Background

12/22/08

Bad Idea Bears Told Her To Do It

One of my students was caught cheating today. There, I said it. She was cheating. She sat there, her petite stature cradling the notebook in her lap. She had painstakingly written all of the words and definitions in a small notebook at home sometime over the weekend, and now it lay in her lap. While I was helping a student take the test, a student I am often working with and usually write the answers for, she was over there reading the notebook and filling in answers.

My fabulous co-teacher busted her. Took away the notebook and quietly informed me. In my brain I went ballistic.

Later, when I took her in the hall to confront her about it, she broke down in tears. To be expected, she rarely has run-ins with authority, and normally just keeps to herself.

I tried to toughen up - to not let the tears get to me. As I made it clear the significance of her actions (and their dooming consequences on our trustworthy relationship), she told me that she was afraid of doing poorly because her Dad would get really mad at her. She was very specific in naming her "home" consequences.

Great job, Mom and Dad, for pushing your daughter to a point where she feels she has to cheat in order to accomplish her goal - no matter what the cost, she was willing to risk it. Or perhaps I'm being naive, and thinking that she was even able to consider the repercussions of her actions at this age. Whichever the case, I'm disappointed. I hate the first year teacher cuts and scrapes. Dents and Dings.

And, the icing on the cake - when I walked back in the room I overheard Glasses yell at another student over a rousing game of chess "You are seriously pissing me off right now."

12/21/08

Outside Looking In

Warning: Non-school related post. Rain Dancer, Glasses, and the usual cast of characters will not be involved in the making of this post.

This evening I went to dinner at my grandma's house. Her home is all decked out in it's holiday finest. Every nook and cranny is splattered with some form of holiday decoration. She even wraps the pictures on the wall, so they look like large gifts hanging all around the house. The smell of those musty and old oraments and decor instantly warm my spirit. Christmas is big in my house, as this is the house I grew up in.

One particular memory makes me laugh every time I think about it. Recently my cousin wrote a note stating the same memory, so I'm glad I am not the only one that holds it dear.

Oddly enough... it involved toilet paper.

From the time I was little, Grandma went overboard on the decorating. The greatest example of this would be our bathroom. Yes, bathroom. You walked in, flipped on the lightswitch, and instantly be serenaded in high-pitched, mechanical Christmas tunage. The soundtrack was short, and would cycle through a few (tens) of times while you were brushing teeth, showering, etc... The entire bathroom looked like Santa himself had vomited the North Pole. We even had a Santa shower curtain - showing him in skivvies with soap suds generously covering his skin.

The best memory though... the toilet paper. Next to our "real" roll of toilet paper, there was a much more enticing roll. This roll was printed with the words "Merry Christmas" and "Seasons Greetings" throughout the entire roll. One sheet might have atleast 50 holiday wishes. It was one ply, and may as well have been trace paper - it was so thin. But... for some reason... we all wanted to use it. We would all sneak uses, in hopes that the missing sheets wouldn't be noticable to my Grandma. She, inevitably, would walk into the bathroom at some point in the day and shout "Who's using the Christmas Paper!?" She'd get so mad, curse in the sweet way that only Grandma's can, and threaten to not put the paper out ever again.

Well, I walked into the bathroom tonight and, what do you know... the roll was there. Again. For the 20-something year in a row. The same roll. The years have been hard on the Christmas Paper - it is very clear that there are many that have fallen into the trap of the paper temptation. While there are only about 20 sheets left, and the cardboard is clearly visible, the sight of the same roll.... the same roll that I stole sheets from over the years... graces us once again. And if you listen really carefully on a quiet holiday evening by the tree - you can still hear Grandma yelling "Who's using the damn Christmas paper!?"

12/16/08

Are You Married?

I am posting this "for" a coteacher who is a non-blogger. This is just too good to not share.

My male coteacher, who I will call Mr. J, is often sharing the funniest stories with us. The other afternoon, he had a doozie. Let me see if I can do this story some justice...

A student walked up to Mr. J and plainly asked him if he was married. Simple enough, and not a totally off the wall question... students want to get to know us personally. Mr. J happens to be of the non-married variety, so he answered with a simple "No."

It became clear that the student was not quite finished with his line of questioning, as he did not waiver in his stance. Without hesitating, he followed Mr. J's response up with

(Hold onto your britches..)

"Oh, then you must be a virgin."

Fourth Grade Blush

I am often amazed at how fourth graders - particularly girls - are going through such a huge change. Socially, emotionally, physically - it all seems to be coming together - and by coming together I mean going completely f*&#ing nuts.

My favorite so far this year was today. I looked over at a few girls as I was giving my lesson. These few girls tend to gravitate to the same corner of the group setting... and if I'm not careful, they will sink into the "outside of the group" hole and I will not see them again until math.

Two of the girls were holding what looked like chapstick, but in a smaller tube. I imagine they were holding some sort of smelly shiny lip gloss that came as a set of three in a tube. I then, oddly, and as if in slow motion, saw them take the lids off of their lip gloss and then proceed to dabble it on ...

... their cheeks. They bounced the lip gloss up and down all over their cheeks.

Fourth grade blush.

12/5/08

One, Two, Step

We are studying patterns in math. Looking at color, shape, size, rotation, function, etc... my students have spent about a week dissecting any sort of pattern I throw in front of them.

Yesterday I had them listen to a rock song about patterns (http://www.hbschool.com/jingles/jingles_all/35i_repeat.html)

Today, we got all of this knowledge moving. I played a number of songs for them, all of which have a well-known dance attached. We started with the Chicken Dance. We performed the dance as a class, and then we wrote the pattern out using letters, pictures, and then shapes. Then we moved onto the Macarena. Then the Hamster Dance, Cha Cha Slide... and then, to top it off, we went completely Pattern Crazy on a lil' dance we like to call "Soulja Boy." I looked up an instrumental version of the song, and the students began dancing like crazy. Most of the students knew the steps.

I realize as I reflect on my day, that this lesson and this energy is something that can not be easily replicated on an every day basis, across every lesson. But I want to. Sounds like a dare.

11/12/08

I Will Never Say No When You Ask To Go To The Bathroom Again

There I was, sitting at a table with 4 students who were riveted with my extensive knowledge on mixed numbers. Glasses (who's been without glasses now for a few weeks) bursts through the classroom door. He was on a bathroom break with a 'smate that we'll rename Punk (for his inappropriate dance moves one day).

Back to the bursting through the door. So, Glasses BURSTS through the door - comes gliding across to my table, all the while shouting "PUNK.......PEED..... IN....... HIS....... PANTS!!!!"

By that time, he had reached my side. I looked at his frantic expression and said "Was that an appropriate thing to shout across the classroom?" I was really giving myself a moment to think about my action and to ponder on the whereabouts of Punk at this moment.

To my amazement, instead of simply saying "No, it wasn't," Glasses stares at the floor and rephrases his declaration.

He looks back up to me, in the same gaze as before, and says:
"Punk has a watery substance on his pants!!"

I stifle my laugh and walk across the room to the door. By the way, no less than 5 students followed me begging to go with him to the clinic. What is with these kids? Haven't they every seen a watery substance on pants before? When I open the door to ask Glasses to take him to get new clothes (I heart the parent center), I see the top half of Punk's body gazing into the classroom. He was hiding his bottom half with the doorway and wall.
Without saying anything, I motion for them to be on their way.

Classroom Invaders

At this very moment there is a nice man in my room spraying a horribly stinky & disgusting gel all over my floor, cabinets, walls, etc... Won't take you long to figure out why. My students spotted a cockroach running out of the supply bins today. The PENCIL bins. I mean, is nothing sacred? So, I am sure that I am currently losing brain cells as I inhale the supposed odor-less substance that will squash any cockroach attempt at practicing literacy again. Atleast in my classroom.

