Happy New Year!

The end of another year is coming quickly. Mine will end later than most of yours, since I am in CA. I got a little teary-eyed this morning watching GMA and thinking that the year was over, but I've got to get excited about the new year. I want it to be the best ever. I know people always say that, but it's true. I want to have a truly great year all around.

I have been thinking about my goals. Yeah, I am one of those that sets goals, but by February, they are long gone. Then I feel bad about myself for not following through, and then it's a big ol nasty cycle of self loathing. I have decided, that I need to go back to being the over achiever I was before I got complacent. I need to go back to trying to do it all and getting it all done. With that thought, I have broken my goals down into different groups. I figure if I put them out there for all to see, it may help me be more focused.

Work Goals:
1. Plan better - I like to wait til Sundays, but then I am tired.
2. Decrapify my classroom on a weekly basis - enough said.
3. Get my creative juices flowing - that's hard for me as I feel I am very uncreative
4. Plan for myself - I have been doing better at this. I used to basically plan for the teacher next to me and it was too much for me to handle. I've kinda made her go on her own, but not totally. She still comes to me with questions about what we are teaching for math and science.
5. Take a class or 3 - I have to add some units, so why not do it and learn something.
6. Say hi to the Ice Queen - I figure someone should be nice to her. I may not get to this one til June! Oh wait, we are out of school then! Oops! (PS...she never did take my gift to her out of her box...)
7. Have more fun with my kids - I feel too pressured by testing to do fun stuff, but my kids need it and it's fun for me as well.

Home Goals:
1. Cook dinner nightly - sounds silly, but we have gotten into the habit of eating out too much. Too much $$$$. I take my lunch to school every day, so this way I can have leftovers.
2. Decrapify my house - I have been working on this one the last 2 days and I feel so good about it. I would love to be a minimlaist, but my hubby would like ot be a hoarder. We have to compromise a bit. I also need to keep it up and keep it clean, but it's hard with a 4 year old and a hubby, but I have to stop making excuses.
3. Spend more time outside working in the yard - It's good for relaxing and it makes me feel better about my home. Oh yeah, but I can't do it when it's rainy, uber muddy or over 100 degrees, so that leaves me like 2 months!

Personal Goals:
1. Relax and enjoy life - I can do this one well, but I need to do it more often
2. Spend more quality time with my daughter - she's growing up too fast
3. Take time for me - it's hard to do when you want quality time, but I ignore me a lot.
4. Lose weight/get healthier - this is on everyone's goal list, but I need to do it. I have not taken time for me and it shows. I am tired of being overweight and need to change. My dr. tells me to lose 10 pounds every time I go see her...I need to make it happen this year...with more than 10 pounds! Plus, it makes me feel better about myself which leads to a happier me!
5. Read - as silly as this sounds, I need to read more. I enjoy reading, but I don't make time to do it. It helps me calm down and relax and it's better than watching tv all time!
6. Be a little self-centered - I have never been one to think abou tmy self or worry about me, but I need to. I need to take some more time for me and take care of myself and worry about me. I worry about others all the time, I need to start worrying about me and taking time for me!

I have a ton of goals and a ton of chances to let myself down, but I'm going to work hard to make sure that doesn't happen! I can do all of these if I really want them and really try. So, with this out for the world to see, here is come 2011, ready or not!

Happy New Year!


Halfway though vacation

So today is the halfway mark in my vacation. Sorry to those of you who have to go back to work next week. This is our one long vacation and I love it. I love being home next week when most of the schools are back in. It's so much easier to take my daughter places and not be swamped with people. But, she goes back to preschool next week and has speech class 2 days next week, so my vacation of sleeping in will be over! Oh well!

I sat down the other day and started looking at my plans for the next month. I have so many ideas going around in my head. I am trying to figure out where to fit them all in and not give anything up. It hasn't worked so well, yet. Maybe later today I can sit down and start planning. Or tomorrow. Or next Thursday. Who knows.

Today will be spend inside cleaning. The good spring cleaning kind of cleaning that needs to be done. The throw-crap-away cleaning one can only do when the hubs is at work. It's pouring rain today, so there isn't much else to do, other than be lazy and sit on the couch, but I need to be productive. We spent last week not being producitve and I don't like it. That will actually be one of my goals for the new year is to spend my time being more productive, rather than being lazy. We'll see how it goes.

Happy Wednesday to all!


Is it wrong to expect kids to go to college?

Yesterday while driving around town, hubs and I were talking about college. Why? No idea. We got on the conversation about schools not preparing students for what they need. I take offense to that as a teacher, but then when I look out of my own little box, I have to agree sometimes. Many kids aren't getting what they need out of school and are falling through the cracks. And, we are expecting too much from some kids who are doing the best they can do.

In my mind, my daughter will go to college after high school and get a great job. Hubs wants her to go to vet school, I just want her to do something that she wants to do. She's 4, it will change often in the coming years! For me, going to college wasn't something that was pushed upon me by my parents. I did OK in high school, but it wasn't fabulous. I didn't care. I wasn't rebelious, I just didn't care about high school. I wasn't popular, wasn't one of the pretty, skinny girls, I was just there. I played soccer and swam on the swim team, but those aren't sports or activities that make you popular. I wasn't outgoing, which was why I was the way I was. But, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. And to do that, I had to go to college, come hell or high water. And I did that. In 4 short years, I graduated college and started teaching.

Anyway, back to my thoughts. In my mind, I am trying to prepare my first graders for the possibility of college. I want them to aspire to going to college and getting the good jobs. I want them to see that there is more out there than what their parents have. I hope for all of them that is the case, but I know it's not the reality. Most of the kids we teach aren't going to go to college. Most will barely make it through high school, if they stay in the country long enough to do it. I guess I have never really thought about it that much, but now that I do, it makes me sad. The kids I have now will grow up and do what? Sure, there are some who will go to school and be succesful, but not all. And for those that don't go to college, what will they do?

Our schools prepare kids for the college track. They work on reading, writing and math for ever, but they do it in the later years with stuff that doesn't make sense in life. I had to read Romeo and Juliet and it didn't change my life. It didn't help me be a better student. It killed some time in class. And don't get me started on math. I am lucky I can teach the 1st grade math! My hubby believes that we should teach kids based on what they want or will be able to do later in life. Since not all kids are college bound, there should be more life skills classes or job training classes. Europe has some of the right ideas, really. Kids go to school for the things they are able to do and want to do rather than to take some arbitrary classes in English when they can't write a sentence.

My friend at work has a son in high school. He is taking 7 classes. He is on the "college track", but he isn't doing well. He is in AVID, which is to help kids get ready for college. They push and push them to do more than they can, and then the grades suffer. But on the flipside, they kids who don't have a chance of going to school are given the easier classes with nothing expected from them except to graduate and work at McDonald's. Why aren't we pushing them to do more? Why aren't we giving them more classes to help them out to be better?

I don't know what the answer is. I feel so hopeful with my kids, but then I think about my first group of first graders who are now turning 19 and I wonder how many are doing anything meaningful with their lives. How many actually graduated high school? How many are in school? I have always hoped that I impress upon my kids the value of education and how important it is that they learn to read and write and do math, just so they can survive. I don't think the kids see anything wrong with having ot translate for their parents at conferences when they are 6 and 7 and they think it's normal. I don't think they kids see that their parents lives could have been better if they knew how to read - in any language. I don't think the kids see what they have been given with learning.

I guess I will always be an optomist with my kids and hope for the best. I can hope that they will take something away from my class and remember how hard I wanted them to work and do their best. I can hope that in the coming grades, they work hard and learn and are successful in their learning. I can hope they stay in this country and continue their education. I can hope they make it to high school and graduate. I can hope they decide to go to college and make something of themselves. And deep down, I hope that this all comes true and that the others are wrong. Sadly, I think I am the one who is wrong, but I won't tell myself that just yet!

I don't know if this makes sense to anyone else, but I hope it does.



Today is the start of my second week of vacation. And there are no big plans. We live real exciting lives, so there isn't much to plan for. I have the requisite laundry to do, the cleaning of the kitchen cabinets and the raking of the leaves, but that's stuff that's always here. Otherwise, life is pretty dull!

I was looking at all the great ideas out there this morning on blogs and started writing down ideas for when we get back to work and then it hit me. Testing! We have our benchmark test in February, 4 weeks after we get back. And on top of that, we have a holidy in there, the 100th day of school, Groundhog's Day and teaching the curriculum at warp speed. I'm trying to find a way to fit everything in that I want to do without missing out on something fun. That will be my goal this vacation is to get everything reconfigured and ready to go for January. I have a couple ideas floating around in my head, I will just have to put them on paper and see if they work.

