Friday, October 28, 2011

Say what?!

Today was my mental health/sick day. I feel a million times better than earlier this week and I am positive it is simply because I didn't run around a germ-infested school all day. I am going to take it easy this weekend and hopefully can finally kick this crud and be more or less "normal" for next week, especially because it's a busy one (Halloween, birthday, meetings and the birthday party, oy!).

I went down to my old stomping grounds, the school I taught at when I first got hired to help my friend who just got placed there (she was at another school and got moved). She is terribly unhappy because she is teaching 4th grade and her classroom is in a former kindergarten room and is WAY TOO SMALL for her students. She is about 2 miles away from her teammates and she just feels out of her depth. I feel bad for her...because it's how it was for me there as well. I was so far away from my team if I didn't make a point to go on our break time, I would never see them! She also got dumped on (ie they gave her the bad kids) which they did to me when I was there too. That pisses me off. WHY would a principal knowingly do this year after year?! I don't know if his game is to try to see if teachers can "make it" and this is his test but it's pretty crappy!

So I went to see her for about 45 minutes this morning before school...shared my behavior plan with her and helped her set up some procedural stuff. I am a big believer that 99% of management issues are procedural ones in that the kids just don't know what you want them to do. Plus she is overwhelmed because she thought she would be teaching 2nd this year like me and now she's up to 4th. This is why my district is so frustrating -- people get moved and shifted around mid-year and it makes it so hard. THEN you have the double whammy of trying to "undo" the procedures of the teachers you got kids from and teach them your own and it's not easy (I know because I had to do it!).

It just upsets me that this principal, who I do genuinely like because he took a chance on me and was good to me for the most part, continues to allow his teachers to dump on newbies like this. Additionally the reason her room is in the kindergarten wing is because he didn't want to "ruffle feathers" of the reading teacher upstairs in the room my friend should have gotten. Um, excuse me? Are you the principal or not?? Grow a pair dude! 

I think, however, that I made her feel better. She is so overwhelmed she wants to quit teaching. She is an amazing teacher and I refuse to let her just give up. So I invited her to take a visitation and come and see me at my school. I am also going to ask one of my colleagues if my pal can pop into her room for a bit so she can see the 4th grade reading street in action. I am crossing my fingers that her and I end up teaching at the same school again soon because she has been through so much crap in our district I think she's lost her confidence. It's sad.

And shame on any principal who knowingly allows ANY teacher to dump on someone like that. I have to give mad props to Mrs. Principal on that one. When we got our new teacher last December, she plainly stated that she would NOT allow us to dump on that person (I wouldn't have anyway because it's been done to me but I know Mrs. CT had a few choice kids she was really pissed she couldn't hoist onto the new teacher). Why do teachers do that to each other?? So rude and unprofessional.


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Standing up for what you believe in!

Good gravy. So we got Reading Street this year. People are massively overwhelmed because the stations are STUPID and not developmentally appropriate so we end up spending a ton of time making up things for the kids to do in stations. On Wednesday's we have grade level planning. One of my lit coaches came in for part of it and was asking the team how stations are going. Mrs. E and Miss W are doing 3 days a week and meeting with their groups on those three days also. They are both early childhood people (both have early childhood endorsements) and yet they are knowingly teaching their "small groups" with 8 and 9 kids in them. THAT IS NOT A SMALL GROUP!! I refuse to do that to my kids. Small group is ideally 3-4. My higher groups are 5 and 6 which is as high as I'll push it.

I told Mrs Literacy that I will gladly lose my job over this one. I will NOT compromise my kids' education by making these massively huge groups. (it came up because I have not been working with my kids who see another teacher for intervention time and they said they get through them all because their groups are so big.) I am appalled that my colleagues aren't making more of a fuss about it. I am NOT an early childhood teacher by trade and *I* know those huge groups are highly inappropriate.

So I conceded enough to say I can add a 15 minute block to our time and alternate my small groups and see those intervention kids twice a week...but I refuse to put 8-9 kids in a group when the needs of those kids are so vastly different. No freaking way.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wow!

Apparently I need to check my gmail a bit more often -- truthfully I don't use it for anything except this blog so I don't check it that much. Imagine my utter surprise when I logged in to my gmail today and discovered someone nominated my lil ole' blog as a Top 25 Teacher Mom Blog.

*excuse me while I pick up my jaw*

It still constantly amazes me that anyone even reads my drivel but there you have it. Someone somewhere nominated me and I feel very humbled! Thank you whomever you are!

I guess I am surprised people visit my little corner of the world so much because I don't do big giveaways or post cutesy things to share all that often -- I'm too busy for that I guess (and why make it when I figure someone else will thus saving me the time!). But clearly people read my blog because I get comments all the time telling me how much the reader can relate to what I am saying. It's good to know I am not alone in my quest to "change the world" as it were.

So again, thank you to all my readers who are out there giving me support. And to the fabulous person (people?) who nominated my blog for this award, seriously, you rock. 

If you'd like to vote for me (and please, there is zero obligation here!) you can do so here: 
Circle of Moms Top 25 Teacher Mom Blogs .


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Monday, October 24, 2011

Ah Monday

Today was interesting. I shall post my highlights in bullet format for your pleasure:

  • I was SUPER behind this morning because while I had grading and whatnot done, there are things I can only do from school. I hauled major behind from 7:30-8:18 when that first bell rang and you would never have known that I showed up at 7:20 totally not ready for the day. Go me!
  • Today during writing I decided to challenge my little friends to BE writers. I have been appalled all year at their lack of stamina, their lack of interest in writing and their inability to be creative when it comes to writing. It makes me sad. They are 6 and 7! Writing should not be a huge boring task, it should be FUN. But the way our district has aligned our writing units, they are VERY boring, way too hard for the students and just developmentally inappropriate. So I gave them a challenge to go to Dollar Tree or some other little dollar store and buy themselves those little composition books (the real small ones you can get 6 for $1) to keep as their "seed notebook") and to take that notebook out on the playground and gather "seeds". We started a seed list in our books to give them ideas. We simply brainstormed some things we do together daily and came up with circle time and recess. So we put these on a list and then I said let's turn it into a bigger idea and our list looked like this:
            circle time ------------------> Mrs. Sunny turns into a monster
           recess -------------------> it starts raining gummy bears
    Wow did they GIGGLE at that last one. They just don't know how to be creative when they write. It is sad and disheartening. So we tried a couple more and then I told them to dig into their "seed pocket" and pull out one of their seeds. Then they turned and told a neighbor what their seed was and I gave them 10 minutes to write about it and most of them wrote more than I think they have written all year so far. I'm not expecting a lot of them to show up with new notebooks tomorrow but I am going to buy some and put them in my prize bin so that the students just make take it upon themselves to live and THINK like writers.
  • I had a meeting at lunch with our Social Worker to do a Functional Behavior Assessment on my special little friend. She came in for an observation during writing time and got to see what I deal with every day in terms of him doing ZERO work, disrupting others and just being a general pain in the behind. During our lunch period, right after writing, we sat to work through the FBA. She asked me a bunch of questions about what behaviors were of concern and what I was already doing to address them. At the end she said "well, I am going to be totally UNhelpful to you because you are already doing everything I would have suggested you try". Made me want to run right down to Mrs. Principal and rub that in I can tell you! She has made it impossible for me to do my job well and deal with this little guy when he gets on his crazy train (which is often) and I was VERY glad to have the SSW tell me I was doing everything right.
  • After lunch today we did a video taping. I would love to say it was fabulous but I either can't see the video or hear the video or both lol I can watch it on the camcorder which is not very fun but we're having a heck of a time getting the discs to work properly. I have several fidgeting kids in the back row and two who clearly aren't paying a lick of attention. I am going to point this out of them tomorrow and ask them if they'd like me to show it to their mothers :p The content is okay but I want to watch it all through on a real DVD player again before I decide if its good enough. They recommend you do several videos anyway so you can pick the best. I think I am going to try to do it with one of my small groups tomorrow and see how that goes instead. Then I need to video tape for entry 3 which I plan to do on Wednesday, all the while reminding my little darlings that today's episode caught everything they weren't supposed to be doing plain as day on the video.
  • I am tired and already ready for the weekend! I just need some ME time! :)



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Sunday, October 23, 2011

*Sigh*

So I'm spending my Sunday catching up on grading since I was so sick at the end of the week and thus got behind. I am just dumbfounded at how many of my students think I am not going to notice if they don't finish their work. It boggles my mind how many of them turn things in half done and think that is okay. Is this really what we are teaching our students?? I sure hope not.

Tomorrow morning we're going to have a huge talk. I already only let 5 kids have Academic Fun Friday last week because they are the only ones who actually did all of their homework. Perhaps this will be another piece of that. I guess I am going to have to take 10 minutes before we start our Academic Friday to see who has their packets done and who don't and that is what they will have to work on. I constantly say to them "work first, play later" and they totally get what I mean. I'm disappointed to think maybe they thought they could pull one over on me because I was sick. I sure hope they aren't that sneaky. On at least half of our station packets I wrote "finish at home" because they just did not do them all. It frustrates me more because all of the work for our stations is review!! They should know how to do it without my help. I am super disappointed in them over this. They know better.

I've dealt with laziness in students before for sure and on Friday I got on several of the kids because they didn't do their spelling homework which was a simple tic-tac-toe they got on Monday that needed to be signed by a parent for each activity and returned by Friday. I think I got 6 back. From 25 kids. It makes my blood boil. At this age, it is more the parents than the kids because they are little but it doesn't make me wonder why the kids are so lazy and uninvolved in their learning when they get older. Their parents tolerate it and there is only so much I can do.



I found a way to sneak peeks into the BlackBoard accounts at the community college I want to teach at. So I got to check out the syllabi of some of the other teachers who have the class I am being considered for. I will admit I was daydreaming last night about having older students who (hopefully) are a little more motivated than some of my younger friends are.

A friend of mine was asking me about teaching 2nd grade and then moving up to the college level and didn't I think that would be hard. Um, no. I have known since I graduated and spent some time working with middle schoolers that eventually I will leave elementary...and when I do, I very much doubt I will ever go back to it. Not that middle schoolers aren't lazy sometimes and don't need a kick in the behind too but I think it's much easier to talk to older kids about shaping it up than someone who is 6 and probably doesn't understand half of what you are saying anyway. 

I don't know. I just feel a bit bitter because I bust my ass, go to work when I am practically the walking dead...and I get this crap from them?? So it's game on. They are not going to have their choice time anymore until they earn it by a) doing their homework (which I only send home twice a week and it's EASY review stuff so they should not be having trouble) and b) finishing ALL of their in-class work. If that means 5-8 kids get the Academic Friday activities, so be it.


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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Belch!

I am SO sick! :(

I asked a couple of our intervention teachers who only work Monday-Thursday if they could take my class for Friday. I just needed a Mental Health day, well then I end up actually sick. I have a squeaky voice, a sinus issue and my body just aches. I hate leaving my class with an unknown sub because they are good but soooo chatty.

I woke up yesterday feeling like death and broke down and requested a sub. I went in because I needed to prepare for someone...good thing I did because no one took the job! I remember the days when I was a sub, it was hitting "refresh" in the computer system over and over just trying to find anything so you could work that day. And my colleague next door didn't get a sub either! Messed up.

So I taught all day feeling like crap :/ the kids were so good about it when I was honest and said I really didn't feel good. My biggest issue with them right now is hallway. They do NOT make quiet lines quickly. Since I have recess duty on Friday, I made them stand in our line, straight and quiet. They were not happy with me...but I know my biggest pet peeve has always been when I see kids older than mine not quiet in the hall. I don't want my students to be like that some day. And they can't hate me too much because every day I get gifts and trinkets from them or pictures, etc. It's so cute.

My quest to avoid negativity is paying off. Everyone was super sympathetic yesterday and offered help in any way possible. My team volunteered to take my kids who can't be taped for National Board next week AND Mrs. E gave me a card thanking me for helping her and Miss W with our MAP data stuff and how breaking the kids up by their RIT score on the paper has changed how they are teaching their higher groups. I was feeling so emotionally drained yesterday and just crappy that I almost cried reading it. I'm glad to feel like we're really becoming a TEAM and we support each other. It's great,



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Location:Belch!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

There aren't enough hours!

Whew! I know I am not the only one glad we're past the halfway point of the week! Time FLIES yet there is no time to get everything done. It's crazy.

