CLICK HERE FOR FREE BLOGGER TEMPLATES, LINK BUTTONS AND MORE! »

3.16.2014

Blogging Blues

I seem to have a case of the blogging blues.  I have ideas I want to share.  I have thoughts in my head that need to come out.  But nothing.  Nothing seems good enough to blog about.  Hell, I don't know if anyone even checks out my blog anymore.  It's not that exciting.  I'm not that creative, though I wish I was.  I'm happy with what I do for me, and that's good enough for me. 


This school year has been quite craptastic.  Getting sick in September really through a monkey wrench into almost everything.  It took a long time for me and my class to get back into the groove together.  And those of us that are in that groove are doing so well.  Some of my kids have totally kicked some serious butt this year.  I am so proud of how far they have come.  But the ones who aren't in that groove with me are killing me slowly.  Their behavior isn't great.  And my principal isn't doing anything about it.  Our school right now is in major chaos with so many discipline issues.  The kids and the parents run the school now and we as teachers are left to deal with things as best we can.  It's sad to see the kids who want to learn have so much of their learning time disrupted by 2 or 3 students.  Some days it's like 5 or 6.  And it's so frustrating. 


But there are 53 days left (or less...we haven't been doing calendar, so I don't know exactly tonight!) and that's all the time I have to get my kids ready for 2nd grade, which is another fiasco in itself.  Our 2nd grade team is even more negative than I am!  A couple teachers don't have one good thing to say about their class this year.  And we thought the kids were pretty good!  Yes, there were some who had issues, but show me a perfect class with zero discipline issues and 100% of the kids at or above grade level.  Please show me, I'd like to know that one exists.  I've never had perfect classes, but I have had classes where the kids worked as hard as they could and tried their best.  There is always one or 2 kids who push buttons.  I've had better behaved classes, but I've never had the perfect class.  Well, some of my classes were perfect in my eyes, but you  know what I mean.  I've never had the perfect, 100% well behaved and 100% at grade level class. 


Anyway, it's been a year.  It took me a long time to bond to my class after I got sick, but we did it.  I finally got to the point where I really like most of my class.  I enjoy working with all of them, but the ones who are naughty are really really naughty and should have been suspended at some point already this year, but our principal doesn't believe that's the answer.  Instead, she talks to them and thinks that will change it all and then wonders why they are in her office every. single. day.  Hmmm...As much as I have finally started enjoying this year, I am ready for it to be over.  I'm ready for a break, ready for a new class, though we are told that if we think this group is bad, then just wait!  Lucky us! 


But, I have 53 days left with this group and I am determined to make the most of it.  We will start tomorrow with a fun-filled day of St. Patrick's Day activities and fun!  We will end the week with going on Spring Break!  Amen!  A much needed break to get me through the end of the year!  With that, it's time to head to bed and get the week started!  Happy Monday eve!

2.02.2014

February Currently

It's time again to link up with the February happenings!



Listening: If you haven't heard of Imagine Dragons, check them out on Pandora or YouTube.  I really like their music.  Some compare them to The Killers.  Eh, not really.  Just good music!

Loving: I for one am glad that Phil saw his shadow.  We are getting a taste of winter here this weekend in CA.  We NEED so much rain, it's not even funny.  There are lakes that are dried up!  Dried up, people!  As in no more water.  We need a flood, really!  

Thinking: I need to go for a walk.  Just get outside, get my frustrations out and then come in and watch the game.  I don't care about it, or the commercials really, but I don't want to be the only one not watching!  

Wanting: I would love to eat all the cookies in my garage instead of have my daughter sell them to others.  But I WILL be good!  

Needing: Our 100th day is tomorrow and I have a few things to prep.  Plus I have to do plans for the week.  All during the game!  

2 Truths: I was the first in my family to go to college and graduate.  Yay me!  My sister has since completed her BSN and my hubby has his BA and JD.  I teach where I grew up.  I taught in my old elementary school until they closed it down.  A Fib: I have a younger brother and a younger sister.  No only child here!  But, my daughter is an only child - I can see the advantages!  ;)  

Happy February All!

1.28.2014

How did that happen?

I've been thinking of this topic a lot lately.  I'm hoping it's just an issue we have at my school and even at others schools in my district, but when did parents get so much control?  When were parents allowed to dictate every move that a principal or a teacher makes?  And why has my principal allowed it to happen?


