These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things…


Does the sample section directly next to the checkout line at your local beauty and cosmetic store send you to a happy place? Those tiny, shiny little bottles tucked in cozy in their brilliantly placed display as you wait in that ridiculously long line, despite there being six registers, but only two open? Your honest goal was to get in and out, knowing full well what you needed and where it was in the store. Unfortunately, your good intentions are thrown into chaos as the perfectly airbrushed beauty associate wearing the latest matte lip color comments on how much she “loves that product”and that mascara is “buy one get one today only” and “can I offer you a bag for all your products as you browse?”

I hate you beauty associate!

Not really, though. You encourage the girly girl deep inside me that wants to try out all the testers in the store, get matched for a high end foundation, spray the little white cards with perfumes and stow them away in my purse, and then, just maybe for a few moments, forget that money doesn’t grow on trees.

My latest trip to my favorite beauty and cosmetic store resulted in the beauty associate literally chatting with me for 30 minutes (using all that fancy cosmetic lingo you only could know from watching Beauty Youtubers) like we were BFF’s since 2nd grade while I innocently shuffled through all the goodies in the sample section at the checkout line. I realized during this experience in the alternate universe of the checkout line, that this selection of items are reasonably priced and allows my fairly cheap self to try out some of the most popular products on the market. Anyone who has been in my bathroom knows that when I find a product I never cheat on it. But, the time has come to venture out.

For all the other women just like me getting sucked in at the sample display, here are a few of my favorite things:


Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo

My holy grail dry shampoo, Batiste, was too large to travel with on my recent trip to Las Vegas with my mom. I picked up this sample bottle of dry shampoo and it BLEW ME AWAY! My thick and heavy hair LOVED the revived volume this gave me. As well as ZERO powder residue and a fantastic citrus scent. Has anyone tried other things from this brand? Because this stuff is fantastic!


Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herb, and Rosewater

I’ve never really understood the purpose of a facial mist, probably because I’ve got the most sensitive skin on the planet. But, the infamous Mario Badescu has made me a believer. The light floral smell, refreshing mist, and summery dewiness this tiny little bottle offered is fabulous. I have used this after cleansing and moisturizing, after applying make-up for an event, and randomly throughout the day because it is freaking hot in north Texas. I’m tempted to try out his other skin care products because this is legit.


Living Proof Restore Instant Repair

I have NEVER found a cream leave-in hair treatment that did not weight down my thick mane, making it look greasy and stringy. A former student provided me with these samples several weeks ago. I loved it SO much, I have ordered a bottle. I simply apply a tiny amount a few times a week to my damp hair, add in my usual It’s A 10, and style accordingly. Not only do I feel like my hair is trying to resemble Jennifer Aniston’s hair, but the citrus smell and silkiness this miracle provides is everything you want in a treatment. Also, considering I wait WAY too long between hair cuts, this stuff makes my hair look like I just walked out of the salon. Go get you some, girl.


Kate Somerville Eradikate Acne In A Snap!

Again, another sample from a former student. This tiny little cotton swab has a magical pink tip that soaks up a medicated formula, and when applied to a blemish (I use at night and wash off in the morning) it dries that sucker up and sends it to its grave! One cotton swab is more than enough for multiple blemishes and the individually wrapped swabs are PERFECT for travelling or your purse.


EOS Lip Balm

Thank you EOS for making something that wasn’t a freaking ball shape from hell! That thing in your purse looked like you were carrying around a freaking ping pong ball for the heck of it. For whatever reason, I like this formula better than that stupid sphere. It feels more slick and this tube is lasting me forever! Only a few of their scents/flavors transferred to the stick and can be found at most drugstores. Yet again, this is one of the few things I can put on my super sensitive lips without having a reaction…maybe because it is 95% organic!

