Friday, January 30, 2015

Professional Development

Yesterday we had an unexpected snow/ice day. Woo hoo! This week was supposed to be IN-SANE with the amount of after school commitments I had and having that day in there was perfect. I went to school anyway, planned for my sub for today (for a training I'll talk about in a moment) and got everything done for next week. Guarantee that would NOT have happened if I had taught all day yesterday since I was scheduled for a PD after school yesterday too. Whew!

I was worried that today's PD would be horrible...because you know that often we go to meetings and they sit and lecture us all the while telling us that is the worst way to teach. Thankfully, that wasn't the case today. It was very lively and engaging which made the day much more bareable.

The training was on HIV/AIDS instruction that we provide to our 4th-6th grade students each year. I had never been trained in it but have done the program with kids before. I'm glad to have had the chance to go to this training so I know what I can say and what I should defer to others.

The best part was all of the strategies we learned that I can adapt and use in other curriculum areas. One of my colleagues was at the training also and we were talking about how we could use some of these strategies for math or for vocabulary, especially in social studies since there are about a million words in each unit that they want the kiddos to know. 

In a perfect world, I would have lots of free time to create some resources using these ideas to share....but sadly, that isn't something I have right now. I am going to try to make some of them for a couple of things and see how they work out. Then maybe I'll have a project for the summer when I do have a bit more free time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I'm going places!

One of the reasons I worked toward National Board Certification is because while it's kind of awesome to put letters behind your name, I really want to make changes in education. Way too many people complain about education policy but don't put their proverbial money where their mouth is. I want to be a change agent.

This is one reason why I was so very excited about the possibility of the job that I interviewed for a few weeks ago. I want to be a change agent and really make policy changes and be progressive in education. I think that I could have been well on my way to some of that with that sort of a job, but the pay just wasn't going to do it for me, unfortunately. Alas, knowing that someone out there appreciates my go-to-it-ness (not really a word) and my determination to be a force to be reckoned with, I know that someone else will eventually to. I just need to do what I need to do until it's time for me to make a change.

I have been adamant for years that I am going to open my own school. People laugh at me and think I'm nuts but it just fuels my desire to prove them wrong (so, I might be a tad stubborn). I know that I have what it takes to make real change in the educational realm. I am not deluded into thinking that I can wave a magic wand and things will be epic. No, it will be tough and hard to accomplish but I am going to do it....or die trying. 

Over the past few weeks, after being disappointed in the job offer and realizing it just isn't my time yet, I have decided to just embrace what I have now and make the small changes I can along the way. Am I perfect? Um, no. I make a lot of mistakes, even today, that I learn and grow from. I'm always trying to be better than I was the day before...even if that is just in how I communicate and connect with my students.

So with this new found determination to just make myself happy regardless...I have been happier. I'm not delusional. I know there are things that need to change or I have got to make a change myself. I still have a restless streak but it isn't as strong as it was weeks ago. Once I relaxed, things began to come into my path.

A local university is seeking a TESOL professor and while six months ago, I would not have applied for this job, I decided to go for it. If nothing happens, cool...but what if it does?

Then today I got an email from National Board asking me to participate in a study regarding National Board's standards with reading and the Common Core since Michigan is fully aligned with the Common Core. I was flattered to be asked but also because they will pay my entire way -- including covering sub costs for my district and a stipend for me. And I get to provide my voice to something that will shape future teaching. How cool is that? 

It's not set in stone that I'm going but pretty sure that I will be able to do so. I'm excited. Best part is, the four days happen to fall on a week when I'm on break from graduate school (we get a partial week off between our courses) so the timing is perfect. I am excited for the prospect and should know next week if it's all set for me to go. 

If I do go, the stipend from this workshop is going to go toward the spending money for my Finland trip. Win-win!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What a Week!

Whew! How come shorter weeks are always the weirdest ones?

We had school every day but Wednesday - Friday we had half days for students. Wednesday and Friday afternoon was records time (end of semester) and Thursday was professional development. All in all, it was a good week...just weird.

On Monday, I slipped on some ice in our parking lot getting into my car. Problem is, my leg went one way and my knee went the other. Thank goodness I didn't actually fall because it has hurt enough without the added injury of falling on it. I had to go to the med station through workman's comp on Tuesday after school and again on Thursday. Since I was given a brace and told to avoid's a good thing we have an elevator since my classroom is on the 3rd floor! That's a lot of steps!

