7.29.2015

My favorite teacher shoes!

As teachers, we all know that we are on our feet all day.  I don't know about you, but I am exhausted during the whole month of August and my feet are so tired and achy every night.

I am a flip flop girl.  It's so warm and sunny in SoCal for a big part of the year, that many people are frequently in sandals of some sort.  I am NOT a big shopper, so I don't go out looking for just the right shoes to wear with each outfit.  Heck, I don't even shop for outfits!  My style is more of a piece-it-together-and-hope-it-looks-ok.  Anyway, I used to go to Old Navy and buy every color of their little plastic flip flops.  I wouldn't wear them to school, but I had them.  Then I would buy other cheap nicer looking flip flops to wear to work.  But then my feet would hurt and my hubby would tell me that I was wearing the worst shoes possible.  

Enter my mom.  My mom watches QVC for fun.  She doesn't buy a lot, but she likes to see what they have.  Se had seen a show on some new sandals that were supposed to help you feet, ankles, heels, etc feel better.  She had bought herself a pair to try.  I tried them on one day while we were camping and liked the feel.  About 10 days later, my mom had bought me a pair.  And so began my love of #Vionic shoes.  

There are many styles and types of these shoes, but I have only bought their flip flop sandal type.  In fact, my 7th pair of sandals just came yesterday.  I didn't have a white pair, but I do now!  I figure living in SoCal, we can wear white past Labor Day, as it's still in the 100's thru October many times. 

I thought of getting my shoes out and lining them up, but then I would feel guilty, since they are a little more than I used to spend on shoes.  But I figure I am on my feet a lot and they have really helped my feet and legs to not be so tired at the end of the day.  I have worn them to Disneyworld, LEGOLAND, camping and walking all over the LA Farmer's Market.  The worst thing is dirty feet, which is the same with any flip flop!  I just wash my feet when I get home.  Problem solved. 

Below are the sandals I have now, but I would love to get more.  I might even try their other shoes if I can try them on in person.  I have only ordered off of QVC, but I had a friend buy them at a store in the mall (and she paid a lot more than I do!).
These are my faves for work!

 
These have been through a lot!  They are actually on my feet right now!

My other faves!

Don't love the sequins like I thought I would.  They get moved and look funky.
These have been through a lot, too, but I love them!

My other every day faves!  See a trend?

My newest addition!  Aren't they pretty?


These are not inexpensive by any means, but I love them so much.  I wish good shoes were not so expensive, but then it goes with the saying that you get what you pay for.  If you love flip flops as much as I do and need/want something with a little more support, I'd give these a try!  I love my #Vionic sandals.  Too bad they don't pay me to write their reviews!  They can pay me in new shoes!  :)  

7.28.2015

It's beginning to look like a classroom!

Well, I have officially started heading back into my classroom.  I went in yesterday (Monday) for a couple of hours.  I was pretty aware of what my room would look like, as I was in last week to make some copies and drop a few things off ( you can only keep so much on the kitchen table before you look like a Staples hoarder!).  I had the goal for myself to get my desks arranged.  I did that and then some!  Score one for me! 

Here are some of my desks arranged.  We don't know how many kids we will have.  We should have no more than 24 kids.  When we filled the classes, we all ended up with about 17 - 18 kids per class. There is no way the district will let us keep the classes so small!  I know we will end up collapsing classes, as we are low in 2nd grade (we have 5 classes filled with 17 kids each...can you say combo?). I have my desks situated into 4 groups of 6.  It's not ideal, but I don't want all the group crowded together.  Even now it feels tight.  



Below is my teacher table/reading group table/small group table.  I moved my teacher desk out last year and it was the best thing ever!  I gained extra room in the classroom, though I am a bit more unorganized now.  Behind my chair is the counter.  I have started keeping all my binders of stuff there.  Most of them I use weekly, so they are quite handy.  I really need to figure out what to do with the bulletin board.  I didn't use it last year like I should have.  It's hard to reach and I have to climb onto the counter to put work up or take it down.  I tried the clothespins with the thumb tack on the back and they ALL FELL OFF!  Drove me insane!  It's too large for my board.  Any ideas?