That’s that! What are a few of your favorite things?

xx- Jenna

**all images and opinions are my own

It’s Time


It’s time to end this chapter.
The chapter that ends this book.
Pack the yellow highlighted and messily annotated novels in the plastic bin and hope the lid seals.
Test out the markers to see which went the distance, knowing full well nothing survived.
Gently roll the posters, securing with smiley face stickers.
Give away supplies that can be bought there, no sense in bringing the old to the new.
No sense in bringing those light bulb moments somewhere that no one could ever fully appreciate.
Close the door one last time.
It is locked now, you no longer have the key.
Smile while walking away, vision blurred from tears.
Laughter was loud there, tears had been shed, lessons were learned (on purpose and not).
You got to be a small part of something oh, so great.
With heart full, continue on.
Next step of the final chapter: the final page.
Purge through memories in those boxes that only saw the sun when up north, never making a southern appearance, kept in the box subconsciously hoping to go back.
Wedding photos.
High school newspaper clippings.
Old dishes.
Willed Christmas decorations from 2009.
Memories from hundreds of chapters back.
Hundreds of chapters back. Hundreds of chapters back.
Decided. Written. Worth it. All leading to now.
The now is now.
Hits you right between the eyes, what you’ve been waiting years for since you stepped foot here.
Time to click your heels.
“There’s no place like home.”
The boxes ask, “What is worthy of the sequel?”
The heart replies with a smile, “Time will decide.”
The memories, not yet made but waiting to be experienced.
The lessons to be learned (on purpose and not) just waiting to be lived.
The life being built in the future ahead. A beautiful addition to what foundation has been laid, here in this place that seemed like a hiccup in your plans.
The new book awaits, a sequel of sorts.
Fresh pages.
Uncracked seam.
Chapter #1 begins now.
It’s time.

Drop That Beat

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”  -Friedrich Nietzsche

The soundtrack for my life thus far is what one would expect when creating that movie soundtrack that no one would buy…except me. Random songs remind me of getting dressed for senior Prom, or riding in my best friend’s Lebaron convertible to cheerleading practice in the summer, or while grocery shopping for “cheap” items at Whole Foods with ear buds in trying to be a hipster. I like unique. I like soulful. I like instrumental. I like calming. I like the sound quite often more than the lyrics. Every once in awhile, that song comes around, totally unexpected, and I could listen to it over and over again, alone, not sharing that special sound with anyone until I meet someone who will appreciate it (unlike my mom in the 90’s with Maxwell’s “Fortunate” blaring on the surround sound on Saturday morning. The opening vocals are burned in my mind for eternity (love ya, ma)).

Here’s what is soothing my soul during my current life stage. Whether I’m looking to practice my mindfulness meditation, looking to avoid crying when I’ve had a long day at work, looking away from the bathroom scale after a night of Piada pasta and breadsticks, or just looking for something for my soul:

Picnic Biscuit: Sunset Lover

Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop: Every Songbird Says

DJ Snake feat. Bipolar Sunshine: Middle

Francesca Battistelli: If We’re Honest

Miley Cyrus: Jolene

This music and a lot of others are posted on my SoundCloud-but, fair warning, it isn’t exactly organized, genre specific, artist categorized…it is just whatever felt right at the moment got thrown on a playlist. You’ll see what I mean…

So, friend of the internet, enjoy your musical moments. They are nostalgic reminders of those memories not forgotten but easily ignored.

xx- Jenna

Two Shakespeare Movies For The High School Classroom

As a high school English teacher, I know how hard it can be to incorporate Shakespeare into the classroom. Let alone generate enough interest to avoid eye rolling and near crying (on the part of the student and yourself). So, here are two films I’ve used in my classroom that were incorporated successfully, followed by ratings and my teacher tips!

Romeo and Juliet


Movie: West Side Story 

Rating: PG-13. Depending on your district, you may need a permission slip to view – some death scenes mixed in with a lot of singing and dancing.

Tips: This film is rather lengthy at over 2 hours. Because the film is a musical, there are obvious scenes that are not needed to maintain the plot and comparison to Shakespeare’s play. I’d recommend previewing yourself and determining what scenes are vital to your lesson. Be prepared for students getting antsy if you try to view more than is needed. Teenagers are not fond of excessive singing and dancing. But, when they can start to make more current day connections to Shakespeare through the Jets and Sharks to the Capulets and Montagues, you’ll maintain interest. Several activities can be developed regarding family structure, societal norms, gangs, and bullying.

