December 31, 2010

2010 Recap!

This time two years ago, I was having a bit of anxiety when I realized that it was the first New Year's of my life when I had absolutely NO idea where the following year would take me.  Interestingly enough, the following year led me right back home to my childhood house, as 2009 brought me a brand new opportunity and a teaching job minutes from my hometown.

This time last year, I was getting ready for an exciting night out enjoying the city nightlife.  It had been a rough couple of months, and I was excited to squeeze in one last night of fun before the impending doom of returning to the classroom post-winter break...

This year, I could not be happier NOT to be getting all dolled up and slipping on high heels.  In fact, I am perfectly content to be wearing jeans right now, and to enjoy a quiet New Year's of yummy food, wine, and a movie with a few high school friends.  Sometimes there is nothing sweeter than a relaxing evening, and I don't care if that makes me middle-aged at heart!  Like last year, I must admit that I am dreading Monday morning...but the reasons are SO vastly different this time.  I am NOT dreading Monday because I can't bear the pressure, because my students are crazy, or because I hate my job.  I'm honestly just dreading waking up at 5am and not being able to read in bed for hours!!

2010 was not the most eventful year in my life.  It honestly was fairly dull, but in that peaceful, satisfying kind of way.  In 2010, I...

  • Learned to take control of management in my classroom.  I finally understood the importance of teaching and reteaching (and REreteaching!) routines and procedures that both work for me and work for my students.  I realized that just because I had planned something in my dream-classroom-in-my-head, it might not work out in real life.  And most importantly, I realized that that's okay--you can change plans as often as is necessary. :)
  • Survived my first round of ISAT testing, and miraculously the kiddos did too!  
  • Experienced the exciting reality of what happens when a student knocks over your fish bowl in class, including attempting to pick up a live beta and picking shards of glass out of carpeting.  Oh 5th grade...
  • Came to terms with the distressing realities of stealing, lying, and emotional distress in the classroom.  I realized just how sad and true the stories of some of these students are, and faced the humbling reality that there is not always very much I can do to help, no matter how badly I want to.
  • Approached the end of the year with a completely different attitude about myself, my work, and my students than I had had months previously.  I saw just how far they had come, I had come, and we had come together.  And it felt...amazing.  
  • Put a hold on my previous plans of service abroad, realizing that I had begun a job here that was far from complete.  Instead of packing up my classroom, I signed a contract for the 2010-2011 school year, 100% confident that I was making the right choice and excited to return in August for a fresh start.
  • Paid off my student loans (!!!) thanks to a rent-free year of living with mommy and daddy!
  • Felt very grown up when I bought my first NEW car: a 2010 toyota prius
  • Relished my first summer working less than 20 hours a week in years.  I used this special time to recharge my batteries, mentally and physically, with many naps, reading some amazing books, and rediscovering running in a whole new way.  
  • Ran my first and second 5Ks, took on a whole new challenge by registering for my half-marathon, and was jubilant to discover the amazing things my body can do for me when I treat it right!
  • a stress fracture in my right tibia that promptly put a hold on my new running passion for a few months.
  • Started YEAR 2 at my school, and was AMAZED to see and feel the difference in myself and my classroom, having had that first year under my belt.
  • Faced a reality of students who CANNOT READ in 5th grade, and learned how critical my responsibility is to advocate and fight for my students.
  • Fell in love with Writing Workshop!
  • Fell in love with teaching again, come to think of it... :)

^and I mean that.  I did fall in love with teaching again in 2010.  I am still stressed, I still yell sometimes, I still feel helpless, and the kids still drive me crazy sometimes...but I love my job.  That alone is both a blessing and a miracle.  And, in an economy when so many either are unemployed or stuck in a job that is unfulfilling, it is something to be so grateful for.  I am grateful for so much as I look back on 2010.  Maybe it was a more eventful year than I'd originally thought...

source: postsecret

December 27, 2010

Winter Wonders, cont.

Wonderful Moments from the Past Few Days

  • A much needed haircut
  • An outside run (well, run/obstacle course/adventure...nothing like running dodging icy patches!)
  • Christmas Eve mass
  • Celebrating Christmas with my family
  • An afternoon of family board games
  • Yoga
  • Finishing a good book
NOT wonderful was my Sunday long run.  Somehow I had the brilliant idea to eat a bowl of HEARTY lentil soup 2 hours before the'd think that would be enough time to digest, but you would be wrong.  There is NOTHING like running on the treadmill contemplating throwing up in your towel, I tell ya...but I made it through and everything stayed in my tummy.  

