Wait you mean you came to class unprepared again???

It really feels like I have spent more money on pencils for my classroom than anything else including books and my classroom library was at one point around 1500 books (thrift stores, library book sales, and book club points help keep the cost down).

My biggest classroom pet peeve is kids not coming to class with a pencil.  Now this isn’t a problem for me currently as I am a specials “teacher” so the kids leave their supplies in their classes and I have supplies for them but the years I have spent as a com arts teacher…UGH!

I have seen so many different ways of keeping the kids from borrowing my pencils, some I’ve gotten from other teachers: trade a shoe for a pencil, trade your wallet for a pencil (this one made me incredibly nervous I only did it once or twice), trade something else you have with you for a pencil.  At one point I took an idea from a store that had taped flowers to the tops of their pens but to allow students to still use the eraser I ran ribbon through a button and then that to the top of the pencil.  The button clearly marked the pencil as mine but the tapping noise it made when it hit the pencil, often on purpose, began to get rather annoying for everyone in the class.  Then I started finding buttons on ribbons on the floor.  I never was able to catch kids doing it but they were taking the buttons off and stealing my pencils.  For a while I stopped lending out pencils at all if you didn’t bring one sorry guess you’ll have to borrow from someone else.  Then kids weren’t getting work done, UGH so I went back to the “trade me something” method.  To date I never came up with a really good solution so if anyone has one please share!!!

Written for DP Daily Prompt She Drives Me Crazy

Women In Space

Book review I wrote for my friend Amy’s book blog. Great nonfiction read, would be an excellent addition to any classroom library especially for science or history teachers.

What Will She Read Next?

UnknownBefore we let women’s history month go by unnoticed…

So I’ve been on a space kick lately, reading a LOT of books about space and astronauts.  In my hunt this book, Women in Space: 23 stories of first flights, scientific missions, and gravity-breaking adventures by Karen Bush Gibson, really caught my attention, I never knew that there were women being tested for the Mercury space program.  I never knew the Soviets launched a woman into space before the US did.  This book is in the teen section at my local library but I’d recommend it for anyone 4th grade and up, maybe even lower depending on their reading level.

This book first talks about the Mercury 13, women who underwent all of the same tests as the male Mercury 7 astronauts.  Each of these women was an accomplished pilot.  They underwent the tests often completing them with better results…

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I love my job and my career!

Scrolling through daily prompts I came across this one that I missed at the start of last week and knew I had to rectify the mistake of missing it the first time out.

While I don’t spring out of my bed in the  morning thrilled to go to work, sorry I’m not a morning person I much prefer staying up later, I do love my job.

I detail why I chose my profession on the Why I became a teacher page of my blog but as for my current job well… while I’m not a classroom teacher I do teach classes and have my own room, yep figure that one out lol.  The smallest things can excite me when working with kids.  On Friday I had a student who struggles some remember that I had taught them previously the ctrl – s shortcut to save I nearly cheered.  The random hugs, the messages from former students to fill me in on their lives or just say they miss me (I moved away from where I used to teach) make me smile.

Yes there are frustrations ask any teacher and they can enumerate them for you but for me it’s the light going on in a child’s eyes when something makes sense, it’s the smile you get just for being there, it’s the rare thanks you get for something you said or did.  I have been incredibly fortunate to have students actually tell me thank you for being there for them, for “making” them read, for believing in them.  I can’t imagine any other way to be as a teacher and I can’t imagine any other better career in the world.

I’m in my fourth year of seeking a classroom position and it can be frustrating but I know I wouldn’t trade my career for any other, I quite simply can’t imagine every doing anything else at least nothing outside of the education field.  I’ve looked for possible education related jobs at the zoo or science center something that would still allow me to teach and work with kids but even when it’s been suggested I try to find a different job I just can’t do it.

I’m one of the fortunate ones that found my calling early, as in before college, and I thank God for that regularly.