Taming of the Shrew


Movie: 10 Things I Hate About You 

Rating: PG-13. Regardless of your district, I’d HIGHLY recommend a permission slip to view for this film – underage drinking and profanity.

Tips: Comedy, relevant teenage angst, awesome 90’s trends…This film is an easy view and can generate wonderful discussion on sibling rivalry, secrets, gambling, and popularity in high school. However, there are numerous scenes with profanity and partying. I definitely suggest previewing ahead of time to cut these scenes out or mute certain dialogue. Your students will fight to view the entire film, and you could easily do this if allowed. Several comparative analysis lessons can be incorporated with this film and the play. Names, dilemmas, etc…this film is the current day Taming of the Shrew. Because of the films appeal to teenagers, you could use this film at any point in reading the play-pre, during, or post.

These films are obviously geared to a more mature crowd, particularly when your focus is a Shakespeare unit. Speak with your district about movie guidelines prior to committing to the movies above. From my personal experience, both films worked tremendously well when digging into Shakespeare and tackling the language to understand the purpose.

Happy reading – and viewing – in your secondary classroom!


My Morning Skin Care Routine

Just recently, I posted about my evening cleansing routine (here) and my passion for a clean and refreshed face before bed. There is something about washing the day away and unwinding for the evening that is so luxurious. To continue with facial beauty products and regimens, I’m sharing my morning skin care routine. And again, every product is under $10 at your local drugstore!

Step #1: Cleansing Oil


Yes! This is the same oil I used in the evening when I rotate with my facial scrub. It is THAT effective! It is the Neutrogena Ultra-Light Cleansing Oil ($9). I will use 3 pumps of this in my hand and massage onto a dry face. This is like a little facial all in itself! I will massage in circular motions (focusing on problem areas) for up to 5 minutes. Facial massage is a huge propionate in avoiding dull, aging skin. I’ve followed Lisa Eldridge’s cleansing routine for awhile now (here). She is fabulous and so are her tips.  The oil provides a slick surface that allows you to avoid pulling on your skin, but gets a nice clean. Using this oil daily has evened out the oil production on my face. I’m not dry, I’m not oily. It’s a perfect balance. When done massaging, I will put some water in my hands, add it to the oil on my face, and allow it to emulsify. I’ll let it suds a bit and then thoroughly rinse clean. This stuff is so gentle you can use it on your eye lids without irritation. I use this product every morning.

Step #2: Moisturize


You know how much I love moisturized skin in the evening, and the morning time is no different! The Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer Lotion with SPF 15 ($8) is a subtle moisturizer with a light scent that dries quick and provides sun protection with a bit of SPF. The particular formula I use is for sensitive skin, hence the small green portion at the bottom of the packaging. There is no irritation whatsoever. The bottle has a screw top to prevent leaking and the bottle size is very generous at 6 fluid ounces, compared to my evening RoC moisturizer at 1 fluid ounce. When wearing makeup for the day, this product does not add that greasy look to your foundation or powder. It acts as a great base to prevent your makeup from caking or sticking to dry and uneven patches. I’ve used this day time moisturizer for over 3 years. Unless Olay discontinues this, I can’t see myself using anything else!

As you can see, my morning routine is simple yet effective. I tend to put in my work in the evening when I can devote time and care for a good night’s rest.

I hope this helps for those of you creating a well-rounded morning and evening routine, without breaking the bank. As always, these products and opinions are solely my own and work with MY skin type: normal and super sensitive. I will only use and share things I enjoy and I know have benefits. All of these products can be found in your local drugstore and online. Happy cleansing!

xx- Jenna


**all images and prices from

My Night Time Skin Care Routine

I love my evening cleansing routine. Washing the day away is refreshing and relaxing. My husband often jokes about my ritual, as it takes me about 15 minutes. I’ll even hear him from the living room asking if I’m done yet! And the answer is always, “no”. I just enjoy it. The warm water, the removal of all the stress from the day, the amazingly scented products…swoon!

