Close Call

Today, I almost did my first home visit.  A home visit is when you go to a student’s house and meet with their parents there.  I’ve never done it before, never had to do it.  But, this round of conferences, I was having trouble with two parents  Both missed their conferences on the same day and I couldn’t get a hold of them.  I finally got one and rescheduled, but then they forgot again.  Luckily, I caught them this morning, rescheduled and it all went well.

But the other…

No matter what number I called, I couldn’t get any answer.  I left messages and nothing. I’ve tried to contact this parent before with no success, but this time it was different.  So, I went to the principal who sighed and asked if I was available today to do a home visit.  And, because apparently it’s my word of the year, I said “yes”.  Even though I’d really, really rather not.  I mean, I’m awkward enough meeting with parents in my own room, but to actually go to someone’s house, unannounced, and hold a conference there (with the principal and maybe the Family Support Advocate)?  It’s kind of like my worst nightmare.

Luckily, the parent felt the same way.  The Family Support Advocate got hold of them and they showed up.  Of course, I was running about ten minutes behind, but they stuck around and we got the conference done.  Thank God.

Is it any wonder I’ve had migraines all week?  The stress, man, it’s killing me.

So.  I have one conference left.  One more day of teaching and then Thanksgiving break.  I am so ready for this.

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Explain How You Got the Answer

Part of the Common Core standards is getting kids to explain their thinking and reasoning.  In math, we ask them to explain how they got the answer.  We just did double digit addition, and my class and I went over how they should answer questions where they were asked to explain how the arrived at their answer.  Ideally, they’d write that they first added the ones, they regrouped ten ones as a ten and then added all the tens.  We did this both orally and in written form during our chapter on adding.  As usual, some kids got it and explained their thinking really clearly.  And then, there were the others.

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Don’t know why it’s posting sideways, but “I solved the problem by yoosing my minde.”

 

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something about a number sentence and then “I counted on my finger and got 60 pages.”  Clearly, this kid has been hiding fingers from me.

 

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“I kanont in my head”  (I count in my head).

Clearly, I also need to be hitting spelling harder.  Although, at this point, I’m not sure what I can do to convince the hold-outs that use is spelled with a ‘u’ and a magic e.  I’ve got most of the class convinced, but there’s a stubborn few who are pretty sure it really starts with ‘y’.  After all, the word “you’ starts with a y, why wouldn’t use?

Got stood up by two parents today.  Yet another reason I hate conferences (the first being that I hate talking to people and anything resembling a social situation, even in a professional capacity, gives me sever anxiety.) Wish me luck on getting hold of them.

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I Need an Attitude Adjustment

I hate parent conferences.  HAAAATE them.  And I don’t know why.  Parents don’t come in and yell at me.  They aren’t mean.  I always put things in positive ways and give advice how to help their students at home.  Everyone seems to go away happy.

But I don’t want to do them.

Part of it is the stress of waiting.  Waiting for parents to show up.  Waiting to see if everyone is going to show up.  Waiting for a translator to come so I can talk to parents who don’t speak English.  Waiting waiting waiting.  And then the frantic calling people who don’t show up to try to reschedule.  It doesn’t happen much, but it did happen today and I have a feeling it’ll happen at least once more, because I never heard back from one parent.  So, it’s not the conferences so much that I hate, it’s the stress around the conferences.

It’s okay, though.  It’s two weeks out of the year.  Twenty-four meetings, five days.  I can do this.  And the light at the end of the tunnel?  Thanksgiving break.

Four more days.

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Don’t Say Yes Until I’m Finished Thinking

The Maker’s Fair is over.  Yay!!  It went pretty well.  Only two people showed up to my table, and it looked lonely and quiet compared to some of the other tables.  I was jealous of the table that got to build a little house to be blown down by the Big Bad Hairdryer.  And the table that built Ferris wheels looked like they had a lot of fun, too.  But our participants were very creative with the toy monsters they built and seemed to have fun, so that was good. I built a toy monster, too, but mine wasn’t as creative as theirs were.  Ah, well.  That’s okay.

 

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The point is it’s over, I don’t have to worry about it any more, and now I’ll have free time back.

Except for two things.  The first is there’s another fair in spring, which has been explained as being closer to a science fair where we’ll put together a board and a kit on an experiment and display it.  And, for some reason, we’ll bring 3 kids from our class to this fair.  I’m not sure why yet, and I’m not looking forward to it.

And, the second is I somehow ended up on another district committee today.  I’m not exactly sure how it happened.  Around 2:25, I get a call from the office.  It’s a secretary saying that the principal wanted to know if I would go to a meeting at the district office today, from 2 – 3, to talk about pacing guides and assessments.  And I think I was so confused because it was already 2:25, that I just said yes.  Which is not what I want to do because I have zero desire to be on the committee that writes the benchmarks for ELA.  I just… I don’t want to.  But, somehow, I’m now on the committee.  So, for the rest of the year, I’ll be periodically meeting with women much more motivated and committed to this than I am to create the tests.

