Thursday, December 31, 2015

Winter Break PD

I proclaimed that I was taking my winter break to rest my brain because I so needed it after finishing up my semester of grad school and from the craziness that is trying to teach in the month of December.

Well, that didn't happen. Let me tell you why:

Some time ago, I'm not sure exactly when, I heard of an app called Voxer. Over the last several months I've heard it referenced here and there but never thought much of it. When I went to ECET2MI at the beginning of December, it was suggested that we create a Voxer group to keep in touch with our Colleague Circle. One of the people in my circle did not want to do that but since I kept hearing more and more about Voxer, I decided to look into it more and try to figure out why it was continually mentioned as the next "go-to app".

I came across a gal that works in my district who had a group and asked her to add me to it (because as of this moment, you can't really "search" for groups on Voxer--you have to know someone in a group and have them add you to it). From there, I was added to a group for doctoral students....and that was the end of any relaxation time over my winter break! :) 

In the group for doctoral students, they mentioned there was an EdCampVoxer event happening from December 23-December 30. So I signed up, not sure what to expect. There were many groups but I was only part of a couple and boy I learned quickly that it was not a bad thing to only be in a couple of groups; they kept me busy!

I learned about PersonalizedPD, collaboration through peer observation and learning through mentoring and being mentored. I spent the vast majority of my time in the PersonalizedPD chat and brain has been zooming with so many ideas. It wasn't the restful break I had planned but it was rejuvenating in a way that sitting around on my bum wouldn't be.

First and foremost, the connections I have made with other like-minded educators from all over the country is absolutely invaluable. It is always a good thing to connect with other people who share your passions but also are willing (and able) to push your thinking. And boy did that happen over and over. The push back was probably the best part; none of the push back was disagreement, instead it was more "what about _______?" to get others to think of another side of it. Very powerful and so, so inspiring. I have made connections with other educators who I know I will keep in touch with via Twitter or through other groups and chats on Voxer who will continue to help me grow professionally by pushing my thinking a little more each time. That is, by far, the best kind of professional development there is.

Additionally, I love the notion of true personalized PD. Why can't we use the Twitter chats, Voxer groups and ideas and inspiration from Pinterest as professional development? I guarantee that I get so much more from those things than I do from the traditional "sit-and-get" PD that our schools typically provide. I know a lot of that "sit-and-get" style is what has always been done and some of it has to be delivered that way because of state mandated information....but why can't we flip some of the meetings? Why can't we allow teachers to have differentiated PD where they are getting information that they NEED and will USE instead of a one-size-fits-all approach? 

99% of the time, the sit-and-get PD doesn't teach me anything new....and I don't think I have ever actually turned around and utilized any of the stuff offered in those PDs with my students. Because let's be honest....sitting and listening for hours on end without being able to DO anything....wipes the excitement for whatever is being offered out. 

I was chatting with one guy and mentioned how often I'll sit in a PD and hear a great idea and I want to do something with it right then; I want to create or alter a lesson to incorporate whatever the new learning was....but then they go on for an hour or two (or more!) and by the time they are done, my excitement for whatever it was is gone and therefore I end up doing nothing with it because they droned on and I lost my excitement. How often does that happen to us? Too often, I think.

So my "relaxing" vacation was full of professional learning and I'm so glad I was part of it! I will go back to school on Monday renewed and excited to look through a different lens with respect to some of the things I am doing and really try to be better professionally every day than I was the day before. That's all I can promise, right?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Winter Break (and a break for me)

Whew! We made it to winter break! My goodness, it's so hard to keep young people going the week before a break. I do the best I can to make sure we follow our usual structure as much as possible, but whew....those little people are just massive bundles of energy all month long.

But we made it and no one left injured so that's good ;) We've been very lucky the past two years to have a community partner come in and do a celebration for our school. Last year and this year (despite my change of grades), my class was in the last group and it was a great way to end the day. Plus, I didn't have to go crazy with a big in-class party either so it worked out very well. I keep gifts low-key for my students because a) I don't make enough money to go crazy for 29 students and b) they get so many things from so many places that they don't need a ton from me. 

We read Sideways Stories from Wayside School earlier this year so I bought them the second book Wayside School is Falling Down since they were $1 through Scholastic. One of the girls commented, "I knew you'd buy us books because you love to read!" ;) #truth

The Youngest officially becomes a teenager tomorrow so we will be full of celebration for that. Then I really plan to just hibernate over the break. My brain needs a rest from grad school and teaching. So I will take it. 

Have a safe and wonderful holiday season! See you in 2016!

Friday, December 11, 2015

{Five for Friday ~ December 11}

What an amazing week we had this week! I busted out my camera finally and we did a lot of awesome things.
I started my week at the ECET2MI conference in East Lansing. It was a full day event (7 am - 7 pm!) and I had a great time connecting with other teacher leaders. I did not stay until 7 pm as I had not slept the night before and had a 90 minute drive home. But what a wonderful time it was to connect with other like-minded educators and share my why!

On Wednesday we began our new math unit on Fractions. The students participated in a Chalk Talk activity to show me what they already knew about fractions from previous years. This was a silent activity (hard for 3rd graders!). I'll be sharing a more in-depth post on this later.

I got a Donor's Choose grant funded in November and one of the items in our grant were these dry-erase sleeves from Lakeshore Learning. I have had some in the past and I LOVE them. We used them during math to help correct misconceptions the students were having with finding parts within parts for fractions. Love!

 This week for writing the students wrote paragraphs on whether or not it is ever okay to lie. We talked about how sometimes you have to tell white lies such as when your mom asks you if she looks fat, you should say no so you don't hurt her feelings. Some students pointed out that Santa doesn't like liars. *wink* This friend had my laughing out loud with this line because I say it all the time!! They do repeat what we say :)
Sadly today was also the last day for our student teacher. On Tuesday she was out for her last PD at her university and we made this cute tree! I used green stamp ink to dip the kiddos' fingers in to make the leaves and then wrote their names beside it. How adorable! Plus she can keep it forever and ever. :)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

How I Plan with Erin Condren

Over the summer, I shared a video wherein I hacked a section of the Erin Condren teacher planner into something I thought would be more useful. That video has had over 2,000 views. Small beans for someone who has an active channel, tons of videos and lots of subscribers. But for me? That's huge. I never thought so many people would check it out.

I'm back with another video which discusses the progress of my hack as well as how I am utilizing the calendar area to help me maintain my sanity on those oh-so-insanely-busy weeks!

Disclaimer: I actually made this video on Wednesday and had planned to post it on Wednesday but it took 10 hours for the video to upload. Ugh. (Also sorry for the tripod is at school.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Break

Whew! How is it that sometimes the short weeks are the hardest and/or craziest??

Stupid full moon. My students were WIRED this week. I am so uber thankful we do not have school tomorrow! I'm not sure we would have made it! They have just been IN-SANE.