I want to share the products I enjoy and the routine I’ve been following religiously for about a year and half. The key here has been every.single.night. No matter how tired I am, I do it. And I’m grateful in the morning and for the long haul. And every product is under $20 at your local drugstore!

Step #1: Tone and Acne Treat


I don’t use this product specifically for acne reasons, but I find that OXY Cleansing Pads Acne Treatment ($5) remove facial makeup (like my foundation) and daily build-up PRIOR to cleansing, allowing my cleanser to work properly. I absolutely hate the feeling of just swooshing my foundation around my face with some soap. It doesn’t completely rinse off, leaving a residue over my skin when I sleep. Gross. While having super sensitive skin, I’ve tried drugstore and high end toners and facial wipe products. This is the ONLY product I’ve tried that does not cause my skin to turn bright red, swell, and radiate heat like an atomic bomb. The smell is a bit chemical based, but it has never left my face dry. I’ll use two wipes on my entire face and under the chin. Obviously, this product should stay away from your eyes since it is a bit harsh.

Step #2 part A: Cleansing Oil


Garnier discontinued my absolute holy grail cleansing oil (insert ugly cry face). Darn you, Garnier! The next best thing that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg is the Neutrogena Ultra-Light Cleansing Oil ($9) and the pump doesn’t leak everywhere like the Garnier pump did. After I use my OXY Pads, I will use 3 pumps of this in my hand and massage onto a dry face. This is like a little facial all in itself! I will massage in circular motions (focusing on problem areas) for up to 5 minutes. Facial massage is a huge propionate in avoiding dull, aging skin. I’ve followed Lisa Eldridge’s cleansing routine for awhile now (here). She is fabulous and so are her tips.  The oil provides a slick surface that allows you to avoid pulling on your skin, but gets a nice clean. Using this oil daily has evened out the oil production on my face. I’m not dry, I’m not oily. It’s a perfect balance. When done massaging, I will put some water in my hands, add it to the oil on my face, and allow it to emulsify. I’ll let it suds a bit and then thoroughly rinse clean. This stuff is so gentle you can use it on your eye lids without irritation. I use this product 4 nights out of the week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The product listed below is used the evenings in-between.

Step #3 part B: Exfoliate


I am an exfoliating junky. If exfoliating every day wasn’t a crime for your skin, I’d do it. The St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub ($5) has been a staple for me since I was in my early 20’s. My mom has used this since I was a little girl. It has been given numerous awards, such as Readers’ Choice from Allure Magazine. Needless to say, you need this in your life. The product feels really grainy, but it is luxurious on your face. I’ll use a quarter sized amount, 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday). I press fairly hard, vigorously moving the product around my face and neck. I avoid my eyes at all costs, as this stuff is too abrasive for that delicate area. Even with easily annoyed skin, the apricot extract is quite soothing. You’ll notice a little redness, as it is sloughing off the rough skin on the surface. But, the redness will only last 10 minutes or so, then you’re left with soft, glowing skin. Holy grail!

Step #4: Eye Cream


The RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Eye Cream ($20) is a very new product to my evening routine. I’m always extremely weary of eye products since my skin is prone to negative reactions. I did a lot of research, and this product kept appearing for its focus on sensitive skin, particularly skin sensitive to Retinol. I went ahead and splurged, fingers crossed the whole time, and this product is a hidden gem. I use a small drop and gently massage under my eyes and outward to my brow bone. I’ve had no irritation whatsoever. It does take a bit to soak in, but it leaves my under eye area looking dewy. My under eye concealer goes on much smoother now with no creasing, my genetic discoloration is improving, and I’ve seen a small difference in fine lines, but I’m sure over time the results will become more noticeable. The tube is a squeeze bottle with a tiny tip, only allowing a small bit of the product out at a time. It also has a screw top, which prevents anything from leaking out. If you’re looking for an eye cream that is super sensitive, but does the job, !

