Sunday, February 9, 2014

Happy Sunday + A rambly post

Has it really been an entire week since I posted? Wow. Time FLIES. 

I have been really exhausted this past week. I think this winter's excess snow and lack of sunshine is getting to me. A few years ago, I had really low Vitamin D levels and I suspect that I probably do again. I have started taking my supplements again and hope that in a week or so I won't feel like sludge all the time. People tell me all the time they don't know how I do everything I do and honestly...neither do I haha! :) I like being busy, that's all. I'm not very good at being idle. Its often really hard for me to relax. But then I get run down, often get a cold thrown in and...yeah.

My sister-in-law is home from New Mexico. We were supposed to head to my father-in-law's to see her today but I was SO exhausted I felt like I was going to throw up. :( So I missed out on that to stay home and sleep instead. Hopefully she understands. Not that it really matters if she doesn't. I'd rather stay home and get myself back to 100% than go infect other people.

Fortunately I don't think I have a cold or the flu (knock wood). I think it is plain ole exhaustion and Vitamin D deficiency. I have a doctor appointment on Feb 17 during our mid-winter break so maybe if I mention it to my doc, they will do another blood test to see. 

It's been a super busy week at school. Had a kid proclaim to another student he was going to get me fired. Hahahaha! Whatever. First of all sweetpea, you don't have that kind of authority, second of all, I haven't done anything wrong! I feel sad for so many of these kids whose parents handle their problems for them that they really think if they "tell on me" for whatever reason I will get in trouble or fired. It's not how it works dumplin'.

We finished up our MAP reading tests this week -- except for one kiddo whose test went berserk and she needs to finish it and my new non-English speaker -- and 20 of my 24 kids who had a valid fall score beat their winter goal :) I'm SO proud of them. I really push the pedal to the medal on them--there is no excuse to not try your best. I feel really sad when they tell me no one ever explained what these numbers mean. (Although my friends that I had in 2nd grade said, "well you told us about it in 2nd grade!") How can you expect them to work toward something that they don't understand? That makes no sense. Anyway, I had one friend go up 32 points in reading! That is like 3 years in a semester! I had this friend in 2nd grade and he was a tough kiddo to deal with -- super low in EVERYTHING. But he has really come into his own and works so hard. I'm so proud of him. :)

I had a Thirty-One meeting after school on Thursday and it was loads of fun! Our directors surprised us all and had the Senior Executive Director for our region come all the way from Chicago (she's my hero, she has over 1,000 girls on her successline!) plus two super fun girls from Home Office in Ohio! Oh my word, it was a total blast. Plus I got to have fun with my Thirty-One sisters. It was really interesting too because Meg told us that people are always saying how "saturated" the market is but its really one percent of one percent of women in the 18-44 age range that are consultants in Michigan. One of the other girls pointed out that statistically there are enough women in West Michigan for every consultant to have 400 girls as customers or consultants! That's crazy! I had a party Friday night and couldn't believe the one gal who had never heard of Thirty-One before so it definitely made what they told us at the meeting feel more accurate.

Best of all, we get an amenity from Thirty-One every time we go to one of these meetings. My first meeting we got a new Pack and Pull Caddy that is now in the spring line. This time, we got an exclusive item that will only be available in April. It's awesome! I shared it at my party on Friday and every single lady said "please call me in April because I have to have that bag!" Very cool.

Next week I have my first vendor show to support the Senior Bash for the Class of 2014. I can't wait! It will be super, super fun and I am going to have a bunch of cash and carry products with me too. My goal there isn't necessarily to sell a bunch (although that would be awesome!) but rather to book parties for April and May. (My March is already full.) I'm super excited because there are supposed to be a ton of vendors so it will be fun. A long day but fun. 

This week we've really been digging into the last of our math unit on decimals. Some of my kids were still really getting hung up on the decimal place if you had a number written only to the tenths and then another written to the hundredths. As I was demonstrating one day, it occurred to me it was like bunk beds--so I turned to my friends and said with all seriousness, "Okay friends, if you were going to sleep in a bunk bed and the legs weren't lined up, what would happen?" They all responded that the beds would crash down. "You're RIGHT!" I exclaimed. So using my two fists, I pretended they were the decimals and put them on top of each other, then moved them over. "If they aren't aligned, no one is getting a good night's sleep, right?" They agreed. So we rewrote the problem with the decimals lined up like they should be and I said, "hmmm, this looks funny to me" (because one was a tenth, the other was a hundredth). I pretended to ponder it for a second and said, "well, I lined up  my bunk beds but something just isn't right" and turned back to my friends, "can anyone help me?" That's all it took. The lightbulbs came on and a chorus of friends said "add your invisible zero!" and it was magic. The heavens shined down upon us and angels sang.  It was really awesome.

