Thursday, September 30, 2010

Laughter

Laughter really is the best medicine. If nothing else, my class this year has taught me that well thus far. Today we started doing some partner/small-group work for our literacy block. We're going to be trying a rotation once our standardized testing is over in October so I decided to put my kiddos into groups now and try it out. I based them on the MAP scores and put them into leveled groups. They won't be in these groups daily but a couple times a week we'll do some leveled readers and other activities within the groups to help the kiddos to be more "on level" with each other. I'm excited to try it out.

Anyway so today we were giving it a shot and Mrs. Resource was pushing in to support us during the reading time. She worked with her 3 boys that she'll be servicing in the groups rotation. They got finished early and I got out some books for them to read together. As we were finishing up and cleaning up to get ready for lunch, she said something about the book title ("Snot Stew") and I laughed out loud. One of my boys said, "Wow, Mrs. Sunny, I never heard you laugh like that. I think that laugh came from your belly button!" *wink*



Just now I am finally finishing grading their Unit 1 math assessments. They took them last week and I put off finishing them because the first few kids did SO horrible on them. But they need to go home in tomorrow's Friday folders so I can't put it off anymore. I just got a huge chuckle out of one of the kids. In this unit we spent a lot of time on prime/composite numbers. One of the questions asks if 24 is prime or composite and asks the child to explain how they know. One of my boys wrote:

It can be timed for a lot of numbers. That's why I know all that. I got it from you, Mrs. Sunny.
I almost fell off my dining room chair laughing when I saw that. He's an ELL which is why the grammar is a bit weird but I LOVED how he was like "I learned it from you". Even though they all collectively did pretty poorly, they still make me crack up at least once a day and that's really all I can ask for.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This is why I teach

This morning, just before school started, a parent needed to meet with me. Her son is LD in math and she worries about his progress. After talking with her and her son for a few minutes she said "Mrs. Sunny, I think you are the BEST teacher in this school because it's obvious you care about these kids and when they don't get it, you step right in to help."

It put a big smile on my face. I don't dillusion myself that I am the best there is there, but it is nice to have parents praise your hard work and dedication rather than find stupid things to go to your administrator about.

Math Workshop Revisited

Each Wednesday morning, Mrs. Cooperating Teacher and I meet together to do some collaboration. This morning, we were talking about our math and reading blocks because we're trying to get some help from our resource staff and reading coach during the reading time since we have so many kids (I have 29 and she has 30 in her own class plus she takes the 5th graders from the 4/5 split for reading). It's kind of crazy.

But the reading coach assigned to our grade said Mr. A, one of the parapros, doesn't have much of a set schedule yet and asked if we could utilize him. I told her I needed some support during my math time since the rotation is great except that the kids get so excited with the games that it is hard for them to be quiet enough for me to work in my group. She said he would be free to be in my class from 9:30 - 10:10 each morning! That is perfect because he'll be able to come to us every day, even Fridays when we have PE because that's over by 9:20. I was really happy. Then I asked Mrs. Resource if she could come to us at 9 since she's been coming at 9:30. So I'll have another adult to help me manage an hour of my 90 minute block for math. Considering that we often don't really get started until about 8:45 (because we have opening activities plus our math message board work), that's really almost perfect. Mrs. CT encouraged me to reach out and seek the support because she loves the workshop idea and thinks it'll be really great. (She wants to try it also but wants to compare our data from this next unit before she tries it herself.)

I was surprised when Mr. A came to our class TODAY already! Very awesome. We have a big open space outside of our rooms with tables and things and the kiddos spread out and played the games out there. They were a little bit loud but it was only the first day. I'm thinking of seeing if it would be okay to use the teacher's lounge (next door to me) since it is really only used for the pop machine and the microwaves. Rarely have I ever seen anyone actually eat in there. That would be a good spot because they can spread out AND it wouldn't bother anyone else. I'll have to ask about that...otherwise the kids may just have to learn to be quiet :p

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hmmm

Day 2 of Math Workshop was kind of a bust, at least at the games station. Yesterday only one group lost games privileges, today TWO did. I have to keep reminding myself to be patient and let them learn from these mistakes. It would be a million times better if I had a TA or even a para for 30-40 minutes during that time but I doubt very much that will happen.


At lunch today, some of the staff were talking about an alleged meeting our superintendent had this past Saturday with the goal of how to "get rid of" some teachers. In other words, fire them by finding stupid things wrong. I swear every day I check my email and just wonder more and more who these morons at the top of this food chain are. I am not all about blaming poverty or anything (although it does have something to do with many of these children's problems) but when the blame falls entirely to ME for the children not achieving, I think that is a load of crap. Our district already has had a hard time filling positions this fall -- there are classrooms that have subs in them because they couldn't find someone who wanted the job full-time! -- yet they do things like this and wonder why no one wants to work there. Gee, let me think about that.


I hope and pray that if I ever do go to the dark side (ie. administration -- which I very much doubt I would ever do), that I don't lose sight of who really matters in this equation: THE CHILDREN. We had an awesome PD the first day we were back in session...and that was 4 weeks ago. Not a stitch of those materials have come to our classrooms. Yet we're going to be held accountable for having them in place. I don't know a single teacher in my school who DOESN'T want to use them...but it is hard to when the materials/supplies were promised but have yet to show up.

It is days like this that make me want to just leave my district. I know those kids need me...but the politics sure make it hard to remember that some days.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Remember when Stella got her groove back?

Well Sunny got hers back too!

Last week was a little bit of a challenge and I truly blame the full moon. My previously amazing class was full of knuckle-heads who couldn't figure out what was going on. It wasn't terrible but it was upsetting since the first part of the year was so awesome.

Today, being a Monday, and a recess duty day, I was a little worried. I brought some work home over the weekend to get caught up and a bit ahead and this morning was wonderful! I had enough time to make my copies for the week as well as do some other organizational things in my classroom. I didn't feel pressed for time or anything. I didn't get everything done but I got the essential stuff that is/was vital for feeling prepared to teach for the day.

Mrs. Resource pushed in for a little while during math and gave our class an awesome compliment (more on that in a moment) and during our reading block, most of the children were SO engaged during the vocab because our story this week is about tornadoes and storms and they had a lot of schema on that. It was wonderful! Couple that with an absolutely beautiful morning for recess duty and I couldn't ask for more!!!


I think this means more to me now because Former School was on one of the intersession breaks last week. They came back today (they get weeks off spread throughout the year since their summer is so short). A few of my former colleagues that I do still talk to on FaceBook from there were lamenting last night about having to go back to work this morning and how it was only 8 more weeks until their next break. Since I was looking forward to going to school today to see my fabulous friends...I thought on that. That was totally me last year. I lived for those weeks off because teaching at Former School was a big challenge. The breaks were almost essential -- just when you thought you were about to lose your job because you were going to choke so-and-so if he did whatever-the-most-common-offense-was again, you had a week break.