Here's the back cabinet of crap!  It is more organized, even though it may not look like it!  I have 2 sliding cabinet doors.  I don't know what they use to "clean" them, but they are horrible for writing on them.  BUT, I am thinking of using them as my weekly objective/skills wall.  I am working it out in my head right now.  If I do it, I can put the spelling and sight words there, the skills we are working on, etc and have more room on the front board for writing stuff or having my anchor charts up.  It's a work in progress!  


This is my carpet area.  Right now it's the place where the chairs go at the end of the year and do not move until I move them back to the desks.  I doubt they were moved to clean the carpets!  Nothing else was moved, so why move the chairs?  Anyway, on the board behind the chairs is where I have had my calendar.  I did have it on the other wall, but it seemed too out of sight, out of mind.  Having it where it is now, my kids seemed to use it more for reference.  I have had more on it in the past, with wipe off cards for the date, number of the day, etc.  I am going to move things around a bit, so they are in a pile off to the side.  I am not sure what the other board will be for.  I have some ideas for it, but what you can't see is there is a big metal built into the wall box just to the right of the picture.  I don't know why it's there (the custodian said it's so we have a place to put our purses...they never gave me the key for it, so I have no idea what's in there!).  Again, it's still a work in progress...the thought process!  


I went in today and didn't work on any of those areas!  I was working on organizing and sorting my math manipulatives.  The big drawer things are going to be used for each group to keep their manipulatives in, along with other things we will use during the year that I don't want to have to pass out all the time.  According to our math guru, I am not supposed to tell the kids what they need to use, but let them decide for themselves what tools they feel are the best.  Um, ok, yeah, whatever. So I will see how this goes.  It cleaned out my cabinets, that's for sure!  

I don't think I am going in tomorrow, as I have a ton to work on at home.  I am updating some things, cleaning out some things and reorganizing others.  I took all my math supplemental stuff and am putting it together in binders.  4 binders is much nicer than lots of random file folders!  We will see how it all goes come the new school year.  

We have 2 weeks until our Back to School Night and I feel more prepared than I have in a long time. I have worked more on my planning this summer, but it's the other stuff that's stressing me out.  In fact, the back to school dreams/nightmares are already starting!  Yikes!  Time to add some sleepytime tea to my nightly routine again!  Time to get back to work and find the other side of my desk!  Happy planning!



7.27.2015

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I don't know about you, but the summer has flown by.  In just 2 short weeks, we will back into the swing of things with school.  I have been working a bit here and there to get things done, but as it gets closer, I feel the stress, even though I feel quite prepared.  I have my year mapped out like always, but there are a lot of unknowns that freak me out a little.  I keep telling myself to relax, but let's be honest, I can't do that.  It's a problem I have had forever and I don't think it'll ever change. 


I have most, if not all, of my back to school shopping done.  I hit up Staples the first week they had their back to school sale.  The deals were not as great as last year, but hubby knows just to pay the bill when it comes.  He's a good guy!  I have enough crayons, notebooks and folders for 30 kids.  I hope it isn't that many, but you never know.  I have been to Target a bit to look at things, but the last time I was at my store, they didn't have their BTS stuff out (I can't believe I haven't been to Target in like 2 weeks...what is wrong with me?).  The dollar bins have had a few things, but I have tried to limit my spending a little. 




Tomorrow I will begin going in and setting up my room.  They have cleaned it (or as clean as it's going to get, which isn't great), so I can now put it back together.  My daughter is very excited to go with me tomorrow and help rearrange my desks and start putting things together.  The rest of the week she has an art camp, so it'll just be me working.  I've kept most things on the walls the same, so it's up and ready to go.  I do need to change a couple walls, but nothing major. 


