7.31.2010

My unhappy realization

I woke up today, just like every other day, with my daughter running into my room asking me for her morning show and glass of chocolate milk. I got up, did all that, then went back to bed. I didn't sleep, but I did get to lay there for a bit longer. When I finally did ge tup for real, I wandered into the computer room, turned on the computer and turned to the next page on my calendar. Oh crap! This is my last weekend before I have to really be ready for school to start. Yeah, I hve next weekend, but really, this is it. This is the last weekend I can do whatever before having to really be ready for work.

And then I started wondering if I have prepared enough at home. I think I have, I just need time to prepare at school, which I have little of next week. I volunteered to help a friend move into her new classroom next week, so that will take up Monday. I was hoping to have a day at work to myself, but that ain't happening, since I forgot my hubby had to work next week. So, it looks like I will take my daughter with me on Tuesday, we will be gone on Wednesday, I have an art class with my daughter on Thursday and then a dr. appt. after, so that will kill the morning til at least 12:30. Then Friday I may try to take a staff development calss, but it's a first come, first served, which would mean I have to get up early and wait with other teachers who don't want to be there! And there goes the week! I will be there the next Monday, which is teachnically a furlough day, but it's not like I'm getting paid to be there now, anyway! Then the following Tuesday is the day we have to be there and then the next Wednesday is kiddo day! So I say it again. Oh crap! Better get all my summer projects done this weekend, since I haven't done them the past 9 weeks! Happy end of summer to me! :(

7.30.2010

Vocabulary

I have always tried to build my kids' vocabulary, especially my EL's. A lot of time they don't know what they word says, much less what it means. In an effort to really kick my own butt into making sure I focus on the vocab for math, science and social studies, I have devoted part of a white board to vocab. words. I will have each section marked off and write the words for the unit on the board and review them daily. It worked last year during a unit on maps. I wrote down all the continents, oceans, where we lived, etc. and reviewed it every day. For the most part, by the time I tested my kids, they knew them all. I hope it works out. I was debating on whether or not to put the words in a book, but I think it would be too much for them to have in their desk or be responsible for. Hmmm, gotta think that one through! Pics will be coming, once I get it done. It's in the pile of things to laminate!

7.29.2010

Thoughts from my day at school and more

We have a brand new office staff. Our old principal was moved to a new school (thank goodness) and the secretary got a new job (she was the devil in my opinion!). People have been slowly coming back to work, so it's interesting to talk to people and see what they have to say. Here's what I learned today:

- Those who could do no wrong are not happy that the principal is gone and are already bad-mouthing the new principal.

-Those who loved the secretary don't like the new one. Our old one was uber anal retentive. She was planned for everything and things she didn't know she had to plan! But, she was also a bitch and I don't think the new one is.

- People who are unorganized are still unorganized, even with the whole summer to prepare. Whatever. I don't know what that's like. I think I would have died already!

- Having a giant stack of stuff to laminate is fine, but don't chit chat while you laminate. Other people want to use it. And still do cause you wouldn't work faster!

- Teachers who have children at the school are not welcoming to "outsiders". There are 3 teachers whose children will be going into 1st grade and they all were able to handpick their teacher. And it wasn't me or the other newer-to-the-school teacher. This is our 3rd year there. Give it a rest already! I'm Ok with not having their kids anyway. They all have the princess mentality. I'll take the peasant mentality!

- Salad spinners make great spin art. I learned this at my daughter's art class. Who knew? Wal-Mart here I come!

- Even though the district is in a "financial crisis", they still keep the AC on everyday when no one is there and have our computers come on every day. WTH? How is that helping?

- Seeing my 3 cases of copy paper made me happy and brought a tear to my eyes. Could have been the temp that jumped 10 degrees today. Not happy.

- Adding new things to my room makes me happy, but adds a little more stress!

- Our custodian is probably the worst in school custodian history. He is very ADHD and doesn't know how to do one thing. It seriously took him 2 months to change a lightbulb and that was with me asking him everyday! Yesterday he took it upon himself to mow the grass. So today when maintainence came, they didn't have much to do. But my boards can't get clean. Another WTH?

- I'm excited about going back, but wish I had more time. Next week is gonna fly right by! Holy crap!

- On a random note, I really hope the clothes from the 80's don't make a huge comeback like they have started to try and do. In actuality, I hope the 80's stay in the past. I can't use aerosol hairspray anymore to get my hair that high, I'm not skinny enough to fit into the pants, and I have to keep both shoulders covered. But, the "hair bands" of the day were great and so much better than the music of today. Ah, to be young and in middle school again. The 80's were a blur, espcially since I didn't start kinder til '81 and don't remember much before '84 (can you say Mary Lou Retton hair cut?). Damn, now I feel old!

7.28.2010

Random, Mindless (or Mind-numbing) thoughts

I spent today with my daughter at Legoland. We have passes, so we can go whenever we want. But, I found out today that summer SUCKS! Everyone and their brother are there. And not speaking a language I know. And don't know how to get out of the way of a stroller. Seriously, so people in other countries, hell, even in the US, just run each other over with strollers? I feel like I spent half my dodging people just to get to an attraction. I doubt we will go back before September, which sucks more cause I will be back to work.

A guy was sitting at the table next to us today during lunch with his wife and daughter (or I think that's who there were anyway). And the conversation went something like this:
Hubs: You know, those strawberries are full of pesticides and stuff and that's going to give her ADD.
Wife: But they said they grow them right down the street here.
Hubs: Well that's not good. Fruit from CA is the worst with all the chemicals. (Long pause as the wife goes to get something)
Hubs: So, you know that strawberries are the best fruit you can eat? They have the most "good stuff" for you. I'm glad she's eating them.
WTH???? What am I missing here? I wasn't being nosy, but they were loud and the tables are close together!

It was only 84 when I got home today. Let me tell ya, we are being spoiled rotten here. Normally it's in the 100's here. I'm loving it! When school starts, I bet we will be over 100 with no recess for 2 months. Already feeling the sweat coming on!

I was driving by a high school today along a road that goes along the back of the school. There were signs that said "No standing, stopping or parking anytime". There was a sign that said that right in front of a stop sign. Hello? Contradicting, aren't we?

Our neighbors, or the people who live next to us be we don't really know them or who even lives there anymore, had a problem with killer bees. Mind you, I don't live in a little suburban neighborhood. We have land - lots and lots of land. Ok, it's dirt, but anyway. There were some killer bees living on the property and they attacked. But, the owner couldn't afford to clean it up. So, the city caved in and paid for it (they'll get their money back eventually). The killed the bees on Monday and tore down buildings today. Hopefully the bees are gone. Oh yeah, we were not notified of the bees til we read it in the paper. How's that for neighborly help?