Step #5: Moisturize


Again, another new product and my favorite part of my evening routine, moisturizing! Enter the RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream ($20). Just like the RoC eye cream, this is great! It sinks in quickly, has a velvety feel, and a very light scent. There is no irritation and the Retinol component is just enough to combat aging without the harshness Retinol can bring. The tube is a bit small, but I’m finding that I only need a quarter size, compared to other brands where I used a handful. After the eye cream has penetrated my skin enough, I’ll massage this in an upward motion all over my face and neck. It applies evenly and smoothly. The tube is lasting awhile, considering the size. It is a squeeze bottle with a screw top, which is convenient and mess free. I love this stuff.

I hope this helps for those of you looking for new products, attempting to create an evening cleansing routine, or just need some guidance overall. These products and opinions are solely my own and work with MY skin type: normal and super sensitive. I will only use and share things I enjoy and I know have benefits. All of these products can be found in your local drugstore and online. Happy cleansing!

xx- Jenna


**all images and prices from

Liebster Award


I recently got a notification on my blog from the wonderful EATLIVETRAVELDRINK. I always enjoy getting comments on my blog posts, but this comment was unexpected and quite special! EATLIVETRAVELDRINK nominated me for the Liebster Award! This award is given from bloggers to bloggers, allowing all of us to get to know one another better AND encouraging one another’s blogs. Don’t cha just love the blogging community?

Without further adieu, here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Copy and paste the Liebster Award badge to your post.
  • Nominate 10 new bloggers.
  • Answer the 10 questions the person who nominated you asked you.
  • Create 10 new questions to ask the bloggers you nominate.
  • Notify the bloggers you have nominated by leaving them a comment on their blog.


  1. What is the number 1 thing on your bucket list? The number 1 thing on my bucket list would definitely be to travel to Norway. Since stumbling across amazing images on Instagram over a year ago, I’m obsessed. I literally wrote a blog post about my obsession here. Seriously, obsessed.
  2. What is your biggest fear? My biggest fear is failure. Failure to succeed, failure to make my loved ones happy, failure to do enough good with my life, failure to let my students down…just failure. Loath it. Try to avoid it.
  3. What is your favorite city in the world? I’ve only done a bit of traveling in my life, but I love Chicago. However, I’m biased, as I was born and raised just north of downtown (go visit in the summer months, you won’t regret it).
  4. What do you want to be when you grow up? A teacher (glad I found my calling already)…of whatever. I enjoy watching knowledge grow and being part of the growth. Love it.
  5. Favorite social media channel? Instagram. Hands down. Love the layout, love the community, love looking at pictures. You can follow me on Instagram here. Let me know you came from the blog so I can follow you back!
  6. What do you do professionally? High school teacher. 
  7. What made you decide to start a blog? I started the blog as a way to keep in touch with family that was living all over the globe. It eventually became a place for me to write and share my thoughts on education, food, places, and everything in between! 
  8. How do you find time to manage your blog and day to day life? I call myself a “weekend blogger”. As a full time high school teacher, wife, and dog mama, my weekends are MY TIME. I relax, spend time with my husband, walk my dogs, go to church, enjoy lazy mornings, cook/bake, and plan blog posts. Maybe one day I’ll find the time to write several times of week…I’d LOVE THAT! But, for now, I’ve got weekends and summer breaks.
  9. If you could teleport to any place in the world, where would it be? Norway!!!!!!!
  10. Who inspires you? My grandma. Every day, all day. She is wise, kind-hearted, welcoming, warm, and as fiesty as can get at 85 years young. She has ALWAYS been in my life, encouraging and supporting. Just love her with all I’ve got.

