Thursday, May 24, 2012

Looking Forward

Mrs. Principal officially announced the staffing placements to everyone yesterday. I think a lot of people were shocked that I am in the split. Several asked me if I knew about it. I haven't made it known that I actually originally volunteered to take it if we had one. I took a peek at our numbers yesterday and realize that the split very well could stay a split, even though Mrs. Principal said she thought it wouldn't. I could have 30 students (15 from each grade) and the other 2 fourth grades would be at 30-31 and the other 2 fifth grades would be at 30-31. With budgets being what they are, it isn't unheard of. I had 34 fifth graders last year until right before Christmas break so who knows what will happen. I'm not going to panic about it.

I taught a 4th/5th split my very first year teaching. I was beyond clueless. You know how it is -- you think you know everything and that you're SO ready to be on your own, then you are and realize how much you still have to learn. I know so much more about teaching and learning now than I did then. I did an okay job that year -- my students didn't know any different and they did learn. Now, with what I know about teaching, how the brain works and motivation for kiddos of that age, I am much more prepared to go into a split teaching assignment and kick some behind. 

Mrs. 4th Grade got moved to 2nd, in my place, which really surprised me. I had a feeling the other fourth grade teacher would be moved (and she was, to 1st) but I wasn't expecting this. She will be okay there but she's never taught 2nd and is feeling a bit nervous. Mrs. CT told me this morning that she may, in fact, be retiring. Rumors have been flying all year so we'll see. It's fine if that happens. If it does, the chances are that it will be me, Mrs. A, Mr. 4th Grade and two newbies. As long as people realize that I have double the curriculum to handle and am on my own (no TA or Student Teacher), it will be okay. I am already thinking of how I am going to make this work better for me this time around.

Mrs. A and Mrs. 4th Grade are amazingly awesome and let me borrow their Reading Street logins so that I can preview and get somewhat acquainted with the 4th and 5th grade Reading Street stuff. It has already been beyond helpful. I am downloading what I can and will be sketching out tentative plans for myself. I really don't want to have to start Reading Street until the end of September so we can prep for our standardized testing and I can get my students used to the routines in a split class and the transition that comes with teaching a dual grade. 

I am really excited though. I have been so back and forth on what I wanted to teach next year and I'm pleased that I am going back upstairs. In talking with a couple of my colleagues, who kind of warn me about the current 4th graders (known as "That Class"), I point out that most of what these kids need is someone to set boundaries. The other 4th grade teacher doesn't know how to set them and she argues with the kids, which fuels the drama. They get snotty with me and I get snotty back and ask them just who the heck they think they're talking to like that. Usually once they realize they aren't going to get away with that crap, they knock it off. It's when the teacher doesn't set the boundary and doesn't get a little sassy that there is trouble.

Mrs. A, who is teaching 5th this year for the first time ever, has some of the "worst" kids from last year. And she has no problem with them. They also had the other 4th grade teacher last year. Mrs. A has boundaries and the kids know what they are and they work with that. She doesn't have to be a huge bitch. I won't have to be either -- I can be if needed, but again, they just want someone to care.

I pointed out to Mrs. Secretary, weeks ago, when all of this stuff first started being talked about that if a kid is having that kind of trouble you have to sit them down and basically ask them what the hell they want (not in those words obviously). Clearly kiddo what you're doing is NOT working so what do you need from me? What can I do to help you? It is uh-may-zing what those kids will say when you just offer to listen. They want stability and boundaries, instinctively. If you're going to argue and put the power on them, you've lost, they will see you as weak and you just screwed yourself big time.

It won't be like that for me. I know how to get down to their core and relate to them. Its why I think people are petrified of middle schoolers -- they don't know how to literally get on their level. I do. I have always been a tough love kind of teacher and with the exception of one class, it has always served me very well. I am sure next year won't be any different.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


It isn't 100% official yet (ie. it hasn't been announced to the entire staff) but I finally know what I will be teaching next year! This morning I was in the office making copies and whatnot and Mrs. Principal pulled me into her office. I have to admit I was nervous, especially when she went around her desk and sat. She says "I don't know if this is good or bad news"...and all I could think was OH SWEAR-WORD!

