No More Working Late For Me!

I’ve decided that I will only bring work home on the weekend if I do not finish it after school. In fact, I’ve decided to only stay after school 1 day/week. Two days max. Since my classroom is always clean, the only time I need to stay after is when I need to change the bulletin boards. This means more time with my husband and children.

HERE’S TO 2011!

“That’s Fine,” She Said.

Okay, I think I was a victim of a misunderstanding. I say I think because I’m not sure. The conversation had two possible meanings. Apparently the one I understood was the incorrect one. Here’s what happened. My school won the Clippers FIT challenge in our area so the FIT team was there working with the kids. The teachers had nothing to do but stand around in the hot sun. Suddenly, I spotted a bench in the shade, so I went over to sit down. That’s when the art teacher comes over.

“You wanna’ sit down?,” I asked.

“That’s fine,” she said, with a wave of her hand. I took this to mean that she was okay standing & didn’t want to sit. So, I didn’t scoot over. Well, about 30 seconds later she kinda’ huffs off and sits down further over.

I was a bit confused over her huffing. I thought she didn’t want to sit down. I totally didn’t understand that. What would you have thought?

Hey, Mom! Look At Me! Look What I Can Do!

What I am about to say (write) will sound incredibly conceited, but it’s not. As usual, just bear with me and I will bring it around. Let me begin by saying (writing) that I just read my horoscope and was surprised at its accuracy. It detailed how I am a late bloomer. And this is true.  All during my 20s I was a housewife. Firstly, because I was raising children. Secondly, because I didn’t want to do something that I did not enjoy or end up in a dead end job with no career. So, I waited until I discovered what I wanted to do. That didn’t happen until I was 27 years old when I worked as a tutor for World Literacy Crusade. It took me another 4 years before I could get started. So at the ripe old age of 31, I started working with Special Education children. So, although I am about to be 41 years old, I’ve only been in my chosen profession for 10 years. I said all that to say that my horoscope was right. I am indeed a late bloomer. But late bloomer or not, I am incredibly talented! I say this because within the past five years I have discovered so much about myself.

I discovered that:

  • I am excellent at presentations. I surprised myself with that because I was really shy when I was younger.
  • I’m an excellent public speaker. I am not afraid to get up and speak in front of any crowd. Not only that, but once I do speak, I blow their socks off.
  • I have a real passion for writing,
  • I am really creative side,
  • I am very good at organization,
  • I have the ability to motivate students,
  • I have the ability to enrapture a crowd.

I am looking forward to discovering more of ME because all the things I’ve discovered about myself so far makes me so proud to be ME. I feel like a little kid showing off to my mother, saying “Hey mom. Look at me! Look what I can do!”

Now, that doesn’t sound so conceited, does it?

HERE’S TO 2011!

Monthly Library Trip

Hello, Dear Readers, I just returned from my monthly walking trip to the library. I am so tired. I was not this tired last time.

Thank goodness these trips are on a Friday because I am usually so tired afterward. I love these monthly trips. My students get to walk and see the neighborhood. They get to go to another library that’s bigger than the one we have at the school. Not only that, it’s like a mini-field trip. The good part is that we don’t have to pay anything. Not even for the books. I LOVE THE LIBRARY!

I Hate to Stop You From Reading, But…

That’s what I had to tell one of my students. I REALLY hated to stop him, but he was not finished with his classwork. My students know there is a  MUST DO/MAY DO system in my class. At the top of the MUST DO (Chores) system, what the students need to complete, is:

  • Finish incomplete work
  • Writing journal
  • Math line graph
  • Problem of the Day

After that, the students have choices for their MAY DOs (Free time). They are:

  • Reading
  • Art journal
  • Various Bingo games

There is never a time where the students has nothing to do. My favorite saying in the class is “Doing absolutely nothing is absolutely not an option.”

I really hated him to stop him from reading, but…

Still Surprising Myself!

