12.12.2012

A day off and a phone call...

It was a blessing to lay in bed until 8 am :) WAHOOOOO sleep and laziness! My baby pup joined me though I think she thought it was play time not lazy time. I was able to go pick my sister up and we've had a great day together! We bought some new nail polish and I now have blue nails (which is crazy for me but I love it!) I made pie crust dough and I'm planning on making it into an apple pie tonight!

In the afternoon I got a phone call from school. We're going to try something new with K because of the amount of meltdowns he is having everyday. So for the next few weeks he will have his own little space in a different room and with someone who can be one on one with him all day everyday. He truly needs this individual constant attention and I can't give it to him with 5 other kids that need me too. So for the next few weeks myself and classroom aide will have 5 sweet boys who we are to focus on. K will be the responsibility of a few others until he is ready to come back into my classroom.

My heart is a bit relieved because I knew my other 5 were suffering, but I didn't know how to be everything to everyone.

God provided. Tomorrow, will be a good day.
Happy teaching!
-M

12.11.2012

My sweet boys...

Yes, I do refer to them as "my sweet boys" ... It makes them smile and sadly it might be the only positive verbal love they hear for the remainder of the day.  Some of them do not have the loving and supportive home like I grew up in.
Some of them carry a lot of anxiety.
Some of them are afraid of other students.
Some of them need more positive reinforcement more often than others.

All of them need love.

I always seem to amaze myself when I come to this conclusion (you would think that after the first few times, I would catch on....nope, still amazes me) concerning myself and teaching.

I'm not like a lot of teachers. Somedays that's a good thing and somedays it's not. I'm fairly simple (though I can be terribly confusing) in how I view the world and the humans that live on it.  I have come to the simple conclusion that all anybody really needs is someone to love them.  Not just provide for them physically and/or emotionally....but to truly love them. To be amazed at the things they do week....to provide structure, consequences, and rewards consistently...to be patient with them when they mess up...to hang their artwork on the wall....even if its not the nicest!

Last year my partner teacher was frequently concerned about my attachment to my students. Some days he warned me that I would burn out very quickly or wouldn't be able to move on at the end of the year. I fought him on this because I kept telling him that the attachment and concern I had for my students kept me going and made me work harder to be a good teacher. He was partially right and I was mostly wrong....about one thing.  I couldn't move on.  I struggled through our move and the entire summer with letting go of my 5th graders.  I wasn't planning on not being there this year when I sent them home for the summer. Even when I started the sub position at the autism academy, I still fought it. I didn't belong here. My kids were back there.  What my partner teacher probably didn't realize was that he was preparing me more for my own classroom now than he was in dealing with my classroom then.  I will always care for my students, but I understand the importance of having some detachment.  K wouldn't survive if I couldn't detach myself from him. I am capable of teaching my six sweet 15 year old boys with autism because of the classroom management he taught me how to use consistently.  And because for so many months he showed me how to balance caring for my students but not carrying their burdens. He taught me how to be strong for my kids when they needed me to be able to hold it together. Sure, some nights I bring school home...who doesn't? But most nights I can let my frustration at school.

Today I realized this again. We were in the middle of meltdown #2 of the day, and I was verbal to K and three adults were holding him. Once he started to calm, I had to count to 100...out loud...sheesh, it's a long way from 1 to 100 .... But in the middle of it, thinking back to the mean things K screamed at me in the middle of his anger, and the spit he spewed that was running down my neck, and the bruise that was certain to appear on my leg from him kicking, I realized that I found that balance. I can keep my voice calm for him because he needs me to be calm. I can keep my touch gentle because he needs to feel something kind. I don't take his mean comments personally because I know when he's finished being angry he'll say he's sorry.  I can let go of the morning tantrum so that when the second one comes, I can be strong for him again.....now by the time the 4th one was over, I was out of patience.

I savor the moments when one of them smiles. Ja smiles when I call him my sweet boy. Je loves to have his hands tickled. To really enjoys helping me and is always offering to organize my messy table! Ty just wants one of us to listen to him....and let him make copies...he enjoys tasks and making copies is one of his favorites! M just wants individual attention. K loves cookies and playing tic-tax-toe....See, even when they throw fits; hit; spit; kick; say mean things; and flat out disobey me....I can still love them through it.  Not by giving into them but by teaching them how to become better at using coping skills and making better choices.

I am thankful that God created me to be a teacher. He made me in such a way that I can love these sweet boys and take on their tantrums. He gave me a great partner teacher that I could lead from so that I would be ready for these boys at this time. I don't know how long they will be mine. I don't know how many tantrums I really have the strength to weather, but I know that God has been gracious and faithful in providing me with just the right amount of patience and love for each day. Very much like the manna, He gives me what I need for each day.

And through it all, start to finish, we all just need a little bit of love.  See, love covers a multitude of things.

Tomorrow I have a day off. I plan on sleeping and enjoying a few hours with my beautiful sister. I am thankful for the supportive staff that was encouraging me to take the day to rest. They have been a big help in teaching me how to work with K. I am thankful that every morning we gather as a staff of people and pray for patience and strength.  We pray for safety and health for our kids & staff and we pray that in their most horrid fits, we are able to remain calm and compassionate. Tomorrow I will rest and be ready to finish the week out with my sweet boys! Field trip on Friday...we're going bowling!!

Do you have any stories? I love stories!
Happy teaching!
-m

12.10.2012

a boy called K...

Some cookies are tougher to crack than others.  I honestly prefer the puffy soft cookies but I can understand why some people like the hard cookies that have to be dipped into milk in order to have a bite taken out of them.

K is a tough cookie.  It's going to take a lot more than a little milk to crack this kid.  Two meltdowns, three adult men, and one teacher desperately trying to keep her voice calm and 45 minutes later......he was calm enough to walk down to the sensory room on his own.  He didn't make it in time for the van to take him home so his dad had to drove over an hour to come pick him up.  Ruins my after school plans and it ruins his afternoon/early evening because he has to drive so much.

K's a sweet boy with a high pitched voice that sometimes makes me smile.  He's also got a set of lungs any opera singer would be jealous of.  A boy does he know how to wale when he wants to :)

The veteran staff keep telling me "he's a hard one" "it's going to take lots of time" "keep doing what you're doing".....that's great, but how do I keep myself going.  One travel mug of coffee and a low calorie lunch doesn't seem to be cutting it.

Not to mention my family at home...I don't feel like walking my dog (mind you it's also raining...ugh) nor do I feel like attempting the new casserole I had planned to make for dinner tonight.  I definitely don't feel like arguing about why I'm tired....because I had a child screaming and spitting and fighting us for 45 minutes today. Yes, he's a spitter.

I love it.  I thrive on it and during it.  I do have a little bit of pride in the fact that I can keep my voice calm and gentle throughout his fit.  I want to be good for these kids.  I want to learn how to be an excellent teacher of students with autism.  I want to sometime come to a point where I can offer other people suggestions, ideas, tips, comments, and know that I have an idea about what I'm talking about.