But this year....it's not like that. This is our fourth week of school and despite some bumps last week, I look SO forward to going to school each day. I look SO forward to laughing with my class, having fun with them but really pushing them to learn. What an amazing difference from a year ago! (By the third week of school last year, I was ready to quit.)


Additionally, since Mrs. Cooperating Teacher is behind us in math a little, I decided to take this time and practice our math workshop rotations while we wait for her class to catch up. I am doing three rotations: teacher, seatwork and games since we use Everyday Math and a big part of the program is the games which are designed to replace the "kill and drill" worksheets. The kids like them and they are fun. I have found throughout my time teaching EDM that the games get pushed to the wayside because there is so much else to do.

I have 33 friends for math.  Yes, it is an absurd amount but we made it work today with the rotations. 11 per group. It was wonderful! The games group was DEAD SILENT during the first rotation. I couldn't hear them at all. I was so proud of them because it was our first try. The second rotation wasn't so quiet and they had to go back to their seats because they were being too loud (I gave them three warnings which was more than fair). The last group was again so quiet! Mrs. Resource came in during that time and was helping some students with seatwork. It was seamless and wonderful! As we wrapped up this first day of workshop, I mentioned to the children how proud I was of them that they did so well with the rotations with one minor bump and Mrs. Resource gave them a huge compliment that when she came in the room, everyone was working, everyone was quiet and kiddos who needed help raised their hands for her to aide them. It was priceless!

I don't always think it will go as perfect as today but for a first try, it was truly wonderful! Plus I love this because I can focus on my low group first once we start Unit 2 so I can know they are really front-loaded with the material before they go off to work in their journals and play the games (this week they are split alphabetically since its just practice -- we're taking the pretest later this week to determine Unit 2's groups).


I love that Sunny has gotten her groove back. I can't even express how awesome I feel as a teacher right now. I also introduced the new behavior step chart to the kids and they are excited. I made an executive decision and inverted the colors....yellow, orange and red are on the bottom of mine. The kids actually suggested it when we were talking about it and since I hadn't made it yet, I agreed. I just made it with construction paper, wrote the levels on there and laminated it after school. We're going to start using it tomorrow. I think it really appeals to my kiddos who are always good when I explained that on our 4, 3, 2, 1 system if they are good, they just stay at 4....but on the clip chart if they are good they can move UP.

I am SO loving my life right now. Everything I went through last year was worth it to reap the benefits of working with this great class this year!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fall Cleanup!

I spent much of my Saturday cleaning. Our house needed a good "fall" cleaning and since I had the notion to do it, I went ahead and did it! We didn't get all the way done because I went to do some cleaning in our downstairs bathroom and found a leak going on with the pipes. Unfortunately it looks as though it has been a slow drip that has been happening for awhile because there were some things stored in the cabinet area where the pipes are hidden that were moldy and had to be thrown out. I had noticed a funny smell around that area recently but hadn't really found the source. When I went in to start cleaning, I noticed water on the floor and went searching for its source. The Husband is at the store right now trying to find parts to fix the pipe that is leaking.

Alas, the bathroom will probably not get cleaned until tomorrow. The Oldest helped me with the mudroom, the kitchen, the dining room, my room (which took all of about 5 minutes!) and The Littles pitched in for the living room since they play in there and 99% of any build-up in there belongs to them. We just need to finish up the bathroom tomorrow and give The Littles' room a cursory vacuum and we should be good for awhile.


As I sat down to take a much needed rest after all that cleaning, I was surfing around online and found two really cool things that I am happy to integrate into my classroom.

In years past, I have done both spelling lists from our Houghton Mifflin and word sorts. I am not feeling the word sorts this year even though I know it is differentiated and better for the children. I feel so overwhelmed with everything else that I think I am going to still use them but use them with the whole class because I can make my own based on the pattern of words from the traditional spelling list. So we'll still use them but the children won't be in so many different groups. I just think with everything else that I am trying to juggle, that is an easy thing to drop since it is so time consuming to keep it going. Plus I can still use the sort strategy (which I do like), the children will just be working on the grade level words with support instead.

To that end, I was looking around at New Management and found this nifty little tool called the spelling relay. I know that memorizing words for a test is not going to make a lick of difference in spelling ability so I think that combining these activities with the word sorts in class will be a bit more helpful. We did multiple group sorts this week and the students enjoyed them so I don't want to stop....I just know that for me, taking it back a notch will help.

I also found this fun chart there:


I love this for its visual appeal but also because I have never really been a fan of the flip-a-card charts or the system my school currently advocates (there are 4 levels with 4 being the best and as children get in trouble, they go down). For a school that is supposed to focus on POSITIVE behavior, I'm not really diggin' the levels thing. I bought some blank magnets from VistaPrint that have been useful for that since the kids' names are on there. But you're supposed to leave kiddos on that level until they earn their way back up to 4. I don't like that either. Every day should be a fresh start and that's what appeals to me about this chart instead.

You can buy it and clothes pins on the NewManagement website for $23 but I can make my own with construction paper and laminate it. I'm not worried about that. I even have a spot in my room already picked out for it. I think this will be SO much better than the four levels and will allow the children who always make good choices to be recognized for those choices as well.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wiped Out!

I am sad that I look SO forward to the weekends, which are then WAY too short! Don't get me wrong, my school and class are a dream compared to the last couple of years. The biggest issue I really have is talking. But I am trying my darndest to confer with 29 children, effectively teach them (even the mass lazy ones -- side rant: WHY are these lazy children allowed to move up in grades? If we'd fail them in the lower grades, by the time they get to us, they'd be singing a whole new tune!), keep up with the mountain of paperwork and the 2 million things our district drops on our head throughout the week. It is no wonder I come home absolutely exhausted!

Due to some test scores recently, our school was placed on a priority list in the district. Yet even despite that status, and how they're going to "really push us" for better results...they won't do anything about the 29 children we have in our classes. Really? I mean, come on! I think I am good, great even, but that is asking way too much for anyone, especially when more than 50% of the class comes to you below benchmark! My head sometimes just spins from what they want us to do. Definitely know that a bunch of morons are up there at central office making these decisions when they don't have a damn clue how hard it is to teach with that many children, with that many different needs, are in one class.