My student teacher has two weeks left. It will be super weird without her there, but I am really anxious to get my class back. I think that is a normal feeling to have. We put so much time and energy into our teaching that sharing the kids long-term in this way can be a challenge. Next week she is only teaching one subject (reading) and then everything is back to me.

I can't even tell you how very glad I am to have a few days to decompress. Seriously. I'm not even teaching the whole day and I'm just plumb worn out. I love my kids and my school but these friends come with a lot (and I mean A. LOT.) of baggage. It's that extra stuff that just makes it so hard sometimes.

Hopefully once the crazy/busy month of December ends and we have some time over the holidays, I will be more consistent with blogging again. It's weird because I feel like I've had much LESS to blog about since I haven't been teaching everything like usual. We've done lots of cool stuff but I haven't taken pictures or anything so I don't post them. Oh well.

I will try to be better about it because it's more fun to see pictures! :)

My girls do have school tomorrow (they are not impressed) and I have a chiro appointment early. Otherwise I plan to get my nails done, get my oil changed finally and then spend the rest of the day at home working. I actually have most of my lesson plans (except reading) planned out until winter break. I just need to review my plans and make sure I didn't overlook anything. I also have a little paperwork I need to do on kiddos who will be up for evaluation. It also won't hurt to get a bit ahead on grad school.

Then Thursday-Sunday are family time. Technically we have assignments due for grad school but we have an extension. I won't take the extension, I am going to do the best I can to get everything done tomorrow so I can just take a mental break and be with my family.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

3rd Grade Reading Challenge

Once upon a time, I read a blog post by a fellow 3rd grade teacher. She wrote about this super awesome product that she made that was a challenge for her students to read 30 books during 3rd grade. I was totally pumped and put the item on my TPT wish list. A bit later when I was ready to purchase this super fabulous product, it was no longer available in her store. I left her a comment on the blog about how excited I had been to try the product but was sad it was no longer there. She emailed me back and said there might be a possible issue with the inspiration for the product but offered to send it to me anyway for free. She did, I love it and my 3rd graders and I are living happily ever after.

For reals. Marianna over at It Happened in 3rd is kind of like my hero right now. Seriously. Partly because a) she made this awesome product and b) she shared it with me for free because I was so interested in using it even though she was unsure about selling it after some drama (not aimed at her) around the inspiration for the product.

I have been meaning to write this post for awhile because I really do love using this product and I'm so, so grateful that she was so kind and shared it so willingly. With my trip to Minnesota for the Teacher Powered Schools conference (which was fantabulous) and conferences the last two weeks, I haven't had time to really think let alone make a blog post about this. So here goes nothing :) 

Since I teach in the inner city, time spent in texts is even more important for my young friends. Our students, many of whom are language learners also, tend to come to kindergarten well behind in their reading skills and a lot of them are not read to anywhere but at school. I have 29 students in my 3rd grade class and a big chunk of them are at a kindergarten or 1st grade reading level (yikes!). Thus I needed to find something to inspire them to read without making it into a huge issue.

I learned super fast that this group of students I have are very competitive. They love to try to meet challenges. So this 30 in 3rd reading challenge is PERFECT. 

Here's how we set it up.

First, each kiddo got a file folder. (Totally high tech, right?) I recycled them from years past when I used them for student files.

Then I made each friend a library card. They are just index cards a label on them that we then laminated. (Side note: I may have laminated more stuff in 3rd grade this year than I have in my entire career combined!) I wrote the kiddo's Lexile from the fall MAP test and then the color code they are in for our classroom library (which was labeled by colors well before we ever started using Lexile). This is one of my higher leveled kiddos. I picked his to show just because I knew it would be neat and organized :)

The kids keep that laminated card inside the 30 in 3rd folders which they keep in their book box. (This allows me to check them any time I want since I don't have to dig into their desk for them.) Inside are the pages from the product that Marianna shared with me so generously.

This first page is a tracking sheet to help the students make sure they are reading a wide variety of books. The kids were so excited to see they got to pick 8 books of whatever genre they liked! :) I ask them to fill this part out when they FINISH a book.

This is the other tracking page. Each time my friends change books they are to write the name of the book and the author. As they finish it, they put the date (this friend put 10-15 each time because he thought I wanted the month and year *wink*) and then they rate whether or not they liked the book. This helps me to know what kinds of books to recommend in the classroom library or our school library if the student is having a hard time finding a book at any given time. 

In keeping with my uber fancy tracking (hello recycled file folders), we are using this pocket chart to track our progress. I only check the folders every couple of weeks. The students know that I might ask them about their books at any time so they should actually be reading and finishing the stories. It is only once the book has a "finished" date that they move up on our chart. We have several friends who have already hit the 5 or 10 mark. 

The students on the very bottom are either a) not being very serious about their reading or b) are higher readers with longer books that is taking them much longer to get through their books. My lower readers who have easier books are asked to read each of their books 3 times before they mark it as "finished" so that it is fair since their books are shorter. 

I LOVE this. Really. A lot of it is an honor system and I don't count at home reading for this. This one is solely in-class reading because it is reading that I can monitor and ensure they are doing it. Each time students have been allowed to change their books and update their folder, I collect them so I can check up on their progress. Only one student has not been honest on her log and all of the other friends have been able to talk to me about their books which is awesome.

The reading challenge has been a great and motivating addition to our class, especially for my lower readers. The other day my student teacher was helping some of the kiddos update their books and one of our students, who is very, very sweet but struggles to read proclaimed "Mrs. Wood was right, reading IS fun" and I know that this book challenge is helping her find reading more fun and motivating too :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015



Sometimes, every once in a while, a special student comes into your life and makes you realize that God has a purpose for every single person crossing your path.

I saw a post on Facebook over the weekend that said every single person you have ever interacted with would be different without you. Think about that for a moment. It's pretty heavy.

The guy I smiled at this morning at the grocery store before work was affected by me. I may have been the only person today to smile at him (I hope I wasn't). If I had not been there in that moment, there may have been no one there to smile a hello to a fellow shopper. That's deep stuff to think about.

And then I have moments like today where it is reinforced to me why I do what I do and why every child, regardless of their ability, has a purpose for being in my room. And I don't mean that their purpose is to learn.

I have said about a billion times that last year was rough. In so many ways. I needed a change and a good year because a rough year can drain you. Do I have a perfect class? Gosh, no! Not by a long shot. They are 8 and 9 years old. They talk too much, they are loud, they forget their manners. It happens.

BUT every interaction makes a difference. It could be good or bad but it is a difference.

My class has struggled to respect my student teacher. Let's face it. I've had years to perfect my tough love approach and not everyone can operate that way. It works for me. I don't expect it to work for everyone. Today the kids went to the lab and some were very disrespectful. My student teacher took away recess and made those kids write a behavior reflection. I am all about that. Help them learn to own their choice.