I suppose if I stick around long enough, that will happen.  There's a battle in my head.  I idea of starting a growing family and having a baby has been floating around in my mind for a while...husband man's too.  We have a few things we'd like to do first, but we're close to that decision.  But then the bigger decision of whether I stay home or come back to school has to be made.  It's what makes me hesitate about having a baby.  I want both.  I want to be a good Mom and be able to care for my children, but I want to be a good teacher.  I don't want to walk away once I finally get a handle on this crazy Autism disability.  What if I put all of this time and energy into learning how to teach these kids and then just walk away from it?  I'm not okay with that right now.  Most people know one way or the other what they want to do.  I thought I knew. This job changed that.  I know what my family and friends are expecting me to do.  Sometimes I think that's the only reason I would pick that....because I don't know if they would be okay if I chose something else.  But that's a later decision for a day that's not even close.

Now, I'm packing my bag; going home; walking my dog in the rain, and yes, making a casserole for my little tiny family of two....oh, after I go to the Dollar Tree to pick up a large eraser that K was supposed to get for a reward last week :(

Happy Teaching!

-M

12.05.2012

the [yucky] side of autism...

For the most part, any time a student (one considered "regular" or "special needs") changes environments this thing called a "honeymoon period" occurs.  The length of the honeymoon depends on the student. Kids with Autism can and cannot fall into this category.  For the most part, you'll have at least a few days of great behavior and you'll swear this new student is awesome.  And then the honeymoon ends.

Last Wednesday (yes, it's only been one week since I started my own room...) K entered our school and was placed in my room.  He has an Autism/MR diagnosis and he's reading most words on a first grade level but not usually comprehending; he can do wonders in math when given a calculator. He LOVES playing computer games and his DS.  Both are allowed to be used during breaks and are usually what we picks.  He had a great start last week and I was surprised to see where he was at and how well he was behaving.  Prior to his arrival the "horror stories" about his fits and destruction came to me.  I do my best to take them lightly because 1 (it's pride) but I want to give the chance to do well with me because I want to be that good of a teacher and 2 who wouldn't want a clean slate when they went to a new place.

This week the honeymoon ended.  The stories were true.  For the first time I watched first hand how terribly controlling and angry an autistic fit is. Monday came with two trips to the quiet room both required multiple adult escorts.  He ripped his worksheets over and over and over; broke pencils; threw pencils; kicked his shoes off; and spit :)  I was spit on and he hit my leg a few times but we all survived and laughed about the ending of the honeymoon.  Newbie teacher only got 2 good days :)  funny, right?!

We had two rounds of it today.  Today he hit my jaw.  And he bit my arm.  And he bit my aide's arm.  He didn't break skin but I've got a great headache and my aide has an awesome full mouth bite mark on his arm.  It took three adult men in the therapeutic hold.  It broke my heart.  And yet they tell me this is the best way to teach him that he needs to stay in the classroom and complete his work when asked.

Everyone has their thoughts and opinions about how to handle it.  I'm trying to listen to them mainly because they have been here longer. Some of the things I do not understand and it's so backwards of what I feel like I want to do.  The plan is to keep K in the room and remove everyone else when he is having a fit; I guess it avoids him escaping the room.  So I think I'm going to create a "leave the room" box/bag/bucket because today we were out of our room for over 30 minutes and I was very flustered.

I'm going to clean up my room.  Fill their folders for tomorrow.  I'm going home.  I'm going to walk my dog and ask husband man if we can go eat Chinese tonight. Tomorrow I will come back.  Because good day, bad day, terribly ugly day, that's what I do.  I always come back.  Today I don't know why I'm here.  Possibly because there aren't very many teachers that really want to teach in an alternative ed Autism school.  I'm understanding that more.  But it might also be because God thinks I can handle it.  I think He's a bit nuts; and I'm not going to lie, having never been in a fist fight before I think I need to learn some moves!

It's amazing to me how physically exhausting teaching can be.  Unless you've done it, I don't know that you can understand it.  My brain hurts, my body hurts, my heart aches, and I'm tired.  Tomorrow we get to do it all over again....

....except K has an appointment and won't be here tomorrow :)  good or bad, I'm a little bit relieved about that!

How was your Wednesday?  Do you have any physical wound stories?  Or any room destruction stories?  Or any words of encouragement?!

Happy Teaching!
-M

11.27.2012

It's Here! It's Here! IT'S HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, the time has arrived [finally] to open my own classroom.  While there were some paper work items I could gather ahead of time, I pretty much had to wait until last Wednesday [the day before Thanksgiving] to begin working on the room.  I had to continue teaching the 10 older students who I was filling in for the maternity leave with.  It was a juggling act; one I hope I do not have to do again; but we made it through.  I was able to hand over progress monitoring completed through the 3rd week and all work graded when the teacher I was in for returned.  She had three non student days to ready her new room and once the students left on Wednesday, I began "remodeling" the one I was staying in.

My group is [currently...though rumors are floating of an addition coming before the end of December] 6 boys, all 14 or 15 years old and one male aide. Two have a TSS who comes daily/multiple times per week.  *Speaking of TSS...I should probably pull in some extra chairs! oops....*  You'll notice from the photographs that I did my best to tone down my girliness and make sure the things they are going to be using on a daily basis are "boy friendly" and not all pink and purple....though my stuff is :)

I hope you enjoy this first tour of my new classroom!! I still have a few items, which I'll post in the coming days, to add, but overall....we're ready for tomorrow :)

...well, the room is!  I'm still working on my nerves!!!

Math Station
Quiet Zone [aka...sensory corner]?
First Classroom Rule!

Reading Station
Second Classroom Rule
Spelling Station
Third Classroom Rule
Writing Station
Bookshelf: Student Supplies
Mapping Station
Door:  "Finished Work" Folders and Visual Schedules

Classroom Aide table for Aide Time
Morning Meeting board


Information Station
Earn your field trip chart and behavior chart!

My zone :)
SMART Board
and Birthday poster!!!

Teacher time table
Group schedule table
LOVE my little green [dollar tree] bucket!!! YAY!!!!!!!!

Right side of the room

Left side of the room

I'm in love with this room already....I can't wait to see what the kids think tomorrow :) Happy Teaching!!!!!

-M

11.22.2012

the overwhelming joy...

"I thought this was your dream."  was the remark from husband man's mouth after I told him I'm just stressed about opening this new room.

It stung a little.  It was (still is, I think) my dream to have my own classroom.  That doesn't take away the stress of starting a brand new one :)

After numerous class list changes and four room rearrangements, I will have a full time aide and 6 wonderfully 14/15 year old boys :)  all have autism + something else!  Five of them attend my school already and I have been getting to know throughout this year.  One of them will start brand new with us next Wednesday!  The cool thing is, that he'll start on the very first day of our new classroom.

The overwhelming this is, he'll start on the very first day of our new classroom...

There are so many more aspects to a classroom than I realized.  I know I have the essential parts in my head, but executing them and having them in place is taking more than the fifteen minutes I feel as though I have :)

The catchy part was that I was still teaching the 10 high schoolers in this room up until yesterday.  As soon as they left, I started to tear apart Kerry's room and shift what was left of her stuff down to her new room.  I left because we were traveling home for Thanksgiving....leaving a HUGE mess for me to come back to.

