Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two down!

Wow....it's already Tuesday night. Life is just flying away from me.

I already miss my long weekend. I am SO tired after just two days back. Blah! We are a PBiS school so after every big break we do a behavior walk-through to review the behaviors and school-wide expectations. Before we went on Thanksgiving break, I had to really drive home to my kidlets that they were letting things slide and I wasn't going to tolerate it since they know the rules.

So we did our walk-through before lunch yesterday and the kids were awesome in lines all day (well except one kid who is a little stinker and is going to end up with zero friends because he's so mean). Today they had a little trouble after last recess and were late to PE by 5 minutes but I have to stand my ground on that one. It makes me feel mean but I know that in the end, the kids will respect me (and themselves) more because that boundary was set.

Only two more kid days for me this week. I'm out Thursday for a training and I plan to use my afternoon to get some work done toward my evaluation plan since the training I am attending is supposed to help me with that. I really don't want to see my students at all that day if I can help it. That sounds mean...but really, when I end up seeing them, I get nothing done and it's frustrating. Our librarian will be out all day for something else so no library classes that day and I plan to kind of hide in the library and get some work done in there for the afternoon. 

I got lucky because my lit coach asked Mrs. Principal if we could bump one of my kiddos up to the Child Study team for THIS month (December) and since she is a review, Mrs. Principal said YES. This is wonderful because I can't believe this kid doesn't have some kind of learning disability -- she is SO low. And Mrs. Literacy Coach saw it first hand since she provided accommodations for a test we took and working with this child. I am crossing my fingers, eyes and toes that the paperwork I have and the proof of what I have tried for this kiddo pushes it to the point where they will test her. If I can get her to that point, I will feel like I accomplished something amazing this year. I plan to use part of Thursday making sure I have all of my ducks in a row for that kiddo (and a few others) so that I can get them onto the CST docket and hopefully get them the support they need.


Even though I have a million things I need to be doing, I had my nails done tonight. I have been going faithfully every 2-3 weeks since I found a little place locally in town that is cheap and good. I usually have the guy do my nails and tonight asked him for some snowflakes....and he one-upped me and gave me a snowman on each ring finger, complete with a scarf, a hat and little glittery "snowflakes". Sooo cute! I told him that it will probably distract my class for the next few days! But I love it. Sometimes the simplest things make you feel so good.



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Sunday, November 27, 2011

National Board

I have a feeling that by the end of June, I am never going to want to hear (or say) the words "National Board" ever again! hehe

At any rate, I have been doing some digging this weekend. I realize that to show you use the standards you have to internalize the standards. So that has been my task right now. That and really reading through and understanding the Evaluation Guides and Rubrics. Entry 3 seems to be the one that gives most people pause in the case of the EMC Literacy certificate. So I dug right into my standards, made some notes, and then dug right into my evaluation guide and also made some notes. I believe I am going to work on this one the most because it is by far the least clear.

Entry 2 and 4 will be peaches. Really. I LOVE writing and while this kind of writing (for NB I mean) is not like the kind of writing you typically produce as a teacher, I think it will really allow me to focus on my reflection and my analysis. So I am going to really start tackling those two first, but also work on Entry 3 because I have a feeling that will be the one I am banging my head over come March.

I spent a lot of time Friday and Saturday putting notes and information into my National Board file of Scrivener. Love, love, love!!! It is going to make things so much easier to keep organized and it will definitely prevent me from having to print out, proof read then revise, reprint, etc tons of pages. I put all of the questions for each entry into the program, in separate sections just like in the directions. Now I have to dissect my work, analyze my work and reflect on that work which is sometimes the most challenging part. 

My goal is to finish my portfolio by mid-March so that I am not killing myself to meet the deadline. If I can pack it up and ship it off by mid-March then I can take a chill for a month before I turn my focus to the assessment center (which means I can ENJOY my own Spring Break). My district gives me up to two days PAID leave time to visit the assessment center so that is super good to know. I can go during the day and just do my thing.


I have been doing a lot of reading about National Board. I also just purchased a book with tips and suggestions (not anything really different from the standards themselves, just put into friendlier language) and I am already getting some good advice from it. I purchased it for my Kindle and got it last night. I've already read the first 3 chapters and made some notes and highlights. It is already changing how I am thinking about some of my entries. That is a good thing!!

At this point I think I am done video-taping (except my 1 minute pan for my small group video) but I am leaving myself open to possibly retaping entry 3. Once I start on my analysis and description I will be able to see if it really is fitting the standards or if I need more. At this point I think I am okay, but we will see as time goes on.

I am excited and nervous about this whole thing. I know my life is going to revolve around NB from now until March when I send off that box. It should be crazy, fun, exhilarating and frustrating all at once! :)


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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oh Saturday!

What an awesome break this has been. What have I done? Not much! And I love it! :)

Wednesday was known as the day of laziness. The Husband worked and the Littles, The Oldest and myself just kind of hung out like huge blobs. I think we all needed that day off from school craziness. Thursday was busy just because it was Thanksgiving.We did not do a big deal dinner. Just the 5 of us and my FIL and SIL. That is fine with me. I am kind of over huge holiday celebrations. Maybe it is because my family is so psychotic (no, seriously!) but I'm super content to just stay home with my little clan. 

Yesterday, I didn't do anything except buy myself a fountain diet coke and ice cream (real healthy, no?). Black Friday shoppers are freaks. Well, to be fair, some aren't but many are. I couldn't believe all of the FaceBook posts from people I know who were out from 9:30 Thursday night until 6-7-8 a.m. on Friday. No, thank you. Crazy.

Plus the more the day went on yesterday I kept reading news articles about the crazy things people were doing. Not so much in my area but someone in California got shot at a Walmart because they wouldn't hand over their purchases to a robber, some lady somewhere pepper-sprayed people to keep them away from the item SHE wanted. I mean, come on. Is this what we're teaching our children? That material items are worth hurting others or putting ourselves in harm's way? I was perfectly content to sit in my PJs all day thankyouverymuch. No deal is worth sacrificing my integrity. It makes me sad that material possessions at a discount turn people into such horrible people.


