What I Should Have Said

I have a student who is not able to subtract single digit numbers to 8 fluently.  He’s been struggling with it for awhile.  His parents came to Math Night and were taught some games to play with him to help increase his fluency.  They’ve bought flash cards.  I recommended some apps.  I also suggested that Mom made sure he did his homework every night (finishing his timed tests).

Mom said, “I try, but then he gets mad at me.”

What I said was something like, “Oh.  Well, it will help him out, giving him the extra practice he needs.”

What I should have said was, “That’s okay.  It’s okay if he gets mad at you.  You need to set the boundaries and enforce them, even if he gets mad.”

I just… don’t have the confidence.  And it sucks because, by this time, I’m not the youngest person in that room like I was when I was a beginning teacher and I should have developed the confidence by now.

This was not the only conference where I should have said something I didn’t either.  I had another one where one of my students is starting to display disrespectful behavior towards me.  I told Mom, hoping to get a, “Well, I will talk with him and if he continues the behavior, there will be consequences, so let me know.”  What I got was, “I know!  He’s the same way with me!  I tell him to do something and he won’t do it.  I don’t know what to do.”

Again, that boundaries and consequences things was what should have come out of my mouth.  But, instead, I said I was going to start cracking down on him at school, taking away recess (we get two 20 minute recess blocks; he can miss 10 minutes for being disrespectful and still have time to get his energy out on the playground), giving infractions, etc.

But I wish I’d said the boundaries and consequences thing.  That’s something I’m going to practice this summer so it’s in my arsenal next time it comes up.

Because next time, I will have the confidence to say it.

104 days to Disney World.


Leave a comment

Filed under school, teaching

The Ballad of Two Students

Friday, students were finishing up work while I did something at the back table.  Student A, whom I shall call Sally, came up to me.

“Jill (student B) asked if she can fix her desk.”

I look at Sally, and then across the room at Jill.  Jill is shy, so I let it pass.  Both are done with their work, so I said that Jill could fix her desk (by fixing she meant clean and organize it).

About a minute later, Jill came up to me.  “Sally asked if she can fix her desk.”

I look at her.  I look at Sally.  I look to the heavens.  And I say yes. Both desks got cleaned.  Both students technically asked if they could do it.  Life moves on.  But why they had to ask like that is a mystery unknown to man.

Tomorrow I get to try to teach with a voice that’s trying to disappear.  We’re testing this week, so I really want to be there.  Plus, we’re starting our monster building projects, which won’t require much talking on my part.  If it gets too bad, I’ll stay home Thursday, but I can do it tomorrow.  I hope.

At least my voice chose this week to disappear instead of next week when it’s parent conferences last year.  Did those sick last year and it was not fun.  This way, I’ll be healthy again by next week, because that’s the way it works.  Right?


111 more days until Walt Disney World!

Leave a comment

Filed under school, teaching

OMG, The Field Trip was a Disaster

So, Friday, second grade took a field trip to the “local” natural history museum.  I say “local” because my school is in the middle of nowhere and it takes an hour to get to the natural history museum.  Which isn’t bad, but when you’ve got over about 80 people squeezed onto one bus, three to a seat, it feels like it’s forever.

I’m going to start out by saying that the kids were awesome.  They were well behaved, attentive, well mannered, and put up with everything that happened beautifully.  Honestly, except for one thing, they probably weren’t aware of the snags the field trip hit, which is good.  But they handled everything well.

So, the field trip was to the natural history museum.  There were three stations: the “classroom”, where they learned about monarch butterflies; the museum, where they did a scavenger hunt; and the sanctuary, where they got to see butterflies in the wild.  What was supposed to happen was one class took a station and rotated through, but one of the docents was unavailable, so my class was split and we did the museum/classroom first, had lunch, then all went to the sanctuary after.  This turned out to be a good thing, because one of the other teachers lost their voice, so I went with her class so I could be her voice.

The first snag was the trip to the museum.  We got lost.  The bus driver missed both possible exits and ended up taking us to the next town.  Finally, another teacher went up front and, using her phone, guided him in the right way.  Unfortunately, it was the back way, which is a long, winding, twisting, turning road through tall trees.  It’s absolutely beautiful, but not much fun to do when you are on a bus of loud children.  Especially when the bus driver decides to go way to fast through the curves and twists.  It was just not fun.  But, we got there in one pieces, sadly right on time so we were unable to give the kids their snacks (but that turned out to be a good thing, actually).