Mrs. Cooperating Teacher and I were talking about that today after school because a former teacher from our school was visiting. I call him The Yeller because when I student taught with Mrs. CT, at least twice a day I had to shut our door (which was down the hall) because his yelling/badgering/belittling of his class would interrupt mine.  He had suggested that we ask for a parapro to "split" between us...and we both said, nearly at the same time, no thanks, it'd be just like having another, bigger student to have to direct.


We're tossing around the idea of using Mrs. Resource and Mrs. Reading Coach during our uninterrupted literacy time. The fourth grade suggested this (it took them 2.5 HOURS to come up with something our team put together in less than 15 minutes) and we think it will work will given our numbers and the needs of our students. Basically the idea is that two days per week we will teach from our anthology like we usually do: vocabulary and strategy read aloud the first day, listen to the story on audio while following along and practice strategy work on the second day and then on the third and fourth days, the lowest children will go with Mrs. Resource and the middle/strategic children will go with Mrs. Reading Coach to work on strategies more at their levels. That would leave the rest of my children (which at first probably won't be very many of them!) in my class to continue working on the story, the strategies and other differentiation stuff in my room. I really like that idea because a) it'll be really utilizing our reading coach and resource support and b) it'll provide me with some time to really intensify my instruction with my higher students who often get lost in the shuffle when the focus is always on the "low" kids.

I am still waiting for MAP scores (stupid computer!) for about 8 of my kids but hopefully by the first full week in October we can get the ball rolling on this idea, once all of our scores are in. It could be a nice boost for some of those "bubble kids" who are right on the brink and could go either way with a pass or fail on our standardized test. I do have several children, of the 22 I have scores for in reading, who are SO close to the target score on the MAP that I hope some intensive pushing over these last few weeks until the standardized test pushes them up so we can get OFF the stupid priority list and BACK to real teaching!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

This morning, I got to school at 7 again, which I am LOVING. I went right to work rearranging desks. I tried Mrs. Cooperating Teacher's big groupings and hated it. The rest of the way my room was set up, it just wasn't going to work. In the end, I went with a short Double E with 3 tables in the middle. It isn't perfect but I like it MUCH better than the groupings that Mrs. CT is using (although it works in her room because the setup/layout is a bit different). I had to get rid of the special seating within the class for the 4 from the split class. I felt kind of bad about it, BUT I have a table in the back and on the side that they can sit at. They just won't be in our specific groupings. It won't be an issue when we start Unit 2 because we'll be doing our math rotation groups by then so they'll never have to sit away from the rest of us anyway.

I did have to get rid of my U-shaped table because it just takes up too much room. I confiscated a student table and it will be my conference table. I used it today and it worked pretty well so I'm sure I'll get used to it. I saved SO much space taking that sucker out of there! The kiddos were pretty good with the changes, especially since I just changed it last week too. When I explained that we were spending too much time talking and not enough time working, they kind of ducked their heads like they hadn't realized I'd noticed :p



I am feeling a bit frustrated with them right now because I have found that the majority of my class would rather sit like slugs than engage in our math lessons and it definitely shows on the unit 1 test we took today. We reviewed and re-reviewed yesterday and I couldn't believe what they were putting down for answers today. When we went over it together afterward, they were telling me the right answers. That makes it even more frustrating when they get it wrong on their tests! Next week we are going to take the Unit 2 pretest on our clickers (computerized test that I won't have to grade!) and then I will put them into their 3 groups and hopefully the small group format will help. Mrs. Cooperating Teacher's class is behind ours so we're going to take a few days to practice the rotation (in random groups) before we actually start it. That way if they are messing around, I can nip it in the bud before we get into the real meat of Unit 2!


I am so glad it is Friday tomorrow. I am tired and ready for a weekend of relaxation and hanging out with my kids!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I already broke my creed

I brought work home today.

Not because I had to. I'm sure that I could have left all of it at school and still gotten things done by the end of the week. However, as I stood there at 3:30 today, I knew that I would much rather be at HOME, in pajamas, taking my sweet arse time looking through these papers, finalizing my plans for next week and being able to take breaks, not rush and just overall do a better job with it.

I also know that by getting the work done that I did yesterday and taking the bull by the horns to get this final data and everything done today, I'll be in a MUCH better place to start next week. It's worth giving up one night at home. It is.


My kiddos have been a really chatty bunch the last few days. I was starting to wonder what happened to my awesome class. Last night The Husband and I went to Lowe's and Home Depot because we're remodeling our upstairs bathroom to add a bathtub and replace all of the fixtures and everything. He wanted to show me this set he found to see if I liked it. As we were going, I looked up to the sky and burst out "holy crap, it's a full moon -- that's what's wrong with my class this week!" I never believed in that full moon stuff until I started teaching. Today I told my class that I am thinking maybe their hair was too tight or something so they've been kind of antsy!

Mrs. Cooperating Teacher and I talked a bit this afternoon and we're contemplating seeing about adding a short 10 minute recess two afternoons a week...at least while it is still nice outside. It is SO hard for the kids to be inside all afternoon, even though ultimately it is only for 2 hours, because it's been gorgeous most of the time. Hopefully we can meet with our floor to decide if that is something we can do. I sure don't want to do that when it is cold outside, but for now, having it for 2 extra afternoons would be a nice incentive for the students who are making good choices.



I changed my seating to accommodate the students from the 4/5 split class for math but my table groups are SO long. Mrs. CT changed hers as well where she has kiddos sitting so their backs are to her. I would NOT like that...but I realized that it would probably work okay in my class because I can seat the extra kids from the split at those seats since we are starting our math workshop with our next unit.

I'm going to play with that as well and make some changes because this seating isn't working and I'd rather play with it more at the beginning of the year to make it work better than wait until it's too late to reign the behavior back in!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What.Ever.

Today I left work not a happy lady. We had another fire drill today (we're behind so Mrs. Principal is trying to cram them in while the weather is nice). The day went okay with all of that and everything. My kiddos remembered to grab our red emergency bag and did okay. However, one of my students, who is one of the biggest challenges that I have, was horsing around and one of the girls accidentally elbowed his lip. It was bleeding badly enough that he was spitting blood out.

So one of the parapros came over to see what had happened and escorted this child inside even though it was during a drill. I did not tell him to take the child inside. I couldn't leave the rest of my class alone but since we do have a full-time health aide, there should, in theory, be a first aid kit brought outside. I figured this para would take the kid over to her. Nope. He took him inside.

Then Mrs. Principal, in the most passive-aggressive way possible, sends me the following email at 2:45 p.m today. Did she address this with me in person? Nope. And best of all, she CC'd it to the head of Security in the district:

During the fire drill you asked Mr. A to bring a child into the building. Although I understand he was hurt, that is the purpose of the red emergency backpacks. There was no one in the building as we were evacuated. It is against state law to not follow evacuation procedures and sending a child back into the building is against state law. In the event of fire, he couldn't come back. My recommendation is that you put Kleenex or band-aid in the emergency bag.