At any rate, my biggest accomplishment is that despite all of the insanity that is November (report cards, conferences, Big Deal Data meetings), I did NaNoWriMo this year. I found that when things were super crazy with work, writing helped me to chill. I definitely think I found my muse. It's pretty awesome. Yesterday I finished with a grand total of 57k words! Now, is the story done? Um, no. Not even close! I have to rewrite the beginning and bring everything to a close, but I WROTE A BOOK. It's very exciting. It is nothing I would even dare let people read at this point but I did it in 30 days....so I can imagine if I just put my mind to it what I can accomplish if I take my time. Although the deadline was kind of fun and challenging. Maybe that's what did it for me. I don't know. 

Since that is not on my front burner anymore, I have turned my attention to National Board (uh, where it probably should have been all month!!). I recently found some great resources to help me as well. I have ZERO cohorts to join because there is not a single person on my side of the state that is certified in the area I am going for. Not good. But, I didn't use a cohort with my Master's either and I did fine for that. I am part of a group online and recently was recommended to read a book that has tips and guidelines for the entries. I decided to use Scrivener (of which I got a free trial during NaNo and will be able to get a full version of for half-price since I finished NaNo as a winner) to organize my National Board entries. Mostly because there are so many parts to each entry and the less paper I have to use to print this stuff out, the better! I started organizing my information into it yesterday and I am really glad that I did NaNo if for no other reason than it brought me to Scrivener! I ♥ this program and sincerely wish I'd had it in graduate school. It is that good.

Today I haven't done much. Hubby is working and the girls and I are just hanging at home. In sweatpants. It feels great. And I have one more day of laziness before I have to think about school. How awesome is that? I don't know if we'll do any shopping this weekend or not but I don't mind. I would be perfectly happy to do all of my shopping online honestly. Alas, some time in the future we shall go forth and brave the crazies.

Happy rest of the weekend blog-world!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankfulness

As I am positive I won't be hanging around in blog-land tomorrow, just wanted to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and remind you to take a moment and think about what you HAVE, not what you DON'T.

This really hit home for me recently as a mom complained to me at conferences about what the school did not GIVE her (namely coats for her children -- um, are we Walmart? No? Didn't think so either). I had a huge talk with my class about being thankful for what you DO have because I can guarantee that I will be able to find someone who has less than you think you have.


  • I am SUPER thankful for my husband who puts up with me and cherishes me even when I'm being a bitch and don't deserve it.
  • I am SUPER thankful for my kids who keep me grounded and have taught me what unconditional love really is and should be.
  • I am SUPER thankful for Current School for giving me back my passion for teaching -- and with that the 60+ kiddos I have already reached in my short 18 months there who know that they can always come to me, even if they aren't in my class.
  • I am SUPER thankful for finding the real me, finding my voice and standing up for myself to tell people who should care about me to get out of my life. It isn't an easy thing to do but many, many wonderful things have happened to me since I "took out the trash" in my life and I am forever grateful that I finally found the nerve to do it.
  • I am SUPER grateful and thankful for being given the gift of being a teacher, following my dream and making someone of myself. Working on National Board has provided me with a chance to really look at my practice, tweak it and work toward being the best I can be for my kids. 
  • I'm also grateful that despite being insanely busy this month, I have taken time to write for myself by participating in NaNoWriMo (yes, I am crazy!). I have less than 15k words to go until my novel is DONE and it's been hugely cathartic and inspiring to do something I have wanted to do for so long.
  • Lastly I am thankful and grateful for my bloggy friends. Yeah, we'll never meet in real life and share a diet coke, but knowing people share my plight helps immensely. I don't do giveaways and celebrate followers and whatnot but I know you're out there and agreeing with me and that helps me to not feel so alone. So THANK YOU.
Have an amazingly joyful break and remember why you are a teacher. You went into it for a reason and I hope that despite all that drives us crazy in the field of education now, you can look out at your little friends and realize how lucky you are to have them (and they to have you)!  ♥ 



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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Fruesday!

I really love weeks where you have Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday! They are the best.

I am astounded that it is almost Thanksgiving. How did this happen exactly?? I think I blinked and the months zipped past. Wow. 

I didn't really do any teaching today. Sad! Here was our day:
8:30-Morning Work
8:45-Class Meeting
9:00-Junior Achievement
10:00-Writing (wow, some teaching!!)
11:00-Lunch
11:40-SSR
12:00-Computers
12:45-Turkey Videos
1:15-Read Aloud/SSR
1:45-Recess
2:15-Prep for Home
2:20-Phys. Ed.
3:09-Dismiss

Hard life I had today, no? :) I was sad because the copy machine broke so we could not make our fabulous turkeys! So upset about it. But we will be sure to do some super fun Christmasy stuff in the three weeks before Christmas break (holy potatoes -- only 3 weeks!!). This year is just FLYING and I am not sure I like it much! 

I was a good girl today and got my big ole tests graded during JA, my lesson plans done during computer lab and my copies made during PE (thankfully they fixed the copier today at lunch -- whew!). So I am 100% set for next week except for my Reading Tickets for RTI Workshop (takes 2 minutes to copy), my newsletters and my reading tests for Friday. Not worried about it at all. I left at 3:25 with only my purse and keys! I am determined to just enjoy my long weekend. I will be working a bit on National Board stuff but the nerdy part of me LIKES that kind of stuff so it will be okay. There will lots of PJ wearing, diet coke drinking and relaxing over the next 5 days. I hope it goes relatively slowly because I need the down time. 