Homework folders, math journals, reading folders, poetry folders and writing notebooks are ready to go!  Labeled, sheet protectored (yes, I made it up!) and ready for up to 24 kiddos!  I'm being optimistic, even though that is nothing like me!  I am sure changes will be happening within the first few weeks of school, but that's the way things roll where I work.  I try to roll with the changes, but it's hard for me.  I am trying not to think about it and enjoy the rest of the break! 


Tomorrow I will try and post some before pictures and then get my after pictures up right before school starts. 

6.07.2015

Summertime

Well, hello summer vacation!  Nothing like a Sunday night where you don't have to set the alarm to go off in the morning!  Makes a girl a little giddy.  I know my daughter is loving it - she's outside right now with Dad, working on things together at 9:15 at night.  My girls likes summer vacation just as much as her Mom does! 


This year has come and gone.  Overall, it was a good year.  I had a great class of kids who I was sad to see go.  They were all well behaved, most rose to the challenges I set before them, and they were just a good group of kids.  I enjoyed them, even though I had a big roadblock in my teaching. I had a student with a nut allergy, but the parents went to the extreme and allowed there to be NO food of any kind used in class.  It put a damper on things that I would normally do.  No birthday parties, no holiday parties, not cereal for math fun.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  We survived, but it just wasn't as fun as it could have been. 


Anyway, tomorrow is my first official day of summer vacation - and I'm going to school!  On Friday I had meetings all day for one thing or another, so I didn't get a chance to get my room the way I want it to be.  I figure I will go tomorrow and work for a few hours and see what I can get done.  I have a list in my head of what I need to do, bring home and organize, so we will see how much I get done.  I told myself I want to be done by Tuesday afternoon, so I have my work cut out for me! 


I did a little planning before school got out, so I have an idea of what I want to do next year.  Most things will stay the same, but I want to tweak things a bit and reorganize when I teach certain things.  That's not all worked out in my head, but it's OK.  I have ALL summer to think about that.  I also want to read some books that I have had for a couple years and just haven't gotten around to them, along with the fun reading I want to do.  I have 5 books sitting waiting for me, plus 2 more that I need to go buy!  I did start one day, and plan to have it read by Friday night, if not sooner.  That along with spending time with my daughter doing crafty stuff, working outside in the yard (when it isn't 104* like today) and just enjoying being home.  A little family trip to Alaska will help the relaxation process kick in soon, along with no alarm clocks! 


I have about 9 weeks to get rested, organized and geared up for the next school year!  Here's to a great summer of recharging so I will be ready to go in August! 


Happy Summer!

3.23.2015

Keep your friends close...

...and your enemies closer!  I forgot that today.  And it bit me in the butt.  My own fault, but I was being stupid and thought my colleague was being genuine, when in fact, that was not the case.  I guess I so badly want us to be a cohesive grade level that I forget that we can easily, and often be stabbed in the back.  Or right in front, as was the case today.  It doesn't make for good camaraderie or for good grade level meetings.

I've mentioned before that we have a grade level that doesn't always play nice.  One teacher, while she loves teaching first grade, doesn't like to be part of our grade level.  I truly feel that she believes she is above us and that she is better than all of us put together.  While I do have my flaws, I know I am a pretty good teacher.  I could do better at things, but my kids learn and I think have fun doing it.  I try not to go around and toot my own horn and I don't talk about how great and wonderful I am.  We have 2 in the grade level who do that, and it gets old quick, but we know they are going to do it and we just accept it and move on with life. 

Anyway, one of my little guys was being assessed for special ed.  His mom is worried that he isn't learning like his siblings did and that he seems to have trouble remembering things.   I see there being some memory issues, but I don't know how to fix them.  Mom requested testing and I didn't say no.  We had his IEP today and he didn't qualify, which I suspected.  I had hoped there would be a little something there he could get the extra help, but I knew deep down that he wasn't low enough to qualify for anything.  He's really low in reading, but holds his own in math.  He's a very well behaved student and is starting to come along in his confidence in class.  And he's great at PE, which I was told isn't important.  Anyway...