I would love the chance to get into my classroom next week, but no such luck. The school will be shut down, except for the spiders and other critters that will take over our rooms while we are gone. It will be lovely to go back to my critter friends. I would like to go in, make some changes, do some organizing, but that will have to wait til after school, which means it won't get done since no one wants to be there after 5 each day! I may have to do that a couple times to get everything done that needs to be done. Who knows! Great ideas in my head stay there many times rather than be implemented. Maybe I should make that a new goal of mine this year. We'll see!

We've got bright shining sun, so I may venture out today to rake some leaves, pull some weeds that have started to grow and tend to my roses! I've got 2 days before the next storm to get it all done! Happy Monday!


And then it was done

My daughter learned today that Christmas is over. It's hard to be 4 and come to that realization. She wasn't too happy, but she's getting over it by playing with her mountain of toys, wearing some new jammies and wearing a Santa hat that she just had to have from Walmart this morning! Silly girl, but daddy indulged her wishes!

During my daily bout of insomnia this morning, I was thinking about my kids (among other things). I hope they had a good Christmas. I hope they had Christmas. I know most of them will have had some sort of Christmas, but I hope they all got something more than the puzzle I gave them. I know the local charities were out and about last weekend, so hopefully. And, what I thought before, was that Dollar Tree has so much stuff that parents should be able to spend 5 bucks for their kids for Christmas. I hope so. Especially since I look at my daughter who is slightly spoiled (thanks to the grandparents and aunt and uncle) and look at all that she had and all the more she has now.

Then I was thinking about my kids who talked a lot about Christmas and those who didn't. I bet the ones who didn't talk about it really have had nothing in the past to celebrate. And those that did, have had Christmas celebrations in the past. Makes you wonder. Or I do anyway.

By the time we get back to school, Christmas is a distant memory (we go back Jan. 10). It's too far away to get them to think about it without getting uber excited about it all over again. I think we will spend part of our first day back setting some goals for ourselves as learners for the new year. I am going to start working on something for the kids to do. Believe me, I have my not-so-new goals to keep working on, but I want to start something new with my students and myself. I will post it when I get it done.

Until then, I need to finish putting things away. I think I got my daughter's loot all put up. Let's see how long the house stays clean! Too bad there is still a yard full of mud or else I would send her outside. But that's what happens after 8 inches of rain! Happy Sunday!


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone in Bloggyville! I hope your day is wonderful! Mine will be, I am sure of it (and will make it wonderful myself!). My daughter just woke up (at 7:30 - a Christmas miracle) and asked to watch a show before she opened her gifts. We don't do "Santa", so there are no new gifts under the tree for her. But she is still excited. And before anyone gets all holier than thou about Santa, I would be more than happy to give her a gift from Santa, but she could care less about him. He scares her more than anything, so it's not a big deal to her, or to me, really. Time to get ready for the day with family and enjoy the day with the Hubs and my daughter!

Merry Christmas!


'Twas the day before Christmas...

and I have my "vacation insomnia" again. I guess when I go to work I work harder than at home and then I don't sleep well at night. I woke up at 3:30 this morning and had a hard time going back to sleep. The dog was barking, I was thinking of my to-do list for today and then I started thinking about planning for Janaury. What's wrong with me? It's almost Christmas and I am laying in bed planning or trying to think of what to do when I go back.

Today's thought? Author Studies. Yep, at 3am, I am thinking about author studies. In years past, I used to do them. I didn't go all out, but I did them. We would read books by the same author, do some fun little activities and then write them a letter (if they are still alive, anyway) telling them which book we liked the best. But, as time got smaller and the push for more standards got larger, author studies went away. I just can't seem to get it all in. And I feel horrible about it. Instead, I have resorted to reading my themed books (think snowmen coming up) as my read alouds and then doing a crafty type project at a center during language arts time. That's it!

So at 3:30, I was laying in bed trying to figure out in my mind when to do author studies. And I came to the conclusion that, right now, I can't. I don't know where to make the time during the day without giving something else up. I would love to do in in the morning before we start our reading lesson, but then that would kick out my themed stories. I would like to do it after recess, but it's focus time and I don't have my own kids. After that is writing, which I can't give up and in fact, need to push when we get back. I would love to do it after lunch, right before math, but I have to start math centers when I get back so I can have some time to work with my kids struggling in math. And then when the afternoon comes around, it's time to teach science and social studies (just one at a time). And then, before I know it, it's time to go home. Really, I need about 2 more hours in the school day, but by 3:15, I am beat and ready to go home.

I was thinking back to the beginning of the year when I did do some of my author studies, but then I was missing out on other things. It's all a game of give and take, I guess. I'll give the kids more "fun" stories and timely stories and take my author study books off the shelf for a while. It's OK, really, I still have fun reading to them, no matter what it is! Maybe next year, if there's time!

On that note, time for me to get my to-do list started for the day. I think the first thing on there should be to get excited about Christmas. Sad to say, but I don't get excited about Christmas anymore. I thought it would change with my daughter, but family dynamics have ruined it, so...I will put on my happy face for her today and tomorrow and make it the best for her and then muddle my way through the day! One year it will change and it will all go back to being great!

Merry Christmas to all out there!


Vacation Thinking

Here we are, on vacation from school, from the kids, from the day to day routines we have. When I should be cleaning, or building the gingerbread house with my daughter, I am blogging and looking for ideas for January. My mind never stops. And I need it to, but right now I am excited. There are so many wonderful ideas out there that I can't wait to do them with my kids. I am excited to go back (when it's time and not a moment sooner!) and do them with the kids.

And then I realize that I am not be the most fabulous teacher. Everyone has these great ideas and I don't think I have them. I want to have them, but I can't seem to get the creative juices flowing. And then it bums me out. And then I mope around the house. Like yesterday. But that's what 7 days of rain will do. BTW...today is partly cloudy, but NO rain!

I am off to clean some more and get my 4 year old to clean her room. That should take me just all day! Oh well! At least it's not raining! Happy Thursday!


Good thing we are on vacation

I'm sure you all know that sunny So Cal is getting pummeled by rain. Well last night, we were blessed with the wind. And not some little wind either, but big 'ol howling wind. The kind that shakes the windows that are supposed to be in well and makes sleeping a bit harder. At least for me. Hubs was there snoring away. Like always!

It started raining here on Thursday. It rained in the morning, then stopped. It rained Friday. All day. Saturday it rained. Light, but all day. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, all day. I am tired of rain. But today, it's gonna rain all day. And they say this is the worst storm out of the 5. This is highly unusual for us. I like the rain, but not 7 days of it. I don't like to see my yard flooded, though we will have a bumper crop of plums this next year. Our forcast for today is rain, wind, possible hail, possible thunderstorms, possible funnel clouds and possible tornadoes. Um, hello Mother Nature? This is Southern California! Tornadoes? A few years ago there was one that touched down about 10 miles from my house. Lovely. I don't know how anyone does it. I am exhausted and it's only 7:30am. We are in for a long weather day!

The upside to the rain is that we are stuck inside. I wrapped all my gifts yesterday and then had some me time. Honestly, I had "me" time from about 3:30 til midnight. I sat on the couch and read and read some more. I got my book finished, so I can take it back to the library and start a new one. Let's see...what will it be? I highly recommend reading The Help. Long book, but very good!

It's getting a bit lighter out. Time to go check out the damage! Happy Wednesday!


Does your classroom get cleaned?

Woke up this morning to yet another rainy day. I don't mind the rain, but I don't like being out in it. And like every good girl, I still have shopping to do for Christmas, plus some other errands to run. Like to school to unplug my printer and pencil sharpener. We have the Green Team that goes around making sure people comply with electricity regulations, and I don't want to be the one who gets a nasty note about it. Yep. It could happen. Mind you, the custodian is on the team, but he can't be bothered to clean my room!

