7.19.2017

A New Chance

4 weeks from today, I will be sitting on my couch about this time, exhausted from my first day back with kiddos.  I am getting excited about it, which is a good sign.  Last year was such an interesting, frustrating, sad, yet an educational year.  I wondered in January and February if I was going to make it, and I did.  I learned a lot about myself as well as others.  I have come out of the last year a stronger person and hopefully that will lead me to be a better teacher. 


I have always taught with the same teacher.  For 18 years, we went through it all together.  Planning, collaborating, teaching, complaining - we did it together.  Last year, she didn't work, so I lost that.  I had always worried about losing my teaching friend, so I wasn't sure how the year was going to go.  Looking back, I survived.  Not only did I survive, I kind of liked it.  Doesn't that sound horrible?  But I did!  My team isn't the most collaborative out there.  There are issues from before we got to the school that have never been resolved and never will be resolved.  EVER.  I know that and accept it, but it doesn't mean I like it.  My friend and I have always done everything together and the other 2 teachers who are very set in their ways do their own things.  Again, it may not be great, but we now how to work to keep the peace.  This last year, with it being just me (and a handful of subs that I planned for for 3 months), I felt a freedom I hadn't felt in a long time.  I felt like I could do what I want and wasn't questioned by my friend as to what I am doing, can I give her copies or materials or made to feel like it was too hard (I mean, we do need to challenge our kids, right?).  I was responsible for myself (after the end of October anyway) and there was some sort of satisfaction knowing it was me alone that did it all. 


Don't think this last year was easy - it was harder than heck!  I kept 2 classes going for 3 months, which really wore me down, only I didn't see it.  I wanted to be Superwoman and do it all for everyone and it really wore me down.  Looking back, it really started to affect me in November, but I didn't see the full effects until January and February.  I felt defeated with my class (behavior issues, lack of administrator support and new kid after new kid walking in my door, each one further behind than the one before) and I felt undervalued by my administrator.  I still smiled, tried to do my job to the best of my abilities, but I know now that I wasn't doing either of those things.  I remember my fabulous Thanksgiving unit that wasn't.  It was an awful week and I went home crying each night.  I remember wanting to do a cute art project for Christmas for the parents, but I didn't have the heart to put so much time and effort into it.  I remember being so happy that we were on break.  I cried when I had to go back to work.  None of that is good.  I was not happy in January and February and even told my hubby that I needed a new job.  I wanted to see what else I could do with my degree.  I spent hours on the internet looking for jobs that didn't involve teaching kids, but still made a decent income - there weren't any.  I was so sad that I spent several nights crying myself to sleep.  It was bad. 


But then, things changed.  I can't pinpoint it, but it changed.  The last 3 months weren't the easiest, but I was happy again.  I had fun with my kids.  I did what I wanted (I still followed standards) and didn't worry about what others said or did.  I embraced the crazy that was my class and enjoyed the last bit of the year.  I wasn't sad when the year ended, but by then, the exhaustion has set in and we are all happy that summer vacation is here!


I've always felt I was born to be a teacher.  I truly believe it.  I may not be the Pinterest-worthy, make millions off of TPT, love everyone and everyone loves me teacher, but I am a good teacher.  I know that.  I am here for the kids in my class and work hard to teach them.  I will fight for my students when I feel it needs to be done and I will cause problems when they need to be caused.  I will do what I think is best for my kids, even if others don't think "my way" is the right way (because it isn't theirs). 


This summer, I haven't focused on school.  I have done more this week than any weeks combined, but I did feel like I needed to make some headway so I am not panicked come August.  We have an "extra" week off this year, only due to the calendar we voted on.  I will, like always, work in my classroom the week before school starts and get everything ready.  I have my yearly plan done, which has made me excited for the new year.  I have some new things in the works which make me excited for the new year.  Knowing I did this all on my own has made me excited for the new year.  Oh, all the Amazon boxes have also helped me get excited for the new year!  I know it won't be easy, but it's a chance for a fresh start with a new bunch of kiddos and a chance to see how far they can go!  

6.15.2017

Vacation state of mind

I have been on vacation for almost two weeks.  It's amazing!  I have a to-do list a mile long and it isn't getting any shorter, but it's so nice to know that I have time to get it done...or attempted.  Not having to get up before the sun every day is a very nice feeling. 

