Trees of Transition

Planting seeds of hope throughout our world through sharing photography and thoughts on teaching, cooking, and life transitions.


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The End of Hodge-Podge Jobs and Vacuuming up Dog Toenails

What do peanut M&Ms, cat fur, and a peaceful farmhouse all have in common?

Working at an animal hospital! They aren’t all mixed together, of course.

I didn’t figure out what all the little black bumps were that would rattle up the vacuum tube for a while. Then I shouted out “Ewwwwww!” When I realized they were dog toenails!

Some seasons of life are more thrown together than others. Two years ago I needed a second part-time job to supplement my first part-time job. I asked at a dinner my friends, who are vets, if they were hiring. They were!

It took the business manager weeks to contact me, and by that time I had picked up a tutoring job, but I was open to more work, so a rather big patch got sewn into my crazy quilt of employment.

I’ve had quite the adventures there: Before my boss told me I couldn’t bring in people to help me clean, I dragged several people in. The first guy was a date who wanted to take me dancing, but who I told I couldn’t go unless he helped me get the cleaning done. Oh, wow… Let’s just say I saw that guy walking with another girl the next day. Singing at the top of my voice and dancing around with a mop was fun.

I also dragged my Mom, several friends, and my former boyfriend to clean bathrooms, vacuum, and mop the old farmhouse-turned animal hospital.

Over the two years, I’ve gotten off the time clock to have important talks and text exchanges with family, boyfriends, and potential boyfriends.

I had to clean after 7:30pm on Tuesday and Thursday nights and anytime after 12:30 on Saturdays. I’ve mopped into the wee hours of the morning, but have kept going because of the snack cupboard and ginger ale and water in the fridge.

I must have had a junk food deficiency from being raised by a health-foodie, so their snack cupboard full of M&Ms, snickers, cheese it’s, Doritos, almonds, carmel, and popcorn satisfied that debt.

I have described the job as, “I’m getting paid to listen to podcasts!” At the start I would sing to keep me awake, now I tend to listen to money and relationship advice on podcasts.

This job was my first job to ever get vacation pay or a bonus gift because the business is doing well.

Now that I have found a full-time teaching job with benefits, it’s time to let this job go!

I will miss the peaceful, country-ness it brought to my life, the kind support from my bosses, the snacks, but I will NOT miss cleaning up the spatters of blood and the dog toenails!

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A Cranky Teacher: Seeing Myself Through My Students’ Eyes

Substitute teaching is harder than it looks.

“Miss Campbell, are you married?” The junior higher asked. “No,” I said as they continued. “Are you engaged?” “No,” I responded.

Then a junior high boy made a comment that I didn’t fully hear: “Maybe that’s why…” I looked sternly in his direction and didn’t hear the rest. I had had enough battles for that day of substitute teaching.

My imagination added the rest: “Maybe that’s why she’s cranky and unreasonable sometimes.”

Or “Maybe that’s why she’s quiet and doesn’t laugh much.”

Taking the time to consider myself from my students’ perspective is helpful, sobering, and a little funny (I shouldn’t take myself so seriously!)

Cranky teacher

Did I really need to let one student get under my skin so that she started shouting when I asked her to leave the room?
How could have I made it more fun to transition instead of just repeating the same instructions several times?

The life of a substitute teacher flows with newness and lots of challenging students. Students go on their worst behavior when a substitute comes; why is that?
It’s human nature, so I guess they just have to test the limits.
I’ve done okay, but I’m not an amazing sub. However, I’ve learned a lot from subbing:

I’m a grouch sometimes. Period. And a little chocolate helps.

Students can’t read my mind, so I need to give them clear directions and then if they choose not to follow then they get a consequence.

I forget to smile and am nit-picky.

My processing speed in new situations is slow at times when I’m stressed out, and I need space to figure out what to do next.

I need to know my high expectations for my students, have fun getting there, and not let them get away with being sloppy.

