Monday, November 25, 2013

Basking

My students would gladly proclaim that right now, I am being vain.  I am not being humble at all. (These were two of our most recent vocabulary words, FYI.) 

They would be absolutely right. I am NOT being humble at all about my accomplishment. I kind of have to wonder if it would mean as much as it does if I had achieved on my first try. When I was overconfident, thought I had this "in the bag" so-to-speak. And, of course, the bottom dropped out. I was disappointed, sad, angry, hurt, discouraged.

Yet, I picked myself up. Dusted myself off. Paid my retake fee and pushed forward. There is no better way, in my mind, to show perseverance to my students. Last year when scores came out, I was so devastated. I knew I couldn't hide my head in the sand though and that very week, I was teaching thousandths place to my 4th graders and shared with them that thousandths really do matter. I like to use real-life examples whenever I can because I know that it helps my students to make sense of things. So I shared my results and how I missed by 0.375th of a point. Those thousandths sure mattered to me!

Looking back...it wasn't the end of the world, although it sure felt like it was. When I posted Saturday about my score result, one sweet reader wondered if I would have dealt with the grade level shuffle this summer if I'd had that certification already. Interesting to ponder, that's for sure.

Saturday, after checking my results and finding myself firmly on Cloud 9 (more like nineteen), I picked up The Oldest from the bus station. She's home until next Saturday night for the holiday. So, so awesome to share my good news with her the very day she came home :) She was grinning from ear to ear when she saw me (I had text her my news). Then we went straight to my ex-SIL's house for a Thirty-One party. She's so silly she almost canceled because she thought no one was coming. To date, she's my highest party! lol Silly girl.

It was a SUPER awesomely fun way to spend my certification night. Sunday I was really lazy. Didn't do much except BE lazy and enjoy my new status...even if its only in my head. :) I took a nice, long nap and it was so wonderful. We went to dinner last night to celebrate because it needs to be celebrated. As far as I know, I'm the sole NBCT in my entire district. I am hoping I start a trend!

I am really going to bask in March. I told The Husband, in no uncertain terms, that I am going to the Teaching and Learning Conference in Washington, DC in 2014. Period. He didn't say no but he was kind of being a boob about it and I was upset that he was. Don't rain on my happiest of happy parades man! Turns out, he's jealous. I took today off because The Youngest has an appointment and he called me after I took her to school and we were talking about the T&L. I said that I had reserved everything and then asked him why he was mad that I was insistent upon going. He says, "I'm not mad, I'm jealous." I rolled my eyes and pointed out that he could come too! Sheesh.

I don't think he will because we'd have to find someone to watch the Munchkins for the whole weekend which could be a royal pain in the behind. But *I'm* going. I can't wait either!

I've never been there and probably will never get another chance/reason/excuse to go. I'll be flying for the very first time (and months before its due to happen, I'm worried I'll hurl over the poor soul who has to sit by me lol). The very day that I arrive in DC I will get to tour the Holocaust Museum with a special group of NBCTs and T&L Conference attendees. Plus there are activities and things to do throughout the whole weekend once each day's conference is over. It will be amazing, exciting and just plain COOL.

It would be really cool if my hubby did come with me. We'd figure something out for the girls but I don't know if he'll pursue it or not. He's the kind of guy that would rather sulk and be a boob than take the bull by the horns (totally unlike me). It's funny to me because we're both Leos but he's right on the cusp and I'm totally not. I'm a Leo through and through. (I bet you are not surprised.)

So yeah...there will be a TON of overjoyed basking on my part in March. I am beyond excited about this. My plane is booked, hotel is booked and my registration is all set for the T&L. Ahh. It will be so fun and exciting!
 
 
 
 
The Caffeinated Teacher

Saturday, November 23, 2013

wOOt! I did it!! :) + {Flash Sale!}

Score release for National Board was this morning. We were instructed that scores should be ready by 12 noon CST. That's 1 p.m. for me. I was determined I wasn't going to look until tonight...after I picked up The Oldest from the bus station (she's home from college for Thanksgiving), had my Thirty-One party and had nothing else hanging over me for the day.

Alas, I woke up at 7 a.m. and couldn't stop thinking about it. I just had to check. So I logged in on my phone and saw the sweetest words I've never seen in my life:

CONGRATULATIONS YOU ARE A NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFIED TEACHER! 

After two years of back-breaking work, tears, screaming, disappointment, elation, and every single emotion in between....I was beyond nervous about this. I knew I didn't have it in me to do this a third year in a row and prayed and prayed that I did well enough on my retake to certify. Recall I only needed 0.375th of a point to get enough to make the minimum of 275 for certification. I knew in my heart my retake was a million times better than my first attempt but I wouldn't let myself get cocky or overconfident. I learned nothing is guaranteed in this process.