The museum tour and classroom lesson were very good.  The kids were really into it and one of my kids got turned into a butterfly.  He was a natural showman about it, too, just very funny.

Then, it was time for lunch.  About ten or  kids had brought their lunch, so I took them back to the bus to get it.  When I got back, it was to a livid teacher.  The cafeteria did not pack enough lunches for everyone and we were 13 short.  The really bad thing is none of us knew that kids were going to be bringing their lunch, so when we entered our count, it was for the full 75 students in the class.  So, we were a lot short on lunches.  Luckily, some of the parents had driven themselves, so they took a count of students without lunches and went to the local Safeway to buy food for them.  In the meantime, we handed out granola bars to the kids without and fumed.

Last, we went to the sanctuary. First, we got lost again, but eventually we found our way. It’s a beautiful bit of forest where butterflies come to winter.  Most of them had flown off already because it’s been so unseasonably warm, but there were still a good few.  I missed most of it because I ended up on port-a-potty duty, watching the kids who had to go to the bathroom and giving hand sanitizer when they came out.  It was lots of fun.  But, that’s what teachers do.

Then, we went back out to get on the bus.  Which was not there.  We waited for about five minutes before another teacher decided to walk down the road to see if he was waiting anywhere.  He was, but the fact that no one had made any arrangements for meeting him was just… ugh.  So, we made it back onto the bus.  This time, sadly, I was sitting next to the aisle seat so half my butt was hanging off the seat and my back got tweaked.  I’m okay, but was so uncomfortable.  But, we made it back to school without anymore disaster.

I have never been on such a poorly executed field trip before.  And it wasn’t our fault.  The teacher who set up the lunch orders checked several times that they would make enough lunches.  And why did the bus driver get lost?  Just… dude.

So, that’s over.  We survived, the kids had a good experience (mostly) and it’s one more hurdle toward the end of the year.  So.  What’s the worst field trip experience you’ve ever had?

Leave a comment

Filed under school, teaching

Good News!

So, for the past few weeks I’ve been stressing about my trip to Disney World.  Specifically, I’ve been worried about Toy Story land, which is opening this summer at Hollywood Studios.  See, I’m getting to Florida late.  Like, my plane lands at eleven at night, which means I’m probably not getting to my hotel until around one and I’ll have spent all day at the airport or on a plane, just don’t see myself getting to any park at rope drop the next morning. I’m just not that person.

No problem, though.  The Unofficial Guide said that Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom can be enjoyed even if you don’t get there right when they open.  Yeah, Animal Kingdom has Pandora, but it’s still doable.  So, I’d planned to do Hollywood Studios the first day, then Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom the last day.

And then, it occurred to me that Toy Story land might open the weekend before I went.  Which would make it uber crowded.  And not a good choice for going later.  So, I swapped it and Animal Kingdom, but that made me unhappy because the more I heard about Animal Kingdom, the more I want to spend the whole day there.

Disney answered my prayers today.  Toy Story land opens June 30, which is my last day in the parks.  I’ve got breakfast and lunch reservations at MK, and it’s my day to just relax and take things slowly.  I mean, it’d be really cool to be at Toy Story land the day it opens, but it’s just not going to happen, and that’s fine. Maybe, if the park doesn’t get to capacity and close, I’ll hop over to it after my lunch at Be Our Guest (THE BEASTS CASTLE!!!!!!!) just to say I was there.  But it’s not a priority.  (I mean, you’re talking about the girl who didn’t make it to Disneyland’s 50th until ten.  My mom was there at opening, but I’d already done the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (?) midnight party and Comic Con that weekend.  I just couldn’t do it).

In other Disney World news, the Sketchers Go Walks are not the shoes for me.  They are insanely comfortable to teach in and I’m glad I bought them because, oh my God, they are so comfortable.  But the minute I try to take a long walk, they start rubbing all over and I know they’ll give me blisters.  So now I’m trying a pair of old tennis shoes I had before my current shoes.  I’m going to get some insoles, because they hurt the bottoms of my feet on the treadmill today, but I think I walk harder on the treadmill than I do normally, so I hope insoles help.  If not, I’ll try the Crocs next.  I know no shoe will be perfect, but I want something comfortable.

