6.16.2015

Week 2

This is officially my second week of vacation.  I am enjoying my time at home a bit too much.  Sleeping in, watching TV, playing on the computer...all the things I don't do much when we are in school.  It's very nice, but I feel guilty.  Especially when hubby leaves to go to work in the morning and I am still in bed watching GMA. 

We are heading on vacation on Friday to an Alaskan cruise.  I can't wait!  We went 2 years ago and this time we will be on the ship for my daughter's birthday.  She is so excited that we will be at sea for her birthday.  She plans to spend the day in the kids club (go figure) and meet up with us for dinner.  It's towards the end of the cruise, so I guess she can have a little me time, then!  We are going to be going on a sea plane (nervous!!!!) and taking a river float through a nature preserve.  I am having trouble packing as I keep watching the weather and have been noticing how warm it is up there.  It was in the 80's this last weekend!  It's supposed to be in the 60's and 70's when we are there, but I am planning on anything.  I have shorts packed as well as a sweater and rain jacket.  We will see how the weather cooperates with us! 

I should be getting housework done, but there was zero motivation today.  I had a dr apt this morning and was surprised when they told me I had a fever.  I didn't feel sick, nothing is really bothering me, other than a nagging headache, but they told me I had a fever.  The power of suggestion is strong with me - of course I came home and had to take a nap since I didn't feel good!  I figure I had better rest up so I am not sick when we are on our trip.  If I do get sick, I need to do it by Thursday so I can get some meds before we go!  Tomorrow will consist of shopping for last minute needs, a hair cut and hopefully a baseball game with my girl while hubby is teaching school.  Busy times!

Not an exciting week, and definitely nothing school related going on, though I did get the yearly calendar typed out and sent off!  I figure July 1 will come soon enough and I will really start to get to work then.  A couple hours here and there will help me get prepared for the new year!  Until then, I will continue to relax and enjoy vacation!

6.10.2015

Decompress

It's officially day 3 of summer vacation.  I am up early since hubby had to get up early and I just didn't try to go back to sleep.  There's always time in the day now for a nap!  I see one in my future today.

This year went well, but I still feel the need to decompress.  I did go to school on Monday and I told myself I was going to stay til it was done.  Hubby needed me to come help him that afternoon, so that threw off my plans a bit, but made me work harder to get things done.  I finished everything up I wanted to, threw stuff in my car to bring home and I called it done.  It's a good feeling knowing my room is done for now and waiting for me to come back in August.  Now I can decompress and relax and do what I want to do.

One of my favorite things to do is read.  Show me a teacher who doesn't like to read, really!  I try to read during the year, but it doesn't always happen.  Part of its my fault and the darn iPad!  The other part is there is just too much going on.  Schedules have us going all over the place, going nutty!  But in summer, I can read when I want to.  And I love it!  I have about 6 books stacked up to read and a couple more that I want to get.  I started one on Sunday that my mom gave me a few months ago.  I've enjoyed reading Danielle Steel for years.  I always buy her books in hardback when they come out. I keep them.  I'm nerdy that way!  My mom had bought Prodigal Son for me a few months ago and then it sat there.  And sat there.  And got dusty.  I opened it up on Sunday and finished it yesterday afternoon.  I think it's a record of late.  Since I was done with it, I started to read Bossypants by Tina Fey.  My hubby and daughter bought it for me for my birthday.  I'm not a huge Tina Fey fan, but she's got me laughing.  The next book I'll start will be Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews.  I've really started enjoying her books.  I'm waiting for the new Elin Hildebrand book to come out and I need to go buy The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  Those on top of the books still in my stack should get me through the middle of July ( I have a cruise coming up and I know I won't read much!).

I have teacher books to read (that I've had for a couple years now...oops), but they have just been collecting dust.  Gotta get on those, too, and learn something new.  So there's like 10 books to read, too!

And I've gotta clean house, work in the yard when it isn't 100*, and nap!  But, it's all on my time and I can go as quickly or as slowly as I'd like!  I can get rested, relaxed and enjoy my time off before August comes and the rat race starts again.

Happy summer and happy time to decompress!

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!

1.11.2015

Let's start 2015 off right!

Tomorrow is almost here and that means I have to go back to work.  It's a chilly rainy day right now, so the thought of having to get out of my sweats and go to work in real clothes doesn't sound fun.  But it's supposed to be sunny and warmer tomorrow, so that should help with having to go to work. 


I'm about as prepared as I am going to be.  I have enough stuff planned for a full week of 12 hour days!  I know I won't get it all in, but a girl can dream, right?  I have deviated from my yearly plan and am focusing only on polar habitats when we get back.  A little fun for science will be good.  This is on top of reading, math and writing of course!  But I am excited to start something new and get a little fun in.  I also have to do testing, as progress reports go out next week.  What?!  I'm not surprised because this is how it always is.  It sucks for the kids because they have had 3 weeks off and now have to be tested and show what they know when some of them haven't done anything school related since we went on vacation.  Mind you, most kids got a packet home.  There were 4 kids whose parents didn't send the form back, so they didn't get a packet.  I am tired of wasting paper when there is so little of it to go around.  I felt horrible for not sending them one, but I know that none of the 4 would have done it.  :(  And they had 3 weeks of reminders to tell me they wanted one! 


I'm hoping the others completed it.  The principal offers the kids who do a winter packet a cookies and cocoa party.  I had 16 kids take a packet home and I am hoping to have 16 returned to me tomorrow.  That's the deal - they have to give it to me tomorrow when we walk in the door.  Welcome back to craziness! 


As I said, I am as prepared for this week as I can get.  I really hope there are no monkey wrenches thrown into the plans.  I know that 3 of our classrooms were broken into over break, but I don't think too much is missing.  We have a teacher who is out on disability again (they've been at work for 2 weeks this whole year), but the bright spot is, the sub was there from August - December and will come right back in through at least May.  It makes me feel like our grade level is whole again (we've never actually worked with the teacher who is assigned to the class for more than 2 weeks) and we can pick up where we left off.  I just wonder about new kids coming in and throwing things for a loop.  Add that to the thought that they are possibly changing  boundaries next year and moving a chunk of kiddos to a different school.  :(  That makes me sad to think they will be leaving and even sadder when I know my principal likes the idea because we will get students from a higher socio economic area.  I'd rather have the poorer students as they are the ones who truly need our help.  But, I teach whoever is in my room regardless of where they live, what they look like or what language they speak! 


I have some goals for myself at school/work that I will try to keep this year. 
* I need to leave earlier than I have been.  There is no reason I should be at school until 4:00 when we are out at 1:45.  I talk too much!  I need to close my door and get my work done.  3:00 is the latest I should be there ever! 
* I need to get work checked and returned in a timely manner.  I used to do this.  Now I don't.  I got lazy.  Then I end up with a stack of papers on Thursday night to grade.  Yuck! 
* I need to work smarter, not harder.  I'm working on that one! 
* I need to find the spark again.  I had it, I lost it, I found it again and I've lost it again.  Too much drama at school and not enough to feel good about.  I'm determined to change it! 
* Enjoy what I am doing.  Again, I used to enjoy it all the time.  Then the pressure to test, test, test took the fun away.  Now the pressure from the district to do Common Core (without training) has weighed on us.  Well, I'm going to close my door, teach my kids and see what happens!  (They will learn and thrive and be OK!)


I've had 4 crappy night sleeps in a row and I hear the couch calling my name.  Happy January to all and I wish everyone a great Monday!


~Kristen