Background

12/23/09

The snow kept me from closure of 2009 with my class. Three days of school were cancelled, and so my students and I were all home bound instead of sharing in excited glances and anticipating voices. And by anticipating, I mean they would be all hyper and I'd be all Scrooge and "Stay in line!" and "Stop talking!" So, honestly, maybe this is a Christmas, er, Holiday, er, Winter miracle. Our sanity saved, but at the expense of closing out a few tasks.

I'll take it.

Merry Holidays, my little smarties. Stay warm and know that the greatest gifts you have are your family and friends.

12/17/09

One of my English Language Learners. We are working hard on learning the letters of the alphabet and some simple words. He is a trooper.

Working so hard on writing. HUGE accomplishment. She's working on a chapter book about her favorite cartoon. Characters recycled, but storyline is unique. Also - she found her glasses. I want to tape them to her.
Peer editing champions. These girls worked for a full 40 minutes on adding feelings and correct punctuation to a play they are writing. Every time I heard them, they were reading their lines out loud and then making changes to the writing so that the "reader will know how to say it." Sigh.
As an aside, the girl sitting facing the camera is new this year. Her mom brought her and 3 older siblings to our area for more opportunities - from Saudi Arabia. The mom spent days - weeks- months working long days and nights with her children to teach them English so they would not fall behind in school. You'd never know that just 1 year ago she didn't know any English. Except, well, I'm telling you. In her story she wanted one of the characters to have an Australian accent, which, in her mind, meant naming the parents in the story "Momyo" (mom-e-oh) and "Dadyo" (Dad-e-oh).

I am so proud of my authors. They just created their very own writing rubric from scratch, and we have been practicing using the rubric on sample writing. They have amazing input, and actually debate each other on the evidence to support the rubric in the piece we're studying. They actually cheered when I told them that tomorrow we'd be using the rubric on their own writing. Hooray for ownership over their writing!

12/15/09

Holding Our Breath

Here we are... my 19 learners and I... just a few days away from our "Winter Break." A few days that, no lie, will last a month. They are buzzing with santa talk and their plans to foil his quiet trip to their homes. They will hide "where the presents show up," as some of them do not and will not have trees. I love hearing about their family traditions.

Yeah yeah, you're probably totally getting your panties in a bunch and thinking "She TALKS about holidays?"

Yes. Yes I do. I talk about all of them, as long as the students start the discussion first. I share my thoughts, I listen to their stories. Their stories that are completely alive and moving with excitement and anticipation. I LOVE it.

I also love how we are all, all 20 of us, just dancing in our shoes about our upcoming break. They have such a great spirit. This is the week that my job becomes doubly hard - keeping 19 hyped up 9 year olds still in learning mode at this time of year is just, well, worth the summer break.

I will earn that break in the next 5 school days left until our break. Trust me.

Hang in there, sanity.

12/14/09

Adoption

My classroom was adopted today! My stinky, bug-infested (more on this later) fourth grader-filled classroom has been graciously adopted by a complete stranger. Literally.

Last year I registered on AdoptaClassroom.com on a whim. "What are the chances?" I thought. Well, here I am, a year later, and $100 richer. The site doesn't send you a check or anything, but instead offers a list of participating vendors, and then pays them directly. Lucky for me, one of the vendors happens to be OfficeMax. But you can also buy classroom chairs, desks, shelves, or, well, anything all the way down to erasers and staples.

I went on a pencil-buying frenzy. I bought good pencils, projector markers (for use on our math folder-games), clipboards (for those outdoor writing days), and publishing pens. I am beyond excited, and can't wait to share our gift with my class. Thank you, generous stranger, for giving us this wonderful gift. (My wallet and husband thank you as well).

What a wonderful day!

12/10/09

Slip and Slide and Fall Down

This morning we went for an early morning jog right before PE. We have been cooped up inside for DAYS due to wet weather, and even as early as arrival to the classroom I knew they'd need it. It was still pretty damp in the field, but dry enough to keep from getting muddy. I sent my group running "down and back," a quick jaunt compared to the normal 2 laps.

"Watch out for mud!" I exclaim as they go huffing off.

Then I see it. One girl's foot happens to find a huge mud puddle hidden by overgrown grass. She starts to slip, loses balance, and begins to fall into the puddle - which was 3x her size. Then a friend, a darling little girl, reaches her hand out to try to catch her friend... and is then taken down. Boots, jackets, and all... covered in mud.

Those poor things waddled their wet tushes (and toes) all the way up to the clinic to call home for replacement clothes.

Fast forward 3 hours to recess. A coteacher gave his class this lecture:

"Mrs. M's class has a sickness. They are going down fast. It's... it's... a serious case of mud-bottom. Stay away! And stay away from any and all mud at recess!"

Then I saw a student's foot sink into a huge quicksand-esque pool of muddy mulch and lose his shoe. Clinic.

Then I saw a student, so desperate to get control of the basketball, that he rolled right into a mud puddle at the other end of the playground. Clinic.

Both from my class.

AND THEN.

I look out at Bug Lover - bless his little tiny-boned touchy-feely heart - and BAM - right as I made eye contact with him as he was running in the field (30 yards away) - he froze, stared at me...

as his pants fell down.

To his ankles.

In the middle of recess of about 10 classes. In the middle of the field.

He just could not manage to get his hands under his coat to pull them up in time.

At least that's what I'm hoping.

12/8/09

Extracurricular Activities

Do you want to join a club?

Thinking that there are some free moments in your day that you'd like to commit to a student-organized group?

Wishing YOUR writing workshop produced such authentic (ha) activities as a student-written oath for his NEW club? An oath that he took through the ENTIRE writing process (hooray for now)??

Let me share the oath (shh, don't tell I told!), and you can tell me if you'd be interested.

I, (enter your name here), do sullenly swear (solemnly is meant, but this is the word the student spell checked on in there...)
that by joining this Gay Club,
that I will abide by being Gay for Life.

What? But Mrs. M, I meant gay like happy!

In case you're wondering, this student did not actually mean gay as in happy. This is my can't-keep-my-hands-to-myself Bug Lover who has been on a constant track between counselors. So here I stand, oath in hand, armed with the most brilliant professionals that are locked and loaded and willing to help this young man. Before.... well, before his hands roam too far from home.

I wasn't too gung-ho about above mentioned power-intervention until yesterday. The day my friend asked another "Do you want to sleep next to me tonight?"

Yup, I'd take that as a sign that it was time.

And just for fun, here are some of the recent questions I have had to ask Bug Lover:

"Did you lick _______'s shoulder?"

"Were you just chasing ________ with your hand?" & "Why?" & "What was it doing there?"