I was a little bummed after the IEP (the psychologist who tested him acted like she knows him more than I do after her 45 minutes with him) and feeling like I had let him down.  I mentioned to the backstabbing grade level member that he didn't qualify and she asked what his DRA level was.  I told her (it's low, but um, that's part of why he was tested) and she immediately turned around to 2 of the second grade teachers and told them that I was sending him to second grade even though he was a low reader.  You'd think I was sending up a student who was an ax murder or a student who still wet himself.  He's a great kid! You'd think after some crazy behaved kids, they'd be OK with a good kid.  But because he is low, it's like he has the plague.  I had the 2 teachers literally in my face telling me that I need to get a backbone and stand up to them and retain him.  I don't know if it will work and I truly don't think that's the best thing for him.  Then at lunch I had another teacher tell me that I need to SST him (we already did that earlier in the year) before the year is out to get him retained.  Um, NO!  The 2nd grade team is the SST team and of course they will make sure he is retained.  Not gonna happen! 

I felt like crap the rest of the day.  I really let this bother me.  I wish I was a confrontational person so I could tell me grade level "team" member that she really pissed me off and I feel betrayed.  I wish I could tell 2nd grade off, but they have the principal's ear and they get whatever they want.  Don't ask me why or how, but they do.  It's not fair, but I know that's the way life works.  I did tell the teacher at lunch that I was done talking about it and that I wanted to try and enjoy my lunch.  I wasn't necessarily polite about it, but I wasn't totally rude like they were. 

Hopefully tomorrow is a better day, but I have a feeling that the next 47 days are going to be crazy!  Lucky me.  :(

3.22.2015

Spring Fever

I feel like I say this all the time, but I have lots of ideas to blog about, but never actually do it.  Right now, I don't want to work on lesson plans or laundry or cleaning, so it seems like the perfect time to blog! 

Unlike the rest of the country, we have had spring fever for the last few weeks!  It's has been warm and sunny for too many days.  We desperately need the rain, but since we aren't getting it, we might as well embrace the heat!  I have been getting some things done outside, trying to make my flower beds look pretty again after "winter", or as I like to refer to it, not summer.  I have a ton more to do, but there just aren't enough hours in the week to get it all done.  I feel the same about school! 

We are in crunch time!  We have 10 weeks left.  That's it!  This year has flown by.  It's amazing how fast time goes when you enjoy the kiddos you have in class.  I really love my class this year and am sad that it will be ending before we know it.  I have so many things that I want to do, but the day goes by way too quickly.  Our school day is too short or my liking, but other teachers won't dare to change it.  Our district has the same start and end times for all elementary schools, so we are at the mercy of the district.  The union likes the shorter day, since we don't have minimum days, but every day feels like a minimum day.  I'd like 45 more minutes with my kids.  I could get so much more done!  But, as it is, we are doing well and moving right along in learning! 

We have one more week until spring break.  We are taking a field trip to the bowling alley this Friday.  I didn't plan it and don't really want to go, but whatever.  It's going to be chaotic and loud and crazy.  All the things I don't like!  But, its just a couple hours and hopefully the kids get to bowl.  I know that sounds silly, but we are taking 100 first graders to a bowling alley with 20 lanes, but we aren't guaranteed that we will have all 20 lanes.  I'm picturing 10 kids per lane and it being a nightmare to keep track of.  Oh well...the kids should have fun regardless of the craziness, right?  Then when we get back to school, we will have lunch, finish whatever we need to get done in like 10 minutes and then the kids will get to watch a movie.  I will be tired (and probably really irritated) and it will be the last day before spring break.  I'm ready for a break and will embrace the time to work in my room in the dark and listen to Franklin! 

My new goal is to write once a week.  I might even share a few things I have done differently this year that have seemed to go well.  A few might be stretching it...there's a couple things I have done that have gone well and my kids have enjoyed, or at least embraced!  But for now, I'm going to go tackle the laundry! 

Here's to a great spring week ahead! 