The good news is that I have Monday and Tuesday to work on my room.  I am beyond grateful the change is happening over a long break because I wouldn't have been able to do it all in a weekend.  I also have a great aide who has offered to help with anything I need!


Any suggestions for how to make a large change a little easier on kids with autism??!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

-M

10.26.2012

...the crazy world

Autism - noun - a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns

^as defined by Meriam Webster's online dictionary.

Wouldn't it be a better world if that statement were fully true. Is it true?  Yes, absolutely.  Is that all that autism is?  No. Not in my little experience. 

Just because a school is labeled as an autism spectrum disorder school also doesn't mean every student there is going to have a (correct or most prevalent) diagnosis of autism.  Many of the students have emotional behaviors that far out weigh their autistic tendencies.  Some days I am so frustrated and exhausted that I want a sensory break to bang my head on the wall and scream.  Yet something inside me reminds my crazy un-restful soul that they are just kids.  Some could be found in the Children & Youth Services database. Some have great families.  Some have lots of siblings and some only have a few.  Some are above their grade level academically and some are years behind.  But at the end of the day they are just kids.  Normal high school kids that want to do some of the normal high school kid things.  They have crushes; and boy do they fixate on those crushes :) They are hormonal.  They want to drive (scary thought!) and they want to go to prom.  They want to fit in; belong; be head of the pack.  The boys showcase their "manliness" in an attempt to over power the others...sound like a small football team yet?! 9 boys and 1 girl....10 in all.  It's so easy to forget they are just kids yet.  Sure, 19 is "technically" an adult...but experiences differ and he's not ready to be an adult yet. He still needs people to care for him.

Sometimes I forget this. Sad to say, but I think that was our problem the last two days.  I had forgotten that at the core of my teaching belief; the foundation; the reason why I come every day; is the belief that all anyone really needs is a little bit of forgiveness, a decent amount of individual attention & quality time, and a whole lot of love.  Because at the end of the day, do any of use want anything less than that?  Why would my students not need those same things? Today, today I will remember that first and foremost God has called me to love them.  Not to fix them; not to be harsh with them; not to constantly correct their autistic behaviors....but simply to love them as they are.  Encourage them and provide a safe environment when there isn't one anywhere else. 

I feel very overwhelmed in this new world that I find myself in. I love my job.  I am so thankful that in a few weeks I will have my own classroom to decorate, arrange, and teach in.  I don't know if the overwhelmed feeling will be more or less then.

10.23.2012

...my wish list...

Today I was able to take a few minutes and create my "wish list" of things I'd like to have in my classroom.  I can hardly contain my excitement about getting my own room!  I know that it's going to be a few crazy days to set up the room, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'm open to them :) I will probably have one or two days to get it all ready!!!!!!!!!!!

On a different note, I am getting a new student tomorrow :) He stopped by for a tour today and seems like a nice kid.  He has a slew of initials that have made there way into his IEP.  What a shame :(  I'm praying he will find his nitche at this place and will be able to control past behaviors in a positive environment.  I feel very unprepared as one of the initials he has been diagnosed with is ODD....I don't know much, but I know that it's frustrating for both the student and teacher.  I keep praying for patience and a whole lot of love that I will have the stability and strength to make him feel welcomed into our class.

That's the news for now :)  One exciting Wednesday coming up....

Happy Teaching!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-M

10.22.2012

...it happened!!!

A few days ago (though officially announced today!) I was asked if I would like to stay on staff after finishing   the maternity leave I have been working under now.  ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!!!  As of December 1st (most likely, though the date is not set in stone) I will have my own classroom at the Autism Academy.

It is going to be crazy.

Most days are exhausting.

I don't really know what I'm doing and if I'm handling each student the best way possible; but I am learning.

I am SO grateful that I have a full time job and I do not have to substitute any more.

I cannot wait to call the local school districts that I had initially thought I would be subbing at and tell them, simply, that I cannot!

Yes, I understand it is a "charter school"; a non-public school; not a private school.  However, it is still a classroom and I am still a teacher who will be given a group of students to teach :)

I will not pass an opportunity up.  I will not turn down a classroom for the sake of "charter school" label.

I will not miss this chance because I am scared of what I don't know....or the exhaustion that is sure to come.

I will know more details in the coming weeks, and I'm certain I'll blog about the transformation of an empty room into my first classroom! I can't wait :)

Any suggestions about setting up a classroom geared for students diagnosed with Autism and/or behavior disorders in a non-public school setting?!?!

What is this I hear about "mood lighting"? Any experiences?

10.06.2012

Three weeks in...

Alternative placement. Autistic support. I'm typing while running on an elliptical. Haha stressed? Overwhelmed? Yes to say the least. Most days I have no idea what to do with some of their behaviors... And I have one of the best behaved classes!

Every student is so different from the others. The amount of paperwork needed for each student most days leaves me feeling like I don't do much else. It's a very different environment than public school was

I still struggle with missing my home and my fifth grade job. It was almost magical :) I am thankful for the room I have now but I still remember what last year was and hope that someday I will be there again !

9.12.2012

the new "normal"

Most days I still struggle with separating myself from my fifth grade school/class/experience.

But right now I've been blessed with a different kind of opportunity.  I have been given a short term sub position at an Autism Academy.  I'll be teaching a high school support classroom until Thanksgiving vacation.

However, partner teacher pointed out so kindly the other day, it is a charter school.  I knew it wasn't a public school but I didn't go as far into thinking about it as labeling it as a charter school.  So it's a new experience all around for me.

It's a very different environment and I'm starting to adjust to the new rules and systems.  I'm also learning when which kid really needs help and when they are playing the new teacher.  I struggle with juggling ten kids doing ten different things and some needing more motivation than others.

The cool thing is I'm giving some Key Math and DST Reading tests and once I figure out the paperwork I think I'll be good to go :)

Oh, tomorrow they go on their monthly field trip....we're going to play lazer tag and out for lunch!  It's gonna be a fun afternoon!!

Happy Teaching!

8.30.2012

and partner teacher said "I was right"...

Yes, yes he was.  In some ways.  To say this summer was not what I expected or planned for it to be would be a mild understatement.  I had given up on being anything but a day to day sub....I figured maybe something long term would come up after Christmas.

Wrong. Wrong again.  Schools around here started this week.  I had heard of an Autism Spectrum Disorder Academy which was opening nearby a few weeks back and had applied for one of their teaching positions; did not hear anything.  I figured I would give them one more call, just in case :)

In nothing other than God's standard way of humbling me and reminding me that He has control and knows what is coming, they needed a shot term substitute with a special education degree :)  OOO That's me!!!!

So two days later I'm sitting in the director's office and she's saying to me "If you tell me you want this job, it's yours and we'll start paperwork today and get you in here next week.  The teacher you are in for is due on September 13th, so we need you here ASAP."  Yes, yes I want this job :)

And so, beginning next week I will be going to an Autism Academy and working in a classroom of 9th - 12th grade students.  The morning is filled with 5 students and the afternoon I will have 10.  To say I am excited is again an understatement.  I am so thankful that God had a place for me here.  I have spent much of my summer frustrated with the timing of everything.....and then I found out why this week.