"Do you understand what I mean by 'you're making people uncomfortable'?"

and my personal favorite (which was actually said by a student who witnessed strange behavior in the bathroom):

(Setting: QUIET writing workshop. Enter huffing and puffing students who ran from the bathroom, who then SHOUT across the quiet room:)

"BUG LOVER WAS HUMPING THE MIRROR!"






11/25/09

Grade Appropriate Occurrences

I was hoping that this week would be without any difficulty, without any abnormal events. We only had 2.5 days of school due to the holiday, so I was feeling as though my hopes were reasonable.

Then came yesterday.

1. No more than 30 minutes into school, Queen Goldfish came walking up to me while I was taking attendance. Calmly, she not-so-quietly shares that she believes (rightfully so) that she has just "pooped herself a little bit." No lie. The poor thing apparently has been having "issues" and, while she should be at home, instead she was sent to school with an upset stomach. Luckily, no one catches on and we're able to make our escape to the clinic while the rest of the class goes to PE.
Later in the day, the principal pulls me aside to tell me that the mom's explanation was that (and she quoted) "My girls like to force themselves to pass gas and make themselves poop their pants." (You're welcome for the term substitution.)
I'd like to share more about my thoughts on that, but I fear that 1. I will become disrespectful to a parent who I'm almost sure is doing their best. Or something. and 2. I will go on forever.

2. I send my students to the bathroom in small groups of three or four. I have my Bug Lover, who is having trouble keeping his hands to himself lately (or keeps his hands TOO MUCH to himself, if you get my drift)... so I sent him with 2 of my most responsible students. Flash forward 10 minutes (it's a long walk to the bathroom) when they come busting back into our quiet writing workshop and exclaim from across the room "BUG LOVER WAS HUMPING THE MIRROR!"
His account during my interrogation: "Well, I heard that you can't really see yourself up close, so I got as close as I could to the mirror."
Me: "Is that all?"
BL: "Well... I... uh... I was moving around a little."

Enough said.

And, well, for those gloriously innocent students who didn't know what "humping" meant, at least they learned something yesterday. They probably now think that every time they move around in front of a mirror they are humping it. For me, I just ignored the vocabulary lesson. Ignore is a strategy. Yup. That's my story.

Thank you, four day weekend.

11/5/09

Successes

She did it.

To the whole class I said "Now is the time to get out your agenda and write the homework."

And she did it. She put down her drawing. She walked to her backpack, pulled out her agenda, found a closer spot and WROTE HER HOMEWORK (on the right day and not in marker!) She then took the homework out of her desk, put it INSIDE of her agenda, closed it and put in back in her backpack.

Now to get her to bring it back. Baby steps.

11/4/09

P.S.

I sounded awfully negative in my last post about this student. I sounded like a hard you-know-what. I mean, big deal that she didn't write her homework, right? I hate homework.

No reason to have a breakdown about it.

Pick your battles. Sigh. Deep breath.

SHE is my battle. I am fighting for her because I know she can do it. I am fighting for her to be there, be active, be present, BE A LEARNER, because I know how smart she is. I want to see her succeed and love and learn and grow in every way possible. I demand that she meets us on the carpet. I demand that she put that sketch book away and pull out the materials with which we're working. I demand that she becomes aware of her surroundings and her available resources.

At first I was flexible, too much so... and I let her draw and seclude herself from the rest of the group and then draw some more. She could spend all 7.5 hours with me in her sketchbook. I love that. And I hate that. Then I got to know her. I figured out her threshold. And I pushed it. Because SHE can do it. She can put that drawing paper down and follow along with us... IF she finds the drive to do so.

I want to find her drive. I want to find her inspiration to WANT to do things. I want to find them so that I can show her, prove to her that there is MORE.

And today, when I literally ran after her at dismissal (she slipped out the door while I was talking to another student), I found her waiting at our Kiss and Ride. She saw me, and immediately walked over. When I said "Let me see your agenda," she immediately gave me a look - the look that she knew what she'd have to do since she didn't write her homework. She walked right back to the room with me, happy as a lark, where we wrote the homework. Without tears. Without screaming. Without angry thoughts. And then we went merrily on our way.

I will call this progress. One day at a time.

11/2/09

The Standoff

It was 10 minutes until dismissal. Everyone in the room began furiously writing their homework into their agendas. All but one. Queen Goldfish was busy throwing her used tissues on another student's desk. Until my voice turned into flames and axed down that activity.


It was 5 minutes until dismissal. Students were circling around me to share their weekend news and "Guess what I pulled out of my nose" stories. We were happily getting ready for dismissal... I was smiling, they were smiling, and then, DING... they were gone in a flash. As they paraded past my post at the door, I would look up at their desk, then give them a hearty "Have a great afternoon," and send them on their way.


Queen Goldfish was in the line to leave. Since I know that Queen Goldfish is not good with homework - writing it down or doing it - I made sure to ask her a few extra questions. I'm trying to be good about helping her learn organizational skills. If you know me, then you'll know that this does NOT come naturally.


Me: "Queen Goldfish, did you write your homework in your agenda?"


She sticks her bottom lip out and turns away, pulling out her agenda to go write her homework. A few moments later she's back up, trying to push past my post at the door.


Me: (noticing that THAT didn't take long) "Did you write your homework in your agenda?"


Queen Goldfish: "YES" (grumble)


Me: "May I see it, please?" (all honey, right?)


Queen Goldfish: GRUMBLE and pulls out her agenda, where her homework is in fact written, but on the back of some random page - sprawled in scribble and barely legible - in marker.


Me: "Please go write your homework in the correct spot, on today's date, and in the correct way so that you can understand what you wrote later today."


This is when the standoff begins. There was throwing, there was huffing, there were LOTS of tears and sobs.


After a few moments I approached her and asked if she needed my help. I'd be more than happy to help her, I repeated. She grunted at me and threw her pencil. I said, "Looks like you're not ready to answer me, I will be back in 2 minutes."


Two minutes later I walk over and repeat the same thing. This time, she responds with YES, she does need my help. I happily sit next to her, pulling up a chair and getting a pencil ready. When I ask "How may I help you?" she tells me that she needs help writing her homework because (and here's where I have to take a breath)....she "doesn't feel like doing it."

I walked away. I ended up finding her a spot closer to the homework board, since she was sans glasses today. She huffed and grunted and pouted her way through writing all of the homework. All the while I kept the sugar tone in my voice in hopes that she'd just come around.

I walked her to meet her sister to walk home. The whole way I tried to lighten the mood by telling jokes and asking about what she'd do tomorrow (a day off). If you were within a miles distance, you would already know how she took that...