I want to mention what you may have noticed... that I downplayed the role that the students played in finding the invader. That is just the kind of teacher I am. Calm, cool, and collected. Actually, the students that saw it first - they deserve some kind of "Thanks-For-Not-Screaming-COCKROACH-From-Across-The-Room" award. Instead, they were quietly moving their backpacks and supplies until I stomped over and demanded to know why they weren't on task. Foot-in-mouth, on that one, right?

After a bit though - the word leaked and Rain Dancer stated "I live with cockroaches everyday. They're ugly. And FAST."

10/28/08

Home Humor




My husband just stood in front of me wearing this, and asked

"Is it okay if I wear this to work tomorrow?"



Note: Crocs. PJ pants. Wrinkly top with bling cufflinks.



(In all fairness, he was just asking about the top, minus the wrinkles).


10/26/08

Heart Sick

On Friday, I met with a parent of one of my students. This student is new to our school this year, and arrived about a month late. While the family didn't come from far away, if you're looking at a map, they have come a long way emotionally.

What I heard in this meeting has kept me awake all weekend. The weight of this student's shoulders is no match for most adults, although you would never know it. This student is such a happy, smiling, generally well-adjusted kid. The picture and the circumstances and the stories that this parent shared with me just broke my heart, and I realized that this was one of those moments that good teachers talk about... the moments in which you have to remain objective, professional, while still managing to "care" (read, "love").

I will spare most of the details, but instead tell you about the part that has been haunting my thoughts. Mom of student left the father - took her four children and moved out - due to spousal abuse. One day, during school, the father arrived unannounced to have lunch with my student (and perhaps his other children at the school).

It was during this lunch that the father told my student, a 10 year old, to run away from his Mother's new home. He told him what time to leave, where to go, and that he'd pick up his son at that time and location.

What a weight to bear on a 10 year old. I keep replaying what the father must have said, the demands he must have placed, and how the student must have been feeling. Torn, confused, angry, happy to see dad, wondering what was going to happen to the three sisters if... just if....

My demands on this student in the classroom seem so insignificant. Yet still necessary, I know.

This, for this student, is far from over. I could see from the mother where this student gets strength. But ... only 10 years old.

I am writing this in hopes that "talking" about it will let my mind filter out the parts of the story that I need to know, as his educator. Distancing it from my mind, and from me, personally. Here's to hoping.

10/23/08

Lysol Wipes, Anyone?

She had to go to the bathroom.

It was an emergency.

It is always an emergency, so I wave her the okay, and add "Take a friend." Pee with a buddy.

She should have just walked out the door with her friend, taken care of business, and returned.

Instead, she stalled in the place she made her request, staring at me still.

It's an emergency. There's more. She has a Rash. There's more. Down there. With every detail, I simply said "Go ahead, take a friend."

I guess she doesn't know that's the signal for "Please don't tell me anymore."

10/22/08

Picture Detectives

In Social Studies, I asked my students to become picture detectives today, and explore some images, looking for details and what those details tell us about that time, etc...

In one of the pics there is a small pipe (SMALL, with a lot of other details that they could have focused on). Here is a convo that I overheard:

Funky: I know what that is! It's a pipe!

Innocent: What's a pipe?

Funky: (without missing a beat) It's what they smoke pot with.

10/21/08

Rad

A little while back, Snippety Gibbet tagged me to reveal 5 things about myself.... so here we go.

1. I was practically born with a softball glove on my hand. I remember standing in the outfield while my aunts practiced with their teams (when I was barely walking), and I spent much of my cradle-life in the concession stand, while my grandparents watched their children and ran the stand. I was even nationally competitive for most of my "career."

2. I was in a sorority at one of the 2 universities I attended. They roomed me with the VP of Academics because I was such a bad student. They thought that way, I'd have to study. I showed them. If you know me now, you would never have guessed. I turned it around, to say the least.

3. I am the only child for my father, but I have three siblings on my mother's side. Two brothers, one of them 23, the other 10 - and one sister (25) who's in Pharmaceutical school in Florida.

4. I eat potatoes raw. My husband thinks this is disgusting. (He corrects me by saying "Weird, not disgusting!" but his look tells it all).

5. I am bringing back the word "rad." Embrace it.

10/20/08

October Break

Oh, intersession break, how I love thee. I had a nice break, and managed to take a few shots along the way...



Book Club Weekend at the lake - wine, cheese, fresh popcorn, candlelight... on the beautiful deck!

Trip to Smithsonian - GREAT Ocean exhibit!

A trip to the incredible butterfly exhibit... they were flying everywhere around me - and one even landed on my arm for a moment. This was by far the highlight of the Smithsonian tour.

I have a few other images I will add later... I didn't want to forget to say THANK YOU INTERSESSION!

Quick Response

I was standing outside at recess today with a coteacher, and all of the sudden a squirrel darts across the middle of the playground. I state that the squirrel just saw its life flash before its eyes (b/c there are about 80 kids on the playground, running and darting about).

My coteacher responds "He better keep running... I have some students who might want to skin it and eat it."

Here's to a healthy lunch.

10/1/08

Ducks in a Row

I am loving year round school. I can't imagine my year of teaching without this break. We've been in school since the end of July, and we are now off for two weeks. One day, I will teach intersession - but not right now. I need the time.

I have big plans for over the break. I am going to breathe. I am going to cook. I am going to go have lunch with my husband, my dad, my family... I am going to read. But the thing I am most looking forward too (don't laugh) - is planning. I have this significant chunk of time in which to lay out and take another look at the rest of the year. I am relaxed at the thought that I will go back in 2 weeks revived, and ready to conquer the next quarter with my students.

Highlight of the day: As I was greeting my students at the door this morning, they each handed me a birthday card (when we normally shake hands). Each and every one of them had made these amazing masterpieces on their own time. Hugs all around.

Some snapshots of what they wrote:
"I love you like a Mom."
"Wow! 30!"
"Happy Birthday for being 30. My mom is 30 too."
"Are you 36 or 37?"
"You silly girl."
Not to mention the two students who decided that it was completely okay to call me by my first name when addressed in my birthday card.


These will be hung at my birthday party. I can't wait to show them off.

Off to get my ducks in a row... .

9/29/08

Rain Dancer & Glasses

RD: I don't want to watch your video. (project)

G: Why don't you?

RD: I just don't.

G: Well, then I won't watch yours.

RD: You already watched it yesterday.

G: I did not commit it to memory.

Other things G doesn't commit to memory: Homework. Lunch Money. Remembering Glasses everyday.

9/22/08

That's One Way To Do It

A student comes up to me holding a pink, slobbery, partially chewed piece of candy. (Starburst, if you need a visual). He has a grimace, clear sign of pain across his brow.

In his partially chewed piece of candy, there was his tooth. One of the big ones.

Gross.

9/18/08

Trouble in Paradise

I have two students in my room who are totally the fourth grade versions of the Odd Couple. Except, of course, neither of them is neat.

They do everything together. They co-write, co-read, walk in the halls together, support eachother, etc. The other day one of them was having a bad day, an "I-don't-have-any-friends" kind of bad day, and the other chimed in with "I'm your friend!!!" with a good ol' pat on the back. AND they sit at the Peanut Free table at lunch, by themselves, even though they aren't allergic to peanuts.

Well, today a huge hill appeared... and their relationship went down it. I overheard one say to the other "You're a bad friend." and then a "But I don't know what I did wrong, you have to tell me." and then "You should know what you did."

One of the friends spent the entire lunch period by himself at the Peanut Free table... the lone island of their former friendship... and cried the whole 30 minutes. And then cried the whole way out to recess.

I later found a note... I couldn't make out the whole thing, but it was the start of an acrostic poem:

N
O
T
C
O
O
L

I hope that in the morning we will be back to normal, and the relationship will be back on track. I will keep you posted.

9/16/08

Rules for Teachers


Food and Shelter

This weekend I went to the bookstore to spend my $20 giftcard I received as a thanks for a small inconvenience.