One boy refused to comply and just went on a tirade about how mean her and I are, crying and stomping his feet. She pointed out, very calmly, that as upset as he feels, enough to be crying, that she has feelings too and he hurts her feelings when he is disrespectful. It was the perfect response.

He just went on and on about how his mom wants him to have mean teachers so he is stuck with us and so on. I knew he was just blowing off frustration, but at one point he said all the kids think I'm super mean. Another student who had lost his recess too (same reason) was watching us and I asked him if he thought I was mean.

He said "no, you are nice". I nearly fell over because I really expected him to say yes. So I asked him why he didn't think I was mean. He thought for a minute and said, "Well you do stuff for us and you get on us because you care about us".

Wow. It doesn't get any more powerful than that! This is a child whom I have had to get on his case daily all year. Sometimes more than once a day. He is very impulsive and doesn't always think before he acts. I get that about him and have just waited for the moment to really make my connection with him (believe it or not it is not something you can magically obtain with every child in the first couple weeks....some kids it can take half a year and some kids, despite your best efforts, you never really find a way to connect with).

My patience thus far has paid off today in spades because as we were leaving at the end of the day, he and I were at the end of the line and he said "Mrs. Wood, I am going to try my best to have a great day tomorrow". ♡

It just takes time make the connection with the hardest students. Sometimes it's a challenge to like these types of kids because they can be so frustrating. But then, you have your breakthrough and it is purely magical. Angels come down and sing and you know, without a doubt that you are where God wants you to be.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Teacher Power!

This weekend I have been in Minneapolis at the Teacher Powered Schools Conference. I flew in yesterday and barely made the bus for the site visit which was the coolest thing ever (aside from the Finnish schools obviously).

Today has been wonderful in terms of the learning I have had. We have had four individual sessions and a couple of full plenary sessions. The food has been amazing and everyone here is so friendly.

For me, it is so refreshing to be in a room full of people who see the vision that I have. I have taken so many notes and learned so much today and last night. I am so incredibly glad that I came here. I have networked and found people who will help me if I have questions and people who don't laugh when I tell them I want to start a teacher led school.

In fact, I have lost count of how many times these last two days I have had people say to me "You're here and that's an awesome first step. You can do this!"

It feels daunting to be the only one in my area really pursuing this idea....but the brainstorming session we had yesterday afternoon helped me to realize that I am absolutely able to give voice to what I want to do and now I have some ideas and plans to help me to make those things a reality.

It also helps that I have a course coming up in January in my doctoral program where I get to design a school. This could very well be the springboard to getting a proposal for my school put together.

I am so energized and excited about all I have learned and all the tools I now have in my toolkit. :)

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Happy November! Gosh this school year is already flying by! We just finished our first marking period and its on to report cards and in a couple of weeks....conferences! Wow. 

Of course, a new month means a new Currently too :)

Listening: Today is Middle Child's 14th birthday! (Seriously a birthday the day after Halloween might be the best birthday ever.) Grandpa gave her some birthday money and this year so did we and we went on a shopping adventure so she could pick out what she wanted (teenagers are so fickle!). She got a new PS4 game and that is what I will likely hear until the goes to bed (or her dad kicks her off the TV lol)

Loving: Don't get me wrong....I love my students. I do. What I don't love is my students hopped up on sugar and unable to pay attention (they have a hard enough time keeping on task without sugar!). So when we got our schedule this year and saw that a) Halloween was on Saturday and b) we don't have students until WEDNESDAY this week, I'm quite positive we all cheered just a little :)

Thinking: I am such a procrastinator. Seriously. I never learn. I do things at the last minute all the time. Once I even bought a coolie that said "If it wasn't for the last minute, I'd never get anything done"....uh, truer words were never spoken! Thus, it should not surprise you that I am flying out of town on Friday and I have nothing prepared....nothing. I don't have my hotel and flight info ready to go or any freaking idea what I'm going to wear at the conference I'm attending. I'm quite sure I'll get to it all...Thursday night around 9:30 lol

Wanting: Oh report cards. The bane of my existence. Seriously. My life would be so much easier if we just did letter grades by content area....but nope, each area has about 2 million (maybe a *slight* exaggeration) correlations that I have to input grades for. It takes fiveever and I'm procrastinating on that too (you are shocked, right?)

Needing: nails are looking like crap. I am lazy and go 3-4 weeks between fills and then they look like crap and I complain about it. But aside from being a procrastinator, I am also a cheapskate so I refuse to go sooner than every 3 weeks. But my nails can not look like hell when I fly away on Friday so it's on my to do list for tomorrow after our PD day.

Yummy: My maternal grandmother passed away 5 years ago today. Yes, on Middle Child's birthday. :( The thing is....every holiday we had as kids, I remember them solely because we went up north to grandma's and she always had her super extra special  yummy fudge. Forget Mackinac Island Fudge....grandma's fudge was the best. And no one can replicate it. They just can't make it the way she did and I miss that (and her of course) so much.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Infamous Fred

We have a special member of our 3rd grade class. He was also a member of my 4th grade class. His name is Fred. He is really nosy but always has a smile on his face.

The Master of Disaster, Fred

I won Fred during a NaNoWriMo writing contest in the fall of 2012. They had a silent auction and one of the items was a "Mystery Bag of Awesome". Being a person who quite likes suspense, and knowing it was for a good cause, I bid $30 on the bag and no one else bid at all. It was chock full of uber cool items--many related to writing, many not--and Fred was among them.

He hung out at my house for a couple of years and last year when I learned about Restorative Circles, he came to school to serve as our talking piece. (I have no idea why I named him Fred. He just kind of looks like a Fred, don't you think?)

Restorative Circles, in case you didn't know, are a community building routine that you can use in your classroom. 80% of all of the circles are just fun stuff, but you can also use them to address classroom problems such as bullying or many students not turning in work, etc. My favorite part about teaching 3rd grade is that they are just young enough to possibly believe me when I blame all of the nosy questions on poor Fred! Fred is also a tough guy and a spy! He lets me know what goes on when I am not in the room. After 7 full weeks of school, even the kids say "Oh that Fred!" when we detail some of his antics. He is kind of like a Flat Stanley but SO. MUCH. COOLER.

The kids are just silly enough to let me blame everything on Fred and they roll with it. Usually in circle (which we do standing up because there are 30 of us and it's too hard to form a circle on the floor without moving all of the furniture), we do two questions per day. Usually, I blame the uber nosy questions on Fred (that's when you'll hear "oh that Fred!" from some of the kids). Once, Fred wanted to know if we would rather eat bugs or have 2,000 spankings! Oh that Fred! (The answers were quite interesting though!)

The kids are quite hilarious and try to take such good care of Fred. You aren't allowed to talk in the circle unless you are holding Fred (except for me because sometimes I have to ask the kids to speak up so we can hear or will ask a clarifying question if I know the other kids are confused). If someone drops Fred, 27 little people gasp in horror. If someone holds Fred too tight, the other friends in the class will gently remind that person to be more careful with our friend Fred. If someone holds Fred by his head (which he does not like by the way), the other friends in the class correct that person. 