When I got to work today, Mrs. E left me a bag of truffles and a card on my window. ♥ We have really become a team and I am glad. I have never truly felt like a part of a team until this year. When I thanked her for the card and truffles, she said I have truly completed the 2nd grade team because I have helped them change the way they approach certain things with my knowledge of data and DDI. Funny thing is, we usually do our planning on Wednesdays and obviously since we don't have school tomorrow, it wasn't going to happen. So I did my own plans figuring we would more or less be on the same page. She always emails me our plans so I can copy paste to my format when we plan together. This afternoon she emailed them to me after I was already home...and our writing plans were almost identical even though we hadn't even talked about them! I found that amusing. Our data person told us last week that we clearly collaborate because we almost finish each other's sentences. I think we have started to share a brain! :) I do miss big kids simply because they get my humor a bit more than the small fries do but I am LOVING teaching 2nd grade the longer the year goes on. It doesn't hurt that in 2nd grade they are still sweet and cute and want to please you -- and it doesn't hurt that the kids tell me at least 30 times a day how fabulous I am! :)


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday already??

Soooo jealous of all of you who have this whole week off! When I was at Former School, we had the whole week. Seriously the only thing I miss about that school is the schedule (not the staff, not the kids, sadly). 

But it will be a relatively easy week, I believe. Mrs. E shared with me a fun Turkey activity that we are going to make tomorrow. The other two second grade classes are watching a Thanksgiving movie on Tuesday afternoon but my kiddos have PE so I'm happy to not do that since they won't be with me anyway the last 45 minutes of the day.

I was driving out just a little while ago to pick up The Oldest from the high school (she went to the fall play). On my way there, I noticed that our downtown area has the lights up on the trees and the Christmas wreaths out. It occurred to me that yes, it really IS getting to be that time of year. It doesn't feel like it. We've had a tiny bit of snow here in my area of Michigan but not much. It stuck once where I am but by the time to drove the 20 minutes to school, there was no snow on the ground at all. So it doesn't feel like it's nearly Thanksgiving and it certainly doesn't feel to me like it's only a little more than a month until Christmas! 

This year is just flying by! Last year did too and while it's awesome to feel accomplished, I feel like time is slipping away from me. I want to enjoy things, slow down and take a moment to relish in what we're doing. I feel like that is almost impossible at the rate we have to move, move, move. So I shall take advantage of this short week....I am going to slow it down just a bit. I am going to enjoy as much of it as possible. I know my days will still fly (they always do) but hopefully interspersing some FUN in there will help.

I feel like I blinked and missed Saturday!


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Friday, November 18, 2011

Yay for Friday!

To say I am glad it is Friday is a definite understatement! Whew! What a weird, wild, busy and just plain weird week this was! We worked our little behinds off in class and got SO much accomplished but holy cow, did we have a lot going on. I'm amazed I made it and am still smiling. *wink*

Unfortunately I had to bring a pile of stuff home that I did not get through with conferences but that's okay. I am more than happy to take a couple hours here and there to finish that up knowing that I am not going to have to worry about this next week. We are taking a benchmark test in reading and doing some review stuff in math and otherwise it's all about Thanksgiving crafts and FUN. Plus we have PE at the very end of the day on Tuesday which is so awesome because I am going to have extra time to get myself prepared and ready for the following week and thus I don't have to stick around on Tuesday after school.

Today we had the Big Deal Data Meeting and I am happy to say that I think we kicked ass! The gal from the district who does ours said she could tell our team collaborates a lot because we almost finish each other's sentences. I mentioned how I am kind of the "outsider" (not in a negative way) because I've taught 4th and 5th for the last 3 years and being back in 2nd is so new to me, but that we all share with each other, learn from each other and really push each other to make the best decisions we can for our students collectively. I think that they were impressed. We could easily speak to our data and address why or why not things were the way they are right now. I have no doubt that with what we are doing, we are going to kick some massive ass on the MAP test next go round.


My students also had Junior Achievement today. It was our first one. They were really excited about it and I think they will enjoy it. Sadly we did not go to computer lab because as we were preparing to go, Miss W came and told me that ALL of the 2nd grade classes were once again caught running down the hall at lunch. We go outside first and then they come in to eat. There is a definitive lack of supervision at lunch and they are kids -- they will take advantage of it. And they do. I was so angry when I heard this, however, because my class especially has had to have extra hallway travel practice this week because they just talk so much. It is a school-wide expectation. Period. So we had a big class meeting about this behavior and how upset I am that we're 54 days into the year and they don't show our STAR behavior if I am not right there with them. I have recess duty on Fridays and afterward, I had them go down the long hall (the K-1 hall which is where we come in for lunch) and go out to line up where they line up at lunch. Then I made them WALK down that hall and come back. They KNOW better and I KNOW a lot of it is because there aren't enough adults supervising them. However, it has gotten to the point that even when they leave the classroom, they think they can run. Um, no. Not going to work for me.

We are doing our school-wide walk throughs again the day we get back from Thanksgiving break and it will be much needed, I am sure. It's amazing how you can reinforce the same procedure EVERY DAY and they still just don't do it.



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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Almost there!

Only 3 more days until a much deserved and needed 5 day break! I am so excited about it that it isn't even funny!

Tonight we had our last night of conferences. I had a lot of amazing conferences this week but I am so glad they are over! They are tiring! I had several parents who seemed genuinely appreciative that I am pushing their children academically. It feels nice to know that my efforts are appreciated by someone!

I also had a mom (and dad!!) in tears tonight. Their child is VERY low (I mean, we're talking cobwebs here...the child is SO sweet but she is just clueless). I have addressed my concerns to mom before and we talked about it a lot tonight. I said I will fight for this child, I will go to the end of the earth to get her the help she needs and mom and dad both teared up. Mom thanked me for taking care of O like she is my own and that she's so glad she has me as a teacher. ♥

THIS people is why I am a teacher. Seriously. I just know that these kids need me. Everything happens for a reason and I am in 2nd grade because these kids need me. While they drive me bananas because they talk SOOOO much, I love them. I'm so glad that I didn't end up back in 5th at the start of the year because I really think I would have resented leaving these kids. I am hard on them but their parents appreciate it and understand why I do it. 