I was in search of something, anything, that could rope in my "I don't want to read" readers. I have a few of them. I combed through student-aged "how-to" books, books about cars, buildings, candy... Nothing seemed just right for any of my little darlings.

My poor husband was trailing behind me as I wound my way around the entire store. (In all fairness, I did suggest he get a beverage from the bookstore bar before we began).

Finally, I found something. I situated myself in front of the magazine rack and picked out 6 magazines for various readers. They looked cool... The language varied enough to hit a wide range of readers, and I thought the topics would look interesting to the readers.

I brought the magazine stack in on Monday and unveiled it to the class. I showed them the awesome pictures and an article in each one that I thought was really interesting. I was excited, I showed enthusiasm (which was completely genuine - these mags were right on!)

It worked... they looked so psyched and the magazines have been a hot comodity ever since, well, yesterday. Some students have even removed the ordering slip from them in hopes of asking their parents to get it for them. One girl even said - "That's all it costs for a year? I can earn that money!" Hooray for them.

Right after I gave my Read These Cool Mags talk, I asked if there were any questions. Beyond the drooling and GimmeGimme looks, I saw a lone hand. Rain Dancer. This was going to be good.

RD: Why did you waste your money on us?

Me: Waste? I love these magazines and I wanted to share them with you all!

RD: You should spend your money on Food and Shelter.

Good point. I can see someone is ready for the economics lessons.

9/15/08

Classroom Management

Today. Oh, today.

Today I had to whip out the "Take a Break" talk.

Is it true irony if I was interrupted by shout outs during a talk about shouting out?

I knew I needed it, it's true. It was confirmed today, after my talk, when I was approached by Rain Dancer. He handed me a list and simply said "Here they are."

"What's this?" I said, scanning the list of names.

"It's a list. A list of students who were talking."

"Talking? When?" (Knowing, that in my classroom, I channel Organized Chaos and it's usually a loud productive mess).

"Talking too loudly. Talking when you were talking. Some of them were whispering, but I got 'em. I wrote them down."

We need noise-cancelling headphones, and stat.

9/14/08

9/11/08

Snippets from the Party Room

Today was humorous. Funny. Laugh out loud at the end of the day funny. Trying to catch my breath funny.

Let me say, that not all of this might be funny to you. But pile it all together, and, by-golly, you have one heck of a day.

1. In math, we are talking about fractions. Students were building fractions using anything and everything in the classroom - clocks, pattern blocks, tangrams, fraction bars, money... you name it - we had it out. I was at one table, while my math co-teacher was W-A-Y on the other side of the room at another. The table I was working with happens to be a crammed table of seven boys (oy). They were building the fractions with no problem, in partners and independently. So, of course, they started to get distracted by their brains. "HEY!" their brains shouted. "Let's bust out in song in the middle of math!" And, of course, they obliged. (Tree - you should be channeling the bad idea bears)
I then stepped in and busted up the fun. Yeah, right. I told them that if they were going to sing, then they had to sing about the fractions they were building. Write a song, make up a song, sing it out... have at it! BUT it had to be about fractions. They said "I don't want to write a song." I said "What about a rap?" and they said "What's a rap?" SERIOUSLY? I thought I was so cool and hip on this stuff... but they don't know what a rap is? I couldn't help myself, I just started rapping about fractions. "Yo, Yo, Yo, fractions here..."

From across the room, the coteacher began laughing. I couldn't help myself.
Product? A song (rap) about fractions, created by two students in math today.

2. Not shortly after, a student, we'll call him Snail (because, as one teacher noticed, "If he walks any slower, he'd be going backwards), was bumped into by another student. Imagine a tap. Now divide that by 10 degrees of contact. This brush caused Snail to collapse to the floor in tears. Not because he was in pain, but because it disrupted him from his standing up. I know I know, poor Snail. I love this kid. But his collapse was award winning. The puddle (literally) of tears on the floor proved his dedication to the cause. No coaxing, pats on the back, encouragement, etc... were going to get Snail to get up. He laid there with our coteacher trying to convince him to get up for about 10 minutes. Puddle and all. Finally, with promises of kleenex, coteacher was able to get him to stand back up.

3. Nosepicker in the second row... go wash your hands.

4. Singing in the hall with an assistant leads to "dance party in the mod." It was part of my reading lesson, I swear. (Not the dance party part - but the reading the lyrics part).

5. This is from yesterday, but it is worthy of a two-day chuckle. We - another teacher and I - were lucky enough to have our school's tech guru come into the class to give an "Internet Safety" talk. Do not share personal information, great metaphors for safety they are familiar with, Stranger Danger online, etc... They should totally have connections with everything they were hearing. Here's one that will stay with me:

Yeah - that's like a movie I saw where a kid was setting his mom up on a date, but he found the date online, and gave the guy all this information and had his mom meet this stranger somewhere, and when she got there - it was a VAMPIRE!
All of the students either said "OH YEAH!" or their faces said "Vampires are online?"

I know there are more moments - but there's another day to blog :)

9/9/08

The I'm-so-proud-of-you-my-heart-expands feeling

I promised myself that I would be better about blogging on the day to day occurrences in class. Without sounding like a whiner, I'd like to say how difficult that is when you don't have internet (or cable, gasp!) at home.

Today... I want to remember today. Nothing particularly fabulous happened, but that is the fabulous part. I was being observed by some county folks for reading. I had all of my materials in order. The students were super chatty. We had outdoor, then indoor, then outdoor recess announcements (always a classroom disruptor when the announcer messes with their recess!).

I planned this carousel-ish activity for reading today. We are starting the discussion of author's purpose, starting with "inform." On each table I put a different style of informative text.

Table 1: Gaming guides for video games, instruction manual for my ipod, board game instructions.

Table 2: Time Almanacs (they are addicted to these lately, so I thought I'd throw them in the mix).

Table 3: Biographies

Table 4: Articles from Kids Post (including a pretty gross one that they loved on earworms).

In the back of the room, I had three computers set up with various sites, such as National Geographic for Kids, KidsNewsRoom, and Scholastic.

Their job was to read at each table. Then, after about 10 minutes, I asked them to write a thought - any response - to the text they were reading at that table on a post-it note, stick it to a parking lot on that table (a blank piece of paper), and then move to the next table. As it was happening, I was thinking I should refine the reflection by giving them a mini-prompt - but I am not glad that I did not.

Guess what? They ALL got in about 50 minutes of independent reading. And at the end, the students that would typically cringe at the thought of reading said "Are we going to do reading today?" When I said "We just did!" it BLEW THEIR MINDS. Amazing. Truly.

At the end, we came together and talked about our reflections. I asked for hands to tell me something they were thinking about all of these books, etc.. and I also read some of the post-it notes from the tables. From those thoughts, we constructed a general statement about the resources. The students decided that these materials: showed them information, tells them something, teaches them something, or they learn something from it.

They get it, folks! A student said the word INFORMation and we deconstructed it... well, THEY deconstructed it. And the looks on their faces as they buzzed with ideas, thoughts, and statements was indescribable.

On the post-its? They wrote a lot of "Tells me about...," "Shows me...," and "Teaches me..." BUT they also wrote a lot of "I learned..." "This book was about..." "Are there really earworms?"

So, for today... reading at the end of the day was just fine and dandy. What a great way to end a day...

9/8/08

Hateful hateful computer

Twitter will not let me update from this computer. Grr.

9/5/08

That Chair is Dangerous

My students sit. In a chair, sometimes. Not too often. Often they are on the floor. So, when reading the following story you have to keep in mind that these students don't have much experience with, uh, chairs.

Math was going "swimmingly" (My fave Dr. G word). I was allowing the students to pick their own math game after an excruciatingly long rounding quiz. When I called one student, (we will call him Glasses) to come select, he did not arrive. I kept calling other students, assuming that Glasses would arrive in his own time. A few students later, I realize he is still at his desk - but looks rather uncomfortable. I go over to investigate, and he says:

"My hand is stuck in my chair."