Am thinking about heading into school tomorrow to start getting my act together...but maybe not...can't seem to find motivation to open my school bag either... ;)

December 23, 2010

2011: Planning Ahead :)

At my school, we are all about "SMART goals."  And by "all about" I mean that we are both given them and told to write them.  However, they are RARELY achievable, as the acronym specifies.  For example, when filling out an RTI document on one of my MANY struggling readers, the SMART goal I was told to list was that he will read at grade level by the end of this year.  I teach fifth grade.  This child reads at BARELY a first grade level.  Huh...achievable...totally...

ANYWAYS, excuse my snarkiness, but honestly...I decided to write some SMART resolutions for this year.  What that means, basically, is that my resolutions will NOT be things like "work out more," or "get more sleep."  Those are resolutions that get immediately abandoned, mostly because there is no way to keep them!  More sleep?  What does that mean??  Even though my SMART resolutions will likely be overshadowed at some point by other impending deadlines and responsibilities, the organized list-maker in me loves listing out ways to improve my life at the start of every year.  :)

In 2011, I will:

School Goals

  • Research grad school programs and select a Reading Specialist Masters program that works for me, both financially and logistically;
  • Make time for Read Aloud in my classroom at least 4 days a week, if only for 5 minutes;
  • Spend no more than 1 night per week at school until 6 (at the latest!);
  • Use a formative assessment strategy like Exit Slips at least once a week;

Fitness Goals

  • Continue following and complete Hal Higdon's 1/2 Marathon Novice training plan, and subsequently complete the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon;

Being a Grown-Up & Living a Happy Life Goals

  • Set aside at least 1/2 an hour every single day just for myself, and use this time for reading, exercise, or just relaxing with some music;
  • Develop a budget, and stick to it!  To be "measured" using or some other means that works for me (I guess another resolution should be to find some sort of budgeting tool!);
  • Find & move into an apartment that I love and can reasonably afford;
  • Cook a healthy meal for myself at least once a week (and by cook I mean actually prepare, not just assemble on a plate.  And no, oatmeal doesn't count... :-/ )
  • Take my vitamins every day :) maybe not all of these are TRUE SMART goals, but they're a start at least!  Anything I'm missing? What are your resolutions for 2011?

December 22, 2010

Yummy food and a Blackhawks win = Wonderful Wednesday

During the school year, Wednesdays are a LONG day for me.  I have staff development after school, then rush straight to my autism therapy job.  When I get home, I am exhausted.  Today was an equally packed Wednesday--but a wonderful one nonetheless!

Wonderful Highlights:

1. Lunch with my special teacher friend Miss R and our wonderful friend Mrs. H!  We absolutely gorged ourselves on delicious food and cupcakes at a favorite cafe.

2. Gathering with family and friends to watch a Blackhawks game!  Hockey is the ONLY sport that can hold my interest, and definitely the only sport I understand the rules to.  Definitely a wonderful part of the day.  :)

I'm wondering just how long I can get away with neglecting my grading least this week, right?

December 21, 2010

I agree, Mr. Teachbad

I recently discovered Mr. Teachbad's blog and immediately love its honestly and satire.  I especially enjoyed this post from last week about what "bugs [him] about education reform."  Today I was talking with my brother about school and the impending state tests.  He shook his head in disbelief when I told him that pretty much every afternoon from January to March would be devoted to test prep.  Honestly, imagine how much more I could TEACH if I didn't feel like I had the fate of the school and AYP on my shoulders...Anyways, Mr. Teachbad struck a powerful and important chord in his post:

The achievement Gap is not the fault of teachers. How likely is that? Think about it. I mean, what are the chances that all the terrible teachers just randomly ended up in districts and neighborhoods with high rates of:
1) Single, young mothers;
2) Poverty;
3) Obesity;
4) Smoking;
5) Crime;
6) No books in the house;
7) Illiterate/unemployed/incarcerated/absentee parents.
I’ve been doing this for six years. Kids like this are hard to teach. It’s not like dropping into a desert and giving people water…where they are all grateful and think you are awesome. It’s more like giving cough medicine to a hysterical three-year old with a fever and diarrhea; they’ll fight it to the death and hate you afterward.
I can’t patch all these holes. I can’t make up for everything my students have so unfairly been denied. And I can’t accept responsibility for what that breeds.
Bill Gates and Michelle Rhee are dishonest for suggesting that if I do things a certain way in my classroom that I can overcome all of this. It’s just not true. And it is disingenuous and unfair to teachers to pretend otherwise.
Amen, Mr. Teachbad.  Maybe if every teacher makes their voice heard, someone from Washington will finally hear us?  Oh wait, we're just teachers.  Who cares what we think?