Now we just need to get through the Big Deal Data Meeting tomorrow and we're home free!


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crazy!

I can't believe it is already Wednesday! Time is flying this week. This is very, very good because it had the potential to be the longest week ever. Tomorrow I have such a hard life (sarcasm) -- the kids are in art from 8:30-9:18 (we start at 8:20!) and then we go to our math tutors from 10:20-11:10 which means I get that time for extra planning. Bonus! We have our second set of conferences tomorrow night so being able to get my data together and whatnot in that hour is going to be great! 

My students took the news of Mr. Sunny accidentally deleting our National Board videos well. I did recover them finally and they were crystal clear, but there were two problems. 1) ZERO sound (and it was kind of funny to watch me teaching with no sound whatsoever) and 2) the videos split in the middle for whatever random reason. In the end, while it sucked, I am over it. I went back in with a good attitude about it in that we were going to try our best to make the most out of it and go with it. We videotaped on Monday a small group reading lesson and today we taped a small group reading lesson AND my interdisciplinary lesson for the listening, viewing, speaking entry. I'm actually quite impressed that all three of the segments are pretty darn good. I am going to reanalyze them this weekend to make sure they will work for what I want but I feel confident that these videos can exemplify my teaching practices, especially the interdisciplinary one because we more or less just recreated the one we had already done. I think it turned out pretty darn good.

I just need to do my 1-minute pan and I should be set. [And you better believe I made three copies of those videos -- not taking ANY chances this time!!]


We had our first night of conferences last night. I had 13 children scheduled and only had 2 not show. 1 who is scheduled for Thursday came last night and since they were there, I snuck them in! I wasn't going to send the mom away and make her come back. That means that tomorrow will be a lighter load which is nice. I have one right at 8:30 once the kids go to art but I have two half hour breaks in there because of reschedules. I sent the last two I have scheduled (which I believe are 6:30 and 6:45) that if they are free they can pop in early since I have so many open spots earlier in the night. If they both do that, in theory, I could be all set by 6 which would be awesome. I still have to stay at school (it's contracted time) but I could get soooo much done if I was in my classroom with work time rather than still meeting with parents. So we shall see.


I am exhausted from this crazy week. I can't wait for Friday at 3:30. I am OUTTA THERE and not doing anything for school. Next week is only Monday-Tuesday with kids and we're doing a big test to get it over with (we know they won't do well on it after the break) and having some fun with Turkey type stuff. It will be a relatively easy two days. I am SO lucky too because I have a special on Tuesdays at the end of the day so I literally get 45 minutes to myself before I dismiss my students which means I can have all of my lesson plans for the following week done and all of my copies made. Therefore by 4 p.m. on November 22, I am home free for 5 entire days! I plan to really push forward with my National Board entries and at least begin to flesh them out and plan how I want to write them. I am bound and determined not to touch ANYTHING school-related those days. I just need the break!

I am so behind on things I want to do and sadly there is just not time to catch up on it all. I will have to do a bunch of catch-up on some of it this weekend because my bed is calling me and if I don't want to look like a zombie at my conferences tomorrow, I need to get myself some rest!

Happy Hump Day! We're almost there!!



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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bummer!

I have spent WAY too many hours of my weekend worrying about and trying to recover these stupid National Board files. The software company swore they could recover them to perfection then disappear into the night. Figures! I have given up. I tried all of the tricks, all of the suggestions. I'm tired of monkeying with it. It has eaten up a lot of enjoyment time this weekend and that makes me angry since this coming week is bound to be hell (conferences and a HUGE psych meeting for Middle Child).

I am not going to let this defeat me. I will go to school tomorrow armed with the camera and be honest with the kids. Mr. Sunny did something you never ever do. He messed with files that had not been backed up and we have to start over. Nothing we can do about it except smile and accept it.

I shall reward them, however. I am bringing in a cute turkey activity I found online and will let them spend their time after last recess working on them. We need to take down our pumpkin glyphs from the hallway and put up some new writing and decorations and these are the perfect thing to take their place. If I can really get them to rock it out, we can do two videos tomorrow and then knock out the social studies ones on Wednesday. I am still mad about it but it happened and I can't change it. I am more pissed that said company claimed they were the answer to my prayers when really all they did was steal my money because their software sucks. I shall be disputing that as well.

I'm so ready for the week to be over already and it hasn't even started yet.

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Blah :(

To say I am a depressed right now is a huge understatement. I did not kill my hubby in case you were wondering. He is still alive. Probably only because he feels terrible that he somehow deleted my files. Incidentally as he was trying to save them to a disk so I could watch them on the big TV and thus take notes and prepare to start my big-ole analysis papers, the software wiped them all out. So upsetting!! (I got a dinner out and a promise of a nail fill out of this though so I can't complain too much.)

A few friends told me about a software that is supposed to be able to recover files, even videos. I tried it and found my files but they are distorted beyond belief. They are not usable. After a quick web search I found a company with rave reviews about how their software has recovered all of these pictures and videos to absolute perfection and how great it is and the price was incredible ($20). We did that (not how I wanted to spend my Saturday night let me tell ya!). It recovered the files as well but they are still distorted and unusable. By that time, I was just DONE. I sent an angry email and said I was very disappointed after all of the rave reviews because while it recovered my files, they certainly aren't usable! I have more or less resigned myself to having to start over :(

The ONLY consolation to that is that it's only November. I have plenty of time. Does it make me happy? No. But it also isn't the end of the world either. 

