Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bulletin Boards

One of the only things I miss about Former School (certainly not the atmosphere!) are the bulletin boards. I had A HUGE wall-length bulletin board plus my entire back wall was a bulletin board too. Oh, it was heaven.

Current School does not have such glorious space. I have three teeny bulletin boards in  my room and that's it. I made a makeshift student work display area on the glass wall where the bump out is but it isn't my favorite....and I've had a "clothes-line style" display in the hall of work but I'm bored with that so I took it down. (Each student had a spot on the clothesline that we clipped up new work each month.)

My creativity has been lacking because there's so much going on with the new teacher coming, trying to get data and things together and generally just keep going with the flow as things get weird before the holidays. Add in that those 5 days off really messed with my work schedule sleep cycle and it's been hard to come up with anything that resembles coherent thought, let alone creativity!

So of course...I turn to google. And I found a GREAT idea and I'm going to jump in with both feet on this one since I have a lot of display space in the hall and want to use it for something other than showing the same old kind of work samples all the time.

We're going to make a "Gifts of Love" display -- basically the children write a "gift of love" letter...who they would give love to and why for the holiday season. Then you create makeshift wrapping paper packages (in the shape of an 8x11 sheet of paper) and staple it to the letter so it can be flipped up like in a pop up book. You can get as decorative as you want with the wrapping paper (adding bows or whatnot).

I think I am going to stop at the dollar store and buy some cute paper tomorrow after work and this will be a writing project we do on Thursday/Friday and I can have some kiddos help me put the display up on Friday afternoon. :D

Monday, November 29, 2010

Flip Book Samples

I made some flip books to introduce to the kiddos this week and  I'm excited about them.

Spelling Partners Flip Book


Editing and Proofreading Flip Book



Maybe the Language Arts nerd-side of me is showing here, but I LOVE these! The kids will probably think I am insane but I can't wait to use these with them tomorrow.




One day they'll learn to listen.....

Sometimes having a full-day meeting the day AFTER a long break is not a good thing. I'm thinking in the case of today, it was just fine.

All but 1 of my friends came to school today which honestly surprised me. I honestly thought more would be absent. I only knew that one was absent because the sub I scheduled cancelled at the last minute and my new sub didn't show up until after the bell rang. Anywho so I saw the kids for about 5 seconds and then off I went.

The day was mostly productive for me. It was originally supposed to be a 5th grade team planning day....but it got hi-jacked and thus it was less productive than it could have been and I was annoyed by this. Nothing doing we still got a lot of things done and that makes it okay.

I was not thrilled to discover when I went back to my room, however, that there was paper crumpled up behind the indoor recess games bin or that there were other things out of place, etc. I'm gonna have to have a lil chat with my friends tomorrow because Mrs. Sunny SO doesn't play that. Plus, the usual suspects were bad and the sub told me that during SSR they weren't reading quietly so they owe 4 minutes of recess (to which she said "oh I hope that is okay!" -- YUP! Whatever you say sweetie, I got your back!).

Plus she said when she was trying to make sure that the kids had the homework written correctly in their planners they were loud and rude and she said she doesn't like to yell or repeat herself (girl after my own heart!) so she said many might not have it done....and that's just fine with me. They know the consequences (no homework = no recess). Plus tomorrow will be a double whammy that if they didn't do their 5 sentences, they have to do all 20 during recess...I bet that'll teach them to not listen.


Also Mrs. Principal told us that the district hired someone for the new 5th grade position but won't tell Mrs. Principal who this person is (nice, huh?). What a bunch of idiots. I did give her my list of friends that I recommended though and she was happy because she asked us to provide criteria, which I did, and Mrs. Cooperating Teacher did not. It was a HARD choice for me to choose some children to recommend (they are likely to take 6-7 of mine and 5-6 of hers, plus the 4 kids from the split) because even the pains-in-the-behind have mostly grown on me. [Although let's be honest...there are 2 I won't be sad to see go, not at all.] The switch is supposed to be happening next week, I believe. It should've been done months ago but I'd honestly rather them make the switch BEFORE the children go on the winter break so we can all get a fresh start after the new year.

It'll be interesting to see which kids of the 9 I recommended end up going.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Donor's Choose

Wow. That pretty much sums up how I am feeling. I am so humbled and grateful for people who truly do still care about education and helping children.

