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7.27.2014

Please check out my new post today at
firstgradebythelake.blogspot.com




I hope to see everyone there soon! 


Kristen

6.10.2014

Changing it up

This blog has run its course.  I am moving on to a new blog.  Please join me over at


firstgradebythelake.blogspot.com


I hope to see everyone there soon! 


Kristen

6.09.2014

Summertime

It's safe to say, I could hardly wait for summer to be here!  It felt like it would never be June.  But, it is.  School's out, my room is ready for cleaning and I am ready for not being at work!  I love my job, but this year about did me in!  With everything that went on with me and my family, it made for one not-so-fun year.  But it's over and I am looking forward to next year.


In fact, I already started planning today for next year.  Awhile back, we met after school to do some collaboration.  We started planning out how we wanted to change things up a little.  This year was an adjustment year for us.  We had a shorter school day (by over 30 minutes!) which really cut into learning.  We basically tossed science and social studies.  I hated doing it, but I needed to focus on reading, writing and math, as the kids were super low for the majority of the year.  And, before you bash me for not integrating it more into my language arts, I know.  That is my weakness and I am going to work on it over the next year.  I am not a thematic person and my brain doesn't work that way.  There are times it's OK, but most of the time, I freak out.  I am very linear.  I know that about myself and I am working on changing it.  (If you ask my hubby, he will say I'm not working to change anything...I am very stubborn and dislike change!).  Anyway, we decided to plan in 6 week chunks.  I am trying to fill it in now, but my brain isn't in it!


I have set some goals for me for summer.  These are all my school related goals.


1. Create some lessons to integrate my science and social studies - there's not more time in the day
2. Plan out some big comprehension units - I saw that my kids were lacking in this area big time
3. Work on trying to implement Daily 5 again - it was a bust last year
4. Create and update my math journals - I love them, but I didn't use them a lot since January! oops!
5. Revamp my schedule - this is more of a fine tuning
6. Revamp my thoughts on homework - what are your thoughts on homework?


Well, I have the next few days at home before we head out for 2 weeks of fun!  We are heading to Disneyworld on Friday night for a week and then we will be spending a week in North Carolina with my father in law and his family.  I've never been, so this will be a new and exciting adventure!  Then I am home for about 10 days before my daughter and I head out to Omaha, NE to visit my sister and her family.  I've never been there, either, so this is a summer of new adventures for us!  When we get home from Omaha, we will have 26 days until the first day of school!  That seems like so little time to be prepared for the kiddos!  But I should be rested and relaxed and ready to tackle it all! 




                                                                                                                         
  

5.18.2014

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Now that Open House has come and gone, I want to start thinking about next year.  I have a list inside a cabinet of some of the things I would like to get accomplished before school ends, all in anticipation of next year.  I feel the need to think ahead rather than focus on the last 13 days.  These last 13 days are going to be so busy and chaotic and crazy, but hopefully they will fly right by. 


This year has been a bit of a disappointment for me.  I had such high hopes for the year, but as my last post mentioned, it wasn't a great year in many aspects both personally and professionally.  I have/had a tough group of kiddos both academically and behaviorally.  Most of my kids were pretty good, but the ones who weren't gave us all a run for our money.  (I had parents at Open House who were NOT in my class come in to tell me what one of my students has done to their children at recess.  If I had a nickel for every time someone mentioned what this child has done, I could have retired on Friday a millionaire!  That's how bad it's been with the behavior of this child - and he's never been suspended and rarely gets punished from someone other than myself.) 


Anyway, I had the best intentions to implement Daily 5 into my schedule this year.  We practiced the groups and rotations for weeks before beginning.  Things seemed to be going well until I decided to really try working with groups during this time.  And then I became the referee.  I had students fighting with each other, students yelling and screaming and students who refused to do what I had asked them to do.  It was ugly.  It was nothing I wanted to be a part of.  I felt like a failure.  Actually, I still do.  I have felt this way all year.  16 years of teaching and I don't think I have really felt this way since my 4th year of teaching when I ended up changing schools.  This class has beat me up.  But, I am going to be stronger from it next year and try again.  I am going to take things even slower and really build a classroom community that I've always had in the past, I just didn't have to work so hard to get it.  I am going to really make sure the kids know what is expected from them every minute of the day and not let them get away with anything, even if it means I spend all my recess and lunch time being the disciplinarian.  I am going to make sure my kids know I am in charge and there will be consequences.  I'm going to do my best to not be sick this year and miss almost a month of school!  But that was out of my control, but that's when things really went out of control.


My students this year do not like writing.  It's the bane of our existence.  They don't like it.  They don't care about it.  They don't do their best.  I've done more this year than in the past and they just. don't. care.  I have 3 kids who LOVE to write.  22 look at my like I have 3 heads and speak Greek.  It's awesomely horrible.  But next year we will change it.  We will take our time with it again.  We will go slow and have some fun with it.  I am going to bring back interactive writing more and let that do for a bit so kids can get used to writing before being made to write on their own all the time.  I need to get parents more involved with their child's writing and get them to support me with their homework and making sure their child does what I am asking them to do rather than having them feel that whatever their child does is worthy of a Pulitzer. 