Speaking of a clean room, my question to you all today is, how aften does your classroom get cleaned? And when it's cleaned, what do they do? When I first started teaching, my floors would be vacuumed every day or every other day and trash done daily. Now, my trash is dumped daily, but I can go a week without being vacummed. I was vacuumed a week ago Friday, and when I left on Friday afternoon for vacation, I was hoping I would be vacuumed before I got back (highly unlikely since the custodias are also on 3 week vacations. How nice.). Anyway, my whiteboard doesn't get cleaned, but maybe 2 times a year. My desks are cleaned by my kids and Clorox wipes and the cobwebs have been haging around for quite some time (like since last school year). The principal doesn't really know the schedule of the custodian and thinks that everything is good. I don't want to nag and complain, but I don't think I should have to teach in a dirty classroom, either. I make my kids pick up the trash, but after a week of no vacuuming, there is little stuff all over. It's kind of gross, really. Let me know your cleaning tales. I want to compare and see if we are all in the same boat, or if we just get the raw end of the deal at my school!

Happy Monday, everyone!


When there are no lesson plans to do...

I get super busy at home. Today, it is rainy and cool in sunny So Cal. Today is day 4 of rain, and there are at least 4 more in sight. We should have a break on Friday, then have more rain after that. But, I won't complain. We need the rain. And, you don't have to shovel the raindrops! Sorry for all of you that will have to contend with the snow, but I say bring on the rain!

I won't really think of school til the week before I go back. We have 3 weeks off, so that means in about 2 1/2 weeks, I can think of school! So to stay busy today, and do what needed to be done before tomorrow. So, I did laundry (so exciting), baked more cookies (I think I've made about 20 dozen + this last week) and made some more plum jelly. It's all for us, as my daughter eats it like it's going out of style. Now, I am going to curl up on the coucg, turn the heater on, watch Eat, Pray, Love and read my book. Good thing to do on a rainy Sunday night!


Christmas Around the World - Parts 4 and 5

On Thursday, we spent some time talking about Mexico. It's interesting that over half my kids have family from Mexico (they are all born here), yet they have no idea what's celebrated there. I guess the families have Americanized Christmas for their children. Without getting too religious on the kids, we talked a bit about Las Posadas and then the legend of the poinsettia. The students then made a poinsettia leaf/flower.

We spend the afternoon talking a bit about reindeer and Rudolph. Some of the kids made a reindeer ornament with popsicle sticks. I didn't get a pic of it, since I was so pissed off when it was done. The kids kept taking the sticks apart, even after they were drying. When they were done, they spent the last part of the day doing punch art - poking out little dots with a thumbtack. I'm happy to report no one was stabbed and it was quiet for a good 30 minutes!

On Friday, we read some more reindeer stories. They made a reindeer by tracing their foot and their hands (foot - face, hand - antlers). Again, no pics, as I was busy preparing work for when we go back! They continued on their punch art when they were done. We did some centers after recess with making a green and red noodle necklace, patterned candy canes, coloring and some more punch art. In the afternoon, we had about an hour before we went home. I gave the kids their presents (I love the Dollar Tree!!!) and then they "watched" Rudolph. Most spent the whole time talking, as kids don't seem to care about watching a movie. We rarely watch videos, but when we do, they don't seem to care anymore. Bummer!

I am now on vacation for 3 weeks! This first week is supposed to rain every day! So, not much can get done outside, but it still beats getting up and going to work everyday! Happy vacation all!


Christmas Around the World - Parts 2 & 3

On Tuesday, we discussed Italy. We talked about La Befana and what the people in Italy eat. Then we made wreaths. It was an all morning project, but they got it done. It was the only project we did that day, as we had some math to do and then it was Peaceful Playground day, so I didn't have them in the afternoon! Oh well!

On Wednesday, we talked about Germany. We read a story about a Nutcracker and then we made a paper nutcracker. OMG...it took forever, but I think they are adorable. I had the paper cut to the size I wanted, but they had to do it all. My art challenged kids are coming along!

Then, we made Christmas trees this afternoon. I had made a punch out of a heart on the die cut machine and traced it. I made 6 per student and then we used them to make the tree. I took the idea from Oriental Trading who had it in a catalog with foam. I love my spin on it!

We embellished them with buttons, sequins and/or foam pieces. I think they were cute and really easy to make.

Tomorrow we will talk a bit about Mexico, make a poinsettia and then do some other crafty things for the day!

Christmas Around the World

I had hoped to post every day, but time just got away from me. I sort of do Christmas Around the World. I have seen some great ideas in Bloggyville this year that I am going to start using next year. Not enough time to do them now, nor do I have the desire now. I have 2 days left and it's all I can do to make it through these last few days!

On Monday, we visited England. I read to the kids about how they celebrate Christmas in England, talked about the gift giver and then traditions that came to America from England (stockings and Christmas cards). We then made our own Christmas card and stockings. I hung the stocings by the "fireplace" and let them take the cards home!

We also made cinnamon applesauce ornaments. Now my room smells wonderful!

My computer is acting up, so I will post more later. Hopefully.


Spelling Tests

I give a spelling test almost weekly in class. It covers the spelling words from the reading series, sight words, a skill we have been working on and sentence writing. I create my own tests following what we have been doing in class. I have the kids write their spelling words, then they have to find the sight word I say out of a group of 3 and then do whatever the skill part is (this week was writing a word that was the opposite and also writing the digraph that began the picture). Then they have to write a sentence using the word I gave them. I feel this is good practice, but others disagree. I'm curious as to what others think. Do you give spelling tests? What is on them? What do they look like? If you don't give them, why? I'd like to see what others in Bloggyville think about spelling. Let me know your thoughts, please!

TGI Almost Vacation!

The week is finally over. The kids are getting so excited about Christmas that they have lost the ability to think like rational little 6 year olds. Yesterday was a pretty good day for a Friday, 2 weeks before the big day!

We did our regular Friday morning routine - illustrate the poem page and then take a spelling test. Normal, everyday Friday stuff. Then I planned to do a directed drawing. I was terrified with this group, since they have been artistically challenged this year. I was pleasantly surprised yesterday with their work. We did drawings of a hermit crab to go with our anthology story of Moving Day by Robert Kalan. I love the story and just adore the little crab in it. Here are some of their works! They aren't finished yet, but will be soon!

We finished the day off with decorating cookies. I wanted to decorate gingerbread cookies since that's what we had been talking about. I had a parent make 1 gingerbread boy cookie per kid and then some round cookies. Another girl brought in some cookies shaped as bells, stars and trees from the store. So we decorated those. I was amazed at the amount of icing parents sent in. I had decided if we got nothing, we wouldn't do it. I am happy we got stuff!

Luckily my room was to be vacuumed last night, so hopefully no critters will make their way to the sugar crumbs that were left. I think the kids had a lot of fun with the cookies, but I won't be doing it again this year. Some classes are doing it next week, but I am glad I did it on Friday. I would have been too tired for the rest of the week.

Now I am off to figure out what I am doing next week. I normally do a cheesy Christmas Around the World, but I am wanting to change it. I think. I guess I have 2 days to figure it out and make plans and make sure I have everything I need. Any quick and easy last minute suggestions and ideas? They would be greatly appreciated!


Oh, what a week!

This week has kicked my butt! After Tuesday's fiasco with the kids and their behavior, the week has been better. We've been getting our work done and getting to have some fun. Wednesdays are minimum days, so our time in the afternoon gets cut short. I get to do math, but we don't have time for science, social studies or whatever it is we are doing. (This week is Gingerbread Men)

Yesterday once the kids were gone, I sat and did absolutely nothing. I was exhausted. I did manage to get some things cleaned and organized, but not enough. I am not ready for next week at all, and it's the week I do my cheesy Christmas Around the World. Luckily I have seen some cute ideas out in bloggyland, so I will be revamping my units for next year. I am so thankful there are creative people out there who share. I have never been super creative and now I am feeling better!

Today was a freaking madhouse at school! I had a kid drop the f-bomb at lunch, then he wanted to argue with me in class. I had another parent tell one of the aides that she doesn't like me since I make her (the mother) work too hard with her child. We had a birthday party for a little boy and then I had a parent conference with my lowest childs' dad. I know why she is low and why it will never change. If the parent is illiterate in their own language and can't add 1 to a number, then there is little help for the child, other than an older brother who is in special ed. Crazy! By the time they left, it was 3:40 and I had to clean the mess that was my room since we are being visisted by the school board tomorrow. Yippee! Luckily we are doing an art project (directed drawing of a hermit crab for our anthology story) so it will be an easy morning!

Tomorrow we also have Santa Shop. I hate this. The people who organize it go to Dollar Tree and buy stuff and turn around and sell it for $2 or more to make a profit so the 5th graders can have a whole bunch of stuff at the end of the year. I don't know about you, but to me, it's a waste of time and money. Yeah, yeah, kids can buy gifts and learn the art of gift giving rather than just gift getting, but only half the class (or less) has money and it's hard to buy for 8 people with $3. Yep. it happens! But, I will take my kids, help them shop and get the heck out of there and go decorate gingerbread cookies!