Confession #1: I'll admit it...I went into school today.  :(  I guess I really can't stay away from that place for too long!
My lonely car in the snowy parking lot...

Confession #2: I actually LOVE going into school on days off.  Wait, let me explain before you form judgments...I do NOT love spending time at school during breaks, but I love how quiet it is when I do go in.  I can sit and file in peace, I am not at all rushed or having to watch the clock, I don't have to worry about hogging the copier or waiting in line...I can simply get me work done peacefully and head out when I feel like it!  

This afternoon I just stopped in briefly.  Mostly, I needed to pick up my class fish, Fighty, and save him from impending death by starvation.  While there, I inevitable found other things to occupy my time!  I purposely didn't bring my grading or computer, because then I'd really settle in for the long haul!  Today I just hung up some more ISAT signs on the ever-growing clothes line (pictures to come), filed transparencies and handouts from the past two weeks, and started copying ISAT reading practice passages.  GROSS.  It's that time of year, though!  And I know I will greatly appreciate having taken the time to copy them now when we are back in the thick of things in 2 weeks!  I will probably go in again once or twice next week to move desks, continue copying, and do my plans for the next week or so. Plenty of time still, though!!

Confession #3: While at school, I gathered all of the leftover candy that had been brought for the Holiday Party and put it in the candy rewards jar.  But not before I picked out all of the mini dark chocolate candy bars and put them in MY personal candy stash....*evil laugh*  That's totally ethical, right?

Of course, I made time for some wonderful things today!  The best part was definitely hanging out lazily with my brother at the gym today.  My brother lives in Florida with his wife, and the two of them are visiting for the holiday.  I brought them both to the gym with me as guests today, and after my brother and I finished working out (his wife is WAY more hard-core than us!!), we decided to reward ourselves with an HOUR of lounging in the club hot tub and chatting.  It was wonderful to spend some time just the two of us, and SO unbelievably relaxing!!  At one point I noticed that the sign by the hot tub warned against spending more than five minutes in the tub...oops!  Oh well!

December 20, 2010


A lot of people have asked me recently what I'm doing over winter break.  My response is usually a blank stare.  What am I doing?  RELAXING, duh!!!  No, I'm not traveling somewhere warm and exotic.  I have no exciting plans to visit far-away family.  My goals are very simple.  First, relax.  Second, catch up on school work.  And third, and perhaps most important, do something wonderful every single day.

What kinds of things might those be?  Let me illustrate:

Friday:  My wonderful thing was catching up with my two best friends/roommates from college.  No, we didn't do anything fabulous.  Just went out for drinks and conversation.  But it was wonderful to see them both!

Saturday:  Saturday's wonderful things included staying in bed until noon--unfortunately I was awake at 7:45, but I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the lazy time to read, watch a movie on my laptop, and catch up on reading some blogs--simply bliss.  Another wonderful part of the day was enjoying a 45 minute swim (my first time in the pool after a LONG hiatus!  I forgot how much I adore swimming!), and some evening shopping.

Sunday: Wonderful moments included a cookie exchange party (YUM--nothing says winter break like a midday cookie meal!!!) and a FABULOUS nighttime long run.

Monday: Today was simply wonderful.  Featured on the wonderful menu were manis and pedis with the wonderful Miss R and a relaxing evening yoga class.

My toes mostly look dry and icky in this picture, but I promise that they are FAR more wonderful now than they were pre-pedicure!  Thank you, wonderful manicurist!
Winter break always FLIES by.  I am determined to savor every moment this year.  Yes, there will be some school work (mostly because a wonderful gift to myself will be having everything ready to go when we get back to school!), but there will be lots of NON-SCHOOL WORK happening too. :)

What wonderful things do you have planned this winter?