I have some students who still do not know or care about how to follow the rules.  They are defiant, rude and just plain mean.  And they are 6!  I know this comes from the home, but they have no remorse and are not shocked or surprised when they are in trouble.  They laugh, they make jokes about it and they back talk.  It's hard to get through a day without having to talk to at least one student during the course of each particular lesson.  I feel so sad for my kids who truly want to learn and who behave well.  I feel so frustrated at the parents who allow their children to behave this way with zero consequences at home and I am mad at the administrators who allow the children to continue to behave that way without any consequences at school. 


Last week when I was gone, my students were not great for the sub.  They were pretty bad.  But they do know how to behave when they are supposed to.  I took recess and lunch away from them (they still ate, just not with the general population) and they missed out on a lot of fun.  I even had a parent come in and observe her child.  This week, they are all behaving better.  The naughty ones are still naughty, but not as bad.  Yesterday, tho, we had a fire drill with 10 minutes left in the day.  The students were reminded beforehand of what proper behavior is during a drill.  One of my students decided that didn't pertain to him and held up my entire line so he could talk to the boy behind him.  I was livid!  I spoke with the parent after school (whom I had met with on Friday for 90 minutes) and told her that the behavior was unacceptable and that today he would have to go visit the principal.  I know not much would happen, but I need something here, folks.  I gave the principal a heads up last night, so she was prepared this morning.  Well, guess who was in the office DEMANDING that he child be moved from my class?  The parent who wants to defend her child's actions as OK because there was another child involved in the talking and I didn't punish him.  In my defense, I have to pick my battles with the other child.  This one had been behaving fine til about November.  Then he thought it was cool to be bad. 


Anyway, the parent was DEMANDING that her child be moved to another room.  We only have one classroom available where students can go and it's not a room I would send any student to.  The parent decided that if she didn't get her way, she was going to go to the district office and file a complaint against me.  I've never had that happen and it makes me so sad.  But, the principal stood her ground and told the parent she wouldn't move the child, BUT he isn't supposed to be at our school anyway, so she is more than welcome to take him back to his home school.  And that's where he will begin tomorrow.  I'm sad to see him go because I think he is a good boy who wants to be liked by the bad boys.  He has a very crazy home life (shocker!) and there is no consistent discipline.  I honestly doubt that his dad even knows what's going on.  I don't think it's my place to tell him since I just met him on Friday. 


But when did parents decide that they don't need to parent their children, but then complain when others try to do their job?  I know my child isn't perfect, but she knows that when she is at school, she had better behave.  She knows that when she is in public, she better behave.  She knows the rules of how she is supposed to be in different places.  And if she were to do something wrong at school, she would be punished BEFORE I got the whole story rather than me defending her behavior.  Is this what has led to our children feeling entitled to everything under the sun?  Is this why they need to be rewarded for every little thing they do?  Is this why they are defended for hitting someone because the other person MUST have done something wrong first?  I don't get it.  Where did society go so wrong?  When did society begin to think it's OK to do wrong because they can justify every single thing as being OK?  I don't get.  I just don't get it. 

1.26.2014

From horrible to good

Last week should have been an easy week.  Monday was a holiday, Tuesday and Wednesday I had training and that left Thursday and Friday to teach.  It ended up being a craptastic week!  My kids were so horrible for the sub.  It's embarrassing and disappointing to know that they can't behave when I'm gone.  The upside if there is one, is that they can't behave when I am there.  This is a group that doesn't really care if they are in trouble.  I have one boy who will probably grow up to be a sociopath.  When he gets in trouble, he laughs about it and thinks its funny.  It's heartbreaking, really, but I don't feel like that when he has pushed my buttons all day.  And it's not just him!  I have 4 boys who are constantly doing something naughty, sometimes 2 of them together to be awful.  Like throwing woodchips at each other on the playground.  Or putting soap in each other's faces in the bathroom.  Each day is a new adventure in crazy!


So on Thursday and Friday, because I had so many kids who were bad, I gave up my recess and lunch time to spend with them in the room.  They had to be with me all day.  They do have "time out" on the playground, but it's just a bunch of kids standing the wall, talking and playing with each other.  One of my kids who was in trouble took it upon himself to dismiss the kids from time out because he thought they were all done.  (He also used the f word one time on the playground, but justified it because "he's a man and he can say those words.")  To keep my kids from getting into more trouble and to keep me from losing my mind, they stayed with me.  My BFF came and had lunch with me.  At the end, she said she didn't know how I did it, that my kids were so horrible for me, even with another adult in the room.  I told her I don't know either, as there were tears in my eyes.  Sadly, this group has reduced me to tears many times after school.  I've always been known to have good classroom/behavior management, but not this year.  I haven't figured out what it is that gets them. 