I responded politely and whatever, but you better bet your hiney that I will be saving this email, I will be documenting my version of what happened and if she ever says anything to me more about this, I will go directly to my union. First and foremost, she didn't ask me my version of what happened, she didn't verify that I had, in fact, sent them into the building (because I did not) and she didn't even have the courtesy of addressing this with me in person before sending this email off to the head of Security. SO not laying down and taking anyone's bullshit in that district ever again. As much as I have sacrificed and provided for these children, no one is ever going to make me feel bad about something I didn't even do.

When I was leaving today, I told Mrs. Cooperating Teacher about it and she was really upset too. Partially because she agrees that it's complete and utter bullcrap that Mrs. Principal would make such a big deal (Mrs. CT even said "what the heck, were you supposed to let him bleed all over?! Because then you'd be in trouble for that too!") and not even be professional enough to address it with me personally. I think that honestly, that is what burns me up the most, that she wouldn't even be professional enough to address it with me personally. I guess she has put little bugs in Mrs. CT's ear about stuff (small stupid stuff) but hasn't ever said anything to me. It isn't Mrs. CT's job to "watch me" and I know she resents that she feels like that's what she's being asked to do.

It just really pissed me off. If you need to correct me about something, fine. Do so. I'm happy to make changes as needed. But don't go behind my back, don't wimp out and address it through a freaking email only if it's such a big deal and sure as shit get your facts straight before you just assume you know the whole story.



Oh yes, and let us not forget that if there is a mix-up after school, or a miscommunication (or the OFFICE loses a paper!), they WON'T let a child call home for a ride. Our after school program started today. One of my students told me that his mom turned the paper in for the program the day he enrolled (they just moved into our area and she filled it out that day and turned it in). The office has his uncle, who's 3 years younger *wink*, on the list, but not this kiddo. So I asked the secretary if we could use the second office phone to call my student's mom and see if she could come pick him up. Secretary says "nope, he just has to walk home".

Um, no. Sorry but I am NOT sending a child home to a possibly empty house in that area. No way, no how. The first day I was at New School, I thought our secretary was nice. My has her tune changed since the children have arrived. I have never known someone who is so rude to children to be working around children. I couldn't believe that. So I asked the kiddo to sit in the office a minute and wait for me. I went up to my classroom and got my cell phone and let him call his mom for a ride. NO ONE is EVER going to accuse Mrs. Sunny of sending a kid home alone after school to an empty house and he gets abducted or something worse.

I just couldn't believe that. If we're all about safety, how can we just be telling these kids to walk home without ensuring a parent is there? I was so ticked about that too.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Taking Care of Me

I have decided that since my new year is going so well thus far (*knock on wood*!!), it's high time I really start taking care of me. In the past, I have done Weight Watchers and know that when I use it and am consistent with it, it works. Plus The Oldest said she wanted to get into an exercise routine with me to keep each other accountable. She doesn't need to lose weight at all (she's a beanpole..) but she wants to tone up. Being in marching band has been really good for her because it has let her see that she's out of shape in some areas and she wants to improve that. Gotta give her kudos for wanting to make the change at her age instead of waiting until she's in her 20s or 30s.

So I am rejoining Weight Watchers online and setting a weight-loss goal for myself. I know I could stand to lose at least 50 lbs. I wore this wonderful, cute little outfit for our back-to-school night that I got at a thrift store for $6 but if I stood a certain way, I looked like I was 6 months pregnant. Seeing as how I am not pregnant, nor will ever be again, that is just not the look I am going for! So it's time to get back on the wagon.


There was an opportunity for me to sign up to teach in our after school program for an extra $100/wk for less than 4 hours of work but I turned it down. I have realized that this year I really need to focus on myself. While I think I would love having the opportunity to tutor some of my students after school who need extra help, I need to focus on my own well being and that of my children. I have given SO much of myself over the last few years and ultimately, that's why I ended up in the position I was in. It has been lovely thus far this year to see other people doing all of the jobs that I had at Former School and realizing that all I am expected to do right now is teach my students. That is such a great feeling after being so overwhelmed and overworked for so long.


The lesson of the day is to take care of yourself. Do what you need to do, be it a lifestyle change, a change in outlook or just adopting a positive attitude, even in a not-so-positive situation. It amazes me what a difference it makes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Plans

This morning before school and during my whole prep (which is first thing on Friday), I rearranged my classroom. I would have loved to do it last night after the Open House but I had therapy at 6:30 so it wasn't happening. It took me forever because I ended up needing to move my meeting area up to the front of the room -- with trying to accommodate 33 children, I just couldn't arrange the desks with enough space to keep that space. The good news is that I was able to move the meeting area up to the front and it works so much better (and has much more room) while still fitting the desks in so nicely. It isn't ideal and wasn't what I had envisioned this summer but it was much easier to manage throughout the day. I also moved the seating arrangement to discourage my talkers and that seemed to help as well.


Mrs. Cooperating Teacher gets to school at 6:30 a.m. every day (which I think is insane!) and since I still don't have an entry key (some lame excuse about being a "new" staff member -- I'm not new to the district and they should've all been issued together or not at all!), I think I am going to try to meet her at school at that time Monday morning. I loathe the idea of getting there at that ungodly hour but since I used up all of my plan and prep time this morning moving furniture I don't feel like I am really as prepared as I would like to be for next week (and short of staying until 7 o'clock tonight, which I was NOT about to do, it wasn't going to get done today). If I get there super early Monday, I can get everything set for the whole week and not feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants. Next week starts my "no taking work home" rule so being ultra prepared is going to be essential.

I have, in the past, put in really late evenings once a week to ensure I was on top of things but I would rather not get into that habit again. I am actually debating working from 7-4 instead of 7:30-4:30 (except on meeting days) because twice this week I left at 4 and it was SO wonderful! I wouldn't mind getting to work a little earlier since I used to get to Former School at 7 every day also. Plus since my current school dismisses kids at 3:10, I'm more or less done with students by 3:15 or 3:20. It gives me plenty of time to get things set for the following day before I leave since I can use my time when I arrive to plan and make copies or whatnot.

I may try it next week and see how I like it, especially since I know Mrs. Cooperating Teacher is always there early and could let me in until I get my key. I know I am NOT going to make it a habit to get there at 6:30 daily because I wouldn't get to see my kids in the morning and that's not going to work for me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I ♥ my students!

We had open house at our school tonight from 4-6 p.m. Unfortunately it rained during the day so we had inside recess which makes for a long day (the kids just need to get out and run around!)  but overall it was pretty good.