I did not grade the pile I brought home today -- although I have been MUCH better about grading daily instead of waiting and ending up behind. If I can get myself to school relatively early tomorrow I should be able to catch up on that -- although I am not too worried because we have art first thing and then for 50 minutes later tomorrow morning we have tutors for math from a local college. So that's 50 minutes of EXTRA time I get to grade/plan, etc. That will be SUPER nice.


It rained ALL DAY today and is supposed to tomorrow also and that makes for super long and super hard days. My little guy was off the wall today -- spitting on people, poking people, etc. I've just had it. I pointed out to the secretary that my contract states I CAN snap
suspend a child from my classroom for the rest of the day and I WILL make Mrs. Principal do it. There is no procedure in place for kids who take it to that level. And frankly I am TIRED of her not taking it seriously that ONE CHILD makes it impossible for me to do my job. When
he's good, he's awesome. But on his bad days it's hard to like him and hard to get anything else done with the rest of my class. We lost an entire rotation of our stations today because I was dealing with his bullshit. Since I am the one responsible for what happens in those stations and I am the one who is accountable for their progress (or lackthereof), I will be damned if I am going to sit and allow this child to continue to disrupt my classroom. I spoke with dad after school and he is completely on the same page with me -- he's at his wit's end
as well. So I did my homework -- and he can DEMAND testing and they HAVE to do it. So I am going to accidentally on purpose slip him (and another parent) the info they need to demand
these tests for their children. Mrs.  Principal tried to tell me we had to follow RTI protocol and she is a liar. If a parent demands the testing, we have 30 days in which to
initiate the tests.
This child's dad even asked me if I thought the child might need a smaller class size. I think his behavior screams Emotional Impairment but I was also honest and said I have zero qualifications to even say that and that I only answered because he asked me. He has always been wonderfully supportive in trying to help me help his child. So we are going to
collectively go over Mrs. Principal's head because she is a control-freak and doesn't realize that she's messing with the wrong lady. These kids are everything to me and I WILL get them the help they need.

I realized this morning why I am 2nd. Everything happens for a reason. EVERYTHING. These boys need me to help advocate for them. Their parents don't know how to bypass the system because I have an emotionally impaired AND dyslexic child. I will help these boys and their families, regardless of what it personally costs me.


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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Overwhelmed and Surprise!

I did not post yesterday because the day SUCKED. Seriously. It was just bad. The kids were okay and everything but I got to work late because I had to drop off The Oldest at school and then I was behind and blah blah. I felt like I was rushing around all day and I hate that, especially when I worked so much of Sunday trying to be a good teacher and give the most I can to my students.

Then we had our data meeting. Just shoot me now. Please. This is NOT why I became a teacher. At all. While I am all about looking at my data and making instructional decisions BASED on that data, filling out a huge packet of forms for someone else (of which I will NEVER look at again I'm sure) is ridiculous. And they are changing the form so it's a whole new process of figuring out how to use the new forms and blah blah. Then we were told we HAD to take a full day the day we have our Reading Training so we can do the new data forms with Mrs. Principal. Our coach told us we could take a separate day if we wanted. I put my foot down on that one -- we're already gone a half day on November 10, why not just take the day and get it done?? I am NOT taking ANOTHER whole freaking day to look at stupid data crap that won't mean anything to me the next day!! 

So I left last night feeling very stressed out, pissy and just overwhelmed. I didn't bring anything home and thank goodness because I totally forgot that The Oldest had conferences. They only hold them one day of the whole semester and it is always a Monday (ie the WORST day for me to go). I always want to eat naughty food when I am stressed and I wanted The Husband to go to conferences with us, taking the younger two girls also, and then go get nachos for dinner. He wouldn't budge about it and I got upset -- we are not rolling in the dough by any means but he is SUCH a penny pincher and when I feel that stressed and bitchy, I just want my way! So we got into a fight over it which was just stupid. Then I had to take The Oldest to her conferences and I was feeling pissy as it was. Grr. I said something on FaceBook about just wanting to go to bed and put the day to rest and a friend commented that it didn't sound like me at all and was I okay.

Both of my grade level team partners told me today that I am always so positive and "sunny" that they couldn't IMAGINE me being that upset. Mrs. E said "well I don't know you well enough to know how you carry your stress I guess because I think you always have a great attitude and you're SO flexible". It made me feel better to have her say that. Today was MUCH better (except for the excessive freaking talking -- oy!) and I left right at 3:25 and came home. The Husband is even picking up The Littles. I came home early to get some work done (and look what I'm doing -- ha!) and I'm glad he will pick up the small girls too. He is also going to take them to the Pumpkin Patch to pick out their Halloween pumpkins. I am not sad in the slightest that I am not going to be there with them to do that -- they need some quality time with their dad and I need a bit of time to myself. I KNOW he realizes that because I am never bitchy to him over stupid stuff unless I feel super overwhelmed. So I need to apologize to him because it's not his fault that my district makes a mountain out of a mole hill and makes things SO much harder than they need to be.


I got a big surprise in my classroom today -- two actually. We were minding our own business and doing our stations and small group time and imagine my utter SHOCK when Dr. G (aka my boss's boss!) just walks in. Thankfully the whole class was engaged and working. Whew! Secondly just before last recess two fabulous ladies came to my room and brought me a bag of goodies! Our secretary told us when the year started to sign up for this campaign by a local credit union to get school supplies. I did and forgot all about it. Imagine my shock when they come today with a huge (reusable!) bag of goodies -- pencils, glue, post-its, paper, fun crayons, pencil sharpeners, stickers, etc. I was SO surprised and the kids all clapped. They think I am awesome because of all of the freebies we keep getting simply because I ask for them! So cool.

Additionally today I was feeling the love from my kids. I got a plastic ring, a bracelet (that is WAY too small lol), a homemade ring (made with pipe cleaner but it kept poking me), a homemade pipe cleaner bracelet with beads on it and best of all A FROG made of beads! I am going to have to take a picture of it. It's so cute! (I left my phone at home today so no picture.) One of my boys made it for me! Mrs. E said "awww, see they love you!" Definitely makes me feel better when I feel like I'm such a hag to them all the time. I think they get it though -- I can love on them and treat them well but I think they like me more because I DO push them, and I DO hold them to high standards. They will thank me some day, that's for sure!