The kids were really awesome about how slow I had to be getting from place to place. If it had to happen, I'm glad it happened when I had the afternoons without students so I could prop my knee and ice it as needed. Turns out, I bruised the back of my kneecap.

I know, I know. I even asked the doctor how that was possible if I didn't actual fall on it. But he said think of the knee like a big rubber band...when your leg went left and your knee went right, eventually they came back together and snapped enough to cause the injury. I have to go back on Tuesday afternoon for him to recheck but it feels a million times better today than it did two days ago so I'm hopeful to be good as new soon. I'm not digging the brace as it gets uncomfortable after awhile. 

When I'm home, I can take it off and just prop the knee, but at school since I move around so much, that's not possible. The brace has to stay on.

Alas, while dealing with my bum leg most of the week, I didn't get anywhere with my stuff for the end of the marking period....we had benchmark/end of MP tests this week and I have about 100 to grade still. Yay me! :p So that will all be done plus my graduate homework and I'm hoping to take most of Monday to just relax before the crazy week ahead. 

Happy weekend!

Friday, January 9, 2015

{Five for Friday} ~ January 9, 2015

Happy Friday! 

This is the weather alert that was on my phone yesterday at 3:30 when we were getting out of school. GROSS! 

 I had a phone interview yesterday. Since the weather was gross, I decided to stay at school and call into the conference line from there so that I wasn't on the highway and on the phone in the nasty weather. About 5 minutes before I was supposed to call in, while I was making copies for next week, the fire alarm went off. We had to evacuate the after school program and the kids did not have time to grab their coats. It was -15 degrees. I couldn't go to my room to get my coat or purse so I called into the interview call from the back seat of my colleague's car. That was a first, let me tell ya.

It's wrong that Michigan's temperatures are colder than those on Mars. I mean honestly.

 I got offered a 6th-8th grade teaching position from the interview yesterday this morning. I knew before I ever got off the phone with them that the job was mine if I wanted it. They didn't say that but they implied it and I very well read between the lines. Unfortunately, they can't meet my salary requirements so I am not accepting the position. It's a real bummer too because I think it would have been a really awesome change for me. (It's really depressing that finally someone values what I can bring to them...and then we can't come to an agreement over money. They wanted to pay me like a first year teacher...with 9 years experience, a master's and National Board Certification,I'm not willing to take a pay cut that big.)

Due to the ultra gross forecast and nasty conditions, school was closed for today. Best of all, they called it last night so I could sleep in (although I did wake up at 6 am anyway because my body is set to that internal time during school).

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wacky Wednesday

Today wasn't really wacky, I just needed a clever title :)

I'm really really impressed with my kiddos. With only a couple of exceptions, they have been excellent coming back from break and being inside for 3 days straight. No real behavior concerns or issues at all. My kids aren't naughty kids, they just struggle with big transitions. This is really true of my district, I think...because in the 9 years I have taught there, most of the time the few days following a break can be a big challenge.

I attribute that to many of them having no real structure over the longer breaks and it can be really hard for them to come back to expectations. I really put my patient hat on for those days following a break because usually I really need it. But this year, despite the super cold temps that have kept us inside all day, they have done awesome. They were chatty this afternoon but seriously if that's the biggest complaint... :)

Something exciting is happening tomorrow for me. I don't want to share yet just because I know eyes and ears do sometimes read my blog and I don't want to spoil anything. I was really amazed when the phone call came in today. If you are so inclined, think positive thoughts for me between 4:30-5 pm EST on Thursday.

Thus far this week I have stuck to my not bringing work home resolution. Of course I have plenty to do that I could bring home, but I am learning to maximize my time and so far, so good. We'll see how long it lasts ;) I can't tell you how nice it has been to get home by 4:30 and actually be able to cook dinner for, a real dinner, for my family and sit down together without feeling the need to rush off and work on school stuff. Plus I watched 3 episodes of SOA last night. On a school night. Unreal! :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back to School

Like many of my fellow bloggers, we were back to school today. It is bitterly cold here in Michigan so we were inside all day and I found out last night that it's a full moon. I was kind of scared to go to school today! ;) 

Aside from my 20 minute commute taking me 65 minutes this morning, today was actually really good. I was adamant about having my plans done, copies made and everything for the first day ready and done before I left on December 19 (AND leaving school by 4). I accomplished all of them. I was quite astounded yesterday to see so many posts on blogs and on FB about people starting their lesson plans. Too much pressure for me!