During open house I had a kiddo bring me a Diet Coke (yes, they already know after just 8 days together that Mrs. Sunny has to have her DC!) and another kiddo and her mom brought me a candle. This was the same mom who put a candle catalog in the Friday Folder. It smells really delish!

I had several parents say that they already love me because I am straight-forward but obviously want what is best for the kids. After a rough year last year, the affirmation was nice. I had 16 families come which is just over half of them and I know it was more than Mrs. Cooperating Teacher had. I feel like it was a big success and it was nice meeting some of the parents this year. I just know this group is going to be one I cherish and remember for years to come.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

The longer I am at New School, the more I think that Mrs. Cooperating Teacher is SO glad I'm her partner teacher instead of Mr. 4/5 Split this year. She told me that over the last few years, whenever she's tried to do team-teaching with anyone, it always fizzles toward the mid-year mark. She asked me when we first got access to our classrooms how I felt about team teaching and switching for science/social studies. I love the idea because I did that with my partner last year and it was SO nice getting to know the other students in our grade. I'm determined to make sure we can make it work all year long this year.


I noticed that the child I had to call home about yesterday was a whole new person this morning. I asked him about it and he told me he got a "whuppin" as he stated. While I am certainly not happy that he got physically disciplined, I do appreciate the support of his dad. I think this child has SO much potential if he would just tap it for good things instead of negative. I get the feeling, however, that he's always been told he's bad so he thinks he has to be. It's kind of sad.


One thing I have noticed is that my chattiest kids are my boys. I find that to be kind of weird. In the past, my chatty kathys have always been girls. Always. Not so this year. I have one that I honestly don't think has ever said a word that I've heard out loud. Most of my girls are hard workers but keep to themselves. I found out that neither 4th grade teacher last year did a lot of cooperative work which makes me sad. I ♥ co-op work for this age because they have to know what it's all about before they go to middle school and high school where it is expected!

Anyway with the chattiness I've noticed the last day or two, I've figured out who needs to be moved. The biggest issue is that I agreed to take the 4 students from the split for math so for 90 minutes a day I have 33 students. I don't mind because the girls from that class are FABULOUS. I mean, FAB-U-LOUS. I already love them. The issue is, however, I don't have seats for them all so they pull up chairs to a group. It's working so far but I feel like I'm excluding them and I don't like that. I'm not sure what to do with my seating arrangement. I may just have to suck it up and get rid of my U-shaped table but I really don't want to do that. I dunno. I'm going to play around with my seating over the next day or two and see how I feel about it.


I got a big chuckle earlier when I read an email from Mrs. Principal stating that Mrs. Cooperating Teacher and I needed to accommodate the 5th graders from the split for math and literacy...the sarcastic side of me wanted to go, uh yeah started that YESTERDAY, DUH. But that would be unprofessional! *wink*

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Money & Phone Calls

Today, I had another first happen. I gave my students a book order yesterday. I usually give them about 2 weeks to turn in an order because of pay days and such. Today I had a student bring in money for a book order. $27 in quarters and $8 in bills. I got a huge kick out of it. In my inner city district I always let my kiddos pay cash if they want because many parents don't use checks. I always emphasize providing "exact change" because I don't want to have to make change for them...and I laughed that this could be viewed as a very literal interpretation of that phrase!


I had to make my first negative parent phone call today. I hate doing it honestly but this kiddo just needs to realize that I'm not playing his game. He can be pissy and hate me all he wants. Life will still go on for me. So I call Dad during recess with this child sitting right there. I had to leave a message. Then the kid goes "great, now I'm going to get in big trouble." I was just kind of thinking "um, HELLO kid, 5th grader! This is not new behavior for you -- if you don't like getting in trouble, straighten up!"

He reminds me SO much of one of my kiddos from last year. He'll come around when he realizes he will lose EVERY SINGLE PRIVILEGE until he shapes up. It's just how I roll. And 99% of the time, it works wonders. They hate losing out on stuff.


Mrs. Cooperating Teacher and Mr. 4/5 Split told me today that I need to get out of our district while I'm still young...just because they've both been there 25+ years and realize how much MORE the district asks us to do with so little resources. I told Mr. 4/5 Split that if there had been a full-time position in my home district posted this year, I would've went after it in a heartbeat...but I don't want something part-time and that's what had been available (or stuff out of my certification area). Mrs. Cooperating Teacher even said that while she knows I love the kids, for my own sanity and well being, getting out now would be the smartest thing to do. And I know she is absolutely right. Our district is known for not honoring the loyalty of many of these the teachers/principals who give decades of service to the district. It's such a crock.

At this point, I'm happy to be where I am, but I am keeping my eyes peeled. If a fab opportunity presents itself to go elsewhere, I will jump on it.



I'm pretty happy with myself that I left work today at 4 with only my positive notes pad....it's the first time I've left before 4:45 since school started, and I've always brought home work.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Definitely a First

As I was going through the folders I send home on Friday with progress reports (yes I sent one the first week of school!), I found a brochure inside from one of my student's mom...trying to sell me candles. It's kind of like an Avon catalog but for Mia Bella.

Never had that happen before. It made me smile.

Pinch Me!

I can't even describe how much I loathed Mondays and recess duty at my last school. I didn't have duty on Monday but Mondays were awful. Recess duty day was another day to hate because inevitably I was going to have to be a huge b--ch and that's not why I became a teacher.

This year, Monday and recess duty happen to fall on the same day. Oh joy! My "assistant director" (who I have now dubbed my little minion after the minions in "Despicable Me" which the kids think is hilarious) went down to the office to get the recess binder and walkie talkie and met us downstairs. Last year they had 2nd - 5th out at the same time which is nuts. Now it is only 4th and 5th. It was the best recess duty of my life. Hands down. No fights, no yelling, not a single disrespectful student. I even had time to just chat with a few kiddos and kind of meet them at their level. It was great! (The weather today was a nice bonus too!)

Mondays at my last school always meant reteaching every procedure as if the two days away from school sucked everything they'd ever learned in school right out of their heads. We had a lot of behavior problems there. Not so today. It was wonderful to be able to jump right in again and work with the children. We even had a writing test and our DIBELs testing today and no one messed around. I feel like I must be dreaming to have it so good right now.

Then after school Mrs. Cooperating Teacher told me that Mrs. Principal is NOT moving the 4 fifth graders from the split class to our room because she does not want us both at 31 and then being the only 5th grade team in case we do get more students later (they are accepting zero transfers right now but if a child moves into our district, we have to take him/her). Mrs. Principal asked that Mrs. Cooperating Teacher and I work out a way to pull those 4 kiddos in to our math and reading time but otherwise Mr. 4/5 split has 31 kiddos and will stay there.