My first student teaching placement was a 9th - 12th grade Emotional Support classroom....I loved it.  I am so excited to go back to school next week.

If any of you have suggestions for teaching in a high school autistic support room, I'd love to hear them!

Happy Thursday :)

8.03.2012

Would you mind sharing your story?

Dear Bloggy World Friends/Teacher Mates,

Will you share your "how I got my first classroom" story?  How long did you substitute teach for? Did you get a masters degree before or after you started?  Did you ever think about giving up and working at WalMart?  How did you finally get that interview that ended with you signing a contract and being handed a set of room keys?

Share away!! I'm in the mood to hear some wonderful stories!
-M

8.01.2012

another august...

One year ago I was in the same position....ask my mama.  She was getting daily phone calls, most involved me in tears saying "Mom all I want is to be a teacher and I can't get a job."  She would gently encourage, faithfully each phone call, and told me to keep trying.  "Subbing isn't a failure and it's always an option" she would say.

I had this grand idea that I would get a job when I finished college.  The reality of the present education system (at least in my certification state) quickly set in when all I heard of were furloughs and cut-backs not hiring bubbles!

I kept applying and a neighbor told me about the AmeriCorps SMILES program.  A few of my local districts were looking for people to fill those spots.  So I started down that route.  Through one of these interviews, I walked out with the possibilities of a short term and my long term 5th grade subbing.

What I realized today as I was kindly reminded that it's August 1st, was that interview didn't happen until August 10th last year.  There are still possibilities...ones I may not even know of right now.

My agenda for today: Update online portfolio.
My agenda for tomorrow: Take application packets to schools I want to sub with here. Look at new house a second time; make offer. Go to the local fair with our new friends.

I would be lying if I said I didn't hope deeply this summer would have been different.  I wanted to be planning for a classroom so often!  I think I'm living vicariously through my partner teacher....thankfully he still keeps in touch and fills me in on all he is doing to ready his classroom for this coming year.  I think in a slightly odd way it's given me a bit of energy to keep trying and not give up yet.  I want that...maybe next summer?

If you're readying your classroom or if you're putting it off because who really does want to unpack everything....best of luck :)  I pray you have a smooth start to your year and you feel "first year jitters" and "first year passion" like you haven't for a while :)

Happy teaching :-D

-M

7.26.2012

professional portfolio...

Prior to the end of the school year, my partner teacher began to help me organize and create a usable portfolio.  Then we moved...well, kind of moved!  Read about that story here... So, today I started back at it.  Attempting to remember his advice, I created four piles for the four domains.  Three hours later, I  think I have my things sorted and ready to be made pretty.  I realized my life from fifth grade is still in various boxes in my nut hut attic.  I will have to add that chapter of things when I go back to pack it up.  But for now, it's started and that's better than where it was yesterday!

Any suggestions or helpful hints for developing this portfolio thing?!

6.24.2012

the first week of summer...


I tearfully and successfully packed up room 30....big thank you to partner teacher who at multiple times kept saying "you have to keep going."  I waited to do most of the work until after the students left on Thursday.  I didn't want an empty bare room for my last few days with them.  I made multiple trips to my car packing all my beloved teaching stuff in it.  I fell up the stairs once :-D always a good way to start the last day of in-service.

During Friday's in-service meeting, the superintendent said "I can't believe the school year is over! It feels like we were just in the library having our first in-service of the year."  It struck me as a blessing.....I was there for that first day also.  I spent most of my school year in this building working along side this fantastic staff.  Thankfully I didn't start to cry at this point!

And then, the elementary principal said something about "You don't know where you are going to be a year from now."  Boy is she right.  Boy I had no idea how right she was going to be...

Partner teacher helped me with the last load, shut my car door and and told me not to cry too much on the way home....hahaHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA how about the whole ride?!

That was Friday.  Saturday was a mopying day, Sunday was a "get ready for new job" day.

Monday........three days after I said goodbye to my fifth graders; goodbye to teaching every day for sure....I started a job as a day camp counselor.  I won't lie....I didn't really want a summer job.  That's a different blogging topic.  When Monday rolled around I was more positive about it.

I enjoyed the first day of camp...things went relatively well.  The summer kids do not enjoy structure.

I came home and my world stopped.  Husband man got a new job.  We're moving....we have less than 2 weeks now.  We'll be moving closer to my family, which will be nice, but farther from his.  It will be too far to teach at the school I spent almost every day at this past year.  It means I start all over.  Praying desperately for my own classroom and always knowing in the back of my mind I'll be subbing.

My first week of summer was spent working 40 hours at camp, crying both to and from camp, trying to be excited, dreading the last day we spend in our nut hut, and just wondering why now? This newbie teacher doesn't like change....and the last two weeks have been nothing but change.

We're in the process of finding a new home; we have a rental for when we go initially.  Baby pup is going to have to wear a barking collar while we're there so she doesn't disturb the neighbors.  Maybe, just maybe, I'll get a job this year.....

end of the year photos...

As promised well over a month ago, here are some photos from the end of my 5th grade school year :)

For Mother's Day, partner teacher and I helped our kids plant marigolds.
He had a box of circular paint swatches which he wanted to use up.
This was our solution for a "To: Mom From: Student" tag....

Floor to ceiling food groups :)
This was fully partner teacher's idea and execution!
His kids did an excellent job!! He doesn't blog (yet) but I thought the
idea was fantastic and wanted to share it for him.

Our culminating Social Studies project was a "State Report Box"
The kids did a great job on these as well!

Collecting and recording homework was something I never found an
excellent way to complete.  This was my middle attempt and I did like it.

We had a lot of things that were due each Friday; so
arranging our homework board like this worked well for my kids and I.



These three are so I don't forget what a fantastic
 room I had the blessing of teaching in.  This is the
arrangement the students went back to for the end of the year.

Each 9 weeks, the students are encouraged to read
4 Accelerated Reader books within their AR Level.
I used this pocket chart to help them track their progress!

My literature circles came and went, but I had an empty
bulletin board so I posted some strategies :)

Partner teacher and I agree....this was one of my saving graces.
I would become so discouraged some days.  He'd laugh and tell me to
look at the positive things that happen each day; not the negative.
That is not something I do naturally.  When I come to the end of a semi-rough day
and I'm tired...the last thing I'm capable of doing is finding the positive :)
So I had my kids find them for me!  I think I posted an initial picture of the
"Positives Door".....this is how we ended.  It was full of positive things.
When I felt unaccomplished, ineffective, or flat out like giving up....I'd read our door.
I saw our days through the eyes of my students.....they saw much more positive than negative!

5.26.2012

*Pause*

This life is such a crazy concept, isn't it?  There are so many pointless "to do" items that I write on post its (partner teacher can verify my obsession with post its) hoping to accomplish throughout the week or day.  I am not a very good "stop and smell the roses" person...at least not naturally.  Once in a while it occurs to me that I should do so. It just did.  In the midst of finalizing my last two weeks of lesson plans, grading the mass amount of papers, cleaning an attic so I can bring my school room home, and entertaining a dog who is 2 days from removing the cone on her head......it occurred to me that three years ago I was in a very different place....

