We Need Mental Health Services!

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I want to ask this question? Why did we take away mental health services??? Research shows that students will not be able to learn academically until their emotional needs are met.  Quite frankly, todays students are coming to school with some major emotional needs.  Over the past three years I have had more and more students with emotional needs.  This year, the same.  I have to be honest with you….I had to sit down with this parent and warn her point blank what was going to happen if she did not get him to some counseling or to address this students issues.  We have documentation from an outside counselor that he is ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and he throws things and argues with staff, students, and administration all of the time.  He has produced no work the last two weeks.  We have documentation where we could get him an IEP and services.  But no! Nothing.  So now, this child is out of control and has been allowed to rule the school for four years. We are not even behaving at lunch time now.

During a conversation today (after a rather “one of those days moments” – he was running up and down the hall, arguing with staff who wanted him to stop, etc. ) I had administration ask me what we could do.  I said listen I sat down with the parent at conference time, as did another parent.  We have been doing this for FOUR years.  The parent is not going to follow through.  I have the research that says that he is NOT going to learn academically until his emotional needs are met.  He almost cried at conference time when Ia asked him why he was upset – the boy has some   deep down anger.  He needs help! We need services in our schools.

Unfortunately, I am not sure how this story will end.  I just needed to vent.  I apologize, but I get so upset because I went into this profession to help children and families.  Lately, I do not feel that I am.  I do get attached to students.  This student – I worry about him.  I truly do.  I have worked at behavioral outside school placements.  I even told the mom I could see her child ending up there if she does not get help. It will make me sad.

So, I guess I am just asking that people not put a stigma on mental health services.  They are a good thing!  They are helping people! Unless your emotional needs are met…and by the way this is true for adults as well, you will have a hard time working, going to school, and “surviving” in this world.

Thanks for listening.

What a WILD Week!

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PHEW! Is anyone else glad the week is over! Not going to lie, I am beat!

So, I have blogged on here about the common core and the myths.  I have blogged about data.  This week, it was talked about many times during my conferences.  I have made several observations about our educational system this week. Here they are:

  1.  Parents become easily upset when their child does not get all Es for excellent.  Oh yes, it is true.  Surprise, your child is not perfect.  When they asked about it, I was very honest and said…..this is the first ten weeks of school and they are still adjusting to what is expected in third grade.  Third grade is a HUGE jump from second.  We go from oral learning to writing our responses..and using evidence.  Your child has an S, which means satisfactory.  An S is not bad – and it is HARD to maintain that E. I think some got it, and I think some just did not but we then went on to the real reason we have conferences – to discuss ways to help your child and to show parents what their child has been doing. To show progress. By the way, if they are making progress that is good which is S (satisfactory).
  2. Parents do not understand the data – SURPRISE!  I do NOT make copies of my STAR data charts to give to parents.  I do share them with parents.  I also share them with my students.  I do not give them copies as it has way too much info on there that is not parent friendly, and quite frankly….they do not get all of it.  It all stays in my happy little data binder. I do share the graphs so they can see if their child is making progress, and if they are following their “trend line” that the computer sets.  However, some parents are like ohhhh what is my child’s lexile level.  Again, I show them IF they ask.  The reason is because I do believe that the exile levels are inflated.  I asked our reading teacher, who is a great friend of mine, about this.  She said that they are inflated.  So, when those parents ask…..the next question is…what does that mean?? HAHA. I knew that was coming.  Why are people worried about numbers. This is ONE piece of DATA!  But I do explain. However I am also honest with them and tell them it can be inflated.  I have some that I have to share their graph and tell the parents that I do not think it is a TRUE picture.  This is true, especially when I show them the book their child is reading in their guided reading group, and show them the questions they have been answering.  Again, lets look at AUTHENTIC assessment, and not computerized.
  3. Parents are still upset over Common Core-especially the math.  When I shared the Common Core module assessments that their child took a few weeks ago – again they wanted a number.  They did not want a rubric, they wanted a number.  I was calm and explained again, that the rubric tells us what standards they are learning and mastering.  If they need a little more work, etc.  Most did calm down.  I also am very honest and tell the parents that I do like how they need to have a conceptual understanding of the math.  I remember learning multiplication where we just had to memorize facts.  I did it, but I had no idea the reasoning behind it.  Now, they are starting to understand the reasoning.  Yes, I did just send my kids home with flashcards and yes, they are starting to get timed fact quizzes, but that is because once you understand the concept then you should not have to draw arrays all of the time, etc.  Most parents did calm down.  Most parents were very happy that I do not send home any common core math homework.  Rest assured, it helped me to understand my homework theory again – they get a 4 square – which is a lot of spiral review – right now subtraction, addition, time, and word problems.  They are struggling with that – psssst parents it is still common core though :-P.
  4. For the most part, parents were every respectful once things were explained. They have to understand that each year the work gets harder.  Also, I am big on their child becoming a responsible learner. I can NOT make your child learn the material. They have to want to learn it.  We do all that we can to convince them of it, and believe me most of my class is doing well with this.
  5. Some families are going through tough times.  This is what breaks my heart.  I have one family – they are living in a hotel and have been.  I knew it from conversations with their child.  I was so so so happy the mom came.  I really did not think I would see a parent.  I was also so  grateful that she was honest and came in and just let it out.  I calmly explained to her that her daughter had told me and I was aware of it.  I thanked the mom for telling me and we talked about how yes, this is showing up in her daughter’s work – however that is to be expected.  She is fragile right now, she is 8.  It is NOT the child’s fault.  In this case, it is not even the parents fault. They are trying so hard.  We talked about ideas and strategies to try and keep things as normal as possible.  Also, she was given some Duffy Books so that her child can keep reading – which her daughter LOVES to do. But, when you have a fire and lose stuff and you can’t get you house to pass inspection so you can move back in – you need to find outlets.   Her daughter was very happy as the next day she came in and thanked me.  It really is the little things.  We need to be understanding and think about how we would feel if we were our students.
  6. We need MORE mental health services in our schools.  We need to get rid of the stigma that mental health services are bad and means that we have “crazies”.  I had a very lengthy conference – an hour and a half people!!! It was my last conference.  Do not get me wrong, I had this feeling it was going to be bad.  I was glad that I had the reading teacher with me for support, and also glad the child came.  We called him in and asked him questions.  He almost broke down.  I am not going to lie.  I was hoping he would.  I wanted his mom to see how angry he is.  I explained how he is not going to produce anything academic because he is so angry right now.  He has every right to be.  He has gone through some horrific stuff.  Of course the mom blamed it on the dad, etc.  IT was not going well.  I did say though, that we seriously may have to consider outside services and possibly an alternative placement.  That did get moms ears to perk, but she quickly went to finding excuses.  I am not sure what is going to happen.  This has been going on since the kid was in kinder, so I do not have my hopes up. But, now I have documentation to back me up when we have another meeting on him.

So, that was my week.  It was long.  They are long nights, especially when you are teaching during the day.  I am VERY happy to say that I had 100% though.  I think this is the first time in a long time that everyone showed up for their conference. For that, I am truly happy.  I do believe that people want to care about their child, we just need to make school a friendlier place where parents can feel welcomes and not overwhelmed. Face it, we teachers are overwhelmed with all of the changes going on.  These parents are just as overwhelmed too. Many feel they can’t help their child because they were not taught this same way.  As I have said in previous blogs, we NEED to change our schools culture and until we do that, we are going to have some uneasy moments.

Well, the weekend is here.  I am totally trying to relax and get myself back together.  Two days and then break.  We can do this!

Have a great weekend!

 

Facts VS Media

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First of all, YES I do believe that we need data.  It is important to have data to look at to help you plan, to assess students, etc.  However, my question still is –WHAT DATA is TRULY VALUABLE?  It is also report card time.  I have spent the last couple of nights looking at rubrics and assessments included in our common core modules.  I have to say, the ELA I am pleased!  I was even pleased with the Math Mid-Unit Assessment module.  To me, this was good information.  How to apply it to the report card (which is incredibly outdated and yes I have to handwrite comments!!) I am not so sure.  I will share the rubric and the testing data with the parents, but I am left wondering if they will even understand it.  Dare I say…will they care?  I have some that will.  But what I am finding is that parents are in uproar over this whole common core stuff. However, I really feel that it is because they do not know the facts.