"What?" I say.

"My hand is stuck and it hurts." pause "Ouch."

"How on earth..." I'm thinking out loud.

I push and pull, gently trying to ease his hand out of the slat in the back of the chair. Nothing.
I cut off his supply bag (a bag of books and belongings on the back of the chair), in hopes that if he can lower his hand into the slat, it would come free. Nothing.

I suppose it was at this moment that I suggest we move our project into the hallway.

"Can you stand up?" I suggest.

"I can't. My hand is stuck."

I slowly lift the chair, with his hand still in it. He slowly stands with me. We walk across the room together, exiting the door without bumping into anything (whew).

I'd like to say that I was not at all laughing at this point.. but it was a funny situation. Right? Whatever, you'd be laughing too.

I put the chair down in the hallway.

"Sit down and wait here." I say.

"I can ONLY sit down and wait, my hand is stuck." Yep, he's right. Point Glasses.

Then, as if the move into the hallway has some magical power that will free the chair's grasp on his bony hand, I attempt to free his hand one more time. Nothing. Then he says:

"Mrs. _______, do you have any butter?"

Chuckle Chuckle Snort.

I leave him to ponder his "sticking my hand through the slat to get something out of my bag" decision. I enter the bathroom, fill my cupped hands with liquid soap, and return to the hallway. This is when the videographer should have shown up.

I proceed to grease this kid's arm up like a pig at the county fair. There is soap dripping everywhere, and I'm lathering it up and down his arm and hand. Seriously, videographer's dream.

He proclaims "SOAP? This is not going to work at all!"

For those of you thinking that this may have been a Teachable Moment, let me assure you, the last thing you are thinking as you're greasing up a kid's arm is "Let's think about how we can make a hypothesis about the likelihood that soap will help in getting your arm out of this d*&@ chair."

Well, it worked. Hand free - he exclaims "IT WORKED!" "How did that work?" And as he walked away to wash the soap from his arm he leaves us with his final thought:

"THAT chair is DANGEROUS!"

In which I reply: "We'll try a new one when you get back to the room."

The UP side:
He had clean clean hands for lunchtime.
and
I only had to excuse myself once from class to get all the giggles out.

8/25/08

I am Someone




Here it is. The easel. THE easel.


I consider myself MORE than lucky to be the recipient of such a gift from the school. While I really had no say in the matter - our amazing reading team insists on an easel in every room - I am grateful to one (unnamed)teacher who did not report her broken easel last year. Thus, I have been provided with this piece of magnificence.


Visits are free, but to grope and take a photograph with the subject will cost.


8/19/08

Real world

I read A Day's Work by Eve Bunting today with my students. Asked students what they thought was going to happen on the page when Ben found out they pulled up all the plants and left the weeds.

a. Police will come.

b. They will get arrested.

c. He will leave them there and not pay them anything or drive them home.

d. Police will come and shoot them.

Oy.

8/7/08

What Writing Feels Like

I asked my students to show me what writing felt like to them. The responses were everything I hoped for, but nothing I expected.

"Writing is flexible. My brain feels loose."

"Writing makes my blood shake and I feel excited." (He's doing a Rain Dance)

"I feel like I'm in control and everything done in a certain

way creates something cool... like a cartwheel."

7/31/08

Writing Writing Writing

My class is writing a morning message to the whole school. We first shared some things that it should include, looking at our morning messages from this week that are hanging around the room. Then they broke off into pairs (or by themselves) and created drafts of a morning message. Coming back together, we shared and constructed the sentences, and then the students wrote those sentences on our chart paper. I loved some of their "words of wisdom" for the other, especially younger, students.

Clearly, our PE specialists did a mighty fine job in embedding this grain of knowledge.


I love this encouragement: "You guys are outstanding kids..."


Heartfelt advice.

From Dusk til Dawn






7/28/08

Sidenotes

1. My Grandma took a picture of me on my first day of school - - - for the 2nd time in my life.
I hate to ruin that comment, but I do have to say that I'm pretty sure that she either cut my head off in the picture or that her thumb covered most of the view. But it was a moment.

2. Wonderful cohort member interviewed at my school. They have to, just have to, hire her. She'd just fit right in... even on the 2nd week of school. I will gladly never laminate anything ever again if it means we can afford her. C'mon HR... big money, big money...

3. Pink Corded Phone for the first time. I will always remember this conversation for some odd reason. Of all our conversations, that seems hard to imagine.

4. My Grandma then came to my school to see my room after dismissal. Aw, so cute... but then I put her right to work - a la "Hey, thanks for coming! Grab that stapler..."

5. Spaghetti. Spaghetti. Spaghetti. I shared this with Tree a while ago.. but I have this completely odd urge to type the word spaghetti every time I write in the address bar. I'm in spaghetti therapy. With meatballs on top.

Day One

I promised myself that I would blog about this day.

Well, Self, here it is. What do you want from me? I did as you asked and I prepared myself and I memorized student names, laughed, joked, and began to familiarize myself with my new students. What? What's that you say?

Yes, I said MY new students.

I walked them down the hall like a mother duck prances around with her new ducklings. Today is a great day to do that, by the way, seeing how they are all in First Day of School Comas. I think they can talk, but I'm not so sure. Wait wait, yeah, they have to talk. I mean, someone would have told me if I had a class of non-talkers, right? OMG what if this is like a big initiation thing where the other teachers bribe them to not talking for a few days, and then WHAM they explode with booming voices on, say, Thursday. Yes, that sounds like a Thursday thing to happen. That is sure to make Fox 5.

On my first day of being a REAL teacher I had my 21 minus 2 absent students for a whopping 2 hours. TWO hours. Today was an ART day - which we were all super excited about - so I only have students until about 10:20. Then I'm off to lunch and planning! Marvelous day!

I had this big puffed up kind of feeling for most of the day. I looked around the room at them and just felt the world stand still for just a moment. Just a moment while I took it all in. Then, of course, a red squishy die flew across the room and I was pulled out of my This Is Going To Be Awesome World.

Self, I even managed to get everything done that was on my list. Granted, the moment before the students arrived (20 minutes early, eek!) I pushed back the fire drill procedure talk until tomorrow. Thank goodness no Kindergartners (or their teachers) spontaneously burst into flames - we would have had no idea where to go or how to get there in the safest manner.

Tomorrow.... ah, good ol' tomorrow... now YOU will be the true test. Once I get through tomorrow I will be a teacher for two whole days. Yes, yes... THEN I will be a professional.

7/27/08

The Room is Ready




When they arrive at the door tomorrow, it will be me that they are looking for. With the shake of a hand, they will enter into the room, where they will await direction from... me. When there is a sub in the room, I will be the one they will refer to as the "leader."
It took me what seems like forever to get to this point, but now that I'm there it seems like just yesterday that I began this journey...

What Remains

As I was clearing out bins and getting materials ready for school to start, I came upon the good ol' cubby labeled MARKERS. The picture above is what remained.

Looks like only the yellow and brown survived the year. Are these colors so awful that students avoid them? I mean, clearly, even if they WERE the last markers on earth, they would still remain in this bin.

7/21/08

The walls know all...


If there could only be sound effects with these images... you'd be calling for help.

A lot of grunt work went into the creation of the layout. My very first room. I want to close the door and roll around on the floor making imaginary snow angels.

6/6/08

First Grade

I loved my first grade teacher. She used to pull on my pigtails and tell me tall tales about her family living in the classroom after school hours. She had the perfect balance between being compassionate and having high expectations. She inspired me to be a teacher. In first grade. I attribute a lot of my goals as a teacher to the modeling she had done for me throughout the years. Yes, I kept in touch with her.

In third grade I wrote an article on her for the school paper.

In sixth grade I volunteered to be a read-aloud buddy to some of her students once a week.

In eighth grade I followed her around for Career Day.