Going to the office doesn't do any good.  They talk to the principal, but there are no ramifications for their actions.  They may lose recess, but they still get to sit and talk with their friend who they got in trouble with.  They may have to call home, but most of the time the parents don't answer the phone.  It's loads of fun!  I did send home a pretty harsh letter to the offending kids' parents.  They had to have it signed and returned on Friday.  Of the 6 kids, I've met with 4 of the parents already.  One is supposed to come in tomorrow, though I am not holding my breath, as they have cancelled many appts they have made with me.  The other one I have never met and figure I never will meet them.  It's just not a priority to them.  Which is why their children are in this situation as it is. 


To reward my good kids, they all got a brand new fancy pencil on Thursday.  They also got to do an art project on Friday as well as an ice cream party on Friday afternoon.  One of the naughty's told me it wasn't fair and that I was mean and stupid.  Awesome.  His mom doesn't really care or want to fix his behavior, even though she will cry in our conferences and tell me she can't fix him.  We have 85 days of school left and I am counting down each and every one.  I will be so thankful when this year is over. 


But, I am also hopeful that at least one child who was in trouble last week will be well behaved this week.  I am hopeful that we will get a lot of learning done this week and have a little fun in the process.  We have a lot to cover in the next few months and I am stressing over it.  I need to stop and smell the roses before I go crazy and take my class with me.  After having a meltdown yesterday (think exorcist), I am ready for a great week this week.  All negativity behind me, I'm ready to go and get things done this week with decent behavior.  If not, I will start suspending kids since my principal doesn't really believe in it.  Something's gonna give and it won't be me anymore! 

1.21.2014

Information Overload

We had day one of our 2 day common core training.  My brain is so fried that I can't even begin to comprehend what it is I'm supposed to know.  I just feel like I am doing everything wrong.  As I stated before, I have been teaching so long under the testing regime where we were on a deadline for everything, that I don't know how to handle the idea of a little teaching freedom.  Before, we were supposed to follow the curriculum exactly as I was, do not deviate from the teachers guide, do not do your own things, do not collect $200 if you pass GO!  Now, we are told to use our curriculum as we see fit, do what you want (as long as it meets the standards and multiple standards at once, mind you) and make sure it's noisy to show that the students are actively engaged. 


Honestly, I didn't care for the morning part of the training.  Part of it was I don't care for one of the trainers.  She can not present well and I tune her out.  The other trainer is OK, but still not too lively.  The afternoon trainer was better.  But we spent almost 2 hours on Thinking Maps.  I grew up in the time of graphic organizers.  According to today's information, graphic organizers are bad, thinking maps are good.  It's like trying to teach an old dog who isn't that old but is totally set in their ways new tricks!  Again, my mind is racing. 


After being given the task of creating all 8 thinking maps for myself, I see them being useful in the class, after a long time of working with the kids to create them together.  I will go back on Thursday and try to do a thinking map or 2 with my kids and start introducing them now.  Mind you, we've had trainings before, but there was never a big push to do them.  I guess there is now, as we will have district people coming to look in our rooms to see if we are incorporating them.  That and the technology piece that we don't have yet!  Yippee! 


If nothing else, today was a wake up call that I need to change what I am doing and give myself permission to change things up.  I don't need to be on the same page as the others, as long as I am working on standards that will help my students be successful.  I'm not excited about thinking thematically, as sadly, my brain does not work that way.  It never has.  But I will do what I can to get it there.   

1.20.2014

Last week got me thinking...

Going back to school last week kicked my butt!  I am still tired from the week!  But, I will have a couple more days before I have to be "on" again.  I am going to our district training for Common Core.  And I don't want to go!  The people in the district who do our training aren't the greatest.  3 of the 4 trainers we are having are administrators and haven't been in the classroom in a very long time.  One of them is a 3rd grade teacher and everything she shows is geared to 3rd grade.  I went to a writing training last month and kept hearing "You'll have to go and tweak this to make it work for your grade level."  Argh! 


Last week when we got back into learning, I began to realize just how not with it my kids are.  There are some areas that they are still really low in and it got me thinking.  Over the last few years when the focus has been on the testing, we have been told to basically cram it all in, move on and follow the pacing guide.  Everyone should be on the same story and same math lesson all the time.  So I did that.  And sometimes we were ready and sometimes we weren't.  Sometimes we had good understanding and sometimes we just glossed right over it. 