Now, I am not a Common Core fact tracker.  However, I am tired of the media and how they are twisting the facts.  It, quite honestly, has made a huge communication problem between schools and parents.  People, I am sick of hearing the negativity! I am tired of the nasty parent letters saying Common Core is bad and they do not want their child learning Common Core, blah, blah, blah.  First of all, Common Core – it is a set of STANDARDS!  These are skills that your child should be able to do.  Quite honestly, when I look at the old standards we had to follow before Common Core came along….PEOPLE THEY ARE PRETTY MUCH THE SAME!  If anything the Common Core breaks it down even more.  If you look at the standards, I think you will like them.  They make sense.  Finding out the  main idea, writing, speaking, listening to effectively communicate, being able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.  Yes, you need these skills!

You know what?? Kids can handle delicate topics.  Our ELA module deals with the power of reading and an education.  Hello??? GREAT topic.  TO understand the importance of reading and how reading is knowledge.  Getting an education will help you to succeed in life – WOW!  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  This module has some delicate conversations.  Parents – do not think your child does not tell us what happens at home :-P.  They do.  We have read some books that deal with the topic of war in this module.  They are true books.  I want you to know that the children have enjoyed them.  They have begun to understand that we live in a country that is free and that we are lucky to be safe.  When we read the first book together, which by the way is called Nasreen’s Secret School, the children were very quiet.  They could not understand the concept of children, let alone girls not being able to go to school.  They didn’t understand that this girl had her father taken away.  They did not understand the Taliban.  We had some discussions.  What they did understand – that it is not fair to have war.  It was not fair that Nasreen and the others could not go to school, so had to go to a secret school, they learned that Afghanistan was a beautiful country before the war.  They, again, learned that they are lucky to be in the USA.  Yes, I had a few kids go home and talk to their parents.  I know it because they came in the next day and said my parents want to know why we are reading about war and the book had a gun in it.  YUP – parents not understanding the facts.  I said well, does war happen? Yes they said.  I said are we learning about Veterans Day too? Yup, they said.  I said did we have Americans using guns and fighting in the wars to keep us safe? Yup, they said.  I said okay, are we glad that we live here and not where Nasreen lives? YES! Okay, the point of the story is to understand other people and where they come from and how the power of reading and an education helped her to understand life outside of Afghanistan.  It allowed her to see the good that does exist in the world.  However, unfortunately, not every child or person has it made the way we do in America.  I think the kids got it.  Did they go home and tell their parents? I do not know, but no other questions came up the next day.

We also read another book The Librarian of Basra.  Another true story about a librarian who risks her life to save book in a library while a war is going on.  After she and her friends save the books, the library is blown up 9 days later.  In the beginning it talks about how the library was a gathering place for people in the community to read, to talk, etc.  It then goes on to say ho the talk turned to the people being worried if the war was going to come closer.  Obviously it does.  Then of course you learn that people help save the books because they were precious to them.  They dream of peace  and war to be over.  Again, it was quiet and the kids said it was sad.  Yes, war is sad.  This book was part of their final assessment to the unit.  They had to answer text dependent questions using details from the text.  I am happy to say that I have looked at them and the children did well.  They did how I thought they would.  Do not get me wrong – not all of my kids are perfect nor are they all on grade level.  However, I have to have whole group instruction ELA.  I need parents to understand what is expected of their child at this grade level.  Do not worry, I still do guided reading groups where they read books on their own level.  I will be sharing this rubric and assessment with the parents.  Some will I am sure question the fact that the book was about a war.  It had a much better lesson and theme than the war people!  Get your head out of your arse! And, I think we can’t have our children living in bubbles.  They need to know what is out there.  Children can do WAY MORE than you think they can.  Quite honestly, we need to make children more independent thinkers.  I am asking parents to PLEASE let their child take risks in school.  They will learn.  They are going to fail at some of these things.  What is important is that they do NOT give up and keep plugging away.  They will get it! This is ONE assessment I will be showing parents.  This is what is expected of their child at this grade level.  Yes, your child may not be reading at this grade level, however you need to know that.  Wouldn’t you want to know what you child should be reading? I will also share STAR reading results.  This shows what level your child is reading on.  Quite frankly if I had a child that is reading two grade levels below I might become concerned and read more with my child or try to help her get on grade level.  The STAR will show the parents where their child is and also if they are making progress. If they are making progress, GREAT! If not, we really need to look at ways to help them to make progress.  Believe me all kids learn at a different rate.  I get that! I look to see that they are making progress.