In eleventh and twelfth grade I was a mentor through a great high school program for students in her class.

I wrote my graduate school entrance essay about her, and how she has inspired me. She had such a profound influence on my professional life, beginning when I was in the first grade. I can only hope to be the teacher she was to me and to so many other students.

Today was her retirement party for her school. She is retiring after 33 years of teaching in the same school district. Hearing all of the wonderful things her coworkers had to say about her, I felt privileged to have been in her class so long ago. She dragged me around the room to meet everyone she wanted me to meet, cut my cake, poured my wine... she is forever the compassionate woman I remember from so long ago. I see her in a much more personal light as our relationship transforms from student-teacher to new teacher-mentor to friends.

I came home with stars in my eyes. I feel sad that she is leaving the classroom, but so happy that she can finally enjoy herself in a new dimension. Here is what she said to me today: (some snippets)

In her teacher voice after someone announced that ANYONE may now speak about her: "DON'T YOU MOVE."

"You're beautiful. How's your grandma?"

"Come with me, I want you to meet ____ and _____ and _____ and ..."

Introducing me to someone: "This is a former student of mine. I taught her 32 years ago."

When opening presents:
"Shit, I don't have my glasses on. I haven't asked you this in ages: Can you read this to me?"

"I'll go refill this for you."

Introducing me to someone else she bragged about all of the things I have accomplished over the last year. She knew the details from the conversations we have had, and I felt so lucky to have her support. I can only hope to be as meaningful to student's lives as she was to mine. As she leaned on my shoulder today, sitting there listening to speeches, I knew in my heart that I was meant to be there at that moment. It served a purpose for both of us, and it's totally unexplainable.

6/2/08

Inappropriate clothing



Once upon a time I was an intern in a second grade class. Okay, so really - it was just over a month ago. I digress.




The other day I wandered outside, and the class was out there with their teacher. GREAT! This gave me a few moments to catch up and chit chat with the teacher while the students enjoyed their well-earned extra recess minutes.




Then she wandered over... the little one that wore a prom dress for the class picture. The little one that made a cell phone in class during writing workshop. As she was standing there, beside me, I had to take a second look at her shirt.




My first take:











But, in actuality, the shirt said this:


... and had dice.
I just looked at her and said "Oh-kay." Geez.

6/1/08

Catching up

Last night there was an "End of Year" Celebration with my grad school cohort. While there are 5 interns at my assigned elem. school, there are about 26 total interns in my program. Some of those interns got together last night at an undisclosed location.

Sangria and bbq were a huge hit - and a few of us brought out the spouses for some added entertainment - not that this group of people needs it.

My ending thought: These people, the cohort members I have been seeing on a regular basis, spending many hours with, the ones that are spreading out across the nation after school lets out in 2 weeks.... they're nuts. Seriously, my ending thought has nothing to do with their personalities. After last night, I was just so thankful of my placement. I LOVE the school where I spent the last year. I love the atmosphere, support, and professional opportunities and drive. There are other schools that had issues with interns, students, parents, and teachers, and the friction between all of the above. So much so that, last night, there was a small posse on the front porch "working it out" when I arrived.

So, thank you to those that facilitated this relationship and the opportunities that resulted from it.

5/30/08

Jumping Rope

Ah, the chants overheard while young students jump rope.. they do bring back the memories....

We used to sing one on the playground about Cinderella and some fella and a snake. The more doctors, the better.

Today, however, I heard a new one. It may take you singing it aloud to really focus on the part in which I was all "Huh?"

"Strawberry Shortcake,
With cherries on top.
How many girlfriends
Do you got?"

1. What they CAN do: rhyming words

2. Since when does STRAWBERRY shortcake have cherries?

3. I'll leave number three up for you to sing out. Who came up with this one? Little Johnny, this is one I WILL believe you made up.

5/29/08

Substituting

At the end of my independent teaching, I am put back in the mix for substitute teaching at my assigned school. This means first come, first serve (usually) assignments, unless you have already signed up for a job.

My fellow interns and I realized that if we were the LAST ones to get there, then the jobs were probably already all assigned. Suddenly, those of us that usually would arrive at 7am began showing up at 7:30. 7:31. 7:35. And entering through a side door.

It's not that I have an aversion to subbing, I definitely enjoy it... it's just that those first few days after IT, my brain was fried. Seriously torched. And there were still the performance based assessment projects for grad school leaving us all sleep deprived on top of brain dead.

Feeling uber-guilty about tip-toeing to the main office every morning for a few days, I followed an interns discovery and signed up for as many sub jobs as available on the calendar. All grade levels, all classes, I was up for anything.

In the past few weeks, I have subbed for all grades, and a variety of teachers. I have to say that it is a joy to work in a school with such extraordinary professionals. My sub plans are stellar. I have time tables, extra activities, all supplies plus some, and the support of all surrounding teachers.

Today was my favorite so far. I was in kindergarten, the first time EVER. I was a little apprehensive about it this morning. A whole day with kinders? EEK. But I had a grand time. It took me a little while to get my bearings - but as soon as I did, I was on a roll. And the little darlings did a fine job - as long as they didn't smell blood.

Some highlights of my day:

-Even with great sub plans, a guest teacher never quite does it the way the regular teacher does. This, in Kinder, is the ultimate sin. I used the wrong pointer and said the date in the wrong order. No worries - I had 21 persistent reminders. (times 3).

- I was served food at the classroom restaurant. While the service was similar to a dive bar, and the food was a little, uh, plastic, the tips were still very generous. My favorite interaction:
Student: "What do you want?"
Me: "Well, what is on the menu today?"
Student: "(Huff) I will just bring you something."
Student walks back into the kitchen and was overheard saying "She doesn't know what she wants!" and then a flurry of little cooks compiling one HUGE plate of miscellaneous food.

- Playing barbies. There's nothing quite like overhearing conversations between barbies, and ken and barbie - from the brains of a kinder.

- The look on the face of a 6 year old on his birthday. All day.

- The look on the face of a 6 year old. When it's an EMERGENCY.

- Duck Duck Goose in the gym. I was in the way.

Overall: Great day.

Here I come first graders (tomorrow's assignment)!

5/8/08

WienerMobile

For the second day in a row, I was sent to an afternoon sub job - only to find that 1. it was the wrong day or 2. there was someone already covering. So, instead, I went off to help with the Kindgarten dismissal. I am fairly new at this dismissal depot, so I was only in charge of two minifriends.

I sent my two friends happily skipping off with their parents and then went outside to the car pick up area. It was there that I was playing "Miss Mary Mack" with a few kids. When all worn out, I asked one of my friends: "What does you car look like?"

He sang back to me: ".... it looks like a hotdog, and smells like one too!"

I was half expecting the weinermobile to roll up. I got a minivan, and a good laugh.

5/7/08

EARTHQUAKE!

Yesterday there was an earthquake about 1 mile from my "home" school. How exciting. There was a noise, a flurry of activity on an otherwise calm earth. There wasn't much of a disruption apparently... just a buzz through email of possible explanations... and a posting or 2 on staff news - teachers inquiring about the activity.

Can you imagine? Being stuck in a small world, a little bitty space of the world, with twenty or so little ones and one adult... and then wondering "What is that noise?" The small bubbles (classrooms) full of fluttering wings and then disturbed by the world outside.

I missed it. I was at my grad class on a campus across county. I missed it. We missed it. My co-interns and I were all stuck in a room of about thirty people, all intently refreshing our email screens. Suddenly there's a whisper. Did you hear? Did you get the email? Then a highway of email messages begins flooding all inboxes. One principal emailed this.... One administrator emailed that... We continued to refresh our email screens, all the while thinking about our home schools, our little ones, and wondering what they were thinking (if anything). Did they hear it? What did they think they felt? What did they think it sounded like?

I wished that I had been here. And I feel bad for the profressor that had to hear the click click click of our mouses as we refreshed continuously.

