Saturday, March 22, 2014

Paper and Praise

We have a paper issue. Apparently we use a ton of paper at my school. Yesterday, Mr. Principal gave each of us a paper that told us how many copies we'd made in the last month. I think my jaw may have hit the floor when I saw my numbers. I'm pretty judicious with what I copy (and since I no longer do the 8-station rotation we were doing before, I know I'm making about half the copies I probably was earlier in the year). 

Then I realized something....since our district did a huge overhaul on most of our curriculum this year, we have had to make WAY more copies than we ever did before. For example, we've been using Everyday Math since I started teaching in the fall of 2006. We have the journals and everything. This year they changed it up so that we are using more hands-on thinking based tasks, which is great....except it uses a TON of paper and the journals they made us order just sit around barely used. I got great results with EDM before because I supplemented it with my Calendar Board and the Spiral Homework. (In fact, my math scores last year were higher than this year using this newer method.) 

We also now have a huge end of marking period test to do in reading every quarter. It's about 14 pages long. Even when I make it double sided, it's still 7 sheets of paper per student. That's 175 pieces of paper. Add on the end of MP SS test and that's about another 175 pieces of paper. For two tests. Plus all of the daily pages I need. Ridiculous.

My theory is, if other buildings bigger (or the same size) as mine are using half the paper we are, there is no way they are following the new curriculum. It just wouldn't be possible if they're doing all of the activities and things we're doing.

I just don't get it. Why would you change the curriculum, make it SO paper based and then yell at us when we use more paper than last year? Perhaps they didn't realize how much of the curriculum changes meant we'd be making a billion copies? (Although how you wouldn't know is beyond me -- although the IT department and purchasing department probably have zero idea what goes into the curriculum so it's possible that's why there is a disconnect.)

I was talking to Mr. Principal about it because I was really upset by the whole thing. Obviously what we're doing is working because our scores are epic from the fall to the winter. After figuring some things out and where I can make changes as needed, he picked up this packet of lined paper that he had written on. They were my pop-in observation notes from last Wednesday. He says "these are my notes from your observation. See these stars? That's when you did something really good."

There were quite a few stars that I saw. :) Then he says, "I can't wait to share this all with you at the post-observation meeting." 

Can I tell you how nice it is to get praise??? Not that I need someone to stroke my ego (please, I'm good at doing that myself lol) but seriously....This is my 4th year at my school. I've spent half of my career there. I worked with Mrs. Principal for 3 years and I can tell you on one hand the number of times she ever praised me, said anything positive about what I was doing or just was generally nice. I don't know why she had such a problem with me (except for maybe that I'm loud, obnoxious, opinionated, rebellious, etc....but I get results which is what should matter). It was super nice to hear Mr. Principal tell me that he was pleased with what I have done this year. :) 

Also, he's keeping me in 4th grade! :) :) No Grade-Level-Shuffle this summer! My 4/5 split colleague will move up to 5th grade (we have a gal retiring so the 5th grade spot is open) so it'll be Mr. 4th Grade, myself and we'll probably get another teacher from within the district as a transfer for the 4/5 split. It wouldn't be my first choice to put someone I didn't know in a split but I figure Mr. Principal is a smart guy and it's really not my problem. I could obsess about it but I'm not going to.

I do have to move my classroom again...but just next door. He is going to put Mr. 4th Grade and I side-by-side (so basically our resource teacher and I will trade rooms), our 4/5 colleague will take the current 5th grade teacher's classroom and my classroom from 2010-2011/2012-2013 will be the split classroom. Makes sense because then we'll all really be right across the hall from each other. I love the idea because I can use the big open entry area outside of those classrooms again (there are tables and such next to the huge windows and I loved letting kids go out there to work -- they were still close enough by that I could monitor them but it was less crazy than in a classroom full of kids). 

This way, since I now know that I will be teaching 4th again, I can do some real planning over this summer to rework the things we did this year that weren't working for me...plus figure out how to tweak the new curriculum so I'm not using up so much paper (because honestly the way they have us doing the math really does waste a TON of a paper). 

I'm excited to have a direction for the future. And to get my hands on those current 3rd graders. Most of them are epic...a few of them are a handful...and they need someone like me, tough but loving, to put them on the path to fabulousness. One of the third graders says to me, "I want to be in your room because your kids get to play with iPods" to which I replied, "Only if they behave". It'll be a rude awakening for some of them. I don't have to yell and scream to get things done. I just take away the things they really want to do and magically, they begin to conform. (Not all of them obviously--I have a couple kids this year that need a good swat on the behind.) 

I'm really excited though. I think that the Grade Level Shuffle last year really happened to show me that this is where I belong, this is where I'm needed and God tested me...but I passed and now I am reaping that reward. And lemme tell ya...it feels awesome.

Speaking of awesome....do yourself a favor and go see Divergent this weekend. I went after school yesterday and it was SO good!


The Caffeinated Teacher

1 comment:

  1. My district did the exact same thing for math this year! Our EDM journals are collecting dust in kids desks and I am copying tons and tons of math tasks and practice pages from our district-created revised curriculum. I feel like we wasted a ton of money on ordering journals this year if we're hardly using them...oh well!

    Glad to hear divergent was good! Hoping to see that over my spring break this week!

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