This post is long already, so I am leaving it at that.  I will talk more about the math another time.  What are your thoughts on Common Core?  Please look at the standards and read them before you judge.  Do not necessarily believe the media.

Thanks for reading!

As for me, back to looking at data and report cards 😛

It’s Meet and Greet Weekend @ Dream Big!!

Hey all! Now that I have re-entered the world of blogging I need to do this meet n greet. I did it before and I did get some followers!
Check out some great sites by other bloggers! Find some new ones to follow. Happy blogging peeps!

Dream Big, Dream Often

imagesIt’s Meet and Greet Weekend at Dream Big!!

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!  So don’t be selfish, hit the reblog button.
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags (i.e. reblogging, reblog, meet n greet, link party, etc.), it helps, trust me on this one.
  4. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new bloggers to follow.  This helps also, trust me.

Now that all the rules have been clearly explained get out there and meet n greet your butts off!

See ya Monday!

Danny

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Anyone ever heard of Zearn?

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Well, I am posting a question to any bloggers out there who are following me or stalking, errr reading but have not yet signed up as a follower :-P.  I was on social media tonight and read a post about Guided Math.  This is something I have tried to do the past few weeks in my classroom.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but WOW is my class all over the board in math!  It is quite frightening. I am trying to do whole group Common Core Math for about 45 minutes a day. I would love a full hour, but can’t find the time.  We are told we HAVE to follow the Engage NY Math Modules.  Don’t get me wrong – I do like how the children get a deeper understanding of what multiplication actually is, but I do feel there comes a point when you just have to memorize your facts.

Anywhoooo, welcome to my world.  I use the Math 4 square for spiral review.  This is their homework every night.  They have 4 problems to solve.  Then, on Fridays it has a quiz that reviews the problems.  We go over the problems the next day together . If I need to, I do a mini lesson.  It is SUPPOSED to be spiral review.  Right now the skills are addition, subtraction, and rounding.  They all should have been taught in second grade.  Over half of mine are still struggling with these skills.  However, they seem to be understanding the whole group multiplication stuff. I KNOW! I am thoroughly confused.  I have decided to try to address the lack of skill with addition and subtraction to try Guided Math.  While kids are in math centers I am meeting with a group to review skills.  Believe me, right now I am using free stuff on TeachersPayTeachers.com.  I have some great bump games that involve just dice, counters, and a nice game board you print off and either have laminated or thrown in a plastic sleeve.  They can either play addition bump, subtraction bump, or multiplication bump.  Another center is literally iPads.  Right now I just have some math apps like fact quizzer.  They do like this.  Another center might be believe it or not, making flash cards and then playing teacher/student with your partner.  They love this and honestly it is good practice.  Sad as it may seem, these are things that are not happening at home.  I also have some rounding games, clock scoot games, etc.  Like I said I am just now trying this out.  I do see an improvement though with my struggling students.  They are the ones I meet with the most.  Usually it is to go over an exit ticket from whole group instruction, to reteach a concept, etc.  My teacher group changes daily depending on what I see in the classroom.

