Two-Bit Musings.

Six One Way, Half a Dozen The Other.

Notes on my 12-year career as an educator.

. . .

Part 1: In The Classroom

Anyone who knows me—in real life, or via this blog—knows I’m a teacher.

I pretty much knew I wanted to teach high school English since I was about 17 or so. It was my favorite subject, and seemed like a natural fit for an aspiring writer like me. I also loved school: the fresh notebooks and gel pens; the family-like bond created within each classroom; the fresh starts; the chalkboard handwriting.

So off I went to college, declaring my Secondary English Education major, and beginning the truly transformational journey that is undergrad.

Dorm-room friendships. Buffet-style cafeteria meals. My Sony Discman. Study sessions. Computer mishaps. Movies. Discussions. Hair dye. Open-Mic Nights.

I really loved it all.

And four years later I accepted my diploma, literally danced a little jig on my way off the stage, and headed into Philly that night, to start my new life.

SnapDragon in The City, yo.

About halfway through undergrad I realized I wanted to teach in the city. I had learned about the inequities in funding, and the “emergency” certifications issued due to the lack of instructors. As a privileged kid from the suburbs—we had a planetarium in our high school—this angered me. Shouldn’t school be a safe, fully-functioning place?

So into the city I went, eager to help. I interviewed with the district before I even graduated from college, and was guaranteed placement in a high school for the 2009-2010 school year.

And what followed, Dear Reader, were six complete school years in the same building. Six school years which shaped me, possibly more so than any other experience of my life.

And it was hard.

22 years old. Every single student taller than me. Wanting to inspire. Wanting to reinvent the wheel. Bitter colleagues. Broken system. Zero follow-through. Entitled parents.

The foulest language you’ve ever heard. Stolen wallet. Angry stares. Administrative walk-throughs. Hopelessness.

But it was also incredible.

Hilarious stories. Smiling teenagers. Real talks. Creative writing.

The Book Closet. Twinkling lights. Dunkin’ Donuts. Talent Shows. Drama performances.

There’s so much that happened—too much that I could ever recount in a single blog post. But let it be known that I loved my kids—all of them—and when I chose to take a break in 2015, it was simply due to burnout. Any teacher who says they’ve never experienced it is either a goddamn robot or they’re lying to you.

It happens.

And this was a hard time for me, Dear Reader. I walked away from my classroom for a chance at a university job—just a chance—and when I realized I was “no longer a teacher” (which really wasn’t true, I was just on break) it felt like a punch in the gut.

Who the heck was I now?

. . .

Part 2: Behind The Scenes

As it turns out, I landed the job.

I was a Regional Manager for a grant-funded program, one that worked to get underserved high school kids prepared for college and careers. I was the university partner, who oversaw two district teams who implemented various programs at the schools.

Sounds great, right?

It was a friggin’ mess.

It’s not worth getting into the weeds of it, trust me. It was a well-intentioned program, with some truly remarkable people and a few shining moments, but at the end of the day it was a gigantic stack of worthless paperwork that gave me a headache for like a year straight.

I’ll check my paperwork so you can check my paperwork, and then it’ll go into a Huge Important File that no one will ever look at.

But it’s important, because we’re helping kids.

(pats self on back)

Sign-in sheets. Databases. Conference calls. Business trips. Matching Dollars. Unallowable Expenses. A handful of actual interactions with students.

I survived two years of it, and perhaps by an act of grace was laid off, along with the two other Regional Managers.

And just like that, it was over.

So the remaining four years of my career—Jesus, can that be right?—was a déjà vu of sorts. My supervisor thought we should take the good parts of the grant program and make our own version. Would I be interested in applying?

Sure!

A year and a half later, when the position was officially created, I interviewed. I wore a pinstriped blazer and put my best SnapDragon foot forward. I gave a pretty kick-ass presentation. I felt like my old teacher-self again. I got this, yo.

And I did. I got the job.

So I took all of my experience, both in Philly and in the suburbs, and put pen to paper.