School ended 2 weeks ago today.  The next day (Friday) I had to be in as it was our last day.  I ended up making a disaster scene in my classroom, deciding to flip my room around from how it was.  I did it last year, too, but I didn't love it.  My teacher table was by the door/window, which is great, until my kids space out staring out during reading groups or I had to listen to the after school program yelling and screaming outside my room and staring in through the window or throwing balls against the window.  I needed to be farther away from the window, especially after school!  So, I made the swap.  Again.  Luckily my daughter was there to help me move stuff, so it wasn't all me. 
This is where my table used to be.  I moved my mailboxes from a different wall here, along with a bookcase of games.  I will put the round table there and use it as my writing center next year.  The other table is for different centers through the year, too.  I feel like I have a lot of wasted space over there, but not sure what to put there.  Time will tell!  

My mailboxes used to be where the shelf is with the center games.  I thought it'd be easier to reach the bulletin board this way, plus it looked a little cleaner than before.  Ignore the messy bookcase on the left.  Sadly it still looks like that...and I don't care right now!  I'll clean it up come August!  

Here is the view from the window.  I moved my table to the other side.  My calendar area is to the right (on the black walls) and my table will be to the left.  The sink is behind the table as well as the wall that will become my word wall.  I haven't had a word wall in a couple years, and I miss it.  I have had a lot of luck with word walls, but I was talked out of having one by a colleague who didn't believe in them.  Why I went along with it I don't know, but I am doing one again this next year.  I'm not sure how it will look, as I have some ideas in my head.  Time will tell.  

This is a small spot between cabinet and wall.  I have never known what to put there and have always shoved something there.  I had random "prize boxes" throughout my room and these drawers were filled with junk.  I decided to make it useful and put prizes in the drawers and labeled the drawers  Good thing - I had lots of "prizes" to put in the drawers and I was able to get rid of boxes that held prizes.  A few more dollar tree purchases and I will be good to go.  Now just to figure out what will be needed to earn prizes. 
 
I brought home a couple boxes (OK, 2 and a few bags of stuff) of things to work on.  One is my August box, so I can be fully prepared when school starts.  The other box is full of randomness that needs to be organized, tossed, etc.  I know I need to plan out the new science standards, create my STEM boxes and make a better plan to tackle science, along with making social studies better.   I always plan the year out and make minor tweaks as the year goes on.  I started working on it, but it's more just a blank slate still.  I have time and I like being able to take some time off of work and not think about it.  Too much anyway! 
 
 
I have enjoyed my time at home.  We normally go away for some time over summer, but not this year.  Hubby is too busy at work and my daughter has things going on.  I have been able to get some deep cleaning done, as well as some work outside.  The outside work will wait, as it is now above 100* and too hot to do much outside.  I am working on turning the "playroom" back into a study.  I have to get the toys out of there before we can paint and do anything else. It's slow going, as my daughter is having a hard time letting go of things.  We will get there, soon.  I also have been working on cleaning the office and getting it more organized.  That will actually be next week's to do project while my daughter is off to day camp.  I should be able to get a lot done in 3 hours, but you just never know what I will get distracted by! 
 
Between taking care of my chickens (I'm up to 50+!) and picking fruits and veggies, I have been busy.  Today I made 6 batches of plum juice, which will eventually turn into plum jelly.  I need a full 2 days, lots of sugar and lots of jars to get it all done.  I'm waiting on my cucumbers so I can make pickles.  If I could, I'd be a farmer and make as much of my food as I could.  Unfortunately, the summers here get too hot and a lot of stuff burns up before it's ready.  We are still considered in a drought, so we have to be careful with water.  Ah, the joys of living in Southern California! 
 
Well, I am ready to call it a night!  I know it's only 9pm, but I was in the kitchen all day dealing with plums!  Ah, the life! 
 
Happy Summer!

5.29.2017

Year in Review

It's the end of the year!  3 more days of school and then it's hello, summer!  I am more than ready for a break, but the year is ending on a pretty good note. 

I haven't been active on this blog, as I think it's becoming a thing of the past, but for me, it's a good reminder of what I have done, thought, etc. 