Written for the DP Daily Prompt Sixteen Tons

Writerly Reflections

This is late because I just discovered the weekly challenges but I just couldn’t start with the current week I had to go back to last week, it just called to me.  How did I first fall in love with reading and writing?  Oh boy this could be a long post 🙂

My parents read to me from the time I was just a baby.  As soon as I could read I began to devour every book I could get my hands on.  My love of books has grown as I’ve grown.  I discovered a new love of young adult novels when I began teaching middle school communication arts and then a new love of children’s books when I had my son.

I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books.  I can spend hours wandering the stacks at the local library or book store.

Writing well that’s a different story.  The first time I remember writing and enjoying it was for a writing contest being held at my school.  I wrote a short ghost story based on an old mail truck we had found at the back of property owned by friends of my parents.  I think I got an honorable mention for that story, wish I still had it.  After that I was hooked.  I wrote all the time stories and poems.  High school led me to my three best friends all big readers and writers.  We shared a spiral notebook where we each wrote poems.  They were my first editors and critics.

A few years ago I participated in NaNoWriMo along with my students, I’ve participated a few times since then but that was the only time I completed the challenge and wrote a “book” (quotation marks because the end result was not really book worthy lol) 50,000 words.  I completed it on the last day with just hours to go, it was an incredible feeling.

I continue to write, occasionally working on short stories or novellas but most of my writing now is done for blogging here or for my friend Amy’s What Will She Read Next? book review blog.  I’ve tried blogging before but was never able to stick with it, never able to be consistent enough to make it worth it.  It just took finding something I care enough about and am willing to share (I could probably blog consistently about my family but for the most part I want to keep that private) to really get going.  I’ve wanted to be a writer forever and now I feel like I actually am.  I never know if anyone is reading what I write but it’s out there in case anyone ever does, and if nothing else I enjoy the process.

Written for DP Weekly Challenge March 24 

This teacher’s code

I do try to live by a set of principles especially when it comes to my classroom.  These are not in any order of importance but simply in order of how they popped into my mind.

1) Let my students know that I care.  You never know the whole situation of a child when they walk through your door.  Kids can be good at hiding things.  I want my students to know that I care about them and that I’m always there if they need someone to listen.

2) Celebrate successes.  I posted on March 9th about What you focus on, to more I celebrate successes in both behavior and academics the more students notice them as well, the more my classroom becomes a positive place.

3) Know the material and if you don’t learn it. So this fits me especially well as I posted on March 27th in Pretending my way through the day I’m not an expert at what I teach so I do the research I do the lessons I have the kids do to be sure I’m prepared.  Even when I think I know the material I often do the assignments I give the kids so that I know I’m prepared and because things change.  I taught middle school communication arts for nine years and in the first year I discovered that the rules for possessive nouns had changed.  I had not read the lesson before I began teaching and had to stop in the middle to look at it closer and tell the kids I’d made a mistake which leads me to –

4) Own up to your mistakes.  I’m human I make mistakes and I make sure I tell the kids I do, they need to know everyone makes mistakes.  I’ve had teachers through the years that act as if they are perfect and cover up any mistakes they made, it makes me crazy.  I’ve made mistakes grading before when students come to me and ask about it (though I require they do it respectfully as in “Mrs. D you marked this answer wrong and when we went over it in class it’s not.” instead of yelling out in class “Hey you screwed up” and yes I’ve had that happen and the issue at hand for me there is the respect and the fact that the student just disrupted the whole class.  When I do mark something incorrectly I fix it on the paper immediately and as soon as I can in the grade book.  If by chance I miss marking something wrong and the student lets me know I either let them keep the points or correct for full points rather than half points depending on what the question was worth  (this may change after reading Repair Kit for Grading.)  I also apologize to the kids when I make mistakes.  To me it’s important for them to hear that, to have a good model for apologizing.  (not I also apologize to my son when I’ve made a mistake or snapped at him for no reason)

5) Help every student in my class to achieve to the best of their ability, to fulfill their potential.  I really don’t think anyone should be teaching if this isn’t part of their persona teaching code.