So, enter tonight.  I read a post about this http://www.zearn.org site.  I highly suggest you check it out.  I did sign up and hope to set up my classroom tomorrow.  I want to use their computer lab log in and passwords to make it easier for the kids.  But from what the site says it is aligned with the NYS Engage NY modules! I really think it will help my students.  Also, it is differentiated in the sense that the students will be able to watch videos on the concepts, and it moves at their pace.  Bonus, I can log in and see how they are doing.  What scares me, is that it says the kids should be on it for about thirty minutes three times a week.  This is great for my  high kids, but not sure how it will work for my low ones.  If they are with me, it may not work.  And I am not sure I can put them on learn if they are not ready for third grade skills yet.  Do you see my dilemma?

I am now asking any of you – have you tried it or heard of it?  Any thoughts or suggestions?  I am going to create a class roster tomorrow and I am going to make a fake student which will be me – haha. Then I want to fiddle with it.  I am thinking if I look at it we can start using it after Thanksgiving Break. YES – that break is coming up soon!  What I do like about it, is it gives me even more data to see how the kids are doing.  Each of my students does have an IXL account, which I do think benefits my younger students as I can put them back a grade level.

So that is it for tonight.  It is a new program I discovered, yet I do not know much about it.  Anyone else want to check it out and tell me what you think?  By the way it is FREE! FREE is what we teachers like to hear!

I will keep you posted!

Have a great night!

This really is EPIC! What a GREAT app and FREE for teachers!

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epic 2I want to share with you a GREAT App that you can use in the classroom.  It is Epic! If you are a fan of TumbleBooks, Epic is WAY better! We do have TumbleBooks at our school, but it is nothing compared to Epic.  I highly suggest that you check out http://www.getepic.com.

It is easy to sign up.  Now, you can set up accounts for your students and then put books in their library or you can have just one library and all the kids have access.  I will leave that up to you.  Right now, I have just one library until I decide if I want to set up separate accounts.  I probably should, but I am right now just using this app on our Kindles at school.  Right now my students love it!  Something about reading a book on an electric device is cool!

Some of the books have audio features.  This is great for my struggling readers.  I also let my higher readers listen to books as well.  I really feel
that as long as they are listening to books or reading books, they are learning.  They need to learn that reading is enjoyment! I feel that so many times with the focus on close reading and always writing lengthy answers using details from the text…sometimes we take the enjoyment out of reading.  I do NOT feel that this is what the Common Core standards want.  Yes, reading is thinking and we do want students to really think about their reading.  I do agree with that.  However, we need our students to understand the importance of reading and how reading is important.  They need to have time to read books of their choice throughout the year! Just my two cents worth.

epicFeel free to check it out and sign up today!

Welcome back to blogging!! Let’s Talk Education and Data!

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I am back! Sorry it has been so long since I have blogged.  Let me just say that life got in the way.  I have returned to work again this year after a bit of a family medical emergency.  Do not fear.  Everything should just be fine.  Was it the way I wanted to start the year? No, but it is what it is.  I am now getting back to a routine and we are moving right along.

I thought I would start in with a book that our school is reading.  We are, yet again, a LAPS school.  I will not lie…I am sick of this.  I also really work hard at my job.  I know many people that do! With the way education is changing we are starting to feel defeated.  I will talk about that another time.  I just know that myself and others in my building would love some help!

As part of our improvement plan, we have to read this book and we will be discussing it.  Actually, we are supposed to be discussing it in our team meetings. Please do not get me started on those!  I have not had the opportunity to discuss it with my team, but I have discussed what I have read with other teachers and staff in my building.

This is a book that you may want to read.  I will admit that I did start this book while on my mission trip.  I then finished it before the year started.  I am now reading it again to refresh my memory.  I think being in a school while reading, it helps. This summer I was not in school mode :-). It does seem dry at times, but it also makes sense.  Here is what I have taken away from it so far.  PLEASE BE ADVISED – I am reading it slowly this time and diving deeper into the text (what we now call close reading and being reading detectives 🙂 ).