I just got an email tonight that my 3rd proposal with Donor's Choose of this year has been fully funded! I am honestly completely in awe and shock. This last one wasn't real expensive (it was for sturdy plastic book boxes since the cardboard kind I have gotten over the last couple of years don't last worth anything) and it took less than 3 weeks to be fully funded.

Over $1,000 has been donated to me and my students since October. That in and of itself is absolutely amazing. I know that times are tight for many people and to have SO many people, most of whom are right in my own state (whose economy is really, really bad) donate to these children just warms my heart.

I can't wait to tell them when I see them on Tuesday :)

Seriously, if you haven't put up a proposal there, DO IT. Right now. It is so worth it...and every single one of my families signed the permission slip so their kiddos could be photographed for our thank-you package. I love that part of it too (I do mine all digitally so the only thing I have to do is physically mail thank you letters which they pay for me to do).

I ♥ Donor's Choose!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy (late) Thanksgiving!

I meant to post yesterday but too much fun was being had :)

Happy Thanksgiving (a bit late) for everyone out there. Be sure to count your blessings rather than your regrets.

I am SO thankful for many things this year. Mainly: The Husband, who drives me nuts but loves and supports me unconditionally, it's priceless; The Children who are the reason for all that I do (love you girls!); my fabulous new job; my wonderful and supportive colleagues; my students who try my patience sometimes but remind me daily why I wanted to be a teacher; my therapist for providing me with the ability to separate the good from the bad and not take it all in upon myself and mostly God for guiding me back onto my path toward greatness.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holy Full Moon Batman!

I never really believed in the whole "Full Moon" business until I became a teacher myself. And now...with this group, I really believe in it. If you could buy stock in believing in this...I'd try to buy all the shares!

My normally awesome group of children become these aliens from another planet when it is a full moon. Seriously. One day they will be their usual awesome selves and the next day they are replaced by this overly boisterous, loud and obnoxious people who look just like them. It's unbelievable the change in them.

Yesterday wasn't really bad but it wasn't the best day. This morning, as is how I usually figure it out, I was driving in to work and marveling at the bright moonlight and then realized it's a full moon. I am sure glad it is dark at that hour because otherwise people would think I was a nutcase when I slap the steering wheel and burst out, "So that's what's up with the kids!" (It's probably a really good thing that I can't take a bus to work or I'd really get some weird looks!)


For a short, two day week where yesterday was Monday/Thursday and today was Tuesday/Friday (I love when that happens!), it wasn't too bad. We got through some tests we needed to do and spent some time cleaning up before break. It worked out great that we ended our math unit and our Houghton Mifflin theme right before a break so we could do the testing and then be ready with a fresh start after the break.

At the end of the day on Tuesday, my kids have art so I was lucky enough to have a bit of downtime in the last 45 minutes of the day. I spent it writing sub notes for the 29th for our full-day collaborative meeting and preparing the room for that day. One of my mom's came in with this beautiful basket with a scarecrow decoration and a fall harvest candle inside! She sells candles and has brought me some before (and they smell heavenly...she's honestly wearing me down!). I was so surprised and thanked her profusely. Then she told me that they are moving either this weekend or next back to where they came from.

Her daughter is one of my best. I just love her. She's sweet and kind and does a great job with everything. I was so sad when her mom told me. :( Selfishly I hope they don't move quite yet because I want a little more time to be able to say goodbye to her...but I also know that they need to do what is right for them. Her mom works hard trying to keep things together (she's single) so I don't begrudge her needing to get out of a bad situation if necessary. Her mom mentioned that she had hoped to wait until January because she wanted to be able to give me a "big Christmas present". I thought that was sweet. It isn't expected of course but it is nice to feel like someone appreciates the work you put in. I will miss them a lot.


Things are starting to roll with the new class, as far as I can tell. We have to turn in our recommendations for movement by next Tuesday. Since we're meeting a full day on Monday I'm thinking we might spend a little bit of time talking about which kiddos we think would be a good fit. I know that no matter what at least one of my behaviors has to go because I am not going to be able to stand the two of them together the rest of the year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Announcements

Today Mrs. Principal finally made the announcement to the rest of the staff that we are adding a 5th grade teacher. According to the email, we should be getting someone in the 2nd week of December. So that means, even with time for them to set up their room and whatnot, that we should be able to have the kiddos moved for the last week before the break and then hit the ground running in January.

