March 31, 2010

Little Miss Sunshine, that's me...

So, after my night of zero sleep and morning of extreme nausea in anticipation, it turned out that (obviously) my meeting with the assistant principal was no big deal whatsoever.  Once again, I overreacted.  Why I choose to always assume the worst I'll never understand!  Anyways, the asst. principal just wanted to go over some of the lunch time routines because my lunch mom was a little frustrated that sometimes when I'm in the room too at lunch (which I often am--hounding kids for hw, catching up on filing, doing a million other things...), the kids don't listen to her.  We went over the routines and expectations, and then I clarified them with the kids.  The kids did much better today--I guess all they needed was a little reteaching (as is often the case).  Wish I'd been able to calm myself down last night enough to get some sleep!!  When will I stop being this crazy?!?

It's just like me to assume the worst, but...

It's been awhile and I have a lot to catch up on, but 6:12 am after a near sleepless night is not the time for blogging... why was my night nearly sleepless you ask?  Well, it's amazing how an 11pm email from the assistant principal asking me to "stop by sometime today" because she has "some questions" can send me into a panic.  I know, I know, I'm obviously overreacting.  It's probably nothing.  But why do I still feel like a kid that's been summoned to the principal's office? 

I wonder how old I will have to be before I stop feeling like I'm the kid and everyone else is the grown up. 

March 19, 2010

Projects & Planning Ahead

The numbers are in and not only am I going to be teaching at my school again next year, but I will be in the same grade AND the same classroom!


After recently receiving this news, the comfort and excitement I feel when I look forward to next August leaves me feeling very reassured that I have made the right choice with staying here another year (and hopefully longer!).  It turns out I didn't need to travel 10,000 miles across the ocean to make a difference--there are lives to touch right in my backyard.

Anyways, after I received this news I decided to tackle A Project.  Like any true "project" goes, it began spontaneously and I dove in head first, refusing to stop until it was finished.  What is this project, you ask?
my cabinets.
Some of you may know that my predecessor in 5th grade was something of a hoarder...I am told that before handing over the classroom keys to me he did a deep clean of the room, purging it of most of the hoarded old workbooks, worksheets, resources, etc.  Hearing this information, all I can think is, "How the hell did you cram that much stuff into this room???"  I went through a good amount of drawers and closets back in August, but there are still several areas of the room that have yet to be explored (going through about 2 file drawers about maxed me out in the get-ready-for-school-craziness of August!  I kind of sealed up and "forgot about" a couple of the cabinets and drawers...).

ANYWAYS.  After my neighbor teacher, Ms. R, got the news that she will be moving downstairs to 4th grade next year, she started sending armies of kids over with boxes and boxes of books, materials, you name it for 5th grade.  In order to make room for these, I started the deep cleaning.  In the process of digging through two of the cabinets, I found many things that found their way STRAIGHT the recycling bin or the teacher's lounge table.  But I also found a bunch of great workbooks with some good hw or morning work sheets.  At the beginning of the year (and often now) I was always scrambling to come up with some practice page or another to send home for hw.  I always appreciate another book of quality practice pages!  Wish I had ventured into the cabinets sooner!!!

Next "project" on the menu:  the file cabinet (cue dramatic sound effects)...

I am also starting to put a lot of thought into room arrangement for next year.  My classroom is long and skinny, and instead of facing the room on one of the small end walls, I'd like to try flipping it so that the kids' desks face one of the long sides.  I'm hoping that that change will help us maximize space (without sacrificing my beautiful carpet reading library!).  I requested that the two archaic chalk boards be taken down in exchange for a bulletin board (no more taping up posters--hooray!) and another dry erase board.  I also requested two trapezoid tables to make a nice hexagon for guided reading--I have had enough of trying to do a reading group around a rectangle!  Just not working...I don't know if I'll get all of these things, but I think that the board changes should be no problem. 

All this talk about next year is getting exciting.  I know this year is far from over, but it has gone by faster than I could ever have imagined it would!  There are many things I will do just slightly differently next year--this year has been a lot of trial and error, and even though I'm sure that will continue EVERY year, I'm looking forward to getting a few more things right (I hope!).  :) 

Everyone has told me from the beginning that once you survive your first year teaching, you can survive anything--and once you survive a year teaching at MY school, you can teach anywhere!!!  I don't know about that, but I know that I will be going into next year much more confident, experienced, and prepared after the boot-camp style initiation my darling students have put me thorough this year!

March 11, 2010

If I hadn't been there, I never would have believed it...