This has been a pretty rough year.  It started out funky, turned bad, but I changed my attitude and it got better.  On our 4th day of school, my air conditioner blew up in my classroom.  My room was filled with black, burning smoke.  Luckily it happened after school, so my kids and I were gone, but I had to get out what I could and had to move to another room (not the first time in my teaching career) for a few days while it was "fixed".  A day later, my BTF lost her husband in a freak accident.  I took over lesson planning for the substitutes than came in and out quickly, as it is a rough class and the subs couldn't all hack it for a long time.  I was having to copy and make plans for whoever was there which was more time consuming than I admitted.  I pretty much went on auto pilot for awhile, just trying to keep my head above water. 

I did go with my administrator to interviews to choose the teacher to take over my friend's classroom.  The teacher didn't start until 2 weeks before repot cards, so that was interesting.  My classroom aide, who I get for 30 minutes a day for my focus time, has been a hot mess the last 2 years.  The person I had for a couple years quit last year to go to school.  Last year was a revolving door of 8 people.  The person they hired did not get along with any teacher she was assigned to, so we got a new person this year who was on her second year of parenting leave.  Another sub was assigned to us.  She's a very nice person, but was our night custodian who was subbing in the position and didn't know how to work with kids.  A few months later and she left and then another sub came in.  Not as many as last year, but still no consistency or really someone who can effectively do the job of working with kids. 

I don't remember much of the fall.  I do know my class behavior in November was awful, and I didn't do what I had planned for Thanksgiving.  I had oral surgery on Thanksgiving break, which wasn't fun.  I had been in pain for 5 months, so I finally was out of pain.  I'm sure that didn't help the first 4 months of school, either.  I remember being at home over break just thinking and feeling like I sucked as a teacher.  That continued for a few months. 

January and February was met with a busted heater/AC unit.  I was moved again since my room was too cold to be in (55* in So Cal is too cold in a classroom).  I finally got a brand new AC/heater, but it wasn't without a fight.  Parents were calling and complaining, which in turn led to people questioning me, then yelling at me about it.  It was ugly.  I felt very devalued as a person and a teacher and had no backup from my administrator.   It all got fixed and I no longer have to deal with the maintenance crew, but it was an ugly time.  It put me further into my funk.

Right after that, I went to Florida for a week with my hubby and daughter.  I enjoyed the time away from school.  I felt refreshed and a little better, until I checked my class roster (for a question about attendance I had got while on vacation) and noticed a new student was added.  He was from the class of chaos (the one with multiple subs) and his mom was upset with the teacher, so our interim principal at the time moved him to my room without telling me.  No one told me he was coming.  If I hadn't looked at my roster, I wouldn't have known.  This kid was a nightmare in the other class.  His behavior has greatly improved with me, but he is so low and the parents are in denial and believe he is just fine and that we have too high of expectations for kids. 

I have had the revolving door of kids this year.  I have 24 kids right now, but I have had a total of 34 kids this year.  In and out.  It's been nuts.  I ran out of supplies, homework folders that I made over the summer, etc.  Nothing like feeling ill prepared when a new student comes in without any notice.  Our attendance clerk is very bad about giving us a heads up that a new student is coming.  We know when they show up at our door, then we look like idiots when we have to scramble to get the student situated.  Anyway, I was prepared for the first 6 changes, but the last 4 - no.  It didn't help my feeling of inadequacy or chaos. 

I felt very burnt out, frustrated, and devalued most of the year.  I did what I could to help out.  I sat on SST's.  I went to math trainings and pacing guide meetings which were pointless wastes of time as other people decided these things for us.  I was (am) my grade level lead and deal with 2 teachers who don't really like each other.  They both want to talk crap on each other to me, but I don't want to hear it.  I have become very short with both of them, simply for my peace of mind.  We have had so much drama with these 2 teachers in the past (and another teacher who finally left and made things a little better) and I do not want to start it again. 

Spring break came and for whatever reason, something changed.  I was feeling better about my class, things seemed to be going better with the behaviors and academic growth.  I got out of my funk.  Maybe it was the fact that the year was ending sooner rather than later.  Whatever it was, it's better now.  That doesn't mean it's all unicorns and rainbows, but I am at a peace I haven't had this year.  I started planning a bit for next year, which helped me enjoy the end of this year, as strange as that sounds.  I don't have anything set in stone, but I have ideas floating in my head. 