I just read an interesting article about Special Education teachers who transition to General Education. The article said something that surprised me. It talked about how Special Education teachers who transition to General Education have the neatest & most organized classrooms with the most explicit rules. I thought it was odd that that applied to me. So I called my husband & shared it with him. I was surprised when he told me that my classroom has always been neat & clean. I thought about it & sure enough my classroom has always been neat, clean, & organized. Who knew???

They Are Such Sponges!

Yes, you read it right. My students are such sponges, but not in a bad way. Yes, they talk WAY too much, but they are constantly surprising me. In a good way, that is! The “thing” they surprised me with is their capacity for absorbing information. They have been soaking up information like nobody’s business. They sop the information up just like sponges. I am so happy that they’re able to absorb the information because I realized I was running behind. You see, working for a Catholic school is SO different. One thing I’ve discovered is that Catholic schools do not have a pacing plan like a Unified School District; at least mines doesn’t. Since I don’t have a pacing plan, I have had to put myself on one because I was taking my own sweet time to make sure the students were mastering the material. Along the slow road of my own little pacing plan, I realized that my students were indeed mastering the material and that I could move them much faster than I was moving them. So, I completed new lesson plans and scheduled them to move at twice the speed I was moving them. I am happy to report that they are responding very well. One of my students who was performing pretty badly is actually performing better. I wish I would have done this sooner. But I’m quite proud of myself because when I was hired, I didn’t know the Houghton Mifflin Social Studies program. Truth be told, I was a little scared about learning. Really, I was a LOT scared. I didn’t think I could do it. But that’s usually when I do my best work. This time was no exception. I have surprised myself in such good ways. I am so psyched about this. I am really looking forward to many more surprises from my students and myself.

HERE’S TO 2011!

I Wear No Make-up!

Yes, I am still harping on the Open House Debacle of 2011, as it shall forever be known. Ok, this is what I didn’t say in the last two posts (here and here) where I harped on said Debacle of 2011. Let me tell you a little bit about me. I don’t wear make-up. I can remember making a conscious decision when I was about 9 or 10 years old that I didn’t want to wear make-up. Even back then I thought that make-up was a mask; that it didn’t show the real person. I thought of it as putting on a show.

“Why would I want to wear make-up,” I thought. I have always wanted people to see me as I am. So, I have never been one to put on a “mask”, or be fake. I’ve always adopted a “take me as I am” attitude. That’s why I don’t like it when someone cleans up their house only for company. (Are you not worthy of a clean house all the time?) Similarly there are teachers who only put up projects and papers for Open House or some other event to look like a star. I find that utterly reprehensible. But, seriously, who am I to judge, right?

There was a time (a loooong time ago before I started school and working) when my house was clean. Anyone could drop by at anytime & it was clean. Well, it is the same way with my classroom now. Anyone can drop by at any time and it’s always clean. I always have current student work up and graded with comments. My students are always engaged (although sometimes in other things as children are wont to do), but that does not seem to be enough. I learned that last night. Last night I learned that I need to showcase my students work so they can feel good about their work and I can showcase my teaching strategies. When you think about it, there’s nothing wrong with that. Although I have never been one to try to put on a show, I have come to the realization that the show is not for me. It was never really about me. Gosh, how wrapped up in self can I be?

So, although I absolutely refuse to put on a mask by wearing make-up, I will put on a show. For the children.

HERE’S TO 2011!

Pants on the Ground! Pants on the Ground!

PANTS ON THE GROUND! PANTS ON THE GROUND! Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground! Do you remember that video from American Idol! Well, I do and that’s exactly the way I feel. This post is in regard to last night’s post about looking like a total slacker & eating sour grapes.

I was too tired to write everything I wanted to say last night, but I’m up now and I’m totally refreshed. So I can tell you that last night I felt like crying. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking when don’t I feel like crying. But, I will not even go into that. I will just tell you that I was so tired and couldn’t think straight because Open House started at 6:00 p.m. Factor in a whole day of working with 4th & 5th graders, grading papers, and trying to get the bulletin boards together, that will make anyone crazy. Don’t even mention the fact that I had to stay at school the whole time and get right back up & be there at 8:00 this morning.