She said she knows I have been on the fence about upper or lower grade placement and honored my initial request and gave me the 4th/5th split classroom that we will have. She also mentioned that 99% of the time our split classes don't stay split classes so to be prepared for a shift-around after the school year has started. When I first asked her to consider me for going back up to 4th or 5th grade, I said I would take a split if it meant being able to go up there. Then I got a grant for 2nd grade science stuff and was like "oh I need to teach 2nd grade"...but honestly, I want the big kids. I miss them. 

The only negatives are having to start over with Reading Street because it's different at the upper grades and having to move all of my stuff back upstairs for next year. I haven't told my grade level team that I know yet because Mrs. Principal hasn't officially announced anything. I said I wouldn't mention it until it's official. I'm sure they'll be kind of mad, especially if they get who I think they are getting. Not my problem though. I knew that I would end up where I was meant to be. Since my class will start as a split and likely change to a solid grade, there will be some transition which can stink but it happens. It won't bother me if it stays a split either -- I taught a split my first year and trust me when I say that I was CLUE-LESS compared to now. It will be a million times better this time around, even if it is only for the first month of the year.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

A good day

Sometimes...I am just proud to be the teacher of my class. When I watch them alongside other kids and see them doing the right thing...I have to smile. I have to give myself five seconds of kudos that I did something right this year.

Today, while other teachers complained that their kids were going bat-shit crazy, I was happy to be in my own little world with my class. Yes they talk all the time (but that hasn't changed since September!) and a few I am more than ready to say goodbye to...but for the most part, I enjoy being with them. They make me smile. This group especially has helped me to really realize what I need to tweak for 2nd grade in the future. I have high expectations and that's awesome -- but they are little and do need a bit more guidance. Thus, I have learned from them too. And that is swell.

It was a long day though. I was at school until nearly 6:30 which I never do unless it is conference night. I wanted to get through my grading pile though and make sure things were set for tomorrow. 3rd sub of the week (eek!) BUT I will be there too. We are DIBELing so I'll see them still and get some face time alone with each child which I am actually super excited about! I got through 98% of my pile and took the last few things home to finish (not that I've touched them! *wink*). I would like to get at least half of next week's lesson plans done before I head to bed but I'm not sure that will happen either. It's no biggie if I don't. It will only take me about half the day to get my DIBELs done so I can use the afternoon for planning, data and all of that good stuff. I am not worried at all.

I got home to sort through emails and whatnot...and found that my very first sale at TpT got a 4.0 feedback rating. Super excited with myself on that one. The truth is...I've had that file for YEARS and never thought about selling it until now. And someone found it useful and even said it was worth the money. It doesn't take much to make this girl smile :)


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I finally found out that I am, indeed, teaching summer school this year. Middle school ELA but I don't know if it's 6th, 7th or 8th or a combination. It isn't at my school obviously and I have not done summer school before so I'm kind of clueless in the process/procedures.

I am kind of sick of colleagues who put down everything. First telling me I am "dumb" for pursuing NB and then that I will be "eaten alive" by the kids at this middle school because the school is a "black hole of waste". Way to be positive! :( I'm not delusional and thinking it'll be all peaches and cupcakes but they are kids. And I am SO not afraid to act 13 or 15. Middle schoolers I've worked with in the past tend to appreciate me because I have a wry sense of humor that they understand. It makes me sad that others say these kids are a "lost cause". They just need someone to care about them. And not every kid who goes to summer school is bad. I can definitely see some of my former kids from last year in it because they're slower learners but were awesome behaviorally. I just wish they'd keep their negativity to themselves.

I do know we basically get our summer curriculum given to us but I'm excited. I could see me going middle school in a few years. I do love the big kids...probably because I act like one!

It will be interesting to see how it goes and if I can be creative. I've got some plans for a couple of upper grade units I've used over the years that I can revamp and put up at TpT. We'll see I suppose.