I will be so happy when tomorrow night rolls around. I get to go out to dinner, watch my daughter in her last (tear) preschool performance and then come home and collapse. I have a week's worth of DVR'd shows to watch and about a days worth of sleep to catch up on. And I have Christmas presents to make, cookies to bake and jelly to make. Presents and cookies are gifts, jelly is for us - I ran out. Oops! Busy weekend.

Oh, and to make those of you in the chilly areas jealous, we should be in the 80's this weekend. It may not feel like Christmas, but it sure feels nice! :)


"I have beer"

I haven't wanted to post anything since my kids have officially lost their minds. I feel like I am dealing with small, wild animals. Friday was horrible, Monday was bearable, and today was freakin' insane! I am glad today is over. All I want to do is climb into bed and go to sleep, but that doesn't happen with a 4 year old in the house!

On Friday, I wanted to do some fun projects. But the slugs are just that - slugs. They have no desire to hurry or finish up projects so we can move on. It doesn't matter what it is, it doesn't get done. I have kids who still have a project on their desk from last week that won't be getting done. Been there, done that. And I have kids who won't get to a project this week since they aren't anywhere near being ready to start it, much less finish it! I need them to feel a sense of urgency, but they don't have it. Any suggestions? And taking away recess doesn't help - and punishes me!

I did do a project (no pics yet) where they had to write a letter to Santa, or Mom or whomever and tell one thing they want for Christmas. They had to tell me what they want it and how they have been this year. We did our "sloppy copies" yesterday and then started working on the neat copies today. Those who finished put it on a piece of paper cut to look like a box and put "ribbon" on it when they were done. As I was looking through them this afternoon, I noticed one boy forgot to finish the last sentence. When he should have written "I have been good", he wrote "I have beer." I think Santa might like that! I know I was wanting something with a little something in it today! I know for him it was an accident, but it made me laugh, which was good. I'll have him fix it tomorrow!

Only 8 more days of school for the year. And then we are off for 3 weeks. I can't wait! I am going to use the time off to relax, clean, organize and re-vamp some of my plans to see how I can better serve my kids and get them to "get it". A new challenge for the new year!


And we still have to go to work tomorrow?

I haven't had a full 5 day work week in about 3 weeks, so this week is killing me. I feel that we have accomplished a lot, but dang, I am worn out. I wish today was Friday so I could be lazy and cuddle on the couch, but, no, I have laundry and dinner and lesson plans and...you know the drill. This whole sun-going-down-early thing is relaly getting to me. Last night we were ready for bed and it was 7:55. Oops!

This week, we have started to introduce some ideas of Christmas/winter, but nothing major. I know some classes have, and that's great, but not for me. We will do plenty of Christmas goodies this month, just not now. We made some trees to go wtih our poem for the week. They aren't "Christmas Trees" but they are trees that will become Crhistmas trees one day!

We have been talking about bears a little this week, too. I have been reading the Bear books by Karma Wilson. I just love them. I think the bear is too cute for words. And I was able to snag some from my daughter to complete the set at school!

I think tomorrow we are going to attempt a directed drawing of the bear. I think it might be easier than some of the others. We'll see. I don't have high hopes for art challenged group I have.

We also made some "stuffed" bears. I had the kids cut out 2 bear shapes and then I hole punched them and they were to "sew" them together. Then we stuffed them with paper. They turned out cute, though some need help with cutting on the lines! I hung them up, just for fun. I'll see if it's still there in the morning!

We also did a teddy graham graph today. We used the chocolate, honey and cinnamom crackers. They had to graph them and then answer questions about which they had the most of and then put the numbers in order from least to greatest and greatest to least. They like this activity the best!

We have a lot of work to do tomorrow for reading and math, so more projects will be posted. And my boards won't be bare anymore!


Out of the mouths of babes

We've talking a bit about bears. It's not as much as I would like to, but it what I have time for between collaboration and minimum day and trying to teach other things. Like reading. Or how to put chapstick on. Yeah, that's a lesson now since we all have chapped lips. Fun times!

Anyway, I gave my kids a dot-to-dot of a bear. It was a very generic bear (like a teddy bear, really). I let them color it when they were done. We talked about what color bears are and aren't. The funniest thing of the day - I had a student make a panda bear. An "EEVEL panda bear". The bear had red eyes and sharp teeth. My student told me to be careful when I checked his paper so I wouldn't be attacked by his panda. Too funny!



After having a great day Monday, today was a bit harder. The kids seemed chattier, my math lesson sucked and we had collaboration today as a grade level. Yeah, it was a great day. At least collaboration is over and the principal told me that she is tired of the other teacher who won't collaborate. I think "No Job" is in this teacher's future...and I will help her pack and leave! Anyway, this teacher didn't say a single word at the meeting and just sat there taking up space. What a waste.

I think I am going to take it easy tonight, do my nails and go to bed. Too tired to think or care about anything major tonight. Hopefully something good is on TV. Adios, all!


Magic Monday

I love the first day of school after a longish break. The kids are happy to be at school, they are well behaved and they are ready to learn. I felt like I got so much done today. I hope it translates over to my kids and their knowledge of what we did. There were a few who were quite out of it. It worries me as to how they will be after 3 weeks off in Dec/Jan.

Today we jumped right back into work. They had the regular day like all others. I haven't looked at their work, but hopefully they were right with me on it all. I had them do writing about their vacation and only a handful finished. So they have double duty tomorrow! Most students were writing about going to the movies to see Megaminds or Tangled. But one of my little girls (who was very excited about her writing, by the way) wrote "On my vacation I went to see my dad in the hospital. He gave me his juice. He is nice. I got three minutes to see him." (Spelling was fixed for ease of reading!) She told me that her dad had a black foot and they cut it off. OMG! WTH? The poor girl was excited about this. I feel so bad for her. I hope he is ok and I wonder how long she will stay here until they are forced back to Mexico for $ reasons. What a crappy vacation, if you ask me!

Other than that, we started talking about bears. Boy, my kids couldn't be quiet. They have a lot to say and all at the same time. We started our chart on bears and will finish it later this week. Fun times! I also had them make pine trees (which will later become Christmas trees) with green and brown paper. They had to make a triangle - boy, oh boy. Not pretty for some. Remember, we are artistically challeneged.

Here's to hoping that Tuesday is another great day. And, here's to hoping that the kids who were still on a mental vacation today are "back" tomorrow!


Back to Reality

I have been on vacation for 9 days, counting the weekends. I haven't worked a full week in at least 3 weeks, thanks to vacation, holidays, furlough days and parent conferences. It's going to be hard going back this week and having a full week of student contact. And I can't wait since I have so much I want to do and there isn't enough time to get it all in! We have 3 weeks of school between now and Christmas break and then we have 3 weeks off again. This time of the year feels like we are never at work, but it's a much needed break, though I think I would rather be at work when it's cooler rather than in August when it's hotter than the face of the sun!

For the next 2 weeks, things are status quo. We will do ur regular daily routines and programs. We will also have a little fun with science and talk about bears this week. It doesn't really go with anything in the standards (living things, yes, but...) but it's something fun to learn about. And I have a ton of books on bears (fiction) that I hope my kids will like. I do have to borrow them from my daughter, but she won't even know they are gone til I bring them back home!

Here are a few ideas I have for my unit on bears. I am actually supposed to be working on it now, but the computer is a stronger force!

- talk about the different types of bears (polar, grizzly, black, brown and panda) and where they live, what they eat and see how they are all the same/different.

- bear lacing project - lace 2 bears together and stuff them - looks cute hanging on the wall - if I don't get to this, I won't be heartbroken.

- reading little books on bears

- writing about bears

- comparing bears and teddy bears

- teddy graham graph - graphing teddy grahams and then looking at greater than/less than

- doing a directed drawing of a bear - this one worries me since my kids are art challenged this year and their teacher isn't the best, either! :)

Any other ideas that can be done quickly? I am open to anything!

Another back to reality moment is the fact that we have to meet this week for collaboration. We changed our day that we meet since we have to have the principal there. It bothers me that one person has the power to get things changed since she can't come to meetings when the principal isn't there. Pisses me off. We are supposed to be professionals, yet she acts like a child. I know I've said this a thousand times, but it really bothers me. I can't help but feel upset and frustrated with this teacher and have no respect for her anymore. And it's sad that I feel this way, but it's even sadder that the others on the grade level feel the same way. I keep telling myself it will get better, but it just gets worse. And we still have 6 months of school! Ugh!