Things I learned and am thinking about from the forward, introduction, and chapter 1:

First – I loved this quote: “If there’s teaching going on, but the students aren’t learning, is it really teaching?” – I really want you to think about that.  It makes sense! I think that so many are just looking at pinterest and saying wow great idea, or I am going to do that.  It may look like teaching – but is it teaching or fluff?  How do you know the students are actually learning?  I don’t know – that quote just stuck out for me.  I have it written on a sticky note and will be bringing it up for discussion 🙂

Second – Data driven instruction has 4 key principals. 1:  Assessment that is rigorous and meaningful.  2:  Analysis where you look at BOTH strengths and weaknesses. 3:  Action – do something proactive using the data. Teach effectively what your students need to learn. 4:  Culture – we need to create an environment in which data-driven instruction will survive and thrive. Quite honestly, this brought back the conference I went to in Georgia.  I know that I blogged about this before my mission trip. If you are interested read those blogs.

Third – This book reminds me of the backwards design theory.  We tend to look at assessments as the end.  This is not true.  Assessments are not the end of the teaching and learning process, they are the starting point.  As teachers, we need to look at and design effective assessments. Then, we use that assessment to design our lessons. Make sure that your assessments given throughout the year also include material they learned earlier.  Think of this as spiral learning. BRILLIANT! This way the students will keep remembering and practicing those skills.

Fourth – what I like about this book is that it talks about how we are so focused on state assessments. Yes, they are important, but do they really give us valuable information?  Unfortunately, they do not.  By the time we get the information back, those kids have already moved on.  Too much time has gone by.  What everyone needs to remember is that your state assessments that are given once a year, usually at the end, are not the END ALL BE ALL of your students.  You need to use a variety of assessments.  This is especially true with all of the testing mumbo jumbo going on (that is all I am going to say about that 😛 )

Now, how does this apply to me? Well, this year I have tried to be optimistic about our modules.  I am NOT a fan of scripted material.  I am sure those of you that know me or have read my blog know – I am NOT a fan of scripts.  I want children to be creative. I think that with scripts we tend to just create robots. For example, I really feel that math is just strategies.  We need to make them aware of many strategies not just the ones in the modules.  One math problem can be solved MANY ways. However, this year I am making an effort to stick to the modules.  I have done some tweaking! I think as teachers, we always have to adapt the material.  However, I am now using the exit tickets in math.  I have kept them in my data folder.  WAIT a minute – let me correct that….  I have them organized by lesson and thrown in my desk drawer :-P. They will be organized before parent teacher conferences.  However, I do look at them quickly to see who has it, who almost has it, and who needs extra help with a skill.  This is a quick way to assess.  With the ELA, I have done a better job sticking to the modules.  I have to say that I really am enjoying the first module.  The books have some challenging topics.  I KNOW that some parents are questioning the books.  Well, the kids tell me – believe me parents.. your child tells all.  However, I do believe that the books are helping the children to understand that we are lucky where we live.  I am quite sure this will come up during parent teacher conferences happening soon.

With the math – I am making a better effort of doing guided math groups.  We have JUST started this the last few weeks.  I am still in the process of finding materials.  Honestly, I am finding that our module right now deals with multiplication and division, and I have way to many students who are not fluent in addition and subtraction.  Right now my math centers are literally simple addition and subtraction “games”, some multiplication flashcards and projects, and IXL, a WONDERFUL program I will talk about at another time.  Then, I also meet with groups each day at the “teacher table” to work on skills they need help with. This is where you can use your exit tickets, maybe go over work that they missed or struggled with. For my lower group, literally I am working on subtraction with regrouping.  I think you have to teach where they are.

What bothers me about education today? It seems that we are always trying to get the kids behind to catch up and we tend to forget about the ones that are succeeding and can be pushed more.  That is where I am struggling.  Hopefully this book will help!

Well, that is all I have for you! This is just the first 50 pages!  Be warned..I have another 125 to go haha! I am just hoping that we actually have some good discussion. We shall see!

Thanks for reading! Are you reading any educational books or articles? What are your thoughts? Please share!

Back from Mission Trip!

Hey All!

