Wow! Where did the weekend go? I feel like I need another day or 2 off to recover from last week. It was a good week, but I am tired. I think the year, the weather and the stress and frustration are catching up to me, and I am not liking it at all. :( Kinda bumming today. But, the bright spot - only 2 more weeks til a nice 3 week vacation! :)
I am going to start my Christmas Around the World unit. I bought the unit from Rachelle at What the Teacher Wants and I love it. I am going to tweak it a bit to make it mine, but I like that a lot of the thinking has been done for me! It's funny how a lot of the activities are the same as what I have done in the past. Makes me feel good that I did something right, and glad that there is someone with more time and desire to put it all together. We are going to talk about the Netherlands, Germany and Mexico this week. I hope. That's the plan, anyway. We'll see how it turns out. If (and it's a big IF) I remember to take my camera, there will be pics. No promises, tho!
My students really enjoyed the Christmas tree problem solving last week. You can get it from Teachers Pay Teachers for just $1! What a deal! I also posted a new unit this week on Gingerbread cookies. This one has 5 mini lessons for math all using the cute little gingerbread cookies. Makes me hungry. You can pick it up at TpT as well. If you want to see how your kids will like it, here is a freebie page to share with them!
With having just 10 days left, it's crunch time for my poor kids. Progress reports go home next week, so testing needs to happen. I swear we just did report cards yesterday and it's time to assess again. It's so frustrating. And to top it off, when we get back, we have about 3 weeks til our next benchmark test and then it will be time to assess for report cards. Sometimes I just want to teach and not worry about assessing. I know where they are, I just want to teach and get them higher! Is that too much to ask for?
Speaking of teaching, this has been driving me insane lately. Our second grade team is a bunch of whiners. In the 3 years now that I have been there and they have had my kids (and all of 1st grades kids, but mine are in there!), I hear nothing but whining and complaining about where the kids are. A day doesn't go by when they aren't talking about what the kids can't do. A week doesn't go by when I don't get asked about one of my kids and why I didn't retain them (um, that's not the answer to everything, ya know?!). I think all of us in 1st grade work really hard to get our kids to grade level, or as darn close as we can. I do, anyway. There are some kids who leave us in May (or June) and are just at grade level and then spend the summer doing nothing. Well, of course they will regress. That's where it's the job of the next teacher to work with them and get them moving again. We have been in school for 16 weeks now, and they are still complaining about where the kids are and how low they are. Um, here's a solution - work with them more! Now, before you all jump all over me and say they are doing their best, I will say, OK, maybe they are. But, humor me for a bit. Our second graders have an extra hour and a half of intervention for the kids who need it. That's 90 minutes that the kids are out of the room and in with the intervention teachers. There are about 95 kids in 2nd grade and about 30 or so go to intervention. Um, something it wrong. They send the kids they don't want in the rooms and hope for the best. That leaves about 18 kids per room after that. That would be a great time to do small group (but they don't really know what that is, I don't think). I would give my right arm to have less kids and be able to do small group more than I do, but it isn't happening in 1st grade (we are the forgotten grade who doesn't get a lot of anything - time, resources, etc).
It makes me sad for the kids to hear the teachers talking crap about them. It makes me mad when I know the teacher isn't working with the child to give them extra support so they aren't struggling. It frustrates me when kids in 2nd are being retained into 1st grade now in the year because they are too far behind and they haven't gotten any help in 2nd grade. And it pisses me off that they are allowed to do it and get away with whatever they want. I have a very hard time putting my kids into classes at the end of the year. There are only 4 teachers, so they have to go somewhere. And only one of them doesn't complain as much as the others. The other 3 are relentless and have nothing nice to say about any child they have in their class. My group last year was really good and they were pretty close to grade level, if they weren't there. But, to listen to the teachers, you'd think we gave them kids who drool all day and are menaces to society. Anyone else have that where they work? Please tell me I'm not alone? I hope I am alone and that all you have great grade levels who truly work with the kids and give them the best they have.
As for me, I have given myself a new challenge. I don't have any parent helpers in my class, nor do I have any aide time. It bothered me before, but now, I have decided to embrace it. My goal is to make sure my kids do very well without having all the extras that the others have. One teacher has 4 aides at one point in the day. 4 aides! I have decided that I am going to push my kids to be better, work harder and take more pride in their work. While my class is higher overall than the others, it doesn't mean that they are better (in fact, my group this year freaks when they are assessed, so our scores suck!), nor do I let them think they are better - I just make them work harder, which means we might not do as much fun and art and play as the other classes, but what we know and do in class speaks louder than the words from the one who always has to one up all of us.
Well, this has been a long, rambling post, but I feel a bit better. I will be so glad when break comes and I can destress for a bit! Here's to a great, although chilly, windy week ahead. I miss summer! Happy Sunday!