December 19, 2010

1/2 Marathon Training & Mantras

Today I finished week 3 of my half training!  Miraculously, my tibia is holding up after my unfortunate stress injury/fracture that just would not heal (*knocks on wood*).  I feel a little soreness intermittently during my runs, but the doc said that as long as the pain isn't increasing while running, a little soreness is not a big deal.  I've continued running intervals to take some of the stress off of it and not overdo it.  Initially, it was frustrating to be sooo sloooow.  First of all, I was running smaller intervals than I'd like.  Even uninjured I like interval running, but this was ridiculous.  At the beginning I could only run for 30 seconds without pain!  Second, my pace was mega slow.  I run at a snails pace NORMALLY, so with babying my tibia slowing me down even more, it felt sometimes like I was barely moving.  Anyways, my leg is continuing to heal and my body is adjusting to running again.  And so is my mind. :)

Which brings me to my next topic...mantras.  Do you have a personal mantra?  One of those phrases you repeat that gets you through tough moments?  I have a few that I like to repeat during tough patches of runs.  Tonight it was, "When my body feels weak, I run with my heart," that carried me through the last mile.  Another favorite is simply repeating, "Reach for it, work for it, fight for it," during an impossible running stretch.  Not only does it take my mind off my exhaustion, but at times these kinds of mantras completely shift my attitude about the run.  They say a huge chunk of running is mental, right?

While those are a few of my running mantras, I have a personal mantra for my life: "Trust the process."  Short, simple.  Powerful.  I was introduced to this phrase my senior year in high school when I attended a Kairos retreat through my church.  It was repeated throughout the retreat by the leaders, mostly when we would ask questions about what was coming next or why we were doing anything.  But it wasn't until after the retreat that the profound meaning of this phrase really sunk in.  Trust the process.  Wasn't that what living was all about?  Trust?  A few years later, this phrase truly became my personal mantra.  During a rough time at the beginning of my sophomore year in college, I repeated it in my head, doodled it on my notes in class, and stuck a post-it with the quote on it next to my computer.  It reminded me that I could get through the difficult things going on in my life, and that, more importantly, they were happening for a reason.  Trust the process.

When I ran my first race in 2008, the Muddy Buddy, my teammate and I wrote those words on our forearms in sharpie.  The quote had become her personal mantra too.  While the Muddy Buddy is by no means a marathon, it was challenging for me as a brand-new runner.  I remember looking at the words on my arm and repeating them to myself.  It gave me courage, confidence, and most importantly, put a smile on my face.

When I think about teaching, I feel like this mantra is more valuable than ever.  That first year was tough.  And by that I mean, sometimes I still can't believe I made it through until January!  But, just like everyone said I would, I made it.  Sometimes I feel like it would be easier to teach at a different school.  It would be nice to have more support staff or parents who cared more.  It would be great if I didn't have crazy kids who have no structure or discipline at home and thus think school must be the same way.  It would be fabulous if I didn't have to worry so much about the school making AYP.  But then I think about what a gift it has been for me to teach where I do--I have gained an incredible amount of experience in such a short time, experience I will be able to bring to WHATEVER school I might end up at in the future.  Trust the process--things happen for a reason.

I continue to use this mantra when I have a tough day--at home, at school, wherever.  Trust the process.  Tomorrow is another day.  This is happening for a reason.

December 16, 2010

Cue awkward giggle to myself...

Today we finally finished reading Wayside School is Falling Down!  The kids sat in rapt silence (interrupted only by HUGE giggle fits) as I plowed through the last few chapters in an extra-long read aloud time.  We usually only read about 10 minutes, but today as a special treat we read for 30.  SOOO worth it.

Anyways, if you have read the Wayside School books, you'll know they are silly with a capital S.  Well, today we read a VERY interesting part during which the kids looked confusedly to one another while I giggled awkwardly and rushed to continue reading before questions were asked...

Let me explain.  There is a character in Falling Down who has 3 ears--two regular, and one on the top of her head.  The thing is, though, that this third ear can hear people's thoughts!  Also, it's completely hidden by her hair, so no one knows it's there.  Well, at one point in the story, this character (who is not a student at Wayside) was proposed to.  Before she said yes, she felt obligated to share her secret about the third ear.  And then, out of NO WHERE, the book says something along the lines of, "He already knew about her two regular ears; he had nibbled on both of them..." Oh my goodness.  The kids all kind of looked at each other like "huh??" (it's actually refreshing that they were confused by that!) while I actually laughed out loud, wondered what I would say if anyone asked what the heck he was doing nibbling on her ear, and wished there were another teacher in the room to make eye contact with!