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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Well Boo Hoo

I am reallllly feeling the need for a Mental Health Day friends. Wow. I just feel drained and like I haven't gotten anything done even though I totally have. I hate feeling like I haven't been productive, especially when I work super hard.

I think I upset The Husband. I got home from my college event yesterday and no one started laundry (even though I sent text reminders while I was gone!), no one cleaned up the living room, dining room or kitchen. I've HAD.IT. So I decided if I get offered a position at the community college, that paycheck is going into my "teacher fund" account and I am hiring a cleaning service.

I told The Husband this last night and he kind of scoffed at it but I said I work HARD and I am NOT going to work even harder and then come home and do a mountain of chores because everyone else in the house is too lazy to do it. He realized I had him there and he shut up. Don't get me wrong, my hubby does a lot of outside stuff and whatnot but I work way harder than he does, for way less money and I don't get to leave my work at work. He does. 90% of the stuff he does around the house is because he WANTS to (he makes work for himself), not because it has to be done. And if I relied on this man to do laundry, well we'd all go to school in our birthday suits, let alone getting him to clean up after himself or help the girls clean up after themselves.

The college position pays a nice little chunk of change and would EASILY allow me to hire a cleaning service to come in WEEKLY if I wanted. How wonderful would it be to have a sparkling clean house every week that I didn't have to put any effort into?? I am all about that, especially as I get busier and busier. It's hard not to feel resentment toward hubby who just doesn't get it. He doesn't do as much with or for our kids as I do and it seems like I take on more and more things because its what drives me -- he is content to just do what he does. It makes me insane.

I worked ALLLLLL day today because I had some things I wanted to do that I just feel will make my classroom a better place. That's worth the time (and I did it all in my pjs so it's a-okay!). He doesn't understand. He has no passion for his job. I do. And that passion takes me places (hello National Board....). In my mind, as things get busier, he should step up. But he doesn't. It's frustrating to say the very least.


So that's my wicked little plan. If (when) they offer me a position, I am going to contact a cleaning service for a quote. It will just be one less thing I have to do. Now if only I could pay someone to do my laundry.....


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Saturday, October 15, 2011

College Event

This morning I got up at the crack of dawn to attend an adjunct applicant event at our local community college. I applied over a year ago (when I still worked at Former School) and hadn't heard anything so I put it out of my mind. But last week I got an email inviting me to this event and I decided to go and see what it was about. I had to get up SUPER early to attend but I am so glad I did.

They gave an overview of BlackBoard which I have to say has already come a long way since I  last used it as a student. You can record and post your lectures (not video but auditory) and it captures any notes or powerpoints you use. Pretty cool stuff. The guy presenting that to my group said that since he is in the computer department, he does a lot of "paperless" classes because of BlackBoard. I am all about that!!

Then we had a short session about the professional development offered at the college. It's pretty amazing what kinds of things they do to support their adjunct staff (which is good since adjuncts are more than 60% of the teaching staff there). And it's all FREE, even to us as applicants. There are some great topics and workshops that they offer. 

Finally we had time to meet with departments. I went to two. The first one because the job I originally applied for had that title...and they were informative and wonderful. I mentioned that I only want to work evenings because I teach full time and the dean of that area said they always have a HUGE need in my area of interest for evening instructors. Bonus! After that short session I waited 90 minutes to speak to a guy for about 10 :p BUT it was worth it. He was super friendly and nice and we hit it off very well. He said I clearly have a passion for teaching writing and they have a big need for instructors of developmental writing (ie composition class for students who aren't "up to par" for college standards). I am going to take it as a good sign that he put a check mark on my paper and drew a circle around it. 

This wasn't an interview, just a screening, but I feel good about it. If nothing else, I'm glad I went and got to see what it would really mean to work there. I was chatting with a gal while we were waiting and she said I was very well spoken and thought it would be a miracle if I did NOT get hired. That made me feel good that this was someone I had just met and she thought that. 

They told us that typically they hire in November/December for winter semester because that's when they know which courses the full-time faculty have selected to teach and which are left. The HR gal who put the event together said that they sometimes get surges of enrollment at the last minute and have actually called people the day the class starts to see if they can take the class because enrollment went up so much and they didn't have anyone else to cover the class. Crazy! I feel confident. I think that I made a good impression and I definitely showed my passion for the profession. The guy I was with has children who are in 4th and 6th grade in my district (one at a school about 5 minutes from mine) so that was also a nice personal connection we made there. I just really want to be positive and think that check and circle mean I'll at least make it to an interview, especially since he said they have such a huge need for teachers in that area because more and more students come to college not prepared to write well.

We shall see if I become "Professsor Sunny" sometime soon.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Yay for Friday!

Today was great! I slept in because The Oldest needed a ride to school. They are not allowed in their building until 7 and I was not going to make her sit outside for 30 minutes. I figured I'd get to school when I darn well got there. (Fortunately everything for today was already set out and ready to go.)

The students and I rocked it out -- we did TWO math lessons because somehow I got behind on a lesson from my colleagues and we want to test them next week so we all start Unit 3 at the same time. They did a great job and stayed focused. We got through another section of our big unit reading test and then we wrote thank you letters to our donors for our Raz-Kids subscription and our Reading A-Z books. The students then took a break to do some SSR and I snagged some pictures for our thank you package on Donor's Choose and we're all set there. We'll be 2 months ahead on both of our thank you packages. Yay!

I had a parent meeting that went alllll the way through my lunch so I didn't get to eat but honestly meeting with this family was more important. Dad said he felt like I wasn't supporting his son (his child has made some super bad choices lately) and I laid it on the line and said YES, I am going to push your child academically and behaviorally and NO I won't apologize for that. Mom gets it. Her and I have had many talks already this year and I was honest and said I think that this child is just a typical boy -- he wants to be up and moving and running, etc and school is really geared for sweet little girls who sit and listen. I am making an honest effort to incorporate more movement into our day (our "walks in the woods" and our FitBits -- I'll post more about those later) to help. I think that Dad is just feeling like he doesn't know what else to do. He mentioned something about putting the child in another class and I said I could guarantee they wouldn't do it. Halfway through I sent the kiddo downstairs to eat his lunch and continued talking to the parents. I think when they left they felt better and we're all more on the same page. At least the kid admitted in front of all of us that I don't treat him any differently than the other kids and also admitted that he doesn't ask for help. That's the biggest problem -- he is being pushed academically (his lexile is something absurd like 700!) and if he struggles he doesn't want to feel dumb so he doesn't ask for help. We'll have to work on that because unfortunately I am not a mind reader!

