Tuesday, August 31, 2010

And Another Thing...

Student (who shall always remain nameless) said something so funny today. It wasn't meant to be funny and I certainly didn't laugh at him, but sometimes I just have to smile to myself... we're lining up and he looks at me and says, "Mrs. (enter my name here), I think I know how to be good now." He said it just honest as can be. I so wanted to say, "well, thank goodness for that!" :) Of course, I just smiled and said, "good, sweetie. I'm so glad." You know, we have our problems but I can really see myself missing him next year. He's a handful, but he's growing on me.

This is Hard

You know, you don't really know just how hard this job is until you do it. I mean, really, though. There's so much to think about all the time... I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I have enough supplies for the science experiment for tomorrow or if I should have called so-and-so's Mom about such-and-such... I think about how different things will effect my kids... what will they think of this or that? How will whatever-the-case-may-be-today effect their day? Will they be so excited over the new things we're doing or bored to tears? Will it be too hard and too frustrating? Will it be too easy and I'll need more for them to do? I mean, if you don't teach you just really can't have a clue all of the thinking and planning and organization and preparation that goes into each and every minute of the day. For instance, I work with an awesome team of teachers. I mean it. They are GREAT and I am so blessed. They have truly helped me so much. Even with the plans being mostly done for me and everything I still spend hours on plans and organization and stuff. For example, we are working on magnets right now in science, so I bought 40 magnets. Then, I put 4 items in 16 envelopes so that the kids would have their own kit to see what "stuck" to the magnet. Then, I get to school and we finally get to science (which is unfortunately at the smack end of the day) and they are so excited over the magnets that we hardly get to do the lesson. Of course, I know better. I should have allowed them to play with the tools before expecting them to learn with them. This is a common problem and I know how to do it- I just simply did not have the time today. Time. Time is always an issue. There is just never enough time in my day. I was so excited to see the kids excited over science though! It was so cool!
There are things to plan besides lessons. For example, I never knew how much thought went in to lining up... or coming back in the room... or getting water... or picking a book... I mean, you name it and I should have thought about it in depth... and didn't. That's ok though because I am learning as I go and the kids seem to adapt when I need to change something. Though they don't say it, I think they can all tell I'm new at this. It's so funny to see them though when I have to change something. I have found that if I just say what I'm changing and why they go right along with it. They like to know the "why"s to everything. They're so curious.
I will say that I am worn out. I am finding that I need to stop worrying about the little things and see the big picture. Honestly, if I continue to worry myself over all the tiny things I will worry myself sick. I'm trying to learn to just let it go. Are they always on task at work stations? No. Does that really matter? Not really. They get their work done and this is new to them... now, this time next week if we're still having issues I'll have to figure something else out. These days I'm finding that my life is kind of trial and error. I try to maintain consistency because that's really what kids need... so, I'm giving the work station thing a little more time before I decide to revamp it. who knows, maybe they will figure it out and we can work it out together. I hope so! I have faith in them.
Really, the most important thing is that they are learning. I can tell they are. Most of them are working very hard and I am so proud of them. I just need to get a few to step it up and we will be right on track.
Overall, I am very pleased with the year so far. I feel like I am finally earning the kids' trust and that makes me really happy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Difficult Sometimes...

To say that I did not grow up like my students would be an understatement. I don't think I've really talked about it much on my blog, but I teach in a small rural town... a poor, small rural town. My children do not have it all by any means. They have dealt with more difficult situations in their short seven years than I have in my 24. That being said, it breaks my heart to know what some of them deal with... Which leads me to my story...

We were at lunch. I pack my lunch every day. It's nothing new. I have never liked cafeteria food and have always packed my lunch... even when I was in elementary school. So, I had my normal sandwich, fruit, bottled water, and crackers... this day the crackers were goldfish crackers. I noticed some of the kids eyeing them and I had plenty... so, when I finished with what I wanted I walked around the table and handed each child one (yes, one) goldfish cracker. They were in heaven. They each thanked me and were so excited. It made me happy to make their day, but also broke my heart... one tiny goldfish. How often have I taken for granted things? How often have I grabbed a handful of whatever snack food and thought nothing of it? My sweet children were so pleased with only one.

I know I am the teacher, but I think that most days I am still the student. This day in particular, I was a student in the thing called life. Mine is far from perfect, but I am learning each and every day just how good I've got it.

I know without a doubt I am at that school with those children for a reason. My dream, my goal, is to make a difference for them. I'll do whatever it takes... one goldfish cracker... or 190 days of hard service. I don't care.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Am So Proud!