In non-Disney news, a hummingbird got into the school library yesterday.  Apparently there were two originally (and they were mating), but by the time I got there, there was just the one.


Also, I never noticed that sign had a quote from Alice in Wonderland on it before the bird landed on it.  Once again, I am no Sherlock Holmes.

129 more days!

Leave a comment

Filed under Walt Disney World

The Yucky Day

Today was a yucky day.  First, one of my students had breath so bad I could smell it before I identified where it was coming from.  I hope it was just that they just hadn’t brushed their teeth and there’s nothing wrong, but… ugh.  And they were sitting right next to me in class, so double ugh.  Then, as we were waiting to board the bus for the bus evacuation drill, a student came up and told me she felt like she was going to throw up.  I felt her and she felt a little warm, but I still told her to go get water and go to the bathroom.  She made it two steps before she threw up on the grass.

Thank goodness we weren’t on the bus yet.

Then, after lunch, a student led another student to me.  The other student was reluctant to come, so I thought something had happened at recess.  No.  The student had just thrown up.  “But just a little bit,” she assured me.


With kids, there’s no in between.  They either come up for every little scratch and bump, needing a bandage and reassurance, or they wait until they’re sick all over the place before complaining.  I mean, I’d rather they not come up for everything, but I also hate dealing with sick.  I’m not good at it.  Half the time I start gagging so hard I get tears in my eyes, which is not a good look for a teacher, but it’s involuntary.  Just like crying at sad parts in books.

Tomorrow if Valentine’s day, which I love because the kids love it so much.  I, unfortunately, forgot to make bags or have them make bags, so I bought paper bags for them to decorate tomorrow.  If we have time; it’s a short week and next week is shorter because we’re taking a field trip.  But, we’ll work it out.  I got them cookies and juice, they’ll hand out their Valentines, and we’ll have a good day.

Provided no one gets sick.

132 more days till Disney World

Leave a comment

Filed under school, teaching

When Do I Start Feeling Like a Good Teacher?

I had my second informal observation today.  We were doing writing and I was in the back of the room juggling students when the principal walked in.  I kinds of froze, because while I was working with students, I was also trying to grade spelling tests at the same time.  My students are currently are writing research reports on animals, so some of them are reading books on Epic, which is an iPad app, and others are doing physical books and some are done with research and writing while others are coloring pictures of their their animals to add to their books and and and….

Meanwhile, I’m printing pictures of animals, handing out maps of the world and showing them what continent their animals live on.  I’m editing papers, telling kids they need to add details (they are very stubborn when it comes to describing what the animal looks like; I keep having to remind them to tell me if it has fur or skin or scales, what color is it, how many legs, etc).  Plus, I have about three non-readers/non-writers who need me to really hold their hand the whole way through so…

So, I’m doing a million things at once.  It was chaos.

But… But…

She loved it.  The principal was so happy with everything she saw.  The kids were able to tell her what they were doing, the room was neat (not my desk, but otherwise), the kids were all working and the chaos was the good kind.  The “room to grow” she had for me was for me to stick a magnet on the board next to the posted standards so it’s completely obvious what standard we’re working on.  That’s it.  The only suggestion.

This is the millionth great informal observation I’ve had.  And yet, every time, instead of feeling like, “Yeah, it’s because I’m a good teacher and know what I’m doing”, I think, “Man, I got lucky she walked in while this was going on.”  *sigh*  I need to change my thinking around.  I’m not lucky.  I’m just good.


Filed under school, teaching

What’s the rule?

For reading intervention, my group has been working on the long vowel/silent e spelling pattern.  Five weeks of reminding them that vowels make more than one sound, that the e at the end of the word means the vowel is long and….. AHHHHHHH.  *tears out hair*  And the last three days has been almost exclusively focused on the long u sound, because are really struggling with that sound, especially when writing (one child, even after being given the number of letters in the word and a reminder that the word is going to end in e no matter what, consistently spells it with double o.  Like mute is moot.  Sometimes moote.  Or myoot).

Anyway, today was assessment day.  The first girl, who has come to three intervention sessions in 5 weeks predictably got none right.  My other three girls did fairly well.  Then the only boy present came.  Now, they were reading nonsense words to assess their ability to remember the rule and apply it to unfamiliar situations.  So, he sat down, read the first word.  It was something like, “mabe”.  He read something like “smat.”  So, I said, “What the rule?” because he gave me the short sound instead of the long and he said, sounding rather guilty, “Sound it out?”  So, I said, yes and you know what?  He went back and read the darn word right, with no extra sounds *and* with the long a!  Now, he wasn’t consistent at either reading the letters that were there or the long sound, but he did much better after.  So… success?