After lunch we did the last part of our benchmark test (whew!) and got that all packed up and ready to be graded (yay me.....). Then I threw out the rest of the day's lessons and we made jack-o-lantern glyphs. I didn't snag a picture of them before I left but once I finish hanging them I will post a picture. They are cute. After last recess, we went for a walk. Usually we do a "Walk in the Woods" which is basically just chair exercise. We pretend we're in the woods and we see animals and usually something chases us (a bear, Mrs. Sunny, Scaredy Squirrel, etc) and we pretend to run and then collapse in our chairs so glad we're safe. It's hilarious and fun and the kids BEG me to do it.

But today we took a "field trip" instead. We "walked" to Mrs. Sunny's Theater and the kids enjoyed Aladdin while Mrs. Sunny finished her Nonsense Word progress monitoring. They were SO quiet while that movie was on. It was wonderful. I was so proud of them for dealing with all of the testing and whatnot this week that I figured they needed to do something fun. They all think I am super fabulous (which I am *wink*) because they got TWO Fun Fridays today. It was a nice way to end this weird week!

Tonight is Homecoming in my town so in just a few we're headed to the big game and hopefully we win (we're 6-1). Tomorrow I have a sort-of job interview at a local community college to be an adjunct professor. Gosh I would LOVE that, especially because the class is teaching writing which I love. It's early (8:30!) which stinks but I am so excited to have been invited to the adjunct event. I'm even willing to sacrifice some much needed sleep to go.

Sadly I have a huge pile of work to do this weekend too because I got behind but I will spend a few hours tomorrow afternoon working on it so I have Sunday to be lazy and just "chillax" as my students say.



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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Freak the Freak Out!

My girls love the show Victorious and who can blame them? Victoria Justice is beautiful, talented and a good role model for girls. They love the episode with Karaoke Doke where Tori sings Freak the Freak Out.

I think many people in our school are going to start freaking the freak out soon. We have data requirements coming out of our ears and the district has these mandated units of study for writing we're supposed to teach and then smack in the middle of it we're supposed to get the kids a prompt. So today was that day. And the writing is TERRIBLE. Just glancing through to staple them together, I see most of the kids didn't even write on the topic of the prompt and it's just ugly.

Criminy. One of the sunniest, happiest teachers in my school said today that SHE is about to lose it. We feel all of this pressure and we don't get results because the things mandated for these children aren't developmentally appropriate and certainly don't tell us anything about our students. I am sick to my stomach having to grade these prompts today (I can't put it off because I have to have the data by tomorrow). They are just awful. How come everything we teach the kids goes right out the window the minute you have to give them a test of any kind? It is downright discouraging and upsetting.

I had to sneak out of school for about 30 minutes today (thank GOD for my colleagues is all I am going to say) because Middle Child was having so much anxiety at school with the MEAP. That's what happens when the "powers that be" in the state decide that having a 4th grader sit for 80 effing minutes for ONE test is a great idea....and they are supposed to perform to a high standard?? An average 4th grader can't handle that, let alone one with dyslexia, ADHD and massive anxiety. I could have left her at school  to deal but I refused to. So I brought her and The Youngest back to school with me. To hell with consequences over it (although the secretary looooves me for whatever reason so I don't think she even told Mrs. Principal that I left and most of the time I was gone was during recess). 

I understand why people leave the profession. Seriously. They demand so much and we have less and less every year. It is enough to make the most rational person lose their mind. I just feel gratified to know that all of my colleagues feel the same pressure and that it isn't just me. Mrs. E who watched my class (she has a student teacher) while I was gone AND covered my recess duty said that she thought it must be so hard to change grade levels like I have. Truly I like my class. I do. They are sweet and they do try hard. And with me trying to get through DIBELs and running records on my own, I have had to make them do a lot more sitting than I like. 

Today I got out the iPods, the computers in the back for Raz-Kids, the listening stations and my center games I had when I taught 2nd grade before. They were a little loud but after reminding them that I was trying to test, they did a great job. I have to remind myself that developmentally they are still learning what it means to "pay attention", "sit still" and "actively listen". So tomorrow, I am going to bust through the last progress monitoring I have to do so I can input my DIBELs information and in the afternoon we're going to do a craft. Screw it -- I want to be able to have fun AND learn with my kids and I feel like we aren't able to do a lot of that because of all of the demands on our time. 

I also felt better when Mrs. E and Miss W told me that they have not done running records except for maybe 5-6 kids total...and they both have student teachers. Considering I have gotten almost half of my class through a running record and I'm on my own, I feel good about that. So I am going to lighten up on  myself....I am going to let my hair down so-to-speak and we're going to have some fun damn it. 


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Weird Wednesday

Today I did something I haven't yet done this year -- I put a whole stack of papers into the circle file and I don't feel bad about it one little bit! I have literally looked at and graded EVERY.SINGLE.PAPER. that my kiddos have done in the last 27 days of school. I know what they know for our unit 1 test in Reading tomorrow and what they don't. I know that many of them don't bother to check back in the story for comprehension; I know which children don't even read the test, they just write an answer; I know which kids will always do well because they read at home, they work hard and they WANT to learn.

So tonight as I sat at my dining room table with a large stack of papers to look through -- I pulled out what I really cared about: Mad Minutes from today, the Math Minute daily work and a review sheet for language arts. The rest I tossed in the recycle bin. Maybe that makes me horrible. I think it just makes me honest.


Today was weird. It is a full moon and while this year's group is not nearly as psycho during a full moon as last year's group, they were definitely off today. I really raised my voice for the first time with them. I just got tired of asking them to stop freaking talking so I could finish my DIBELs and try to get through my Running Records -- it isn't their fault. They are 6 and 7 and I am on my own trying to get all of the tests done while keeping the kids quiet and engaged in something. It isn't working. Since we have zero para support this year, I don't get a reprieve at all. I feel like a bitch for getting on their case, but it's the 27th day of school. They know the expectations. 