I was really pleased to see that not only did I certify but I kicked Entry 1's retake behind by earning almost an entire POINT higher than my previous entry :) 

What does this really mean? I'm TOTALLY going to the Teaching and Learning Conference in Washington DC in March. I've never been to DC and doubt very much I'll ever have a chance or reason to go again and I'm going. It's going to cost about $1500 total with travel, accommodations, the conference and sight seeing but I'm going no matter what. I deserve it and it will be awesome!



That said....I have to do something to celebrate this awesome-ness. And since I don't see you all in person....I'm gonna do a virtual flash sale for Thirty-One, good until tomorrow night. This month, if you spend $35 you can get a Medium Utility Tote for $7 (which is an awesome deal--I have 5 of my own now and use them all the time for teacher stuff!). I will add to this. Spend at least $35, get your discounted MUT and I will discount your order by 10% when I close out the party tomorrow night. You don't have to do anything extra. I don't get access to your card information or anything...I will simply change the amount you are charged to show 10% off.

Use this link to shop.
 This will take you directly to the National Board Celebration party.


PLEASE take advantage of this sale. I really want to celebrate this accomplishment and this is the easiest way for me to do so. :)

The Caffeinated Teacher

Monday, November 18, 2013

Countdown is on....

I was correct....we got an email from National Board not too long ago letting us know they were preparing for the 2013 score release. Last year the scores were announced the Saturday morning before Thanksgiving...which of course is THIS Saturday this year. Today before I left school, I got an email that said scores are due out on Saturday.

I'm honestly afraid to check them. The Oldest is coming home for Thanksgiving on Saturday and I have a Thirty-One party that night for my nephew's mom. I don't want to check my scores and NOT see "Congratulations" for the 2nd year in a row and then have to act happy and giddy. I'm not sure I'm that good of a faker.

Although...I also know that if, for some reason, I didn't certify this time....I'm not sure my heart is in it to attempt it again. Three years in a row of busting my ass to be disappointed? Not sure I have it in me again. Hopefully it won't be an issue. But I'm worried about it.

Maybe that's a good thing. Last year, I really wasn't worried that much....and look how that turned out. I know deep down that the work I turned in this past May was 10 times better than what I turned in the year before. EASILY 10 times better. And I keep reminding myself...I only needed 0.375 of a point to get me up to the magic 275. So even if I only get a 2.5 on the entry this time, I will certify. 

Perhaps what I will do is push it out of my mind....and try to "forget" to check...until Sunday. Then I can spend time with The Oldest...have my party on Saturday...and not let this hang over me, whether it is bad or good news. It wouldn't be fair to my hostess to be riding my own pride during her party in which we want to celebrate HER.

But then again....I don't know if I can wait that long! Last year I woke up SO early and checked because I just had to know. They didn't give us a specific time but said likely "around noon". So who knows. We'll see if I can handle waiting until I come home from my party. Or maybe I'll have The Husband log in and check and tell him not to tell me if its bad....lol Of course then I would know if it wasn't good because he wouldn't have told me! There's no winning I guess :)


The Caffeinated Teacher

Saturday, November 16, 2013

31: Super Saturday

Oh my goodness! Today has been super awesome. Boy am I glad I left all my school work at school!!

First I hung around in my pajamas until like 10:30 when my mom got here. I played Sims 3. I was lazy. I didn't even brush my hair. Or bother to get dressed (hence the pajamas). 

I spent time with my mom and didn't even want to kill her afterwards. (That in and of itself is a miracle because of the type of person she is--usually she brings out the absolute worst in me.)

Mom took the kids off to do whatever and I played more Sims 3. I was even more lazy. I still didn't brush my hair.

At 3 p.m. my little alarm went off and I showed, finally brushed my hair (haha!) and got ready for my Thirty-One party this afternoon.

Funny thing is, I have kicked ass with Thirty-One so far, for something that is really just a hobby for me. But tonight was only my 2nd in person party. The first one was my kick off on October 3! I had a crap-ton of sales in October but all of my sales, aside from the Kick Off were online or catalog parties. 

So I was very, very excited for this party. We had a tiny turnout. Only 5 guests, the hostess and myself. The hostess is the social worker at my school. She rocks socks. She is such an advocate for kids and I love her! Despite a small party, we had a total blast! All of the guests are social workers in our district and holy cow are they a riot! I was at my hostess's house for FOUR HOURS! Only about an hour total of that was set up and closing with her at the end after her guests left. It was a total blast. 

Much, much better than staying home with Mr. Grumpy Pants who'd rather waste his brain cells in front of the TV. Can't wait for next Saturday when I have another party that is likely to be much, much bigger than this one.



The Caffeinated Teacher

Friday, November 15, 2013

TGIF!!

I'm SO SO glad it is Friday! 

What a loooooooonnnnnnnngggggg week this was! And now its over.