There are SO MANY silly moments in every given day, and so often do I wish I had a buddy teacher around to giggle about them with!  I guess I will have to be content with sharing them here. :)  Oh Louis silly...

December 14, 2010

glittering eyes

Quote I'm enjoying right this minute from the author who introduced me to magic as a child in a way not even Walt Disney did:

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.
-Roald Dahl

Oh hi, week before winter break...BTW, you suck.

Sorry, but it's true.  Week-before-winter-break is WORSE than his little brother, two-days-before-thanksgiving-break, EQUALLY as ferocious as his half-sister week-before-spring-break, and NOT QUITE as god-awful as the mother of them all, last-week-of-school.

By all that I mean, breaks make kids LOSE IT.  Now, you might think this just means they are crazy/chatty/goofy/can't sit still for their lives...but you would be wrong.  It means all that...and MORE.  When breaks creep up, kids (through no fault of their own) lose EVERY ounce of self-control.  In every way. Case in point, my day from HELL:

Let me illustrate with some math...

Number of kids brought to tears today: 4 (see, I told you they lose it)
Number of referrals I had written before the morning bell: 2
Number of referrals I wrote later in the day: 3
Number of lunch detentions: 2
Number of kids held after school: 2
Number of those kids who decided they were going to run away through the school when kept after: 1
Number of minutes spent searching the school: 15
Number of houses the assistant principal walked to in an attempt to track down my runner: 1
Number of minutes of assistant principal's time wasted after I returned to my classroom and discovered that said runner had crept back in (and was sitting silently, doing his make up work, and refusing to talk to anyone): 30
Number of parent phone calls: 5
Number of parent phone calls during which I learned that one of my lovelies had told another student he was going to "rip his head off": 1

Number of years off my life today: who. even. knows...

It's a good thing I am already an avid hair-colorer.  These kids would be giving me some SERIOUS grays by now, let me tell you...
It will be a miracle if I survive the next three days...but the bigger miracle will be if all of THEM do!!!!!

December 10, 2010

Well, if you need a reminder, then okay...

This week at my autism therapy side job, I noted this very specific, clear assignment copied into my little sweetheart's assignment notebook:

I can only begin to guess...

Thought that one was too good not to share...

Social Studies Education in the Public School...or lack thereof...

OR: "No, thank YOU, No Child Left Behind!"

In a day and age where the teaching time is fleeting and assessments are many, any subject that's not tested falls to the back burner.  Every bright-eyed, idealistic young student teacher swears, "Not in MY classroom!  I would never give up teaching [science/social studies/creative writing/fine arts/fill in the blank...]!!!!"  But then, there we are in the real life classroom, with AYP, NCLB, state testing, and other crushing pressures suddenly on our shoulders.  And even us liberally educated, once-idealistic teachers suddenly start filling afternoons with practice pages from test-prep books instead of read alouds, interactive units, and creative projects.  (Sorry, but my mood is already headed south in anticipation of spring testing!)

To further illustrate this inevitable transformation, here is a glimpse into the teacher I always knew I'd be: I did my senior research project on Peace Education, and presented it to peers and professors having reached the conclusion that themes of peace and conflict resolution must be woven into the very fibers of one's teaching, must be at the very heart of every lesson, unit, and activity.  I adamantly voiced that a culture of peace in the classroom COULD and WOULD help change the world.  (God I know.  So young, so naive.)  

Don't get me wrong--I still believe in those things.  It is just that there are MANY other things on our plates in the real life classroom!  And there just plain isn't time to do it all.  I'm not squeezing in mini-lessons on conflict resolution strategies, studying subversive topics in American history, or holding regular classroom meetings to problem solve "issues."  Nope, not even close.  

I admit: Social studies has never been my favorite subject to teach.  I'm not sure why, but I'm just not excited about it.  That being said, though, I in no way underestimate the importance of social studies education.  How can we expect to NOT make the same mistakes in the future that mar our nations past if we aren't educating children about our history?  How can we expect tolerance between countries and peoples without studying, and thereby appreciating and understanding, the differences in the world?  Yet social studies education is sorely lacking in classrooms ALL OVER America.  In fact, our state gave any hope of adequate social studies education the kiss of death when it decided it wasn't important enough to make it onto the state test.  (Not that I'm complaining about that--I would probably kill myself if I had to prep the kids for ANOTHER test...)  

And this week, when we read about the American Revolution in our literacy book, I was appalled, yet not surprised, by the complete and utter lack of background knowledge my kids have on American history...Yes, I know it's MY job to teach them.  God knows I'm trying.  But something to work with, please...