That said, I read my email this morning and the company emailed me regarding my complaint and said they WILL help me recover these files. The tech guy who emailed said it concerned him that the scan only went through undelete, not something else like it was supposed to do. So they are working on it, I guess. I will be absolutely overjoyed if they can somehow help me to recover these files. Upon closer inspection it appears that the program split the videos because my last reading group one (the one that was PERFECT) I'm wearing a green shirt and at least 4 of the files show me sitting at my table in that green shirt. So it's very weird. It's almost like the program recovered the files frame by frame instead of in a stream. I don't know. 

If I have to do them over, we will. But I will back them up at least 8 times before I let my husband even touch the camera!

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

S*@$ty Saturday >:(

I am SO pissed right now. My husband just deleted ALL of my National Board videos. Every.Single.One.

So what does that mean?? I am no farther ahead than I was 3 months ago.

I would REALLY like to throw something right now. Preferably at his head.

I am going to go cry now. Because the last ones I taped were PERFECT. I mean it. ABSOLUTE PERFECTION IN EVERY WAY. The kids were on their game and so was I. They are going to be so upset when I tell them we have to start all over and that our hard work was wasted. :(


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Fab Friday

Wow, yesterday was really quite amazing, weird and interesting. It's a full moon so that doesn't help either! Our entire second grade, headed up by Mrs. E, participated in a Pay it Forward campaign sponsored by Pizza Hut and one of our local TV stations. They gave us $200 and a flip camera to use to show how we would pay it forward. Yesterday was our formal presentation. The kids were wired but it was SO powerful to see them do something like this. I sincerely hope that they will remember this forever. Our students get SO MUCH for free from other people and it is nice to show them that they can repay that favor just by doing something nice for someone else. 

After school I popped into Mrs. E's room to thank her for inviting our class to be part of it too (she headed it all) and she told me that the TV station was so impressed by what we did and how we did it, that they want to come and interview us for the news, outside of this contest! Very very exciting. 

Additionally my kids started our recycling/trash project  yesterday afternoon. We read "The Wartville Wizard" and next week we will make more connections about it as well as learn some vocabulary to help them understand WHY this project is important and how their voices as youngsters can be so powerful, moreso I believe than mine because they are tomorrow's leaders.


I also finally had a moment to review all of the National Board videos I have done and make sure they a) met the requirements and b) were indicative of my teaching. I am so happy to say that the videos turned out really, really good! So I am not planning to do anymore. The kids were asking me this week if I was bringing the camera back in *wink* I think they kind of liked the notion of being "on TV" so to speak. Now I can take a deep breath and really focus my energies on my commentaries and analysis. The writing part and the assessment center exercises are the next big steps but honestly I feel a huge part of it is done just having the videos READY. The only thing I want to redo is my 1 minute scan before my small group reading video. That will not be hard to do anytime in the next two weeks. I like to do them when the kids are at recess or lunch because then the chairs are down and the room looks more lived in.



I'm feeling a lot calmer and more relaxed now that some of our big craziness is over. We have conferences this week which will be insane and our BIG DEAL DATA MEETING on Friday but I am not worried about it. My team is prepared, we ran through the questions, we will be okay. My conference schedule is looking very good. I am less one because I already did Little Princess's so that's out. I also made special changes for a few families who couldn't come in the evening. I have a mom coming in during Art on Thursday and a mom coming in at 3 on Tuesday (the kids are in Gym so it doesn't matter). What's nice about that is, it frees up my late slots so I can leave when I am done. Plus both nights I have a free half hour so I can eat some dinner and take a breather in the lounge. That will be nice. :)

Once this week is over, we're home free. The next week is so short due to Thanksgiving and we're giving our big benchmark test so no real planning has to be done. I am going to be able to RELAX and just enjoy my own family. It will be great!


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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Terrific Thursday

Well, today was pretty darn good even with a big (hour-long!!) conference with Little Princess's mom and dad after school. More on that in a moment.

My team went to a Reading Street training this morning. We had been told to expect it to be boring as hell. Thankfully it wasn't. It was actually useful. We got validation that if we don't use the stations as the program says, it is okay. So really, in my mind, that means I can open things up for Daily 5 because the district made it clear that we are to do BALANCED LITERACY and Reading Street is just a resource. Music to my ears! So I feel renewed in terms of what I plan to do with my stations starting next week. We are going to do two a day, but EVERYONE will do the same ones. That will allow me to rotate kids to the computers in my room daily instead of only getting in the lab on Fridays. I'm excited about that. I'm sure the kids will be too!

We stopped at a small deli for lunch. I had a super yummy club sandwich and a small salad. So tasty! I could eat one of those salads every day!!! We got back to school and had our afternoon to go over our data and plan. Interestingly enough, our three classes were almost identical in the areas on that MAP that were high and low, in both reading and math but math was even closer in terms of their similarities. Then we had time to do some things we needed to do. Mrs. E did some RtI binders for a few of her kids, I got my lesson plans done for next week and a good start on my conference folders. I'm really glad to have had that time.

Next Tuesday and Thursday are our conferences. I have already made some changes to my schedule for a couple of moms and that is a-okay with me. I am happy to make it easy for them so they get in the door with me! :) I'm looking forward to most of them because a lot of these kids, it will be the first time I get to meet their parents (sad, isn't it?). For a few we are going to have to have a big talk about responsibility. Not really looking forward to that part of it.