Tomorrow will be a cold morning for us to start back. It's been in the low 30's at night, which I know is nothing compared to some states, but remember - I live in sunny So Cal where it's supposed to be warm all year! :) My classroom is a oportable so it takes forever for the heater to "defrost" and start to warm up my room. When I get there tomorrow, it will be about 50 in my room and may warm up by the time the kids come. And there isn't anything that they can do to fix it. I have to remember to take some warmer clothes to keep in my room now that it's winter and I have a crappy system. (In the summer, my room will be 90 in the mornings when I walk in and barely cool off before the kids come in...it's always something!).

Here's to the next 3 weeks of work. I can do it. I know I can! Happy back to work, everyone!


This Won't Make Me Popular

I was talking with my mom the other day about the school district where we both work. She works at the DO and I am a teacher. I make more money than her, but she is close to retiring and she and my dad are pretty well set for their golden years. She was telling me that they had a staff meeting with the district big wigs and they were talking money, which is what they always talk about. I guess for next year (2011-12) our district is pretty well set. There may be some changes here are there, but nothing major (or so they say!). But, the shit will hit the fan in 2010-13 and 2013-14. It seems like a long way away, but it isn't. I guess then we will really be in the hole. And it scares me because there isn't much more we can give up.

Each year for the last few years, our district has RIF'd teachers. 200 teachers. They tell all of us that the teachers will be let go and they are going to raise class size to 33 in K-3. Teachers start to panic that they are going to have 50% more kids in their class than before. And they panic. I'm not all for trying to effectively teach 33 kids, but I'll do my best when the times comes. And it will. Anyway, each year, we get threatened by the district that 200 teachers are going to be RIF'd, unless we give up something. And each year, we cave and give up something in return for keeping jobs.

Here's why I won't be popular. I am safe. They would have to let go of almost 700 teachers before they got to me. I'm not going anywhere. I work my butt off, though, even though I am safe. I am responsible for the kids in my class and I want them to learn. But at the same time, I am responsible for my family and the life we have. I can't give up much more without sacrificing something at home. And I am tired of it. We haven't been given a cost of living adjustment in our pay in years. So while everything else goes up, our pay doesn't. Oh, but the district keeps the money. Our benefits used to be fully covered. Then I had to pay $30 a month plus any deductible of $10. Then it went to $60 a month and $10. Then it went to $70 a month with a $20 deductible. And now it's over $200 a month with a $20 deductible and a big cut in what's covered with prescriptions (thankfully we aren't sick people). And this year, to help save jobs, we took furlough days, which cut out over $350 a month from my pay. No, it's not a ton of money, but $350 is a car payment. Or my months worth of groceries. Add to that the $200 for insurance, that's over $500 less than I had before and everything costs more, too!

And let me guess. In the next 3 months, the district is going to come out again, threaten to lay off teachers and the union is going to come out and tell us we have to give more. I can't. I am tired of it. It's bullshit! We're living on pennied at the end of the month, doing without so the district can save money and pad their paychecks. And for those who disagree with the unions' ideas, we are wrong and not thinking of the teachers as a whole. Really? The high school teachers are out for themselves. They think our jobs are pretty much useless. Um, I hate to break it to them, but it the kids can't read in elementary, then they won't do well in high school. How would they like that?

Here's my plan! You wanna lay off teachers? Then do it finally. It's gonna happen eventually, do it. Yeah, it sucks people would be out of a job, but stop threatening them year after year. That's no way to live and work. Give me 30+ kids and I will do my damndest to work with them. But, in return, don't give me any furlough days. Don't make my insurance go any higher. And for the love of Sam, give me my dame COLA raise. Make me feel like I am more to you than just a person taking up space. Add a couple more bucks to our supply budget so we can get the materials we need to teach our kids. And really? Do you need that many people at the district? Let some of them go and figure out how to make it work, just like we are!

Again, I'm not im the popular group with this thinking, but I am tired of the negativity it brings. We get teachers e-mailing everyone to say why they can't give up money because of their retirement. Or that high school is more important than the lowly elementary school. Or that they are a single mom of 5 kids and they can't afford to be out of a job and that they have been to 5 other districts and have been RIF's at each one and let go. Or why don't we all just take one for the team and help out a little and that it won't be that bad, it's just a little money...why are we all so greedy? Um, ok. All grades are important. Your retirement will be safe, you just won't be making as much this year, but you are still making more than most, sorry this is your 6th district, but...I am tired of taking one for the "team" and in turn my family gets the short end of the stick! Sorry, but I think I can be a bit selfish when it comes to my family.

But, in the end, we will be told we need to get test scores up higher and that we need to work harder than before (and some of us do work harder) and work as a team more and then something will happen that will bring morale down across the district, and we will be pitted against each other again and end up giving away more than we already have. Yay.


And Now Christmas Begins

Thanksgiving is barely behind us, and Christmas is in full swing. As I type this, it's still technically Thanksgiving, but Christmas is on the brain of my hubby. And not because he is excited to have the house decorated and gets to hang up lights. Nope, he and his parents are planning their attack of the stores as I type. His parents want to pull and all-nighter for shopping, while I am getting ready to get into my warm jammies and head for bed! This is what he wants to do - more power to him!

My daughter is all excited about Christmas this year. It's been in the stores for a month now, and she can't understand why it isn't here yet. To be young and innocent and have no concept of time. I wish I could be like that sometimes! Tomorrow I will start decorating my house for Christmas. I have a slightly crazy snowman collection that I love. Funny considering I hate the snow. With a passion. That's why I live where it's above feezing most of the year and rarely snows!

Last year I was in a funk at Christmas time, thanks to a family situation. I would never want anyone to be in a position of not wanting to communicate with their fmaily at any time, but at Christmas, it sucks. Last year, I was glad when Christmas was over and was ready to move on with the new year.

But, this year, I am excited about Christmas. I think it's because my daughter is so excited about it. I can't wait to take her to look at lights and hear her excitement. I can't wait to make the gingerbread house I bought with her and see what she does. I can't wait til she opens her presents and gets all excited. (Hopefully the present will be bought tonight and she is done!).

I am also excited to share this time of year with my class. I am starting to panic because I haven't bought them anything for gifts. Each year I buy them something so they have a present to open. For a couple, it's all they get. Sad, isn't it. Last year I gave my kids puzzles from Target's dollar bins. They loved it as most didn't have puzzles. I have given books in the past, but they aren't as cheap as they used to be. I am trying to figure out what to get them. I like to give them something educational, yet inexpensive, since buying for 20+ kids gets pricey. I'll have to check out Target again (I should have done it this week!!!!!) and see what they have. I'm excited to plan a fun week before vacation to study Christmas in other countries. I know my unit could use a complete makeover, but...I'm not feeling very creative and there's still the limited budget thing. I am going to do a fun bear unit next week with my kids and just have some fun. The week after we are doing Gingerbread and hopefully I can convinve/beg parents to bring in cookies to decorate. I'd like to have the real thing, so we'll see what happens. A messy day sounds like something we all might need. And then the last week is all about Christmas. I need to really plan it this year and see if I can make it more fun and enjoyable and educational. Here's to hoping! If you know of any great sites, please share!

Well, I think my time for bed has come. I hear my jammies calling, along with the book I have been trying to finish. I've got a busy day tomorrow with cleaning and deocrating and possibly a trip to JoAnn's and Michaels. I've got some ideas for gifts and need to get working on them. I need to see what JoAnn's has in fabric and start on a blanket for my neighbor and possibly my hubby, though he is always home. Gotta see how to do that! Time to bust out my paints, my Cricut and my sewing machine and put them to good use. Right now they are awesome dust collectors who should be used way more than they are.

Here's to a great Christmas season kick off and hopes for a great holiday season for me and all you, too!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in blogland! I am very thankful for the time I have to spend with my family and the time off we have in order to do it!


My Favorite Store

I am not a big shopper, though part of me would like to be. I like to go to the regular stores we all have, like Target, Wal-Mart (when I really have to), Old Navy and Lowes. But, my income does not support my love of those stores like I would want it to, so I go there when I need to! There is a store in town (really it's the next city over, but it's that close) that is a used book store. I have a bunch of store credit ($280) and like looking at the books they have that I don't have the time to read.