I can't tell you how happy I will be when this finally happens. Notsomuch because I want to get rid of any of MY kids (although, if we're honest.....) but because I am SO TIRED of 4 extra kids coming to my room for 90 minutes a day. Mr. 4/5 Split has had it made...this hasn't inconvenienced him at all. He only has those 4 for 2 hours a day between lunch and dismissal. And from what I've been told and heard, he doesn't do much teaching and they are sweet as can be so it wouldn't be that bad to have them.

At any rate, I'm ready to move on. I'm ready to get things going with a smaller group, really get some interventions going with the kids I keep and punch my teaching up a notch. Imagine it....10 less homeworks to assign, 10 less tests to grade, 10 less of many things. As sad as I will be to lose some of my little friends, that is a benefit that I can't help but look forward to.


Since today was Monday/Thursday and tomorrow is Tuesday/Friday....I am ready. I am grading math tests and wondering why my kids know it cold when we're reviewing/discussing but the minute I'm not there to hold their hand, they flop. It makes me so upset! (And would explain why our school is labeled as a priority...they all seem to get it when you hold their hand and the second they have to be independent....*sigh*.) I'm grading and updating some things tonight, and will finish them before I hit the hay...and tomorrow I will arrive early and bust some behind getting things going. Tomorrow afternoon I will spend my precious 48 minute prep getting ready for next week.

I am leaving at 3:30 tomorrow because I have an IEP for Middle Child at 4 o'clock and thus rushing out the door is going to be vital. If I "accidentally" forget to bring anything home to work on over this super long weekend....it'll be a minor oversight on my part. *wink*

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekends

Gosh I've missed my weekends. This is the first weekend in about 3 that I haven't brought anything home to do. Do I have thing to do? Of course. But after the whirlwind week we just had, I decided I was taking the weekend OFF.

While I know it is definitely deserved, I hate that a teeny part of me feels guilty for not doing SOMETHING school related. Although, to be fair, I did buy some things at Dollar Tree this afternoon that are for my classroom. So I guess that kind of counts....right?

Why is it that we're told we don't work hard enough, that we're all there for the summers off, extra vacations and the startlingly awesome pay (I'll hold on while you choke back your gales of laughter....) (all done? Okay, let's go) and then when we do get through one of the busiest weeks as a teacher by doing conferences, we feel bad when we take time to ourselves??

I know that next weekend, since it's such a long one, that I won't be able to resist doing some school work. I'm sure I'll be bored out of my mind by Saturday, even with the holiday in there since we are hosting a very small Thanksgiving dinner at our own house and not traveling. While I am looking forward to a break, I love my job so much more this year that I feel like I'm not doing enough if I'm not working for the kids constantly.

And know that that mentality is not fair to me. I do SO much for those kids but they have to do something too and I shouldn't feel like I need to be the only one busting my behind. I know they aren't working every weekend to do the very best they can do....so why should I?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Conferences Part Deux

I survived fall conferences....barely I think!

I was SO wiped today that even though we really aren't supposed to do so, I put in a video for the last 30 minutes of the day because I just couldn't fake it anymore. The kids didn't care at all of course. (We've been watching Matilda when it's an indoor recess so they were about halfway through it.)

Out of 30 kiddos, all but 1 parent made it in. This is a parent that I have to say I believe is one of those "talk the talk" kind of people. They say the right things when they are in front of you...but when push comes to shove, the behavior in their child doesn't change at all.

I always get good conference turnout because I'm not afraid to bribe provide an incentive for the kids. This time around I promised them ice cream if they came to conferences. I have no doubt that is one of the reasons I usually get good turnout. I made a phone call this morning to try to get at least a phone confernence in with the one child whose parent didn't show up so he could participate in our ice cream treat this afternoon.

The jerk who answered the phone was so rude! Doesn't really surprise me that the child behaves the way he does. It's actually kind of sad. The child claimed that mom was coming "after school". I didn't hold my breath (and no, she never did show up). Whatever. I'm not hunting anyone down after 2 super long nights at school when 3-4 different reminders have gone home AND she signed the conference sheet saying the time was okay.