Will you roll back a few years with me?  If you don't want to...just stop reading and wait for the next blog post.  This one will have very little to do with teaching....but a whole lot about loving.

May 10 - June 6, 2009
Location: Peitionville, Haiti (outside of Port Au, Prince)
God's Littlest Angels Haitian Baby Ministry

I loved eight babies.  For four weeks.  I held them.  I talked to them.  I changed them.  I took them on walks.  I cuddled with them.  I cried with them and for them.  I colored with them.  I watched them.  I saw them take their first steps.  I put lotion on their dry little feet.  Oh, did I love them.  



There we are.  Eight babies and I :)  Do you see why they captured my heart?  They still have it...and probably always will.  They were my first brown babies!  Nothing ever changes that.

My loving parents put their 19 year old white female on an airplane and left her follow a calling that God had placed on her heart a few years prior.  They were nervous, and rightly so, but they trusted in our amazing God....knowing He created me with a passion for babies. Four weeks later, I came home with a very broken heart.  One that still has a missing piece.  Or rather, eight little ones :)

Once in a while, this life gets so crazy....I forget about my time in Haiti.  Every once in a while, on my horrible days, when I don't understand this world, my mind drifts back and my heart remembers pieces of my time that are frozen in photo memories.  Do you want to see some of my favorite moments?



                            






 There is not a country more poor or beautiful.  There are not babies more precious than the ones I have held.  There are many many problems in Haiti...MANY.  But beyond the problems, there is a simplicity, a joyfullness, and kindness that does not exist in the United States.  You won't understand it until you go and experience it.

These moments...this experience...I know has made me a better teacher.  I learned how to love (freely and completely) children I would not be allowed to keep.  I was not allowed to bring these babies home with me; I am not allowed to keep my fifth grade ducklings (some of them laugh when I call them that; others roll their eyes!) who I have come to cherish just as much as I cherish my brown babies.

In the midst of this crazy busy, planning filled life I live....I am beyond thankful for the time I had in Haiti.  I am beyond thankful for the time I had in fifth grade.  I have 26 growing babies...scattered in eight different countries :)  What a lucky lady I am :)

2 weeks to go?

Really?! REALLY?!  That's all there is!  Two four day weeks and we're onto summer vacation...or for me...summer employment :)  So what I have come to realize in the last month is that...

...I am a horrid blogger when life gets busy!
...I still put sleep ahead of almost everything (blogging, laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc.)
...the last month of school is a full blown roller coaster ride of emotions
...the last month of school is the least "follow a schedule" month EVER
...the last month of school gets to be very warm in our non-AC building :)

I am a morning person through and through!  Passionate about seeing the sunrise :)  I used to be able to watch it come up from inside my classroom...those days are gone; not because I arrive later but because it keeps coming up earlier and earlier!  I now enjoy the rise during my commute!

I enjoy using the hour and a half I have before students arrive (and an hour+ before most other teachers arrive) to ready the room, organize my desk (which somehow, EVERY DAY faithfully ends up with massive piles and messes!), put yesterday away :)  Partner teacher comes in somewhere around my "I've been here for over an hour" mark and laughs because rarely are my desks in straight rows, my tables perfectly cleaned off, or my hair completely dry!  I should have pushed my students harder at the beginning to clean up their space and straighten their desks.  Like I said, I'm a morning person.  Come dismissal time....my fight is minimal and "straighten your desks" isn't on the top of my priority list!

Anyways, all of that to say....I have so cool photos coming...probably after 2 weeks :(  I'm staying afloat and I feel as though photo uploading would cause me to sink!

Photos will include Civil War Posters, Field Trip, Dance, Geo Scenes, and maybe a few of my favorites :) Also coming...how I set up my lit circles, why they didn't work, and how I fixed it half way through!

Until then....Happy Teaching!! Soak up every moment of your last two weeks...all too soon you'll send them on and you'll get a new bunch!! Enjoy the bunch you have right now!!!

5.05.2012

...testing

No, not the state kind :) I recently got an iPad and wanted to try out the blogger app. Just seeing what this will look like on a computer tomorrow!

Happy Teaching!

5.03.2012

...little seeds


Showcase night was a brand new experience for me.  All of the teachers (and students!) are crazy tape donut creators the afternoon prior.  Masking tape is ordered in bulk, and projects are hung throughout all the halls.  It looks SO cool to walk into the building and be surrounded by students' work!  This year partner teacher and I (though it was 99.9% partner teacher's idea) created a gigantic tree which we titled "Little seeds grow into mighty trees!".  Our kids brought in their baby picture (which by the way, I have the CUTEST group of babies growing up in my room!) and we used their fifth grade photo to show how they've grown.  We took the book "Oh, the Places You Will Go!" by Dr. Seuss and had each student write part of the story.  All of this was plastered on the large tree.....do you want to see a picture?  I knew you would! :) Enjoy!!!

And yes, the leaves do go up onto the ceiling! :)

Happy Teaching!

5.02.2012

...review in photos

So for about the past month I have been taking and storing photos of my kids and classroom :)  I finally remembered to bring my camera home, download the photos and now I'm going to post them :-D  Lucky you, dear bloggy friends!!!!!  Enjoy the photos :)

Partner teacher had been telling me for about three weeks "Wait until
the trees outside your window bloom - they are fantastic"....Yippee I thought.
He was right :)  They were beautiful!!
We had a "showcase" night a few weeks back, and we cover
our hallways with the students work.  I decided to cover our door,
and had the students write what their favorite part of fifth grade was.
I now get to start my day by seeing this first....pretty positive eh?

Contraction Caterpillars!  The initial idea came from Pinterest.
I created my own template and requirements...and even my fifth
graders had a good time creating contractions!
This is another partner teacher idea - He has a bowl FULL
of miniature letter pasta.  I didn't realize letter pasta existed
outside of Spaghettios.  haha I found the bowl digging through
one of his various cupboards and pulled the activity out for spelling.
My kids LOVED it!!  Hands on, Kinestetic spelling practice!


I will be starting my literature circles in two weeks.  I knew before anything
else that I needed some way to be organized with it.  Thank goodness for Dollar
General and my Cricut :-D  I rearranged a few shelves in my room so that I could
clear this cart off.  Each basket will hold the book, folders, and comprehension
cards (I'll post photos soon!) for each group!  I'm excited and fully nervous about these!
Hopefully my early planning and OCD organization will pay off :-D


 Not bad for the last month huh??  There are more photos, but I must have downloaded them from partner teacher's camera...so they are still at school....hang tight for another review in photos!

Happy Teaching!



4.21.2012

i'm NOT counting down...

*disclaimer: This is a venting post.  Probably will not have any educational value.  This is my current outlet; seeing as it is raining outside, it feels appropriate to post today.*

It started during student teaching.  Apparently it happens every year.  It was a part of teaching that I did not realize actually happened as much as it does.  There isn't a class that prepares you for it.  I have yet to come across a book that speaks to it's core.  It's something I'm not, and desperately pray that I will not be.