I have not embraced the Common Core like I should have.  We were not given any direction with it from the district, other than to go forth and do Common Core.  Staff development meetings were useless, as the presenters don't understand Common Core any more than we do and tell us how to do things 2-4 grade levels above our grades.  It was bad.  Really bad.  I became complacent and did what I have always done in the past and didn't push myself or my kids out of our comfort zones.  I try a little more now that the year is almost over, but it's not enough for me to say I did Common Core.  I need to step outside my comfort zone and try new things.  I know for reading I rely to heavily on the textbook, but it's what I know and what I am comfortable with.  My goal is to step away from it a bit next year and try new things to help get my kids really thinking about things rather than just doing things.  I need to integrate my science and social studies more into my language arts, which is again outside of my comfort zone, but if I can make myself feel more at ease with it, then I think it would be awesome and we could have a lot of fun.  Time and planning is what I need to make it happen. 


I am hopeful that next year will be better.  I know I will have some challenges in my room, but they will be different than this year.  I am hoping for a kind, loving class rather than the rude, mean-spirited class I have now.  I hope for students who really want to give 100% and try no matter what rather than students who give me 50% and are OK with it.  I hope for parents who want to support their child's learning as best they can rather than parents who are too busy to answer the phone or return an e-mail.  I have students whose parents I have not met at all this year and there are 13 days left - they couldn't make time to come to Back to School night, conferences or Open House.  I just want parents who want their child to learn and be successful and at least know who their child's teacher is.  I know I am asking a lot for next  year, but it's what I would like.  Please notice I didn't mention that I want my students at grade level - I don't mind getting low students.  I just want students to try hard and work to improve themselves.  I know that's something we need to instill in them and I try to do that every year.  But this year, there were few who took the challenge to work hard and improve as best they could. 


As I finish out this year, I am hoping to enjoy the last 13 days with my kids.  I have had some great kids who have done well and are excited about learning.  I have grown to like my class as the year has gone on, but sadly, I do not love my class like I have in years past.  It makes me sad to feel this way, but it's the truth.  It's not all sunshine and rainbows over here this year and that's a fact.  I can ask many teachers at my school how they feel about their classes and I think a lot would feel like I do.  Maybe it's the students, maybe it's administration, maybe it's us or a combination of all of it.  But I am hopeful that next year will be better all around and a complete opposite to this year! 

5.11.2014

What a Year!

I have been absent from the blogging world for a couple months.  It's just been that kind of year.  I don't have any exciting reason for being gone.  I just didn't have anything to say.  It's been a crappy year.  And it's almost over.  All I can do is count down the days til it's done.  And I'm not just counting down school days, I'm counting down the days until year 37 gets the heck out of here!  I'm praying that 38 is a much better year. 


I should have known it was going to be a crap year when I burst into tears before my 37th birthday.  We were camping and having my birthday celebration dinner and I just started bawling.  I didn't want to be 37.  That seemed so old and so ugh.  It started off well enough.  We went to Alaska on the fabulous cruise.  Great time and great memories.  We were able to travel as a family and do things we never imagined.  Then my daughter and I got to spend some time in AZ, just the 2 of us.  Again, great time with my love.  Then things started to go downhill.  Gallbladder attack just 4 days after I got home from AZ sent me to the ER.  No fun.  Then I had my gallbladder removed a week later.  School started about 3 weeks after that and things were good.  Then I got sick with pancreatitis and then the year totally went to crap.  Out of school for 3 weeks threw everything for a loop.  My students were sent into a frenzy as was I.  I don't think we ever fully recovered this year.  Behavior went from bad to worse.  Parents didn't (and don't) care what their child did nor do they help them at home.  Then the great stomach flu of 2013 hit with a vengeance.  Training in January where we had to be out of the class sent my students further into chaos, with which they never recovered again.  Countdown to spring break left me with taking an emergency day off to help my hubby deal with his family crisis, which turned into my mother in law passing away unexpectedly.  That has lead to trying to deal with my daughter who doesn't know how to feel about it all or knowing how to express herself; dealing with hubby who doesn't know how to deal with it too well and his crazy work schedule and trying to help my father in law with his new found life as a widower.  Throw in my dad and grandmother being in and out of the hospital for various things, my sister moving back to the states and then moving out of the state and its been a year. 


I have 2 weeks left to live with being 37 and I can't wait for it to be over!  We have 18 days of school left.  2 of those days I am not in class.  We have Open House this week, then I have an all day leadership meeting on Friday.  My daughter has a field trip at the end of the month.  Then it'll be 4 short days of school after that before I can say goodbye to this group.  There are a solid group of kids I will miss terribly and that I wish I could have done more for.  Then there is a group that I will be glad to see move on.  They have not made my job easy this year, nor have they made learning fun for themselves or others in class.  Poor administration choices have resulted in a school-wide discipline crisis, which will only get worse instead of better.  I'm sure there is some greater reason to this year being the way it is, but I don't understand it.  It's been a year that I do not want to repeat.  It's been stressful, depressing, upsetting and frustrating.  I don't know if I can see the good through the bad right now, but I know it's there.  I will see it one day.  Until then, I will countdown the year and prepare to move on.  I have a great June and July coming up with lots of fun things planned with my family.  It will be a nice break before moving on to the next year.  Until then, 18 more days...

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!