Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'm still here!

I apologize for not keeping up with this blog very well. My "promises" for the new year include more attention to writing and sharing schooly stuff here. 

Speaking of writing, I took a leap of faith and joined a writer's group. I went to my first meeting a few weeks ago and felt like I had met a bunch of old friends. It was amazing! We talked and ate and even had a writing exercise. It was fun!

The group, Red Dirt Writers, is having a poetry contest this month and I entered two poems. One of them I included in this blog post and the other is this one:

Love





Dononvan Devereaux loves blowing the


Pencil shavings off the counter


After they collect around the sharpener.





Kaidence Carter loves sharpening


Her flowered pencils


And Dononvan Devereaux





Gisselle Goosby loves borrowing


Sheldon Smith’s pencils and


Giving them to Kaidence.





Sheldon Smith loves reading books,


Taking AR tests and collecting pencils


From the librarian as prizes. 


 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blogging from the mountains...

For those who don't know, I spend four days in the fall each year studying at Quartz Mountain. I attend the Oklahoma Fall Arts Institute and this year I chose to study poetry. It has been an incredible week end. I have been surrounded my incredible talent and breath taking art. The lodge is comfortable and rustic.






Here's a little sample of my work this week:

Survival

If the stars weren’t calling to me to come look,
If the coyotes would stop yipping their songs to the moon,
Damn moon -
I could crawl into the tangle of sheets and down and
Slide next to you.
I could slip away into nothingness.
Sometimes sleep isn’t necessary for survival.
I actually learned in the army ways to survive
In the most difficult times,
In the coldest environments,
The harshest terrains,
Without sustenance or sleep.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy...

The "occupy" movement has me hopeful, interested, and feeling very proud. The whole Wall Street thing makes me spitting mad. 


I read many of the big shots are expecting larger bonuses this year. 


I spend my own money on novels for my class. Unfortunately I cannot afford 135 books, just 28 or so that all five classes must share. The books have to stay at school and we read in class. I don't like it that way, but until I get a Wall Street bonus (which is NEVER) I will have to deal with it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The new teacher...

I got in this game sort of late. I became a teacher after raising daughters for awhile and trying out other careers. I was never that "fresh out of college" type of teacher. 

My resident year I had a mentor who did not mentor. I learned by watching, asking questions, and scouring the internet.

The next year I moved here and certainly did not look like a "new" teacher. I think people assumed I knew it all and did not need help. Very little was offered and I muddled through. 

Once I knew the ropes, I made it a priority to help new teachers as much as possible. I remembered how lost I felt. Then I moved again...

I'm lost again. I'm surrounded by assumptions and lack of patience. I catch on quickly if you tell me just once, but you have to freaking tell me! I'm on a team of five people. It is not a team. I miss the dream team I was blessed to be with every day last year.

Today was particularly difficult. I'm reminded again why teachers quit, and it is rarely the kids. The kids are why I don't quit.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Different...

At the elementary school, where I worked last year, the kids gathered in the halls or cafeteria before school. They had to sit on the floor, keep pretty quiet, stay in one spot.


At the junior high, they get off the bus, out of dad's truck, mom's Jeep, walk from the corner house, and they get to hang outside.


This week I have duty, which means I watch teenagers play. I get the basketball court so I watch mostly boys.


I am amazed how they squeeze several games of football and basketball into such a small space. Junior high is so different. These kids, who just last year could not work together, now cooperate enough to run football the width of the court while basketball goes the length.

My classes are good. I adore my first hour, Pre-AP, and my 7th hour. I love the pace and for some reason, despite how busy we are, I find more time to work one-on-one with a few kids every hour. That is progress.

I miss the team I worked with at the elementary school. We meshed so well. I miss the administrators too. I don't feel appreciated at my new school. But, every day, every single day, some kid lets me know, in some small way, that what I'm doing matters, and that makes all the difference.

Monday, August 22, 2011

So far, so good...

We started back to school last Friday and things are smooth, so far. I am learning the ropes at the Junior High and I like it. I don't feel as stressed and I have the freedom to grow and experiment.

My five classes are as different from each other as peas and artichokes. My first hour is Pre-AP and such eager, well behaved kids. Noodle (my daughter) is in that class, plus a lot of football players and band geeks. Love it!

Third hour (2nd is plan) is quiet, and for the most part, easy to deal with. I do have some kids that really struggle, who are unable to do anything near level. One of them cannot read at all. For two days they have been in my room and not even a co-teacher has come to assist. They are so overwhelmed and with 27 kids, it is really hard to give them any one-on-one time.

Fourth hour is a challenge. It is my largest class at 31 kids. I have a lot of students in that class with prior discipline issues and they are working hard to keep that reputation. They remind me of last year's homeroom class. I will probably fall hard for them and love them most of all.