I am back!  I am so sorry that I hit a wall on the blogging!  Sorry, but the mission trip was so amazing that I did not have time to blog! But I am now officially back! I came home yesterday!

What did I do.  TONS!  Did flooring, fixed up the facia and (drawing a blank) part of siding, worked on a roof (and that was an adventure in itself thank you 98 degree and high humidity and black tin!!), and I built the world’s biggest deck/carport.  It was wonderful! I had a lot of laugher and a lot of fun.  Still didn’t find Santa on a Scooter, but have not given up yet! Made many trips to Lowes late at night looking for him.  And by the way, thanks Paul, for the wonderful conversation to and from.  It was great.  I needed it!  Great words of wisdom my friend!

What I learned!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE The Appalachians.  More so this year than last year.  My three weeks went by way to fast.  I was very sad to see it end.  More sad than last year.  Like tears started on Thursday.  I was a blubbering mess. Basically I, myself, grew more.  I LOVE people!! I love helping them and making them feel good about themselves.  I loved interacting with everyone – my various team members, Paul, Susan, Anita, and Jerry.  We are like one big happy family!  We all understood each other.  We all gave each other our space.  We all listened to each other vent when things were frustrating (roof in hot weather and frustration because we knew we would not finish) Trust me I vented that night!  But, others vented to me. The most important thing is to listen. We had each others backs, and ropes literally when on the roof.  We learned how much we cared about each other and how much we trusted each other.  Like I said, Saturday was rough for me.  Saying goodbye was rough! I was glad it was not just me.  I was glad i was with people who understood.  It made me feel, dare I say normal?

I learned to appreciate what I have in life.  I learned that the little things are the most valuable things.  I learned that I wish I could communicate with my family.  This is something I struggle with… A LOT! Just being home today I have struggled with it. It started yesterday when I was picked up at the train station!  I immediately wanted to be back in Virginia.  Thankfully I went to visit friends who helped me with funds, and it was great as I was able to calm down and really explain this trip and what it meant to me.

So, I will try to explain more another time.  Right now, I need to catch up on much needed sleep.  I am also grumpy. Why?? Oh, the ole family thing!  I had family visit tonight who don’t get it.  I had to bite my tongue MANY times.  I became frustrated.  I became angry.  I shouldn’t have, but I did.  I think I need some alone time tomorrow. I need a lot of time to reflect and really think about my trip.

But, I am alive!  I want you all to know that.  Sorry for not blogging.  I had every intention, but when you are on a mission trip..things happen.  I can’t explain, but things happen.  You grow, you learn.  That, I did!

Mission Trip: Week 2 Work Day 4

Hey all!  I am still alive. Sorry I did not post yesterday. It was a crazy day.  After Tuesday Susan and I were beat. Went to bed early. Woke up yesterday and had a squirrelly panic attack. Susan was not feeling good at all and not working. Paul said I was team leader. After a freak out and a NO we survived.  There was no way one person could get up on a roof. So, Paul came to our site.  Susan gave me her keys and the use of her vehicle fully loaded with the tools and supplies. I drove it successfully to our site and successfully down the windy mountain road.

Once the rest of the team and I set up our tent for shade, unloaded our tools and supplies, set up the seahorses, etc. Paul arrived.  We had lots of fun and him and I got up on the roof. He was a great teacher and has lots of patience for all of my how are we going to attachment, wouldn’t it have been easier with plywood rather than one by fours, and just plain why questions. I learned a lot from him. We patched the roof where we had to, finished putting up the OSB boards on the one side and got two pieces of tin up on the roof.  Not too shabby being it was half day. Unfortunately, to add to the hot, hazy, humid weather, they decided to pave the road. Yeah, it just made it even more wonderful. But it was half day so we left a bit later due to being trapped by the paper people. Then, a fantastic, much needed trip to hike to the waterfalls. After the last few days we had it was great. The water was wonderful people!!! Even stood under the falls to get a great massage. Then Paul treated us to ice cream.  I never blogged because then it was dinner, a longer meeting than usual, shower, and I was beat.