Lastly, can I just say, I love Jon Bon Jovi! And if you do too, just google "pics" and get an eyefull!


Maybe tomorrow I will post something relevant to teaching. We'll see what tomorrow brings!

7.27.2010

My Classroom

I went to school today for another hour. At this rate, I will be ready by Christmas! But, it's been nice going in, getting a few things done and then spending the rest of the day with my daughter. Today was Chuck E Cheese for a birthday party. Note to self - Do not ever go to Chuck E Cheese for fun! Below are some pics of what my room looks like sans work on the walls. There are a couple more things I need to put up, but that won't be til next week! Here's the grand tour.



Calendar Area



Student work area



Mailboxes and information wall




Reading group area and student work wall




My desk, wall o'standards




Word Wall - it will look better when there are words on it!



Board/front of room/monkey alphabet chart!

When school starts, there will be more on the board area.

Once school starts and it looks like a classroom with real students (and not my daughter's work all over!) I will take some more pics to show!

Developmental First Grade

A few years ago, my principal came to the grade level and asked what we thought about having a developmental first grade class. Most of the reactions were "Hell no!". But me, wanting to do something different, jumped on the bandwagon. And let me tell you, it really changed my life.

This was in about January when it was decided that I would do it. Mind you, no onw knew what to do or how to do it. Many years ago, there was a federal D-1 program, but it was way different than what I did. I had to start from scratch, as it wasn't recognized by the district. I didn't know really how to plan for that first year, but I did my best. I had a very poor student teacher towards the end of the year and I left him to fend for himself in the afternoons. At that time, I went to the kinder rooms and borrowed some of the ideas that they used. I made many a copy in those afternoons, trying to prepare for the next year.

Developmental first for me was taking the first grade curriculum and slowing it down, just a bit. I did this more in reading and writing than anything. That was where the kids struggled most. We went a bit slower with the reading, took our time blending words and learning sight words. We worked forever on writing a simple sentence with correct capitalization and punctuation. It was nice having all the kids at the same level, more or less, and working things together. And eventually, it clicked!

What I learned is that I couldn't have prepared at all. Thae first year, I picked my kids based on who the Kinder teachers told me needed to be in there. They didn't know any better than I did who should be there, so I went with their suggestions. After that, I learned. Out of my class of 20, I had 8 that eventually made it into special ed. Not what you want for a D-1 class. I learned.

I learned that the kids who benefited the most from a D-1 class were the kids who needed a bit more time, a bit more guidance in learning. They weren't "the dumb kids" or "the lazy kids". They were the kids who were forgotten in their kinder class. They were the kids who were too shy, too scared, didn't know English well enough or didn't have parents who gave a rats ass as to how they did. They were the kids who could learn and grow and achieve, just like the others. They were the kids who, when given a little more time, a little more attention, kicked ASS!

My first D-1 class was a learning experience for me. I had kids who sat and drooled all day. I had kids who didn't try or put energy into walking. It was tough. The kids who tried did well. The kids who didn't try didn't do well. And the kids who ended up in special ed, they did what they could. I feel bad, 5 years later, that I didn't do more for them. I did what I could. I learned. I learned that the druggie parents don't care and can't care. I learned that the parents who have other children in special ed just want this one to get in special ed, too. I learned the kids who want to learn, will, despite everything that's thrown at them. I learned that if your life is shit at home, school is the only place you want to be.

My next class was heaven on earth. Honestly, it was the best class I have ever had. I knew a little more in choosing my kids. Remember, I was choosing the lower kids in Kinder, not the best and brightest. I was able to make some changes - no one who is possibly special ed and no major behavior problems. It's hard to tell in Kinder if a kid will be special ed, but then there are those that you know will make it. Every year, there was one or two who ended up there after, but I tried. I also got away with having minimal behavior problems. Again, I got a doozy every year that wreaked havoc, but it was better than 2 or 3. For this class, I started out with most of my kids below a kinder level. No one was anywhere near knowing all their letters and sounds, much less blending words together. Some couldn't write their names yet legibly. But this group had the desire. Every one was willing and able to do whatever I threw at them. They were fiesty. They were serious. They were the best. And by the end of the year, 15 of my 20 kids were at or above grade level in all areas. Mind you, these were kids who the kinder teachers wanted to retain. These were kids that no one else wanted in first grade. And I loved them more than anything!

My next class was a bit more challenging. I had missed the first 2 weeks of school while on maternity leave. I missed that bonding at the beginning of the year. A few of them never got over the fact that their "first teacher" left them and I came in. I never did build that closeness I had with the class before. I don't know if I ever will again. And, I had more challenges this time, too. But, we made it through the year, no worse for wear, and the kids were just as prepared as they were before.

One colleague expressed his dislike for my class in stating that he thought I did my kids a disservice because I passed them on to 2nd grade. In the "old days", kids in D-1 went to 1st grade after. Well, my kids were ready to go to 2nd. And they did well in 2nd. I hope they are doing well now, in whatever grade they are in! I worked with my kids preparing them for 2nd, not first. For a few, they needed first to fill in the gaps. For others, they were ready to fly.

After my 3 years of teaching it, we had to lose a class at the school and I drew the short straw - literally. My D-1 class was handed off to another teacher (who got the big straw) and she didn't appreciate it like I did. To her, they were a bunch of low kids who didn't care. It made me sad. I was back at the school teaching a K-1 combo the next year and watched her work with the kids I hand picked. She didn't care for them the way I did and it showed. I actually got a student from her class who cried because she was so happy to be out of there. You have to want to do it for it to work.

I miss my D-1 class, but I am happy where I am. I like having a variety of student levels in class. I like working with the higher students and challenging them to see how far they can go. But then I think back to my wonderful class and miss what I did. But, I think I miss them and the students they were more than the actual teaching of the class. I am glad I did it. And maybe, if the opportunity comes my way, I may do it again. Maybe not.

7.26.2010

Hmmmmm

I went into school today to drop some things off, make some copies and file said copies. It got some stuff out of my house, but then I brought some more home! I figure I can start wokring on it at night since my hubby is gone for a few days. Yes, peace and quiet once my daughter goes to bed!

When I got to school today, it was eerily quiet. The was another teacher there, but she is the one in the grade level who doesn't talk to us. So, I just ignored her. Her classroom is on the other side of campus, so it's OK. I went to the office, met the new secretary, then went to make copies. I copied about half of what I wanted to since I got bored standing at the copy machine. Some of the stuff can wait til spring, but I just want to get it copied and filed.