The counting down teacher.

I don't understand this concept.  Maybe it's because I'm a newbie.  Maybe it's because I'm not guaranteed anything next year.

Then again, maybe it's because I  absolutely LOVE teaching.  I LOVE leaving my crazy little nut hut (humble abode, home of husband man & baby pup, etc.) at 6:15am and driving my 15 minutes to school and spending the next hour with my iPod in ear prepping for the day ahead. I LOVE handing partner teacher copies of the reading test.  I LOVE saying "good morning" to each of my 18 darlings.

Pause.  I don't have great days.  I fail at least 850,000 times on any given day.  Partner teacher says I need to not worry so much about that; we all learn every day.  Something about his first year he went through the same things....I sort of believe him.  haha.  Watching him teach now, it's hard to imagine that being true.  I am better in many ways than I was on day 1....so maybe he is right.  My kids have their shinning moments and I do try to savor them.  Then we all have our less than stellar moments; days that are frustrating; days that I don't know what I could do to remedy it; days when I think "maybe I'm not good at this."

Unpause.  But I have never said "I want this to be over."  "I can't wait for this to end."  "I don't want to go to school today."  "I want to leave early."  "XX number of days left!"

In fact, I usually run from the conversation when someone throws out the "XX number of days left" comment because my response is currently tears.  It just doesn't make sense to me.  We are given a group of children for only 180 days.  Then we count down until they leave us?!  It doesn't add up!

It sounds horrible, and rude, but honestly, if you are a counting down teacher.....please look at your kids on Monday.  They're not counting down the days until they leave you.  Why are you doing that to them?  Look to the newest teacher in your building (even watch a student teacher if you can).....if they are a passionate, good, newbie teacher, it would be terribly hard for me to believe they are counting down the days until they have no guarantee of a permanent classroom.

I try to be thankful for each day that I get to unlock room 30 at 6:30am.  It may not end up being a great day; or even a day to remember, but I never ever EVER want to lock that door at 4:30pm (and yea, that's usually when I'm content enough to leave) and say "Only XX number to go..."  If I reach that day I truly hope someone will walk up to me and say "It's time for you to go.  You have lost the passion."

Apology - I do understand that there are some groups of students who are TERRIBLE.  No matter how hard the passionate teacher tries, it just may end up being a tough group to teach.  I am sorry if that is your group.  I truly am.  Savor those bad kids though.  They need you to come for XX number of days and continue to care about them.  I promise I'm with you on the bad days.  Partner teacher can vouch for the fact that I don't have much confidence by the end of the day.  He usually laughs at me and offers some words of encouragement.  I hope you have a partner teacher (same grade or not) that does that for you.

Coming soon (as in, when I remember to bring my camera home so I have the pictures) showcase tree, contraction caterpillars, and fraction/percent/decimal anchor charts....

4.09.2012

....the end of the break...

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We're going back to school tomorrow :)

UH OH.....we're going on a field trip tomorrow :-D  haha  I continue to be very fickle, and "fence sitting" on how I feel about it.  It probably shouldn't be a big deal.  We're taking them twenty minutes away; we have enough chaperones; I have name tags ready and the kids are already grouped.  My camera is charged and empty so we should be good to go right?

I think I'm most nervous about their behavior.  What do I do if they don't behave?  I'm 99.9% sure they will...they're great kiddos....but what if?  Do you call them out right there or do you wait?  Do they get removed from activities and have to stand with me the rest of the day?

I figure it's practice for our bigger trip in May.  Surely I can put 19 of us on a bus and get us back safely right?!

In my other world....baby pup reached 30 lbs :-D WAHOOOOO!!!  Humble abode is pretty clean and (get this!) all the laundry is clean WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO  This hasn't happened since......ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm  January?!

I am looking forward to this week.  I don't have a great reason and I'm not positive why....maybe just making some realizations over this long break?  Who knows!!!!!!!  Even so, I've got a feeling it's going to be a great week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4.05.2012

...breaks from school...

We were laughing (and sort of complaining!) on Wednesday because we are certain there have been almost no five day weeks since we have returned from Christmas break!  It is crazy!  I must admit, I have not been there for very many five day weeks!  This one was no different, in fact, it was only 3 days!  Two days in and we're already at "Thursday"! haha

I'm currently on a five day break from school.  Thursday - Monday.  Today was nice for husband man and I to get errands done, eat Chinese food (YUM!) and play with baby pup.  Tomorrow I leave to come home with my family for the weekend....which will be nice I'm certain.  I am laughing at myself (and sometimes out loud!) at my packing pile.  Baby pup is coming with me and currently I have my school stuff packed! haha Nothing for baby pup, nothing for myself. But all my school stuff is ready for the treck!  Will I do any of it?!  ER????  Maybe?!  But I have this anxiety about letting it all behind for four days!

I realized today, while husband man, baby pup, and I were walking to the park, that I don't know that I am capable of turning my brain off of school.  We'd be conversing and I'd mentally drift away.....

"Don't forget to finish name tags for Tuesday."  "80 leaves.  Shoot. I didn't bring home green paper!" "Grade the writing prompts"  "Find enjoyable health projects. Stop making them take notes."  "Venn Diagrams?  I could have used those more in Science. Why don't I think of those things?"  and on the tangent thoughts go!

"Babe" husband man says.
"Yeah?" comes my reply.
"What are you thinking about?"
 "Random school stuff."
"You're not in school today."
"I know, but I don't think it stops."
"That's weird."

haha Typical conversation about school!  Oh well :)  What is possibly the worst part?  I absolutely LoVe tangent thoughts about school.  I'm not looking forward to the day when I don't have a reason to have tangent thoughts haha!  Surely good lessons and great activities come from these tangent thoughts?

Coming sometime next week....Contraction Caterpillars (yeahup....we did an artsy grammar project in 5th grade!)

Happy Easter!  and Happy Teaching!

3.31.2012

goodbye, march?

Today is March 31st....really?  Can't be, can it?  I'm fairly certain that in my little bubble of the world January 3rd was only 2 weeks ago and I'm still floundering trying to figure out 5th grade!  Somewhere between 2 weeks and 3 months?! we're headed into April.  I love April for multiple reasons.  First, it usually means spring and flowers and rain showers that make everything smell like, er...new?  We have been blessed with an early spring here so some flowers have bloomed and I do believe the smell-like-new-rain shower is on its way!  Secondly, for the last four years of my life, April meant the last month of college.  By the beginning of May I would be packing up to move home and finishing up my finals for the year.  I am more than thankful April does not mean I only have one more month of fifth grade left.  I don't think I'm ready for that yet.  Lots of people are counting down (we're somewhere is the 40s I think?) the number of days until summer arrives.  I'm not.  I don't enjoy change, I don't welcome change, and usually if I can, I run wildly in the opposite direction of change.  It's slightly ironic seeing as how the past three months of my life I have spent changing who I am as a teacher, hopefully becoming a better one.  Most days I still feel quite insecure in my teaching.  Ask partner teacher how many times in any given day I interrupt with various questions....most of which I probably should be able to just make a decision and move on.  Yet I have this anxiety that I'm not capable of making the right decision.  So I ask him, he's better at this and more experienced at it.  If my initial answer matches his I know I'm good....if it doesn't, I'm thankful I didn't go with my instinct!  haha, Want an example?