Since next week is Thanksgiving (shut the front door, when did that happen?!), we only have two days of school. I am going to just send his conference stuff home Monday and call it a written conference. All of the other parents managed to get in there, even some who had work and such yesterday. They made other arrangements with me and that was just fine.

It was actually quite nice to finally get to meet all of the parents. It made me really appreciate them for sending me their awesome kids to work with this year (well, with the exception of a few *wink*). It is going to break my heart when they make the choice of who is going to the new 5th grade -- if that actually does happen -- because even the naughty boys have grown on me a bit. If Corner Boy would suddenly move away, I wouldn't have a single problem keeping all 29 of the other kids.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Conferences

Tonight was Day 1 of our 2 days of Fall Conferences. Part of me dreads conferences because I hate having to tell parents that their kid is a jackass (when that is true -- although obviously I put it a bit more eloquently!). Another part of me enjoys conferences because it is fun to celebrate the great things that some of the children are doing in the classroom.

With 30 children and only 32 conference slots open, it was a tight squeeze to keep to 15 minutes (which I failed miserably at). I had a parent show up really early and a couple others show up late and things sort of balanced out. I felt bad for the parents at the end who had to wait past the "closing time" but they were all really gracious about it and I had some really great conferences with the children and their families.

I am adamant that in 5th grade, the children need to be at the conference because we're talking about them, they should be there to defend what I say. I have learned in my 5 years as a teacher in this district to BRIBE THEM to get them to come to conferences. This especially works when I teach big kids. I didn't have as much success when I taught 2nd grade but it has worked every year that I've had big kids. This time around I promised the kids that if they came with their parents, I would give them an ice cream treat on Friday. They had to come and they had to bring their reminder post card -- it's like a ticket to the ice cream.

Out of the 15 conferences I had scheduled tonight, all of the parents came but only 13 kids. It won't be so pleasant for those two if they are the only ones who don't get the treat! (And yes, I have to stick to what I said, as mean as that sounds.)

I just hope that Thursdays conferences go as well. I'm tired but not in a "oh-my-gosh-I-can't-believe-they-expect-me-to-work-tomorrow" kind of way. I'm excited about going to school tomorrow and telling my friends how proud I am of them for getting to conferences and doing a good job.


We had such good success with it, I'm really thinking that I may want to try Student-Led Conferences next time around. That way I can schedule 2 at a time since the kids will lead the conferences and then I can flip back and forth between them as needed....although I'll only have 24 kids by that point so it'll be MUCH nicer in case we do get behind at all!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Best Kind of Day!

Today was one of those days where you just realize why you are a teacher, although it didn't start off that way.

We had a field trip for a Physical Education demo this morning. Our PE teacher invited all of the 4th/5th grade students on this trip to demonstrate a new fitness program that incorporates some videos and demos that the kids follow (kind of like a big group fitness class). A bunch of PE teachers and PE student teachers would be watching the demo. The kids all got a free shirt (as did the staff) and were excited about it. At the end they got Silly Bandz...which are my current bane of existence. WHY are they so popular? They are stupid! I really don't like them. I let the kids wear them but if they play with them or anything, they are mine and I don't give them back. Other than that though, the kids had a great time and really enjoyed the trip. They got a free milk and the Silly Bandz on the way out so they were happy.

I was worried that the rest of the day would be off due to the trip but for the most part they were really good. They made amazing connections between our writing lesson, in which we were doing some revising to add sensory language, and our science lesson which was to build some schema for our next investigation which is on black boxes. I was so proud of their connections! Plus, we did a Time for Kids activity using the REAP Reading Strategy. The kids absolutely LOVED it and thought it was fun. I won't do it with them a lot because I don't want them to get bored with it but they did ask me if we could do it again next week with our TFK so I said sure. It was really quite awesome.


Unfortunately, despite the awesome day, I brought home at least 5 hours worth of work for the weekend. Ugh! I hate doing that and don't do it very often but conferences are next week and I want to make 100% sure that I am prepared for them and have everything set for the week since I have very little down time (conferences are both Tuesday and Thursday and I am going to a movie screening Wednesday afternoon that will probably go just about as late as the conference days). It'll be interesting to see how things go.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wow!

This morning, just before recess, Mrs. Reading Teacher stopped into my room to let me know that I needed to be in Mrs. Principal's office at 10:20, right after sending the kids to recess. Of course my first thought was, "what did I do?!". Isn't it sad that even as adults, that is our first thought, that it must be something bad?