As I was at school, I was kinda excited to be there, kinda not. I want to start, but I don't. I guess it's bittersweet now with the summer dwindling away for me. I had planned to go in tomorrow, but I think now I won't. I can go on Thursday, or I can just wait and go next week. I'll have to be there the week of the 9th anyway, seeing as how that's when we start.

I've got so many ideas in my head, on paper, etc. that I am afraid I will forget them if I don't do something. But, I'm sure I will remember and be able to do it all, it's just stressful when I can't put it all together. Oh well, tomorrow is another day. And in 2 weeks, it's another year!

The Unknown

In 2 weeks (and 2 days, but who's counting), I will be staring at 20 something new faces. I don't have a list of names yet, so I have no idea who I am getting. It's the unknown to me. I wish I had some sort of an idea, just so I know if I have siblings of former students or I could start looking through their kinder file to see what they know (or don't know as it turns out for a lot of them). Maybe next week I will be lucky. We'll see!

Each year, it's been different as to how classes are made. I've been at 3 different schools and they all do it a different way. At my first school, we did them as a grade level, putting kids in the classes based on their EL levels, and then put in the remaining kids where they fit (we had a lot of EL's). At my 2nd school, the principal, who was hard core control freak, was in charge. Once, she placed kids all by herself one summer. Not the greatest year after! Other times she was with us, but she was in charge, not us. Now, at my 3rd school, we do it as a grade level. It works OK, but we have the one teacher who doesn't talk to us, so she took it upon herself to place her kids where she wanted them and would not budge when it came time to shuffle kids around based on need. Anyway, the kids go where they go. I don't have any strong feelings one way or another towards the 2nd grade teachers, so whoever they get, they get.

Anyway, I am always nervous when I don't know who my kids are. You hear stuff from the year before about this kid or that kid and you hope you don't get them. A few years ago, I taught Developmental first grade. It wasn't recognized by the district or anything, but we did it at my school. I will post about that later. I got to hand pick the students for the class. Mind you, I was picking the kids who didn't have a clue they had been in Kinder all year. But, I didn't pick behavior problems. Or major ones, anyway! I was lucky in that aspect!

A few years ago, like 10 or so, I had a class that was half siblings from 2 years before. I loved it. I knoew the parents, they knew me and knew what I would have their kids do. Again, they weren't all the best and brightest, but it worked! I think I would rather have siblings, just for the known factor. But, as I say that, I hope to goodness I don't get a sibling of one this year. I went round and round with the mother last year and she's just one excuse after another (in Spanish of course, so you can't just tell her what you really want to say!). The sister is coming up form Kinder and I have a feeling I will get her. Ugh! I am getting another sibling, but I requested her. She's super low, super sweet and already has her mother telling her she can't do anything. The sister is repeating first and left me with the confidence she needed, so let's hope her mom didn't squash that over summer!

But, whatever comes my way, I teach them as best I can. I just hope that they are willing learners, kind souls and are ready to make the best of it. It's sad to think that there are 1st graders who don't care, thanks to all the shit life has handed them in their young age. I had 2 last year who didn't care what they learned or if they learned. I was very sad and disheartening. And, they banded together to wreak havoc on the class. It wasn't fun and I was glad to see them go, knowing that next year will be a fight and they may get a teacher who doesn't care!

7.25.2010

Work Etiquette

Yeah, 2 posts in one morning. I got a lot on my mind! I am thinking about having to go back to work in 2 weeks. I'm ready to go back, but I'm not ready to deal with the crap that will be school.

Anyway, I was thinking about work etiquette. I don't know if many people know what that is. It should be used many times a day, yet I don't see it often. Some people know what it is, but others are completely clueless. Here is my list of things I see wrong with some people's work behavior. I like to think I don't do these, but I may be guilty on some! They are in no particular order, just how they came to me in my thoughts!

1. Show up when you are supposed to and leave after you are able. We are, by contract, supposed to be at work 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after school. I try to be there about an hour before and leave way later than I should. I shudder when I see teachers getting to school after the bell had rung and leaving when the kids leave. One teacher leaves a minute or 2 before the bell rings. But, they have been allowed to do it.

2. Be on time to meetings. Staff meetings were always scheduled 15 minutes after school. The only teachers who can be late are those with duty. But walking in 10 minutes late? WTH? The other thing - know when there is a meeting! It's posted everywhere!!!! Is it really so hard to plan one day a month for a meeting? I know, we are lucky!!!!

3. Clean up your own damn mess! I already have to pick up after my kids, but I'm not going to pick up after another teacher. At times, our staff lounget is a mess. Crap everywhere. If you spill on the table, wipe it up. If you know something on the floor, pick it up. Throw your trash away. DUH! If you spill something in the microwave? You see where I'm going with this!

4. If you don't want someone to take a paper you copied, then don't leave it lying around. Enough said!

5. If someone says "Good morning" to you, the least you can do it say it back, even if you don't mean it. There is a teacher in my grade level who must be very angry. I know she doesn't talk to another teacher in our grade level (makes for fun collaboration times!) but now she doesn't talk to any of us. One morning, she actually grunted at me. WTH? Well, screw you, too!

6. You don't have to like the person, but don't treat them like the plague. This is 2 fold for me. Our former secretary (thank goodness) did not really care for those of us who came from a new school. We were imposing on her territory. She didn't have a kind word to say about me, though I honestly don't know what I did, other than come to the school. I'm always super polite to the office staff! But, I had to dig deep to say good morning to her and try to make idle chit chat at times. She treated me like shit, but I tried to be nice (she told me one time I couldn't teach. WTH?). So glad she is gone. The other is a teacher in another grade. About 10 years ago, we got into it after a staff meeting at another school. There was lots of yelling and screaming. Not my best moment, but a moment nonetheless. She has been at every school I have been at, which is 3, if you're counting. For 6 years, we were in the same grade level. Then there was some drama, and things were even worse. But, I try to be nice to her and talk to her when she says stuff to me. I don't want to, but I try. Could I try harder? Yes. Will I? Maybe. It also goes along with number 5. Don't grunt at me. I'd rather you tell me to eat shit than grunt at me!

7. Don't walk away when someone is talking. This is for my last principal. So glad he's gone, too! He would just walk away in the middle of a conversation because he was done, even if you weren't.

8. Be on time for duty. If you have duty, it's your responsibility to be out watching the kids. Don't show up late saying you forgot. Again. On Thursday after having duty all week. Now I know it's BS!

9. Be on time to pick up kids after recess. OK, so I don't always follow this one. Sometimes there is a line for the bathroom or I get talking or....But, most of the time I am there like I should be. I will do better this year. I promise!