No idea where that bunk beds thing came from -- I literally pulled it out of my ear in the moment. It's the best part of my job. I get to be fun and creative and think up whatever works in the moment for my kids. That's why I totally disagree when people say the Common Core has made teaching less fun. Whatever. If you think that, please leave teaching. Now. (That will make people mad and I may lose a follower or two but too bad people--I  mean it, if you REALLY think the Common Core has made teaching less fun, do us all a favor and resign. Because you are wrong and your students don't deserve a teacher who has given up. I can name a dozen teachers off the top of my head who would love to take your place.) I had someone recently tell me that she didn't respect me as a teacher because I wouldn't resign in protest of Common Core. Excuse me? Fortunately I don't base my worth as a teacher on someone who isn't a teacher and couldn't do my job's opinion. 

I was really floored by that and by the articles she cited that "prove" how horrible the Common Core is. What.Ever. You know what the problem is? Its that our government puts the cart in front of the horse ALL THE TIME. Instead of giving us 2-3 years of FULL implementation they put the testing in place the same time the Core is fully rolled out. Then when kids do poorly people can blame the Core. And honestly if you do, you are an idiot. (I know, I'm being really mean, aren't I?) You have to stop, look at reality and realize this is just like every other big thing to happen to education. It's going to have bumps and bruises. It is going to take awhile for politicians to realize they don't know everything (or anything) about the reality of teaching actual children and make changes.

I don't hate the Common Core. In fact, I embrace it. Yes it steps things up and its about time too! Is it perfect? No. (Is anything?) I love that if I get a child from {insert state's name} now, they will have been exposed to the EXACT SAME STANDARDS as my students instead of being way behind or way ahead of us (yes that has happened to me, many times). I love that they have taken out crap that doesn't matter and have really gotten down to what does. And yes I know some people say that the CC is developmentally inappropriate at the K/1 level -- I can't comment because I haven't taught those grades. I do know, however, that many, many K-1 teachers have looked at those standards, MADE them developmentally appropriate by tweaking here and there and their kids are thriving.
Okay...sorry for the rant but its been on my mind a super long time and I had to say it. Sorry if it offends you but it's my opinion and since no one pays me to write this blog, I can say whatever I want, even if anyone else doesn't like it.

And now, I shall go NOT have the Sunday night blues because (for once), I am all caught up and even have time to hit the gym in the morning before work.

Have a happy week!
The Caffeinated Teacher


  1. I attended a Lucy Calkins workshop recently, and she said something very eye opening...we can treat the Common Core like we are all old curmudgeons, and hate everything about it and blame it for all our problems, or we can treat it like it is gold-and use it to give our kids the best education possible. I think more people need to treat it like it is gold!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

    1. Raye and Kaitlyn I totally agree and couldn't have said it better myself.

    2. YES Kaitlyn!! That is exactly it. She says that in her book "Pathways to the Common Core" and I totally agree. Nothing in education is perfect but I won't sit around and complain and wait for it to get better or change....rather I will make it my own and make sure my kids thrive.

  2. I am at the K level and I honestly don't get why so many people feel like Common Core is some intentional evil that has been bestowed upon public education. Sometimes I feel like *I* must be missing something because I am at such a young level where my students don't take state tests or anything, so it's interesting that you point out that many people say it's not developmentally appropriate for K/1. I think for many kids it's totally appropriate, but not all kids share the same experiences prior to entering Kindergarten. Many of my kids are entirely ready to be readers, writers, thinkers etc. Others, still need lots of practice with basic skills like letter/number recognition and letter sound correspondence. But those differences exist whether or not we have common core and regardless of what standards we use to teach. If we lower the standards, then we are figuring out how to make things more rigorous for those that need more. It's never a one size fits all. But overall, I am floored by people assuming that the existence of Common Core means that we have to teach a CERTAIN way. That's completely not true. Standards are simply standards. They don't dictate what my lesson looks like. I can teach using music, movement, hands on activities, rote practice, whole group, small group...the list goes on. What DOES dictate is more the district level curriculum decisions like choosing to adopt a scripted reading program. That "limits"/focuses my teaching much more than the standards because the district has chosen the means through which I need to teach to those standards. Even still, I am making my own decisions about what works and what doesn't work for my kiddos. Have you heard of/read the book called Super Core? It was just published through the International Reading Association and it's about how to "turbocharge" a core reading or basal reading program. Nothing mind blowing or new, but definitely confirms my beliefs about those types of programs should be used.

    I agree with you that when presented with something like CCSS we, as teachers, need to make the best of it and continue doing the very best we can with our students on a daily basis. The political arguments about it (whether favoring or not favoring) don't do anything to help kids. We do.

    That was long. :0)

    1. It was long but worth reading! TOTALLY on board with you girlfriend! People who sit around and complain are not taking charge and trying to make a change or help kids--they are just spouting off at the mouth as far as I care. I, on the other hand, will put my money where my mouth is and actually take steps to DO something if I don't agree with it.