Thrilled that we have canceled our intervention block for the week and a half leading up to spring break, I've decided to use the extra time to read aloud a novel that connects with our social studies unit--Blood on the River.  So, after lunch today, I passed out the "interactive read aloud" packet I made for them to record thoughts and questions while they listen, started settling the kids on the carpet, and was excited about the 25 minute span of time ahead of us to just enjoy a novel together, when--


I look over and see that one of my super coordinated little darlings has leaned against a small book case and knocked the entire thing onto its side.  Books were everywhere, but what's worse, that was the book case on which our pet fish resides in his fancy glass vase filled with beautiful pink glass stones.  Said fish was currently flopping around on the sopping carpet amidst those pretty pink glass stones and shards of glass of varying sizes.  "Quick, grab the jug of water!" I yelled, and we filled a glass I happened to have on hand with it.  Then, I knelt down, staring at the flopping fish--What the hell do I do now?!?!?! I thought.  My methods of teaching science teacher trained me to never let me kids see that I am grossed out by a bug or animal, but seriously, how was I supposed to pick up a struggling beta???  I tried once, but it just didn't happen.  Thankfully, one of my kids swooped in and had that little guy in the glass in no time flat. 

"Everybody, back to your seats and take out a book!" I yelled, once the fish was safe (or as safe as he could possible be--I'd say there's a distinct possibility of brain damage...we'll see if he makes it through the night...).  I REALLY didn't want to be that teacher who has a student get shards of glass embedded in his or her hands under my watch...Things didn't much improve when I called the office and they informed me that the custodian was on his lunch break.  Not wanting to leave the heap of shrapnel unattended, my plans for the educational read aloud faded away and the kids silent read at their desks while I spent 40+ minutes picking shards of glass from the carpet (and let me tell you, fish bowl water is not the most pleasant of aromas...), trying not to get too much stuck in my finger tips. 

When I left for my break during the kids' art class, I looked down at my pants with fish water stains, washed off a little glass cut on my finger, and thought to myself, "This is my career???"  All in a day's work as a teacher, I guess!

One happy thing:  when I was cleaning up the crime scene, the kids managed to circulate a note throughout the entire class that said, "Sorry about the fish!" and was signed by every student.  Adorable.  How they manage to get their acts together enough for that but can barely hang up their backpacks, I'll never know.  But it's days like these that remind me that, while it certainly isn't easy, teaching is nothing if not an ADVENTURE!!!

March 10, 2010

Maybe they should print that on the box...

The best thing about inheriting a classroom from a veteran teacher is inheriting a lot of stuff left behind.

The worst thing about inheriting a classroom from a veteran teacher is inheriting a lot of stuff left behind...

Having started the school year not knowing how to work an overhead (oh how I miss my SMART board from student teaching...), I very quickly fell in love with transparencies.  Using them, not making them--making them I HATE.  However, I make transparencies of EVERYTHING, and thank goodness the teacher whose room I inherited left a few boxes behind, so I've had plenty to use.  Since I hate making them, one of my biggest reasons for hoping to stay in the same grade next year is to not have to make them ALL again.  Naturally, I keep them all very organized, by subject, in labeled binders.  Well, when we shuffled our kids for math classes last week and switched around which teacher was teaching which group, I was excited to find out that I would be teaching a unit to my group that I had already done with the previous group.  Why is this exciting?  Why, because I already have the transparencies made!  Woohoo!

Well, my happiness lasted about 30 seconds before I pulled out the transparencies and started cleaning them off.  See, I have this little habit of filing them away with the marker still on them.  I grabbed a roll of paper towels and my handy little spray bottle and set to work.  Only to find that the marker didn't exactly come off.  Oh, it seemed to at first, but upon closer inspection, the transparencies were stained with the marker ink.  Scrubbing harder and applying a little cleaning solution didn't take the marker off, but it did take the INK off--the ink that had printed the worksheet onto the transparency in the first place!

I began to panic, worrying that this is what happens if you leave marker on transparencies without erasing it immediately.  Was this some secret that every teacher knew but I had never been told??  Was every transparency I'd made this year going to be permanently stained and I'd have to start from scratch next year???  I about started crying at this horrific thought.  Thank goodness, I pulled out my math transparencies from the first year of school and tested them with paper towel and water.  The ink wiped right off.  I cleaned another, and another, finding that they all wiped perfectly clean.  What was going on???

Well, after my hands were completely stained with vis-a-vis marker, I realized that for the past month I had been using one of the transparency boxes left behind by my predecessor, all of which don't seem to work well with wet erase markers...why else you'd make transparencies, I don't know.  Perhaps I should write the company.  Anyways, all of these would have to be thrown away and remade.  Which meant I had to redo all the transparencies for this math unit regardless.  Yikes.

Dear HP,

You fail at making transparency paper.  Put on the box, in giant bold letters, DO NOT USE WITH WET ERASE MARKERS!!!