10. Don't let your kids go thrash the bathroom. I watch my kids when they use the restroom. It's across from my room. They have "one minute" to go and come back. They don't know what one minute really is, but they know they'd better hurry! And, if they leave it a mess, another kid will rat them out and they will be in deep doo!

11. Don't let your kids roam the campus. I hate it when there are kids just wandering because their teacher doesn't care where they are. Mine know better. Or they should. If they don't, they are in deep doo. Just ask 2 of my kids from last year!

12. Teach the kids to walk in a straight as can be with 6 year olds line. Kids can walk in a semi-straight line. You just gotta teach them. And, teach them how to line up. Yelling at the every day about how to walk in a line doesn't teach them how to do it.

13. If kids line up outside your room, have them line up quietly. I don't want to hear them! We have and RSP room and some intervention rooms by my classroom. The kids have to line up outside and they just talk and talk and run and scream. My poor kids can't think! I don't know how many times I went out to tell them to be quiet, just to have to go back out 3 minutes later.

14. Don't take things from other mailboxes. I alwasys keep a stack of copy paper in my box, because it's a long way back to my room. It's there for me, not for you. Id on't take your things, don't take mine!

15. Don't expect others to make you copies. I will gladly make you a master of something I have, but I will not make you a set to use in class. Use your own time and paper!

16. At a meeting, try to be prepared or at least have something to share. This goes with number 5. We meet each week as a grade level. It's horrible. We try to share ideas about what we are doing, since we are all on different things. We are very dysfunctional. 4 of us will bring stuff to share while 1 teacher will sit and not say a damn word. Sorry, but, bitch.

17. When you have to give a test, please follow the rules. It doesn't make you look good when we know you cheated. Enough said.

This is my random list of how not to be a jerk at work! Anything I missed? This probably pertains more to me than others, but I think there are a lot of good things! Anything else you would add!

What do you wear to work?

I saw this posted on another blog, and it got me thinking about what teachers wear to work each day. I'm pretty amazed myself at what some people wear to work, but I don't know if I am allowed to think that. I don't "dress up" to go to work, but I also don't wear the same clothes I do in the summer or when working out in the yard!

In So Cal, we have 2 main seasons - hot and not so hot. When school starts, most of the time it is degree or 2 cooler than the face of the sun. Dressing up isn't so good. Sweat, dirt, the freak wind storm...you get the idea. That isn't to say I dress like a slob, either. Normally in the summer (August thru October, sometimes November and normally March - May) I will wear capri pants, a nice top (probably something from Old Navy or (gasp!) WalMart) and my trusty sandals. Yeah, they are really flip flops, but not the cheap Old Navy flip flops that I have 30 pairs of. I have 2 pairs of my fave sandals I wear - brown and black - go with everything! Occasionally on Friday I will wear shorts, but they are the bermuda shorts, so they cover everything! When it is really hot, I will wear a tank top, but I looked in the mirror the other day and don't like what I see, so those won't be coming out very often. But, when I do wear them, I keep hidden what's supposed to be hidden!

What gets me is when teachers wear things that are too short ("I can't bend down today") or show a little too much boob. Come on, their kids! The thing that really bothers me is when teachers show up looking like they are going to play in the garden! There is one teacher who will wear a t-shirt and jean shorts to school everyday. To me, that isn't professional, but again, I'm not going all suited up, either.

In the fall/winter/not as hot as it was before, I normally wear pants. I have some pants from Kohl's I just love and bought them in every color they had. I will then wear a sweater or long sleeve shirt or other top, depending on the weather. I try to save jeans for Fridays or when it rains (we had a lot of rain this year, thank you El Nino, so I wore jeans a lot). There are those mornings when I am crabby or tired and throw on my jeans for comfort, but again, I try not to. I do have a pair of dressier pants that I will wear on occasion, but that's it.

Most teachers I work with will wear jeans every. single. day. I dont' really know why it bugs me, but it does. It doesn't seem professional or like they even care. We even have a teacher in my grade level who will wear sweats to work. Sweat pants and a t-shirt. She doesn't care what she looks like and what she wears, but no one else does, either. So...

When I go to work, I try to look like I didn't just roll out of bed. I shower every day (shocker, I know!), I do my hair every morning before going to work, put on a bit of makeup so I don't scare people and just try to look like I deserve some respect for the job I do. I wish more people would do that. Maybe then teachers wouldn't get such a bad rep. I don't know. I don't wear dresses (I used to, but it got too hard to work with 1st graders) and occasionally I will wear a skirt (I think I have 2)and I have never worn high heels to work. Wearing shoes with 5 inch heels doesn't say "Let me teach your child", but hey, to each her own, right?

Next, week I get to go splurge and do some school shopping. I cleaned out my closet and gave Goodwill some clothes I didn't wear anymore, but it wasn't a lot. So, I have a lot of clothes to wear, but I always like to have something new. I'm, hoping to have luck, but honestly, with the way they make clothes nowadays, I doubt it. I mean, low-rise pants for an elementary teacher? You've got to be kidding me!

7.23.2010

Continuing Education

This is a topic that all teachers are familiar with. Honestly at this point in my life, I don't even want to think of it. I have better things to do with my time than to go take classes that I don't care about. But, that is what I have to do and it sucks. Big time!

The route I took to teaching was quick and easy. I went out of state where I had a real education. I have my degree in Elementary Education. Most teacher in CA, who went to school in CA, have a degree in Liberal Studies and then go on to get their credential after they have a Bachelor's. So, when they start teaching, most have units beyond their BA. When I started teaching, I only had my BS degree. I had to complete "30 units beyond my beachelor's degree" to satisfy the requirement for CA. So, I did my master's degree and got my 30 units, plus all the other crap I had to do to fulfill the reqs. for CA. Our salary scale goes from A to E. I started at A and moved to B after a few classes then moved to C when I got my Master's. Most teachers, once they get their master's, move over to E! It's crap, but it's the way it works. So, a year or 2 after getting my MA, I went back to the same crappy college I got my Master's at and took some more classes. We were horribly misled into believing we were getting a Reading Specialist credential, but at the end of it, we just got another "emphasis" on our degree. We should have known we couldn't do it in 4 classes, but we listened to the university. So, that put me at D. I'm not even at freaking E yet and I am done with school.

I have actually not stepped foot into a college class since 2002. I guess it's time I go back. But, I've been busy putting my hubby through his Bachelor's program and then he decided that he wanted to go to school for what could be a high paying job (Mr. Esquire?) and I had my daughter. I've been busy...and broke! I couldn't afford to pay for his school and go to school at the same time. He went at nights for the last 4 years and I was home with my daughter. Wasn't gonna work! Now, he's done with school, so it's my turn to go back and take the last few classes I need to move all the way over on the pay scale.