Tomorrow we have a day apart. Back to the demands on Wednesday though.


10/31/09

Share

Yesterday we were all sitting in a circle doing some exciting Author Share. In walks our wonderful school social worker to deliver a note to a student and to observe a bit. After our author share, I reposition myself next to the student being observed, as I often do, to keep her active in our activity.

I began to explain to the class that we would be leaving soon to visit with our first grade buddies, which they all love. In fact, the student I had placed myself next to was so excited that she leaned on me, putting a hand on my leg and a hand on my back (we're criss-cross on the floor). Promptly after her "hug," she looks at me and whispers (think volume level of a game of tag at recess),

"I can feel your bra!"

In front of everyone. I quickly turn and whisper, "Please keep those thoughts in your head." In order to not draw attention.

She then leans forward to a friend across the circle and says,

"Psst, I can feel her bra!"

Then a boy on the other side of the circle yells out "That's gross!"

Later we had a private talk about appropriate comments, blah blah blah. I had to wait a bit for my face to return to normal shade.

I couldn't even make eye contact with the social worker or I'd share her response as well. Aw, well, that will just be something to laugh about during our meeting. Wonderful.

10/26/09

Intersession Recovery

I am currently recovering from 2 weeks of intersession with 1st and 2nd graders. About 25 of them. Two classes, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Today I told my students, my fourth grade students, that I was so happy to be back in the classroom with them.

What did I find a new appreciation for? The fact that they try to at least hide the fact that they are picking their nose. And that they can tie their shoes. Or if not, they have moved on to velcro.

They look a foot taller and sound so much smarter than when I left them two weeks ago.

I will not complain about my wonderful fourth graders for at least a week.

I also have to say that my classroom is mighty lonely. I dropped down to 19 students today after getting used to 23. We added a new fourth grade classroom, and each class "donated" some students in order to populate the new class and lower our teacher-student ratio. Hooray. But in looking around my room today, "full" of students, I couldn't help but think "where is everyone?"

10/7/09

Home Visits

I have travelled back in time to the ways, the good old days and good old ways, of door to door service. One door is creaky, metal, and leads to my classroom... the other door is to the home of my student.

I have found that experiencing what is behind THEIR door is what makes what goes on behind mine that much more meaningful. When I can reach them by reminding them about what they learned in Karate in second grade - you know -when their dad made them go to karate and they hated it at first but then they loved it and learned how to become more assertive in a GOOD way... These are things that I learned around the coffee table with my student, and her family.

I drove up to my first home visit the other afternoon. I waited around school until about 6pm, then headed over to her house. THEIR house. I strolled up to the door, not knowing what to expect behind it, and a little uneasy. After all, it was my first trip to their house. I imagine it was how the student felt when she walked into my classroom for the first time.

I stayed there for an hour, lounging around the living room (no TV, this was the formal space in the house), and listened to how the parents have provided for their daughter and siblings in the last 10 years. The trip to Disney, the trip back to Panama to see family for the first time since they left, the karate, the soccer, and the questions about how to pay for college.

Yes. Their daughter is a fourth grader. She was born in the US, while her parents were not. They came to the country "to make family and get good jobs for our children" (the ones not yet born). I was energized by their questions, and so proud that they were already thinking about how and when to worry about college. I shared stories about my first time figuring it out, and how it was scary figuring out where all of that money was coming from. I laughed with them as they shared that they were shocked that I wasn't "a natural" in figuring out the college thing - and how hard it was for me to get through and finish. I hope, and I think, that some of what I shared put them at ease.

The parents also shared that they talk to their daughter, my student, telling her the dangers of drugs and alcohol. They were so open and honest with the student, and I hold it close to my heart that they shared those previous discussions with me.

I left the house feeling excited about the connections I could make with this student in class. How I could use what I know about her and her family to bridge our school world and her home world... extending the learning.

I gave my students the choice this year - home visit or school visit. I was curious to see how many families would choose the home visit if given a choice. So far I have four. Out of 19 families that have responded.

Next year I am not sure if I will give them a choice at first. I am realizing quickly what a hearty lifeline the home visits are to education.

Oh, and a mental note. Snacks are necessary if staying that late at school. I think my stomach rumbled right around minute 12. An uninvited guest.

9/29/09

Moments When Grading Pays Off 2



Grades are due this week. We just finished a unit in Social Studies (insert brow-wiping motion followed by a "phew"). So, like always, I have collected their notebooks/masterpieces in order to scrutinize and put a letter on an item that may or may not show actual learning or knowledge. But, in all of these long days of grading, there's bound to a needle in the haystack. And I believe, by golly, that I found it today. The instruction was to create a symbol for each product. This student chose to go a different route.


For a blast from the past, previous notebook grading produced this.

9/23/09

Shout Out

I was pulling out of the parking lot of school today when I saw a student, holding a skateboard, walking down the sidewalk with 2 of his friends. My window was down, so I stuck my arm out to wave furiously at this student, as he was in my class last year.

I shouted "HI, _____!!" out of the window.

He waved frantically back with a huge smile on his face. As I continued to drive off, he shouted "I GOT AN A ON MY SCIENCE TEST!!"

I, of course, shouted a response back. But no response could have expressed how proud of him I was. For the A. For making strides this year after a rough one last year (he lost his grandmother, and they were close). And for screaming it at the top of his lungs among his peers - which - at his age- sometimes takes more bravery than we know.

9/21/09

What She Said

We were at different meetings on the same topic in completely different schools. And yet, I could quote the same exact things. And instead of trying to say it better, I will just post a coworkers blog.

Find out what we did for 1.5 hours after school here.

Perhaps when I can speak about this experience without fuming, I will add my own 2 cents.

9/18/09

Atlantic City


I'm struggling with how to give this story it's appropriate voice - a voice to match the spontaneity of the conversation. But here it goes...

Today we were meeting with our first grade buddies for the second time this year. Knowing how my students have been behaving this week - I could only imagine trying to corral them into the building and all the way to the other side to reach the first grade classroom. Imagine 23 monkeys being led through a banana plant. Pure chaos. I decided to sit them down and give them a "talk."