I will rip out my eyes if I have to teach this same spelling pattern for the next five weeks.

In other news, I got my luggage for the trip (I think):


Yes, I was drawn to the fact that it’s the “Official Luggage of Disney World Resort and Disneyland” and the fact that it’s purple.  I was doubly persuaded by the fact that since I first saw it a few months ago, it went on clearance was only about 30 bucks.  The only concern is that it says it’s only got room for 1-3 days worth of luggage and I’m going to be gone for 7 days.  But it’s okay because a) I need a new suitcase anyway and b) I can totally fit everything I need into it.  I’ve watched about 20% of the packing videos on YouTube and read almost everything pinned on Pinterest.  I’ve consulted the experts.  I can squeeze things in.

I also got a new pair of shoes to test out for Disney World.  There’s a lot of advice on shoes and what to wear.  I know part of the time, I’ll be wearing my sneakers, which I’ve had for over a year and are well broken in and have never given me a bit of trouble (which means they will probably give me blisters day 1 of the trip).  A few articles I saw mentioned Sketchers Go Walks, so I got a pair from the discount store the other day.  They’re really comfortable and they are definitely my new go-to shoes for school.  But, the second day I wore them, they rubbed a little weird on my feet.  I was wearing socks I won’t be wearing at the park, so I’ll try something I’ll actually wear at the park tomorrow, but I’m not sure.  I have to walk more in them.

Next up, I’m going to go down the rabbit hole and try Crocs.  Specifically, this pair , which, despite being Crocs are really cute.  And, they might be better to wear in the rain than the Go Walks, since I’ve heard it rains a lot during the summer in Florida.  Again, I’ve read a lot of good things about them online, and one of the vloggers I follow, the Bookish Princess, wears them.  So, maybe.  I’ve got time to decide.

137 days to go!

Leave a comment

Filed under teaching, Walt Disney World

Disney-fying My Room


This is not the best picture, but this is what I spent my morning doing.  I mean, before school morning, after I finished making copies and setting up the room for the day (silly me only copied three out of five vocabulary words this week!  I make a packet for the week and just didn’t notice I was missing two words.  So, copies on Tuesday, which I try to avoid).  Anyway, what those are, are pictures from my calendar last year.  I got the Disney Thomas Kinkade calendar with all the beautiful pictures of Disney movies.  They look like this:


They’re all really beautiful.  I actually have the one from Tangled because my awesome parents bought me the canvas for my birthday last year!


Isn’t it beautiful?  It makes me so happy every time I look at it.  So, I took the calendar page to school along with the other ones I didn’t put in my room.  I honestly didn’t think the kids were going to notice as quickly as they did.  But, not only did they notice the Disney pictures, they noticed the poster with flag facts that Scholastic sent that I posted next to the flag.  I was kind of cool to see how observant they were.  Later in the day, I threw a couple of Tinker Bell pictures from another calendar I had last year.  So, my room is suiting my Disney mood.

I don’t have much to write about school today.  I’m just trying to get through this week, which is an awful way to feel on a Tuesday, but this weekend is not only a three day weekend, but I also get to see my family!!!  Because…. it’s my birthday!!!!

So, yeah, I’m excited for the weekend.

Here, have a picture of my bedroom wall, as well:


Every time I go to Disney, I always swear I’m going to buy a piece of artwork.  That the price doesn’t matter, I can afford it and I want something beautiful for my room.  And every time, I chicken out mostly because I find four or five pieces I really want an can’t decide which to get.  So I get the postcards instead.  One day, that wall will be covered in postcards.  And it will be beautiful.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Really, math book? Really?


I think the real question is why does Mrs. Herrell have so many pinecones and why has no one called “Hoarders” on her? I don’t know why this was the question that broke my suspension of disbelief, but it was.

Today I continued my seemingly futile quest to get the kids to count up when they subtract.  We did 30-19 and they solved it in a variety of ways: decomposing, regrouping in their heads, imagining a number line, using the hundreds chart.  But the target skill?  Nope.  *sigh*  Ah well.  It’s only the fourth number talk we’ve done on this skill.  They’ll get there.

