such a difficult adjustment for everyone but I'm glad that you are surviving:) Florida really has a lot to offer and you are right smack dab in the middle! Hope to meet you one day....Fellow Floridian

Tracy S said...

It sounds like you have a job that is perfect for you. Too bad it isn't more part time so you could ease into the "working outside the home" phase of your life a little more slowly.

My oldest son starts middle school this year (7th grade in our district) and he's quiet like Austin. He has good friends, but they are all at our church and not at school. I'm hoping he'll meet some other kids like him and they can be shy together for awhile, then become friends :) it's tough for us more extroverted moms to just let our introverts make their own way. we want to jump in with suggestions when our way is not their way. it sounds like you've got it down and are letting Austin make his own way.

Kat said...

Sounds like your busy, sounds like it's your sorta eldest would have never attended school if she'd had to get up and leave at that time of the morning....she still has enough trouble getting into her car at 830 to make it to school on time

heyteach said...

Thank you for saying what kind of tired/exhausted teaching makes you. My husband doesn't get it at all and after two months off in the summers I actually fall asleep on the couch at about 5pm that first week back. You are making a huge difference in those kids' lives and you will build smiling stamina and a "school bladder" in no time :)

T.M. said...

Dawn, I admire you for returning to work full time after being a stay-at-home mom for so long. I'm going on 9 years of being a stay-at-home mom and I can't imagine having to start back up working full time. I would do it if I needed to, of course, but I do admire you for jumping in with both feet (even if it's not your ideal situation).

I also want to say that I can relate to moving away from family/friends. It has now been 5 years since we moved to our current location and after abour 3-4 years of wishing that we could move back closer to family, wishing we had more friends, wishing we had a church that we felt comfortable at, wishing we "fit in", I am happy to report that we are finally, FINALLY feeling like we could never move back to anywhere we have lived in the past. We just visited my family and the places that *I* grew up and where we spent the first 3 years of our marriage and for the first time, it DIDN'T feel right. It DIDN'T feel like home anymore. We HAVE found a church we like. We HAVE made good friends that we wouldn't trade for the world. So, you might go through those adjustments, and they COULD take a while. But eventually you WILL find your niche and you will love where you live.

Lastly, I want to offer you a link to the Flylady site. Not really so much for your home organization (although you can use it for what you want), but more for their "Control Journal". I have a friend who follows their site and she has modified the "Control Journal" for her students where she teaches. I don't know if it would help your students, but I thought I would share the site, in case it could prove helpful for you and your students. and here's the direct link to the control journals -

PaperSunshine said...

This has nothing to do with anything here but I had to tell you I went on the Survivor TV show web site today to see when it starts and there is a Dawn Meehan in the cast who has 6 kids! I about fell on the floor thinking, "Wow she never mentioned this, how did she keep this from us"? Alas its another Dawn Meehan. Who knew? :)

momnextdoor said...

You really had to take a test? Being a mother of 6 kids...that have all survived and are succeeding...should automatically make you qualified to help kids organize and form good habits! Just sayin'!

I'm in awe of you Dawn! I have two and I think I could benefit from being in class with you? Maybe in all of your spare time you can host workshops to frazzled mothers! :-)

Sleep well!

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