Imagine my utter shock when I go into her office to see Mrs. Cooperating Teacher, Mr. 4/5 Split and both reading coaches in the room as well as Mrs. Principal. At that point, I was no longer worried, just immensely curious.

Turns out, the district finally got a brain and realized that Mrs. CT and I trying to service 34 kids is unreasonable and they are adding a 5th grade teacher to our staff! I think the three of us sat there with our jaws on the floor for about 5 minutes after Mrs. Principal told us the news.

I'm immensely jealous that the new teacher will get to take over the lounge...which is next door to me. I'm only jealous because it is the ONLY room in the school with its own bump out that isn't shared with anyone else. I would DIE to have that room for myself, honestly. The bump out would be a perfect reading spot for the library and whatnot. Ah well. I wouldn't really want to move all of my crap at this point anyway!

Mr. 4/5 Split will cease being a split since he only has 4 fifth graders. They will all go to the new teacher. Mrs. Cooperating Teacher is at 29 and I am at 30 right now so she'll lose 5 and I should lose 6. Do the math and the new teacher will start with only 15 kiddos. Mrs. CT and I will then both sit at 24. While that sounds unfair, it isn't...because the kicker is, every single new 5th grader will automatically go to the new teacher. Since we tend to see shifts in enrollment in January (ie kiddos move in a lot), more than likely the new class will be around 20 kiddos and let's face it, the majority of the kids who show up mid-year are behavior problems. I am not jealous of that at all (SO been there, done that).

Mrs. Principal isn't entirely sure on a timeline but they are thinking the switcheroo might not happen until January. Obviously the sooner the better but whatever. Knowing I'll be servicing 10 less kids on a daily basis is a dream come true! Plus, all I could think about all afternoon was how I'll be able to remove an entire table group from my room and set up centers around the perimeter because I'll have so many fewer kids (it does make a huge difference with the way our rooms are set up with the bump out). I am absolutely stoked about the whole thing...and very grateful that even though this should have been done weeks ago, at least they are realizing there is a need in our school and they are going to fulfill it. Mrs. Principal asked Mrs. CT and I to both lend support to this new teacher because it is very likely it'll be someone who graduates in December that gets the job and thus has zero training in MAP, DIBELs and Everyday Math.


Seems like every year there ends up being a newbie somewhere in whatever school I'm in that I kind of take under my wing and help out so I'm happy to do that. Plus, they are taking some of my headache away with trying to service all of those kids. This will open up time so that I can conference with every.single.one of my kids every week. It will also open up some flexibility for groupings and interventions for my low kids.

We aren't allowed to spill the beans to anyone at work -- not even the resource teacher at our grade -- until everything is 100% definite. Mrs. Principal did tell us to be thinking of kiddos who would transition well and would be a good fit. Of course, my first thought is "get rid of Super Major Pain in the Behind!" but I have been the teacher who was dumped on with naughty kids and I won't do that to someone else.

I have 3 boys who I want to go into the new class that are pains for me BUT I believe that is moreso because they are feeding off the negativity of another student. If they get away from that, I have no doubt that they will rise to the occasion and shine. There is only one who I wonder if he'll really rise to the occasion. He is smart but acts like a jackass pretty much all the time (and no it isn't because he's bored -- he's just a brat). I have noticed that with this kid, he is a whole new person when Super Major Pain in the Behind isn't in the classroom. So he was the first one I thought of to go -- perhaps being away from the other will help him to reach his potential.

I selected 6 boys for consideration. I'm not really willing to give up any of my girls because I only have 10 of them as it is and I love them all. Some of my boys who I know would rock the house in the other class...I kind of wasn't willing to let them go because they are SO helpful to some of my low ESL kids. I don't want to lose that support for those kiddos when I can't be right there to help them.


Part of me is still in utter shock that this is 99% certain to be a go. Why they finally decided we needed that extra support is a mystery to me...but I am NOT going to complain at all. I am going to thank my stars and be grateful. I'm sure once the word gets out to the staff, some of the other grades will be pissed off that they are not getting this extra support but I'm not going to listen to that. I'm going to be uberly grateful that someone in central office finally got the idea that it is impossible for me to do the best job for these kids when I am servicing 34 kids throughout the day. 24 is much more "normal" and hopefully will help us to give these kids the best we can before they go off to middle school.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I ♥ Donor's Choose!