It. Is. Hilarious. 

I never knew how much I needed a Fred in my classroom. Plus, the kids are just okay with me blaming MY annoying and nosy questions on HIM so it works.

(It's even funnier because my former student teacher, who now teaches 1st grade at our school, posted a picture on Facebook of some of her students' writing and they both had written [student name] is a good fred and she wrote "a good fred is hard to find" :D)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Helpers and more Helpers!

Hi all! Its been awhile since I've posted. I can't lie and say I've been too busy because my student teacher is almost in full control and it's so, so weird for me to let someone take over this early in the year! It's not bad, it's just weird. I still jump in and I'm acting kind of as her "TA". I have been kept busy with doctor school and meetings though (meetings and more meetings, ugh!).

I have a TON of helpers this year which is also beyond bizarre for me because I'm not used to that. The last couple of years one of our 2nd grade teachers has had tutors come from a high school in another district. She retired and her teaching partner was not able to take on the tutoring due to a conflict with the time the tutors were able to come so she asked me if I would take them. Um,  yes please! 

So starting this week, every Tuesday every one of my students will have a tutor for 30 minutes! They will work on Dolch lists and read books together. Eventually they will also have a chance to play games together too. 

Plus I have a lot of kiddos (10 or 12 I think) who have a tutor or a mentor who comes to see them either once a week for an hour or twice per week for a half hour and they work on all kinds of literacy stuff. It kind of means I have a revolving door of kids coming and going all day two days per week but the more help the better! 

AND I have support from our literacy parapro (who is also our librarian) one full morning per week and for an hour on Friday afternoon.

It's a little overwhelming to juggle all of it because when I was in 4th grade....I had zero help or tutors. Every now and then if our tutor coordinator had a student who had some extra time, she might pass them along to us upper grade folks but usually they work with K-3 only. It's been kind of crazy balancing all of the schedules but I teach my kids that if they miss part of an activity because they are with a mentor or tutor, to just write "mentor" on their paper and turn it in. This way when I look at them, I'm not mad that it was undone (because I *will* forget that they missed it).

I have 28 kiddos this year which is the most I've had in awhile so truly the extra help is really nice. I have a TON of kids who are "bubble kids" (meaning they are on the bubble...with the right pushing they'll make benchmark by the end of the year). If I remember correctly, something like 15 of my kids are in that bubble. That means I have to take every bit of help I can get to move them so they will be on grade level by the end of the year. 

The nicest part of having a student teacher in the fall is that when she finishes teaching a lesson, I can pull a small group to reteach or reinforce. I can also pull kids individually for some 1:1 time that I would SO not have time for if I didn't have her in there. As weird as it is to give up my control so early, it's been nice because it has given me time to implement some things I usually can't do until January because there is no time for me to get to it. 

This year we've already begun a 30 in Third book challenge, started our data notebooks and have worked really hard to get our interactive notebooks in both math and reading off the ground because I have that extra pair of hands in my room to help me implement it all. I've kind of decided my student teacher can't graduate, she just has to stay with me all year :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tuesday Joys

Goodness, I might be having way too much fun in 3rd grade this year! These friends just crack me up. Even when they aren't being awesome listeners and are being kinda annoying....I just love them.

A couple years ago, a student teacher in our school created a daily check-in sheet that her students did each morning. It has caught on and several teachers now use this. I never did before but decided to try it this year. It's basically just a quick form to see how the kiddos are coming in each day; whether they are sad or happy or whatever.

One from this morning just had me giggling:

 Today I feel sad because I ate a jelly donut and there are no more left. 
Pretty sure we've all had that feeling before! 

We also have a gal from the YMCA who comes and does nutrition lessons for 6 weeks in our classes. I was lucky to be in the first round this year and today was the first lesson. They do some movement, play a game, do some activity around healthy food and then have a yummy snack. Today's snack was apple cars. The kiddos got to "assemble" their car with toothpicks and grapes.

Sadly, this friend had a "flat tire" lol

I have a slew of tutors who pull kiddos out for 1:1 support throughout the week and kids are constantly coming and going. I just roll with it. At recess two of the ladies who had tutored my kids today stopped to chat with me a moment. One asked me if I had taught upstairs last year (my room was on the 3rd floor last year and is now on the 2nd). I confirmed and she said I looked much happier and more relaxed this year.

I FEEL much happier and more relaxed this year too! It's so nice to enjoy my job and be happy at work. What a huge difference it makes. Plus this class just lets me be my silly self and they just laugh. (I'd like to think they are laughing with me instead of at me!)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Daily 5 Rotations Week 2

Wow. What a difference a week makes!

Last week only five of my students got to have Fun Friday (out of 27) because they were messing around during Daily 4 time and didn't get their work done. Because I use Reading Street, there are a few things I have the kids do during the rotations that need to be done over the four days we do literacy (because Friday is our weekly test that I am absolutely required to give). The worst thing was, the work was not hard or too much work, the kiddos just forgot their stamina building and messed around.

You could have heard a pin drop in my room on Friday afternoon when all of those friends had to sit out of Fun Friday and do their work instead. Let me tell you, they were SILENT today during our Daily 4 time! :) I was so incredibly happy and pleased. We are doing table points right now because some of the kiddos are uber chatty....and they did such a good job that each and every table was able to earn points during this time today :)

Of course they totally lost it when we switched to writing LOL But our ELMO blew up (literally--sounded like someone had popped a huge balloon in class....may have taken a few years off our lives!) and thus we can't use GoNoodle or any of our brain breaks right now. My student teacher and I decided we may have to pull an iCarly and implement some Random Dancing to get the kiddos some extra movement and brain break so they can transition over to writing. We do have some movement between each but it clearly wasn't enough for them after being so focused during Daily 4. This means until ELMO is fixed (and I have no idea when that will be--last year the CPU went out on mine and it was 5 weeks before it came in after it was ordered!), I may have to get creative to let them move around a bit more so they can keep themselves on track.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Happy October! This is my 1,000th post. I'm glad it is a Currently because they are my favorite!
Listening: it is blissfully quiet up in my office. The girls are all downstairs or locked in their rooms (by their own choice, not because I put them there haha). I can hear the lawnmower in the far distance every now and then, but it is blissfully quiet which is nice!

Loving: My class this year is vastly different from last year. VAST-LY. A couple of kiddos who will definitely try my patience but that's to be expected. The rest of them are pretty sweet. They had some trouble getting their work done due to chattiness during the week and had to finish up during Fun Friday...and instead of hating me for it,they were bummed when I said I couldn't come to the movie night we were having at school. Love them.

Thinking: my youngest two definitely need haircuts....they are looking like shaggy dogs haha I need a trim and that may happen sooner rather than later.