So, the bright side is I’ll have a say in what we do and how we test.  I’ll get some extra money.  It’ll look good on a resume, etc., etc.  But, man, I need to think before I say yes next time.

Still, at least I was able to say why I didn’t use what we’re currently using as our benchmarks on our report cards.  Because, realistically, some students should be able to pass the given test.  Some will fail, some will perform below average, some average, and some above.  But, last year and then beginning this year, that’s not what happened.  My low kids failed.  My medium kids failed.  And my high kids failed.  That’s not a fair or accurate gauge of my student’s ability.  The weekly assessments?  Those come out as expected.  Some kids do well, some not so well, but I can see who understood the lesson/skill and who didn’t.  So that’s what I used on the report cards because that’s a more accurate assessment of their abilities.  And I was able to state that case in this meeting, because some of the teachers were like, “I give the test and everyone fails and that’s what goes on the report cards,” and that’s just wrong.

So, with this committee, I’ll get my say.  And, I that’s a good thing.

And, finally, in my, “This is why I’m not Sherlock Holmes,” moment, after the meeting, I rushed back to school to make my copies for next week.  I rush around the room, closing everything up, and then I glanced at the clock.

Which, for the entire week, had never been set back an hour.  And I never noticed.  And that is why I am not Sherlock Holmes.

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‘Twas the Night Before the Maker’s Fair

And I don’t want to do it anymore.  *cries*

No it’s okay.  I’m just nervous.  And there’s no reason to be.  There’s still only two people signed up for my session.  I won’t be teaching it alone.  I know what I’m doing, I have the materials.  It’s fine.  I can do this.  I’ve got this.

I just don’t want to.

In good news, we’re done CELT testing.  Thank God.  Today I gave the reading portion, and, man, clearly testing on the iPads has worked against paper testing.  The kids wouldn’t turn the pages! They kept telling me they were done, and I’d walk over to find they’d just done the first page (sometimes just the first problem) without turning the page and working to the stop sign.  And I showed them, every time, that they’d need to turn the page and do these questions and keep going to the STOP sign, which I pointed out and showed them.  But, nope.  They didn’t get it.  It was weird; I’ve never had that problem before.

So, back to normaler life tomorrow.  It’s early release day tomorrow and then Veteran’s Day Friday, so it’s a short week.  It’s a weird week.  And then next week is parent conferences.  *sighs*  It’s okay, I can do that, too.  And I’m done with report cards except for my science grade, which I’ll get on Thursday.  So I’m in good shape.

 

Wish me luck for tomorrow!

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There Are Things I Cannot Do

There are things I cannot do.  I can’t go on a scary roller coaster.  I can’t convince my cats they aren’t starving to death at 5 in the morning.  And, apparently, I can’t read a sad book to my class without crying.

I thought I could do it.  I really did.  I knew what was coming.  I just read the book recently.  I thought I was prepared.

But I get to the sad part and my eyes welled up and my voice caught and I just could not believe it.

I don’t even know how much the kids are understanding the book.  I’m lucky if I’m able to read to them once a week.  It’s a big, complicated book.  They cheer when I pulled it out, but then a handful of them just don’t seem to be listening.  But others are.  One girl was wiping tears away (which made my tears well up again). And a boy said that the part made him said.  I told him it was okay because it was a sad part.  I was sad too.

The rest of the kids just seemed excited that their teacher was crying.  Well, get used to it, kids, because it’s going to happen again.  I can almost guarantee it.

In other news, it’s another crazy week.  We’re CELT testing, which is the test English learners take to see how well they speak, read, write, and understand English.  It took all morning until lunch and we do it again tomorrow, but just in the morning.  Then, during recess, the second grade teachers get to meet with the principal to discuss another test we’ve given the kids.  All that, plus library, it’ll be another day where I’ll be shoving teaching in where I can.  And then we have Friday off.  Yay!

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12 Little Pumpkins

It started so simply.  Pumpkin 1 told me he’d been kicked at recess and needed a bandage.  While I was giving it to him, I asked what game he’d been playing (trying to figure out if it was an accidental kick or on purpose).  Strangely, Pumpkin 1 couldn’t remember what the game was, so I called Pumpkin 2 over.

“Well, Pumpkin 3 said we should wrestle,” Pumpkin 2 said defensively.

What?!?

So, yeah, Pumpkin 3 suggested that a bunch of kids should wrestle at recess.  How many pumpkins joined in?  Yup.  Twelve.  Twelve little pumpkins, all on the grass, wrestling their little hearts out. Shoes were lost, bystander pumpkins stood and cried when they were pushed, people were kicked.  Rules were broken.  Lectures were given. Infractions were written.  Recess was taken.  Because, seriously, I know that it’s not great to take recess away, but if kids are holding Wrestlemania 2017 during recess, they don’t get the next recess.