I was talking to Mrs. CT earlier today and she mentioned how literally "sunny" she thinks I am this year. She said I have really just rolled with the punches and taken things as they come. There isn't a reason not to. I can't change most of it and I can't control it but I can control my actions and how I react to things. I have realized that if I just let most of the crap roll off my back within a week or so things calm down. I did tell her after school that I think I need to just stop, take a deep breath and take some time out for myself. I need to either make myself get up SUPER early and walk on my treadmill or make my self get to work SUPER early (which I have mostly been doing) and FORCE myself to leave by 3:45 unless there is a meeting or grade level planning. I can not live at that place or for that place. Especially now that I am really getting set to work on my National Board entries. I have to be rested to give it my all. I know this is just a crazy time of year anyway. Things will smooth out and get better.

But I am 90% sure that a Mental Health Day is in my very near future.


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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tired!

I stayed up way too late last night. That happens sometimes. I usually have to read for awhile before going to bed otherwise I have a hard time getting to sleep. I think I fell asleep around 11:30. Considering I am usually out like a light by 10 or just after, it was a much later night than I allow myself lately. 5:40 came way too early and I accidentally hit "off" instead of "snooze" on my phone alarm. 

All was not lost. I was ultra productive at school today and got a lot done but alas there is always a ton to do and it gets overwhelming very easily. It is our progress monitoring week and I have 17 of 25 kiddos that I have to PM for oral reading fluency! Thankfully they are only 2 minutes but they take a long time when you have that many kiddos. Fortunately I got through all but 6 of them today so I am really pleased with that. I can take a little longer to do my Running Records if need be. It's just SO much work on top of grading and planning and blah blah.

I tell you that not a day goes by I don't wish I had a TA to help ease a bit of the burden for me. It would be someone to help me for 3 hours a day to grade papers or work with a small group or file or a million other things I can think of. I often get super sad that my colleagues have help and I don't...and yet I am doing more. I just don't get it. 

I can guarantee you that a Mental Health Day is in my near future.


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Monday, October 10, 2011

Rockstars

Okay...so I knew my sub on Friday was less-than-stellar. It was pretty obvious when I walked in. But today some of my colleagues really clued me in. Oh my Lanta.

Apparently during our picture time, they were crawling under chairs and acting like general monkeys. And she stood there. Let me say that again, just for affect.

They were crawling under chairs like monkeys and she JUST.STOOD.THERE.

Definitely makes my decision to put her on my "never call this person again" list an easier one. I always feel bad when I do that but truthfully, I am not a teacher who leaves "busy work" when I am going to be gone. I don't leave any new material (unless I really have to) but I leave meaningful work that I want my class to do so that we don't lose a whole day. We can't afford to lose a whole day. I have always been appalled with colleagues who just leave busy work. To me that tells the kids that the sub isn't important and doesn't know how to do a good job. I never want to leave that impression (although sometimes it is true). Oy.

I never had that kind of trouble as a sub. I have always said that if you go in with a take-charge attitude but show warmth, the kids will get it together. They took 90 minutes to do math that should have taken, at most 40. At most. I mean, honestly.  I am not mad at the kids. If they were 5th graders, yes I would be because they are older and get it. But barely 2nd graders?? Nope, I blame the adult. 

As such, we got so much done this morning (completing the work they should have done Friday for math AND today's work), got through our word work review and finished up our writing in time for me to show them our new Raz-Kids subscription AND for me to do an extra read aloud. After lunch they were a little more squirrelly (which usually happens because they wake up over lunch *wink*) but we still got through our reading review, made up stations from Friday, got through our social studies AND I got 4 running records done and we still had time left! I know my kiddos. I know they are chatty, social little beings but they are kids. They will follow your lead. I praised them for how much we got done today and gave them time after last recess to finish their "All About Me" posters (which they were supposed to do on Friday and -- you guessed it -- they didn't do). 

I guess it just makes me realize that, even on our worst days together, we have something going. We get a lot of learning done in a short amount of time and the kids are making gains. Today, with the few children I could get to running records with, all but 1 already went up a level. That makes me feel good since we're only in our 6th week of school. I know my small group time and the extra push of literacy I am giving them is helping, even when sometimes it feels like it isn't. I feel proud of them and proud of myself. No, they weren't on their best behavior on Friday but they were today. Even my special little friend had an amazing day today. His whole chart was filled with stickers and I gave him an extra special sticker on his shirt to show his dad what a great day he had (Mondays are usually the worst for him). When one of the girls saw that I gave this child the special sticker, she said "GREAT JOB [name]!" 

He smiled so big and proud. It was wonderful to see him make that progress, even if we'll take a few more steps back before we can keep going forward. I am surely hoping that tomorrow will be another great day for him. If it is, I am going to treat him to something nice on Wednesday. The little guy has SO much going on in his little life that I feel like if we can make it through a day without any tears (on either his or my part!) then we're getting somewhere. This is why I teach. So I can be a rockstar and show my little friends how great it feels to be rockstars too.


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Sunday, October 9, 2011

What a weekend!

I don't know who hit the warm weather button in Michigan but I am not complaining! We have enjoyed temperatures in the mid-upper 70s to near 80 for the last several days. It has been glorious. I am sad that by the time I have recess duty next it is supposed to be back to more "fall like" weather. Boo! I would gladly keep the 70s forever (except Christmas -- it HAS to snow then but then we could go back to 70s and I'd be happy!).

Friday I had a training with two colleagues for the morning. One from K and one from 1st. It was very informative and we got a lot of good information about continuing with DDI. Kathleen is a fantastic presenter. She makes me giggle when she says "delicious" like someone would say "awesome". Mrs. Principal is really awesome about giving us the full day for those kind of functions -- we get the other half of the day to do what we need to do (plan, assess kids, etc). It is great. 

I spent some time looking at how I would present my learning to my team and then getting some work done for my classroom. I planned to sneak up to my room at 1:45 (recess) and get the homework and folders so that everything would be done and ready for Monday except a few copies (I got super lucky because Mrs. E made ALL of the Reading Street copies we need for review this week, bless her heart!). Imagine my surprise when I get to my room at 1:50 and a) they aren't outside (only matters because I have DUTY and the sub should have had them outside a few minutes early) and b) they were just starting writing. We do writing at 10 a.m. every day. Always. No exceptions except a field trip or special assembly. They didn't do stations and one of the kids told me that she barely gave them time for their tests. 