I left today just after school. I left my piles and files in my classroom. Which I can't access over the weekend. And you know something?

I don't care.

There. I said it. I probably shouldn't have and it might just be against the law of teacher-ness that I said it, even thought it, but there you have it. 
 
*Waits for the teacher police to show up*
 
{foot tapping impatiently}
 
Okay so the police aren't coming to arrest me for not caring, so that's all that she wrote on that one.


I had my observation this morning and I think it went well. I hope it did. My kids don't think for themselves very well so the group work was harder than it should have been...but I just scaffolded more and helped them get through it. I think it was fine. I worked in my small groups, up on the floor in the front of our room, while the rest of the kids were in their stations. I made pairs or triads in the small groups and then those kids worked together on the activity and I listened in and asked questions.

Last year my principal said I talk too much and should let the kids talk more. But when they stare are you...what're you gonna do? So I'm not sure if I talked too much this time or not. I have my feedback meeting on Monday so we shall see. 


One of my colleagues was kind of astounded when I left without a teacher bag. She assumed that meant I was 100% done and on top of things (yeah....that's laughable!) but I said "Oh I have plenty to do, I'm just taking a weekend for myself!" I think she was really surprised by that.

It's kind of sad that taking a weekend off is surprising. Yes we work more than the hours we're "clocked in" but we also have the right to enjoy our time off and be with our families. My mother asked me if the girls could spend the night at her house tomorrow and I have a Thirty-One party in the late afternoon so it works. I'll be home in time to have a date with my husband for the second weekend in a row. He has to work on Sunday so I'll have the house to myself to do whatever I want, including sleep! It will be great.

I don't feel guilty. Yes, I will be overwhelmed with all of the crap I need to do once I get to school on Monday, but that's fine. It is what it is and it will be worth 48 hours of not thinking about school or school work.
 
 
 
 
 
The Caffeinated Teacher

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Full Moon

Most teachers will admit they never believed in the "Full Moon" theory until they were in a classroom. The full moon isn't even until this weekend and our kids have been IN-FREAKING-SANE. Oh my word! At the end of the day, it isn't uncommon to hear several teachers say something along the lines of, "If I had to see those kids for one more minute today....."
 
It's not that they are being naughty persay....its that they just seem to have forgotten every single rule, procedure and thing we've taught them so far this year! Holy moly. 
 
Plus conferences are tomorrow night. That should be a barrel of laughs. I'm actually looking forward to it because a lot of these parents (and the kids) are going to get a reality check. Sorry but its not my sole responsibility for your learning. You need to...oh, I don't know...pick up a freaking book every once in a while and READ IT.  Stop wasting your life in front of a TV screen. Go outside and play. Read. Do your homework. 

I know I'm going to make several people mad tomorrow and that's fine. I won't lie and tell them what they want to hear. I'm going to say "Your child is 2 years behind in reading and math because they never read, don't do homework and don't pay attention. YOU need to set up a plan for how to make your child accountable for their education!" 

99% of the time when I have this sort of chat with parents, they get it. Finally. After years of hearing it, finally, for some reason, when I tell them in 4th or 5th grade, it sinks in. But that 1% will blame me. Go ahead. I can more than prove that I do my job and do it very well. But I can't follow 25 kids home and make them pick up a book. That's your job with your child.

On top of this week's insane it's-almost-the-full-moon craziness....and conferences....I have my first formal observation Friday. Oh my word.

Maybe I should call in dead on Friday. Spare myself the trauma of it all :) 


 
 
The Caffeinated Teacher

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hot Water

I have a tendency to speak my mind. (I know, you're shocked.)

This is even more true now that I feel "safer" in my current environment. Under Mrs. Principal's thumb, I often felt like I had to bite my tongue because I didn't know how she would react. If I questioned anything, it meant I was questioning HER and she did not like that. Mr. New Principal has already seen pretty much every side there is of me (except my private-I'm-not-at-work side and he'll never see that because that's reserved for The Husband). 

He has already seen me go from 0 to Pissed in about 2 seconds. Last week, I really thought I may have crossed a line. In retrospect, I probably did. However, Mr. New Principal, God bless him, didn't hold it against me. He talked to me about it, told me where I need to be and left it at that. It's not something I worry about him holding over me for the rest of the year.

Truth is, I sent a very opinionated email about something that probably wasn't any of my beeswax. Alas, last year in a split with 30 kids, no one advocated for me. Not once. Except me. My colleague who has the 4th/5th split this year is only a 2nd year teacher. She wasn't really willing to stand up for herself because she didn't want to get in trouble. Well eff that. I stood up for her...something I wish others had done for me last year.