Wanting: I'm so ready to dress up in long sleeves and sweaters and go pick some apples. We live right outside of "The Ridge" so named because there are about seven apple orchards! We just have to pick one and go. I'm craving some honey crisp apples and caramel dip. Yummy!

Needing: It's always about the grad work, isn't it? :) Actually this class hasn't been too bad to keep up with so that's good. But next Saturday I am going to Eastern Michigan University for an NBCT meetup and thus I really need to get ahead on this work so that I can enjoy that day without a big paper looming over my head.

What makes me feel Boo-tiful is my MaryKay makeup. About 18 months ago, when I was still selling Thirty-One, a colleague of mine and I had a MaryKay/Thirty-One party at her house after school. I had never used MaryKay before and now I won't use anything else on my face. I love how it makes my skin glow and look so soft and pretty. I don't use a lot of MaryKay eye makeup (I have been using Clinique this past week and I'm in love!) but I won't use any other concealer, cleanser, powder or blusher. It makes me feel feminine and young.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thankful Thursday

We've had a crazy week. Full moon and some kind of interruption every single day during our literacy time (fire drill Monday, pictures on Tuesday, code red drill Wednesday and tornado drill today!). Goodness.

Despite this craziness, I have seen some uber sweetness in the kids around me this year and it makes my heart happy after my rough year last year. I am so incredibly thankful for the kids I have this year. Firstly, since it is now October, we did our October Currently in class and the kids were SO excited about it! They just thought it was so cool that they got to do it again :)

During today's tornado drill, one of the mainstream students from the ASD classroom was upset and crying. I would imagine it was sensory related and she probably didn't really understand why we were all huddled in the space we were. Another second grader from her mainstream class just reached over and rubbed her back to help her feel safe during the drill. It was probably the sweetest thing I have ever seen. What a rockstar that girl is to help her friend like that! 

And at the end of the day today, as we were dismissing kids, I was holding the door for the kids and a student, whom I don't even know (so I'm not sure if she's a second or third grader) comes up to me and says, "Mrs. Wood, you are beautiful" and smiles and walks away. How super sweet! 

It is little friends like them that make me so thankful that I stick it out despite the tougher kids....they make it all worth it. They really do.

Another awesome thing today was my student teacher had her first observation. I have a hard time just accepting praise (as I am vastly insecure even though most people don't realize that). My student teacher's supervisor said he loved my attitude toward helping my ST grow and learn and that I was his favorite CT :) Made me smile. And the kids loved the lesson she taught so that was even better. They were engaged and all wanted to share their stories with her. 

And lastly, I got to see some new (ultrasound) pictures of my grandbaby this week. (Still weird to say grandbaby when talking about myself!) In one picture the baby looked like he or she was waving. As unpleased as I was to learn I was going to be a very young grandma....let's be real, that baby already stole my heart and he/she isn't even here yet! 

What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Daily 4 Day 1

Yesterday was our first day actually putting our hard work to the test and having our full rotation schedule and small groups meet.

Considering I had just settled my first group in and we had a fire drill (!!) AND my projector actually blew up (so loud I thought someone had popped a balloon in class!), it went pretty well. The projector breaking means it'll be a little harder for me to do part of the mini lessons (as I rely on technology for some of them) but the kids rolled with it. Yay for them and for solid procedures.

I only had to remind one student during rotations of the stamina building we had done. The other friends did an awesome job. :) I did discover, however, that there is just no way we can take the time during group to do the first part of the notebook. It just takes up too much valuable time. So I am going to find 10 minutes somewhere on Friday for us to do them all at the same time like we did before. That way it's done and kiddos and I can get right to work when we are at the table together.

I'm very pleased that I stuck with this routine because it went well better than I could have hoped for on our first day of rotations. (Especially refreshing since it's a full moon and my kids WEREN'T insane. Hopefully I did not just jinx myself!)

With a couple tweaks to my plan, this is going to work out very well, I think.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Daily 5 + Reading Street 3 weeks in

I realized I haven't updated on our Daily 5 progress. It's really the Daily 4 in our room and we call it "Daily 4 Literacy". We have spent the first three weeks of school building our stamina and practicing some behaviors I want to see when they are working independently. For the most part, the kids do a pretty good job. They are a competitive group so they really wanted to outdo themselves on their stamina building each day. I do have a few kiddos who are more squirrel-ish than the others...but honestly if they aren't bothering anyone and go back to their book in less than 30 seconds, I don't make a fuss. We talked about that when we built up our stamina...sometimes we need to yawn or stretch or scratch our head. As long as we go right back to reading, it's good.

Our neighbor class is kind of loud (not obnoxiously but since our "bump out" area doesn't have a door, if one class is silent, the other class sounds louder than it probably is) but they did an awesome job maintaining their stamina even with those distractions :) 

We made it up to our 20 minutes on Wednesday. I didn't think that was too bad since we don't have a formal Daily 4 time on Friday (due to art and computer lab time wherein they are required to take the weekly reading street test) so I didn't think that was too awful since we built that stamina up in 9 school days! 

The CRAFT menu has several strategies on it (we've reinforced a couple of them as well since they are important so I haven't put up a ton yet) and we've worked in our interactive notebooks. Monday will be the real test....we finally finished all of our baseline testing so I can make my groups and begin the real rotations on Monday. I doubt I'll ever fully let go and let them pick rounds themselves because of how I need to balance the time I have, but they have choice within each round so that helps me feel a bit less guilty :)

I have four groups that my student teacher and I will be working with. One group is pretty big as it has all of my really low kiddos in it (8 kids) and the others are smaller with 5 or 6 kids. My bubble groups have six each. Those are the friends that I know if I push them, they will benchmark by the end of the year, or be very close to that benchmark. Then I have my high group. Each group will see the teacher three times per week in group. My low and bubble groups will see me three days in a row, my high group will see me three times still but are moved about to fill in the gaps from the other groups. 

I have made this work for me of ways I didn't even think about when I was planning to integrate D5 with reading street. I created my own category of "Notebook" as one of our choices. This is a time when the kids will be working in their interactive notebooks on the weekly vocabulary and strategy skills. For me, it is a great way to help them dig into our texts in a meaningful way that is also structured. They have enjoyed using the notebooks so far and I think that will continue as I gradually release them to doing more of that part on their own.

Each group will have Read to Self four times per week, Teacher Time three times per week, Word Work twice per week, Notebook twice per week and Read with Someone once per week. We shall see if it actually works out as nicely in real life as I have envisioned it will in my head as I've been building toward this for the last three weeks :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Words you can't say in 3rd grade

Oh my gosh....if my class would stop socializing so much, I'd love that. Then again, I wouldn't have so many fun stories about them if they weren't so social! :)

My student teacher has been out the past two days for PD at her university and then her big teacher test today. She has been reading aloud a book to the kids and I wanted to save that for her so I read two picture books while she has been out.