I have 3 days left with my kids.  Some I will miss next year and I struggle with where to place them.  Our 2nd grade team is  hard to work with.  We have one very inadequate teacher, one who doesn't teach as much as expect the kids to work quietly, one who wants perfection rather than actually teaches what needs to be learned and finally one who puts more effort into teaching than the others.  I know my kids aren't perfect, but some are pretty close.  They work hard, are really sweet and love learning.  I'm afraid they'll lose that next year, and then what?  Other kids I won't miss and I feel horrible about that, but they are the kids who have been hard to love all year.  They're the kids who sit all day and do nothing.  The parents who never show up, don't have a clue what's going on, have never had their child do a homework assignment all year and then call the school to say their child hasn't received an award all year because the teacher is racist.  The kids who tell you to shut up, scream that you're stupid and throw themselves on the floor because they didn't get a stamp at the end of the day.  Some have been rough.  I try to show them love, but it's been hard.  Really, really hard, which didn't help the funk I was in. 

I've spent a lot of time already thinking about the last year.  It hasn't been the greatest, but I have learned some things about myself as well as others.  I have learned that I can handle it on my own.  I have been afraid of teaching without my BTF, but I have done it this year and survived.  It was harder than I thought, but also a little liberating.  I learned that I had been doing a lot of the prep work for her, so for it just being me, I was only responsible for me.  I learned that no one will help you out of a funk, even if you ask for help.  I told my admin. and several others that I was struggling, but it was laughed off.  Again, didn't help with feeling of being devalued at all.  I may not be stronger yet, but I am getting there.  I have a renewed desire to be the best teacher I can be.  I am not one to toot my own horn and I am quite the pessimistic person (always have been), but I know that I can do better than I did this year, so that is my goal for next year.  And I know I can do it. 

With 3 days left, I plan on having fun with my kids.  We are going to spend the days doing some fun STEM challenges, puzzles, games and reading.  I also plan to clean up my room, go through some cabinets and cupboards to clean, toss and organize, get my end of the year stuff done and try and enjoy the ending and getting ready for a new beginning.  I know it will never be perfect, but I can do the best I can do and nothing more.  I can learn from the past and look forward. 

Happy Summer break!

3.05.2017

When it all falls apart

Last month, I posted about how things finally seemed to be coming together this crazy, funky school year.  My kids were moving up, we were making good progress, behavior had come around and things seemed to be going well.  That isn't to say it was perfect and we had some bad days, but it just seemed to be going smoother than before. 

Then I went on vacation for a week.  My daughter has a week off in February (I don't) and we have been taking a family vacation during that time for 3 years now.  I used to feel guilty about it, but now I take it as a welcome break from the winter craziness and enjoy my time with my family and come back recharged.  I leave my plans for the week and make sure my kids do the same things they would do if I had been there.  I know it's not perfect, but it is what it is.  This year, I got an unwelcome surprise.  I had checked my email all week (I told parents I'd be available online, if needed) and was "in the loop" with anything that had gone on at school.  Everything except one thing. 

My friend whose husband passed away in August is out all year.  The district hired a teacher to take her place for the year.  The teacher is more than a substitute - she's a fully credentialed teacher and was in our district before she went elsewhere to be an administrator.  Anyway, the group of kids in that class is crazy.  There are several behavior problems in there.  I know there have been change through the year with teachers, but it's been about 5 months, so there has been a lot of consistency.  Apparently while I was gone, the teacher had a breakdown in front of the class and cried, complaining to the kids that all the bad kids were keeping the good kids from learning.  We've all been there and had those thoughts and maybe have verbalized it in some form or another.  A parent of one of the naughty kids complained to the office and demanded that her child be moved out of that class.  I was the lowest in class size, so I got him.  Only no one told me!  I happened to check my roster on Friday night (while still on vacay and staring out at the Atlantic Ocean from my balcony!) and noticed a new addition to my class.  I texted a couple people.  One didn't have any idea (and she knows it all!) and the other knew exactly what happened, but told me no one wanted to tell me and upset me on my trip.  Um, too late!  My principal has been out on leave, so we have an interim principal there.  She didn't email me to let me know, nor did the teacher who was losing him.  She told everyone she would text me over the weekend, but I'm still waiting. 