I will spare the full transcript of the discussion. However, at one point I was explaining to them what they would be doing - decorating a shared notebook with their buddy - for future notes back and forth. One of my students - Super H (name he called himself in a story) - quietly raised his hand. Background on him: He's a bug saver. He goes through my trashcans at the end of the day to pull out all recyclables. Here he is at the end of today:

So, Super H raised his hand and asked if he could, on the notebook, draw a picture of a shark. Knowing that he's fascinated by sharks, and imagining a fourth grade boy's vision of a shark, I said it was fine as long as there was no blood and the shark wasn't eating anything, or anyONE. In which he replies "Sharks are the most MISUNDERSTOOD CREATURE! They are harmless." We calm down a bit and then I begin answering other random student questions. Then Super H raises his hand again and asks "What if I draw the shark in a feeding frenzy." Not knowing what to say, I put it out for the class with a swift "Discuss with the class how to make that school appropriate." Students practically jump at the chance to add their 2 cents - and hands shoot up all over the room. Super H calls on another student who said "What if your shark is eating HOT DOGS! YEAH!" And then the class claps at the idea. CLAPPING. I mean, I'm greatful for the support, but CLAPPING OVER sharks eating hot dogs.... hm...

So Super H strokes his chin... literally... and there's a hush over the crowd...

"Where would the hot dogs come from?" he finally says.

The boy next to him excitedly shouts out "ATLANTIC CITY!"

In which a large portion of my class echos in agreement. "Yeah! Atlantic City!"

I am not sure, but I'm pretty sure that my class went on a summer trip. And now they all have some inside joke about AC and hotdogs. I hate being left out.


9/15/09

Why He Had To Be Quiet

Today I was leading a guided reading group using the book Sun and Spoon by Kevin Henkes. You don't really need to know the book, other than that it's a good one that my students (and myself) were able to find many connections with. I am not ashamed that I had such a powerful connection in my pre-reading of the book, that it brought me to tears. I had to share it with my group.

Well, at the end of our conversation we were discussing some of our connections, and a member of my group shared that the book reminded him of his grandfather. And then, completely off topic, the student begins to share one of the most vivid memories of his grandfather. The snippet of his memory led to what is written below. Here is what he shared today, paraphrased by me:

My family lived in El Salvador, but my dad and grandpa already lived here, in our state. But the rest of my family needed to get here, so we left our house in El Salvador. We left our pets and some family that were not strong and some of our stuff. We didn't have a car or even a bicycle to ride. We really wanted to come here so that we could learn and grow up and get good jobs. We walked all the way here. It took us 10 days. We stopped at these houses along the way and they fed us and made us their family for a day. At this one house my dad and grandpa were waiting for us, and he (grandpa) told me jokes and stories even though I was really tired from walking. We had to be really quiet when we were walking because if people found us they would send us back to El Salvador because they would think we were coming here for bad things. But we are good people and we wanted to work hard. We spent all of our money to get here. We had to cross this river once, but some of my family couldn't swim, so we had to pay these men to carry us, to swim us, across the river. After 10 days, we were at our new home.

He was 5 years old.


9/13/09

20 Minutes of Attention

They listened, and then they made the most profound statements afterwards. It was worth the watch, for all of them.

9/11/09

Update on the Mafia and More


It's true. The job written on purple post it. Paid for using goldfish. Sigh. Just call my classroom the Goldfish Mafia. Will do dirty work for miniature cheesy fish, yes we will. In fact, I don't think I should take so lightly that I find goldfish cracker carcasses around my room after the students leave. Perhaps it's a path to the next "job." Ho, hum... guess we'll find out soon enough.

If we're playing a game of Heads-up, 7-up, and we come up missing a few thumbs.... I'll know where to look.

On another note...

Have I ever mentioned how I hate indoor recess? Slushing them through the puddles and rain, only to track the drippiness into our room. Dampness surrounding, squeaky shoes, wet papers... And then to play games indoors when all they want to do is sprint around a green field getting all sweaty and gross. Somehow Mancala doesn't quite fill the shoes of Death by Four Square. (A new, brutal game of our sweet Four Square... apparently the students thought the older version was too dull.)

It's also about 10 minutes into indoor recess that I realize that many, most, of my students haven't played board games. Ever. Which makes the social interaction during these games that much more interesting. This is possibly where the hostility for the Goldfish Mafia stems from. Hm... I should rethink allowing them to play the Game of Life. Goldfish-paid hits and peg-children in a little plastic car just don't mix.

9/4/09

For Hire

This morning I did my usual stroll around my classroom. You know the one... where you know you have a purposeful list of things to complete, but instead you must, simply MUST put that stapler over on the other side of the room... IMMEDIATELY.

As I was find a new home for said stapler, I meandered past a students desk. This particular student has found her own learning spot, and her desk happens to face a wall. When I try to move her desk to a more accessible learning spot, the student huffs and scrapes her desk & chair across the room, banging everything and everyone out of her way in the process.

Lately this student has been caught "handling" the students on the playground.

Exhibit A: Student approaches me with another, much smaller student, asking for the smaller student to use the restroom while out at recess one day. I say "Take a friend," knowing that he will be that partner for the bathroom. As they walk away, I see her, towering over him, with her hand firmly gripping the back of his neck - keeping him in a straight path directly to the bathroom. As I watched them walk out of my hollering-range, I see him try to stray from the path for a moment, and then watch the towering student grab his arms and pull him back onto her imaginary track.

Exhibit B: She was caught yesterday picking up another student - male - on the playground. As she picked him up - face to face - he wrapped his legs around her at waist level. After all four teachers stared in amazement or shock for a moment, we then had the right mind to go over and give the "appropriate behavior" talk... again.

So, back to the meandering past her desk....

I see a post-it note on the wall. Not in her handwriting, I think... but I haven't totally eliminated the possibility.

The note says "Push _________ up against the wall at lunch."

A gentle reminder of the bullying she would partake in at a later date and time.
I took the post-it for a later discussion with the student.

Then I started thinking... if someone had written it - then that would mean that they were asking another student to do their dirty work... to be the heavy hand at lunch.

I was chewing on this as the students were arriving. Within 10 minutes, I walked past the student's desk again... only to find what I can only assume is payment for the post-it deed...

A small ziplock bag of goldfish crackers with a note - a purple post-it - that says: For _______. And a smiley face signal as a "go ahead."

So... I'm still thinking it through.... Hired with goldfish or not?

9/2/09

Reason 843 I Love My School

Support.

I teach fourth grade. Today, as I was rushing into a meeting, I stopped in to talk to a fabulous teacher of first grade (used to be fifth and fourth as well!). I am desperately seeking assistance, and Jenny instantly came to mind. In my few moments, I spouted out my agony over one student in my class for the sole purpose of opening a dialogue, selfishly hoping to leach out any grand ideas she may have to help with my current concern, er, opportunity for growth and learning.

I have a sweet new student from Honduras. In the past few weeks I have gotten to know him a bit, and in my broken spanish I have managed to direct him on our classroom procedures and typical American customs such as how it's not okay to tickle people while in line for specials. He has grown socially, and through that growth has become more willing to accept his learning deficits and successes with pride and a sense of accomplishment. So far.