Today we read "Houdini was...." which was written by a 2nd grade class after their class hamster Houdini died. The kids loved the pictures and we spent a little time talking about the difference between a hamster and a guinea pig.

I told the kids, who were sitting at my feet at our carpet, that I thought guinea pigs were gross and smelled like butts. That was a bad idea because they roared with laughter for at least five minutes and I thought one of the girls was going to choke she was laughing so hard. So I said, what haven't you ever heard a teacher say butts? And they died laughing again.

Later we were talking about what to do go fire or code red drills. Each class, of course, has a different evacuation spot. When we have the code red drills, we lock the door and huddle by the counter. We were discussing how important it is to be super quiet. I asked them what they should do if someone farts  (because really that happens invariably when we have those drills and the kids just giggle--we don't want you to giggle during a drill!). Of course the second I said "farts", they all died again.

Goodness. You can't say farts OR butts in 3rd grade because you'll have a class of corpses because the children all died laughing because the teacher said those words!

Oh they amuse me so.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Five for Friday {September 18}

 Happy Friday! We made it through our first full week of school! For once, I am not entirely exhausted either :)

We have dived into Daily 5 procedures this year and are building and building our stamina. I've noticed my kiddos are pretty competitive against themselves so at the end of each reading time, we set a stamina goal for the next day. Yesterday's goal was 12 minutes...and they made it to 13! :) I'm SO incredibly proud of how seriously they are taking it. We don't have time on Friday for D5 because we have a special and then computer lab to take the weekly reading test I am required to the end of the day one of my girls said "Oh no! We forgot to practice our stamina" <3 p="">

 I found this super fun interactive notebook set for Reading Street on Teachers Pay Teachers over the summer. I wasn't sure how it would work out using it in conjunction with the Daily 5 format but we used it this week and it's been great! My kids are going to have the best fine motor skills in the school! They drew pictures to match the vocabulary and these two just had me giggling when I was grading notebooks today. (The top one is supposed to be a bat...the bottom one is her picture to represent "blew"....I swear I giggled like a 5 year old when I saw these because they are so darn cute!)

I have relearned how much I love mentoring new teachers. I have only ever had a student teacher once before and never in the fall....but I am enjoying it immensely. I am finding that I am really a better mentor now because I have to be explicit in explaining my rationale to her as we set things up. It's been a lot of fun to have someone to work with all day again. She has two days out this coming week for PD at her school and her state licensing test....I'm not sure what I'm going to do without her!

I forgot to take a picture of this and I'm super sad....we have a huge amount of wall space in our hallways. There is also a wooden piece that makes a nice separator. Over the years I have taken to using two sheet protectors per student and hanging one above and one below that wood divider. The kiddos' names go on the wood piece to identify their spot. This year we are using Currently in the Classroom and that is in the top student teacher hung up letters so it reads " 3rd grade" and I LOVE it. I will try to remember to take a picture because its so fun!

After spending 12.5 hours at school last Friday, my student teacher and I left at 3:55 today with NOTHING IN OUR HANDS. :) I'm discovering that I spend way less time grading in 3rd grade (partly because the assessments are shorter) and because of how I am setting things up for my kids. What a relief! Goodness knows that I have so little time at home to be fussing with grading between doctor school and my own family obligations. It's awesome to know I have the entire weekend to focus on my own school priorities and my family :)

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Power of Positive Words

I'm sad I forgot to take pictures of this...but after something that happened on Friday, I wanted to share this story, both as a reminder for me and inspiration (and/or a reminder) for my readers.

You remember that saying from childhood, "Sticks and Stones may break my bones but names/words will never hurt me"? What a lie that is! I actually have not shared this with my current friends yet but plan to do so. I have, in the past, talked about that with my other students and how it isn't true. Words can and do hurt sometimes.

Words can also uplift though. And that is what we really want to focus on. Using positive words to uplift each other and make our classroom and school a happier place to be.

It is not a secret that last year was super hard for me. I had several students who were really challenging--often downright mean to each other and to me--and two partners who did not collaborate with me. It was hard. I wanted all of the kids to have a great education and it is difficult to do that without grade level support and collaboration. I was determined that no matter what curve balls came my way this year, that I was not going to have a repeat of last year.

I began this year with the intent to be positive. With myself, my students, my colleagues, the other staff members at my school, my husband, my own kids and my friends. When your mindset is positive, everything around you seems much more positive too.

This past week, I gave all of my students a pink heart made on an Ellison machine. They were smooth and beautiful. We put our names on them and then crumpled them up (and I can't tell you how many of the kiddos did NOT want to crumple their heart). Then I asked them to try to smooth them out so they looked the way they did when I first handed them out. Several students pointed out that this was impossible. I then came in with the point of the activity--when we say mean things to each other, even if we apologize, we can't really take them back either. It's like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube: no matter how hard you try, you can never put it back. I could see the light bulb coming on for many of my students by making the discussion concrete with the visual of the heart. Most of the 3rd graders choose to keep their heart in their pencil pouch as a reminder (I love that!).

Later in the week, we had a specials class and one of the ASD classes is pushing in with us for all of the specials. Two of my friends were very mean to the students from that class. We had a big talk about it. One of the girls in my class said, "they wrinkled those kids' hearts!" so I know this was a powerful reminder. We then had a chat about how some people are different; their brains don't work the same way that other people's brains do. Sometimes those friends might do things that seem scary or weird, but they just don't know any different because that is how their brains work. It seemed to stick as the rest of the week, the kiddos were great with them.

Positive words go a long way. One of my students was a real challenging little guy last year. His teacher did not say anything positive--not one thing!--about him on the information card that gets sent to the next teacher. How sad is that? My student teacher and I have found something positive to say to all of our students every day so far...and what a difference that makes in our classroom! It amazes me how just a few positive words can really change your whole mindset.

Which brings me to my final story. On Friday, my new teaching partner came in. She gets a couple of days to really settle in, get her room set and be ready to go. So she came in to observe me for a little while to see how I do things with my students (she's had middle school for a long while so has to get back to "elementary"). We were chatting at one point and she told me how much another colleague had praised me and the work that I did last year for my grade since I was the only one really invested in the kids. The new partner went on for several minutes about the nice things Ms. Kindergarten said about me. I saw Ms. Kindergarten at the end of the day and gave her a hug and thanked her for her positive words. Let me just tell you....all weekend long those positive words have kept me going. When I think about them, I smile. If I, as an adult, can feel so uplifted by someone's positive words, how do they make my students feel? If we, as adults, can be hurt by other people's words so much, how do they make our students feel, who take everything to heart because they are so little still?

It's a powerful reminder that a positive mindset and outlook can make a huge difference. It also reminds me that focusing upon the positive behaviors I see is much more effective than focusing on the annoying behaviors that all students have. We have a box at our school with positive notes inside and I am going to vow to write two positive notes each week to give to my colleagues. Because we all need to be praised, recognized and rewarded for the work that we do. And if I can be the person to set the tone for that, so be it.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I love 3rd grade!