I submitted my documentation for my final eval this year. I am so disappointed. My kids did not do anywhere near what I expected with all the hard work we did :( I know they are just CHECKED OUT and it sucks because if my boss decides to be a jerk she could give me a bad eval because of this. I am not happy at all :(

The only upside is I had two different subs this week and the kids were good for them both. That in and of itself is a miracle.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Time OFF!

Hello blog-land! Very soon, I promise to be back to regularly scheduled teacher programming. Feels like it's been a long time.

I took my National Board assessment yesterday. Already feels like a lifetime ago! I think I did okay. Maybe not 4s on everything but I will indeed be shocked if I don't make the minimum 2.75 (which is like a B-minus) on each one at least. I am SO grateful to my study  buddies at ECGen because I think I kicked Ex 3s collective behind. It's the one I had ZERO teaching experience with (emergent literacy) so my cohorts there walked me through it last Thursday and I think I did well. Time will tell!

To celebrate my freedom, I had a touch-up color done and cut my hair short. I love it. Cute, feminine and springy. I will be doing the mani/pedi thing this weekend. I need it!

I took today off too since Middle Child had an appointment mid morning. I always hate going back to work after those mid-day appointments so I just took the day. Enjoyed a 3 hour nap since no one else was home except the dogs. It was splendid!

And now it's back to my life. Teaching. Wrapping up the year. Maybe before June 8 (our last day) I will know what I am teaching next year! Perhaps before then I will find out if I'm teaching summer school or not (the apps were due on April 19 and we still haven't been told if we got a spot. Lame.). Otherwise, I'm going to assume I'll be in 2nd grade again. I want to be. I've gone back and forth on it...but this is where I am needed right now. And teaching the same grade two years in a row has only happened to me once I'd like to do it again! They've made some changes with our Reading Street expectations so my team and I could actually spend September setting up ROUTINES and PROCEDURES instead of pushing these babies into curriculum they are not ready for yet. I'm excited to look forward.

Oh yes...and somewhere amongst all of that, I shall be getting my book ready.  I made a fabulously awesome cover yesterday if I do say so myself. If I can keep on myself, it should be done by July and ready to publish by August. Very awesome!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dun dun dun!

Well friends...the end is here. Tomorrow is my National Board Assessment Center adventure. I am scared nervous. It all comes down to this. I'm sure I will be fine but man I am avoiding going to bed because once I wake up, it's game on. I have to breathe and remember that this is what I've been working for. This is what I have sacrificed so much for this year. Deep breath!

Also, I uploaded a new file to my TpT store. I don't know if it is any good or not. (On the To-Do List: find some self-confidence!) My kids this year have struggled so much with place value. They don't understand that in 239 the 3 isn't worth 3, it's worth 30. So I made a quick little activity to allow kids to practice. I made it $2.99. I don't know if that is too much or not enough. I wish they had more of a guideline (and I'm not paying $60 to find out if the upgraded sellers get that kind of help -- no thank you). I may well just go to Teachers Notebook because you get to keep everything and it's only a $20 joining fee. We'll see.

Anywho, check it out here. (I HATE writing product descriptions -- I never know what to say and I think I sound like an idiot. It could well be that it's 10:50 p.m. too.)


Friday, May 11, 2012

Sooooo close

A couple near-meltdowns, a few tears and literally falling asleep with a book in my hands last night...and I made it through this week. Whew.

National Board has been what I have been eating, sleeping and drinking the last two weeks. Prepping for the Big Day. Oh and being a momma, teaching full-time, etc. I'm about to lose it. Monday is it for me. Big ole test at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m.! But then I am FREE. I can get my life back and enjoy other things besides studying. This is the part of the process that I think is the most grueling. You want to  prep as much as possible since there's so much to remember...but then your brain aches thinking about it and you kind of want to stab yourself in the eye with a fork.

And of course, I have to decide NOW would be a grand time to start my business. Some day, I will learn. It won't be today though. Oy! I'm sending in my final apps and signatures to my soon-to-be printer, have a bank of ISBNs already registered to my brand new publishing house and now I just need a book or two. I hope to be ready with my musings by August 10. That happens to be my birthday. I would LOVE to celebrate it that way. 