As we have been working with this student, we made observations....
- he will mimic those around him, answering using the same word or thought
- he claims he's 11, no, 10, no, 11....
- he can't tell us when his birthday is
- he can not read to you, but is very good at echoing as he is read to

I decided, one day, to pull out some calendar words that were written in Spanish to see if I could solve the birthday mystery. I had a calendar, and sentence strips with the words written on them - in Spanish. To begin, I asked him to read some of the words.

This is when the emergency brakes screeched. I pulled out picture flashcards I have, and had him identify the picture verbally. Then I showed him the word under the picture and asked him to read it. Silence.

I found out, in this moment, that Mr. November can't read. Or write. In Spanish or English. In fact, he wasn't able to identify the letters of the spanish alphabet. I wanted to hug him and tell him that we were going to try our best to help, and how on earth has he gotten this far without something, someone, anyone... asking him to read. Or write. Someone, something, some system has failed him.

So I could step back and think, I pulled up a great website that has the spanish alphabet, and when you click on the letters it says the name of the letter out loud - which he was happy to repeat, and had a wonderful time listening to and repeating...

and all the while I was thinking.

He is in fourth grade. I'm his fourth grade teacher. I desperately want to help him. But he is on the older side of our usual "age." I'm looking for activities, lessons, games, anything and everything that can help him, but will also not be a blow to his ego. He is very conscious of surroundings and wants to be doing what everyone around him is doing... so even if it's not all of the time, I want him to be sharing in our classroom experiences...

Thoughts?

8/30/09

The Pick and Nag

Brace yourselves. Let me set the scene.

My current classroom is in a new "quad" trailer set up, about 200 fourth grade steps, or 8 minute fourth grader walk, to the nearest bathroom and hand washing station. 8 minutes. If they're efficient. And by efficient I mean they AREN'T tempted to peek under our trailer (which is currently uncovered, so you can see all of the support beams and cinderblocks holding us up). The peek will lead to another, and before you know it you have half a class of fourth graders peering under the trailer with their bodies slithering far too close to the "no no zone."

This means that we wash our hands, on average, 3 times a day. IF we're lucky. Otherwise you have a germ-a-phobe teacher chasing you around the room with hand sanitizer... which has been banned at our school because of a few unfortunate incidents involving a teacher's drink and (separate) incidents of students licking the hand sanitizer off of their hands, and thus, becoming ill and negating the purpose of the application of the hand sanitizer in the first place.

So, the other day I'm minding my business doing one heck of a bang-up job reading a book aloud to the class. I look up during my dramatic pause, and there it is. I count one-two-three-four fingers on a student. Where is the fifth finger, you ask? Three-quarters of the way up one nostril. I think I can see him going cross eyed. Too far, too far! And then, when I made eye contact with the student, he pulled the finger out (YES!) and then stuck it in his mouth (NOOOO!!!!) And then, while still holding my eye contact, he DID IT AGAIN!

No shame. The worst type of nose-picker-and-licker.

I was calculating, in my head, how many minutes, hours, days, this student would be missing from my classroom because he'd be in the bathroom. Sent there by his teacher to scrub his paws.

I made the obligatory "no no no" shake of the head and then the silent mouthing of "go wash your hands."

Ten minutes later he was back at his desk. And for just a moment, I thought he had kicked the public habit. Just for a moment.

8/24/09

Home Visits

Inspired. Drive surrounds. Ambition abounds. The hallways. The rooms. The brains.

Leaking. Bleeding learning into homes. Homes bleeding life into the classrooms.

Pumping, growing, giving life a new meaning inside of my small four walls.


8/18/09

No Quiero Decir Adios

Among the members of my class I have a few who are new to our school, and two that are new to our country. One student in particular is from Bolivia. He speaks minimal English, but man does he have this amazing drive and potential. I believe that of all of my students, of course, but this little man is just a pleasure to attempt to communicate with. In my out of practice best impression of a person who knows spanish, I have been able to tell him where the bathroom is and where to go in case of a fire (And no, Dept of Ed, these are not in our standards. Take that). He can label our state on a map, play place value math games, and, and this one I love, he finally mastered my name (which, I have to say, is not easy for native spanish speakers). His mom and baby sister came to back to school night, and at the end they had me pose for a picture with the family. His strides in just 2 weeks were so marvelous - even he sensed his accomplishments and showed his pride through his smile and adorable fourth-grade puffed up chest.

I have grown attached to this one - perhaps because when you are trying to mime "Where are your library books, you need to return them here," you become connected in a Helen Keller and Teacher sort of way.

I found out yesterday that our new family is moving back to Bolivia. I'm not sure of the exact reason, perhaps the pressure of a single mother in a new country with two little kids and no money... who knows... but all I do know is that my Bolivian friend is leaving. And today I found out that his last day is tomorrow.

How do you express sorrow and well-wishes in mime and broken spanish?

8/11/09

The New Class

I am about a week and half behind in sharing about my new classroom family, and I have to be honest, I am still gathering my thoughts about them.

At first I had this "I'm subbing for this new class" feeling, where they didn't really belong to me. I would walk past my students from last year in the hallway, standing outside of their new classrooms, and I would want to gather them up. Tucking them into my pocket, I could carry them with me into the new year. This must be why some teachers loop with their class.

This is a big transition year for me, not because I'm changing grades or anything, but because I moved out of my current classroom on top of the whole "who are these little kids in my classroom" thing. My school is growing. Seriously growing. Our population is up, as well as our teaching staff. More people everywhere! So, in order to accommodate our growth, we had to spread out into EVEN MORE trailers. We have singles, doubles, quads, and mods. Oh, my! My adventure began when I volunteered to move out of the Modular building (10 classrooms and an office, bathrooms, and workroom) into a new Quad (bare bones, brand new!, 4 classrooms).

After a rough start, we are getting settled in nicely, the Strangers and I. There are still some kinks to work out, but for the most part we are making our transition to the new building very nicely. I have to say, the biggest downfall is the lack of a restroom nearby. A bathroom break for a pair of students takes a minimum of 8 minutes. Add up all of those emergencies, and that's a lot of time lost. That's our biggest ripple right now... but we're working through it.

As for my new group, well, I will reserve my comments on most until I get to know them a bit more. I have some wonderful students, I can see that already.