I am seriously so, so happy I made the switch to 3rd grade! It's only been a few days but I am loving this year so far. Considering that things were so rough last year due to minimal collaboration, I so needed a good group and a good partner.

I have a couple of students who were challenging last year. However, I have set my classroom up very positively and I think that is making a huge difference. I don't focus on the little off task behaviors (and there are few fortunately), but instead really praise the kids who are listening and following along. It's been so great so far.

One of my little guys did so awesome yesterday that he clipped up so many times I had to wear his clip because there was no where else for it to go :) He also got a positive office referral and I found out it was the first one of the year for any students :) :)

Plus, I have a partner teacher now. She was in middle school and actually used to teach at my school when it first opened. It's been a few years since she had elementary and she admitted she's a little out of practice with teaching all subjects but that's fine! She's willing to collaborate which was music to my ears. We stayed late yesterday (on a FRIDAY!) and I helped her get some things in order. It was so worth it! We get along well and it should be a match made in Heaven :)

The big bummer is I didn't take a single picture all week! Ack! Usually I just use my phone but I'm going to try to remember to bring my actual camera and get some shots this week.

I'm really glad Mr. Principal asked me to switch to 3rd because it's perfect. They want me to be happy with them and they aren't all snotty yet ;) Yesterday several kiddos were sad when I told them I wouldn't see them the next day because it was Saturday. Is that a teacher's dream come true or what?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Day 2!

I am terrible....I totally have forgotten to take pictures of my new kiddos this week. Oops! Oh well. We have had a great start to 3rd grade and I'm so excited about this year. Things have been a little bumpy with some uncertainties with staffing/subs and such but I've really put forth effort into focusing upon my own kids and it has been a huge relief!

We have really jumped in and I think the kiddos and I are going to have a great year together. We are slowly getting those brains back into learning mode ;) We had so much going on yesterday that we didn't get to start our Daily 5 routines at all, which I was bummed about. But I was adamant that we would begin them today.

As you may recall me talking about before, I have wanted to do Daily 5 for a long time but for so many different reasons I have always backed out on it. This year, I am determined to make it work for us! We did our i-chart for Read to Self today and I posted a stamina graph for the kiddos to help us monitor our progress. They are so cute, we talked about how our ultimate goal is 20 minutes and after we had done all of our practices, I asked the kids what a goal for tomorrow should be and several said "20 minutes!" LOL :) 

They impressed me though. Usually I go by the previous spring's MAP lexile scores when I fill kiddos' book boxes at the start of the year. They switched our data site though so I don't have any access to those scores :( So my student teacher just filled each box with a high, a medium and a low book for each friend, mostly picture books. Some of the kids were a little restless because their books were too short or too easy (or both). But we practiced anyway (our good fit book lesson is tomorrow and they will have some time to shop). They did really well on the first try (2.5 minutes) and had a little trouble on the next try. So we talked about how we could help make it easier for us to not break our stamina. Then we tried again and they made it to 3 minutes. I'm quite impressed with that actually. I didn't think we'd get that far on our first try. They begged me to let them have another practice round later in the day so that they could try to beat their minutes :) Music to my ears, I tell ya!

Fortunately we had some time left after math and I let them practice again. They were very impressed with themselves to get up to 4 minutes and that was our final mark on the graph for today. I am hopeful that with all of the variety of books we have available in our room that the kiddos will find some books they enjoy and really get down to business with reading. :) 

I am so glad I made the switch to 3rd. I know its only been a couple of days but I'm telling you....this group is so different than last year's! For the most part, they really want to please me and my student teacher and that is a refreshing change. I do have a couple kids I'm going to have to keep my eye on, but I think we will be okay. They are learning quickly that Mrs. Wood don't play when it comes to doing what we need to do. 

I'm really excited to see where this year takes us :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Day!

Whew! My feet hurt :)

We made it through the first day of school. I had 25 hot bodies. My temporary partner, who had 27 on her roster as of last Thursday ended up with 30 actual bodies! Yikes! I have at least one whom I know will be coming tomorrow, not sure on the other three. One just enrolled so I'm not sure why he was a no show.

It'll be an interesting year for sure. If any more kids come we are gonna have some space issues. We will see what tomorrow brings on that front because we have some grades that are pushing 30 and some classes with only 18. That's crazy.

I'm a little scared to look at the pile from today....we did our baseline writing and wow. We have our work cut out for us, that is for sure! Of course it was the first day and they haven't used their thinking in awhile....but it was kinda scary to see where some of them are. The good news is, for the most part, they are sweet and eager to be back in school so that's good. I can definitely work with that :)

Hoping tomorrow doesn't bring a ton of new kids and no space for them all :)

Monday, September 7, 2015

T'was the night before back to school....

Okay so it's 3:30 in the afternoon which is hardly "night" but close enough.

How is it already time for the first day of school? This summer was a week longer than we usually have because of Labor Day being so late....and I still wonder where those three months disappeared to.

We didn't do anything fun this weekend at all. Bummer! We have a cabin and a pontoon and we haven't been to or used either since early August. *sigh* I have been so busy with finishing grad classes, meetings, prepping my room and my little vacation to be at the happy place which makes me sad. I honestly have no idea why we have a pontoon since The Husband is lazy on weekends and never wants to take it out. Lame.

So I alternately worked and rested this weekend. We do not have 24/7 access to our schools (which I am vastly grateful for) so I did some final projects at home and should now be all set for tomorrow. I made locker tags, desk tags, word wall words (since my set is for 4th and 5th), finished my brag tag necklaces complete with name tag for each kiddo and laminated, cut out and sorted all of my brag tags. I have 55 different tags and 30 of each one....yes that took up quite a bit of time! But now it's done and I don't have to do anything harder than think about who earned which one each week :) Time consuming and a bit pricey on the front end but I won't have to fill a prize box every month so it's actually way cheaper.

Tomorrow is supposed to rain :( Mother Nature should be nicer on the first day of school! I have a backup recess plan ready....and it won't hurt to teach indoor recess procedures literally from day one, right? I like to do a mixture of actual teaching with my procedures as I think it solidifies things for the students when they get to practice the procedures in context.

It will be very interesting if all 29 of my kiddos show since we have some classes with only 18! As long as they don't expect me to try to work a miracle with more than 30 in my class, I'm good. The issue with having only 2 classes at the grade and starting with high numbers is that it can get over crowded if new families come in. In my experience they don't balance classes out until count day a month into the year and that just throws everything off because you lose and/or gain new students and it's like starting over a month into the year (it has happened to me in some way all 5 years I have been at this school). It's difficult for everyone and I'm crossing my fingers I avoid it this year.

Thankfully this week is slim on my after school obligations....last week was crazy and next week will be also. But after a few days back into a routine, I should be fine with that craziness.