5/5/08

Without a room

I have this long list of things "to-do." I have gone from being classroom focused in creating lesson plans and SMARTBoard lessons and collecting resources to crazy LONG papers for grad school and reflecting. I had the best of intentions over the weekend - but I was enjoying the glimpse into my former life so much that I got NOTHING done.

Since the completion of my IT (Independent Teaching) on Friday, I have done.... I have done... I have done nothing on my list. I have enjoyed a skeleton of my former life. I saw friends. And yes - they are still my friends after my long absence. I went to the market. Mr. M and I went bike riding and out to lunch and dinner and played games.

So, here I am, Monday morning. I have been lucky enough to NOT be chosen to sub today. So I am sitting in the library of my school... typing away... getting that list done. So, if you see me and I'm frantically typing - it means I am either being productive or I am blogging to provide you with some reading enjoyment. (and that list of "Things to blog about" has grown over the last 4 weeks!!) I will do my best to get it all down. Distraction for you and for me...

5/1/08

Things they say

I was speaking to a sparkly-eyed minifriend today, discussing summer trips she was taking with family. She is going to Somaly (minifriend speak for Somalia), and Rome for a day. She also mentioned something about Africa.

I ask: "Oh, are you going to Africa, too?"

Response: "Africa? Noooo! It's toooooo risky."

The look she gave me as she said it was "And to think you're the teacher..." Pfft.

Apparently I need to get out the atlas and start putting more stamps in my passport.

4/21/08

Honesty: Always the Best Policy

A mini-friend of mine was missing from his table after the usual bathroom break. I ask "Has anyone seen minifriend?"

It was reported that he took his bathroom break, drink of water, returned to the classroom, only to go back out for ANOTHER drink of water. This, in the second grade, breaks the law.

I go out - and he is there, at the water fountain. I motion him towards me, assuming that he has now had two bathroom breaks and two water fountain breaks. (Never assume).

I ask "What is going on?" (Meaning "Why the *&^% did you just take 20 minutes in the bathroom and water - TWICE!??")

His response: "I had to poop and it made me thirsty."

4/16/08

Truth in Poetry

One of the students I am working with wrote the following poem today.

Bully
There's a bully in town
he does not share when you
say is that yours he says none
of your biz! That why I
just enore (ignore) him every day.

There is also an illustration. Picture this:
A sun in the upper left hand corner with a strange expression on its face.
A school (labeled with our school's name) in the background; including a window in which you can see a stick figure student - and the dialogue bubble is screaming HELP!
The "bully" in the middle with a terribly mean expression.
What looks like animals in the background with a dialogue bubble that says "You are a nauthy (naughty) boy!"
And, to top it all off - a row of flowers around the bully - all wilted and saying (yes, another dialogue bubble) "You are making us die!"

Truth in words and in illustration.

4/14/08

Needed: How to Deal with Parents 101

My t-shirt says: "I survived my first week of IT." I planned, I replanned, I cut, I pasted, I used marker, I wrote messages, I read notes, I looked up that word, what's that word, that means that thing, you know - that thing that students do all those times... what's that called.... well, I looked it up. I did all these things and the week passed... quickly.

One thing that was on the backburner of my week was assigning homework. It's for students, I thought, to practice what we are learning at home. That's how I currently think of it. Because the week was full of changes, I kept repeating that they could go home and share with their parents what is happening at school. We started new units in every subject. Their heads are spinning, their fabulous "regular" teacher is out of the room, they have new seats, new resources, new classroom organization... you name it. So, homework, in my mind, seemed pressured. Instead of turning in something that I knew I'd be over my head in looking at, I talked about the homework. "You read a poem to your parents last night! How'd that go?" And we shared, and shared, and discussed strategies. We talked right through my carefully prescheduled Morning Meeting time frame. All was going well.

Then this morning, a student comes over and says:
"Mrs. M., my mom wants to know why we don't have as much homework."
"O, she must want you to read to her more!" (HW was to read to someone in family).
"No, she said it's hard for her to have Mommy time if I don't have my own work to do. And she said that I talk enough, so reading to her isn't good."

Um. Blank. I silently pointed to his homework for the day, looked him in the eyes as I tapped the two papers, nodded, and walked away.




4/8/08

Shouldn't You Be Sleeping

Uh-huh.

It's not that I'm not planned for tomorrow.

It's that when I look at the plans I say:

"I can do better than that."

But then I look at the empty boxes in the planner

For the weeks ahead

And say:

"Nevermind. That looks good."

But the fun

is all in

the search.

3/27/08

Smartboarding

One of my grad school classes is Integrating Technology in a Diverse Classroom (something along those lines). One of the topics not addressed in class is the SMARTBoard - which happens to be (in my opinion) a HUGE tool in the classroom - especially at my school. In the past year I have attended a few information sessions about them, and have been fortunate enough to have such easy access to be able to have PLENTY of exploration time. So, to address this with whoever was willing - I volunteered to set up a mini-smartboard workshop for interns at my grad school. From talking to my cohort, I realized many of them were not getting the same hands-on experience as I was, so I wanted to share my resources.

Well, as I explore and "play around" with the technology, I often misinterpret a function... or it takes me a few minutes to truly figure something out about a program. Luckily, I am normally alone during this exploration time.

Today, before my workshop, I updated the smartboard program on my computer. With the update I noticed a function I had never used before. Unfortunately for me, I was not alone in my first contact with this function. The result is a good story for you, and an ab workout for us.

You can find the story here.

Pay to the Order of



Offer still stands.



Desperation.



Concentration.



Frustration.

Rewriting.

Constantly.



Sleep deprived.

Intersession Day 3 & 4





3/26/08

Intersession Day 2

Today my co-teacher and I were bankers. The Bank of M & P. Our initials, or, as we told the students, The Bank of Money and Power. Fourth and fifth graders approached us with handwritten proposals. Proposals that told us, the bankers, how much money they need to create their dream rooms - with a bunch of other details. A few quotes:

"I really need this money. Please."

"I'm creating this dream room because I need more space."

"My room is so I can have some relaxation time."

"How much is a pearl floor?"

We are finding out so much about our students - about their home life and living situations. In some cases sharing rooms with siblings and parents. One student is creating a dream living room. She had a television on her floor plan - when the bank asked her how much money she was planning to spend on the television she answered "I'm just going to use the one I have now to save money." (You know, the imaginary money the fake bank is giving). I only hope I was half this appreciative of my belongings at her age.

We read the proposals, squeezed out more information about their room plans, decided on a fair amount of money, and wrote pretend checks. The held those checks with their big smiles and huge eyes like they had won the lottery. We couldn't pass up the photo op - and snapped a bunch of them with their Dream Room Funding.

Stay tuned. Miss Color is coming tomorrow. I hear she has a rainbow feather boa. Good thing it's observation day.

3/24/08

Intersession Day 1



Tell a student "Create your dream room" and give them access to a table full of furniture and decorating catologs and this is what you get:









3/21/08

Intern for Hire

The purpose of my internship and grad program is, (drumroll please)...

TO GET HIRED.

Imagine my dismay when I call HR yesterday and am told:

"Mr. Blank spoke to you yesterday and you said you were not interested in a position with our school system for the 08-09 school year."

When I politely told my representative that I did not have such a conversation yesterday, nor would I decline an offer from our school system, I got:

"Are you sure?"

Grrr. Are you serious?

For those of you that are familiar with my school, don't you worry - Queen Bee is on it.

3/18/08

Preparation for Intersession

Yesterday, Silly Corn and I went on an adventure. We started in a central location and spanned out to a dozen or so places, all in a span of about 8 hours. We were in search of paint, carpet, and fabric samples.

Things we learned:

1. Phrasing counts. Especially when asking for free stuff.

2. Dollar deals are not safe... especially when paired up.

3. That when they say "Is that all you're taking?" you shouldn't think twice in turning around and getting more. A LOT more.