We're a Storytown Reading Curriculum school and in 5th grade there are 30 lessons.  Well, we will be finished with 30 lessons prior to being finished with school....by a few weeks.  Exciting?!  I KNOW!!!  That means we can do literature circles!!  My kids have been hinting for a month or so that they are tired of the routine curriculum and would really like to read chapter books.  I haven't told them that we're going to read chapter books yet, I kind of want to surprise them :) Anyways, partner teacher and I will be in the same boat as we stay together on which lessons we're doing when.  I'm a bit of an over planner and tend to have anxiety about new things...eh literature circles in this case!  I wanted to start organizing my groups now, because I know the next four weeks will go by quickly and I'll be into the circles before I'm ready to jump if I don't start now!   So I laid my groups out, rearranged, and laid out again.  Fourteen hundred (slight exaggeration?!) questions later, I was satisfied that I had good groups!  I went over to partner teacher and said "I have my groups.  Do you think 5 is too many?"  He laughed.  Simply laughed at me.  "M, you're not going to want more than 3 going at the same time." came his reply.  In my head I'm thinking "I could handle 5.  There are 5 days in a cycle, each day I meet with one group.  I have five good groups laid out, I don't want 3."  I think my face gave away my disagreement.  "Trust me.  You don't want 5 groups....3 max."  he said.  I left the room and threw my tantrum in the hallway.  haha  Twenty minutes later I had 3 groups.  The farther into the planning I get, the more thankful I am that partner teacher laughs at me and tells me that no, 5 is way too many groups. Just go with 3.

Have you taught literature circles before?  Ideas or suggestions?  Do's and don'ts?  Am I diving into a bottomless swimming pool?!  Happy teaching!

3.26.2012

what I learned this week...

I typed this while out of town last weekend for a family funeral.  I'm just getting around to finishing and posting.


This week, I have learned......

....to be thankful for the caring staff I am blessed to work with.
....to look my students in the eye and every once in a while, stop to take in their inosence.
....to take them outside and teach them (er....watch partner teacher teach them) about nature
....to remember this life can be short. It is filled with beautiful stories that involve some wonderful people. I am not guaranteed any amount of time in any given place. I don't think I am very good at cherishing the precious moments I am blessed with. I get so wrapped up in organizing, planning, executing all plans, and staying "on track" that I'm pretty sure I've missed moments that were meant to be filled with love.
.....to savor the time I have with my husband. I realized this past week that school has
become my main focus. Not him. Not our baby marriage. Not even our precious dog. I don't exactly know how I am going to balance school and him better, maybe by starting to stay him and school. I want to though.

When I met husband man a few years back, I slowly met his family. Fantastic family! I am blessed to have two fantastic families. Some of his family lives in West Virginia. Grandma and Grandpa are two of those people.  Grandma was already pretty deep into the Alzheimers disease when I met her. Grandpa though, he is one of those "The Notebook" men. The men that you don't meet very often. Grandma died on Friday. He was right by her side as she left this Earth. There story is beautiful. It's the story I hope to have. He adored her. He cherished her. He loved her to the very end of her life. He always did whatever she needed to be comfortable. I'm sure somedays weren't always beautiful, but their story ended beautifully.  There was a photo on display at the funeral; his hands wrapped around hers.  That's how they always were.  That's what I hope to always be.

Are you good at balancing school and home?  Or is it "territory that comes with the job" that I'll never get past?

3.22.2012

somewhere around 4:22am....

I found myself laying awake, for the second day in a row.  Stress?  I don't think so.  Nerves? Not that I know of.  Pure anxiety? Again, no?!  So why would a newbie exhausted teacher be wide awake at 4:22am for the second morning in a row?  Oh...the pup haha yeah.  She was dreaming and must have been talking to the rabbit she was chasing.  She woke this newbie teacher up.  Once I'm up, my brain is going......and so began my day.  Starting with the mental list of things that I need to get done today.......(insert cloud bubble).....

.....review spelling words
......read story again
.....finish class book; it needs mailed tomorrow
.....oh you didn't print those photos for the class book yet
.....oh you didn't write your stories either
.....don't forget you and partner teacher need to plan at least the begging of the Civil War unit
.....kiddos have choir this morning; no morning work time
.....G is leaving early and needs to take spelling test right away today

Got the idea?  So here I am bloggy world.  My photos are ready to be printed and my pup is sound asleep on the couch....go figure!  She has a dream and I'm the one awake! haha  BUT, seeing as I had an extra 45 minutes (and yes I realize they probably should have been spent getting ready to leave early or running on the treadmill or trying to go back to sleep) I decided to post a few more photos just because I can.  I figure the list is still mostly going to be there at 8:00am regardless of what I do at 4:30am!  Enjoy the photos!!

Happy Teaching!

State testing laws require pretty much everything to be taken down or covered up.  Partner teacher
and I each created a similar banner to cover up a large bulletin board.  It made the room look less empty!

I originally found one similar to this on Pinterest (pretty addicting!) but when
I went to create my own I morphed it!  haha This is what I ended up with.

3.21.2012

a fifth grade request...

Being a newbie, my experience with children's literature (especially books beyond first grade choices!) is pretty limited.  My mind has been opened to this world of Magic Tree House Kids, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and a few other series, one of which is about Owls!  I am excited to be approaching our last Storytown literature theme!  It's a good curriculum, but I do believe the students and I are both looking forward to "What do we do after we're done?!"

Well, they don't know this, but I would like to do chapter book literature circles.  I have two main skill groups in my classroom; however, my kiddos have a wide range of independent reading levels.  I am looking to spend two maybe three weeks on one book.  I'd like to have at least three maybe four books going.  All of this is brainstorm in my mind.  I think they would really enjoy working in small groups and I know they have been requesting "chapter books"!

Do any of you followers (HAHA!!! I have followers!!! WAHOOO!!!) have any suggestions for my fifth grade class??

3.18.2012

four day weeks...

I have come to realize that having Friday off does not bother me near as much as having Monday off.  It's only 8:45am Sunday morning and already I have had to remind myself 3 times that I am not going to school tomorrow and that's okay.  I'm not supposed to go to school tomorrow.  It just feels weird to be anywhere but school on a Monday.  I get quite anxious with four day weeks...though I'm fairly certain if I counted them, I have had more four day weeks since January than five day ones!  Still, no school on Monday gives this teacher the nervous butterflies :)  Enough of me complaining about having off school....

Husband man and I have plans to clean our carpet tomorrow on our day off.  Should be interesting.  We have a cute lil pup named Mia....whose age we still don't know.  She's getting bigger and biting like mad, so we'll keep her :)  She doesn't like when I vacuum the carpet, so I'm certain she'll LoVe the steam vac hahaHAHAHAHA anyone want to come watch the three of us attempt to clean tomorrow? I promise it'll be entertaining.

