Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Updated post

I don't teach math this year. If you read my blog last year you will know how frustrated my kids made me over math. This post sort of summed it all up.

Just wanted you to know that out of my 24 kids last year, I had eight score advanced, and all but two pass the state math test. Yup, they were lazy but kicked into gear when it mattered.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fall Wrap up

I made it to Christmas break! There were many days I did not think I could do it one more hour. But I did. Now, I have two weeks to regroup, recharge, and relax. 

Because of the unusual challenges I have in my homeroom class, I have little time to shoot pictures. With that group I have not one minute of down time. Thankfully my English classes are better and we get a lot done, plus I get time to gather papers and actually enjoy just being with those students. 

Mrs. Social Studies bravely took on a really cool project during the kids' early civ unit. She had them make bricks at home and then they ran the bricks through a weight and water test. Cool project!

My English kids put my two digital cameras to good use. They were allowed to go out around the school and shoot pictures. I posted about it here. 

My homeroom kids broke the cameras.

Every year the kids create a door display for Red Ribbon week, our anti-drug campaign. My kids won again this year. They surprised me!

I November I took five of my English students to the Oklahoma Writing Project conference. We attended workshops and...

 ...ate at the coolest college cafeteria!

Yesterday we wrapped up the year with a pizza lunch and our holiday party. Our classmates, who are in band, played some of their carols for us.

I realize I am approaching burnout and my goal these two weeks is to turn that around. A teacher in burnout cannot be effective and even though these kids are tough, they deserve much more than a burnt out teacher will give them. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Through their eyes...

Last year, I received a grant for a couple of digital cameras to use in the classroom. My English students have been taking pictures around the school and using them as writing prompts.  

I'm impressed with their work. The boy who took this picture wrote about the lack of good, clean water in other countries and how we take it for granted. He has been labeled with a disability and supposedly has behavior issues.

I downloaded hundreds of pictures, printed dozens of copy sheets, and went through a lot of ink printing out their final selections.

I have taped their finished work up in the hall for all to see and admire. At any given time I will see a student, another teacher, a district administrator, a janitor, reading the writings and scanning the photos.

They are so proud of their work.

They exceeded my expectations.

 The doors to creativity, imagination, the world, have been opened to them. All because I brought a couple of cheap Kodak digital cameras into the classroom.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Go ahead and yack all you want!

This thing, along with a lot of patience, trust-building, and time, has turned my homeroom class around. Over the past few weeks, my kids have learned to monitor their noise level and they are earning points for a pizza party. I still have several that are in trouble all the time, in ISS or home on suspension, but it is because they won't behave for their other teachers. In my class they are fine. I have not written up a kid in weeks! Feels good. We are getting things done and we are starting to have fun.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


*I'm afraid to say this out loud*

My class has been manageable, even, dare I say it?....Good? Oh, my... I know I've jinxed it!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thank you

I got a little blog love today. Thank you!

Things at school are improving. The successes are minute, but they are becoming more and more consistent. I might survive this year after all.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taking a break

I'll be back. I just need some time to regroup. This year has not gotten any better despite the efforts from my team and I. We keep plugging along trying to swim upstream. My health is suffering. It is serious, scary stuff. But, I will be back.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chess Club

My club is huge this year! I have 45 signed up and for the first three weeks I had anywhere from 35-38 show up. I don't have enough boards!

I had to split the club into two groups; one meets during lunch and the other after school. I think the numbers will drop eventually and I will move all the students to after school. 

I think this year is the last year I will do this as a volunteer. I will request a stipend and a budget next year.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Trees and forests...

They say you must see the forest, and not focus on the trees. My trees, those 7-8 kids I cannot control, cannot reach, have defined my forest. This week I decided not to focus on them; I will nurture the forest. I have done all I can, right now, for the trees. I let them go...

Wild Child remains a challenge, but has responded to some intervention. Shortstuff, Blues Eyes, and Freckles, well, any given day is a crapshoot. Then there is motormouth. He. Never. Stops. Talking. Ever! Yesterday he interrupted our moment of silence. He made it impossible for me to teach our English lesson. This morning he interrupted the daily announcements I was making. During a  morning assembly he called another teacher a b*tch. I'm planting that tree in the hall so my forest can grow.
(Are you sick of this metaphor yet?) 

One more thing...

My older daughter's science teacher donated a cute little guy to our classroom that looks just like this one.

His name is Forest.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I'm listening...

Someone, Something, is trying to get my attention...

Wild Child, the boy who responds only to me, who bites, melts down, and cannot seem to stay in school for an entire week, is also the same child who brought me roses.

I collect Sonic Tot Toys, and last week he brought me one.

The one he brought me was not clean like this one. It was grubby and stained, like Wild Child. I brought it home and ran it through the wash. Good as new. It sits on my desk, not among the others I have lined up on the bookshelf.