Today I received my first package of goodies from Lakeshore Learning courtesy of Donor's Choose. I really love that there is a site out there where you can write grants and such based on your needs and that awesome people fulfill them!

I don't have much in the way of a CD player or anything in my room and for my ELL kids especially, I really wanted to have something so when we do some small groups and things later, they can listen on the CD or whatnot. I have SO many kids but about half would really benefit from having the CD in a small group setting to help them really engage with the text.

I really love Lakeshore's stuff too. Everything is so sturdy and "kid friendly". I have never had an issue with anything I bought from them. We got a nice new CD/Cassette player (to which The Oldest promptly said "does anyone even still use cassettes mom??"), an 8-station junction box and 8 sets of headphones with individual volume controls. I love that they will be able to adjust the volume on their own headset so those who like it louder can have it that way.


I was practically dancing in my seat all day in anticipation of the shipment coming today (that and the box of preordered Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5s due to show up today too)! I'm not sure the kids are nearly as excited as I am about this donation. I am already thinking of ways to incorporate some of our leveled reading books into my reading time since I now have the CD player (and will have 4 individual ones coming with the next set which opens up even more possibilities).



In addition to this fabulousness, one of the ASD teachers told us that one of the workers in her room's husband buys businesses that are going out of business and resells the stock (think store shelving and things). Well apparently a teacher or school supply company went out of business and they had a bunch of mini easels that they aren't able to resell with the type of business they do. So they decided to make donations to any teachers in our school who want any!! They are table-top style so pretty little but have a chalkboard side and a magnetic whiteboard side. Even though they shriek "primary" I signed up to get some if there are extras because I could TOTALLY use them in centers, for making words since they are magnetic and many other possibilities. Plus, if it's free, I'll find a use for it!

I love teaching at my school!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Technology

A few years ago our district got some Title 1 funds that they used toward purchasing Examview software and CPS systems. Newer schools like mine have quite a bit of these systems, almost enough for 1 per classroom. The younger grades don't use them quite as much as the upper grades but I was lucky enough to get a system just for my class. Unfortunately, however, the technology does not like my old laptop system so we haven't had much success with it.

Today after school, Mrs. Assessment/Technology asked me if I had been able to make it work and I honestly answered that I hadn't really tried it again. She said perhaps Mrs. Cooperating Teacher and I could share computers but I don't want to do that since it would be a HUGE pain in the behind.

I kind of laughed and said I would try it tomorrow with something and if it works, great. If not...that's fine too! I've had access to this technology for 2 1/2 years and I have NEVER once used it. And I've managed without it. She then chuckled because they call me "Young Thang" since I'm so good with computers and things. She said "yeah, you seem pretty okay with doing the percentages and things by hand"...of course I am. I've had no choice but to do them by hand since I started teaching so it's just what I know!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A week in Review

I am really hoping this next week is just a bit less chaotic than last week was! I have forbidden The Husband from ever going out of town again, at least not until all of our kids are out of the house.


I am really proud of most of my students for their responsibility and action toward their learning. Our first marking period just ended so we had last Tuesday as a records/PD day so staff could finish report cards. We grade on a scale of 1-4 with 1 being essentially a 'fail' grade of less than 70% and then the scale going up by 10% each time with 4s being 90% or higher.

I rarely ever give 4s in actually grades because they are end of the year standards and at this point, most of the kiddos just aren't there. I wish very much that, at least at the 4th/5th grade level, they would switch to standard grades in our district with the percentages. This would really promote a bit more accountability before the students go to middle school where I feel they are often thrown for a loop because the grades become more concrete and they aren't really prepared for that.

I like to change my hallway and classroom displays at least once a month if I can and yesterday was a perfect opportunity to get the kiddos doing some reflection work that we could also display on our boards. I have one in the hallway that looks kind of like a clothes-line display with the children's pictures above their space and one in the classroom that I added on our "bump out" glass wall area. Since we did just end a marking period, I had the children spend some time yesterday reflecting on their own learning, especially with reading since we're big on our DDI/MAP implementation. We did an informational "quick shot" with our Time for Kids magazine and the children did really well with them. I put those out in the hall since that is the display most often seen by visitors. In writing I had the children write a reflection on their reading progress -- what they are doing better at now and how what we are using in the classroom is helping.