ANYWAYS, here they are, the two quotes straight from the mouths of my little darlings that inspired this rant and made me die a small death inside.  Two utterances that truly illustrate how much we (myself included) are failing the youth of today in social studies education:

Miss Teacher: "What country was the Patriot army, the American army, fighting against in the Revolutionary War?"
Student: "Boston?'
Miss Teacher: *shakes head* "No...just, no..."

Student's vocabulary word sentence for the word tyrant: "Lincoln is tyrant of the revolutionary war."

The future of America, ladies and gentlemen.

God help us all.

December 8, 2010

Oh my addictive personality...

Where have I been for the past few days?  Duh!  Reading Twilight!  Actually, make that Twilight, New Moon, and just started Eclipse tonight.  KNEW I should have waited until winter break to read these!!!  Literally reading while eating breakfast, reading a few minutes before the morning bell rings at my desk, reading during plan time, lunch, at the gym, you name it...I'll be the first to admit it, I have a serious addictive personality...but book addictions are a-okay, right?  Maybe?

Other than Twilight, school is exhausting but no real complaints...just eagerly counting the days til winter break!  Just started a new social studies unit, to be blogged about soon.  Half-marathon training is fine, just the occasional tibia soreness (after 16 wks is my stress fracture FINALLY healed?  dare I even dream???)...aside from the miserable freezing cold, I have no real complaints.  Well, except the usual: crazy kids, kids who can't read, looming ISAT tests, you know...all in a day's work. :)

December 6, 2010

Weekend Wonders, or How I Finally Caved and Read (& liked!) Twilight

This weekend, I rediscovered the joy of getting all too caught up in a book.  Maybe rediscovered isn't the right word, as this certinaly isn't an infrequent activity for me.  See, when I LOVE a book, it literally consumes me.  I cannot put it down.  I'll stay up far too late to read, read it during plan time at school, even get up early to read.  Confession: When the 7th Harry Potter came out, I brought it in the car with me.  And read it.  At red lights.  While driving to work.

Another Confession:  The book I was obsessed with this weekend was...Twilight.  I know.  My English major/minor friends are cringing...Honestly, at first the book didn't appeal to me--I've never been a fan of vampires or any other horror film creatures.  I don't believe in ghost stories.  But after enough friends had talked about it over the past few years, I decided to go for it.  (It's the next topic of discussion for my little book club too)  Annnd., as expected, the writing is horrendous.  Honestly.  When I think of some of the AMAZING young adult books I've read lately, it's unfortunate to see such poor writing.  And the romance is a little too obsessive for my taste--especially in YA books, I'm a big fan of strong female leads, and Bella certainly isn't one.  I've never been one to find female characters who feel they can't survive without their leading man appealing...or females in real life, to tell you the truth!

But all of that criticism aside, I could not put this book down.  I read it in bed in the morning, at the gym, on the couch, in the car (NOT while driving!!), you name it.  I finally finished it last night (after staying up past my bedtime), and cannot wait to get my hands on the second book.  I honestly cannot tell you what captivated me so much about this book!  I really don't know myself.  But I do know that I was, like Bella, very curious about mysterious Edward, and NEEDED to know what happened next throughout the book.  I'm sure I will devour the other three books just as quickly.

Anyways, my wonderful Saturday afternoon was filled with this:

 Reading on the couch

Enjoying the snowy view from the window

Munching an amazing lunch of PB & banana toast + my first hot chocolate of the year 
(what a perfect day for it!)

Sunday I attempted my first Snow Run, and I'm not sure I will be attempting another one any time soon!!  Since I am subjected to the tread mill during the week, I decided that I might as well run outside Sunday morning for my Long Run and enjoy some sun (freezing cold or not).  Here is a recap of the run:

Number of miles run: 4 (with MUCH walking due to a still sore tibia and insane freezing winds)
Number of layers worn at start of run: 3
Number of layers I had to stop home and take off: 1
Number of tissues used (darn runny nose!): 8
Number of complete wipe-outs due to icy sidewalks: 1
Number of times I cursed myself for deciding that trekking through ice and snow would be an ideal way to start my Sunday: too many to count!!!
All that aside, feeling at the end of the run: Bliss (and relief!)

My tibia is still a little sore (I'm not sure it appreciated the extra uneven surface brought on by packed, frozen snow on the streets/sidewalks!), but I'm hoping it calms down in time to run again tomorrow...on the treadmill this time!