Miss Teacher

March 9, 2010

To the student I worry about:

To the student I worry about (or one of the many),

Today I wanted to have lunch, just you and I, because I worry about you.  You are so sweet and have so much potential.  Smart, sweet, outgoing.  Ever since you told me about your goal of becoming a fashion designer and showed me your notebook of clothes designs, I have adored you.  But so often, I look at you and worry that, in a few years, you will choose the wrong path.  You haven't had an easy life, and don't have the kind of role models at home that you need.  When you are faced with choices between school and parties, homework and drugs, studying and boys, I worry that you will get caught up in the things that I pray so hard you stay away from.  You are already boy-crazy as a fifth grader--what will you be like at 13?  16?  18? 

So today I wanted to have lunch to have a talk about you.  I hope you were listening when I asked you about your goals and your fashion line.  I hope you heard me when I said I believe in you and am excited to buy an outfit designed by you at the mall one day.  And I hope it stuck with you when I talked about the different things that can sometimes get in the way of our dreams--boys, boys, boys.  Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with boys.  But I hope you heard me when I told you not to compromise any of your dreams for them.  I hope you listened when I told you that I have never let boys get in the way of MY dreams, and that I never plan to.

I hope you remember what I told you today come next year, and the next year, and the next year...

Miss Teacher

March 8, 2010

ISATS- check!

Well, ISATs are officially OVER!!! And not a moment too soon, either.  My kids were positively awful today!!  By the end of the day, I had completely had enough.  The real tipping point was when it took us about 30 minutes to correct a pre-test that involved labeling the 13 colonies on a map.  That should have taken 5 minutes.  Chatty, chatty, chatty!!

Yes, I understand that the tests were tough on the kids.  But come on, they were tough on me too!  Okay, I guess I didn't have to actually take them, but honestly during one of the math tests I was walking around glancing down at the test booklets and got so nauseous reading the problems that I had to sit down for fear I would throw up.  Yikes--and they expect my students to know all of this stuff???

Thankfully, they are done.  I turned in my test booklets (Saturday I actually was overcome with a wave of terror, convinced that when I arrived at school Monday morning I would find my booklets stolen...see, I really have lost it), shredded my students' scratch paper, and washed my hands of the entire thing.  I have officially done all I can, and there is no sense thinking any more about them now.  Not for another year at least. :)

While I will miss the hour + of quiet time (I actually read 2 books last week during testing time!  book reviews to come!) and not having any papers to grade, I will not miss spending every afternoon cramming and taking practice tests!  I will also not miss the kids who, having restrained themselves from talking all morning long, go absolutely crazy every afternoon.  I actually started working on my plans for next week and thought, "Wow, look at all this free time!!  What did I used to teach every afternoon before we started using that time for ISAT prep??"

What a crazy, crazy school system we live in.  Just think how much my students could have learned during the past month and a half if we weren't all so busy trying to prove that they ARE learning.

And so, until next year, the ISATs are no longer going to keep me awake at night :)  Although I'm sure something else will! ;)

March 1, 2010

Buckle's ISAT TIME!!!

Well, after my plethora of ISAT nightmares and my lack of sleep all last week, the ISATs are finally here.  Over the weekend I managed to calm myself down and resign myself to the fact that I have literally done all I can do.  The rest is up to the kids, the test itself, and just chance in general.  Today was our first big day of testing.  I got to school early this morning to preview the test instructions, pass out smarties and the good luck notes from the kids' parents (a really cool tradition my school has), cue up my Mozart Effect CD (hey, we need all the help we can get!!), and make sure all the materials were in order.  Once I was sure I had everything I needed and it was all organized, I managed to breath easy and relax.

A lot of my kiddos were pretty nervous coming in, but most seemed calm overall.  I let them work on morning work for extra time (our tests didn't start until 10:30) and went from kid to kid to give each one a little one-on-one time.  I wish I had time for that everyday!  Anyways, before I knew it, it was time for THE TEST.   I have to admit, it was kind of weird to be reading the instruction sheet for the ISAT.  I mean, I've given plenty of tests both this year and in student teaching, but I actually remember TAKING the ISAT tests as a kid.  How weird was it to be on the other side!!

Anyways, 1 down, 6 to go.  Yikes!  It is super nice though to not have grading to do all week :)  Although I still didn't grade last week's papers...but I feel like I can procrastinate them a little.  I'm using the extra time to reorganize my classroom library and plan a (wait for it...) social studies unit.  I figured I better squeeze in a little science and social studies now that the dreaded tests are going to be behind us.  We're going to be doing a (brief) interact unit on the colonies where partners research a colony and make a travel brochure to convince new colonists to settle there.  At this rate we will barely hit the revolutionary war by the end of the year!  Yikes.  But hey, I'm trying.  :)

I will update later this week on how the BIG TESTS are going.  Send lots of smart vibes our way!!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...