I feel kind of bad for him in a way but at the same time I'm glad it isn't me with that huge class!! I can DEFINITELY handle taking 4 extra kids for an hour a day for just math or just reading...but not having 2-3 more bodies full time. There just isn't room in my classroom! I'm glad Mrs. Principal recognized the plight the situation put us all in and while it sucks for Mr. 4/5 Split, he is now guaranteed not to get anymore new students (because he's the highest count in the school and the other 2 fourth grades are at 27 and 28). Plus we'll have his kiddos for math and reading and he can integrate them into the writing, science and social studies. This takes the burden off all of us and makes it as fair as we possibly could.

At this point, I am just relishing that things are going so well, I like my class, they seem to like me and we're getting work done. It's a great feeling!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Read Around the World

My third grader came home from school yesterday with her Friday Folder from this first week of school. She has a very loud, boisterous voice and fairly shouts everything she says. We were packing up her and Little Sister's things at the child care center they go to after school and she was shouting about having to read all these books about different countries and such. As I was trying to stem off a headache from her super boisterous voice, I said we'd look at the paper together at home and figure it out.

The packet is a "Read Around the World" project that the 3rd grade team at her school came up with. Basically it is just a reading log and they get "miles" for every minute they read (1 minute = 20 miles). So they included a chart in the explanation packet to detail what countries they would travel to by reading. I think this is a brilliant idea and I might just steal it!

I have a big map that a friend of mine gave to me over the summer and I might get it laminated and hang it on the back wall where I have some spare room. Then my students could have little reuseable symbols to mark where they are in their travels as they read and complete their required reading each day. I am going to ask my teaching partner if she wants to do this as well because I think it is absolutely brilliant. Such a simple idea yet provides some incentive and a little bit of geography exposure too. And I'm sure that my class will love "traveling" to Mexico and some of the other countries that they are from.

Friday, September 10, 2010

LOVE!!

I can't say it enough. I can't. So I'm going to shout it out to the blogosphere (forgive my "shouting" in advance, please):

I LOVE MY CLASS!!

What a difference it is to be a teacher at New School. Holy crap. Mrs. Principal is so much more organized, together and amazing at keeping us informed. I feel like she really values communication -- at least in what I have seen from her thus far. It makes such a difference when you feel valued and respected.

It was a little bit of a rough start for the children at the start of the week when we transitioned to silent hallways and lunch but my class is rocking it out! I am so proud of them because I know it is hard to be quiet like that. On Friday mornings we have PE first thing. We start school at 8:20 and have PE at 8:30 so it's a bit of a time crunch in there.

The way our school is set up, our students line up by the back playground doors. There is a huge glass-enclosed staircase leading down toward the doors. So pretty much our students can see us coming. It amuses me greatly when I am coming down the stairs and hear the kiddos say "here comes Mrs. Sunny! Get in line, shhhhh!!!"

Today's task was to get from downstairs, up the three flights of stairs, to our lockers, hand in homework folders (I collect them in the hallway and then quickly put them in our room on Friday only) and get down to the gym on time. These 29 fabulous friends of mine did this within that 10 minutes and in dead silence. I am not joking or exaggerating! They didn't utter a peep the whole way, even with the hustle of turning in folders and things. I was absolutely amazed at their self-control. Then when I picked them up from the gym, the PE teacher told me that they were his best class of the whole week! It was quite hilarious because he said "maybe I became a better teacher as the week went on" and I said, in a playfully sarcastic way, "maybe it's me!" The students all laughed and a few said "it's definitely you Mrs. Sunny!"

I just love them. They are so much fun, they have beautiful smiles and personalities and I know after a year like last year that I am one lucky teacher to have this amazing group of young people to spend my year with. They do get a little chatty in the afternoon but I work them to the bone so I have forgiven it a little. I know they are tired by the end of the day. I have kept to the few consequences I have had to put on them and they realize that I mean what I say so they aren't trying to push the envelope. Even my two "naughty" students I was warned about were perfect saints today -- not a single issue out of either one of them! They are lined up alphabetically but this is not a good mix at all so except when going down to lunch I don't allow them to stand together. Today, one of them says "but I can't stand by X because we just get each other in trouble". I can't say how proud I was that he is realizing he controls his behavior and was trying to make good choices.


I brought home a bag full of stuff again which I hate to do but again, it's the beginning of the year and it's expected. I am excited to have a little time this weekend to relax but also to dig into the MAP data we've gotten back on our students so I can start to put together my data packets on each of my students. It is so vital to me this year to really take a look at the "whole picture" of each child and help each one to make their own learning goals for this year in reading, writing and math. Since I have already given several assessments and we're doing our DIBELs and district writing assessment next week, it'll give me a much better overall picture of where each kiddo currently is.

One of my ELL friends told me yesterday that he doesn't read and write English well. It kind of broke my heart a little the way he said it. He is such a sweet kid. I'm definitely going to work hard to help him this year so he feels more confident in his ability.

If this week is any indication of what my year is going to be like, I'm in for the best year ever. When I was a student teacher there, I thought the kids there were rough and rude and blah blah (even though I ended up just loving them later)...but after spending 3 years teaching at Former School, I realize how clueless I was before! I can leave my door unlocked throughout the day and nobody touches my things. No one messes with my stuff. Every pencil still has an eraser on it! (Usually by the end of the day they were handed out the erasers were non-existant at Former School.)

I really just do love my class thus far. I'm sure we'll have our challenging days sometimes but what an amazing start to the year!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 2

Fortunately today went as relatively smoothly as yesterday. I got 3 more students (not from the split either), all boys so I'm up to 29 and us ladies are certainly outnumbered with only 11 of us including me! Thank goodness that most of my class is freaking awesome. Two days in a row we have gotten compliments on how fabulous the 4th/5th graders have done with silent lunch. It gives them time to eat and then they can go play and it has worked out well. The only thing I need to figure out is what to do about drinks after lunch recess because they are thirsty and hot and we only have a small fountain in our room. I may just have to break down and buy water bottles for those that don't have one and let them reuse them. It does get pretty warm in our classroom even with air conditioning (which kind of comes on when it feels like it on our floor).

I learned that a couple of my boys yesterday definitely need to be separated and I moved them today. One of my new ones appears to be a talker but I'm sure I can break that habit. I don't have any chair throwers, kids cussing me (or each other!) out all day and they are learning that I mean business. It is such a change from last year! I saw Leanne who worked with me last year at Former School as part of the writing initiative I was part of and she was so happy to see me looking happy! I couldn't even explain how amazing the difference is between these two buildings.