Honestly, there's really nothing I want to do. I would like to get my reading specialist, but it's like jumping through hoops. When I looked into it through another college, they told me I would have to repeat half of my classes I took in my master's. To me, that's a huge waste of time. I'd rather learn something new than something I have already done. So, it looks like I will go the route of the "cheap school". There's a college that offers 3 unit classes for little money (less than $300) and they meeet only 5 times (but 6 hours a night - UGH!). But, I can do by classes I need this year and be done forever! I should have a better attitude about going to school, but I put my time and energy into my class at school and my family at home. I don't have much more to devote to anyone else. But, I guess I can suck it up for a couple months, get the classes done and reap the rewards next year finally! It would be nice to be making a bit (OK, a lot) more money each month!

7.20.2010

Planning part 3...almost done

Today I met with one of the teachers I work with and we sat down to plan out the year in some general terms. I did get a large portion of my yearly plan filled out, and the gaps that are left are for me to fill in and only me! It feels good to have an idea of what I am doing, even if it means changing up things from how I have done it in the past!

Our Language Arts, Math and Science are pretty much laid out for us as to when to teach it. There is some leeway in the reading, since we have more weeks of school than weeks of stories. I got excited when I scheduled some stories for 2 weeks and began thinking of the different projects we could do. Now I just need to get to them and get working! For now, our Social Studies is the only thing we have some control over. And honestly, it sucks! I hate our standards for social studies. They are boring and a little over the kids' heads. Some of the stuff takes me a minute to figure out what it is they're asking the kids to know. Seriously, the Declaration of Indepenence in First grade? WTH?

I think I have my homework problem solved and I think I like it. My friend doesn't care for it, but she is also one who thinks that homework should be monotonous and routine. I want something fun and exciting to make the kids (and their parents) think and learn and not be bored. I think I have it figured out. More to come!

I feel better now that I have stuff planned. I can almost take everything back to school, leave it there til I go back and worry about it then. Having it at home is pointless now, even overwhelming. Maybe tomorrow will be another trip to school to drop things off and decrapify my office at home a bit more.

Just 3 more weeks of vacation left and then it's back to reality.

7.19.2010

School Lunch

Like many elementary schools, or even middle and high schools probably, the school lunch my kids are served seems to be pretty much like crap on a styrafoam try. It never really looks good and I don't think it really tastes good, but the kids seems to eat it. Or pick at it. Or stare at it long enough that it's time for recess to start.

I watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution in the spring and it got me thinking about the crap my kids put in their bodies. In the past, I would eat lunch at school. My first few years I ate it a lot. I guess it was better then, or I was to lazy to make lunch. There were certain days I would buy lunch because it was good tasting, just not good for me. As the years have gone on and I have gotten older, had a child (which made everything drop south a bit - UGH!) and just tried to be a little healthier, I realized more than school food sucked! I think this year I bought lunch 2 or 3 times and that was it, after I got sick from the school lunch. Never again. I pack my lunch everyday!

Here's an idea of what my kids eat on a monthly basis - chicken nuggets, pizza, burgers, chicken nuggets, pizza, burgers, some sort of mushy pasta, pizza, "orange chicken", hot dog, corn dog, burger, pancakes and sausage, pizza, nachos and PB&J. When you type it out, where's the healthy stuff? Oh yeah, they get to choose from the "salad bar" - brown lettuce, baby carrots or celery, some random fruit, cold veggies or beans and a selection of "healthy crackers". They choose their milk - white, chocolate, strawberry or on good days, root beer flavored milk. (I tried to copy my school menu, but...it didin't work!).

After watching Jamie Oliver's show, I started making my kids get 2 things from the salad bar in hopes they would eat it. And yep, I stood there and they had to show me their trays before they left to eat. I didn't go sit with them to make sure they were eating, but I think I might this year. I let them get their choice of milk, but only because my principal was an ass and he had harrassed another teacher when she did it. I hope that some of my kids would eat a little more of the healthier stuff once it was on their tray!

For this next year, I have a new principal (and the angels are singing!). My goal is to have my kids only get the white milk and hopefully eat their fruit and veggies, even if they aren't the best. It's better than none at all! I hope I can get the buy in of the parents to go alnog with me on the white milk thing. If only would could get all the flavored milk out, life would be great!

Here's to me packing my own lunch for the next 175 days (furloughs make the year shorter!) and to my kids hopefully making the right choices for lunch!

7.16.2010

Homework *UPDATED*

My first graders get homework each week. I do a weekly homework packet, though I don't really know why. I guess it's easier and more convenient for me to do a once a week thing rather than an everyday thing.

I want to revamp my homework as well. In years past, I would copy everything for my kids that I wanted to be done. Write your words 3 times each - copied. Put them in ABC order - copied. You get the idea. It was taking way too much paper - paper we didn't have anymore thanks to budget cuts. So, I decided to do a homework menu (which I don't love...need some help people!). For each day, there were 3-4 activities that the kids can choose to do. One day was spelling words, one day was writing, one day was math and one day was reading. I attached blank paper to it and sent it on its way. Then I started noticing that the kids were bombing their spelling tests because they didn't practice enough with their spelling. I made up a new homework menu that just listed all the things they needed to do during the week. But, I don't love it. I need something that will get them practicing their spelling and vocabulary, but something that isn't boring and monotonous. Math pages go home each week from our math program, so that's taken care of and I send home books nightly for nightly reading, so that's taken care of. It's just the spelling/vocabulary that I am lost on. Any suggestions? I will take them all!
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On another note with homework, each year, I slave away over vacation making homework folders. Ok, I don't work that hard, but it's still time consuming. I'm going to start today and see how many I can make! I use the large legal size file folders. I put on my homework guidelines, some sticky charts from Dollar Tree and then add some cute monkey name tags and stickers. I will laminate them when I get back to school. It bums me out when kids ruin them within the first weeks of school since I did spend so much time on them. The kids don't care and the parents don't care. But the parents do expect me to give their child another one, which I would like to answer with "WTH? Are you freakin' insane?" But I normally just tell them they get one a year and if they want to send in a folder for their child they can, but it won't be coming from me. Most of the time, they don't being in another folder, nor do they return the homework often because they lose it. Oh well, it wouldn't be teaching if all the kids had their homework like little angels and did what they were supposed to do, would it?



I made my folders today. While they aren't anything fabulous, they work for me. Besides the coloring on the sheet on the top left, they took about 2 hours to cut the papers out (by hand). I watched UP with my daughter doing them, so it wasn't that bad!