The one student I will mention is new to our school. She is so sweet, her face, her demeanor, and her voice. She moved to the US just a short year and a half ago with her mother and 3 siblings. In speaking with her today, I found out that they came to the US "to study," as she puts it. In the last year and a half she has made incredible progress, learning English for the first time, and even learning some Spanish as well. She spoke with me today about her mother, and how hard her mother worked to teach the children about the US, reading, writing, and speaking. I can not wait to meet her mother at parent orientation. And I have to come up with a nickname for this one, as I can already tell that I will be sharing about her frequently.

Stay tuned for Season Two!

7/23/09

NECC

Or National Educational Computing Conference, version 2009.

I was asked by a co-worker to "co-present" with him, and along with another experienced teacher, at the NECC conference this year. During my internship I did that e-partnership with the school in Beijing, so he wanted me to be there to represent. I, of course, jumped at the chance, recognizing this as a great opportunity. Jenny documents our presentation in words that express my feelings as well, so you can find her synopsis here. Please use the links she provides to generate ideas on how to go such grand things in your own classroom.

I couldn't help but feel way out of my league. Jenny and Clairvoy, the "head" presenter (as he is the only one of us that got the red "presenter" ribbon on his ID), are both very experienced and have done wonderful things through integrated technology in the classroom. I am just beginning, and feel that I spent the last year just treading water. While my visions for future instruction are right with them, I was still in awe at the way in which they were able to not only integrate, but also explore and share with other teachers in such a professional capacity.

Now, in my elementary interpretation (har har), here's my take:

Wow, this room is big.

Hm... there are people arriving. Yes, Clairvoy, I'm focusing on what you're saying. Sounds good. Yep. You've done good.

More people. Yes, I'm still listening, Clairvoy. Yes tech man working on our sound, I do have internet. Thank you. Microphone? No, we won't need those. I need a drink of water. Clairvoy is still talking through the presentation. I think.

Ah-hem. Rooms crowded. Is there someone talking to me?

The room is packed, the doors are closed. And we begin. Calm. Collected. I will not drop the microphone that we ended up having to use.

I'll skip ahead to after the formal presentation, when there were about 50 adult teachers sitting on the floor listening and watching as Jenny shared some of her classroom examples.

Then I met some amazing people and made some great contacts. I made contact with a Robotics teacher from Canada who wants to do a blog with my class next year on what it means to be a citizen in different parts of the world. Then I met a teacher from Vermont who wants to Skype with my class about something else... they just kept on coming!

The whole thing is sort of a blur - a smiley happy blur. I thank Clairvoy and Jenny for giving me the opportunity to share this experience with them, and to get my foot in the presentation-giving door. I want to do wonderful things using technology in my room this year, and the possibilities of being able to share it in such a way is just inspiration to keep the wheels turning!


7/16/09

Blank Slate

Quite literallly.  The following pictures are from my brand-spanking new classroom.  The current downfalls are:  no power.  no occupancy permit.  no bookshelves.  
I'm excited about the possibilities.  I'm nervous about the lack of storage.  I'm a little frightened that not all my boxes will make it out there.  And I'm curious to see how the tornado drills go, seeing as how my door backs up to an open field - and the furthest point from the main building.  This is going to be an adventure. 

An image taken from the outside corner towards the middle of the building.  This is my co-workers room, as mine was filled with building supplies.  My room is through that door on the right.
A view from the entrance.
I call that parking spot right in the front.  My room is on the back left corner, not visible in this pic. 

5/28/09

The Moment You Realize You're In Over Your Head

...or the moment you realize that no matter how hard you try, you just don't have what a student needs.  I'm not talking about learning. I'm not talking about instruction or curriculum. I'm definitely not talking about teaching my students how to take a test. I'm talking about needs, and life, and food and bathing and caring. I'm talking about what my students really need.  

Sure, there are some who go home to a full house, warm bed, and complete dinner.  Then I have a few in which go home to nothing and no one, and fix themselves food. And nap. And wait for someone to come home.  The ones who hate everything we do in class, yet are the first ones there and the last ones to leave.  And the ones who give you a hug, even after you send them to the office.  

In the past few weeks my heart has been committed to these few students in my class.  I have exhausted myself giving them choices and flexibility and, well, space.  With each of these students I have one single moment that I can recall the thought "They need more than this, and I can't give it to them."  More experiences teachers have told me that I have to let it go, that I just can't touch them.  

Today I had a moment.  The past few weeks with this particular student has been rough.  Throughout the year the student has been making huge strides, and it seemed as though my flexibility and differentiated activities have been working.  Then, suddenly, everything started going downhill.  Wandering around the classroom, general combativeness and disregard.  This student hasn't legitimately participated in any classroom activity in weeks.  The last few days I have been feeling the stress, and feeling my fuse being cut shorter and shorter.  Yesterday, the student huddled in a corner, covering the entire upper body in a huge book basket.  AP had to come down and sit on the floor, and ended up taking the student back to the office for dismissal.  Then today, student again started "rolling" around the room - literally pacing back and forth while I was instructing the class.  We tried having the student call the parents as soon as the behavior started (a decision made by myself and my fab co-teachers as the "next level").  Student refused, leaving co-teacher to do it. (She left messages).  

Then we attempted to send the student to the office.  I walked her about halfway, which involves going outside.  Once outside the student collapsed on the ground, sobbing.  I flagged down some help, and the Principal took over.  

So. This student wound up calling mom from the office, and mom came to pick up.  

Tomorrow I'm hoping for my fuse to be longer, and for me to listen to my own advice. 

"Tomorrow is a new day. Let's start over tomorrow." 

5/11/09

Overstocked

...on posts. I have been gone far too long.  This time of year I am feeling the pressure for the standardized assessments looming - we start next week! ACK! 

During the year we take practice tests (2) - one in the fall and one in the early spring.  Because of the latest results of this testing, we entered what I lovingly refer to as "MathGate 2009."  Only one of my students passed the math practice test, and my class results stood true for almost every other fourth grade class at my school.  Panic ensued, meetings after meetings discussing "WHAT ON EARTH ARE WE GOING TO DO?" My answer? Teach.  Let's teach. Stop taking me out of the classroom to discuss what can be done, when what needs to happen is for me to stay in my room and teach my students.  

One of the tasks I decided to take on was an afterschool math club.  I have about 16 students who stay afterschool 2 days a week to get an extra hour of math practice.  Sometimes we do games, and other times we just discuss and practice.  That hour goes by quickly, but I am able to remodel and reteach lessons, concepts, etc... that I have already gone through in class.  Goodness me, these students need it.  

I decided today that I'm going to pump up the students for the test. I am going to make it a party, and we are all going to rock it.  These students need to be built up. They need to know that I believe in them, and I truly do.  I believe that their ability will shine if they allow it to do so.  So come on, little ones... show us what you've got!!