Today was the first day I really started some curriculum and it's amazing how much you can learn about a group of children if you just observe them. They seem to be kind of quiet and shy with the math. That will have to change. I assured them that I would be working them to the bone because next year, in 6th grade, they don't have just one teacher -- they will have 6 or 7, who aren't going to have time to coddle them. (One of the former teachers from New School is now teaching at the middle school that our kids will eventually go to has 46 kids in one class, 43 in another and 12 in his "small class"...I can't even imagine!)

I can't wait to get our MAP scores so I can start some of my groupings. Mrs. Cooperating Teacher told me today that she'd like to try to do my workshop model in math also and I think that would be great if we're both kind of on the same page with it. I knew Mrs. CT would be willing to try it too and I am excited about it.

I also gave my students a spelling screener this morning and no one complained or anything. We have to work on not commenting after every single thing I say (and it's only a few of them) but that is something I know I can nip in the behind pretty fast.

One parent wrote me a note complaining that the children were loud on the stairs and everyone had to go back and rewalk up all the stairs...it "isn't fair" because her little darling has asthma and can't be "exerted". I showed Mrs. Principal the note so she'd be aware and she said "well, as nicely as you can tell that parent that too bad, it's a school-wide rule and you aren't just being mean". Love that she was totally on my side with that. I did call the parent back and had to leave a message but I'm not going to fret. I referred the asthma issue to our nurse so I don't have to deal with that because it isn't my job.


I brought home a ton of things to work on tonight which I hate doing but it is necessary as things get sorted out with our classes. I'm really ready for a NORMAL day without anything "extra" added in our day. Tomorrow we won't be MAP testing (except makeups) but we have a walkabout for the PBS program and an assembly. Gah! Friday will be the first normal schedule day we have. I'm looking forward to that!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day!

What a wonderful first day! I was SO beyond nervous both last night and this morning. Mrs. Resource popped in my room this morning and asked me if I was ready and I honestly had to say NOPE! I was just worried that something terrible would happen. All of my colleagues assured me that this was perfectly normal, which I knew it was.


Fortunately nothing horrible happened! I had 31 children on my roster as of this morning but had 25 children show up. It turned out to be 26 when we realized one of my students had accidentally gone to the 4/5 split class. Mrs. Cooperating Teacher has 26 as well but we know it will change because after I "stole" my 5th grader back from Mr. 4/5 Split, it left him with only 4 fifth graders which means that they will be split between the two remaining 5th grades. Still I planned for 30 and while 28 is not ideal, at least I'll have materials and room for everyone! One of my new enrollees didn't show up which is kind of weird to me.


I have a lot of boys this year (16/26!) and many of them look alike. So it'll take me a few days to be able to put names to faces. For the most part though, my class seems really sweet. I have a couple I think I need to keep an extra eye on and one of them has severe ADHD that his parents don't want to medicate for. I am the last person to just drug kids up, but when the child's grades and behavior are clearly suffering without that help...I think it is child abuse! I had a child like that last year too and I felt really bad for him. I think in this case, however, I can stomp a lot of the issues by having this child stay in a table group but removing his table partner to minimize distractions.

We went to silent hallways/stairwells and lunch this year and while they did awesome with silent lunch (probably because they were starving since our lunch is at 12:10!), they didn't do so well with the hallway part. I didn't make a super huge deal about it because it was the first day but we WILL keep practicing and I know it'll get better. They did better after having to repeat going up and down the stairs a couple of times. Probably the worst part was that Mrs. Principal was at the top of the stairs and heard us come in all loud...but I was already on top of making them go ALL the way back down (3 flights!) and do it again because it was so horrible. They were silent that second time and much better the rest of the day until the very end of the day when it was time to go home!!

We took the math MAP test this morning after recess and I was impressed with how well behaved my class was in the lab, especially since it was the first day of school. A few of my kiddos, despite being on my roster for over a week, weren't in the system so they have to do it later which kind of stinks. It seemed like many of them did better than their spring score though which is good. It just shows me what I already knew -- something was going on during that spring test because so many of them did so freaking poorly on it when they had done fine the first time.

The day flew by though. I'm sure it is because our schedule is almost perfectly split up:
8:20 - 10:15 Learning Block
10:15 - 10:35 Recess
10:35 - 12:10 Learning Block
12:10 - 12:50 Lunch/Recess
12:50 - 3:00 Learning Block
3:00 - 3:10 Packup/Dismissal

I couldn't honestly have picked a better schedule insofar as how it breaks up our day. It went by SO fast, i could hardly believe it. 


I didn't take anything home today even though there was plenty for me to take home to work on...I wanted to give myself a break the first day. I know I'll be bringing a few things home tomorrow but that's okay -- it's expected at the start of the year when things are just getting rolling.

Since we had a meeting after school and I was anxious to get home to see my own kids and hear how their first days went, I didn't do my normal "end of day" routine (ie. cleaning off my desk, changing the schedule on the board, etc) but that's okay. I plan to get to school a little earlier tomorrow so that I can get those things done and we should be set.


I am excited about going to school tomorrow and I can't tell you how awesome that feeling is since I pretty much hated going to work last year. :)


Monday, September 6, 2010

Holy Back-to-School Batman!

As much as I  have anticipated getting back to work and having a routine, I find myself nervous the night before school begins. I know this is normal (it happens almost every year -- come to think of it, last year was the only year I wasn't nervous at the start and look how that turned out!!).

I know once I get into my classroom with my students and see their little faces that everything will fall into place. It will all be okay. I am very much banking on this being a totally new school and experience for me. Even though I student taught there, it was long enough ago that the kiddos who would've known me are gone to middle school now. So this is truly a fresh start. I don't have a reputation with the children yet and I can just do my thing with my class. I really love that aspect. I am hopeful I don't have to be the hardass I've had to be in the past (not mean, mind you, but pretty darn strict). I don't mind being strict but when you almost have to be mean with it to get the kids to listen, it's draining. I've appreciated it more the years when I've had to be firm but could still have fun with my kiddos. They got so much more out of the school experience and so did I.

This long weekend I had my hair cut and I am still in love with it 3 days later. I also did my nails today (I do them myself out of a box -- much, much cheaper and no one can ever tell unless they look *really* close) and I feel nice and girly. I also splurged on buying some new makeup. I'm not sure if this brand is available everywhere but it is called ELF (eyes, lips, face). At our store, all of the products are $1. Now, don't get me wrong here...I know that sometimes the expensive stuff is really worth it. But for the most part, I'm just as happy, if not happier, with the cheaper brands. I've used ELF products before with mixed reviews...but I dolled myself up today to test things out for back-to-school and aside from the powder which made my super pale face look fake baked (and which I promptly took right off!!), I really like what I bought. Since it all cost me less than $6, I was pretty happy with it. It's been kind of nice to treat myself a bit right before we go back to school.