Additionally once school is over, I may well just immerse myself in writing. Camp NaNoWriMo and all of that. Because now that I have the resources to do what I want....all I can think about is writing. I have a kids' book in mind, my musings, a book about depression AND a book for National Board candidates (that ADD is serving me well in this regard -- hello compartmentalizing).

But. I have to chillax first. Finish what I have started. Get through the end of the year in one piece and then I am home free. Then I can do whatever the hell I want.

Sorry I have been a huge lame-o poster regarding actually TEACHING lately. So much else going on sometimes I feel like an imposter in my own job!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ah, the joys of teaching!

To say Sunny has been a little distracted preoccupied busy lately is an understatement. So much so, apparently, that I am oblivious to the goings-on in my building outside of my own four walls. Today a colleague told me that our secretary spent her afternoon writing suspension reports. Yesterday at our staff meeting, Mrs. Principal told us that there had been double to triple the amount of suspensions recently. I've only taught 6 years...but my school is relatively mild behavior-wise compared to other places I have taught...and I have never seen the kids go ape-crazy so early.

Our theory is that because we didn't really have a winter...and then it was 80 degrees in March, the kids are beyond checked out. It's unfortunate since we still have 4 1/2 weeks to go! At any rate, I guess the 4th and 5th graders are losing it. Losing.It. Does it make me terrible to admit I'm SO glad I'm not dealing with that? I shall continue to close my door and handle my own 26 little darlin's thankyouverymuch.

I was a super busy girl today. I got pulled into an IEP I didn't know was scheduled (thanks!) to be told that this kiddo does not qualify for resource...because she has no strengths academically. Now forgive me...but if the kid has no strengths and we have done 4,982 interventions to try to help this child that clearly didn't the @$#%# can you NOT qualify her?? No Child Left Behind my foot! I was SO upset. I readily admitted (no matter how unprofessional it may have sounded) that I wanted to go punch something. I have busted my ass for this kid and for naught. I feel terrible because I feel like I should have done more, tutored her myself, etc to get her to have SOME kind of strength...*sigh* It is frustrating. Mom said she would be willing to retain her. But when your working memory is as low as this kiddo's, retaining her won't help. If we were going to do that, it should have been done in 1st grade. Mom means well and she was VERY surprised when I said "you know if you DEMAND retention they have to do it". I wish that I had been there to advocate for this kiddo last year -- not that her teacher didn't, because she did. But it's frustrating :(

After that I taught all day and tried not to cry about feeling like I failed this kid. I know I didn't...but it's hard not to take it all personally when you've literally done everything by the book and more and they say "oh sorry it doesn't matter". Had a grandparent come sit with an unruly kiddo today. Not that I mind. I am an open book -- I have nothing to hide. 

After school I went to register my DBA! As of 4:27 p.m. EST today I am a business owner. That was an adventure in and of itself. My paper blew out of my hand when I got out of my truck so I had to chase it across the street (I'm sure that garnered a few stares from the business offices). Then I found out I was at the wrong clerk's office so I had to drive around in circles (one way streets -- oh joy!), then park in a ramp, try to figure out where in the building I was supposed to be and FINALLY after a super nice lady (whom I am convinced was secretly laughing at me *wink*) helped direct me to the right place, I got my DBA filed and ready to go. Then I had to rush to the bank to change my paperwork there and get my LOC going. Oy!

You might be asking yourself why the heck I didn't just wait until next week when I have two entire days off of school to do all of this. Short answer? I'm impatient. I didn't want to wait anymore. Yes, I am crazy. Driven. And Crazy. 

So now, I'm a teacher, almost a NBCT, a momma, a wife and an entrepreneur. Awesome.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Joining the Revolution

I finally caved in and opened a TpT store. Not that I'm anywhere NEAR as creative as the people who sell there now...not by a mile...BUT I figured I'd take the plunge. If I get terrible feedback or people tell me I am lame, I can always close shop *wink*

Nothing much special there so far since I just started. My required freebie is a Book Box book report form that I used when I taught 4th grade at my old school. The kids loved it.