I know who the kid is and know what they are capable of.  They are naughty, immature and feel they are entitled to do whatever they want.  Monday morning I get to work early to get everything situated for the week as well as the new student.  The teacher came and told me I was getting the student and asked me what I needed.  I told her supplies and any test scores (report cards go home this week and I know nothing about them academically).  She told me there were no supplies for the child and she hadn't done assessments yet. Well then!  The first day, the kid was 20 minutes late, came in and caused a scene and continued with it for the day.  3 other kids in my class took that as their chance to act out, too and misbehave!  Wow!  The mom came to talk to me after school and blamed everything on the teacher, told me her child is super high, but doesn't perform for authority figures (awesome) and that they will only do the work the tutor tells them. 

It was a long 5 days.  My class has been turned upside down and I don't know what to do.  I spent the week moving seats, having mini-meetings with the kids who think they can misbehave now, prepared an independent study packet for a kid who shouldn't be missing, I taught what needed to be taught and tested my kids for report cards with DRA tests and math tests galore.  It was a week for the record book, that's for sure.   And to top it off, not one single person asked me how the kid was in class.  No one asked me if it was all the teacher or if the child really is a behavior problem.  We have 12 weeks left (58 days!) and I am officially counting down.  I'm sad that I feel that way, but this year has been hard.  I truly can say I know what burnout feels like and I don't like it.  I have worked hard to fight it as I really do like being a teacher, but this year has taken its toll.  Between lack of administrator support or guidance, my bff being gone, my class being a revolving door (34 kids so far!), behavior issued, parent issues and lack of support, it's been a year.  I am ready for a break.  I have had many moments where I question what I do and if it's worth it, but then I look at my kids who have worked so hard and come so far and I know it is worth it.  It's hard and painful and depressing at times, but it's worth it.  It may not always be pretty, but it's worth putting in the time and effort to help my kids get to where they need to be. 

I have started making my summer to do list.  While it sounds counter productive, especially when I need some down time and time for me, I have started thinking ahead to next year and how I can switch things up or make things better for my kids and myself.  Until then, I will keep going, working to make sure my kids are ready for 2nd grade come the end of May. 

2.08.2017

When it finally comes together

This has been a strange year.  Nothing has gone according to plan.  Nothing has been as I had planned.  It's just been a funky year.  Add in new kids every few weeks, a heater and AC unit that hasn't worked right for 6+years (it blew up in August and then totally froze over 2+ weeks ago) and having to travel to other rooms to "teach" just make for a funky, funky year.

This year has me wondering if I can do this for the next 21 years.  That's how much longer I have to teach - 21 years.  That seems like a very long time.  I have never, ever been one to toot my own horn and talk about how great I am as a teacher.  In fact, I'm always looking at what went wrong.  I am a true pessimist...it's what drives my hubby batty.  I have felt off all year, which has me doubting myself.  I don't like how things have gone, but I don't know how to fix it.  I know people say not to complain about something if you don't have a plan to make it better, so I have been racking my brain to find ways to make it better.  I don't know how.

Student behavior is the biggest issue we have at school.  We have many, many students who can not, will not, do not follow the rules, behave, etc.  They do not seem to think the rules apply to them or they are truly defiant and make it a point to do whatever it is they are told NOT to do.  We do not have an administrator who will do their job to get behavior under control.  There are many students who are on "behavior contracts", but all that means is they have to check in with the office staff (our admin is gone a lot) at every recess, lunch and after school and if they have so many smiley faces, they get a sticker.  They earn enough stickers and they are given a reward like Pokemon cards (which aren't allowed at school...) or something else.  If they are naughty, there is no consequence other than no sticker.  I refuse to send my kids to the office for behavior.  They do not need to be rewarded for their bad behavior.  My kids who are good all the time are rewarded for their behavior and there are consequences for poor behavior.  But, the ones who do not behave aren't motivated to do well, nor do they really seem to care if they move their clips and earn no reward.  I don't know a good idea for the school-wide poor behavior, to help it improve.  Our admin says we follow one particular "plan", but it isn't working.  They have to know that deep down, but they have "checked out" and really just sit in on IEP's.  There is little else going on in terms of administrative work.  It's very frustrating.

I have also had the revolving door class.  I have now had 7 new students this year.  2 students moved in the last week and a new one started yesterday.  My newest one is very sweet and smart!  It's a big change from all the other new ones.  All my others came in below grade level - they all came in lower than where they should have been in August!  It's hard to play catch up.  The parents have all been surprised their children are low, even though the report cards from the other schools all said they were low.  It feels like I take one step forward and 12 steps back.  Add in that each new student coming in is an EL and the requirements for them keep changing as the weeks go on.  It's hard, but we are doing the best we can.  And by we, I mean my students and I.