My hubby and I went there this morning after dropping my daughter off at pre-school. She wanted to go this week, which as it turned out, was a blessing. She's been a holy terror tonight and I don't think I could have put up with it all day! Anyway, hubby and I went to the book store just to look around. I like to find some books from authors I like, but don't want to pay full price. Today, I walked away with about 6 or 8 books for less than $20! I don't know when I will get to them, but I will add them to my collection and read them when I can. I have 3 books that I started earlier in the year that I have never finished and about 15 more that I have had sitting on shelves. But I just love books!

I bought a couple of books from an author I have never heard of, just to see if I like them. For $2 a book, it's worth it! I saw the same 2 books at Target today for almost $12 a book! Score! It's worth going through the chaotic mess of this store to find good deals. I am still on the hunt for a book I can't find anywhere (missed my chance when it was at Sam's Club in the summer), but I think I have enough to keep me occupied til 2015!

Tonight I will sit down to keep reading the book I started on Saturday. It's taken a strange turn, but I will see how it goes. I was sittin down to read it this afternoon, but my time was better spent napping. I miss naps. I wish we had them more often!


More Randomness

Sorry for the boring blog. My computer decided it was going to stop opening any blogs with backgrounds from Cutest Blog on the Block, so I had to change it. Now it's not as nice as the other, but at least I can see it now. I don't not like being able to see it.

Today is day 2 of my week off and I haven't done anything. I was up early to take my daughter to preschool. I wanted her to stay home with me, but she wanted to go and see her friends. Why not. I had a bit of quiet time, ran to the library and grabbed lunch before I got her. We ran some errands and now she is in her room playing with the dogs and the cat. I guess I am not necessary at the moment!

Mother Nature is being evil this week. We had rain on Saturday and Sunday and now it's cold. It's cold for So Cal standards. We are happy with 80's not 52. It was 30 when I got up and damp, so there was frost everywhere. Time to make sure I get my car in the garage tonight before the next round. Supposed to rain again tonight then be windy the next few days. Good thing my heater is working well!

I haven't even thought of school stuff this week yet. I am trying to relax, read a book and not do much else. It's not productive, but it's nice! I checked one out of the library today, but I will not get to it til next week. I hope I can keep checking it out til January! I may need that long to start and finish it.

I need to go make some cookies for my daughter's school. I want to be like a real mom and bake and surprise her class. Normally I have time to run to the store, get what they need and be on my way. This should be a nice treat for her and her class. Now, what to make?

I still have to go to the store to get some things for Thanksgiving. I wanted to go today, but hubby is under the weather and it's too hard to drag a 4 year old who wants to stay and play with the dogs all day. Guess I will be at Walmart at 8am after I drop my daughter off at school tomorrow. Hopefully it isn't a nightmare!

Time to go do something. Read? Bake? The never ending laundry? A nap with a blanket and heater? I think the last one will win! Good thing dinner is a cooking away! Chicken tortilla soup (homemade) for this chilly day and night! Yum!


Field Trips

Yesterday, I spent the rainy day at Legoland with my hubby and daughter. It was a perfect day with no lines, no waiting and really, no rain! Couldn't have asked for a better day. As we were walking through the aquarium, my hubby read something that said it was perfect for school field trips. He told me I should bring my kids there. Then I laughed for a good 10 minutes and he looked at me like I had lost my mind.

Here's the deal. We can't do field trips without a lot of begging and pleading. For one, the bus would cost me my first born child. It's outrageous what they charge for the bus. Two, we have to fill out moutains and moutains of paperwork, put every standard that could relate to the trip and write a thesis as to why we feel that this tris is beneficial to the kids. Three, we have to have all the parent volunteers cleared, with their badges (and fingerprints, and TB tests)and agreeing to go months before the actual trip. Um, I don't know what I am doing next weekend, much less in 3 months! Four, we were given $200 bucks a class to cover field trips. I guess we could hitch hike somewhere and then hop the gates to get it! You can't go many places in So Cal for $10 a kid. The bus costs about that much alone! Five, the parents don't have money to pay for their kids to have new shoes, much less go on a field trip. And six, I don't want to spend all day corraling my kids somewhere and hope that I don't leave one stranded at whatever place we are at. I have never done that and don't plan on doing it!

We are talking about bringing something in for a field trip, but they go for about $1,000. I thing sometimes I got into the wrong field. I should travel around and do field trips for $1,000 a day. I'd only have to work 3 days a month to make what I make now! Wow! What an idea. Maybe when I retire and can do something like that for spending money!

I hope when my daughter goes to school next year she gets a field trip. My kids are asking me if we are going somewhere and I told them no. We may be able to go to the grocery store or something lame like that, but otherwise, we are staying "home" and learning that way. Kinda sucks, but that's what life is like in lovely CA!


Random Thoughts

I am now on a week vacation from school. Seems anti-climatic since we had a 4 day weekend last weekend, but I will take it. I am in desperate need of some down time and me time. I never take too much me time, and it's beginning to get me donw.

Or, it could be the fact that my hubby got his test results from his big test in July and he didn't pass. It bumbs me out, but I can't let him know that. So, our lives will continue as they have been for the last 5 years - living paycheck to paycheck, studying for the next 3 months til the next test, and me being the loan bread winner. It really sucks. I wish I had a crystal ball and knew that good things were coming. I just feel knocked down when things like this happen.

I am planning my to do list for the weekend. It's going to rain all weekend, so we are stuck inside. Hubby doesn't want to go anywhere, so it looks like a long weekend with my daughter stuck in the house. It looks like the office is the first thing on the priority list. It's a mess. It's cluttered. And it's full of crap that my hubby needs to start studying again for the test. Joy. And I was hoping we could turn it all in and get it out of the house.

I was trying to think of what to make/give as gifts to people at work. I have done cookies in the past. I have an idea, but it would be a lot of time to get it done and I don't know if I want to put all the time in. It would give me some me time, but also cut out a lot of my time. How do you all do gifts for co-workers?

Speaking of co-workers, our 1st grader counterpart who has caused us so many issues won't even look at us. It was quite finally really. Yesterday she walked into the restroom and there was a line (2 stalls for a women's restroom at a school? Really?). She turned and look at me and then stromed out of the bathroom with a "Oh, gosh!" What a bitch. That's my new name for her. We had to move our collaboration day to accomodate her needs to have the principal there to babysit us. And, I don't really want to share in my gift-giving with her. Is that bad? Help me out people! She's really a bitch!

I just started raining harder now. I have a cooped up 4 year old (it's only 7:45 and she wants to go out and play), 3 wet dogs sleeping on my floor and a hubby who went out this morning to take another test for a job he doesn't want, but he's feeling desperate. And I get to be home and be all shiny and happy when he gets back. Goody. This is when I wish we lived closer to the "big cities" where there are more things to do for kids on rainy days. Sitting at home isn't one of them! At least my car is getting cleaner than it was.

I think today I will clean what I need to, do laundry (does it ever end?) and then sit on the couch with a book. I finally finished my new Danielle Steel book. It ook me awhile, not because it wasn't good, but because I didn't make me time. It all goes back to that.

I am now trying to figure out how to pay for the classes I need to take to move all the way over on the pay scale. I don't like being stuck with my pay and I've been there now for 3 years. It sucks. I have 2 master's degrees, but because I came from out of state, my units were different than had I been in state. I gotta find $4,000 to take the classes I need and be done for good. Or I gotta find cheap classes that I would like taking. Sucks! :(

Well, I think I am done for now. Gonna play on the internet this morning and waste some time before I get working. Happy weekend!


Thanksgiving Activities

I haven't spent a lot of time on Thanksgiving with my kids. For some reason, I planned other units to be done at this time rather than Thanksgiving. I felt like I have been cramming it in when I can this week.

Some teachers go all out and make Pilgrim hats and Indian clothes and have a hige feast. We did that once and it was a nightmare. Too much mess, too much chaos, too much kids throwing away the food we spent all day making! I will normally read books about Thanksgiving, we make a couple little books and do some fun activities.

Here is what we have done to date (and tomorrow is the last day of school for a week!):

Tukey Cards - fold the strips of paper over and glue them behind the turkey bodies.

Indian Corn - cut and glue the corn together and glue little squares on for the kernals

Books - Trying to read all the informational, fun and completely fiction stories about Thanksgiving.

Writing out what we know about the Pilgrims and the Indians and then having the kids write about it. They turned out cute, even if they aren't 100% sure about what they are writing. "The Pilgrims flotd to Umaricu on the mayflor" or "The Indians hepd the Pilgrims pant korn." It's cute how they write...just wish they used all the words on the board! But hey, we are still learning!