That's how I felt about this last week.  We officially introduced digraphs this week.  We have gone over them with sight words and stuff, but we were really to focus on them.  After the initial day of instruction, I didn't pay much attention to them because I figured we had it.  We knew them all.  We could hear the difference between /ch/ and /sh/.  We knew that "thumb" starts with /th/.  And then I gave them a picture sort on Thursday.   And I realized we don't know our digraphs.  HOLD THE PHONE!  We have to stop for a bit and review.  Only I won't be there this week to help them review and I can't let a sub start the next story and teach them long a!  It's not going to happen.  So then, using my best teacher judgment, I looked at my own personal pacing guide that I spend weeks on over the summer and update it through the year to make little changes and thought "Screw it!"  I will need to update it again as I decided to NOT go ahead this week and just move on to the next story.  I will give it another week of review.  Actually, it'll be 2 days of review and I will give them their spelling test on Thursday.   We will begin the new skills on Thursday and take next week to cover them as well...and maybe even the week after that.  I want the kids to understand what it is we are doing and not just gloss over it anymore! 


This year, my class is lower than my classes in years past.  They don't get it as easily as other classes have gotten it.  It doesn't click as well.  My kids are moving and making progress, as there are more kids in my "higher" groups than in the "lower" groups, but they aren't at a "higher" level necessarily.  They are "high" for this group of kids.  With the testing pressure off of, I now feel I can take a little more time with things and slow down.  Stop and smell the roses if you will.  We've always been so concerned with finishing the curriculum by the end of the year that we move on when kids aren't ready.  Now, before you go and say I'm a horrible teacher for moving on and leaving kids behind, please know I didn't.  Every year, I have a group of kids who don't get it no matter how slow we go.  I still have kids who are at a beginning kinder level in first grade.  They should be in kinder this year and they will repeat first grade next year (as long as I have my way!).  I work with them in reading groups and give them as much extra help as I can and try to pull them up as quickly as possible, but sadly, they get 0 help at home. 


So today, as I was taking my daily walk (with my new little puppy!!!), I decided to stop pressuring myself to go so fast through the curriculum.  I have decided to stop worrying about where the others are.  They haven't worried about where I am, so why do I worry about where they are?  I have decided that even if we don't finish the basal readers, that's OK.  I can give them the phonics, reading and comprehension skills elsewhere.  I know that's one of the goals of Common Core, but it's hard to move away from my comfort zone and give up what I have done for so long.  It worked before, but it's not working now.  I need to change, as I see this wave of lower/more needy students continuing.  I need to change my ways in order to help them better.  It's going to be hard for me, but I need to be better for them. 


And, maybe along the way, we can take a different path in our learning and do something different for all of us.  Who knows...the possibilities are endless and my mind is racing! 

1.14.2014

Exhaustion

I always forget how tiring it is to go back to work after a break.  I am totally exhausted!  Wiped out!  Ready to hit the hay.  And it's only Tuesday!  It's going to be a long week.  But I'm glad I'm back to work.  I have a ton if stuff to do and a whole lot of teaching and learning that needs to happen in the next 93 days!  

My kids regressed a lot this break.  The students who were making progress, but were barely hanging on for dear life fell behind the most.  Te ones who were at grade level are still there or just a bit behind. Te ones who were really low are still really low.  We've got our work cut out for us, but I'm up to the challenge.  

Today we spent over an hour (luckily they were totally engaged) talking about/reviewing nouns, verbs and adjectives.  We did this instead of reading groups.  Something had to give today and that was it.  The kids have a good grasp on nouns, a decent idea of verbs and they are stumped with adjectives.  Sadly, teaching adjectives and how to use them is not my strong point.  I need to get better at this skill.  Tomorrow we will sort some words and see if we can get them in the correct group!  

In math, we are talking about tens and ones.  Today I gave my kids 10's and 1's blocks.  We've been working with tens and ones throughout the year, but this is the first time they have had the blocks.  I decided to give them a number and they had to show me in their blocks, but keep it a secret from their table mates.  They had a blast and thought it was the best thing ever!  We had to hurry to complete the math paper as we were running out of time.  Oops!  We will continue the game tomorrow since they had such a good time.  

I wish it was about 8:15 so I could go to bed.  But, I still need to help my daughter with a project, do dishes and grade papers before I can head off to dreamland!  Next week will be a little easier since we have Monday off and we will have a week under our belts!