6) Don’t ever purposefully embarrass a student and if you do it accidentally apologize (see #4).  I know that there are teachers that embarrass kids to get them to behave or do work and I want to ask does that actually work for you?  Do the kids change their behavior?  Some may but I’d lay odds that most don’t.  Not to mention you’re setting up an antagonistic relationship with that student and that is not the way to help them learn.

Well that’s it for now.  I may think of more and add them later, it could take days for this to be a complete post actually and it may never be because a teacher’s code should really be a “living document” changing as you get more and varied experience.

Written for DP Daily Prompt: I Walk the Line

What’s a girl gonna do without a best friend? I have no idea because I have 3 :)

OK so this is really not education related but I couldn’t pass up this prompt.  I am incredibly lucky to have three best friends.  We’ve now known each other for 20 yrs, well 19 for one but since high school.  I hear people ask “are you going to your high school reunion?”  I can safely say I don’t need to, I’ve kept in touch with several of my classmates through the years including my three besties.

We met randomly in classes each at different times and yet somehow we became a cohesive unit.  It’s strange I know that often people have one best friend.  I see it all the time in kids and experienced it myself as a youngin’ that trios of friends often have problems with fighting and two of them get along better leaving one out, with the one left out rotating.  Maybe it’s because we’re a group of four “the fearsome foursome” (well to us anyway, and to teenage children belonging to a two of us LOL) but we haven’t seemed to have that problem.  Oh we’ve argued, and we’ve lost touch with one another through the years but I’ve never felt on the outs from them.

As a group we are crazy, kooky, funny, loving, caring, individually they are all those things and more.  I know if I ever need them they’ll be there for me, all it takes is a phone call, text, e-mail anything.  Not only that I know that they’ll be there for  my kiddo just like I’d be there for any one of them or their kids.  We have been there for each other through some wonderful and some awful times.

We can talk about anything, and probably have at some point.  We don’t all have exactly the same thoughts but they are often similar which is one reason we get along so well.  We don’t let our differences come between us.  We can go months without talking and then pick up right where we left off again.

One of the three of us lives in another state but when we do girls’ night here we make sure to check her schedule so we can Skype and she can still be part of the fun.

Best of all it’s continuing into the next generation, two of the kids are best buddies, nearly inseparable and it just makes us all grin.  I love these girls, they are truly not just my best friends, they are my sisters. (that’s me on the left)

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Written for the DP Daily Prompt: Born to Be With You

Refinding my Happy

There are days at school that for whatever reason I’m sad or upset or sometimes even just angry.  This doesn’t work when you teach.  You have to learn to leave your feelings at the door or in the hallway or in the car, well you get the picture.  A teacher’s attitude and general demeanor depict the general attitude of their class.  Think back to school when you’re teacher was having a bad day what kind of day did you have?

So how do I deal with it?  A couple of things.  First several years ago the school I was at did a book study on the FISH Philosophy so I’ve been known to stop in the middle of class, close my eyes for a minute, take a deep breath and remind myself that I CAN choose my attitude.  If that’s not working I add in a quick silent Serenity Prayer the line “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” is the key for me.  I can change how I act and I can encourage change in others but I can not make them change and I have to accept that.

The most fun way to find my happy again though has to come when I have a group full of younger kiddos.  We take a brain break and I put a Just Dance kids video on the SMART board (they’re all over the internet, I have a whole board of them on my Pinterest) and dance with the kiddos or sometimes just let them dance and giggle.  I’m telling you, it’s just not possible to watch a group of kindergartners dance and sing “Call Me Maybe” and not smile, while “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” comes in a close second.  This works with first and second graders too, unfortunately the fourth and fifth graders just seem to get goofy, JD not a great brain break for them ah well such is life.

Written for the DP Daily Prompt Singing the Blues

 

ETA: A group of kindergartners came into my room this morning singing Friday, it was adorable and instantly brought a smile to my face and then I thought of this post and just had to share