4. How to make a bag FULL of fabric samples look feather light as you walk past the register on your way out.

5. Giggling while filling a bag with paint samples does NOT help to make you look more credible.

6. Splitting up does not stop the giggles. It just means you have to yell that much louder to find the other partner.

Spring Broke

Whoa! Did you see that? Which way did it go?

It has to be HUGE - you HAD to have seen it! Did it even slow down?

Keep your eyes peeled for the BIG BUS that ran me over... it can't be far...

I'm going to look under my covers, while you well-beings out there keep a look-out.

Grr.

3/16/08

Almost Famous

To make up for the fact that I have been so lax on reflecting via blog about my experience a few weekend back, I have provided a link to the photo montage from the website.

I am almost famous - in one of the photos you can see the back of my head. My hair looks damn good, if I do say so myself. JUST cropped out is the girl that fell asleep. Darnit.

Enjoy.

TOP Pics

3/14/08

Writing workshop whoa

A full class of second graders has been working very hard at doing animal research. From picking an animal to reading and taking notes on index cards, to publishing. They happen to be publishing on laptops from the comfort of their own desks. Completely silent because they are oh-so-involved with changing font, inserting pages, and typing - all while STILL thinking about capital letters and punctuation. Phew, who knew typing was just like writing?

In the process of typing our research facts, the students have been trained to save regularly. This particular project has them saving their work as Name-Animal in the same folder on the server. This means they sift through the list of all Name-Animal's in the class while searching to open their file.

Apparently they realized today that they can not only open THEIR files, but they can also open their CLASSMATES files. This clearly had to be explored by curious second grade minds.

Turns out, that by the time I realized they had figured this out - they had also managed to learn how to delete a friends hard work, resave an empty file, and get right back to their own research paper in a matter of moments.

The subsequent class discussion was not only the quietest, but also had the best eye contact.

I channeled my fifth grade teacher.
It still gives me this sinking feeling... disappointment... when faced with such an occurrence. I also wonder how Mrs. S (fifth grade teacher) would have reacted if SHE had file deletion on the laptop. I have a feeling there would be flames involved.

3/13/08

Breakfast of Champions

This week has been all over the place. Highs, lows, student tears, giggles, hair pulling... I think I have a new face crease that is becoming permanent. I guess Gramma was right - if you make that face it will stick that way.

Monday:

Cute1: (whispering) "Mrs. M, my stomach hurts."

Me: (recoiling a bit as I remember that her table mate just got back from being out a week with the stomach flu) "Are you going to be sick?"

Cute1: (whispering) "No."

Me: "Do you have to use the bathroom?" (I'm holding my breath as I am waiting for her to say something along the lines of "I can't... the bacteria! Geez, I thought we covered this."

Cute1: (whispering) "No."

Me: "Do you need to go see the nurse?"

Cute1: (whispering) "No."

Me: (WTF am I supposed to say now? She has no idea what's wrong with her, or atleast how to articulate it) "How can I help you?"

Cute1: (whispering) "My stomach hurts because I'm hungry."

Me: (mental note: time is 8:20, 2 hours and 50 minutes until lunch). "Did you eat breakfast today?"

Cute1: (whispering) "No."

Me: Thinking to myself: What do I have in my lunch that a 2nd grader would eat?
Shoot forward a day, after a discussion of waking up earlier, eating breakfast, describing granola bars and the glory of eating them on the bus. "Tell your parents to get something like this!" was exclaimed and swish swish, hands clean. All has been done.

The next morning: A VERY excited/proud/misguided student approaches the class... flashing a corner of something out of her pocket. Something that can only be seen as half eaten, brown, and in a wrapper. Great! She was able to not only describe the granola bar concept to her parents, but they went out and bought some based on teacher-advising.

Then, the student shares with the second teacher... who was able to get a more detailed view of the bright yellow wrapper, the chocolate coated toffee-like substance... a Butterfinger.
We could only imagine what the parents were thinking as the young cute1 described the prescribed breakfast of her teacher.

Needless to say, a granola bar was retrieved and placed in her backpack to show her parents... Now THAT'S an authentic example.

Typical Conversations

Time is short and frustrations high. Remember the feeling before you started for the first time on your own? The sweat, the tears, the blank stares due to the wandering thoughts in the head.

Why is it that at the moment you need to talk to someone the most, the body and mind makes actions in which to block you from actually saying it.

One 'Tern approaching another: Hey!
(Long pause, analyzing CoTern's expression) What's wrong?

CoTern: Don't ask me that.

Here's to finding "pockets" in the class, light switches, and door locks.

One More Day

One more day in the classroom, clinging onto the brances of mentors, teachers, advisors, until we release our grip and sent slowly floating with the breeze. We will not crash in a hurried rage towards the ground. The wind from the reaching branches of the tree will keep us afloat as we ride, guide, and ease ourselves through IT.

3/2/08

Trying to Break It Up

I arrived at the hotel, bag full with hair dryer, shoes, suit, and shirt that better not be wrinkled.

My roommate was already checked in, according to Sarah the Receptionist. I have not met my roomie previously, and I have not shared a hotel room with anyone but GM since my good ol' weekend festival working days. Quick introductions and hurried discussion clouded the room as we dressed, prepped, curled our hair, and buttoned our shirts.

"RING!!!!" shouted the phone.

It was staff from our university, alerting us of the time to meet in the lobby. Another group of people that I have never met before, so I was secretly hoping they were wearing our school colors and a huge sign saying "I love Gunston." I would have known exactly where to go.

I realized as I walk to the lobby with my new acquantance/roommate that I think I am shrinking. My pants did not look this long at the tailor. Then I realize that it might be because my roommate is approximately a foot taller than me. Perception.

We meet in the lobby. We get in the car. Two secondary education students and two elementary education students. We drive to the building for registration. I will call this building the Ballroom Building. We register next to a huge table of apples. Literally. Baskets of shiny red apples. Talk about assumptions.

We stand around chatting for a few minutes, and then we break up (my car-ride sharers and I) - going towards our own mentor groups (which is in another building). I am assigned a mentor for the weekend, and I would later find out that you spend MOST of the weekend with this group of 5 (+ 1 mentor). My group composition: Mentor, Black Turtleneck, Argyle Sweater, Dizzy Dress, and Blue Eyeliner, and of course me, Pants Too Long.

I wonder anxiously as we sit in awkward conversation: "Um, when do we eat?"

The congested day, long drive, quick run around to get ready, and excitement... it has all caught up to me and now my stomach is rumbling. Loudly.

2/29/08

Quicknotes

Let me preface this with an authentic thank you and appreciation for this opportunity I have been given to attend this conference. This is an amazing experience, and I am learning tremendously, and we only ate dinner. I can't imagine how great tomorrow will be.

Now let me get the sillies out.

For those of you that are anxiously awaiting some blogging about the conference:

1. It's wet outside.
2. Dinner was a little spicy, but we were all so hungry you could just hear the "spice cough" around the room as we shoveled our faces.
3. There were colored spotlights with motion. Like at a concert.
4. I dropped my spoon onto the plate at the most inappropriate moment. CLINK - INK - ink - k.
5. A girl at my table (who I will explain in detail later) fell asleep. Twice. While the former superintendent was speaking.
6. This is for Tree: Former Super. was wearing a red silk scarf tied around her neck in a perfect side-bow. Total Sassy.
7. I got goosebumps when we all stood to say the Pledge of Allegiance .... facing a flag and a video of little ones saying it too. Something about adults and children saying it together... (nevermind the strobe lights in the background).
8. Two words: Door Prizes.
9. Free stuff from school districts around the state with messages like "come work for us, we think you're great." Noticeably absent from the swag merchandise: any sign of my county. I like to think that we're above monogrammed squishy balls... or are we??
10. I was in a suit.
11. Being in a group with four other females, all from different Universities and school districts - and realizing how lucky I am to be in this county, this school, with these colleagues and mentors.

