The First Days, Version 8.1

The first day of school for us here in Denver was a couple of weeks ago.  Years past, I always carefully chose my first day of school outfit – something that was serious and professional, while still laid back enough to signal that I was a real human being and not a robot. This year though, I spent maybe 5 minutes thinking about what to wear the night before. I’m looping with my kids this year – I taught about half of them last year for 10th grade Bio, and now again this year for 11th grade Chem. So these kids already know me directly or at least by reputation. They’re already broken in.

The first day back at my school is a freshman 9th grade only day, so I get the whole day free to myself in my classroom, working – which is glorious. So I chilled out in a loose top and stretchy jeans. For my real first day of school, I smarted up by wearing an Oliver Bonas dress that made me feel very “age appropriate” at 37. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I’m still on the fence. Is there such a thing as age appropriate anymore? I think yes – but that’s a whole other ball of wax that will need to be tackled another day in another blog post.

THLT anthropologie swing top

THLT anthropologie swing top 2

THLT anthropologie smocked swing top

THLT anthropologie smocked swing top2

top: anthropologie – belt: banana republic – jeans: mother denim – shoes: target

THLT oliver bonas lexi dress

THLT oliver bonas dress

THLT oliver bonas lexi jacquard dress2

THLT oliver bonas lexi dress2

THLT oliver bonas lexi jacquard dress

THLT oliver bonas dress2
dress: oliver bonas – shoes: target – lipstick: bo ho cosmetics in 103

Spring Forward

I’m already looking ahead to Spring, and it’s not even really here yet.  B and I started plannning our new and expanded #discoverygarden in the middle of February, with snow actively falling.  In the fall, B and I broke up our front yard (old dead lawn) and right-of-way to make room for more garden space. We’ve now tripled our previous garden square footage! I can’t wait for when we can finally plant at the end of April and the start of May.

The weather here in Denver is still frigid though, so I’m still dressing the part with dark colors and wool. The bright late 2000’s J.Crew style lipstick is still going strong, today with Nars ‘Funny Face’.  I’m also still on my shopping ban though, so everything here is old or a hand me down from my sister. I did break my shopping ban to back this kickstarter project though – It was just too good to pass up!

Teacher Burn-out

The straight path to teacher burnout goes right through the district and the high school I work at.  There – I said it aloud to the public internets. My school and my district is burning me out.

I worked a 13 hour day this past week, and the rest were 10 hour days. These long days *only* include teaching five 60 minute periods, planning 3 different lesson plans (one of which is a college level course), and depending on the day, giving 100% attention to one hour-long department/grade level/staff/team meetings, and tutoring students during after school and lunch time office hours, all without a lunch break because students first. By the time my day ended at 8:30pm last Tuesday, with all lessons ready for the next day, I felt so stressed I could barely talk and when I could, it was only to pick a frustration fight with B.

One of the values I hear constantly in my school district is “students first”.  I’m totally on board with this – my teaching should be centered around what students need and how to facilitate their learning. But what it feels like, is students first, at the expense of teachers. It feels like we have a constant revolving door of teachers at my school, especially in the science department. In our district, there was a 22% teacher turnover rate from 14/15 to 15/16, well above the national average of 14%. At my high school, the science department has experienced an average 50% turnover for the past 5 years.

So what is the plan for teacher burnout? There doesn’t seem to be any plan in my district to retain teachers at all farther than “we are the highest paying district in the area” (which isn’t saying much, actually). This past week, our district superintendent came to visit for a Q & A session (don’t even get me started on how set up and fake it all felt), and when asked about his plan for teacher burnout and such low retention rates, he pulled a smooth move and basically said a lot of things without saying anything at all. Frankly I’m surprised my district is not more proactive about teacher retention, considering how costly a revolving door of teachers can be. I don’t even want more money – I just want the time and space to grow and be a better teacher. At least with my admin I feel heard, but not helped.

Instead, I’ve gone searching for help myself. I hosted a learning lab today where a group of experienced teachers came to watch a lesson in my class. Afterwards, we all debriefed, did some research, and discussed ways to increase thinking and build more inquiry into a science lesson. It was all together extremely inspiring, and I’ve agreed to host another learning lab in a couple weeks. I’ve also been asking teachers how they plan and will be searching more into how I can streamline my planning process and make it more efficient.  Lastly, I really need to just be ok with having mediocre lecture based lessons sometimes, because those are the ones I can get done quickly. It’s the only way I’ll be able to keep my sanity and not harbor bitterness, which leads to burnout.

Sorry for the big rant, readers, but I reached a big breaking point this past week. I need some self care, and some time. I will pull through. In the mean time, here are some old photos from before the break that I never got around to posting.  The dress is from Anthropologie, and the colorful pattern is really not my usual thing. But I loved the embroidery, and it just felt special, so I snapped it up from the sale section.

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norblack-norwhite

glasses: warby parker – dress and tights: anthropologie – boots: dr. martins

Pyjama Day

I went shopping this past weekend at the mall here in Denver, and actually hid from a student.  By hide, I mean I turned around and faced a wall/ATM. I guess I wasn’t in the mood for an awkward, weird exchange, and it seemed like I hadn’t been spotted yet. So I hid. That’s normal, right? B didn’t really think so.

Anyways, at said mall where I hid from a kid, I picked up this sack dress from Anthropologie (on super sale).  It’s so soft (cotton/rayon) the dress feels like it should be worn to bed instead of worn to work.  So I wore pyjamas to school on Monday and it felt glorious.