I think I’ve contacted most of the parents, but I might have missed a few.  If I don’t get their infractions back tomorrow, I’ll follow up, but right now, I’m trying to get over a migraine (not caused by this incident) and I left my list of naughty pumpkins at school.

This is such a good class.  They just made such a bad choice.

*sigh* Pumpkins.

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How is it only Tuesday?!?

I’m so tired.  It wasn’t even that crazy of a day, and I’m still so tired.  What is it about Halloween that just drains the life out of me?  I mean, seriously, most of the day was pretty normal.  We had the costume parade and it ended around nine.  Usually, the next half hour is devoted to students taking their costumes off, so I’d printed a word search for them to do while that was accomplished.  But this class all told me that they hadn’t brought a change of clothes and needed to keep their costumes on.

This class lied.

But, honestly, I didn’t care.  Usually I follow the rules and insist they take their costumes off, only to see kids from other classes with their costumes still on.  So, I figured, let them wear their costumes.  A few took theirs off as the day went on, some wore them all day, and it was fine.  It didn’t impede instruction, they were well behaved, everything was cool.  I was even able to get more instruction done with them still in their costumes because we did vocabulary and phonics during that half hour I thought they’d be changing.  And then, got another unexpected half hour, so I was able to knock fluency testing out, so that’s another grade I’ll have ready when report cards open tomorrow.

Here was my costume:

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I also wore black feathered wings.  Here’s a closer shot of my make-up:

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Ah, the red around my eyes didn’t come out very well.  It looked so cool, too.  Of course, my glasses obstructed it, but it still looked cool.  I was a dark fairy.  Bad fairy?  Although some of the older kids decided I was Death, which I was cool with, too.

I enjoy dressing up for Halloween and the parade and everything, but I am glad it’s over.  Of course, that means parent conferences are just on the horizon.  Now that’s something to be scared of.

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It’s a Miracle

I’m actually feeling good about the upcoming Maker’s Fair.  I have the materials.  I know the lesson.  The group will only be 8 people (right now, it’s only 2, but that might change).  So, I think I’ve got this.  It’s going to be good.  Plus, I get paid for 3 hours being there, plus 2 for writing the lesson, so that’s not too bad either.

 

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I got my door done today.  It didn’t take very long at all, and the kids were really excited to see their monsters go up.  I’m glad I did it, because it took less time to decorate the door than it would have to hang them up on the wall.  I just hope they stay; it gets windy in the town I teach, and I’m not sure painter’s tape is strong enough to hold the monsters onto the door.  Maybe it won’t be too windy this week; it was actually chilly today, and the wind didn’t pick up too much.

In other news, I started fluency testing and the writing assessment.  About half the kids got done with their writing, and they did a pretty good job.  They had to write about a time they were proud of themselves.  I only had one girl who just didn’t understand the prompt no matter how I explained it to her, but she’s way below grade level anyway, so I’m not too surprised.  I also had some variety.  Usually the kids write about winning a prize or passing an AR test, but one girl was proud of herself for learning the words to her favorite song and another wrote about helping her little sister learn to walk, so there was some nice variety.

And tomorrow’s Halloween.  I sent a note home on Friday about our party asking parents to tell me what they were sending with their kids.  I was trying to prevent another Great Juice Party, where 5 parents sent juice.  I only got about 7 responses, only one being juice, so… *fingers crossed*  Hopefully, too, this won’t be a Chip Party, where there’s 10 different kinds of chips and maybe some cookies.  I’ve got someone sending fruit cups, which is good, and another sending sweets of some kind.  There will probably be candy and other than that, I have no idea.  I hope it will be a good mix.

Okay, so wish me luck for tomorrow.  I’m going to need it! (That and coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee).

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Gearing Up for Halloween

Tuesday is Halloween, which is probably the second worst day to have Halloween (the first being Monday, the best being Friday).  And, to add to it, tomorrow is Pajama Day for Red Ribbon Week because we are going to “put drugs to sleep.”  So, for three days, the kids are going to be wired and hyper.  It will not be the best learning environment.

Ah well.  They’ll have fun.  And dressing up is fun.  I still haven’t decided if I’ll do pajama day, but I’ll dress up for Halloween.  And, for the first time in forever, I’ll even contribute to their candy stash.  I found these cute labels from Rockin Resources.  They’re for Jack-O-Lantern Teeth (candy corn), Ghost Poop (marshmallows), Witches Warts (chocolate chips), and Monster Scabs (Cinnamon toast Crunch).  I’m just doing the Jack-O-Lantern teeth, but they came out cute:

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I do have chocolate chips, so I could do witches warts with very little trouble.  We’ll see.  It’s not like the kids aren’t going to be getting a ton of candy as it is.

 

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