Plus... If I don't party it up with them, I'm going to go insane.  I believe in them, and I believe in me. I will survive my first SOLs.

4/22/09

Optical Topography and Me

I am going to the NCTM conference tomorrow - how lucky am I!?! 

I am really getting psyched about it.  I have anxiety about being out of the classroom, as it is really getting down to the "nitty-gritty" before testing time rolls around... but once I got over that mental block I was free to day dream about the events tomorrow. 

I was looking at the schedule online and I found a seminar about the topography of the brain - seeing the brain light up as various math concepts were introduced - and I know for sure that I will not be able to sleep at all tonight. 

Sounds ridiculous, right?? I love the brain. I love seeing it respond to stimuli. And I am beside myself with seeing this reaction in children.  I took a course on neuropsychology and physiological psychology in undergrad, and I have been hooked ever since.  Here's to hoping the show is as great as the program... 


4/15/09

Wondering about your thoughts on this.


3/29/09

Spring, Please Come Quickly

He stared out of this window for most of the rainy day we had yesterday. Poor guy. He just wants to get out and play! ME TOO!

3/27/09

Breakfast

There's nothing like breakfast with Mr. on a day off of work.  Yum.  PS: Catholics, ignore the bacon. 

3/19/09

Insults According to Nine Year Olds

Today I had to have a discussion with two of my students about the ways in which we treat friends.  Lately, I have had to break up verbal arguments between these two specific students, even though they say they are good friends. 

Last week, I caught them in the middle of a "Your mama" war of wit.  I immediately cut that line of discussion... but then I kept overhearing one or the other make completely rude comments such as "You are stupid," or "You are bad at checkers."  These are things I can "handle" (if by "handle" I mean chuckling under my breath right before I address them in my super-teacher voice. 

Then there was today.  I overhead another "stupid" comment - which, in my professional world, is referred to as "The S-word." 

When I took one of them in the hall, he was quick to note the names that were being spit back and forth between the two.  

"Jenny 20"  (a nod to a fat joke that involves the end of the Jenny Craig phone number)

"White primate"   (fourth grade racism. sigh)

"Fat" (how unoriginal, right? yawn.)

And my personal favorite:  "Bisexual dinosaur."   

My response to the last one: "Dinosaur? Now that's absurd. You're 9."

I'm awesome.

3/18/09

Discipline

At my school, Wednesday is the usual day in which our fabulous student support staff, special ed specialists, and administrators, all get together to have meetings assessing support for identified students.  This team is amazing, and I truly admire all that they do.  

As the classroom teacher, I often attend said meetings that involve my students.  Today was one of those meetings.  

What goes on in that room is completely confidential, but I will say, that at one point the parent said to me:

"Why do you allow _____ to do that in your room?"

I remained professional, but really wanted to have at it with the parent. 
Urgh.

3/13/09

Field Trip and Fall

For the last 2 weeks, Rain Dancer has had a "sore" toe.  I say sore, because I'm not really sure what is going on with it.  When he first started complaining, I decided that his toe was crammed into a too-small-shoe.  Apparently the doctor agreed, and we both gave the advice "Buy new shoes."  Well, apparently what we needed to say was "Buy new shoes of a larger size."

So, for two weeks now, he has been dragging his injured foot around the school - at a slower than normal pace (and if you know him, you know that there is absolutely nothing that will get him to move faster).  My pleas of "We need to pick up our pace" have been met with a hunched back, practically dragging hands on the ground, and the pace slows even more."  I have also been met at the door with a shoe in one hand, and a bloody sock on his foot.  He has offered to show me his bloody foot, and has described in great detail how the care of the toe is going and what has been happening with said toe - and what sticks to it.  

Apparently, last night, RD went to the hospital for the offensive toe.  At this point you should be imagining the slowest walker on the face of the earth, plus he's now faced with a toe injury, and to top it all off - he was at the hospital until 2am - so he's sleep deprived.  

Fast forward to today:
Today we went on a field trip.  It was outdoor for 90% of the time.  Amidst snow flurries, we hauled onto our busses and waved goodbye to our nice warm classroom.   And our nice chairs.  
We walked. And walked. And walked.  

RD was taking all of this with great stride, and was managing to keep up with the class with no problem.  

Then he saw the stairs.  

Our class IA led us up these stairs by the water.  At the bottom, RD declared NO, HE WAS NOT GOING TO GO UP THE STAIRS.  He couldn't, he just couldn't.  He could not possibly survive the stairs.  

As our class passed us on the stairs of death, we took our time - one step at a time.  My arm was linked in his, and I was walking the stairs for the both of us.  

As we touched down at top stair, I released my grip to prance around like Rocky.  I even began making crowd noises and humming the theme song.  As I released my grip, RD dropped to the ground like a rock.  

So there he was, lying in the middle of the walkway.  It was just the two of us - our class was out of sight.  The other classes from our school (including my wonderful co-teacher that is my usual "backup") were on a different path. I was sure that this was the end of me.  

There was no getting him up - none of my usual tricks were working, and he was just rolling on the ground, moaning, and telling me that he was going to go drown himself in the river.  I had nothing left in my pocket of tricks.  I couldn't even distract him (the biggest trick of all).  

Then, I see some people - a nice couple on a stroll - walking right towards us.  I was preparing myself for the "Oh you poor girl" look that I'm sure parents get with toddlers throwing tantrums in the grocery store.  Then, in a nice loud voice, I bend down to RD and I say:

"C'mon little boy, let's go find your teacher."

He laughed, and stood up.  Just in time for those strangers to pass us and smile. 

3/12/09

Finding Voice in History

"Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.  What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn?  What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice?  Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble."  -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I recently made barely a touch of reconnection with an undergrad professor of mine.  So, my thanks to him for the knowledge and power to make it my own in my current environment.  I found this under his favorite quotes, and I plan on sharing it tomorrow with my students.

3/4/09

Clinic Pass

Note from nurse: 

"Pls allow him to remove shoe to put ice on toe."

What she did not say was that THAT ice pack would be on his toe, in his shoe, on the table, on his face, and back around again. But thanks for the note.

3/3/09

The Storm IS the Calm

Today was the first day of the school/work week for us.  We didn't come in Monday because of the snow, and today was a 2 hour delay.  On the outside, the crusty part as it turns out, a day off and sleeping in today - awesome.  The gooey undercooked middle is the mental state of the students on such days.  

For instance: 

One student refused to do any work at any point in the day - and anytime I would try to coax her into anything productive, she would stomp around the room chanting "I want to go back to my ditch."  Community service? No - she had just spent a day digging a ditch in her yard out of snow. She stopped talking to me about halfway through the day, or I'd update you on her ditch planning status.  