My Nominations:

  1. JJHeartBlog
  2. Travelux
  3. That Weird Girl Official
  4. 2 Classy Sisters
  5. Being Mrs. Fowler
  6. Corporate to Country
  7. Monograms & Moscato
  8. Thrifterlust
  9. Fields of Poppies
  10. The Helm Household

My questions for you:

  1. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
  2. What are your hobbies (other than your career and blogging)?
  3. If you could travel anywhere in the world that you’ve never been, where would it be?
  4. What has been your favorite travel destination and why?
  5. If you could do one thing for all of mankind, what would it be?
  6. If you could do anything for a day, what would that be?
  7. What is your fondest childhood memory?
  8. What motivates you?
  9. If you could have 1 superpower, what would that be?
  10. What advice would you give other bloggers about blogging?

xx- Jenna

The Falcon Life Book Club: “Feed” by M.T. Anderson


I just finished the Young Adult novel, Feed, by M.T. Anderson. Not my typical read and somewhat unique in its interpretation of the future, but nonetheless, a great book for YA’s. And, it has been recognized for several prestigious awards, such as being a finalist for the National Book Award for Young Adult Literature in 2012.

This sci-fi, dystopian novel was a refreshing read for me, as I don’t venture toward that genre often. The idea of a futuristic world driven by consumerism with such a different interpretation of the meaning of life, it took a bit of time to get used to. The diction was smooth and uncomplicated, making it an easy read. Even with this, the images the author created about our relationships to each other and the world we live is strikingly accurate and sometimes downright disturbing (to the point I looked up from the book and questioned if I should continue to read). The plot led me to believe the outcome of the events would be different. Needless to say, I didn’t see many of the plot twists coming. This may have been because I was so wrapped up in the futuristic setting, I wasn’t paying attention. Regardless, the tragedy of what future technologies could potentially do to the mind was eye opening and disturbing.

I do have reader bias to this text, simply because it is something that could be very relevant to the high school students I teach (I’ve written numerous times about my student struggles with the presence of technology, like here). The main character eventually realizes his denial towards mankind’s ability to totally obliterate itself. Often the characters will have “feed” discussions that are relevant to a current teenager: relationships, school, trends. But, the setting is in a simulated Earth not like our own.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5. It is an eye opening read to the human condition and what we are capable of doing to our own kind, especially our own planet. But, this message barely lingers until the final moments of the book.

Now, onto the next read!

xx- Jenna

5 Reasons You Need A Work #bestfrand

Ah, employment. The joys of having a career is what the American dream is all about.

Working 40+ hours a week, staring at the clock waiting for time to move forward only to realize the battery died. Taking random bathroom breaks to get a change of scenery. Considering taking up e-cigs to get fresh air before you roll your eyes yet again at the guy who can’t stop asking questions at a staff meeting. G-chatting the people who are 20 feet down the hall about how much you want a brownie. Organizing your post-its for the 15th time this week. Disliking so many songs on your Pandora station that it tells you to calm the heck down. And then, the heavens part, angels sing, and you can go home!

You skip to your car with the goofiest grin on your face, reapply that $20 lip gloss you use (sparingly, of course, in hopes of another raise to buy more), spinning around light polls while singing Shake Shake Shake by K.C. & The Sunshine Band, throwing glitter at the car that almost runs your stupid self over because you are FREE! Free to go home, put on your pajamas, throw your hair up in a ponytail that is nowhere near socially acceptable, watch all the Snapchat stories that you’ve so remorsefully neglected all day, and maybe, just maybe, eat a whole sleeve of double stuff Oreos. Because. You. Can. You don’t answer to The Man for 12 more hours!

To make all of these delightful experiences even more worthwhile, you need a work #bestfrand to share these most thoughtful and enlightening moments of your life. They get it because they live it. They understand you and what the daily grind can do to a woman, seriously! And this girl has the necessary qualities to be your work #bestfrand:

  1. Humor. Most definitely. Whether it is gossip during your most likely to be interrupted lunch hour, reenacting how your dog tripped you down the stairs, or dying in laughter over how your coworker broke the conference room toilet. You and said #bestfrand had to listen to the wrath of an industrial strength flush, on repeat, during the most important meeting of your quarter while the presenter had to keep telling you to “bring it together, folks” (this moment still brings me to tears in laughter).
  2. Support. Support with work issues, support when the boss demands more, support when discussing personal issues that you can only trust with your work #bestfrand, just support. It is a judgement free zone. All day, er day.
  3. Non-verbal communication. Memes (obviously), laughing when that one particular person pronounces the name Cletus “Clitus”, pictures of said toilet (in the middle of said meeting), Snapchats of yourself with a horrified face, quick glances in the hallway that don’t need to be explained…you get it.
  4. Snacks.! Having a bite of this or that in a hidden drawer is a must! You can count on your work #bestfrand to pull out that fun-size Snicker because “you aren’t you when you’re hungry”. You can depend on them for a plastic spoon when you are trying to stay healthy and eat your Greek yogurt at 4pm to avoid smacking someone due to low blood sugar. You know they have your back with that Target Nestle cookie pack when the day is long, which can be often.
  5. Distraction. Whether your daily grind has got you in a funk, you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, you just.aren’, your work #bestfrand can distract you. Their mission is to lovingly keep you sane.

Here are just SOME of my work #bestfrands over the years.





I love my work #bestfrands…past, present, and those to come. They are all of these things and more. I hope you, too, have that person in your work environment that you can depend on. It makes the world of difference, especially when you need that fun-size Snickers.

xx- Jenna

To Listen

As a high school teacher, the things that you hear from students are often more heart felt, heart warming, heart wrenching, and heart breaking than the things you see. My eyes are continually opened to the soul of many students, those in my classroom and those not, those thriving and those struggling.

My class is currently doing extensive research on controversial topics in society. This research is in preparation for a large debate, showcasing their persuasive and argumentative skills. Throughout this research, I have merely been a facilitator, allowing the teams to determine what information and skills are necessary to ultimately provide the strongest case on debate day.

Allowing such controversial topics into my classroom has allowed me to really sit and listen. Listen to their opinions, their stances, their beliefs, their outlook. These topics impact my students in a way that I would never know unless I let the real world enter into my classroom. My students may not be able to vote, may not be able to drive a car (just yet), may not be able to run the dishwasher (or pretend they don’t know how), but they sure do have a lot to say about what is going on in the world around them. These kids are knowledgeable and curious to learn more about topics such as: abortion, human cloning, the death penalty, Planned Parenthood, immigration, ISIS, is Donald Trump going to deport everyone…you name it, they want to talk about it, research it, formulate an opinion, look at the disturbing images, talk about it again, and take action.

“This is disturbing.”

“I’ve started a petition to ban abortions in our county.”

“Global warming is not a terrorist threat. Here are my facts to support this statement.”

“Wow. I can’t even imagine.”

“Immigrants are people, too, ya know, people who need America’s brotherhood. Whether they’re from Syria or South America. But, is the US law upheld?”

“The legalization of this drug is going to encourage youth to become addicted.”

“Are you really telling me that taxing our parents more is worth a free education?”

“Since our population is growing, we need to encourage people to accept  employment anywhere to avoid looking to other countries to support our jobs.”

“I’m struggling to find a reason to agree with this.”

“How can I get involved?”

“Can you put me in touch with this organization so I can help?”

“This hurts my heart.”

This is just a small, small portion of what I hear. There is honest concern and compassion here.

This time in our school year is one of the most active and participant heavy units. As a teacher, I don’t want to tell them to stop talking. Stop researching. Stop formulating an opinion. Instead, we need to look at your data to tell you that you still can’t write a strong introduction paragraph. We need to learn how to put footnotes in your Google doc. We need to practice navigating the online testing system so you can actually finish the test this time. These kids are more than a traditional public schooling pathway. They are citizens. They are members of society and this time of the year in my classroom is real, authentic, honest, emotional, and eye opening. For me. For the kids.

Yes, they are teenagers. Yes, the complexity of teaching teenagers is often undefinable, exhausting, and sometimes impossible. Often society rolls their eyes at them or demands excellence of our teenagers in the classroom and on the field. But, being a teenager, they have a lot more to say and a broader understanding of their world than what you might expect, if you let them explore and listen to them. Listen to how passionate they want to be. And yes, they are passionate.  Listen to how compassionate they want to be. And yes, they are compassionate. Listen to how much they strive to make a difference. And yes, many will make a difference that none of us ever will.

Listen. Your ears will thank you.

xx- Jenna