Today was a good day. I have never worked with Paul before at a work site. But, he is lots of fun. We were joking around and being safe. Oh, did we laugh a lot.  It was much needed after Monday and Tuesday. We definitely took more breaks and drank lots more water. Susan is a hard worker she is like me. We were stubborn and didn’t take enough breaks. So the last two days Paul and I ha e just sat on the roof taking a break while waiting for the ground grew to trim a piece of tin, bring us a charged battery for the impact drivers, more screws, etc. We have laughed and joked taro nd a lot. We did not allow Susan up on the roof and she said she was glad. I think she got scared. Paul said she was suffering from heat stroke. Yesterday an intern with Grace House was available and he came up on the roof for just a bit, which was great. It slowed us to get a short break. He is not available the rest of the week, but we definitely appreciated his help yesterday. Another intern was with us today and will be tomorrow. He won’t go on the roof but is great at sliding the OSB boards and the tin up to us.

We were very frustrated, but Paul has helped us to understand that we most likely won’t finish this week.  However, it is okay and we are working hard.  He admitted that if he had known the other two on our team were not going to get up on the roof or want to use a skilsaw he would have given us another job. But, I am definitely learning lots and having fun.

Today we finished all of the tin on the one side. So it was good.  That was the goal for Paul and I. We had a few tense moments where we caught each other.  I am now glad we are wearing the harnesses. It has saved us a few times.

Also, we had laughter which we needed. On a roof we get weird looks. Also, many coal truckers go by. It was eerily quiet while Paul and I were on the roof waiting for the others on the ground to cut tin. So, out of the blew I tried the ole honk honk with your arm trick to try to get them to honk as they went by. We just laughed. I am proud to say I had 100 percent success and their is video to prove it ha.

Maggie, our homeowner is as sweet as can be.  I love her.  She brings us out cold water. She comes out to chat with us, etc. She is a sweetie.

So, after a few rough days, we have rebounded into good days. I can’t believe that week 2 is almost over.  It sure is flying by. Way to fast.  I already dread the day I have to leave. It will be one sad day.

Mission Trip: Week 2 Work Day 2

Hot, hot, hot! I am beat!  Susan and I spent all day up on the roof.  The good news is that we kicked butt compared to yesterday. Yesterday it rained so we only managed to get 5 sheets of OSB boards up. Then it started to rain so we had to run up and put the felt paper up.  Today, we pretty much finished one whole side minus a small rotten piece we have to repair and then a board on the end after it. So, we felt better. However, we are exhausted since we are the only ones going up on the roof. Also, Paul wants us to wear harnesses due to the pitch, so you add that to hot, humid, sweaty weather and you fade fast. We did really well until we came down for lunch.

After lunch, we went up to do the felt paper and that stuff was hot! Plus, using Paul’s nail gun booked up to the compressor was great, until it jammed. Thank you Jerry and Anita for being there to fix it. When we were done, Susan and I got done and it was time to leave. We were hot and tired. We are very relieved that Paul is going to come to our site tomorrow. He is also willing to get up on the roof, which will be a huge, HUGE help. We hope to fix the patch, put up the other board, and start putting the tin up.

I want to give a huge shout out to Randall. Randall is one of the homeowner’s sons. He came and helped today. Even though he did not get up on the roof, he was an amazing help passing the OSB boards up the ladder to us.  He also drew lines on the boards so we could see where to drill. Thank you Randall. He said he would be there tomorrow too. Yeah!

I also want to give a shout out to Maggie our sweet homeowner. She brought me out the coldest bottle of water and refilled my water bottle for me. Plus, she came out and visited with us when eating lunch.  It was wonderful to hear stories about how Trammel used to be a booming coal town, when she bought this house, and how she has 9 children, and over 20 grandchildren.  Maggie has been a WONDERFUL host.  She said she and Randall will come to our picnic on Friday night. Yeah!!

Well, dinnertime!! Lasagna tonight. Not Daniel Plan approved,but I am definitely going to eat. I am starving.

Let’s hope for a great day tomorrow!