1.25.2015

Seven Year Itch

I've gotten off the blogging train for the last year and haven't found my way back on.  There are other more important things I need to do that do not include blogging.  But tonight, I feel the need to get things off my chest and out of my head. 


I think I am experiencing the seven year itch.  I have been at my school for 7 years now.  That's the longest I've been at any school I have taught at.  I was at my first school for 4 years and my other school for 6 years (that's the one they closed down and we all had to move to different schools).  It has now been 7 years and I just feel out of sorts.  I feel like a downer when I think about all the things that suck at work.  Our bathrooms are dirty, the school is dirty, half the teachers don't care and complain about the kids non stop.  It's just a depressing situation.  Our principal doesn't take care of discipline, she doesn't make the custodians do their job (obviously) and she lets the teachers do whatever they want.  All she's concerned about is if it looks good on paper.  We sparkle on paper and it looks like we have our act together on paper.  But in reality, we don't.  We do the dog and pony shows when people visit so we look like we are fabulous, but we aren't all the time. 


I admit I'm not great.  I've never pretended to be great.  In fact, I find more wrong with my teaching than great.  But I do try to go in everyday and give my kids 100%.  I'm fighting against students and parents who don't care, students who struggle to learn and I struggle to fight the system that won't help the students who need it.  I try to do better than the day before and make sure that my students are learning something everyday.  I know my weaknesses (writing - I wish someone else would teach my kids how to write, because I suck at it and have for 17 years!) and I work on trying to make them not so weak.  I know my strengths and use those to my advantage to help my kids.  I know my limitations this year and am working to find ways around them, but struggling to find replacement activities and stop feeling bitter about it (no food in class = struggle in math and lack of "fun" activities). 


I was very ready to go back to work a couple weeks ago and see my kids.  I love my class this year.  They are a great group of kids with pretty good behavior, but their academics aren't so hot (some are super high, but the majority are below grade level).  Parents don't, won't or can't help and those who do, will and can make my job easier.  We get little support from the administrator and our kids have no extra help other than me, myself and I (OK, that's not totally true - I do have an aide for 30 minutes a day, but even then she doesn't always do what I ask!).  I came home the other night so upset because I was told by another teacher that one of my students (who I just found out was tested last year but didn't qualify) was just "low and that's the way he will always be."  Um, it's my damn job to help him not be low, not just let him be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I was so frustrated and worked up about it that I almost applied for a job elsewhere (until I realized I had to be fluent in Spanish...I'm not!). 


I always thought the grass would be greener elsewhere.  I'm not so sure.  Our district is a hot mess with all the admins thinking they are a gift to education and Common Core, but no one does anything that I have seen to be magic.  I'm sure it's the same stuff at different schools, but people have learned to deal with it.  I know some teachers who have been at the same school for 20+ years and others move around.  I have been wondering lately if it's time to move on.  I would have to go by myself this time without my teaching buddy, but I think I would be OK with that.  I need to get away from negativity (I can do that on my own, thankyouverymuch) and complacency and the know-it-alls who make every meeting feel like torture.  Or maybe I just need to let this feeling pass (along with PMS) and stay to myself for a bit.  I need to work with some kids at lunch, so that will be a couple days eating in my room (or outside my room since I can't eat in my room...no food...grrrrr!) to be by myself and away from all the crap. 


I don't know what I will do come May.  There may not be any jobs open to go to (that I would want).  I think we will actually have to lose teachers, so there won't be as many openings.  I just don't know.  My hubby asked me if it was time to change grade levels (I don't think so since I love first grade) and I said I wouldn't work with another grade level at my site...sad, huh?  I just need to remember that I am there for my kiddos and that's all I can do.  I can only do so much for them (including giving up my lunch time) and I can only help them so much.  I can fight like a Mama Bear for them, but when others tie my hands, there's not much I can do. 


On that note, I think I am going to take it easy tonight and maybe crack open a book.  I haven't made time to read in a long time and I think it's just what I need!  That or a lot of lotion!