Today, I asked my kids to do their math on their own.  I realized I have been doing a lot for them.  I didn't mean to, but with a new program, and I still learning what I should do, shouldn't do, etc.  I wanted them to work on it on their own to see what they could do.  I almost cried when all but 4 of my kids could successfully do it on their own.  I wasn't giving them enough credit and when I did, they rose to the challenge.  During reading time, I was listening to them read our story for the week. Some weren't perfect, but they were working so hard.  I had that moment today where I saw all my hard work pay off.  All my students' hard work was paying off.  They were showing me what they know - and it was a lot.  It showed me why I do this, even when it's hard and it's frustrating and I feel like giving up.  It gave me a little extra spring in my step today.  I was proud of them.  I was proud of me for getting them to this point.  They've worked so hard and it shows.

In 2 weeks, I am taking the week off to go on vacation with my family.  I feel guilty, but this year, I also feel like I need some time away.  I need time away to regroup and de-stress.  I need some time to be with my family and also to miss my kids.  I need to be excited to see them again.  I need a little time away to focus on me and not feel like I have to decide between my sanity and my grading (which is piling up).  Once I come back, I will have 6 weeks until spring break.  I am looking forward to a busy 6 weeks of testing, report cards and a little fun with my kiddos.  I feel like I'll be a better teacher with taking some time off.  I need to remind myself that it's OK to miss school (I'll leave everything planned out, so they aren't on their own) and take care of me so I can be a better teacher for them.  It's a hard feeling to get past.

I feel at peace today, knowing my kids have really made great growth.  They aren't necessarily at grade level, but they are working hard and making progress, which is what matters.  A lot of them have really started to become more confident in their learning which makes them work harder.  It makes my teacher heart happy!    6 more days of teaching and planning and prepping and I will be enjoying the warmth of Florida.  I am looking forward to a week of uninterrupted time with my hubby and daughter to relax and reconnect before getting back and tackling the rest of the school year with a refreshed spirit.

Here's to finishing the rest of the week strong and happy!  

1.07.2017

The Back to Work Blues

My Christmas vacation is coming to an end.  Tomorrow is my last day off.  And I am feeling sad.  I don't like feeling sad about going back to work, but that's how this year has been. 


I've got all my stuff planned out for the next couple of weeks and I hope and pray that it actually goes the way I have planned.  There is so much I need to get done and I need the whole class to follow along, pay attention, and learn.  I wish 6 year olds would just "get it" and understand that we are trying to help them, not "torture" them with "boring learning stuff" like I've had a student tell me this year.  Really makes a girl feel good, you know?


I watched an webinar this morning about art and am excited to go try a couple things in class.  If I only take one thing away from it, it is that I need to let me expectations for art go away.  That doesn't mean to let things go crazy, but to understand that each student will produce their own piece and I need to accept it for it is - their work.  I always want (and expect) their art to look great, but this year I get a lot of not-so-great art and it hurts.  Hurts my pride a little that they can't/won't do better.  Hurts that they are OK with putting out less than 100% effort on a piece.  Hurts that they don't have pride in their work, or even know what that means.  It's things I need to work on before I can expect them to grasp it. 


I have tomorrow to gear up for the challenges of the second half of the year.  I honestly don't know who will show up on Monday and how they will be.  I have had the revolving door, so I am not sure who is coming back and who will be moving on to another school in another city.  I have my ideas, but I could be surprised and they all will return.  One never knows until Monday morning.  And even then, that doesn't mean anything - several families take an extra week (we already have 3 off) and spend more time in Mexico with family.  And this Monday is supposed to rain, so that means even fewer kids at school - we get rain so infrequently that parents don't send their children when it rains.  Well, this year we have had many rainy days compared to the last 6 years COMBINED, so that equals a lot of days off!  Yikes!


Well, it's time for me to finish up my work here, then head to the couch for a little veg session.  My daughter is at Nana's for the night and hubby is catching up on work at the office.  A quiet Saturday night at home before the hustle and bustle of the week hit. 


Happy Saturday!