Today has been really gloomy and rainy which stinks for the last real day of summer but I would much rather have rain on a weekend than on a school day, especially at the beginning of the year. There is nothing worse than having to try to get the kiddos to calm down for indoor recess those first few days when they're already overstimulated anyway.


Tomorrow it is rise and shine much earlier than I've gotten up all summer so I can get The Littles around and ready for their first day. Bags and things will all be packed before bed to make getting around the first morning less traumatic. The Oldest gets on the bus at the ungodly hour of 6:45 (and her school doesn't start until 8:05!!) and The Husband takes The Littles to their school at 7:20. I will be headed out by 7:15ish to get my first day rolling. I'm excited yet nervous, yet SO ready to meet my new class!

I sure hope I can sleep tonight! :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

School Dreams

This is probably the first year in all of my time as a teacher that I haven't had an overabundance of "school dreams". I've had some, just not as many as I usually have in the weeks leading up to the new school year. I am not sure if the lack of the dreams is because of my excitement at being a real staff member at the school that meant so much to me as a child (and as a student teacher) or if it is because I've had so much time to rest over my uber long summer.

That said, last night I had a whopper of a school dream. Holy crow. Now I have to say a little silent prayer before I go to bed Monday night that I don't trip, pass gas or fall in front of my new students! What an impression that would make, huh?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Long Weekend!

Yesterday was our last day for the week at school. We had a very brief meeting in the morning since it was the first day for the parapros and other staff so everyone could meet and then we were off to our classrooms to do whatever. Even though our class lists are all kinds of messed up right now, I couldn't NOT put out welcome stars outside my room and things. It would look so plain and unfriendly. Plus I figured it wasn't going to matter in the long run if I had to recycle a few Post-it stars because those kids didn't come after all. I also made name tags and put names on sticks for random calling in class but that was it. I feel really good about at least doing that so if all those children do show up, they will feel welcomed.

I did, however, make the executive decision to put the books and materials away until after the first day. I know I would have felt terrible as a student if I was the only one in the class without supplies. Since I do have 31 on my list,  on the off chance that 31 actually show, I did not want any of those kiddos to feel bad because everyone else had everything and they did not. Mrs. Cooperating Teacher told me she was sure we wouldn't end up with that many kiddos but who knows? Both 4th grade teachers have 32 on their lists and Mr. 4/5 split has 28, of which only 4 are 5th graders! So I decided I was not going to panic until I see that many children in person. Otherwise, it's stress for no reason, which is counterproductive. It isn't ideal anyway but there is no use crying over something you can't control.


Last week I won a Reader's Theatre set for my classroom, which was unexpected. I found out later the reading level was for about 1st grade and I was worried that they would be way too low for my students. But after doing some investigative work with my class list and the fabulous program we have at work that allows us to track in-district standardized tests, I have a good idea of the level most of my class was reading at in the spring. I have many children who are WELL below grade level. I got my Reader's Theatre set today and am happy to report that these books are going to be PERFECT for my lower ELLs. I am so excited about it. It's an October themed set so we'll be able to hopefully put them to good use during that month. Perhaps we can even "perform" for some of the younger classrooms. How fun would that be?!


Today The Husband and I did some errand running. The kids are spending the long weekend with my parents who are in from out of town and it was pretty nice to just spend some time alone with The Husband before the psychotic first couple of weeks back to school happens.

I got my hair cut into a cute, layered bob and I am in love with it. It is adorable! We also went to Bath & Body Works because I have Restless Legs and a few years ago bought this cream there that was the only thing, aside from going on medication, that seemed to help the RLS. They don't sell it in the same formula anymore (I had it in a mousse-type cream) but they did have it in lotion form. Score! We also did some random shopping around and treated ourselves to Steak & Shake for dinner. I was terrible and had a Choconana shake. De-lish.


I brought a very few things to work on for school over this long weekend since we aren't going anywhere and I knew the kids would be gone so it's quiet. After this, my plan is to avoid bringing work home at all costs if I possibly can.

Have a great long weekend everyone and those of you starting next week like me, I hope you have a fantastic first week of school!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Get Ready!

Class sizes across the board at school are kind of insane. My partner teacher and I both have 32 children on on lists right now and Mr. 4/5 Split has 27 (I have no idea how those are split between 4th and 5th grade though). It's kind of crazy right now and some people are starting to feel a lot of panic and pressure. But Mrs. Principal told us, again, that as children are registering and such our secretary is putting those names in but they have a BIG stack of CA-60 requests that have to be gone through so our numbers should go down a little bit. Honestly even though I am not thrilled with the thought of 30 either because it is so many kids, at least I have supplies and materials for that many children. I don't even know where I would put a child to sit that first day if I had 31 or 32 show up because I really just don't have the room.

Out of those 32 children on my list right now, only 12 are girls. In the past, my boy heavy classes have been full of fiesty ones but one of the 4th grade teachers, who had all of the kids last year since they switched for science/social studies, gave me a head's up on the kiddos there were at our school last year. Only two are supposed to have real issues and the others it is more laziness and/or just general lack of motivation than anything else. That I can deal with. And truly if I end up with 3-4 behavior problems out of a huge class, it's still going to be cake compared to last year. It is always nice when the previous teacher can give you some info on what to expect from certain kiddos though. One little girl has had a really rough life and I almost cried when her former teacher was telling me about it...I mean, it is that bad. Way worse than anything else I've ever heard of/dealt with.

The good news is that most of the boys in my class that were at my school last year are said to be very sweet. I can handle a big group as long as I don't have lots and lots of naughty children! Plus 7 of these children are supposed to be coming from Closed School and those are the ones I suspect will be the most likely to be no-shows. They may even drop off the list once those CA-60s are gone through and names are pulled of children we know are transferring.

In all though, I am not too panicked about it. If I do end up with every single one of those kiddos showing up...well, we'll have to make due until class sizes balance out and such, but I'm not worried. I really don't think it is going to end up an issue. I certainly don't think I am ever going to get down to 24 or anything but 30 or less looks mighty fine when faced with 2 extra bodies that you don't have seats for.


I am, however, incredibly excited now, even moreso than I was, to meet my new class since I found out that only a couple of them are challenging. Two years ago I only had a couple of challenging kiddos (both boys) and I made them my pet projects for the year. The growth those kids made, while certainly not perfect by the end of the year, was amazing with some TLC and pushing them to achieve. I love that many of my students are said to be a little more needy and need a little more coddling....it'll be nice to be able to coddle children a bit after having such a rough and tumble group last year.