After school today I met with Little Princess's parents. Mrs. Principal took my side and said NO she was NOT moving Little Princess out of my room. Score 1 point for Sunny :D We held the conference in the conference room -- I thought neutral territory would be good for us all. We started by doing the normal conference stuff that I would do with any family. Then we did the behavior stuff. I was out of my room all day and Little Princess was not good. Mom had some time to decompress after yesterday and was a lot more calm today. I also told her it wouldn't help to put Little Princess in either of the other classes because there are kids in there who would REALLY rip her apart. She's very emotional (beyond normal) and we had a long talk about it. We met at 3:20 and didn't end until 4:30. I was very honest and said I was upset that she thought I didn't like her child because I do. There wasn't any yelling or screaming :p I did, however, tell mom that if she wanted me to be on her side and help her child she can't come at me 2 minutes before the bell like yesterday. Part of the problem was too they thought with our behavior referrals that if Little Princess got another referral, she would be suspended. It's not very clear to the parents how to read those forms. So we had a super big talk about all of that too. I got mom to agree to let me do a counseling referral because this child cries EXCESSIVELY. I mean everyone knows her as "the crier". It's why the kids don't like her -- they think she is a baby. I also got mom to agree to at least do an ADHD screening. She said "I don't want to put her on meds." So I had to explain all of that. ADHD doesn't automatically mean you have to drug your child, but a diagnosis gives us A LOT of leeway in terms of what we can provide for her once we have the documentation. We are also going to do a behavior plan so that hopefully Little Princess can better monitor her own behavior. I walked them out since the office was closed by that time and as they left the atrium, I heard dad ask the mom "so are you better now?" and she said "yes". I told both the parents in the conference that I could guarantee there are going to be other times this year that I make them mad -- it isn't my goal at all but it will happen because it always does. They want to advocate for their child which is admirable and fine. BUT we have to work as a team to get there and they need to trust me to do my job. I emailed Mrs. Principal afterward to keep her in the loop with it all and thanked her for helping to diffuse mom AND for backing me up. It makes a huge difference.


I also got a nice surprise tonight. Our district is moving to a new evaluation system. Mrs. Principal emailed us all and asked us to log into the system and select a new password so she can start our evaluations. It's so stupid because the evals are due by Dec 16 and they barely give the principals time to do anything. At any rate, we have had two evaluation systems -- PEP and PLP. PEPs are for teachers who are untenured. You have to do 5 big goals and have two formal observations and it's a huge pain in the butt. Well because I took a leave two years ago, it froze my evaluation so I thought I was going to have to do another PEP even though this would be my tenure year normally. PLP is for tenured teachers. You can do a project or some other such thing to show growth as a teacher. When I opened my new account for the online management o the evaluations, it listed my evaluation type as TENURED PLP!! Which means NO FORMAL OBSERVATIONS and I am qualified to have student teachers now! Woo hoo. I may actually be able to use my candidacy for National Board as part of my PLP too which would be so freaking awesome. We shall see.

Overall, today was fabulous. Tomorrow will be too because a) it's Friday b) it's PayDay and c) our 2nd graders are going to be on TV for a Pay it Forward campaign. I'm so excited about it!!


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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wacky Wednesday

The day after a random Tuesday PD day is always interesting. I have a little lady in my class who is a COMPLETE drama queen. And she's 7. Mom is clueless. Clue.Less. Dad, I think gets its. At least he seems too. Mom just doesn't like me. I don't care. I don't sugar coat anything and she can't stand that.

Well her little princess got an office referral last week. Dad brought the form back and we had a chat about it the next day. He wasn't rude to me. He didn't come at me all ghetto. Well little princess got another referral on Monday because she hit a child with her backpack on purpose. I knew that Mom or Dad would come in today and see me because that's the kind of parents they are.

Sure enough mom showed up but at 8:15 (we get kids at 8:20). She came at me all crazy like it's my fault her kid is naughty. She said she was going to request Little Princess be put in another classroom. I almost laughed in her face. It won't happen and I told her that. They don't just transfer classrooms because you can't handle that someone doesn't eat up your child's bullshit like you do.

Mrs. Principal was out for a meeting this morning but I emailed her and gave her a head's up and we planned to meet at lunch to talk about it briefly. She asked me why I didn't have a behavior plan in place. I honestly answered that it was only her SECOND referral and my plan was to get with mom and dad and conferences (next week) and set that up. It isn't like this kid has had 12 referrals and I've never talked to the parents. Then she told me that mom said she had no idea that Little Princess's behavior has been anything but stellar because I have never told her. I said "really? Well I can go upstairs and grab her folder and prove to you that that is not true." Mrs. Principal knows me better than that and I can prove EVERY SINGLE TIME I have ever talked to this mother. And I send those notes home EVERY WEEK WITH EVERY KID and what's really funny to me is this parent signs the papers. So when push comes to shove and she tries to say that she didn't know, I can prove her lying ass wrong. Love it!

And you better believe that I WILL call the mom to the carpet on that one at the conference. I know she doesn't like me, she has made it plain. My guess is that little princess knows mom hates me and little princess has mom wrapped around her little finger so she makes shit up to get mom upset. Dad doesn't buy it but mom totally does. So I requested a meeting with ALL THREE OF THEM and I am going to put that mom in her place and tell her I am offended that she told Mrs. Principal that she had no idea that her daughter gets in trouble at school. Bullshit. I have it all documented and written down. Nice try though. 

The problem is that everyone else cows down to this mom. I won't. She claimed that she has asked me over and over to put Little Princess in a seat alone she's asked me once and I said it was not feasible. I am not moving my entire classroom around because your kid can't control herself. I don't tell you how to do your job, don't tell me how to do mine. The district is all over it because mom called the administrative office threatening to take her kid out of the district. It's her choice. If she thinks life will be peaches and roses somewhere else, she's in for a rude awakening. If she cried excessively anywhere else she'd be put on half days or in an EI room. Period. I am actually looking forward to this meeting because I WILL put mom in her place and I will GLADLY take a formal reprimand in my file over it. No one tells me how to do my job, especially not some parent who has nothing better to do than baby her child. No one likes this child because she is SUCH a baby. Mom doesn't like that the kids pick on her....well tell her to stop being a sniveling crybaby and she probably won't have so many problems.


After that craziness, I did get confirmation that my concerns regarding my other little special friend are not unfounded. I'm SO glad that we have the therapists we have at our school because they agree with me that Mrs. Principal doesn't have a clue what she is talking about in regards to this child and we're getting him set up with a psychologist and a psychiatrist to see if we can go farther with it. The kid almost needs a 1:1 aide because he's SO off the wall. It's sad.