Deep.Healing.Breath.

I was a sub before I had my own classroom. I know it is hard. I get it. Which is why I leave super detailed plans (the plans for Friday were 4 pages long!) so that the subs know how to handle any and every situation. Additionally I have a sub binder which very much outlines how I run my classroom -- everything from our hand signals, to bathroom, to drinks to nurse passes. To say I was a little pissed that I spent all of the time I have to make sure that anyone could run my room without me there and found out that a) she disregarded them all and b) the kids were NOT following our school STAR behavior, is an understatement. I immediately grabbed the things I needed so I could work downstairs (I spent the afternoon in the quiet lounge) and when I got back to my work space I went into the sub system and added her to my "do not ever call again" list. I tolerate a lot. I KNOW how hard it is to show up and try to figure out the workings of a class because I have done it. And I NEVER had that kind of trouble keeping a class in line -- even those who literally ran off their permanent teachers. Yeah some sub jobs just sucked but if you can't handle 6-7 year olds, you probably don't belong in a classroom. I was beyond ticked about the whole thing, especially when I noticed that she did not pass out the lunch tickets for the Perfect Attendance kids (I even wrote their names on the tickets and left a HUGE note so she would see them) so they could get their snow cones at lunch. 

I can't even remember the last time I had a sub who sucked so bad. I am going to have a big chat with my kids tomorrow about making sure they help a guest stay on track (as much as you can expect a 6-7 year old group to do) and just talk about what could be better next time. I don't blame them at all. They tow the line when they know they aren't going to get away with messing around and they are good, sweet kids. Putting a directionless adult in front of them is clearly not a good idea. I think that I am going to take a look at our preferred sub list (which I never do) because I can not have another day like that where I worry about whether or not they even learned anything and I have to backtrack so we can cover the things they did not get done (which were things we needed to finish so they are ready for this week).

Fortunately I drank some wine this weekend and am in a great mood so we'll just brush ourselves off and hit the ground running tomorrow. I am going to work those little friends to the bone so we can catch up and move on since we have testing happening this week and I don't want to get behind on any of that.

I think if they rock the house Monday and Tuesday I will reward them with an extra 5-10 minutes of recess on Wednesday. 


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Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Friday!

So much to say, so little time to say it! Training today was great, my sub sucked though. I'll post a real entry later this weekend. The Husband and I are headed off to the cabin alone this weekend. We'll be closing it up for the year which stinks but I am looking forward to a quiet weekend alone, away from kids and work.

Have a safe and happy weekend all!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Donors, Gossip and Almost There!

I think the only thing I don't like about blogging is trying to come up with creative titles for my posts. I am just not that creative! *wink*

I had a couple of people ask me to share tips on successfully getting Donor's Choose items funded. I don't think I am an expert or anything (I have had 8 projects funded since 2008 which is not a ton compared to what I've heard some people have). I will say that almost all of my projects have focused around literacy and I do think that helps a lot. The more people read about education, the more they understand that inner city kiddos don't have "print rich" lives and therefore they are more willing to help them get there.

Most of my projects involve books for reading and/or writing and I do think that makes a huge difference. In my opinion, how you word your proposal makes a difference as well. You really have to help potential donors see that the project is not just fluff and for fun but really will make an impact on your class. I think that is what has helped me get funding. Again I don't pretend to be an expert -- I think I am a very lucky teacher who just happens to write proposals people are willing to fund.


* * * * *

I truly hate gossip. I do. Last year there was an incident where someone at work told Mrs. Principal about something I said on Facebook and I got in huge trouble for it, even though it couldn't be proven one way or the other. I knew damn well who it was because there wasn't anyone else who would have even known what the Facebook post meant.

Wednesdays after school my team meets to plan. As we sat down, Mrs. E told me that someone had told her and Miss W. that I said I was better than them because I am teaching Reading Street "the right way" and they aren't. Say, what?? No I don't agree with everything they are doing with regards to Reading Street, however, I NEVER said that I thought I was better than them. And I know exactly who said it because I was talking to her and two other teachers that I know would not say that to my colleagues. I was super, super pissed. And I told both Mrs. E and Miss W that if I truly have a problem with what we are doing, I will tell them. I don't necessarily deliver the instruction the same way but that doesn't mean I think I am better than they are. I don't agree with how they are dumbing some of the curriculum down, and no I don't tell them that but it isn't because I think I am better than them or know better than they do. It just isn't how I teach. In fact, after we cleared the air about that we were looking at our review stuff for next week and I made a suggestion based on how I am teaching (my schedule is a bit different than theirs) and they both thought it was great and put it into the plans. Does it necessarily mean they'll end up doing it? No, but they aren't being mean to me and they don't treat me crappy. I wish some people would shut up and mind their own business. We're all adults, this isn't high school and we should not be going behind people's backs and saying crap out of turn. It just makes me mad -- and now I know even more without a doubt that I can't trust this person. It is twice she has done this and I think it just plain sucks. Grow up already!


* * * * *

I am so glad it is nearly Friday! Tomorrow is technically my Friday since I have a PD on Friday morning and get the afternoon to kind of do my thing. I'll be at work but not in my room which rules. I plan to use that time to get things going for next week and for DDI (the training I am going to). I rearranged almost my whole room after school today. Sometimes after a month or so I just realize that what I have isn't working and I change it. I think what I did will make a huge impact and my room actually looks bigger. I do have one table I need to have taken out now but overall I am super pleased with the changes. You can check it out here.

* * * * *

Lastly I am so excited because awhile ago (gosh, maybe even a whole year ago now), I applied for an adjunct teaching position at our community college. I would love to teach writing or reading at that level. I think it would be a blast! Well, tonight I got an email inviting me to an adjunct event as they are hiring new people. I am definitely going to go even though I know that I won't be able to teach anything right now because of National Board. How cool to get my name out there though and maybe teach a class or two in the spring semester. Very fun. The Husband thinks that being a NB candidate is going to make me look even better since that certificate area will be in the areas of reading and writing which is the only thing I would want to teach at the college level. Very, very cool. The meeting is Saturday October 15. I am going to go and just see what it is all about. If nothing comes of it, that is fine. If something does, that would be super awesome. Very, very exciting.