My kids were really good today. We shall see how tomorrow goes. I was really pleased with them. They took to new ideas I implemented and we had our first trial-run of work stations and they did so well! I even impressed the lunch ladies by having my kids says "thank you" as they went through the line. Gosh, I figured I was the only one who didn't... but apparently most classes don't. I was so proud of them. They even said it like they meant it!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

So Excited!!

You know, it's funny... but I am so excited to go back tomorrow. I did not really get to enjoy my weekend. I spent most of it making sure I have everything ready for next week as well as writing emergency sub plans and making sure they would have everything needed should something happen and I need to be out for five days. I'm tellin' ya, if I end up out for more than five days it will be just awful. It took me forever to plan all of that. I do feel better about it though if something did happen because the kids would be taken care of and have everything they need.
Jake and I went to Target today and I found some cute things to buy as prizes as well as some things for them to play with at recess. We are not fortunate enough to have a play ground (we're working on raising the money though) so the kids play in a big field. The other teachers have all sorts of balls and jump ropes and stuff. I was lucky enough to find a couple of jump ropes in my room as well as two or three frisbees... but no balls. So, when Jake and I went to Target today we got the kids a football, kickball, and huge bouncy ball (I don't really think that's what it's called but it's great). I am so excited to show them the stuff!
I went to Walgreens today and printed off tons (94 to be exact) of photos. We will be making a scrapbook throughout the year which will be like a portfolio and have some photos in it as well. At the end of the year each child will be able to take home his/her scrapbook. I also printed off a copy of our class photo (that I took) for each child as well as an 8x10 to put up in the room. I just cannot wait to see what they think of the photo. I'm not giving them the other photos until they are working on their books, but I am prepared and pretty excited. I can tie it into all sorts of standards and they will be able to see their growth through their writing and other work throughout the year as well as their physical growth through the photos. I can't wait!
You know, it's funny... they're growing on me. I've never been a huggy person. I've never been one of "those" teachers... but I'm finding that I am quickly becoming one. They are just so sweet. Don't get me wrong... they challenge me every single day, but I think that's what makes the challenges all worth it- that they depend on me and that I am responsible for them and their success. I am determined to make this a good year for them (and me, of course).
On to week two... and SUPER EXCITED!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I Still Like You...

So yesterday near the end of the day I got the kids to help me make a list on the board of things they liked about their first week in second grade. During this activity one student looked at me and said, "Mrs. (insert my name here), it's Friday and I still like you." I said, "That's good. It's Friday and I still like you, too." They're just so funny sometimes!

I had a very interesting day yesterday. that's the only way I can put it and not sound negative. I had one child hit others with a ruler, one make two horrible comments aloud, one crying like crazy because she got caught being very mean... the list goes on and on. Very interesting to say the least. lol

We also had some changes at our school on the way we will be doing a few things. While I understand the necessity of these changes, I still find them inconvenient. Oh well. Such is life. I have heard things could be (and have been) worse, so I'll take it as that I'm still on top of the game and move on. I am slowly learning to roll with the punches. Wish me luck!

You know what they say, flexible people never get bent out of shape!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh The Joys...

of lunch time conversations...
I'm sitting at the head of the table. 16 cute little faces eating their lunch. The precious girl to my right looks at me and says, "Mrs. (Enter my name here), I want to be you." I say, "Aw sweetie, you'd still have to come to school every day." She looks at me (honest as can be) and says, "oh. Never mind then." hahahahaha!!! I smiled at her and forced myself to hold back a laugh. It's so funny to get a glimpse into how they think.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school! It went well. We will have to work on our talking, but other than that everyone was well-behaved and very sweet! By lunch time I had so many telling me they like being in my class... of course, it's only the first day- we'll see if they think that once the hard work starts! :) Seriously, though, it went well and I am looking forward to a busy and challenging year. We'll see how the rest of the week goes.

I'm exhausted, but I did come through the day with a smile on my face. I think that's really my goal. If I can end each day smiling then it's all ok!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Open House Excitement!

Today was Open House/Family Fun Day. It was so exciting to meet some of my students and their parents. I had about six students and their parents come today. I found out yesterday that I have 18 kids in my class... the numbers may change though. I am just so excited for Monday- The First Day of School!! The kids were all very sweet. I have worked so hard in my room and it all paid off today when one child walked in and said (wide-eyed and mouth open) "Wow! This room is NICE!" I said, "Thank you. Are you excited to come to school on Monday?" He replied, "I am now!" Priceless!

Monday, August 9, 2010

It Is FINALLY Finished!!!

