September 3, 2012

2 weeks down and still smiling :)

Well, I have survived 2 weeks of school at my new job and have to say, I am so. much. happier.  I just went back and skimmed a few of my posts from last September, and at that point last year, I was in the kind of funk that most teachers get in at SOME point during a year, but never in September!  In fact, when I think back about the first week of school last year, I'm pretty sure I had already cried a few times, and let me clarify that I wasn't crying over the kids.  Let's just say it like it is: last year pretty much sucked.

This year is the change I needed.  My new school is no ritzy building, but in comparison to my old school, it's Disneyland.  The teachers are happy, my team gets along great, and the kids are wonderful.  Yes, we still have pressure on us and low kids with so much growth to make in so little time, but I don't feel like I'm working in a prison.  Last year I felt like no matter how hard I worked (which was pretty freaking hard), it was never good enough.  This year feels just so different in so many ways.  Also, can I just say that third and fourth graders are freaking adorable?  I love them.  This is definitely the age for me!  Cute words from third and fourth graders...
"Today I am feeling good  i got to purple in 3 and 4 grade.  I just might go to pink.  Pink is the Best." 
(Clip chart love!)
Cute 3/4 experience of the week: I use music for transitions and "anchor" a different song to the different transitions during the day, and our song before PE is "Firework" by Katy Perry.  All of the kids were singing it while lining up, boys included.  Our clean up song is "Who Says" by Selena Gomez (adorable song, youtube it if you don't know it), and they all sing that too.  Adorable.  Love it.  Is it easy and stress-free?  OF COURSE NOT!  I am still teaching, of course, and with that comes the same politics and silliness as at the old school, but it is just so much more bearable.  Things are just better.  When I compare my feeling after the first day this year to last year, it's so completely different.  I just know I made the right choice and feel so good about that.  Things really do happen for a reason, and I am so LUCKY I lost that job or I'd still be there crying and tearing my hair out.  Funny how life works sometimes!!

Just wanted to share some of my lessons from the first week...
Our first class read aloud was The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman, a super cute story about a gang of odd balls ("dunderheads") with unique talents.  The kids work together to help one of their friends after a mean and nasty teacher steals one of his prized posessions.  While reading, the kids listened for the special talents of each kid and I recorded them on chart paper.  Then, the kids each wrote some of their special gifts on strips of paper which we connected into a paper chain.  Love this, and the kiddos loved it too.

Our chain
On day 2 I did the lesson from Comprehension Connections on Metacognition.  This book is an awesome resource with fabulous lessons on reading skills like schema, visualization, etc.  All of the lessons have great "concrete experiences" to help the kids really understand the skills.  Love it!
 We have also been working super hard doing our Daily 3 training.  (More on Daily 3?  Check out these posts: Daily 3Book BoxesIntroducing the Daily 5 (or 3)Word Work)  So far the kids have been practicing Read to Self and Work on Writing, working hard to build up their stamina.  I plan to pilot Word Work midweek this week.  Next week, I will start running my guided reading groups.  (So far, I have been monitoring the "training" and giving Fountas & Pinnell assessments to all of my kiddos.  I am SO sick of those little books by this point!!!)  
We made the chart below after our first round of Work on Writing training.  I noticed a couple of kids struggling with what to do when their pencils broke.  I am a stickler about getting up during Daily 3 and say the only time it's allowed is if you need an emergency kleenex or are bleeding!  I gathered the kids together and talked about different problems that could come up to distract you from your writing.  Here's what they came up with... 
The kids suggested bringing an extra pencil or a sharpener with them to their seat for WoW, but if they don't have either, I told them I would rather they switch to Read to Self than get up to get a new pencil.  Standing up = breaking concentration, distracting others, and distracting me in my guided reading group!  

Anyways, I am so happy to say it's been a great first two weeks.  Things aren't perfect (especially in my math class...we are trying some new management tactics this week!!), but I'm happy.  Yay. :)


  1. I love some of these ideas. I am going to really love your ideas this year. I haven't read that book but I will have to get it to read.

  2. You're amazing, Amy. I admire your passion for education so much!

  3. I'm glad you are HAPPY!!! It REALLY makes a difference in your teaching when you like where you are. :)



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