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dress: anthropologie – boots: madewell

14ers

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B and I hiked another two 14ers last weekend. After our first one, we got the itch, so we squeezed a double whammy in before the weather turns for Fall. Gray’s Peak and Torrey’s Peak are right next to each other and are usually climbed as a two-for deal. I’m not going to lie though, this one was tough. It was only a little more mileage and elevation climb than Mt. Bierstadt, but for some reason this one felt harder. I started to feel pretty loopy in the head (lack of oxygen) about 3/4 of the way up the first peak, Gray’s. I pushed through though, and boy, was it worth it. The view at the top was breathtaking, literally and figuratively. It feels amazing to be on top of the Rocky Mountains. The second peak on the other hand, became a trudge-fest. I made it though, and felt pretty darn proud of myself. I’m not the fittest person ever, but darn it I can climb a mountain!

I started this week with a new top from Anthropologie. I think I have a pretty good pirate costume piece here, all I will have to do is engineer myself a peg-leg and find an eyepatch! It’s a darn comfy and cute top, but I paid a relatively hefty price for it, even on sale. I just have to remind myself “cost-per-wear”.

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glasses: warby parker – top: anthropologie – jeans: mother denim – shoes: mia

First Week

The first week of school is done! It was a rough week trying to get my body to physically adjust back to being in the classroom with students. I wasn’t hungry when I actually had time to eat, and I was starving during 5th period when I don’t have any breathing time till around 2:30. My restroom break schedule still needs tweaking around my teaching schedule. To help that, I’ve been forgetting to drink any “not coffee” type liquids. By the time next Friday rolls around, I will have whipped my body back into teaching shape with the bladder made of iron.

This year I’ve decided to document my entire “first week back” wardrobe. This is a fashion blog, after all, and there is no more important sartorial week in a teachers year than the first week back. Am I right? This week’s wardrobe is pretty typical for me – I start off with a few nice (read: dress or skirt) and casual it up for the rest of the days, ending with a bang of super dress-down on Fridays.

Monday: 9th grade only (I do not have classes, as I teach 10th and 12th graders this year). I forgot to take photos that day in the classroom, so B helped me snap a couple on my phone when I got home. Giant forehead alert!

first day of school2

first day of school

glasses: warby parker – cardigan: american apparel – dress: j.crew – shoes: saltwater sandals

Tuesday: My actual first day of school. I don’t know what I was thinking putting this outfit together the night before, because I hated it all day at school. I think the shoes have got to go to a friend who has a desk job, because they were not comfortable at all for making laps in the hallways. The skirt was too tight in the waist (summer pleasures brought on a fall squeeze) and kept climbing upwards when I walked. It’s a old skirt, and I used to love it, but I think it’s passed it’s peak. The shirt on the other hand, I love.

jcrew ruffle hem silk top

jcrew ruffle hem silk tank

glasses: warby parker – top: j.crew – skirt: dkny jeans – shoes: h&m

Wednesday: the short day. We have block schedule at my school on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This means I have prep periods all morning, teach only one 1.5 hr class, and then we have early release for grade team and all staff meetings. I love Wednesdays, obvi

3x1 channel jeans

anthropologie leather trim tank

shirt: anthropologie – belt: banana republic – jeans: 3×1 – shoes: mia

Thursday: OMG save me type of a day. Thursdays is the opposite of Wednesdays this year. I teach straight through for 5.5 hrs before I get a real break. By the end of Thursday I could barely remember my own name.

beastie boys shirt

beastie boys shirt2

glasses: warby parker – shirt: target – skirt: banana republic – shoes: mia

Friday: Thank god the weekend is here, I survived! This Friday, I busted out a slam dunk of a first week of school t-shirt, a real gem for this science teacher. B’s mum sent over a super stuffed birthday package for me this year, full of gummy candies, gorgeous smelling soaps, gardening gloves, and an awesome science shirt! It is seriously the best, and the kids definitely liked it. The shirt is from a small Perth based Etsy shop called ScienceStitch. I think mum found the shirt in Perth, so I’m sorry if you’re looking for the same shirt online.

i do science tshirt

science stitch

i do science

t-shirt: science stitch – belt: gap – jeans: 3×1 – shoes: nike (omg, like walking on clouds!)

Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi – Part 2

For Part One, check out this post here.

After Melbourne, B and I headed up to the Sunshine Coast for his brother Kai’s wedding to Jill. I’d met Kai once before, but only knew Jill via social media. I’d also never met B’s dad (he doesn’t travel out of Aus much), so this was pretty exciting for me. It was great to spend time with B’s parents and creep on how many behaviors and mannerisms B picked up from his mum and dad. B’s dad Craig runs a dive shop down in Bremer Bay, which is a hot spot for Sea Dragons. After many years of observing and tracking behavior and distribution of Sea Dragons, he’s probably one of the world’s leading experts on these delicate and beautiful organisms.

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The wedding itself was of course absolutely beautiful, taking place in the temperate rainforest, by a lake. Checkout their wedding video here, to get a feel of the setting and the event. I got my first taste of Australian wildlife here, when possums came to visit us at night looking for a treat. They are really, really cute. I round out the hard way though, that they actually have sharp claws. oops. For the wedding, I chose to bring a dress I found at Anthropologie that seemed appropriate enough. I had a ridiculously hard time finding a dress to wear that was not white, black and was not covered in flowers. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I spent too much time having fun at the wedding, and forgot to get any full photos of me in the dress. Jill and Kai looked amazing, as they always do, as did all of the Lebenses. The wedding was a 2 day affair, and the next day we spent time at Aussie World running around jumping on rides and driving bumper cars. IMG_0378

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Our last day in the Queensland, we stopped by Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo for a few hours before flying out of Brisbane. Oh my god, I was so happy. I got to pet Koalas! and Kangaroos! So ridiculously cute and amazing. I spend the whole time there running from animal to animal, and poor B, Mum, and Peter had to jog at some points to try and keep up.  Crickey!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Part 3: Perth coming soon! Teachers report back in 2 weeks! I’m not ready.