December 1, 2010

Oh hi stress...

I am a little frazzled today...between a hectic day, a bit less patience than usual on my side, a rushed lunch, an assembly at the end of the day that got us back to the room just minutes before the afternoon bell (rushing to get hw passed out, backpacks packed, etc...), staff development after school, and immediately rushing to my autism therapy job, I haven't had a moment to breathe.

Luckily, my after school kiddo's mom had a latte waiting for me when I came over.  I swear it saved my life.

Here's what has me stressed out today:

1. Math.  My current chapter in the math series is on fractions, but I really dislike the way it is laid out.  We do Everyday Mathematics and while there are many positive things about the series, it is WAY too abstract most of the time for my group.  I tend to favor simple concepts taught in very basic ways, with real-life connections peppered in when appropriate.  Everyday Math attempts to put in WAY too many real-life connections, and tends to confuse the kids more often than not.  My team has been talking about meeting to go through the chapter and decide what to teach and what to toss, but the meeting keeps getting postponed because of other pressing issues.  Meanwhile, I'm starting the chapter and feeling like I'm treading water.  Actually, picture me treading water while at the same time trying to hold the hands of the 20 kids in my math class and keep them afloat too.  Needless to say, if someone doesn't throw me a life preserver/jacket/whole freakin raft soon, someone's going down...

2. RTI.  I have two kiddos who I am SO concerned about, and I feel like NOTHING is happening with them.  Due to a lack of communication, a change in policies regarding RTI, and me just not knowing what I'm supposed to be doing, I feel like these kids are drowning with no help in sight.  I get really emotional when it comes to things like this...I love my kids, and it kills me when I just don't know what to do next to help them.  Also, it makes me livid when I feel like they are not getting the services they are entitled to because of logistics.  I've recontacted the special services teacher and will hopefully be able to set up a meeting within the next couple days to start filling out the brand NEW RTI paperwork...I guess the form I filled out back in AUGUST (that is collecting dust in some system somewhere) wasn't gonna cut it??  There are many things that frustrate me about the education system in America, but nothing makes me as frustrated/upset/outraged/emotional as when I see kids drowning who NEED and DESERVE help, but because of the system it isn't coming to out, this is one teacher who is ready to jump through some serious hoops...

3. At staff development today, Mister Principal announced that he is being moved to a new building next year.  I have to say, I was pretty startled by this news and am really upset.  Let me explain:
When I interviewed for my job in April 2009, I bombed both the lesson I was asked to teach and the interview itself.  (I guess bombed is a relative term...I am a perfectionist, so it probably wasn't the WORST EVER, but in this competative market, any slip in an interview can be fatal...)  I left thinking there was no chance in hell I would be getting that job, especially since in the last week I had been passed up for 2 that had gone flawlessly.  Well, I did get the job as you know.  Both my teammates who had been at the interview and my principal had seen something in me that they liked, and believed enough in me to hire me in spite of the less than stellar showing at the interview.  He actually told me after that he hired me because of the way I talked about loving students, forming relationships, and appreciating diversity--all things that are at the heart of who I am as a teacher.  I know that he hired me for me, because he believed in the same things I do in the classroom.

Fast forward--last year was ROUGH.  Seriously.  Even though things were really tough for me, and I had a tough group of trouble makers, both the principal and the assistant principal really supported me through it all. Now by no means is my principal perfect, and there are things that drive me crazy as I'm sure there are in every school for every teacher.  But through it all, I really feel like he cares about me, like he has my back, and like he understands and appreciates both how hard I work and how far I've come.  And now, I'll have to get used to someone new?  I know this is completely normal and that administration changes happen all the time.'s tough as a non-tenured teacher to know that your job is not secure and that this administrator who trusted you enough to take a leap of faith and offer you a job fresh out of college, and THEN to offer it back to you again is not going to be there anymore.  I just...idk.  I'm not sure what to think, and on top of everything else that was stressing me out today, wondering about my job security was just the cherry on top.

Oh that, and we started pulling out the ISAT review books--hello Coach, Buckle Down, Ladders to Succes, Workouts, and all of the other nonsense practice we get to start shoving down these poor kids' throats...Kill me.  Now, please.

I'm sure tomorrow will be calmer...but my alarm will definitely be set for 5am tomorrow.  I refuse to have another frantic day!
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