This would be a program of quality over quantity. It would be free. It would be simple yet powerful, even if I was starting out as a team of one.

I’m a teacher. We make something out of nothing everyday.

And my Dear Reader, the stars seemed aligned against me during the two-plus years in this role.

Change in leadership. Then another change. Differing views as to what my job description really entailed. Maternity leave ten weeks earlier than expected. A fucking pandemic.

So I got my notice of another lay off.

(shrugs)

O-kay. There goes that.

. . .

Part 3: Happy at Home

So there we have it: Twelve years (with a little unemployment thrown in there) in the life of an educator.

And I’m thankful for them, truly. All of them.

My behind-the-scenes work gave me autonomy. I slept in. I traveled to New Orleans, DC, and San Francisco. I ate Wawa breakfast burritos and listened to Paul Simon as I drove to meetings. I tried, in my SnapDragon way, to find meaning in a seemingly futile program.

And of course my days in the classroom. . . well, I still have dreams about them. I do.

I was the best version of myself then. When I think of my greatest professional moments, I think of my kids. I think of my colored chalk; I think of the conch shell. I remember when students would say, “You’re the only teacher I have who seems to care.”

And I did care, love.

And I’ve never stopped.

I tried and I failed and I tried again. I learned. I gained humility. I gained friends who were in my life for only a brief time, but who will be remembered forever.

So on this next leg of the journey—who knows, will it be another six years?—I’ll still identify as a teacher.

Toddler Snap is on the move, learning and exploring each day. I aim to help and guide him. I aim to teach him.

I will keep my creative-educator spirit alive, by writing. By making art. Reading. Talking and sharing. Researching and reflecting on the opportunities I’ve been given.

Because the learning never stops.

So neither will I, Dear Reader.

Neither will I.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and occasional light blue Gatorade-drinker.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for Two-Bit Musings and more.

Two-Bit Musings.

Reasons I’m Currently Overwhelmed:

A List.

. . .

1. I’m an artist. A writer. A teacher. Feelings of paralyzed inspiration are, unfortunately, just par for the course.

2. I’m tired. While my terror-filled nightmares have made way for frustrating-scenario-type dreams in recent years, I still ain’t gettin’ much rest. Please. I just want one night without a cerebral shit-show.

3. I’ve got too many wires. Internet everywhere. Calls. Texts. Newsfeeds. Emails. Insta-whatever. Zoom meetings. How is a person expected to keep up?

4. The news.

5. Unrealistic expectations are eating my sanity. And it’s my own doing. I’m constantly judging myself. Clean the house! Exercise! Purge all of the clothes, books, and trinkets you no longer use! Post a blog! Work on your novel! Paint! Relax! Why won’t you relax, Snap?

(she blinks)

I’m trying, love.

24 hours sometimes seems like nothing at all.

. . .

SnapDragon is fresh outta sorts today.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon if you want to read the ramblings of a weirdo.

Two-Bit Musings.

500 and Counting, Yo.

Woah! Maybe Snap’s got something to say after all?

(she shrugs and smiles)

. . .

Hey hey hey!

I got notified by the WordPress fairies that I have over 500 followers!

I feel like a cool kid! Like the belle of the ball!

Like. . . the world is my friggin’ oyster, yo!

(whispers: “Wait . . . Who’s SnapDragon?”)

. . .

So stay tuned for more Two-Bit Musings.

More Desert Island Picks.

More treasures from the Book Nook.

More art.

More fun.

More half-witted reflections on this fumbling, bumbling experience we call life.

‘Cuz we in this together, love.

And I thank you.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, reader, painter, collector of funky earrings, and old-soul drinker of coffee, in all of its glorious forms.

Follow if you dare. (Or if you’re bored. Either one.)

Two-Bit Musings.

Unpeeled.

Hi.

. . .

Hello there, Dear Reader. Whoever and wherever you are, love.

How magical it is that we’re meeting here in cyberspace. Complete strangers, living our little lives.

Perhaps we’re a continent or two apart. Or maybe we’re neighbors unbeknownst.

Yet we’re in each other’s homes, in each other’s lives.