1.05.2017

Planning Ahead

I am still on break for a couple more days.  My daughter had to go back to school yesterday, so I had the house to myself (well, me and the pets).  I pulled out all the stuff I brought home to do over break, laid it on the couch and then proceeded to watch TV and play on my phone.  I did get some planning done and made some (more) changes to my yearly plan. 


Every summer, I plan out my year.  I put in everything I know I will do and everything I hope to do throughout the year.  It's broken down by week, but it gives me a great visual of what I am doing, how long I am doing it, etc.  I've been doing this for quite some time now and it works for me.  We have been using the same reading program for 15 years, so I know how much time I need, what I can forget and what needs more time.  That's about the only constant in my plans. 


We started a new math program this year, so that has a major learning curve as it is.  Our district sent out a pacing guide, but I didn't understand it (the same chapters were to be covered in each trimester...not standards, chapters).  I originally planned to start at chapter 1 and work through, but my kids needed a break from addition and subtraction, so we have started to jump around more than I had planned.  But giving them something new awakened in them a renewed spirit for learning.  We will jump into measurement next week and see how long it takes to learn to tell time.  I'm scared. 


As I was sitting on the couch planning with my dog yesterday, we were having a discussion (don't judge, you know you do it, too) about the 100th day of school.  I have done the 100th day for years.  I've always enjoyed it and it was a day I looked forward to.  A couple years ago, we thought to change it up and do the 120th day, since our standard was to count up to 120.  2 years ago I did the 120th day.  It was fun, but not as much fun.  It lost it's appeal.  There aren't any books about it, so it's harder to tie in literature dealing with 120.  Last year I had planned to do the 120th day, and I did, but I only put half my heart into it.  I had done stuff on the 100th day (which made some of my teammates mad, although I don't know why.  It is my class after all), so the stuff 20 days later didn't have the same awe.  I've decided to go back to doing the 100th day.  It's a big milestone in class and it's something the kids will like.  After seeing tons of pins on Pinterest about it, I am more excited now than I was before!  So, come January 30, we will party like it's the 100th day of school! 


In the summers, I always try and plan new things to keep from falling into the repeat cycle like so many at my school site.  They do the same thing every. single. year. without fail.  I would be bored out of my mind!  There are some things I do the same, but I like to change things up, find new things to challenge me as well.  I always want to, strive to do art each week.  Like real art lessons.  But then time gets in the way.  Things that must get done, things we are catching up on thanks to crappy behavior or simply crappy behavior that has me on the edge.  I have made a conscious effort to plan at least 1 art lesson/project each week for the next 4 weeks.  It may not seem like a lot, but baby steps.  I'm even fitting one in next week to go with our story for the week that we will do during our intervention time.  While it's not ideal, it's not going to make it or break it for the kids.  In fact, they will have 2 projects next week.  Gotta get those creative juices flowing somehow! 


With my plans done for now, I need to focus on the organizing of all the stuff I brought home.  I don't know what I was thinking, other than I thought I'd spend a lot of time doing school work.  I was wrong, like always.  Instead I've spent time with my family, which is way more important right now.


Happy Thursday!  

1.01.2017

It's been a year.  And it's only 3 months into school.  We just finished our 12th week of school and I feel like I have been put through the ringer.  Between people passing away, my BBF not being at work, the election and everyone's opinion, I feel like I am barely hanging on.  There has been so much going on lately, that I don't know whether I am coming or going.  So glad vacation time is almost here!

I posted last that my BFF lost her husband on the 5th day of school.  She hasn't been back since.  There have been 3 substitutes in her room.  Well, 2 subs and they have hired a full time teacher until (if) she comes back.  Before she got here, I had been making copies for the subs in hopes they were following the plans she had made and were on the right path.  I can't say that happened, but I did what I could, short of teaching her class as well as mine.  It was hard enough teaching my class and doing the plans for the other class.  I did it to help my friend, but unfortunately, others felt the need to take more credit for helping than they deserved.  I didn't do it for the recognition, but it would have been nice to be recognized, rather than have others take credit when they didn't do much other than be in the classroom next door rather than across the walkway (that's where I am).  It's been a lot easier now that the new teacher is there and she can choose to do what she feels is necessary and important for her kids.  They have missed a lot and are behind, but the behavior is what's the big deal. 