There it is folks, a little bit of a glimpse into what will be an ultra blog about this great event. I will give you all the juice - this is such a great opportunity and I'm sure tomorrow will be even better!

2/28/08

Words of a second grader

Student: "I hope that they call my bus soon, I really have to go to the bathroom."

Me: "______, you can go ahead and go now, you have time."

Student: "No, these (insert shooing hand motion here) bathrooms are full of... (whisper) ...bacteria."

Me: "Oh."

Student: (doing the pee dance in place)

Me: "It looks like an emergency."

Student: "I just can't... the bacteria. I have to wait until I get home."

Me (click click goes the brain): "Do you ever use the bathrooms at school?"

Student: "Oh, no. The bacteria."

2/27/08

Opportunity Assistance

I have been given the opportunity to attend seminars this weekend at a university not-too-far-away. I am assigned to a mentor group with preservice teachers from four other Virginia institutions. Together we will meet, greet, eat, and learn.

I just received an email from my assigned mentor, with an attached list of available seminars. I am torn as to which workshops I should sign up for. I think this is where my more experienced readers may lend a hand, and help me by suggesting what might be the most beneficial topic (keep in mind I will be a first year teacher!!)

List of available workshops.

2/26/08

Quote me

Like heath that in the wilderness
the wild wind whirls away.

Without comment

http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2008/02/20/louisiana-gets-students-turned-on-to-learning-with-macbooks

Digital Dropbox




I slaved over the unit plan. Minutes, Hours, Days lost to the craft of developing a unit that integrates all core curriculum, technology, and fine arts. Pages and pages of objectives, standards, differentiation, assessment, and procedures.

I am a learner. I carry my project close to me, both physically and emotionally. The opportunity cost of creating this detailed plan involves loved ones, meals, and sleep.

I release the unit. I physically and emotionally have to detach from this, and all projects as I have to turn them in for a grade. Stripped from my clutches. I enter the world of internet space, open the metaphoric storage box, the teachers desk, and plop down my product. I close the drawer, hit send, and take a deep breath.

Without the physical handing in of hard paper, I am having a hard time letting it go. Can't I retract my submission, make some alterations, and resubmit?

I am a student that needs to literally hand in the stapled compilation of words. That is my closure. I'm having trouble adapting to the virtual world of submission.

I need that closure.
I will reboot.

2/22/08

Growing up

Last night I participated in a book club. The same one I have been going to for about a year now. Nevermind that we spend most of the time chatting about non-book-related things. Last night we spent a whole 35 minutes on the book. At the end of book club there were only three of us left. We are always the last three. We hang on to the bitter end, dreading the cold truth that comes with opening the door into the not so warm and cozy outside of bookclub world. One book clubee told another about something super important, sort of crossing the line, but sort of being a good friend. It may or may not have involved a search of public records of a mutual "friend." Low and behold, at a totally inappropriate time of the night, we were calling a strangers house to ask for a non-stranger. We mapquested directions. We googled. We searched, we google-mapped, we searched again. It was a mystery to be solved. And we did.

If all of these fabulous yet often misinterpreted women decided to write a book, I'm sure we'd talk about it for much longer than a measly 35 minutes.

On another note, we have decided to read a classic. A classic that I have little recollection of reading. Tree will be thrilled that I will be refamiliarizing myself with this piece. And I demand a longer conversation about it... in book club or with my school-mates.

2/21/08

Artistic Brilliance

Thank you, Tim.

2/20/08

Classroom at Night

This moment, as I look up at the moon, I wish to be in the classroom. I wish for bundled up students excitedly rushing towards the door, and they burst outside. Looking to the sky, circling around until, alas, they see it. They shout high-pitched "Look at that" and point towards the sky as if we're not already looking in the same direction.

The discussion about colors, position, planets and earth and the moon and sun... the desire to investigate the reasons for such natural beauty. The questions and the brains rolling through cycles of stored knowledge...searching and searching through their own personal databases... then searching and searching through resources to feed the need to know.

The Moon has Koolaid Lips.

* I am still without my precious camera (which is so sad). So I patiently await my artistic genius of a friend to post the lunar eclipse pictures. At that time I will add an image.

2/18/08

Selfish

Awful weekend leads
to scribbling an
Awful paper...

I dream of being
the professor of
my own class.
There would only
be one student.
And that student would
be much more
grateful than I was
when I was in that position.

My rubrics would be
shockingly clear
to those who already
had a purpose.

Those without need not register.

Mini-phone conferences with Silly were the highlight of today. Sorry I didn't update sooner.

2/13/08

Agreement

SillyCorn posted a blog about Intern Appreciation.

I would just like to say that I agree.
I also feel lucky to be in such a supportive group,
and I can't imagine this experience without this specific mix
of A, Big J, Silly, AM, and I.
I consider myself lucky.

Thanks for the post Silly,
...and you are my Joshua.

An 8 year-old Valentine's Day

As an adult, V-day has been a source of angst. No matter what wonderful surprise happens on this day - nothing can live up to my expectations, and while I am not ungrateful, I am usually always disappointed at the end of the day.

I think I have just figured out why.

As I prepare for my first Valentine's Day in my placement, I find myself surrounded by mini-containers of playdoh with stickers on them, and a few too many bags of Hershey Kisses.

Suddenly I am transported back to my elementary years. The years in which a list was sent out to each classmate, and it was required that you write Valentine's for every person on that list - even the one that no one really ever talked to because he ate paste. Every year, as a student, I was showered with dozens of "Will you be mine?" and heart shaped candies, cookies, and cards - and I recipricated with a carefully crafted valentine of my own.

I like to imagine myself as an "It's the thought that counts" type of person. But as I review the evidence that has led me to my current V-Day woes, I realize that nothing in my adult Feb. 14 experience can ever compare to the creation of Valentine's mailboxes, and then seeing them fill up with heart-warming wishes from classmates.

Sharing the love with the people you spend the most time with...

2/12/08

International Fun

Last semester, in my first placement, I began a project. A project that involves around 20 students from my school electronically communicating with around 20 students in another country. Much to my surprise, this simple pen-pal idea has blossomed into a steamroller that is currently pulled over to the side of the road.

Not entirely my fault, there are some legal signatures needed in order to proceed. And those documents need signed by the parents of the students in another country. And they are currently on a 2 week break from school.

As the new arrangement, blackboard, is set up for international communication between these two classes (one blackboard site for both classes, schools, and countries!) the students continue to write back and forth to eachother.

I have to be honest in that I feel a little guilty. I started a project that I knew would have to continue after I left the placement. I set something up that someone else has to finish. I, however, would like to remain as active as possible, but without being in the room I have to just loosen the reigns a tad and back off.

1 step. 2 steps. 3 steps.

This will be great. This set up will be great. The new medium of discussion will open doors for international communication on a whole new level. Curriculum related chats, blogs about experiences, wikipages of resources, collaborations for international projects... the possibilities are endless.

As I meet with the teacher of the class this week about possible leads into discussion, and as we compare curriculum plans, we will be planning discussion board topics to facilitate this cross-communication between classes. We will be determining if there is a project we can set up using both classes that wouldn't be too straining on the teachers and students. We are planning fun.

All of it with objectives. Amazing. Stay tuned.

Fire on the Page

Today in grad class, one of my classmates shared a story about a lesson in her first grade classroom. The students were creating a shape quilt. Each student made a square, and each square contains a family story. The students were directed to use shapes to illustrate their square/family story.

When the intern walked over to a particular student to ask about the shape story, this is what she heard in response:

"This is a picture of my mom, dad, and my dog. This is our house, well once we had to take our dog out to the back of the house because it died, so we started it on fire, we BURNED it, we scraped up the ashes , put it in a vase and then put it on our fireplace.

Here is a circle for my mommy's head, triangles for the fire, and the vase is a triangle too."

Chalk this up to things you're not prepared to hear in a classroom.