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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weird!!

Today we had Middle Child's big One-Oh party at Chuck E. Cheese. As we were finishing up our pizza lunch, I notice one of my students coming in with his mom and sisters. Oh boy. That is always a weird one for me. I am a huge advocate for separating work and my personal life because too much mixture, for me anyway, causes issues. This child, however, has not really liked me much most of the year. I don't expect every kid to love me every second but his stepdad thinks I'm a jerk who doesn't support this kid so it's been an interesting relationship to be sure (mom likes me though). Anyway so there they were and his little sister says "Oh, it's Mrs. Sunny!" So I couldn't well hide!

After we did cake and whatnot, we had a bunch left so I went over and asked his mom if the kids would like some. I think that she now thinks I am the most amazing person ever. She likes the fact that I push her son (he is really smart) and she gets that her child will try to push buttons if he can. She told me earlier in the year she thought he was a bit intimidated by me because I am upfront with the kids and tell them that while I care about them all, I am not there to be their friend. I am there to teach them and get them ready for 3rd grade.

Interestingly enough though, after I brought the kids some cake, and was chatting with his mom for a bit, she said she thought the tide really turned for this child the day that I brought the girls into my class. She said she really thinks it helped her son to see that I am a real person too. I have noticed that things are a lot different with him since then. He still gets into trouble sometimes but it isn't so bad that I'm calling his mom all the time to tell her that her child is naughty or whatnot. (Although he did get in trouble on Thursday and had to sit on the bench at recess to reflect then was goofing around and fell off the bench and scraped up his eye so his mom thought he got in a fight....sheesh!)

While it always has been and always will be weird for me to see any of my students out in the "real world", I'm kind of glad I saw this one. He's a kid who needs a lot of emotional support and to feel like you care about him. He HATES writing which makes me so sad because he's such a good reader. At one point when I was talking to his family, he said "Mrs. Sunny, you act just like you do at school!" [meaning silly]. I laughed and said "well you didn't think I was someone else away from you guys, did you??" 

I'm so glad the big party is over though. Whew! One big thing crossed off my To Do list. I plan to catch up on my grading now and finish up my report cards tonight. I am determined to be all done with that stuff before I turn in for the night so that tomorrow can be my day. I need to do some cleaning because my poor house is feeling (and looking) neglected but if I play my cards right and can get my family to pitch in too, we could clean the whole house in under 2 hours then have the rest of the day to "chillax" as the students would say. We all need days to just chillax!


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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Better Day

Yesterday I was very overwhelmed and just wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out. I have way too many after school things happening lately and it is tough to stay on top of all of the things I need to do, still feel like a good mom and get everything done and done well. I know that once November is over, conferences are past us and we're riding high until winter break that I will be okay. This month is just INSANE with the amount of things going on. It is enough to drive a regular person crazy but for someone with anxiety and depression -- it is a huge battle.

I left everything at school yesterday. I am glad I did. Yes, I am behind but who cares? I know I wouldn't have touched it had I brought it home anyway. I had to have Middle Child at therapy by 4 and a hair appointment at 7. The 4 p.m. appointment caused me to have to rush out the second school was over so I could pick up The Littles and get them to the therapy office on time. Middle Child's appointments are more and more overwhelming to me. I have been convinced for years that this child is on the Autistic Spectrum somewhere. She perseverates on things (recently it is Titanic) and she has an incredible memory. It's unreal. I just feel overwhelmed with it all because I sometimes feel like working means I am a bad mom to her. I know I am not. I do the best I can and I am 150% better of a mother to my girls than my own mother ever was to me...but I still feel bad about all that she is going through sometimes. It's a hard pill to swallow. She is going to be seeing a psychiatrist at the clinic and will be seeing a doctor who specializes in working with children with Asperger Syndrome. So many appointments and I am just one person. I feel stretched thin. The Husband doesn't go to these appointments -- it's on me. It's my own fault though. It would drive me nuts not to hear for myself what the doctors/therapists had to say.

I got my hair cut and recolored last night and then came home and did some journaling. I just needed to for myself. I also went to bed early. I kind of need some quality time with The Husband but we're both off in our own little worlds and that's tough too. Plus he's on call and working weird hours so it doesn't allow us much time to even talk to each other. When I get overwhelmed, I just want him to be next to me. It makes me feel safer. When that doesn't happen, my anxiety sky-rockets.


This morning I quickly met with my team to go over report card stuff since I could not meet with them to do our normal Wednesday planning. While we were together the phone rang and Mrs. E said "Oh it's God calling" and I was kind of like "huh??" Apparently some of the teachers have a short prayer group on Thursday mornings. They asked me if I wanted to come. I said sure...I'm so glad I went. I really think it gave me a lot of strength for today. I am not the most spiritual person in the world, but I found a lot of comfort in the words the gal shared with us and the prayer that we did. I told Mrs. E that I was so so glad that they invited me along because I really did feel so much better afterward. It's good to know that so many people in my school are supporting each other and reaching out for help -- both from each other and from God. 

We also have math tutors on Thursday for the next few weeks and Mrs. E offered to take my kids over so I could use that time to work on report cards. I swear I owe her so much! Her and Miss W have been amazing the last couple of weeks and I am so grateful for their support. We don't always see eye-to-eye on everything and they do leave me out of a few things but I do think we make a good team. We support each other, we help each other and man, what a difference that makes!! I was also telling Mrs. E that I feel so bad about Middle Child that I am considering trying to do a job-share. I don't know that I would ever really do it (I'm not sure I could give up the control!) but I know the possibility is there and it helps. I think if we get things figured out with Middle Child and start her on a different path, I won't feel so overwhelmed with everything happening with her right now. The Husband even told me if it meant saving my sanity, we would find a way to make it work. We shall see. I truly do think that a huge part of it is just that I have so many things happening this month alone that just looking at the calendar makes me want to freak out.

