The best plans don't take life into account

We have been in school for 8 days.  The first 3 days were getting used to a routine. The first day was quite an eye opening experience of what the year would be like.  I went home after the first day scared of the next 179 days. But the next 2 days were better.  We aren't the best behaved bunch, but we are slowly coming along.

Monday last week was a very good day. We had good behavior, got our work done and we were on the way to a great week.  Well, that ended after 2:00.  We left for a behavior assembly at 1:10 and school gets out at 1:45.  At 2:00, my school secretary comes to tell me something is burning in my room. We run in to a room FULL of black smoke. My air conditioning BLEW UP!!!  Full on exploded outside and blew all the burning oil into my room.  I grabbed a couple things and left as soon as I could. I graded papers in my friends room before going home.  I had such a headache and sore throat from the smoke that I felt awful that night.

Tuesday I was out in another classroom.   They were fixing my ac all day, and finally got it to work, but the smell was still awful.  We spent Tuesday and Wednesday out in another room with just a fraction of what we needed to do our normal day.  A lot didn't get done, but we will finish it up this week.

Tuesday, right before school got out, my BTF (best teacher friend) got a call that her husband had been in an accident. She left early to get home, but it was too late.  I went to be with her for awhile, then came back to school to do her lesson plans for Wednesday.  Such an emotional day.  Wednesday wasn't much better, as I spent most of my telling people what happened or answering their questions for her.  I felt so sick and had such a headache that I pawned my class off to someone else and just vegged the rest of the afternoon.  I was still there, just not twaching.

The rest of the week was funky and weird, but we made it through. Tomorrow is the start of another week. It'll be a better week and we should get everything done.  That's the plan at least.  I haven't worked on my plans yet, but I have an idea of what's going to happen this week.  That's half the battle.


Behavior challenges

After posting on Sunday for the first time in months, I read through some posts that were over 2 years old.  That class was rough.  The year was rough both personally and professionally.  Reading through made me remember some not so pleasant things I tried to block out.  But it also made me see that, even though I was really hard on myself for student behavior (it was horrible), it wasn't me.  The things I had written about student behaviors haven't changed.  The students still have the same, if not worse behavior now.  The same students were still behaving the same way, 2 years later. Nothing has changed, and the kids know they can behave that way and there are minimal consequences.

It made me sad. And mad. And frustrated that things haven't changed, nor will they in the near future.  Discipline is not the strong suit of our principal.  While very caring and friendly, there is very little discipline there.  A "talking to" doesn't cut it.  Missing recess for weeks on end doesn't cut it. Being "suspended" from your home class and spending days/weeks in another class does nothing but punish the students and teacher who are having to deal with the crappy behavior of the suspended student.  Our older students know they can get away with anything and there is little recourse to their actions.  It makes it very hard for the teachers to get tough with kids, as they know its pointless.

In the past, I've always used a behavior clip chart. Move your clip for poor behavior, blah blah. I added spots to move up for good behavior, but let's be honest. It's much easier to call out bad behavior instead of good behavior.  I'm going to change things this year.  I'm going to rip the behavior chart off the wall and throw it away. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, but I'm going to do it. I'm going to go with a ticket system and use free rewards. I'm also going to jump into using brag tags with both feet!  These are all new to me and a bit overwhelming right now, but I think it'll be good.  Focus on the positive rather than the negative and show the kiddos how much fun they can have when they're good.  It'll be a change for me, but one I hope is for the better.

It's my hope that I can have my students behave, learn the rules and follow them, if it's only for one year. Sadly it becomes a free for all come 2nd grade, and then it's a lost cause after that. But for one year, I want students who are kind, caring and rule followers.  If I can teach them that, I've won half of a battle!


Back to Blogging

Summer vacation is in full swing here in my little spot on the map.  I've been out of school for 5 full weeks now and have 4 weeks left until I must be back at work.  Chances are I will start making appearances here and there.  I have a tub of things I've already bought (Thank you, Target Dollar Spot!) and some books that my daughter has passed down to me.  She's too big for some of the books she has now, so I get them!  I don't know what I'll do with her books now when she outgrows them...probably donate them to our school library.  Sigh...my baby isn't a baby anymore!

I basically took June off from thinking about school.  While I love my job, I was done this year!  I had a great class of kids, but they were challenging in terms of their academics.  I was pretty much fried when May came around.  I had a lot of PD days this year, which meant a lot of time out of class which meant a lot of lesson plans and a lot of reteaching. I took a week off for a family trip, so that meant lesson plans,  dealing with all the work when I came back, reteaching, parents, etc.  then I missed another week to help my sister when my newborn niece was sick out of state.  I think I missed 20 or more days this year, which is more than I missed when I had my daughter and when I was hospitalized a couple years ago.  It took a toll on me this year and I felt ineffective at times.  Throw in a math pilot again, and it was a funky year.  My kids this year were not great writers. I am NOT a good teacher of writing, and I know it.  I'm trying, but it's so not my forte.  My kids' writing suffered this year, so I really hope they get good instruction next year.  My goal this next year, among the million other goals I set myself, is to improve my writing instruction and have better writers.

We have a new math program this year.  Actually, we have 3 math programs this year.  After 2 years of piloting, lots of arguing and disagreeing, too many meetings and frustrations, our superintendent decided that teachers can choose their program they want to teach.  Yep, you read that right!  There were 3 programs to choose from and each teacher was able to decide what they wanted.  Scary!  We had the choice of GOMath, Eureka Math and instructional modules that were created by teachers in the district.  I piloted both GoMath and the modules.  I didn't care for the modules, as it wasn't teacher friendly (in my opinion) and it didn't meet the needs of our lower students.  It was created by teachers at our higher SES schools and it didn't address the needs of all the students in the district.  I was then torn between GoMath and Eureka math, but I ended up going with GoMath since the Eureka math is free online and I can print out what I need from there.  And, our district person decided that they were going to pick and choose what they felt was necessary from the Eureka math and they said they wouldn't print some of the things I thought would be beneficial, or at least a little more fun.  Oh well, once the door closes, I'm responsible for the little ones in my class, so I can choose what I feel is important!  😉

Now that we are heading into the second week of July, it's time to get serious about planning.  While each year is basically the same as the year before, I like to change things up a bit to keep is fresh and exciting for me.  I have a lot of new ideas that I am going to try to implement, so we will see how it goes.  A few more weeks of sleeping in, relaxing and being able to spend the days with my daughter before we are back in the rat race of school.  Hopefully I can enjoy vacation while getting things accomplished both for life and school.