My classroom is finally ready for the first day of school (minus the name plates and a few other things that need names on them... don't have the list yet). Be sure to check out the "after" photos on the page at the top! :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Happy Dance!

Ok, if you know me (in person) you know that I am not one to brag on myself... but I was so thrilled yesterday that I just have to share this with you! I have worked so hard in my classroom. I have spent days upon days and hours upon endless hour in that room... and I am really starting to be proud of my room. (I'm not letting it go to my head, though... don't worry!) Anyhow, yesterday our district had a Back to School Bash (an academic and health fair). I decided to head over there (I haven't mentioned this before, but I drive 50 minutes to work and 50 minutes back) and see what this Bash was all about. I found our school's table and hung out there with the teacher who had volunteered her time for the day to be in charge of our table. Anyhow, I got to meet all sorts of people in the district and everyone was so nice! My principal got there and was shocked to see me there! I was so pleased with myself. I didn't think anything of going, because I really want to be a part of my school, but I think she was surprised because it was not required and I live nearly an hour away. She introduced me to all sorts of board members and other people in the district.  She told the board members that my room is awesome and that when they come to the school they just have to stop in and see it! I was so pleased with myself! I mean, I love my room... but I just thought it was such a huge compliment coming from her. She also told people that I have such a positive attitude and energy and she is excited to see how my first year goes. I am thrilled! I cannot wait to see how it goes, either! I am so glad that I work with/for such a wonderful woman. I am so thankful for this opportunity. One week from tomorrow my school year begins with the kids. Wish me luck!

I've Been Reading

I have been reading "Teaching With Love and Logic" and I love it. I have not finished the entire book, nor do I expect to be an expert after reading it one time, but I do plan to put some of it's ideas into use in my classroom. I love the idea of not explaining a consequence to a child in anger or when the child is upset. They suggest waiting until the child (and you) can think logically and not emotionally. I mean, it seems so simple, but how often do teachers say, "GO OUT IN THE HALL WAY!" (Or something to that affect?) It happens all the time. Then, you're mad, the kid is mad, and the situation turns ugly. The teacher ends up going home stressed out and the kid is crushed. No ones like to be yelled at... and I really don't like yelling at people. So, I'm thinking I'll try their approach of telling the child that you are disappointed in their actions (or however you want to phrase it) and then telling them you are busy teaching now and will speak to them about a consequence later. The thing I like about this idea, too, is that many times a kid punishes themself more than I ever would just by thinking about how awful whatever they did was. Not that I want them to think negatively about themselves, but that I want them to own up to their actions/mistakes and take responsibility for them. It's all about teaching them to grow up and be responsible.

Friday, August 6, 2010

More Pictures of the Classroom

It's almost finished!!
leaves over the cabinets... still missing 2.

Posters over the cubbies and I put a cute little boarder on the top of the cubbies... it's amazing what a little hot glue can do!

Back corner of the classroom... computer area and reading nook. Almost done!

Hanging decorations above my desk area and new banner that says "What's the Buzz?" over the curriculum board. 

Closer view of my desk.

Behavior chart and consequences clearly stated.

Celebrations board. We use Dr. Jean's celebrations. 

I have spent the day working on work station activities. I have made about 10 more activities. I am really excited about the way they are turning out. I think so far I have about twenty activities. Seems like a lot... but they won't last me for too long because the kids can really only do the same activity once or maybe twice depending on the activity. I bought a hanging file box and am storing all of my work station stuff in it. A lot of my work stations are file folder activities, so it works well for that purpose. I also bought a laminator machine at Walmart last night. It was only $25. I have used it to make game boards and things like that. I'm pretty excited and it works really well!
I have so much to do between now and the day school starts. I have been working on activities to do the first few days. I'm worried about feeling stressed out when school starts so I am trying to get a ton of things planned so I don't run out of activities. Of course, I plan to spend a great deal of time on procedures the first week because I have been told and have read that if you spend time on that the first couple of weeks you don't have to constantly spend time on it later in that year. Then, since you have taught the procedures and the kids know them you can say, "And what is the procedure for that?" and they should be able to tell you. We shall see!
I am very excited about school starting. The kids come back on the 16th. I can't wait to meet them and get this year started. I am a littler nervous, but I think the more I plan and prepare the less nervous I will be. Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Work In Progress

Just a sneak peek of my work-in-progress! :) I have worked in the room for 3 full days. I had no idea it takes so much work to set up a classroom!
Cabinet of math manipulatives.

Writing cabinet...

My desk area.

The mess. View from back corner of room.

The beginning of the classroom library.

A bulletin board we'll use each day during morning meeting.