February 18, 2011

Fashion Advice from 11 Year Olds, Test Prep, and other Thrilling Events in my Teacher Life :)

Hi Friday.  It's been too long. :)

This week has been, in a word, exhausting.  It definitely has not dragged...in fact, it's been so jam-packed that I feel like I've barely caught my breath!  Tuesday I didn't get home until 10pm...no, not because I was working in my classroom until then like that one horrible day from last year (my first year)--thank goodness!!  I had lots of work to do in my room, a parent meeting at 4, then a school event I was volunteering at from 5:30-7.  Then I packed up/finished my work, and headed to the gym for a run.  By the time I stretched, showered, and got in my car, it was already 10.  YIKES!  Nothing like days when you are only home an hour before you head to bed...Yesterday I didn't even walk out of the building until 7.  Thankfully, my to-do list has shortened SIGNIFICANTLY this week, which means this weekend will be low-stress. :)  Yay.  This includes a mountain of grading (I actually have NONE home this weekend!!!!!!!!!), report cards (!!!!!), test pencils sharpened, desks moved into rows, and name tags covered with construction paper.

^Those last three things are all ISAT (our state tests) related...testing doesn't start until the week after next, but with me being at school only Tuesday and Wednesday next week because of Presidents Day and heading to F L O R I D A (!!), I knew that I'd kick myself in the face if I didn't get those little things ready beforehand.  I like getting the kids into "test formation" a week early so they have time to adjust.  I have tons of posters and anchor charts around my room that we use all year round, and we are allowed to keep things like that up for the Big Tests (as long as they have been up all year and been part of our teaching).  Throughout the year, I have trained the kids where to look when they need help with certain types of problems, and it's important that they get used to looking for these things from the place in the room where they'll be sitting for the actual test.  Also, kids suck with routine changes.  Fact of life.  Just like runners don't try anything new on race day, teachers don't try anything new on testing days!!

You'll notice the clotheslines of signs in the background.  Those have my math vocabulary and formulas.  We literally ran out of wall space... I also covered name tags with construction paper.  The Test Police don't allow us to have any visuals (multiplication tables, place value charts, etc.) on desks, and they are printed on all my kids name tags.  It's a shame we have to cover them, because the kids use them all year round, and now suddenly they can't.  Another reason to cover everything a week early and get used to it...

I am so sick of test prep BTW.  It is the bane of my existence.  I know any non-teachers out there are probably thinking, "Then do less!" and any teachers who teach in a school where the kids just naturally meet/exceed on your tests are probably thinking, "Test prep is not best practice!" let me assure you I understand your point of view.  But not doing mountains of test prep is simply not an option in my school.  There is so much at stake and so much pressure...our kids are so behind that we basically try to cram every math/reading term or concept they haven't learned yet into the weeks before the test, hoping something will stick.  It's sad, really.  I apologized to the kids today for subjecting them to this crap, assuring them it is literally as stressful and painful for me as it is for them...little do they know that it is most definitely MORE stressful and painful for me!!!

In other news...I had a FANTASTIC post-observation with Mr. Principal this week!!!  He came in last Friday to observe my reading lesson and left me a very kind note, so I knew he would have positive things to say, but I was literally floored by some of the positive feedback I got.  Mr. Principal is leaving next year, so I think that had something to do with his praises, especially after the hell he's been putting us through lately.  I was completely touched by his kind words (which included fantastic and dynamite)--and it is just so wonderful to know that someone sees how hard I work (especially when I was already yelled at by an unreasonable parent once this week!)...and more importantly, to know that I AM in the right profession and that all of that hard work has really paid off.

I'm a bit exhausted...it may be time to curl up with ice cream and a book. :)  But first, my student work gems of the week.

Prompt: Write about a time you gave someone advice.

Of course there is an OH SO GOOD illustration...

The classic jersey girl style reminds me of a bondi band...perhaps I will rock that look tomorrow, without the circles of blush... ;)

God, I love my job. :)

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