Poetry

During my language arts block of teacher ed. classes in college, my professor made us a do a poetry file. At the time, I was 20 years old, not interested in poetry at all and could have cared less. But, because I was an over-achiever and wanted to alwasy have 100% on everything, I worked my butt off to get it done right. We have to have 25 poems in there, but 5 or so had to be reated by us, following a certain poem type (haiku, etc.). I did it, got my 100% and then put it in my portfolio that we had to have to graduate. Looking back, it kinda sucks, but so do a lot of things I thought I did great in college, compared to what I do now!

10 years ago, I started to do poems with my students. Each week, we have a new poem. Most of the poems are based on the seasons or something happening within the season. The first week of school I have a poem about school, then we hit colors, etc. In September, we do all our poems about apples, though it's always about 100 degrees and we don't grow apples where we live! October is pumpkin type poems (I don't focus on Halloween at all really), November is fall/Thanksgiving, December is Christmas, January is winter/snow, February is a mess right now, March is spring, April is bugs/insects/plants and May is whatever...it's a mess, too!

I started doing the poems as part of my morning routine. We do the same poem for the week. On Monday, I introduce the poem, read it to the kids, we talk about the meaning, read it together a few more times and then go on with the day. The rest of the week, we read thepoem about 3 times each morning. Then we look for sight words we know, phonics skills ("Who an find a word with a short a?" "Who can find a word with an l blend?, etc), and rhyming words. Then on Friday, I will copy the poem for each kid and they will illustrate it. They then put it in a folder (the cheapy ones are at Wal-Mart right now for 15 cents!!!! and in cool colors this year!!!!) and keep it in their desk. For students who are here all year, they will have about 38 poems. That would mean they would have to be here every Friday, which would never happen!!! Anyway, it's a nice thing for the kids to take home at the end of the year and it's also a book pf poems that they can read on their own. It takes the kids til about November or December to realize they can read the poems in there. Once they do, they will pull it out at times and start reading poems from the beginning of the year. Eventually, half the class will be reading their poems together. It's noisy, but it's fun!

I have bought several poetry books (all from Scholastic) over the years to find the poems to use. I try to use some of the easier poems at the beginning of the year since most kids aren't reading and it's easier for the EL's to figure it out. I have even begun writing some of my own poems because, well, I think they are better. They aren't anything award winning, but they work for me. I am working on changing up some of my poems this year. Like everything else, I feel like I am in a rut and need to put a little change and pizzazz into my stuff. Now the problem is finding some good poems. I looked through my books, but I don't like any. :( Time to get creative...which has been hard this summer!

Here's my poem for the first week (3 days)of school:

Hooray Day!

Today is the day,
Hooray! Hooray!
It's the first day of school
And I'm on my way!

Everything's different,
Nothing's the same.
Because I'm going to learn,
To write my name!
by Patricia Hubbell

7.15.2010

Ahhh...shopping!

Today was the day I finally went to Lakeshore to buy the things I needed for the next year. I am in the fortunate position that I don't need a lot of things every year. And the things I do need aren't that expensive. So, I went to day to beat the heat (it was 105 at 11:00, which is quite warm, considereing it was 80 last week and neither are typical for us!) and get my shopping done.

Like I said, I didn't need much. I got my charts to record the sight words known, the math facts known and another one, though I don't honestly know what I need it for. I also got a world map poster and a US poster, since I despise using the pull down ones from 1970 (that are older than I). I also got the cutest poster to put in my room with monkeys. I have all the monkey things from TREND, so I might as well have the poster, too!




I made sure I got my free lesson plan book. I don't want to buy one, so I might as well spend the money on stuff I want/need and get a free one. Oh, I also bought a science BLM book to use this year. It's the only book I have paid full price for. I bought 2 resource books from ebay and 2 more I got at the library sale. I need to do that more! It was a good day and I feel a little more prepared...just a little. I am under 4 weeks now til the first day of school - WTH? Where did the time go? Yikes! In 4 weeks I will be sweating to death with 20+ first graders who are ready for their naps!

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I ran by school to drop off my larger items so they weren't at home tempting my daughter to play with them. It was so nice to walk into my room and see it ready to go! Now I just gotta plan!

One of the teachers in my grade level was there and I went to go stop in her classroom and chat. She was cleaning out her cabinets and trying to organize. She's been teaching less time than I have, but she hasn't learned to throw away! I try not to be a pack rat, but it's hard. I'm getting better and getting rid of things that I don't use at all. Yes, I still gather and collect, but I also throw and purge. I wish more people did that!

I walked by another room and it just seemed cluttered. I can't stand to be in classrooms that have stuff from top to bottem. I start feeling anxious. I wonder if the kids feel the same way? There is having stuff on the walls to look nice, but then there is having stuff everywhere to make it look like you know what you're doing when you don't. It just bugs me, one of pet peeves!

Well, it's time to go lay on the couch and curse mother nature. Yesterday was just freakin' hot. Today is hot and humid. I don't know how people in the south do it. It's about 106 today with some lovely humidity. I hate mother nature right now!

7.14.2010

Organization

I have been trying to deep clean some rooms of my house, getting rid of crap I don't need/use/want. It's hard to get rid of something if you might need it, but I don't need stuff just lying around. And it's really hard with a 4 year old who wants anything and everything around, even if she only plays with it once a month. I've gotten a couple rooms done and have a couple more to go - I have a small house!

It got me thinking about school, like everything does now, and how there are some teachers who aren't organized at all. While my house may not always be beautiful and clean, my classroom is. Everything has a place and if it's out of its place, then I am too. I have a large cabinet in the back of my room that has lots of storage, Luckily, I don't have it filled to capacity like some at the my school. There are some teachers who have so much stuff that they don't even know what they have. There are some rooms I can't go into because they are so cluttered and make me feel sick!

Towards the end of the year, I started staying after school for about 45 extra minutes 2 times a week. I used this time to go through my file cabinet. Yep. I only have one. I went through my files, cleaned out some of the extra pages that were in there, got rid of stuff I haven't used in years and made them all neat and orderly. I did this for my reading, science and social studies. We have a newer math program that I am starting to get a lot of supplemental stuff for (because they program half sucks!) but I am organizing it with the folders the math lessons are in. I am torn between keeping extras for the next year and throwing them away/recycling them. If I keep the extras, then I have some for the next year, but then I have to make extra copies and then it just becomes a mess!