Yesterday I was walking through the parking lot of the grocery store and out of the corner of my eye I saw I was about to be intercepted. I saw a boy, running as fast as he could, arms flying and feet pounding the pavement. It was Wild Child. He was all smiles, gave me a huge hug and said he would see me on Monday. Off he ran to mom, calling "Mom, it's my teacher! See mom, it's my teacher."

I'm listening...

Friday, September 17, 2010

The endless week...

The fun from earlier in the week continued! Wild-Child, who bit a student, threw furniture in ISS, and had to be picked up from school by mom, actually had a good day yesterday. But today, he never made it to my classroom. He started a fight and mom was called. 

Freckles ( another of my 8 challenges) tried to argue with me all day yesterday. We called mom several times over his behavior and he got two write ups. 

This morning I discovered my three baskets with pencils, pencil sharpeners, and erasers were all empty. Parts of the sharpeners were found, with the blades taken out of them. Nice...

Then there is Blue Eyes. His 5th grade teacher told me he'd be in jail in just a few years. How's that for believing in the future?! Don't tell me that kind of crap when I come to you for advice about a child. Oh well... Blue Eyes responds to me. He wants to please me. He has had several good days. Then today, as he was leaving campus to walk home, he got in a fight. *sigh*

Last thing... I have Shortstuff's mom's number on speed dial. I think she is getting tired of hearing from me. He got kicked out of reading class today. I had to ask him to leave my English class for a short time too because as I was teaching he was tapping and refused to stop.

One of my readers commented that not much teaching can be going on. He could be right, but thankfully, I have really good classes (minus the troublemakers) and we are getting things done. The troublemakers spend  a lot of time in the hall and office. I spend every plan time on the phone or filling out discipline reports. So, at home I grade and spend a lot of time in the classroom on the weekend trying to get things done. I dream at night of solutions to these challenges. But I am lost...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This week...

This week...

1. I have called parents about their kids' behavior issues 12 times.

2. I have written 5 discipline forms.

3. I have had two students go to ISS (in school suspension).

4. We had a bomb threat and the police came.

5. Both boy's bathrooms were shut down because of vandalism.

6. One boy told me that telling another boy "I'm going to kick your cross-eyed a$$" was acceptable behavior.

7. Helped chase down a student who was melting down, called mom (one of those 12 calls), and glory be, she came and got him.

8. A student of mine who was in ISS, threw desks and made threats to the ISS teacher, was returned to my classroom. I was not told about the incident until after the kid was removed from the school because of behavior today.

9. It is only Wednesday...

10. I still cannot use my Smart-Slate.

11. **added later***  Forgot ~ all this with temps in the 90's and spotty AC. Yippy!

But, there is a bright side ~ today was fried chicken Wednesday in the cafeteria. So, it's all good.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dear IT

I loved today's Smart Slate training. Lacey, the rep and trainer, was sweet and very good at her job. She did redirect me a few times when I got ahead of her training, but those cool marker pens that drew stars and flowers were awesome!

I was thrilled that as soon as I walked into the training you placed a Smart Slate in my hot little hands and it even had my name on it. You even assured us that the software was loaded at our site and we were good to go as soon as we got back. 

So, IT, I'm wondering if your definition of software is different from mine. I know I am a lowly teacher, but I thought software might actually mean we could use this freaking awesome toy. And that part about it being loaded at out site, well, maybe I misunderstood that too. There is nothing on my computer that supports this new technology. 

Bubble ~ burst...


Back to the chalk board in room 608

Friday, September 3, 2010

The unexpected

Yes, that is a child under her desk. 
I've wanted to blog about this new school year, my kids, the adjustment from self-contained to departmentalized, but I just haven't been able to get myself motivated to write. I have a lot of challenging kids, again. I do not have any on IEPs, that is good, but several of my kids are very low. None of that is a problem. It is the behavior challenges I have been tossed. I know I am good with these difficult, yet so lovable kids, but I am tired. 
 Talking, always talking.
The positive thing is that I get a break from those darlings when they rotate to their other classes. I also get to see how much easier it is to deal with my other four classes. Our homeroom classes rotate as a group so my kids stay together and the other teachers get to see what I have to deal with for 30 minutes in the morning, at lunch, and for 105 minutes in the afternoon. At first they sent me notes, or flat out asked me to deal with the troublemakers. I finally let them know that when they have my class, those kids are theirs and they have to deal with the behavior.
This sweet boy cannot, will not ever stop talking. I do not want him in the hall.
Looking back over last year I think I tried to take too much of the responsibility for my challenging students. This year I am not. I am calling parents every day. I am sending notes and writing emails. One parent is about tired of me, but I will not give up on that kid and I want them involved.
 So, yesterday, when I felt spent, at the end of my rope, feeling like a true failure because I cannot teach the way I would like to, because I have to adjust for behavior, and low motivation, I get this gift. The roses are old, maybe two weeks. They came unwrapped, dry, not cold from a fridge or dripping water. More like they were fished out of the trash. There are just five. Roses don't come in bunches of five. He said "These are for you." He smiled and got to his seat, and started on his spelling. I wanted to cry...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day one...