Here. Now.

And maybe by the time your eyes skim these uploaded words, your blue light glasses trying their damndest to let you read just one more post, chapter, or page, I’ll have curled up beneath the comforter and drifted to a much-needed dreamless sleep.

And yet our words stay up. Alert. Dedicated.

Alive.

. . .

Who:

SnapDragon X. Writer of fictions, writer of poetry. Lazy painter of cartoonish women in the nude. Homemaker just barely keeping her head above the dishwater. Out-of-the-traditional-classroom educator. Atheist. CD-lover. Former makeup-wearer.

What:

Experiencing feelings of preoccupation; dysphoria; anger; bloat. Also: bliss; synesthesia; rebirth; gratitude.

Where:

(she writes down her precise mailing address in neat, all-capital letters)

When:

All of the todays.

Why:

Doesn’t want to be someone who blindly goes through life, unquestioningly eating the fodder before her. Wants to consume the arts with abandon but also create with purpose. Wants her house, her clothes, her tastes to be unapologetic reflections of her chipped-teacup kind of soul.

How:

Sixty seconds. Sixty minutes. Bit by bit by bit by bit by bit by bit by bit by bit by bit.

. . .

SnapDragon is a weirdo artist who self-identifies as a curvy-petite badass.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for musings from her outspoken, RV-traveling, book-and-TV-obsessed life.

Two-Bit Musings.

Friday Night Brain Dump.

Jesus, Snap. Again? Yup. It’s 2020. And I feel like a pair of sweatpants well past their prime.

Dontcha, 2020. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved. (Dude, this Aloe, yo. It’s taking over society.)
  1. Heart’s on Fire. Well, it’s racing, anyway. My iWatch tells me my resting heart rate is in the 90s. Ugh.
  2. Less Really is More. The older I get, and the deeper I dive into the bowels of Academia, the more I realize that it has always been about quality over quantity. Period.
  3. I Might be 85. I’m a sucker for Bath & Body Works coupons. (And, all coupons, really.) I’ve scored so many ‘free’ bottles of lotion of the years, it’s like Christmas morning inside my bathroom drawers. Moonlight Path? I’m not sure why I have this. It still smells like Old Lady Perfume.
  4. I Have an Anxiety Disorder. I get nervous over things I shouldn’t. I know this. I treat this. I just wish I could clap my hands and fucking relax, yo.
  5. Paint Slice. I’ve been experiencing small moments of artistic inspiration. Cool ideas for paintings I wish would have been around when I didn’t spend my spare time happily washing cloth diapers and reading Little Blue Truck.

And that, my Dear Reader, is that.

What’s your Brain Dump today?

. . .

SnapDragon is a teacher, writer, artist, and sometimes Instagram-poster.

Follow her Two-Bit Musings and more on Snippets of SnapDragon.

The Poetry Pot.

Bruises.

Poem 3. Written by SnapDragon X.

. . .

i will not stop.

the cause is too important.

among the pencil shavings and piles of seemingly perfunctory paper

i continue to speak.

i see you.

i hear you.

i love you.

and i will not give up the fight.

. . .

SnapDragon is an educator, artist, and homemaker. She prefers listening over speaking.

Follow her Two-Bit Musings and more on Snippets of SnapDragon.

Two-Bit Musings.

Hope.

We Three, 2020. Pennsylvania.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

Back when I was teaching, and my students dashed out the second the bell rang, I would close my classroom door.

Take a breath.

And turn on my music.

I would sit next to the window, and try to forget the rapid beating of my heart.

I would try to ignore the anger in my veins at the strange adults who had “visited” and judged us all without even saying hello.

And as the chords worked their magic, I remembered just why, in fact, I was there.

For the smile on her face.

For the laughter and the silliness and the forgiveness in their eyes.

To provide even the smallest space of belonging, of family, of hope.

So I’d wash the board and try again.

And again.

. . .

SnapDragon is an educator, artist, writer, and caller of bullshit.

Follow her Two-Bit Musings and more on Snippets of SnapDragon.