My teaching voice needs work (maybe voice lessons?).

Assume I’m right and don’t argue with students!

Be confident; I am the teacher, even if I’m grouchy sometimes, and students must have an okay attitude or if there’s a bad attitude, work through it with me.

Apologies help with everyone.
Be confident enough to admit I was wrong and humbly apologize when needed.

Be observant. Students are sneaky!

Students want the sub to be strong and not let other students push him or her around.

Don’t nit-pick; save the correction for important times, but you can be establishing your standards in a fun way. I’ve been unsure of correction, so I’m nice until I need to confront someone, then I come down hard to show who is boss, then students take offense because I didn’t have a connection with them and emotional capital to use. Students are not machines!

I saw a friend over-do correction recently and then it clicked in my head why I had been offending some students. There is a relational balance, and I had been over-doing it. They had just been talking when they should have been studying, but I came on full-force; adjust to the situation.
I’m learning to build rapport and trust with my students.

Teaching is worth the hassle! Do it.

Be yourself and teach well.

To all the substitute teachers out there: My hat is off to you. Continue teaching and serving those students! You have a hard, but rewarding job.

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Learning How to Speed, Ahem, I Mean, Go With the Flow

Yes, I’m learning how to speed…I never thought I would say this. Isn’t speeding wrong? Well, yes, it is not wise, but there’s more to it just being right or wrong here.

Do you know how it is to be stuck behind that car that is going exactly 55mph on a two-lane high way where you have to wait to be able to pass safely? I used to be one of those slow-poke drivers.  Yes, I’ve driven people nuts behind me, but now I’m learning about compromise, flexibility, and going with the flow, and it is influencing my driving.

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I’m not sure why it took me so long to learn how to compromise, but now I am. Fear drove me to drive the exact speed limit all the time; the sign said 35mph, so that is what I could do. I tried to follow the rules exactly.
My Mom had tried to explain to me, “It’s sometimes safer to speed and keep up with traffic rather than hold up traffic.” Back then, I wouldn’t have it. That was before I started commuting. Commuting can be sort of relaxing…but it takes so much time.
After going between 7-14 mph for an hour, then when you can choose your speed, you want to go fast! Now I can compromise here a bit.

Compromising in the areas of sexuality or morality wounds humans deeply, but knowing how to compromise with others about driving or cleaning or having friends over will help your relationships. Rules can protect and guide us, but knowing how to bend and flow with people helps them be able to be themselves and feel loved.

What changed? Learning that adults know principles and apply them in different ways to different situations helped. Reading the book, Teaching With Love and Logic, has helped my understanding of living from rules verses living from principles. There are never enough rules to feel safe or control all unknown variables, but there are principles that uphold why many things are done. People thrive more when principles are individually applied to certain situations verses cookie-cutter rules.

Compromising with roommates helped me learn to be flexible. I failed many times: I would rigidly want my way, not be open to options, and push hard. For example, at one place where I lived, we made an agreement we wouldn’t have guys stay over night. That standard made me feel safe, and it just was wise for a house-full of young ladies.
I didn’t want to consider that there were options! Then one day a friend wanted a married guy to be able to crash on our couch for the night. It scared me, so I stood by our rule and didn’t budge. Now I see her perspective way more…he was like a brother to her…I hurt our friendship because of my attitude…my friend did find a place for that guy to stay, but I got my way. With a cost.

I saw the “No guys staying over” as a rule that could only be kept or broken. Looking back, I see that if I followed the principle: “It’s not wise to have single guys stay the night.” I could have seen the difference and been okay with letting my housemate’s friend stay over.

Yes, some things are black and white, right and wrong; but being open to the shades of variation in life will make your life flow more smoothly. Yes, I speed a little at times now, but I’m caring more for the drivers around me instead of making us all frustrated by trying to follow the letter of the law. We’re on earth to love each other. Following a rule is wise, but understanding the principle that is underneath the rule is even wiser.

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