And Mr. New Principal took me to task about it, sort of. He let me know that he appreciated my concern but it wasn't really any of my business. I met with him briefly that same day (it was Friday) and he said he really admires the obvious passion that I have for our field. I was so mad about the whole situation, because of my closeness to the whole thing from last year, that I really didn't think before I sent the email (and it wasn't anything horrible)...but I appreciated that we chatted behind closed doors and he said he wasn't mad at me, just wanted me to know where I stand.

I was kind of floored when he said he admired my passion and advocacy for our kids (and teachers). No one has ever said that to me before...at least not anyone in his position. It was kind of nice. He also gently pointed out that I'm a bit of a hot-head. (Who, me? *wink*) 

Alas, I think we're at an understanding. I know that I CAN be passionate, I CAN be an advocate....but I also have to be careful. I really do like my new principal and I want to stay on a good footing with him...which means sometimes I have to stew on my own and then approach him privately. At least he understands that I'm not trying to undermine his authority or act like I'm in charge. 

Sometimes being in hot water is a good thing. My new principal and I now have a better understanding of each other...I also have a better understanding that this school and this district, despite some of our issues, are where I need to be. I have so much passion for pushing these kids to be their best...and I know I still have a lot to learn too. 

One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. Everything will work out. It always has.



The Caffeinated Teacher

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I want to teach these kids....I want to be like these kids

I mostly avoid TV and media stuff (obviously aside from FB and blogging) because generally all we hear about are negative things. Someone was mean to someone else (again), someone committed suicide because they couldn't take the bullying, etc. It's hard for me, someone who is trying to be a positive person, to see and hear those things and not spin back into a depressive state. Moreso because I want to save everyone and know I can't.

Thus, on this terrific Tuesday, snuggled up in my house since we have the day off from school, I came across this posted in my newsfeed on FaceBook. These boys are my heroes. 

Considering where I work and considering most of our students (even the age level I work with) can be so blasted MEAN....it was heartwarming to see these boys do something so amazing. Better yet, for them to realize, all on their own, that they learned a very important lesson. 

Grab a tissue if you haven't seen this before. You might need it. 




The Caffeinated Teacher

Sunday, November 3, 2013

West Virginia Weekend

Did you survive Halloween at school? Our Halloween was wet and cold. I had Friday off, otherwise known as The Day After, because we were traveling down to West Virginia to see The Oldest for her first Homecoming as a college student. So while my students were trying to open their eyes Friday morning in class after the sugar haze of Thursday night, we were heading through Michigan and Ohio to hit West Virginia and see our baby!

It was, as usual, a loooong drive! I took a nap in the back of the van part of the drive down there and it was awesome. The Husband drove the whole way (he doesn't let me drive when we're together in the car -- it's a masculine thing) but he never complained. We got to the hotel around 3:30 on Friday. We stayed at a different hotel than we have the last two times we went and it was really nice. We showered and freshened up and then headed to the college to pick The Oldest up!

The Husband and The Littles hadn't seen The Oldest's actual dorm except in pictures so we all headed up there to get her. She nearly knocked me over the side of the balcony hugging me when she opened the door. (She loves school but she's been having some issues with suite mates lately and is feeling a bit homesick.) It was so good to see her. She hasn't gained any of the Freshman 15 so far so she looks great. We gave The Husband and The Littles the "grand tour" of her suite and room and then she packed up her stuff and off we went. We ate dinner in the small town where her college is and it was SUPER yummy.

Then we drove back to the hotel and just hung out together. Saturday was a full day at the college. The Oldest had rehearsal and the parade for homecoming and we hung out at the school and in town. We went to the craft fair and had a good time at the parade too. We headed back to the hotel and had dinner at the Bob Evans next door to our hotel. It was so good just to sit and chat with The Oldest and catch up on how things are going. It's not like we never talk, because we do, but its so different when she's right at the table with you :) 

We watched movies last night and I looked over some of her school work with her. We got a good night's sleep and I woke up really early despite the time change (and the fact that usually I sleep late on weekends). We enjoyed a yummy breakfast at the hotel and then had to take The Oldest back to school so she could go to work at the dining hall and we could head home. I didn't let The Husband or The Littles come up with us because I knew The Oldest was feeling sad that we were leaving and it would be harder for her. I got her settled back into her room and headed to the car so we could get moving.

I sent The Oldest a text and told her to keep her chin up because its only 3 weeks until she gets to come home for Thanksgiving! She was like "how did you know I needed a 'chin up'?" Girl....I know you better than anyone else. I knew you were sad and I didn't want you to be!

Three weeks will be here before we know it! She gets the whole week for Thanksgiving which will be awesome. She will be very popular that week I'm sure. Lots of her friends are going to want to see her. I suspect it will be a pretty busy week for her :)


I'm really not into working this next week! :) We don't have kids until Wednesday but I've been grading our end of marking period tests and I want to bang my head against the wall. UGH!
 
 
 
 
 
The Caffeinated Teacher