I was tired but my mind was working overtime a little before, during & after Open House. I started thinking about the next Open House & my displays. In fact, I will not wait until the next Open House to start displaying my students projects. My students have a Black History Month project due next Wednesday that I will display as soon as I grade them. Not only that, but I will have them put on a mini-play for the Principal.

One thing I learned about being caught unaware, with my pants down, is that I do NOT like it. Read my lips (or my words) I. WILL. NOT. BE. CAUGHT. WITH. MY. PANTS. DOWN. AGAIN!

HERE’S TO 2011!

African-American Firsts!

For Black History month, I assigned my students projects on trailblazers- the first in their field. I definitely wanted them to do a project for Black History month, but was just tired of students wanting to report on Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, or some other well-known figure that’s been done to death. Don’t get me wrong. I want my current & future students to know about these people, but I also want them to know about the less well known contributors who don’t get as much credit. So, my challenge to them was to find a trailblazer who contributed to all mankind, not just Blacks. Of course they proffered up Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Mike Tyson, The Rock or Dwayne Johnson as he’s known now. My question to them was, “What have they done besides be great at their chosen profession & have brown skin or black heritage?”

They gave me blank stares, but they finally started to get it. Once they got it, they chose well. So, here is the list of people my students chose:

Jack Johnson, Marian Anderson, Shirley Chisholm, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Carter Woodson, & a couple I can’t remember right now that I will update once I find my list. I am excited about this assignment. I am going to put on a show for the Principal complete with faces stapled to giant tongue depressors.

How’s that for putting on a show?

P.S.- I have a great link to a wikipedia for African-American firsts that take you back to the 1800s & the first known black man to publish a book by the name of Jupiter Hamon. Like to see it, here it goes: Wikipedia link-

HERE’S TO 2011!

Not Sour Grapes At All. Really, It’s Not!#$%?

What I am about to say will sound like I’ve been eating terribly sour grapes, but I have not. Honestly I haven’t! There’s nothing but big, juicy grapes in my classroom! I can tell you don’t believe me, so let me just start by asking a question-Does Open House tell the true story? What do you think? I think not!

I say that because today is Open House for my school and I look like a total slacker. The Middle School teachers look like stars because their hallways are filled with projects. It looks FAN-freakin-tastic! This is the part where I know it will sound like sour grapes. But, it would only be sour grapes if I thought their hallways looked terrible, when I know they looked good. I didn’t begrudge them that. I was simply disappointed in myself because my hallways… well, they’re empty. I wanted to display my only projects- my 5th grade student’s mission projects- on a table, but I didn’t request a table in a timely manner. So, needless to say, they are all gone.

You see, I have never been the type of teacher (or person, for that matter) to do something just for show. I liked to let my work speak for me, but it looks like I need to draw people in to know that my work is good. I can see that I will have to learn to play the game. And FAST!

I not only look like a slacker, but I feel like a total slacker. If someone were to judge me by this Open House, I would not be getting any new students. I tell you what, for the next Open House, I will have my students put out so many projects that I will look like the SUPER STAR!!!

My story’s over. You can go home now. There’s no more grapes available; nothing left for you to see. Now that I’ve explained things, you should see that I didn’t eat any sour grapes at all. REALLY! I didn’t!!! ; D

HERE’S TO 2011!

A Long Day!

This day is going to be long because today is the day we have Open House at my school. It will not even start until 6 p.m. today and will end @ 7:30. Yay, lucky me! I get to stay at work for 12 hours.

I really wish Open House would be right after school. I really don’t like having to stay for that long, but I guess my room will be extra clean. I’ll write again when I get home in about 5 hours.

Thank God for Redundant Systems!