Sixth hour (5th is Academic Achievement) is going to be a good class once I get a seating chart made. I have a few kids who just cannot be near each other and then we will be just fine.

And then there is seventh hour... Seventh hour always gets the label of being the worst. It is the last hour of the day. Mix tired teachers with tired kids and disaster usually ensues. But my last hour is small, and I adore the kids. There are some spunky ones but I love their laughter and their energy. 

It just might be a really, really good year.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Transformation...

It's been a lot of work. But I think I have made it into a place where I can guide and inspire.

Walking in that first day, I was horribly overwhelmed. What to do with this corner?
How about a reading nook?


Wall to wall desks...


But I carved out a little space for me.



Bookcases painted to the floor and covered in notes and names.

Curtains make a huge difference and hide all my extra books and supplies.

This entire wall scared me! (Blurry because I was shaking!)



 
Now, this is better!

Speaking of scary....yikes!!!!!!!!!


$5 plants, stick on velcro, picnic table cloth on clearance, strategically placed storage and microwave to cover holes in the wall = miracle!


 Let the learning begin!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Work to do...

As you may or may not know, I am moving from the upper elementary to the junior high this year. My old building was not old, it was newer and fresh and though I complained about the ratty carpet, I liked the storage space and the amenities.


My new building was built in the 1920's and I adore the building, but I just wasn't prepared for the condition of my room. Friday I was able to work for a few hours. The following pictures are SOOC. 

Very old desk. It has been around for a many, many years. I do like the painted, cement floors.

One-piece desk are good.

Not one bulletin board to be found. Writing teachers NEED bulletin boards!

This is a strange wall. Behind that square of painted wood to the left of the TV, was a door. I think I will cover it with paper, frame it with trim and hang older daughter's artwork.

All the electricity is on the outside of the walls, running through little square tunnels (I have no idea what you call them!) and you cannot put hardly anything flush with wall.

This sink, what do I do? It leaks, has leaked for years and won't be fixed. I would love to paint it, but it is wet. I actually think the sink is cool, but not the rust. Help!

The room is tiny, no space for a reading nook, or spaces fro writers to conference with each other. I have a storage unit to empty into this room. That will be interesting!

Tuesday I leave for three days of training. Remember, one day will be a ropes course. Pray for me!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What kind of course?

 
I'll be taking a road trip next week for leadership training. I got my packet via email today. One of the pieces of info was directions to the ropes course. What course? Did I sign up for that? Stay tuned. This could get interesting...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Changes...

I have been offered a 7th grade English position at our Junior High school and I accepted. I'm really looking forward to moving over and even though the new 7th graders, will be my old 6th graders, I am still excited. I know these kids. They don't scare me!

So, now my subtitle will read "7th grade isn't for sissies."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer sign off...

Posting to this blog will be light for the next few months. If you're interested in the mundane minutia of my life, you can read my other blog.

BtT (Before the Tornado) I wanted to post some samples of my students' "Important Book" pages. Here they are:






Love, love, love their work!



So, as we were riding the storm out in our storm cellar...


The clock in my classroom stopped...

and the tornado ended our school year prematurely. 


But, like they knew they might not be coming back, my kids covered my boards with love notes. (I had a sub that day)




When I came in that morning, after the tornado, to work in my room with no electricity, I saw those notes, and I cried.... just a little bit...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Picking up the pieces...

I posted this morning on my other blog.

Notes from Oklahoma: Picking up the pieces...: "The clock in my classroom stopped at 5:32 p.m. I worked all day in the dim light cast through my open windows. Outside I could hear chain sa..."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A sudden ending to a long year...

I did not know yesterday would my last day with these kids. I had today off; burning up that last personal day. Yesterday I was glad I would not be at school today because the weather folks were throwing around words like "Major tornado outbreak", "long track, damaging tornadoes", etc... I hoped the weather would wait until I knew all my kids were home. It did. But then all hell broke loose. 

We spent time in our storm cellar, but the tornado tracked west and north of us. We emerged unscathed. Not so for my school. 

This tree was planted in memory of a student. It sits outside the 6th grade wing.

We have several portables that are used for the band students.

Softball field used by the high school. Those are bleachers slammed up against the fence.

Band portable moved off its foundation.


Leaves forced into the siding.


This portable ended up in the middle of the parking lot.

Behind our school is the bus barn and behind that is the high school. Next to the bus barn, which is to the left, was the high school weight room. It used to be where all those people are standing.
I can't show you the roof damage that my assistant principal said is right over my room. I did not get pictures of all the downed trees. 

School is done now. Staff and faculty report tomorrow, but the kids are done. Our entire district is shut down.  I should be glad, but I keep thinking "But I wasn't done!"