I was also able to talk about my favorite thing today.  In ELD, we had the vocabulary word “patient”.  I told the kids that I had to be really patient right now because I was going to Disney World in 140 days and I want to go right now.  But it’s a long way away, so I had to wait calmly for a long time.  They were super impressed, although one kid immediately said, “I never get to go on vacation!”  So I told him that I’ve never been either, and when he was grown up, he could go to Disney World or wherever he wanted.  He just had to be patient.  Vocabulary in action.  It’s a beautiful thing.

140 more days!

Leave a comment

Filed under teaching

Walt Disney World

In June, I will be going to Walt Disney World for the first time.  I am super excited; it’s all I can think about.  I am a Disney baby from way back.  I first went to Disneyland when I was about 16 months.  I had annual pass throughout high school.  I worked as an attractions hostess in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland (on the ill fated Rocket Rods). I go to Disneyland as often as I possibly can.  It’s in my blood.  It’s in my heart.

So, Disney World is a huge undertaking.  I mean, to get dining reservations, you have to start booking 180 days in advance!  And to get a FastPass for a ride, you start making reservations 60 days in advance (if you’re staying at a WDW resort; otherwise, it’s 30 days).  I’m used to waltzing up the day I get to Disneyland, sticking my ticket in a machine, and getting a return time.  But, on April 26, I will be waking up at 4 AM to start booking FastPasses so I can ride the rides I want with minimal wait. (From what I’ve read, you can get FastPasses the day of, they’re just harder to get.  And why wouldn’t you book early FastPasses if you can?  It’s just so crazy that you can do it that far in advance).

So, my vacation.  I am staying at one of WDW’s moderate resorts, Port Orleans French Quarter.  I feel this was a very good choice because they are the only hotel that has benigets (unless Port Orleans Riverside has them, too).  But benigets are very important to me.  I’ve only ever had them at Disneyland and I want to one day try the real thing in New Orleans, but until then, I am comforted by the fact they are nearby to where I’m staying.

I have a five day park hopper pass.  I don’t know how much park hopping I’ll actually be doing, because there’s just so much to do at each park.  But it’s nice to have that option just in case.

The plan so far is to go first to either Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.  I know, why not go to Magic Kingdom the first day; that’s the most important park!  But, I am not getting to Florida until almost midnight the night before, and I want to get to Magic Kingdom in time for rope drop.  The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World assures me that it’s okay to go a little later to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom; I’ll be able to go later and still do all the important stuff.  Now, I’m not planning on waltzing in at noon; I’m aiming for around ten maybe.  The only glitch in all this is Toy Story Land might be opening around the time I go, so a) that adds attractions and b) that adds crowds.  So it might not be a great park to go later to anymore.  We’ll see what happens.

So, the tentative plan:

Day 1: Hollywood Studios

Day 2: Magic Kingdom

Day 3: Animal Kingdom

Day 4: Epcot

Day 5: Magic Kingdom +resort time and possibly dropping by Disney Springs

Originally on Day 5, I was going to sleep in and hit the park late after swimming at the resort and stuff, but since then I decided that I really wanted some magic on my vacation.  Originally, I wasn’t going to do any table service dining; I even got the quick service dining plan so I didn’t have to worry about making reservations or anything to eat.  But everyone online convinced me that Cinderella’s Royal Table was a can’t-miss experience. I wasn’t going to do it because it’s so pricey, but I eventually rationalized it : I was going to do a fireworks dessert party, which is also pricey, but seemed worth it.  But, that’s just dessert, and as an individual person all by herself, it probably won’t be too terribly difficult to find a spot to squeeze into to watch the fireworks.  I do it all the time at Disneyland (which, God, I hope isn’t a totally misleading experience).  And I LOVE going to breakfast.  So, Day 5, I am going to breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table!!  I get to eat inside the castle before the park even opens.  It is going to be so awesome.  And then, later that day, I’m having lunch in the Beast’s castle at Be Our Guest.  That’s not a character dining experience, but you get to eat INSIDE THE BEAST’S CASTLE!  I’m going to try to eat in the West Wing.

So, yeah.  This is what’s been consuming my every spare thought for the past few weeks.  I plan to do a few post on my Walt Disney World experience.  Next up is my general planning list, my FastPass plan, my outfits, and whatever comes to mind.

142 more days!


Leave a comment

Filed under Walt Disney World