Redundant system are my savior. What am I talking about? I’m talking about being behind on my homework chart. Well, I have systems that are a back-up plan for the back-up plan. If I get behind on my homework  chart (which I did), then I go to my time sheets. If that doesn’t work, then I go to my grade book. I could have been a bunch of trouble, but I have the great, redundant systems. So, I was able to catch up with the homework chart.

HERE’S TO 2010!

“Out, Out, Damn Laptop!

“Out, Out, Damn Laptop!” has been echoing in my ears Dear Readers. As I write this I am reminded of my high school Shakespeare class. I have been feeling so guilty about spending so much time on my laptop that I’ve been dreaming about it. Is it my guilty conscience? Yep, it sure it. But, alas! I have learned my lesson. Really I have!

“What lesson is that,” you ask. Well, this all goes back to my MAC being broken last week. I was so distraught, but I tried to think of a silver lining. You see, whenever something happens, I try to think of a silver lining. I embarrassed to say that his doesn’t always happen in the beginning, but I do eventually get around to it. But, anyway, back to the lecture at hand. My power cord broke last week. I was so distraught over this because at the time I didn’t know it was the power cord, I thought it was the laptop itself. You see, Dear Readers, a new power cord is about $110, but if it was something else, it would have been totally out of my price range since the warranty expired in September.

But, as I thought about the silver lining (much, much later after I had a good cry) to the MAC being broken, I realized that I spend far too much time on my laptop and not enough with my children. So, I made a resolution to spend less time with my MAC (which was dead for all of last week until I got another power cord) and more with my family. But, do you think I made good on that resolution once I got the power cord this weekend? Nope, sure didn’t! I spent so much time on my MAC this weekend until I realized what I was doing. My little niece Moriah was over & she wanted me to pay attention to her, but I kept pecking away. Phillise wanted me to look at some things, but I only half-heartedly looked as I pecked away.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk, ” I said to myself. I wanted to spank myself & put me in the corner. But, no more I say. No more. I am not going to bring any work home this week. I am far enough ahead in my lesson plans (Not science) that I don’t need to bring any work home. Anything I need to do will be done at school during my planning time or after school. Time at home will be reserved for my family.

So, I say again, “Out, out, damn laptop. Out of my lap!”

HERE’S TO 2011!

Lesson Planning Once Again!

I’ve been lesson planning this weekend, once again. Then again, when am I not lesson planning? Since I plan by the unit, once I finish this unit, I will not have to plan for 5th grade Social Studies until the middle of next month. This week, after school, I will complete 4th grade Social Studies. After that, the only thing I will have to worry about is lesson planning for Science.

Read Only What’s There. Not What You Think is There!

Read Only What’s There. Not What You Think is There!

That’s what I tell my students as we begin reading any material.

“When we begin,” I say to them, “I am going to correct you. I may correct you a lot, but it will  do two things. First, it will improve your comprehension. Secondly, it will improve your reading fluency. But, the good part is when you self-correct. When you self-correct, that means you’re paying attention to what’s there and not what you think is there.

So, in the beginning, when they’ve gone past a word (i.e., a, or, it, the) or if they add a word, I stop them and ask them exactly what the word was. I let them struggle with it for about 30 seconds. If they cannot get it after that time, I lead them to the correct word.

This process has served me well. My students are self-correcting their way to deeper comprehension and higher fluency score. I will post the results of their monthly fluency scores tomorrow soon.

HERE’S TO 2011!

Like Monica said, “Just One of Them Days!”

Yesterday was a terrible day. It was just one of them days. It’s too bad I can’t post You tube videos on here any more. If I could have, believe that I would have. That song captured my sentiments perfectly. I’m just happy the day is over because so many bad things happened. Something that should have been good news, wasn’t. I was a big ole’ ball of negativity just waiting to explode and explode I did. One thing that’s hard to get over is the fact that I couldn’t sleep. I had a bad feeling. I was out of sorts. I tried to ignore it but I kept waking up. It’s like it was an early warning system. I didn’t really ignore it. I just tried to power through it, instead of dealing with it. Let me tell you that it didn’t work. I could not calm down all day. I just wanted to roll up in a big old ball and die. But, tomorrow’s a different day. Hopefully it will be better.