Tomorrow being the last day, there is a lot of work to finish before we can have any fun. If we do anything exciting, they can make noodle necklaces, patterned headbands, a turkey and maybe even a video, if all goes well. I am excited that my kids will be at PE tomorrow afternoon and that I may be able to make it out of school before the sun sets!


Teacher Work Days

Monday was a teacher work day. It was set aside for teacher conferences, but I had scheduled mine for before and after the work day. I like spending the day in my room, working on things that I want to do at my own speed.

I spent Monday (after my one conference who couldn't bother to show up on her scheduled time) cleaning, organizing and getting things ready for after Thanksgiving break. I feel very prepared for December. It's a nice feeling after feeling not prepared for the last month. I am so ready for a nice break. It's been a tough few months and I am at my frustration point with a couple of my kids. I will be glad to be away from them for the next week. I know it's sad to say, but some of my kids are getting on my last nerve.

I wish we had more teacher work days, but we don't. The work days are called before or after school time. So, like no other special times! :) I was happy that I made the best of the day, though I still have a to do list that's not all complete. Oh well. There is always tomorrow afternoon when the kids are at PE!


A Letter to My Grade Level

To my first grade team,

I am very sad that we are together on a team. We have so much potential, yet we fail to use it for the benefit of good. I'm sad that there is so much animosity between people that we can't work for the good of the kids, but rather we are so busy making sure we keep an eye on what the others are doing.

We are supposed to be adults. We are supposed to be setting a good example for the kids to see. I don't think our job is to ignore people, but rather work together. I may be mistaken, since I have been there for 3 years now and I don't see the whole team working together.

I am sorry that some of you feel that we were "the chosen ones". If you remember, they shut our school down and we had to move. We had no home anymore. We had to go our separate ways and join new teams when the teams we were on were good and worked. I'm sorry that we caused you so many problems and questioned the other principal on his actions. After all, you are always checking to make sure you get "what's fair", and that's all we wanted, too!

We have been a grade level for 3 years, but we are not a team. We can't be bothered to act professional and show up at grade level meetings. We can't share our ideas for fear that someone may actually use a good idea another has. I'm not trying to out do anyone, I am trying to be the best I can be as a teacher for my kids. I am tired of my things and would like to see new ideas, but I have realized that is too much to ask for. We can't share together because some people don't want to share with others. We can't be bothered to share our testing data for fear of not looking the best. We all need help in places where others are better. I'd like some new math ideas, but no one again, is willing to share. I'd like to see your daily schedule to see how you do things, but I know that is too much to ask for.

We are all supposed to be professionals. We don't have to like each other, but we are supposed to be respectful of each other and treat each other with respect. It's what we ask our students to do, but then we are above it ourselves. I don't care what happened last year, or the year before or 3 years ago when I wasn't here. I worry about what's happening now. I worry about how our kids are doing when they go to other classes and are supposed to be learning in there for the focus time. I worry because we can't be bothered to share what it is we are working on. It's not a secret! I can ask the kids and they will tell me. I want to know what you, as the professional are doing! I want to sit in a meeting and be given the same respect I feel I give to people. Am I perfect? Heck no! But I try to make sure I am respectful to each person on my team. I try to make sure I do the little things, like make eye contact when you talk. I try to listen rather than doodle on my notepad. I try to think of how I can work with your children when I have them, rather than complain that there are so many. I plan for the kids like they are my own. I want to make sure they are getting something out of each day. I'm not a miracle worker, but it would be easier if we all worked together.

We are a grade level of 5, but we are a team of 1's. Yes, some of us are closer to each other than others, but it's the way it has been. 2 of us came together from the other school after having worked together for 10 years! We work well together and wouldn't give it up. We aren't out to get anyone, regardless of what some think, but we are working together. We feel we are the only ones who will work together and we already have shared all we have! Sometimes there are 3 of us, but really, it's just 2 and 1 who eats lunch with us and shares some ideas. We dont' sit at lunch and plot or plan or collaborate. Sometimes things come up, but that is the nature of the job. We are trying to get away with meeting without people. It's just what happens. We aren't plotting to plan at lunch, cause honestly, there ain't nothing to plan at lunch! We are doing different things! Get over it!

3 years ago when I went to the school, I went in with a very good, positive attitude. I was excited for a new start, not that I really wanted it, but I wanted to make sure I gave it my all. I tried to reach out to everyone and wanted to be a team, but in the end, I got crapped on. I was told that we were chosen to be there. Yeah, well someone had to take us. We had to teach somewhere. We jumped in with both feet and watched others not have to participate as we did. We jumped in and were accused of plotting. We jumped in and got crapped on. It wasn't fun. It was a hard year. I went home every night and cried. I went home and wondered what I did. I lost respect for the principal and the people I worked along side, but not with. We have never worked "with" each other, but just in the same grade level.

I think it's sad that our grade level is the way it is. I can't even call us a team. We aren't a team. We are a bunch of I's doing what we want, regardless of what needs to be done. Oh, yeah, we can play a pretty game when people come and visit, but really, we are just doing a dog and pony show. I'm sure the kids don't know or care what's going on, but they will get smarter and realize it later. I have never had a grade level team work super together. And I want that. And I know it will never happen where I am. It can't. There is too much drama and too much history. It won't happen until people leave. It's the only way it can happen. And until then, we will continue to be a bunch of I's, with a WE thrown in there, trying to teach our kids! Sad.


Lesson Plan Burn Out

The title says it all. I am burned out on writing my lesson plans. And I have been for about 6 weeks. My book isn't all blank, but it doesn't look like I think about teaching my kids much. Which isn't true. Writing the plans in my book has seemed like the least favorite thing I could do at any given moment. And it shouldn't, at least not for this long. I need to get my butt back in gear and write my plans again!

My plans aren't anything wonderful, but I know what I am doing. For me, it's more the fact that when I write them out, I know what I am doing. I don't need to go back over my lesson plans each day to see what I have done or what I will do. I just know what I am going to do and I make sure I get it done. I am very anal in that aspect. I do what I need to in order to get it all done each day. Yes, there are some days when we do something different, but that's my perogative. I'm in charge, I can change things as I see fit!

I've said it before, but I am burned out with my reading program. This is the 9th year we are using it. I have my favorite stories that I like to do activities with, but then there are others that I just despise. I don't know why really, other than the stories don't appeal to me. I try not to let my kids know that, but sometimes it slips! So, I try to do my own thing when I can to make it a little more exciting!

As for math, it's all pretty much scripted for us. I just follow the plan in the book and per the district pacing guide and I teach it to the best of my ability. I do need to sit down and have a heart to heart with myself about math. My kids scored poor on the last benchmark test we took, and that's my fault. I haven't hammered in some of the details for math that they need. But it's hard for me to explain it. It sounds pretty sad that a first grade teacher can't explain math to a 6 year old, but our math isn't the most concrete program. ABSTRACT! They teach them how to subtract with addition, which would be great if they knew their addition facts, but they don't. So how do they know how to add right to subtract when they dont' know how to add?

Anway, science and social studies have been shuffled around a bit to fit the needs of the pacing-guide-that-wasn't-meant-to-be-this-year. I wish they told us before we started planning and getting things in order! Oh well. That's the district for you! I started out the year planning really well and feeling confident about it. Now, it's just "let's do our exciting lesson on telling directions". Oh yeah, and not to mention, I forgot to plan in teaching about Thanksgiving this year since I was so focused on teaching the standards! Oops!

In the summer, I sat down with my TE's, my files and whatever else I needed for a particular unit and handwrote out everything I wanted to do. I had my materials I needed, what I wanted the kids to know and the coordinating standards all mapped out. Then I could go off that for my plans. And it worked. I did it for the first month of school (before it started) and felt more prepared than I had in a long time. Then school started. Life got busier. And my plans sucked. I need to get back to that, but finding the time to sit down bym myself is lacking. Or when I do have time, I'd rather pick up a book than plan. I need some down time, too! I've tried to get to work early, stay later, etc, but it doesn't always work! And now, thanks to the time change, school's out at 3:15 and the sun is down by 4. Who wants to be at work when the sun is gone? (I can go home and still have dun for about 25 more minutes. My school is at the base of a mountainy hill!).

So, I sit here this morning and ponder how I will get back into planning. My principal wants us to have plans, but she hasn't checked yet at all. I know I do better with plans, but I just don't feel it yet. Maybe after having this 4 day weekend and then Thanksgiving week off and then Christmas/winter break, I will feel better. I hope so. I've gotta get planning so I feel excited about things!