Mia is adorable, adventurous, time consuming, and spoiled! haha She gets bites of my toast in the morning, husband mans empty yogurt containers, and even an emptied peanut butter jar to roll around the abode.  She has become my growing baby, and yes, I unashamedly admit to picking her (23.5 lbs and all) up and holding her.  Yeahup, I do.  It has become one of my favorite moments of my day.

Do you (who don't ever look at my bloggy space haha) want to see a picture of my munchkin?!

3.15.2012

*sigh*...

Well, it appears that we have successfully made it through round 1 of our state testing.  We have spent the last three mornings testing reading and math.  WOW did those kiddos amaze me.  If you have never watched students who have been told for weeks that "you know this!"  "you will do GREAT!"  "you are all smart cookies" take these state tests, you need to.  These kids worked so hard on these tests.  I couldn't be more proud.  It was interesting this year because the state threw out a new mandate saying the regular teacher can not administer the test to their own students.  So partner teacher and I had to switch rooms for all three mornings.  Now, partner teacher and I have very similar tastes in organization....that being that we sort of have to be organized in order to survive.  We were not thrilled about the idea of not having "our" stuff for the mornings.  So I packed my largest bag and he packed up a box and switch rooms we did.  It was the sweetest feeling to again back my bag this morning and return to my room.  AH!  His room is fantastic, but it's not "my room", it's not "my bucket of pens", etc.  Those of you who share our borderline OCD organizational skills will fully understand.

But our kids, man oh man, did they work hard!  We had the most beautiful weather for March for our area!!  65+ degrees each afternoon and we took them out to play.  I am proud (and fully thrilled!) to say that I have a slightly sun burned face....glorious, yes?!  In MARCH?!!!!! I'm tickled pink.

I put my 18 munchkins on their bus tonight and breathed a sweet sigh of relief.  We all made it....including me :)  Tomorrow is an in-service day for us....while most people seem to prefer to skip these days, I am rather enjoying them.

So, until next week....Happy teaching!

3.04.2012

if i could....

I would bring my husband, his co-workers, and some members of my family to my classroom.  I would sit them in the back (preferably behind a one way mirror) and tell them to watch.  I'd give them cookies and coffee or soda if they prefer; and I'd let them have chairs.  The comfortable kind, not the straight back conference kind.  This group of people seem to not understand what it takes to be a great teacher.  Sure, you can go in right before the kids and you can follow them out the door.  You can write simple lesson plans and never make a visual aid or review game and still be considered a teacher....maybe even a good teacher.  That isn't enough for me.  I don't want to be "a teacher" or "a good teacher".  I want to be "a great teacher".  A teacher like "Freedom Writers" who meets her students where their at and forces them to reach their potential.  I usually don't feel like I'm "a great teacher", but I want to continue to strive towards that.  The problem I'm finding is the group of people closest to me seem to not understand this difference.  Teaching is teaching to them.  I shouldn't be exhausted after a week.  I shouldn't be grumpy or crying because work should stay at work; not come home through the front door with me.

I'm here to say they are terribly wrong.  Work should not stay at work.  I should be exhausted every day and every week.  I should feel like crying, when things go really well and when they fail miserably.  Daresay I should be praying for my group of students every day and I should be kneeling before the throne of grace asking for strength and love to give to them each day.  This is my passion, it's what I was created to do.  I know deep down these students were given to me, even for a short time, for a reason.  There is something God wants me to show them.  I stopped focusing on that about 3 weeks back.  I feel as though all I do is fail. I guess it could be a "lack of experience" or "first year teacher syndrome".  Maybe it's more because I stopped asking for grace and strength to honor Him in my classroom and with my students.  I am overwhelmed, I feel inexperienced, I do not have much confidence in my ability right now.  I plan and plan and plan; I try to create the most useful and memorable visuals to help my students grow...most days they leave, I come back to my room and I stare at the walls wondering if I taught them anything.

So anyways, I want this group to come and watch.  Watch the lack of coffee I drink (only right away, once we get going, the cup sits in the back), the amount of energy I expel (in keeping their attention, in presenting a lesson, in showing them I care about them), the amount of interruptions I try to deal with quickly (the young girl who is crying, the two boys who constantly bicker), and the amount of time it takes to prepare even a twenty minute review lesson.  I want them to watch...and see...and know that it's not as easy as walking in at 8am and leaving at 3pm.  I want them to see how these students look at me when they are sad, confused, overwhelmed, feeling neglected, or lonely.  I want them to see how I need to be just as excited as the student who did something well and just as somber as the lonely body starring back at me is.

I think I'm starting to forget why I chose education.  Seeing as no one reads my blog (at least not yet...) I think this is going to be my "reminder" post.  This is written for me...

Meghan Elizabeth,
You mustn't forget why you chose to be a teacher.  Remember in first grade....looking to Mrs. Hagerty?  She started your little dream; be like her.  Remember in fifth grade....looking at Mr. Wilson for his "moment of silence" with his head bowed every day; be like him.  Remember your first grade field experience....how excited you were to finally be in a classroom; don't lose that excitement.  Remember your third grade and seventh grade experience co-ops; don't become them! Remember the day you walked into the high school emotional support class and you met the group of young men you were going to get to work; don't EVER give up on ANY student....Patrick, DJ, Zack, Kay....they worked, and they worked for YOU, because you CARED....and you showed them you cared; don't stop caring Meg. Then there was sixth grade...the group of street wise kids, the burned-out teachers, the lounge filled with "I'm glad I'm not trying to find a job..." conversations; don't listen to them....don't dwell on that.  God is bigger than any economic issue; He'll give you the classroom when He is ready to have you there.  Then the subbing began!!  Five weeks with 5th & 6th graders....wasn't it blissful?  It was an experience that taught you how to start the school year; save that binder! Day to day went okay; good with bad, but lots of new ideas...you wrote them down :) Finally, January rolled around and you were handed a key; that unlocked room three zero.  Room three zero was filled with eighteen 5th graders.  They are yours for the rest of the year.  Meghan Elizabeth LOVE them!  Teach them, care for them, but carry their burdens and excitements.  It was worked well every time before.  They need you to be passionate.  They need you to be thankful for the time you've been given; not moping because next year is unknown.  God could have placed you anywhere, or nowhere at all.  Instead, He put you here...in room three zero to grow in your teaching abilities and to care for His eighteen children.  It never was about the money, it still  isn't, and don't you ever let it be.  It always was, always is, and always will be about the kiddos :) It doesn't matter what people walking past may think of your crazy song and dance.  The children coming into the room are your top priority.  Nothing else matters more.  Trust Him to provide the strength, grace, and love for each day.  Give them your best and never less than your all.  When the day is through, tears may fall...and thank God for them; for it shows the passion you have and the attachment you have made. He gave you a heart to overflow for these children.  He created you to teach.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”” Joshua 1:9 NIV


Now I shall end.  We start our last five day week before state tests tomorrow :)
Happy Sunday!