It may take me 2000 trips from my car to my classroom tomorrow as I bring all of my projects in plus Apollo the gecko is coming back to school tomorrow too. I just need 8 extra pairs of hands to make it all in one trip (hopefully not in rain!) :)

Happy First Day for those going back this week (seems like most people are back already).

Friday, September 4, 2015

Currently {September}

Happy September! You can TOTALLY tell people are starting back to work since it's the 4th of September and I'm still in the first 100 to post this month's currently :)

Listening: The Littles are watching Phineas & Ferb in the next room

Loving: After lots of moving things around due to a growing class size, I'm quite tickled with how my classroom setup turned out. I didn't take new pictures of it but may do that this week.

Thinking: After spending hours and hours (and hours!) in my classroom setting things up, with help from a student teacher, how can I possibly still have a To-Do list a mile long??

Wanting: Definitely need more hours in my day. Every day this week, except today, I was up by 5, at school by 7 and then either running to appointments after work or staying late and then coming home to do graduate work. I feel like I haven't seen my husband, let alone my kids.

Needing: My teaching partner took an unexpected leave at the last minute and we've had some drama trying to find a fill in. It would be super nice to have a teaching partner to collaborate with this year....but I've flown solo before (*all last year*) and will again if need be.

3 Goals: Boundaries--see "needing". Last year I had two partners who were not collaborative. I did much of their work. This year, I refuse to carry the entire grade. So boundaries it is. Patience--I can't control what happens with the long-term job so I just need to practice my patience and take care of my own class and pray things work out. Finally, Love--my goal is to love every child that comes through my door, regardless of what makes them tick. As an urban teacher, I totally know our kids come to us with a lot of baggage that kids in the 'burbs often can't even fathom....I'm going to love them all, no matter what. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Just call me Mrs. Exhausted

Whew! I am so darn tired....and I haven't even spent a day with kids yet!! 

This week has been absolutely insane. In-Sane. I have spent my days in meetings and then run all over the world (a slight exaggeration) taking Middle Child to therapy (which is now an HOUR away in one direction!) and youth group and then doing our Open House and rushing over to theirs.

Plus I spent all day at school today trying to finish up last minute things to be ready for the first day. Oh yeah and let's not forget the doctoral homework.

If I didn't have homework due all weekend, I might just sleep through the weekend! I hope I can stay caught up on all of this once I have kiddos and papers to grade and such! I'm a little scared of how full my plate is going to feel with all of the basic work obligations I have, plus the extra mom duties and my grad work. 

It's going to be one heck of a busy year!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

I might be cursed...


As you may recall, I was vastly nervous about who my 3rd grade partner would be because my former one quit since she's having a baby. I found out my partner was my former reading coach from another school and things were lovely again.

But on Friday I went to our first staff day to discover that this person took a medical leave....and no one knew. :( So there have been some "oh crap" moments as we try to find someone to cover this room. I'm quite anxious about it because I have a ton on my plate this year: PBIS committee, WIDA and M-Step coordinator, teaching a grade I have never taught before (so I am not familiar with the curriculum at all), hosting a student teacher, being part of the leadership cohort, four Doctoral classes between now and the end of April, plus being a momma and a wife (and soon-to-be a grandma!). 

Unfortunately, last year when my teammate retired, we did not have a lot of consistency for those kids. I worry about that happening again. I know it isn't my problem....however, I would be a total jerk and a terrible person if I was like "oh well, they aren't my kids! Sorry about your life!" Because I do care about those kids...and my 2nd grade colleague is sick to her stomach because these are her babies!

I just have to laugh about it...because it seems like whatever ills are occurring happen in whatever grade level I happen to be a part of! Seriously. I have not had a totally "normal" year in all of the years I have been at my school. 

Then I realize that this is probably God showing me where I am most needed. Remember the Grade Level Shuffle from two years ago?? I ended up back at my school because those kids needed me...and when I'm being entirely honest, I need them too. They give so much to my life. Because I was in their shoes once. There is just something powerful about being able to say "Friends, I was totally you before, I know where you are and look where *I* am can do anything!"

I may need to find a voodoo witch doctor to lift off my curse though! *wink* Fortunately we have some candidates that we think may be able to help us out. I just want consistency for ALL of the kids at my grade level. They deserve the best opportunities and it is hard to get that when you have an inconsistent teacher for months on end.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mystery Vacation + Here we go!

The Husband and I got back from our "Mystery Vacation" yesterday. We left on Sunday. It was short but we packed a lot into those few days! Hubby only planned a place for us to stay; everything else we did was on a whim. I am SO not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of person, but I have to admit it was very fun! I wish the weather had been more cooperative (it was cold, overcast and rainy until yesterday when we came home!). But we made the most of it and had a great time. We put 670 miles on our truck on the trip :)

We stayed in Bellaire, MI but went all over. We went to Sleeping Bear Dunes and the surrounding areas and we also went to Charlevoix and Petoskey and drove through the Tunnel of Trees from Harbor Springs to Cross Village. Absolutely beautiful, even if it was kind of yucky out!

This picture was taken at Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was SO windy that I just closed my eyes, pointed my phone and hit the button, hoping I'd get a good shot! We had sand all over us (it even flew down the back of our shirts!) so I was quite happy to discover I got this awesome shot! 

This shot was taken at the pier in Charlevoix. I had to wait a couple minutes to get the waves crashing up but I am quite pleased with this pic (especially because I took it on my cell phone!).

We had such a good time, despite the crappy weather. The B&B we stayed at was absolutely amazing with awesome hosts, great food and fun company. I definitely plan to go there again some day!

To end our short vacation, today we went to a paint studio I went to last month for a "wine and canvas" type event....they have open paint certain days and The Husband and I made a reservation to go. We were the only ones there so that was kind of fun. When I was there before I saw a cute octopus that I knew would look awesome with my ocean animals theme. I am SO not artistic by any stretch of the imagination...but I had fun at the event I went to and talked hubby into coming along with me as a "last hurrah" before I go back to school officially. I think the bottom of the octopus looks funny but seriously....for someone who is totally not artistically inclined and the fact that I did this free hand, I think it turned out really good!

Now it is back to reality...tomorrow is the first staff day! Eek! How did that happen? I feel overwhelmed by all of the things I want to do...but most of them are WANT, not NEED so I have to take a few breaths and just relax! I have all weekend and all of next week to get my ducks in a row. Plus, in reality, my first week plans are written and my students' desks are all set (except for pencils). So I have nothing to really fret over. I just need to breathe and take it easy and not drive myself insane trying to be Super Lady.

We have lots of meetings Friday, Monday and Tuesday (and I get to train the staff in Synergy on Monday morning...woot!) and then Wednesday is the opening staff meeting and Open House. So I will work all weekend prepping the last minute things because my next grad class begins on Sunday and I have meetings and appointments on Monday and Tuesday after school. Nothing like jumping right back into it, right?? :)