Another student came in to school wearing a cloak of horrible mood.  He laid in the middle of the room and refused to move for a good portion of the morning, and then finally sat up in the middle floor for the rest - pushing everything around him out of his way and across the room.  As we were lining up for lunch, he retreated to his seat.  Horrible timing - as we were trying to talk him into leaving the room now to go to lunch.  My usual trick of sending him early to "hold our seats" didn't work, as he groaned and grunted his disagreement.  

He finally showed up to work, but refused to eat lunch.  The rest of the afternoon did not look up for us, he and I... and we just agreed to disagree on any and everything - including when he plugged his ears and hummed at the top of his lungs. During my minilesson.  I was definitely at a level 4 voice trying to talk over him.  But, friends, at least I wasn't talking over his sobs like last week.  

Here's to tomorrow and all of the potential to be a better day! 

3/2/09

Taking My Kid Out

video

Here is my handsome little Jack... enjoying his snow day! He doesn't quite get sledding - but he's just as happy romping around in the white stuff! He leaped off of the steps and took off!

3/1/09

11:30pm Update

video
School is cancelled for tomorrow, so I am up late.  The snow is really coming down, so I thought I'd update my weather video. 

Here's to zzz-ing through usual school-start time!

Weather Update

video
This is what it is doing at my place right now. 

2/26/09

I was just thinking yesterday that I haven't had any instances in my days, lately, that have warranted the thought "I have to blog about that!" Until, of course, today. 

My fab coworker and I were reading with buddies when she overheard the following conversation:  (And for this story I am introducing a new character, er, student - BeatBox)

Glasses: says something not nice.

RainDancer: Glasses, that was not nice!

BeatBox: Wow, RainDancer, you stuck up for yourself! I'm glad you've gotten over your issues!

RainDancer:  I've been taking Anger Management.


I was sad that I missed it.  I didn't, however, miss it when Beatbox told me that Glasses "jacked his book" during reading workshop. 

That was right after Beatbox and Raindancer came back from taking a trip to the clinic - and Raindancer coming back with a note.  

The note read:  "Please allow RainDancer to take his shoe off to put ice on his toe." 

I am such a grinch that I would not allow ice to be put on this small appendage? I'm a pretty reasonable girl, and I was okay with the ice-through-the-sock concept - but it was when he was removing his sock to show off his funky toe that I drew the line.  That and the fact that the ice made its way from the sock, to the bare toe, to RainDancer's cheek, to the tabletop, and then back through the cycle over and over again.  I stopped him right before he wanted to use the flat ice pack as a bookmark (you're welcome, Tree).  

Hurray for Friday.




2/23/09

The Face


Students were working on a group project about famous Virginians.  "Fun Facts" was part of the project.  Check out the student's face in the background.  

video

Until I have more time to edit some clips, this little gem will have to tide you over.  

2/22/09

Flip

Mr. bought me this for V-day, and I have had it attached to me ever since.  It holds one hour of video, and plugs right into the computer.  It has one button record, only 3 simple functions, and is easy enough for students to use independently.  So far I have used it to record students researching, producing, and presenting material in the classroom.  Tomorrow I am going to spend some time editing, but the recording and capture were easy!


2/12/09

Today Please Now


As I was getting ready for I Heart Writing day, I was checking out some of the student writing on the computers.  I have a few students who have access to the computers on a regular basis as part of their learning plan.  In my exploring, I found this gem: 

I suppose she's having a hard time with her brother?

Other students us an AlphaSmart in writing workshop.  At the end, if they have something to be printed, they simply put a post-it on the AlphaSmart and leave it next to the printer for me to take care of after school.  (Only b/c there are currently many students trying to publish on the computers, otherwise they'd plug it right in and print!)  Well, I went back to print a few pieces of writing, and sure enough - there was a "print me!" post-it on an AlphaSmart:




1/23/09

When Grading Notebooks Pays Off



I found this picture and caption in a science notebook:

So, logically, I photocopied it and took it home to show the Mr.


He skipped right over that image and looked at this one, which I didn't even notice (I was distracted by the first image):

Both pictures happen to be exactly what I asked for - artistic interpretations of the tasks completed during a lesson that day. And all of it was legal. I swear.

1/22/09

Respect

One of the fabulous teachers from my school came in to visit today. She is not teaching this year, choosing to spend the year home with her darling new son. While she was visiting, some of her former students from last year were able to see her and say hello.

One of her former students is a fan of showing some skin, to put it lightly, and it's not always in the most appropriate way. (Elementary school, gasp!) Well, today, when she saw her former teacher, instead of rushing to her like everyone else was - she took a few steps in another direction, turned her back, and zipped up her outer layer.

She was then prepared to face her former teacher. But not before covering herself up.

Respect for herself, former teacher, or both?

1/12/09

What's Your Hobby

Today was the first day back after holiday break. I was glad to see the students, but oh-so-sad that they didn't bring their manners back with them. I spent most of the day reminding them about voice level and about the definition of respectful listening. What I really wanted to say was SHUT UP. That's harsh, I know, but it was like breaking in a pair of shoes that you've been wearing every day for 5 months. Annoying.

The day was not without perks though. A good report from Art (Thanks Snippety), and great stories about Intersession and break were wonderful.

We were walking down the hall to the library at some point in the day, and the students were chatty as ever in line. I reminded Glasses about our hallway voice, which he apologized for and quieted down for the moment. A little while later, I had to remind him again. I walked up to him in line and put my hand on his shoulder as a quiet reminder.

He looked up towards me (as he doesn't really make eye contact), and said:

"I'm sorry! Talking is my hobby."

What's yours?

1/9/09

A Spritz?

He said, "I am wearing perfume today, can you smell it?"

"Perfume?" I said, thinking he meant cologne.

Then, suddenly, I could smell it. It was definitely perfume. A lot of it. And no, he didn't have to even be in the room for me to smell him.

"You smell like a very large bouquet in a very small confined space," I said. "How nice."

And no, my eyes were not watering because I was sad. It was the human bouquet.

Growth Spurts

Could it be that I am ready to go back?

Today I had the first urge to actually do work. It took me 2.5 weeks to get there, but here I am. I am pondering my lessons for when my class convenes again. I am wondering, as I have been all break, how and what my students are doing. Did they have a good break? Did travel go well for those heading to other countries? And, alas, are they ready to change up math workshop when we get back?

I am sure they've been thinking about math workshop this entire time. And our language arts block. They have education on the brain. Or so I imagine. I also imagine that the first day back will be a breeze. Right? Right.

See you soon, my friends. I hope you didn't get to big while you were away. :)