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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sunny FTW!

I love myself. Really. Because I freaking rule.

Okay, okay. Enough of tootin' the ole horn. But really, if *I* don't toot my horn, who will?? 

Today I got another project funded at Donor's Choose. That puts us at 2 for this year and it's only October 4. So to my colleague who is a hugely negative person -- I just want to say phhhtttt! She told me that Donor's Choose "wasn't worth it" because you aren't "guaranteed funding". I think it burns her up that she didn't get something that she wanted. That's all it boils down to. (Same teacher who told me National Board wasn't worth it because she didn't make the cut for certification.)

I am super excited because my project was a 1 year subscription to Reading A-Z.com and to Raz-Kids.com! The ReadingA-Z I could probably get funded through school but the Raz-Kids is awesome. I can't wait to get access to that for my little friends. So fun. Now I am just hopeful my last live project will get funded also. It expires at the beginning of November so I have my fingers crossed!



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Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday, Monday

Whew! For being as far behind as I was this weekend, today actually went very well. Even with an ultra boring staff meeting after school, I feel like today zoomed right by. Funny how sometimes you just don't have time to THINK about being behind or overwhelmed. You just jump right in and go with it.

I astounded myself by bounding out of bed ON TIME and I actually was at work at 6:45 this morning. Not something I really plan to make a habit of but I sure got a lot done. I got all of my copies made and everything set for the week (except Friday -- I will be out and thus need to leave super detailed plans and activities for that day). But everything else is set. I copied my packets and then realized that they didn't copy right. So I had to do them all again. What a waste of paper! I was so upset because I hate wasting paper. Thank goodness our school is all about the recycling.

My big behavior kid, who had such a good day on Friday, was a nightmare all day. From the get-go he walked in and was just defiant, uncooperative and disruptive. There is no support from admin. I swear sometimes I feel like she has it out for me. Maybe I'm paranoid but I don't think I am. I ended up calling dad, again, and hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Stations today went GREAT. I am hopeful that my making them go back to their seats last week got the message across and tomorrow will go just as smoothly. I only had to talk to two kiddos the whole time, otherwise the children did an awesome job of getting right to work and staying focused. I am hopeful to get to work relatively early again tomorrow to finally plow through the rest of my stack of grading and then use my plan time tomorrow to get things going for my sub on Friday. It's going to be crazy because it is picture day AND we have a book activity that was pushed back from tomorrow. Oy.


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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blah!

Some day I will really learn not to procrastinate. I have not even come close to finishing everything I needed to accomplish this weekend. I have discovered my little friends are germ-infested little guys and thus I am sick for the 2nd time this year already. I am going to have to put my hand sanitizer at my desk so I can use it more frequently.

I graded a huge pile of stuff but you'd never know by the huge pile of stuff I still have to get through. I have learned if I don't look at everything they do, some of the children never do anything. I have to be on them every minute in order to make sure they are actually completing their work. It takes a ton of time and mostly it is okay -- no so this weekend when I'm feeling icky.

I have nothing copied for the week which means I have to get to school super early tomorrow and run all of my copies before the Monday morning line starts. If I can get there by 7 I will be okay. I would LOVE to get there by 6:45 but I'm not going to bet on that.

Even if I can't do my packets like I usually do, it will be okay. The kids won't suffer if they don't get the whole thing at once. I am a big packet fan (although admittedly it sucks when 25 packets are turned in at once and I have to find time to grade them!). We also have a super long staff meeting tomorrow so I know the day is just going to drag. Blah.



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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weekend Update

It's been kind of a crazy week! We had a lot of rain and temperatures got super cold. Gross! Today's high is only supposed to be 53 and according to the weather tracker, next Friday is supposed to be 78! Yesterday the 2nd/3rd graders had outside recess and the sun came out just as we were going in. K/1st has recess after us and it started raining for about 5 minutes and then stopped. Then it rained hard on the way home. Fortunately, my little friends took it in stride and were really good most of the week.

I put my most challenging kiddo on a behavior plan. I think his family just doesn't know what else to do with him (and I guess his little sister is just as bad). It really only bothers me because I have to spend so much time redirecting and putting out little fires for this one friend that I can't do my job. It isn't horrible (trust me I've had far worse) but it is annoying because there isn't a lot of administrative support. I was talking to Mrs. CT after school on Thursday about something else and told her about this little kid and she asked me what Mrs. Principal did about him spitting on someone. Before I could even respond she said "wait, let me guess, she did nothing, right?" You got it!

I think Mrs. Principal has someone's finger pressed to her back (ie has been threatened to lose her job at our school) so she avoids a lot of conflict. It is upsetting because the other children suffer. Our district is so messed up in terms of doing the right thing by the majority to save a few. It's upsetting. The first day on the plan with my little guy did not go well at all. He did not get any happy faces or stickers :( I send the behavior sheet home daily and his dad was really great and made sure he returned it. Dad requested I have the little guy apologize to the entire class for his disruptions and to my amazement -- the child actually did it. I was afraid there would be a scene with it. He earned 6 of 8 stickers yesterday and was beside himself. I promised him that if he gets all 8 he gets his stickers AND a bookmark. If he has a whole week of at least 6 stickers per day, he will earn a homework coupon. I've found the hardest time for him is the less structured time (gym, stations/centers). So we are going to work on that, even if it means providing more incentive than I would for other kids. I want him to be successful. He's a bright child, he just has a lot happening (his first grade teacher suspected ASD but I am thinking more along the lines of EI -- but I am so not qualified to make that qualification). At any rate, we take things a day at a time and hope for the best!



My weekend will be full of grading all of the crap I procrastinated on all week (seriously -- I was SO bad with my time this week!). I also have to catalog and level the new books I got this summer that I never leveled (oops!) as well as the new ones I just got in our book order. Finally I have to prepare my Reading Street packets for next week. I am differentiating them for the first time -- some of my students really need the challenge while others are so low the "below level" work is too hard for. We'll see how that goes this week.

Some time this weekend I am also taking The Oldest dress shopping for Homecoming. Gracious, I can't possibly be that old can I??


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