Our first graders are a bit different than in years past.  This group overall is quite defiant.  They don't take no for an answer and they do what they want when they want, regardless of what the authority figure says.  My group was a bit rough around the edges when school started, but I got them under control.  We have since gotten a bit out of control, and I honestly don't know when or how or why.  We have had to go back to very strict rules and having to suffer consequences for the smallest things before they get out of hand.  I don't like feeling like this, but I have too many kids that are missing out because of a few that decide they can't/won't follow the rules.  I know we are tired, and we will get back to where we need to be, but darn it, it's hard.  Luckily my class is better than the others, but they still wear me out.  Today in fact, I just left.  I left my room a mess and went home.  I brought work home, but let's face it - it just came along for the ride in the car!  I'm not going to look at, grade it, etc.  I might look at it this weekend.  Or I might just ignore it until I need to really look at it.  Or throw it away. 

We have been working solidly since Labor Day.  We don't have a fall break.  We have Labor Day off, then Veteran's day off.  That's it!  We are tired.  We are run down.  We have been through weeks of coughs, colds, stomach bugs, lice and more.  I guess I did get a day off when I had the stomach flu, but let's be honest...I wasn't exactly relaxing!  I should buy stock in Lysol since we have used so much this year!  We will have Friday off to relax (or do a parade with Girl Scouts), then we have a teacher work day on Monday.  I've gotta be at work, but no kids.  I can handle that.  Then 4 days until we finally get a week at Thanksgiving.  Amen! 

I look back on the last 3 months and know that we have worked hard.  We've had some fun, we've had some hard times, but we have made it out on the other side.  We are anxious for a break, excited the holidays are coming and are tired of the heat (it was 95 today.  In November.  We don't have fall, just dry, burned leaves).  We need to recharge our batteries and take some time to have some fun without the pressures of school.  Until then, we will continue working hard and hoping it sticks! 

Happy New Year 2017!

Happy New Year!  It's safe to say that 2016 was an interesting year.  While it wasn't a bad year for me, it had its ups and downs.  But, I am here to say that 2017 will be a better year, a great year!  One of my goals this year is to be less Negative Nelly and more Positive Polly.  It's very hard for me, as I am a true pessimist, but I need to bring the positive things that happen to light and try to find the positive in as many areas as I can. 


It's safe to say this school year is a bit more challenging than the last 2 years have been.  I was spoiled with students who, while not prefect, were really good.  They liked what we were doing, they really seemed to enjoy learning and behavior issues were few and far between.  This year's class is a bit less interested in learning, their behavior is less than desirable and they don't have the drive the last classes had.  Half the parents don't seem interested in their child's progress or behavior and have excuses for everything.  The other half make sure their child is working hard and behaving and are there to back me up.  It's a tough dynamic for sure.  Add in the fact that I am the revolving door this year, so all the new kids are mine.  And they all have come in super, super low.  It's an uphill battle every day, and that really has worn on me the last few weeks. 


On top of work, I was dealing with dental issues since July.  Tooth pain does not make life fun.  Finally before Thanksgiving I had to have the tooth pulled, but that brings its own issues.  Hopefully by August everything will be taken care of and back to normal...or a new normal anyway.  I know this hasn't helped my attitude at school, so I am hoping to be better come the 9th when we go back to work. 


My friend at work who lost her husband on our 5th day of school hasn't come back and is taking the whole year off.  I've lost my BFF at work and it's been hard, but I have learned that I can work without her and survive.  We have worked together for 18 of my 19 years teaching.  It has really changed the dynamics of our grade level.  We had different subs in and out before they hired the temporary teacher.  She was only contracted thru January 20, but I guess it will be extended through the end of the year, if that's what happens.  Our district personnel are not too quick in getting things done this way.  Should be an interesting next couple of weeks! 


My goal for this year at school is to try and be more positive.  I really wanted to be more positive when the year started, but it wasn't possible with this group.  I had to bring back the behavior chart, as rewards weren't enough to keep them on the right track.  They need that visual reminder of how to behave the right way.  I need to breath more, and focus on the kiddos who are doing things the right way, rather than the opposite.  That's all on me, so I need to step up my teacher game! 


A few more days of vacation left, and I will be super busy.  A couple days at Disneyland, lunch with friends, a date day with hubby and a family Christmas party on Saturday (my sister is moving back to the area with her family and they will be coming then), my week is pretty busy, but it will motivate me to get things done...like all the stuff I brought home and haven't looked at yet!  ;)


Happy New Year!