I am taking it one day at a time. Learning to let go of things I can't control and just praying my way through this time. I know it will get better. I can't imagine not teaching. But I also know that my family is more important to me than a job and I will do what I need to do in order to find balance and well-being for us all.


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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My tired is tired

Today I forced myself to sit at lunch even though I knew it was only going to be for 15 minutes before I was on the go again. During a lull in the conversation I said "does anyone else just feel so overwhelmed they want to cry?!"

Seriously. Might be hormones or just the insane running around I've had to do but I am W.I.P.E.D. Seriously, I was near tears when I was returning two calls during lunch. I'm so tired of just not feeling like I have time to do anything well. It sucks!

Mrs. E said it was because I took on so much with National Board. Ha! This isn't even about National Board. I have done my reading group video and will do my other one tomorrow but otherwise, nada. It isn't bothering me. I wrote many a paper toward the end of my deadline and was just fine. I'm not worried about that at all and it isn't looming or stressing me out.

The running around I'm doing, the super full calendar and the data data data are just killing me. I changed my desk calendar to November this morning and added in my new dates and that's when I wanted to cry. I have the following just in the next two weeks and two days:

  • Middle Child's 10th Birthday Party
  • Report Cards
  • Big ole staff meeting
  • IEP for Middle Child
  • Conferences for The Littles
  • Reading Street PD and a half day of just DATA crap to get ready for our data meeting on the 18th
  • One hour flex planning
  • 2 hour psych appointment for Middle Child
  • 4 hours of conferences after school (Tuesday)
  • Therapy appointment for Middle Child
  • 4 hours of conferences after school (Thursday)
  • Big Deal District Data Meeting
  • Sister-in-Law's graduation from the Police Academy
There's actually probably more than just that. It isn't the paperwork or teaching or grading. It's just all of the STUFF I have to do on top of everything else. I am overwhelmed. I nearly laughed when Mrs. E said it was National Board. Um, no. It isn't. I'm just one person. I feel stretched thin. I feel like I'm being pulled in too many directions and I feel myself sinking into that depression shit again and I WILL.NOT.GO.THERE.EVER.AGAIN. No way.

So I have to take a deep breath. Step back. Focus on what I CAN do. It doesn't help that I have had to rush out of school at 3:20 the last three days in a row to get to functions/meetings/appointments. I feel like I never sit and relax at all from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and it's taking a toll. Tomorrow is the first time I don't HAVE to run out the minute school is over. I can relax. Breathe. Take my time to catch up on a few things. Finally prep for next week (imagine that -- prepping ahead of time!). We have to shop for Middle Child's birthday but even if I stay at work until 5:30 or 6 to catch up on things, The Husband and I can still do that after dinner.

I am going out in a few minutes to my hair appointment. I am going to just relax and not do anything school related. When I get home, I am taking a hot bath and going to bed early. I know I need it. I just have to decompress and let go sometimes. It's hard for me to do so...but I will never, ever, ever go through the breakdown I went through nearly two years ago ever again....and this is how it starts. At least now I know when to pull back and stop. I can not be that psycho person ever again. 



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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Post-Halloween Frenzy

It's already been a crazy week and it's only Tuesday! I love Halloween. It is one of my favorite holidays. I do not love Halloween on a Monday. At least not when I have school the next day. 

Yesterday the kids were great. We had a very low-key party. I brought donut holes for the kids and apple cider for our party. A mom brought Cheez Kurls for the class. I also gave them caramel apples in the morning to use in a writing activity. They were calm, sedate and we actually got a lot done.

Today, the sugar had kicked in. Good Lord, I was very glad to have PE at the end of the day because I needed a break from them. They were just not listening or paying much attention at all. It's only annoying because there is so much to do and not enough time to do it in as usual. We also had a percussionist from the symphony come today to play some music for the kids. It was really fun but it hyped the kids right up too. Oy.

I am hopeful that by tomorrow the sugar will have worn off!!


Today is also the big One-Oh for Middle Child. 10 whole years. We teased her that she was now in the "big time" because she's in double digits. I took her and The Youngest up to my hometown after school so that I could attend my niece's conference with my brother. She is in a self-contained EI room and she isn't being challenged. I was just flabbergasted when my brother told me the stuff she isn't doing. A lot of kids who are EI also have disabilities and she does not. She is smart as a whip. I suspect she's bored and that's when she gets into trouble (and she has mass anxiety just like Middle Child). I was appalled when I found out this teacher has 5 students (5!!) and isn't differentiating because she has "too many levels". Are you kidding me? I have 26 kids at about 18 different levels and I have to meet all of their needs and I'm on my own entirely. It just burns me up. So I talked to her "teacher to teacher" and basically said that she either needs to find a way to mainstream my niece for at least math and science or she needs to get with those 4th grade teachers and have them provide some supplementary work for my niece. I would be anything that her behavior will change if she's feeling challenged and not bored all the time. Hopefully my drive up there ends up being worth it. Oy!


I'm tired, it's 8:30 and I have a pile of grading to get to. I did no school stuff last night so I could take my kids trick-or-treating. Being a momma comes first. I know I won't get it all done tonight but I will do my best to get through at least some of it. It's funny how fast the stuff piles up, even when you teach small fries! Thursday will be the first day I can breathe after school as I won't have anywhere to rush off to the minute the kids are gone. I can sit and relax and (hopefully) get some things done at work for next week so I can take the weekend off from school-related stuff and work on my National Board entries, NaNoWriMo book (yes I am bat-shit crazy for taking that on too) and Middle Child's birthday party. The Husband said it was all fine as long as I don't have a nervous breakdown on him. 

Is it bad I was giddy putting up the November calendar and noticing how many "no student" days we have this month??


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