I did a ton of grading and whatnot yesterday but my plans and everything were done well before brea started. Thank goodness too since traffic was horrible and it took me 3 times as long to get to school today. 

I always worry a little about coming back from a break because you just never know how the kiddos are going to be. Today was much better than I thought it would be. Actually makes me a little worried for tomorrow. Alas we had a nice chat today and I shared with my kiddos that in 2 weeks they will be halfway through 4th grade....closer to being 5th graders and thus, my expectations are going to increase. I got a few groans, as I expected, but most of my students took it in stride. We'll see how they feel when I actually hold them to those expectations *wink*

Probably the best gift of today was a short staff meeting in which Mr. Principal did NOT lay on us a ton of upcoming crap that just overwhelms us. It hasn't really been too much of an issue at my current school but at Former School, I hated the first day after Christmas because our principal would lay out this laundry list of stuff we had to accomplish with testing and stuff and it was just overwhelming as heck. Nothing like being bombarded coming back from time off. This was much better. Short and sweet and no lingering "ohmygodidon'thavetimetodoallthat" feelings. 

I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions because I think they are hard to keep....but one goal I have for myself for the time being is to stop bringing crap home from school. I know, with our jobs that's hard to accomplish sometimes...but I'm physically in my building 45-50 hours per week. I get paid to be there for 30. So there is absolutely no reason I should be bringing home a ton of extra crap. So I'm not going to anymore. I may allow myself to do report cards from home because I can do those sitting on my couch but otherwise...nope. 

Grad school promises to be tough this term and I'm not going to stress myself out. If it takes me that long to get to grading something, I guess I don't need to grade it after all. Priorities. I have to give myself time to just relax and be me. See and talk to my family during the week.

So that's something I am going to try hard to stick with because I need that time and I need to learn to stop socializing at work (except at lunch) and get my stuff done so I can go home at a decent hour and see my kids, do my own homework and read or relax without freaking out about being behind on grad school. It'll all get done in good time, right?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Currently - January 2015

Happy 2015! Hard to believe it is a new year already -- seems like not too long ago we were ringing in 2014! :) As usual with the start of a new month comes a new currently -- head on over to Farley's blog and link up! 

Listening: My office is next to our TV room and The Husband is watching Eastbound & Down on Amazon Prime. I despise this show -- it's vulgar and has no purpose aside from being obnoxious. I try to hide whenever it is on.

Loving: This has been such a great break. Two entire weeks off from everything -- grad school and work. It has been lovely. I haven't done a single thing school related and it has been wonderful. I read some books FOR PLEASURE (gasp!) and did a lot of relaxing and playing with my kids. It was much needed. I will miss the freedom to just be.

Thinking: I really need to get my grading done tomorrow as I am plumb out of time! I made myself a promise that I wouldn't work on the huge pile of grading until after my anniversary (which was Sunday)...and I kept it. I haven't been able to force myself to get to it since though, although I did pull some of it out of the bag and put it on my table...does that count?? :) I have to do it tomorrow because grad school starts up again Sunday and Saturday we're planning to frolic as a family before we all go back to our crazy schedules.

Wanting: The Oldest is at work, covering an on call shift....which means I have no idea when she's going to get done. I have to pick her up as she doesn't have her license (despite being 19)....I want her to hurry up and get done so I can veg in front of the TV in my PJs! I do not watch a lot of TV but The Husband has me hooked on Sons of Anarchy which we are watching on Demand on Netflix. I have to watch as much as I can before my free time disappears with school and work on Sunday/Monday.

Needing: I tend to hurt myself without even meaning too. It isn't that I'm accident prone or anything as I'm not randomly bumping into walls....just if there is a way to get hurt, I probably will. (For example, I twisted my elbow carrying in groceries...yeah, I'm special I guess lol) Somehow in the night I pulled a muscle in my back. It only hurts if I move lol Definitely going to need a massage to get those kinks out!

Yes/Maybe/I Wish: Yes, I am definitely traveling overseas in 2015. It will be my 3rd time flying and my first time going overseas. I'm excited but scared of the loooong flights. Maybe I can finally find a balance between my work life, my grad school life and my personal life so that I can finally get back to making my fitness goals a priority. I need to lose weight but it's SO much easier to eat crappy and not exercise -- I gotta change that. I wish that I could find some peace with work. I love my job, my school and my students but I am restless. I may need to do some soul searching to determine if I need to change schools/grades or what. I'm just not feeling satisfied with my current position and I can't put my finger on why.