It is amusing to me how much the children, even at this age, parrot the things you say/do. I had several children write in their reflection that their reading was improving because their "fabulous teacher" had given them a reader's notebook or because their "amazing teacher" did conferences with them to help them learn what they needed to do to read better. I love reading their reflections on those things because inevitably, at least one or two of them say how great they think I am. If that doesn't lift a teacher's spirits after a hard week, I don't know what will!


The next couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving Break will be busy ones and I am hoping to really get the ball rolling for some of these kiddos who still need a proverbial kick in the behind to get them on board with their education. It saddens me so much how some of these children, at such a young age, just really don't seem to get that they make all the difference in what they get out of school. I hope that by the end of the semester in January, I will have captured something for each of these children to get them to really realize that yes, they can succeed and yes, it is up to both them and me (not just them, not just me) to make that happen.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lucky

There isn't a day that goes by this year that I don't realize how incredibly lucky I am to be a part of New School with its amazing students and staff.

I was out Monday since I knew that my grandma was going to be passing soon (she had been asleep since early Sunday morning so we knew it was going to either happen Sunday overnight or early Monday morning). I helped my mom and aunt with some things but there wasn't much for me to do since grandma wanted to be cremated and buried with my uncle who passed away 7 years ago. Mostly I was just there for mom and mourning the passing of a wonderful person.

Yesterday was a no-kiddos day at school (election day = no school in my district since about half our schools are polling locations). A few people were amazed I was at work. It is a huge pain to make up PD time if you miss it (even for something like a death in the family), plus I knew that if I didn't go to work...I'd sit at home, moping and eating Halloween candy. For someone already dealing with clinical depression, that just wasn't going to work. Plus, I knew I would cope with it better without The Husband home if I was productive and feeling like I wasn't getting more behind at school.

Everyone at work were absolutely wonderful. Teachers I never see because our daily schedules are so opposite made it a point to stop me and tell me they were sorry for my loss. I really appreciated that because that supportive atmosphere is such an integral part of the school climate. It is one of my favorite things about New School. 



I have a firm policy that I do not lie to my students. If something really important goes on in my life, I feel like it is only fair that I tell my students about it, especially in a case like this so they understand if I seem sad or something. When I told them this morning why I was gone on Monday, many of them were amazing. I am always finding myself so in awe of how caring these children are. They definitely know how to feel compassion and empathy which is such an important life skill!

One of my more challenging students was doing something kind of naughty and another student blurts out, "her grandma just died, you need to be nice to Mrs. Sunny because she's sad!" It was so cute, especially coming from a 5th grader. Every day I do appreciate how much these children have reinstated my love of teaching and working with children. I already dread the end of the year because I know I will miss this group of children so much.



I also found out that we are very blessed to have a local businessman donate a class set of planners for us. I had planners at Former School and missed them so much this year. I'm really glad to have them and the kids are excited about them as well (probably because I was so excited!). 

Then I got the news that both of my Donor's Choose proposals were funded. One gal donated over $550 to one of my projects alone! I was so humbled at her generosity for these children. We will be receiving a new CD/cassette player with 8 headphones and a junction box so 8 children can plug in to the CD player and listen to the same story at the same time. We will also receive a set of read-alongs from Lakeshore Learning and 4 individual CD players so the children can listen to read-alongs on their own during SSR. I am so excited about how this is going to help some of my ELL kiddos who are stuck in the lower leveled readers because they can't make meaning from the harder text due to trying to decode all of the big words.


I am one lucky lady despite some hardships happening in my life. I can't help but wonder if grandma is being my guardian angel at this point in helping us get the rest of our funding for this big project. Mrs. Sunny is not only a lucky lady, but tonight, she is a humble one.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sadness

Sadly, today we celebrated Middle Child's 9th birthday but it is also the day that we said a final goodbye to Grandma who passed peacefully in her sleep this morning at 7:25. I know she is in a better place now.

I have not really allowed myself to "let go" and feel it yet since The Husband had to go out of town on business (he couldn't get out of it despite wanting to be home for me). I feel peaceful that Grandma is in a better place...and so grateful that tomorrow is a no-kiddos day so I can mentally get myself back into the game before seeing my kiddos again this week.