The Long Haul

Thanks to having a nice, well deserved 4 day weekend, I have been able to sit on the computer this morning and read some blogs. I don't normally get to do that til the afternoon or evening or even not until the weekend. It's kinda nice sitting here in my cold office, listening to my daughter play in her room with the dogs. Thank you, end of Daylight Savings Time. I now get to share my mornings with my early riser! (6am on a day off!!!). Anyway, I have been reading some blogs, and it seems like people are tired, frustrated, and worn out. I get it. I feel that way, too, but I feel better now that report cards are done and confereces are half over! I am also seeing blogs where people are talking about not doing this job forever. And I wonder.

When I was 7 years old, I told my parents I was going to be a teacher. I don't think I had a fabulous teacher then or anything, but it's what I said I wanted to do. And I never waivered. Not even in college when there is so much out there. I had people tell me in high school that I was stupid for wanting to be a teacher. These were the same masterminds who were supposed to be teaching us English, but instead thought it necessary to do nothing. (I don't remember one thing from my senior English class other than the quaterback couldn't read a lick and I read about 10 - 15 Danielle Steel novels that year, in that class alone!). I went to a college that I knew I could get out of in 4 years with a credential and be able to start working. If I stayed in CA, it would have taken me at least 6 years, if not more, and I may have lost all interest. So, I went to college and 4 years later, 4 years after graduating high school, I was working along side some of my former teachers as a colleague. I still can't call them by their first name!

This year is my 13th year of teaching. My 13th year in first grade. And I can't imagine myself doing anything else. And it's not that I don't think I couldn't do anything else. I don't want to. I like seeing the kids learn something new, or seeing that lightbulb go off when they finally get it. I like working with kids who otherwise may not have done anything spectacular. I feel this was my calling in life, not just something that would pass the time between childhood and retirement. I do get frustrated, stressed, tired and all that, but it comes with the job. I don't know anyone in any job who is never stressed. Unfortunately, that's life.

As I read some blogs, I see people who are already planning on getting out of teaching. It makes me wonder what brought them to teaching in the first place. Something drew them in, and it had to be more than the pay and the wonderful working conditions. I haven't seen one blog where the teacher is not in a Title 1 school and working with at risk students. Teaching in a Title 1 school is hard work with little reward from the outside. It's a lot of complaining, finger pointing and empty promises from the administration. It's a lot of stress, frustration and hard work on the part of the teacher. But I always have thought that if it's too hard, then you need to go elsewhere.

I don't think teaching is for everyone, and in fact, I work with one who shouldn't be teaching. But it isn't my place to tell her that. I think a lot of good teachers have left for whatever reason, and I think a lot more are wanting to leave. But why? Is it really too hard? Too stressful? Too much time? I don't know. I don't think it's too hard, but then I have been told that I only teach first grade, so I don't really teach...try to get a high school teacher to get a 6 year old to read... I have been told I don't have stress since my kids aren't tested...but they are tested in 2nd grade and it's my job to get them ready to be tested, which is why my assessments are made to look like a standardized test! I've been told that I don't have to spend time planning, since they won't get it anyway or I've been told I spend too much time planning...it's my life, I'll do what I want. You can spend as much or as little time planning, whatever makes you happy! As for the money, I can't complain too much. I know CA pays some of the higher salaries, but more would be nice. But, my family has survived off my salary alone for the last 5 years. I don't have money at the end of the month and I don't have the luxuries of some other jobs, but I don't need it. I never went into teaching for the money. While it would be nice, it's not necessary. Some may think I am crazy, but again, it's my blog!

I am in this for the long haul. I could go find a higher paying job with less stress and less hours, but where would the satisfaction be? I have never once said I wanted to think about quitting or moving to another profession. I may eventually have to move districts, just to appease my hubby's desire to move, but I still want to go and teach. Maybe it's just too hard in other places to stay for the long haul. I don't know. But it's sad, and a bit frustrating to see that people are already planning their exit from a job they profess to love.


I {heart} my district...tonight

I just got word that our district is rescinding the furlough days! Yippee! I don't have to add the days to my calendar at all and I get the money back! It's like Christmas! It will be nice to get a little back. But it's scary to think of what they will ask for next year. A kidney? Our first born?



Today was my first official day of conferences. Most teachers won't do theirs til next Monday, but I like to get the out of the way and use my teacher work day to work! I don't want to have to wait for people to show up, or not show up. I'd rather get stuff done!

I had my first one at 8 this morning. The parent was only 5 minutes late. Good student, not much to say, but I like to meet with them anyway. I had another one at 3:30 (after school is out and I am done with duty). This parent chose the day and time and didn't show up. Another parent who failed to return the form until Friday chose today at 3:30, but it was full, so I didn't send a confirmation letter. But she showed up anyway. Unaanounced. Without a translator around! Luckily my BFF at work speaks Spanish, so I was saved. The parent really has no clue about learning and just has excuses as to why she can't help her son. I had her oldest son last year and he was self motivated. The one I have now isn't. But he is young, too, so that doesn't help. My 4:00 showed up and sang me praises. I like those parents. He took the time to come to the conference, by himself, even though he doesn't speak very good English. And he took notes on how to help his son. And I know he will go home and work with his son, too. That makes me feel good!

I have one tomorrow at 8am. It's for my highest student, so it should be easy. Just gotta figure out how his parents can help him more at home. Oh yeah, he reads at a 3rd grade level. Ummm, it's out of my league! I hope she comes, just so I can be done with another one and move on. I'm quickly counting down the days til my 4 day weekend. Oh, and I have 6 conferences on Wednesday when I could be home starting my weekend early! Oh well! I'll be half way done! :)


What's been goin' on

I realized that I haven't been blogging like I wanted to. Between work and home, there isn't time. Or at least time I feel I have to just sit in front of the computer and blog. I will make some time tonight to share a couple things from the last few weeks of school.

This last week, we were reading some books about scarecrows. I also had a poem of the week I made last year about scarecrows and then a little scarecrow the kids could color, cut and put together. Since we don't really have fall, this is something we could talk about. (By the way, it was 100 degrees on Tuesday and Wednesday...not very fallish!). I saw a lesson on DeepSpaceSparkle.com about scarecrows. I thought it was cute and decided to give it a try. I had the kids paint the background with watercolors, then we cut the other peices out of paper. I learned to make a template, trace it and have them color and cut. I did it for the shirt, but the rest was on their own. Not too bad!

I think they turned out cute. One even gave their scarecrow a beard!

The week before in the anthology, we read a story that had crabs in it. I had my kids write about crabs and then we made some crabs. They aren't as cute as they have been in the past, but this class is still art challenged! We're working on it slowly!

With it being Halloween a couple weeks ago and me being sick, I had no motivation to do anything related to Halloween. In fact, I went to Wal_Mart on Friday morning to get stuff for my kids, just to find out that it was all gone. I bought a bag of Smarties and went from there. We ended up doing a math activity with Smarties and they loved it. I made a graph with all the colors in the candy. I gave each student 4 packs of candy and had them sort them. Then they had to graph it and color in the graph. They got to eat them when they were done, which was their fave part!

Our school doesn't dress for Halloween, but we do a Crazy Hat Day. Students are encouraged to make a hat. The crazier, the better. They are judged, do a little parade and then go on with life after. Here are some of the kids who made hats!

Not all the kids made hats and not all the kids who made hats are here, but you get the idea.

I am still suffering from the effects of a horrible sub. I found out yesterday during the art project, that the sub had passed out supplies to the kids. She went through a box of crayons I had and passed out whatever the kids asked for. I am a hard ass when it comes to supplies. If you lose it within the first few months of school, tough. Bring it from home. Out of my 20 kids, all but one or 2 had extra crayons they weren't supposed to have. I was mad at them, but it was the subs fault. She had no right to go through and give out materials that aren't hers. I collected all the extras my kids were given and collected over 100 crayons! Ridiculous! I put on my form to never have her back again. I had to throw all the work away and cut my loses. I know I will be out again soon, but I hope it's only for a day here and there!

This next week is a 3 day week for us! Veteran's Day is Thursday and Friday is a Furlough Day. The Monday after is actually a teacher work day for conferences, but my conferences are all scheduled for other times. I am trying to plan some fun for the next 2 weeks, since we are only in school 7 of the next 10 days, plus the week after is off for Thanksgiving. We don't teach much in November!