We went over policies and procedures. We got to know each other. We built marshmallow towers. 

 I learned all their names. 

The best part is that this child is in my homeroom class. If you read my other blog, you are well acquainted with Noodle.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My room - 2010

 I took these pictures this morning so they do not show the progress I made today. This is part of my front wall, the door is to the left.

From the door. I've added two more desks. We hear rumors we have to plan for 27. We will get our rosters tomorrow.

Novel Study bulletin board. The students will create posters, brochures, and comic strips to display for the novels we will study.

This will be our wall of wow! I will choose work that wows me and display it for a week.

Supply tubs, one for each student.

My desk and work area. It looks much better after working on it today!

Class library and reading area. A wonderful friend and former teacher gave me the huge display cabinet. I love it and it holds a lot of stuff in those drawers. 

A rescued chair from a teacher who retired. It will be my reading chair.

From the back wall.

Tomorrow I have to work from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will be a long day, but I am up for it. I cannot wait to meet my homeroom critters and their parents. 

Here we go!

Today is my first official day of the 2010-2011 school year. I worked in my room yesterday and it is 95% ready and really looks good! I'll get pictures today and post later.

Tomorrow is our meet and greet with parents and students. I look forward to this every year. I love meeting these kids for the very first time. I always give them a bag of popcorn with a note that says "Thanks for popping in to meet me." 

I am ready!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Our school district got backlogged on carpet cleaning and floor waxing, so we cannot get into our rooms this week.  

"Meet the Teacher" in is less than two weeks! 

I would not be so frustrated if it weren't for the fact that we had to clear our rooms out of any personal things that would not fit in our cupboards. My garage is full of my stuff and I will need to move that back to school and I am changing rooms, so I have to move all the furniture and my computers. Because we are down to one custodian, I will have to find my own help moving stuff. 

So, I am a little frustrated that I cannot get into my room this week, and they "hope" we can get in next week. Hope...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grade level meeting

Today was our grade level meeting and there were some disappointments and some surprises. 

I was surprised by how well my team seemed to meld. There are five of us, but one was sick and the other on vacation. We know those two gals well and know they will like the work we did and the decisions we made. One of the teachers I worked with today has just moved up to our grade. I know her from site meetings and really like her. The other gal moved from a new site and I did not know her at all. We really came together as a team and I am excited to work with these teachers! 

I've said before that I will teach English. The other team has an English teacher and it was my hope the we could collaborate. That is not going to happen. He is not happy about being assigned English and has no desire to enhance the curriculum. I brought with me a pacing calendar I had made and lots, and lots of ideas for writing and novel studies. I never got the chance to share any of it with him. He made it clear he was not going to deviate from the book at all. So, I'm disappointed that I won't be able to collaborate with him, but that is OK. I am a really good English teacher and I will collaborate with my team for ideas and integration.

I'm ready to get started!

Monday, July 26, 2010

And so it begins...

This week marks the end of my summer. What a way to end it though. I got up early, cleaned the pool and lazed around all morning long. I finished reading "Catching Fire" and I am counting the days until "Mockingjay" is released (29).

I have contemplated mapping out my new year. I will be teaching just English and Spelling so you would think that I would have already knocked out my curriculum map. Nope...

I do know that I will spend time on three blocks and rotate them. We will focus on grammar, writing, and novel studies. I will keep my unit on poetry using "Love That Dog".

I believe I will wait and make my lesson plans after we meet as a grade on Thursday. I am really interested in this meeting. We will address how we are going to go from self-contained to departmentalized. It will be interesting and I have so many questions!

Monday, July 19, 2010

I am running out of summer!

This really is my last full week of summer vacation. Next week I am going to work three days (paid) on data and meet with the 6th grade teachers so we can work out the details of our new departmentalized grade. 

The offices open the 4th and since I am moving my room this year, I will probably be working most days until the 16th, our official back-to-work day. 

Where did summer go? What did I do?

I went to the farmers' market most Saturdays.

Noodle had her 11th birthday and we had a pool party.

I watched my gardens grow.

I swam ~ a lot!

I spent a long weekend in New Mexico.

I went ( or took kids or pets) to five doctor appointments, two ultrasound/scan appointments, three blood draws, five dental appointments, and two vet appointments. 

I think I will soak up summer this week. Since we have a week of seriously hot weather, you will find me that chair, that pool. I hope you are enjoying your summer!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Hunger Games

I just finished this YA novel by Suzanne Collins. I was looking for a read aloud that would inspire my students to read the sequels and I wanted a novel that might inspire their writing. I think I found it in this book.

I usually do not get hooked on a book, but I just loved this story.  The movie is in development with a release date on 2011.

Once I finished the book, I immediately ordered the other two books.

Waiting... Patiently....