The teacher I work with has 2 file cabinets packed with stuff. Some of it is multiple copies of things, whicle other stuff is all in Spanish. She used to teach the curriculum in spanish, so she has it all there. I doubt CA will go back to that, but she doesn't want to toss it or file it seperately. If that was me, it would bug me to no end! I have, in the past, helped her thin her files, books, etc, but I guess after 20+ years of teaching, you collect a lot of stuff. I try to think out every couple of years, just for my own sanity. And it helps that I have only taught one grade level.

My goal for this year is to be even more organized. My biggest "trouble area" is my saved student work. I don't always file it right away, so I get a huge mountain of work that is then a pain because I didn't do it the fisrt time. We'll see how that goes!

I find that the teachers who are more organized and have everything in its place have a little better classroom management and their kids aren't as wild as others. In fact, the 2 teachers in my grade level whose rooms are a bit chaotic have the most behavior problems year after year. Huh. And they think they get picked on!

7.13.2010

Where does the time go?

I was cleaning off my desk in my office at home and came across my class pictures since I have started teaching. I looked through them, remembering things about different students and wondering where they are now. My first group of first graders should have graduated this spring. I say should have, because, well, you know...it doesn't always end up that way.

I started thinking about my first year teaching. I was lucky enough to get my job when California was going through class-size reduction. All 1st thru 3rd classes were going 20-1. And, the district I am in had just opened a new school so they needed teachers to go to the old school. I was hired 3 days after I graduated college (in another state, but my parents lived here) and had less than 2 months to go til I started teaching. Like any new teacher, I went and spent a small fortune on school stuff from the teacher store and spent all the time I had getting my classroom ready. This included moving all the supplies out of my room for the 2nd grade team (since they were in that room the year before, I had to get rid of it they said) and then wait for the horrible custodian to bring me the stuff from the old first grade room (which he never did and I am working with said horrible custodian again...what a waste of a paycheck...that will be another post!). My mom and I actually moved all the stuff from the other room into my room and I got as set up as I could. What did I nkow about getting a classroom ready? Obviously nothing now that I look back on it!

I remember my first day I was scared to death. I stood in my parents kitchen and cried to my mom, wondering what I was doing. I felt prepared to teach the curriculum, knowing I had a good college education, but it was the kids and actually working with them. I had student taught in 3rd grade and had no idea what to do with 1st graders. It was a lot of trial and error, but it went pretty well.

My team of teachers was interesting. There were 6 of us. 4 of us were new to the school and 2 of us were brand new teachers. The 4 veteran teachers kind of stayed to themselves and would help us when needed. One of the teachers, who was the copy queen of the school, would copy me class sets of books, papers, etc. that she would use. It came in handy the first few weeks, but then I started to get the hang of it.

Eventually the year wokred out OK. My kids made huge progress in reading and math and were really ready for second grade. There are always those students who don't get it for whatever reason, but most of them went on to do well. I did have something like 36 kids in and out that year. 13 kids were in my room from day 1 and the rest came and went, some as soon as the next day. When the school they were supposed to go to was full, they sent them to another one and then called them back when they had an opening. That was fun!

I hear horror stories of peoples first year of teaching. I can't say I have those. I think I did well by my students. Was I perfect? No, but I don't think anyone is ever perfect. I am always wokring on making things better and doing things differently. If I ever am perfect, then I think it's time to do something else.

Now that a new year is coming soon, I think back to all my first days and hope that this one goes just as well as all the others and even better!

7.12.2010

Out of the mouths of babes

My first year of teaching was probably like a lot of peoples first year of teaching. I wasn't confident in my abilities to manage my kids' behaviors. One student I remember was Robert. He was very small for his age, but boy was he smart! He lived with his mom and I think she treated him like he was a little man rather than a little boy. His vocabulary was amazing for a 5 year old and his ability to reason was better than most adults. But, his behavior was atrocious. He wasn't mean spirited, but he didn't know how to shut up! He would talk all day long if I let him. And, when he did get in trouble, he would flash a little smile that would make most people melt (not me...I'm made out of stone!).

One day, he was just having an awful time keeping his mouth closed and staying on task. I called him over to me and asked him what was going on, why he was talking so much and not doing his work. He looked at me and said "I asked God to make me be good today, but I guess he wasn't listening. Maybe tomorrow he will listen to me." It took all I had not to laugh to death with him there. It made the day much better, even if he didn't stop talking!

Unfortunately, his mom moved him out of my class shortly after that incident. We were on year round then, so we had already been in school for about 4 months. His mom felt that he looked at me more like a friend than an authority figure (since I was female and the adults he was around were female) and she moved him into the 1st grade class taught by a male teacher. I was very sad when he left, but it did make it a lot quieter in there! If I remember correctly, he moved the next year and went to a new school. He should have graduated this spring from high school. I hope he has done well for himself, even if he can't stop talking!

7.11.2010

Where's my mojo?

A couple weeks ago, I was very excited to start planning. I still am, but now I am feeling overwhelmed. I have 4 weeks left of vacation and then it's time for a new batch of little monkeys to come into my class. In the past I have had plenty of time to plan, but this summer I am feeling the crunch.

I think I have the want to do too many things and there just isn't any time to do it all. I want to do some crafty things, cleaning and organizing things, sit and read a book, play with my daughter, work outside in my flower beds and, oh yeah, get ready for school. There are so many things I want to so and I don't have time for it all. I feel quilty if I craft or read when my daughter is playing by herself, but then I get frustrated and then ashamed when I play with her all day and her million and one "games" she wants to play. I need to find a happy medium, one that isn't reading at 2am since I can't sleep!

A friend from work texted me the other day and asked me when we can get together to plan the year. Mind you, I have already started planning (see Planning Part 1 of many) and have many things filled in. Now, in the past, I would meet with her, show her what I have and then she would just fill it all in on her plan and then we would go from there. In the last couple of years, it has literally worn me out. I was telling her week by week what we were doing, getting everything together, etc. It was like planning for 2 with no help. I'm all for sharing, but it was getting to be a little much. I think that's why I was so burned out by the end of the year. It's hard enough for me to plan and make it exciting, much less plan for someone else to make their class exciting. I feel really bad for feeling like that and I'm not the type to tell her, so....I guess I do it to myself.

Anyway, I am hoping this week I can get some things done from all my lists of things to do. My laundry room is begging to be cleaned and organized, so I think that will happen tomorrow. I think I just need to start throwing stuff away and then worry about it later. It doesn't seem smart financially, but clutter wise it seems like a good move (I don't have a lot of storage space, so saving it isn't a plan). I need to decrapify my house and be ready for the school year. I think my closet will be next. I have a lot of clothes I don't wear. Maybe that will be Tuesday. Oh, and my daughter's room - OMG! It looks like a tornado hit it! But she's 4, so I guess it's OK for tonight!