I also put up my Multiplication Groups stuff. I *almost* did it as a freebie...because it used to be free here on the blog...and then I decided that I spent a LOT of time developing those worksheets. I marked it down to $4.99 for Teacher Appreciation Week. It's 20 pages of half-worksheets to practice different levels of multiplication (not memorization).

I downloaded lots of free goodies from Graphics from the Pond  that they allow us to use in our teaching products that we will sell. I have lots of ideas rolling around in my head for things to put in my store...but I need some time in which to make them first. So for now, my store will be rather bare. I have many resources I've made and used over the years that I can spruce up and add....but again, time is an issue at the moment. Especially when I am staring at 2 weeks' worth of grading I procrastinated on and it has to be done for tomorrow.

All in good time. 8 more days until my National Board test and then I will have a LOT more time on my hands!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I feel like I've been so absent lately. So much going on around my little world. It's hard to keep up with everything and not go crazy.

I have had a really hard time sleeping the last week or so. Too much on my mind that I can't just stop thinking enough to fall asleep and rest well. Last night, I took my meds early and was in bed and asleep by 10 pm. I got up early to let my dogs out, read email and crawled back into bed. I did not get up until just after 11 am. I can not tell you the last time I slept like that. I think my over-exhausted body just refused to get up and try to fake my way toward productivity. It wasn't going to happen.

Today is The Oldest's junior Prom. I can not believe I am old enough to have a kiddo who is going to the prom!! We got her hair done and it's gorgeous. I did her makeup and marveled at how I never had these moments with my own mom. I will always make sure my girls have those experiences to remember.

There have been some changes at work lately. The district has changed how we're going to be using Reading Street assessments. I'm quite excited about it. They asked us to "try it" the rest of this year and it will be an expectation next year. We will no longer be using the Unit tests (thank goodness because they just set those poor kids up for failure). Instead we will use the weekly tests -- well I use those anyway so that's not a problem at all! We will be asked to do them on the computer which is even better. Less grading for me! I am going to try to snag a couple of extra computers for my classroom so I can have four -- then I can cycle the kiddos through the test during one of our reading rotations. I'm not sure how that will work yet. Worst case the kids will have to use 15-20 minutes of their computer lab time to do the test and then can do the other things we need to do in there. I'm not too worried about it.

We are also going to be focusing more on the Fresh Reads which we didn't really use this year because it was just "one more thing" and we honestly weren't sure HOW to really implement them well. I am beyond excited about the changes because I am bound and determined to use Daily 5 next year. If we no longer have to use the Unit tests then we can wait 3 weeks to really implement Reading Street and I can set up Daily 5 and get my assessments and whatnot done in those early weeks and then once our MAP testing is over, we've done our baseline DIBELs testing and had a chance to Running Record our kiddos, we will be better suited to group them for small group and station time. I need to still suggest that to my team but I think it's a great idea -- give us some time to developmentally settle the kiddos in, really get our routines going and then jump in at the end of September once all of that data is available. They already cross-group between their classes because they share a common intervention time. I am not worried about that. I want to set things up better since I'm more comfortable with 2nd grade. I still don't know for sure what I will be teaching. My hope is that Mrs. Principal will let me stay in 2nd since I asked if I could. So much goes into the decisions now that laws are different and such. 

Even if I change grade levels, eliminating those unit tests will buy us time at the start of the year to set up our classroom routines and procedures before we jump in. As long as I can get my team to agree to that, we should be alright.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What day is it?!

No, really. I forgot for a minute. Does that signal a long week or what?

So much happening around my little life. Some bad, some good and some downright shitty. But I press on every day and do my best.

I got another grant today from Donors Choose. I think this is my fourth or fifth this year. It's for 2nd grade science stuff. At an awards thing for a colleague tonight, I told Mrs. Principal and said "um, I need to stay in 2nd so we can use this stuff!" :)

I did have a dream earlier this year that I was in 2nd. I have gone back and forth with what I want...but 2nd is fine with me. I will be fine.

I am a Phoenix...I have risen from the ashes of my abusive childhood and I will keep on keeping on. It's God's way for me.