Maybe if I get some of my to-do list done, I can concentrate more on school work and not feel guilty about other things. It's starting to get too warm to work outside til the evening, so that can wait. And my daughter is with me all the time, so maybe we can work and play together. Hopefully if this all gets done, I can get my mojo back and feel better about everything.

Oh yeah, and when my hubby gets done with his big, giant, pain in the ass test, I will have a hubby back who can help, too!

7.07.2010

Sleep

Sleep eludes me when I am on vacation. It's the time I should be getting lots of sleep since I don't have to wake up at o'dark thirty to go to work. But, no, I find myself up at 2am and not able to go back to sleep til about 5:30 or 6 or even later. Then I am woken up at 7:30ish when my daughter comes in. Last night I had a lovely headache, so I was in bed by 9 (I know, and it's summer!) but I didn't fall asleep til after 10. Then I was awake at 1 and didn't go to sleep til about 3 and then I woke up again at 5 (I wake at 5 everyday...I guess my mind thinks I have to go to work...it didn't get the memo about being on vacation!) and fell asleep after 6:30. Then my little love came in at 7:30 so she could watch a show. Let me tell ya, I am tired. I am also getting the itch to go back to work. At least I sleep better after working all day. Happy Wednesday...here's to a very long day!

7.06.2010

Planning part 2

Last week I sat down to start planning for the next school year. I got bored quickly! So, I did what I always do when I am bored - jumped on the computer. I started looking at other blogs for different art projects I could with my kids. I am NOT an artist or even close to being an art teacher by any means, but I am trying more now than in the past. I think I have come to realize that I can do more than stick people, it just takes time, effort and a whole lot of eraser!

I found a blog called Deep Space Sparkle, which can be found here: http://deepspacesparkle.blogspot.com/

The author of the blog is an art teacher who has great ideas for each grade level she works with. I have been looking at some of the projects she has done and am trying to figure out how and when they will fit in my classroom throughout the year. I especially love the pictures her studeents did to go with the book Giraffes Can't Dance. I think I will do that one during the first couple weeks of school, just for something fun to do! I can't wait to see what she does next year with her students. I am loving the ideas, which translates to help for the artistically challenged!

I have my daughter enrolled in a Mommy and Me art class. It's more like a big playroom set up with some art stuff and other games and activities. It's not what I had envisioned when I signed her up, but whatever. We'll make do for the next 5 weeks of class (which is how much longer my vacation is). Last week they did the marble art with the paint. Why I never thought of that, I have no idea! It was so simple. So now I am trying to a)find marbles and b) work it into my schedule as to when to do it. I'm thinking red, orange, yellow and brown on a leaf cutout and maybe shades of orange for a pumpkin!?!?!?!? So many new possibilities I never thought of!

With our reading series (Houghton Mifflin, going on it's 9th year now, thank to the CA budget crisis), I have tried to incorporate my crappy art into it. 2 years ago, I decided to expand on a story about the forest and we compared and contrasted that with a rain forest. Our culminating project was a directed drawing of a toucan. Now remember, I drew stick people and animals for years. But, I was crazy enough (and had an AWESOME class of kids) to try it. It turned out beautifully if I saw so myself. In fact, I did it this year and taught another teacher how to make it! It's my new favorite project to do with my kids. Too bad I have to wait til March to do it! I took my new-found talent and used it to draw our animals for our animal book, one from each animal group. We ended up drawing a bird, a frog, a fish and a bee. We never got to mammals since the year ended. Oh well, maybe this next year!

So, as I sit down to plan, I will now add in art to my weekly project list of things to do. Let's face it - I only have 1 day a week to do art, and that is pushing it as it is! Ugh!

7.05.2010

Because they are kids, that's why!

Throughout California and many other states in the US, there is a large hispanic population. I won't be surprised to hear that hispanics outnumber whites in CA when the census numbers roll in soon. Anyway, an aquaintance asked me the other day how I had the audacity to teach students who are here illegally. The answer is quite simple - because they are kids, that's why. It's my job as a teacher to teach children. I don't care where they come from, they are getting an education whether they like it or not!



I got to thinking about it later on and it really bugged me. It bothers me that people take things out on children who are 99% innocent (there's always the one that isn't, but that's another story). The children I have in my class of 20 are here with their parents doing what they do - being kids. They have no choice in the matter. They don't get to choose where they live, what they do, etc.



I am not crazy about the idea of people coming into the country illegally. But, when adults come in and bring their children or have their children here, then it's my time to stop giving a crap about the parents and worry about the children. They are the ones who suffer time and time again because of the choices their parents make. I don't claim to be the best parent in the world and I have made mistakes, but I like to think I do it all for my daughter the best I can. I think parents who bring their children to this country have the same intentions, or I hope they do.



In my 12 classes of first graders, I would say about half of my students have been Spanish speaking. Some are from Mexico, but the majority have been born in the states and have been raised in CA their entire life (the short 5 or 6 years of it!). The one thing I have noticed with my classes of students is that I will take student whose parents are from Mexico ANYDAY over a student whose parents were born in the states but still refuse to learn English or use it as an excuse.



This last year, I started off with 13 English learners, all of whom spoke Spanish. Most of them were 1st generation "Americans" whose parents came from Mexico or other Central American countries. Those parents were hard core! Their children were the top of the class. The parents made sure their kids knew what was going on. The parents found help anywhere they could get it. The parents would do anything necessary to make sure their child learned and did what they were supposed to do.

But yes, there were those parents who used it as an excuse. They couldn't help their child because they didn't know English and they were OK with it. They were OK with the fact that their child was far below grade level because they don't need to be at grade level, it's OK. Those drive me crazy! Why wouldn't you want your child to be successful and learn and be able to be part of a functioning society?

Then there are those kids who work their asses off (even in first grade) to learn and be at grade level only to have their parents pick and move back to Mexico. That I don't understand. I have had several students who have gotten to grade level in reading - in English - only to go back to Mexico in 2nd or 3rd grade and not be prepared for schooling down there since they aren't able to read in the language. It makes me sad for the kid who worked so hard and now has to work even harder, thanks to his or her parents.

I hope, in my Pollyanna views, that the students who are here with their parents, legally or illegally, will go on to graduate high school and college, get good jobs in the world and make a change in the world I will grow old in. Do I think that will happen? Probably for a fraction of the students I have taught and will continue to teach, but not for the majority. And that makes me sad, for any child.

But, as long as kids are with their parents in this country, it is my job to teach them. I don't have to like what their parents do or how they got here, but it is my responsibility to teach their children to the best of my ability so one day they can have a chance!