HERE’S TO 2011!

My Laptop is Out of Commission!

Yes, dear Readers, as you read in my title, my laptop is out of commission. I don’t know if she’s broken, but I will soon find out when I go to the Apple store. I wish this would have happened just a few short months ago, when it was still under warranty. I don’t know what happened, but it won’t even power up. I’m hoping and thinking it’s the power cord. That’s only $110. I can’t really afford it, but that’s a lot better than just ditching it. The main reason I’m so upset is because ALL of my lesson plans are on there. I have learned my lesson, but good. If this laptop is broken and totally out of commission, I will cry once again. But another thing I will do is back it up with a memory stick.

I have definitely learned my lesson. BACK UP. BACK UP. BACK UP!

HERE’S TO 2011!

Getting Better & Better!

When I first started teaching I would look at teachers who used all the books in their classroom (including the accompanying books) & think that I would like to do the same; or at the very least, look like I’m doing the same. Oh, how I envied them.

“When am I going to make it to that point?,” I wondered. Well, the time has come. The time is now. Right now I am using the books in my class with the accompanying workbooks, and you know what? It’s actually easier to use them. Let me explain. I was trying to reinvent the wheel by doing my own thing. What that “thing” was, I don’t even know. I just know that I was going about this whole teaching thing the wrong way. Thankfully, I feel I’ve been pointed in the right direction. It helps so much to be around other teachers. You can get new ideas and practices.

So, I will not be re-inventing the wheel anytime soon. What I am doing is working, and if it ain’t broke…well, you know the rest.

HERE’S TO 2011!

Teaching As I See It!

The way I see it, teaching is a series of connect the dot puzzles. You know those puzzles? In the beginning, you can kinda’ sorta’ tell what the picture is, but you need to connect the dots to be sure. Well, ever since I’ve been teaching, it’s been like that for me. I know that I am only missing one or two pieces that will help me make the connection(s) that I need to understand it, but I’m still not quite sure how to get there. I am slowly connecting the dots, but still have a few more dots to connect.

What do you think? What’s your take on it?

Things I Learned Today!

Today, I learned that I can do it! The “it” that I’m talking about is me, projects & setting deadlines. My problem with projects, has typically been the deadlines. So I gave myself permission to start off small & go from there. For my beginning, I gave my students a series of small projects to do in Math, two in Social Studies, one in Religion, and one in Science, with close due dates. They’re cute little projects. They”re not just busy work, they’re actually related to classwork and what we’re working on.

YAY ME! Now, all I need to do is make rubrics & write the grades down. That’s my other problem.

HERE’S TO 2011!


I subscribe to Reading Rockets and so should you. They have such great articles. Well, since I’m about to do Report Cards for the 2nd quarter, I thought I’d post this. It’s an article by Reading Rockets about how (You guessed it) to read a report card.

Here’s the link for Spanish version of the article:

George Said It!

When I first met George, he told me that I should teach teachers.

“Umm, it’s only my 2nd year of teaching. Just like you,”

“I said. It doesn’t matter,” he said. “You are amazing. You should be helping others.”

I politely thanked him but told him there was nothing special about me. Well, I’ve come to realize that I do see things differently than others. Thanks to my oddities & my entirely different take on things, I am receiving accolades from my current Principal & have been asked to teach the other teachers at my school (5) how to make lesson plans like mine.

As my Principal asked me, I thought back to that conversation two years ago with George. He told me that he thought I should be teaching teachers. Now, it’s actually coming to past. Who knew???

HERE’S TO 2011!

Know Your Audience!

When my husband was a kid, he bought his great-grandmother a really, really nice radio with all the bells and whistles with all the latest technology. (Of course this radio to the left is not the radio that my husband gave his great-grandmother. It’s a comparison of the version of the radio that he gave her as compared to a simple radio, circa 1978) His great-grandmother, a big radio listener would even have the option of pressing one button and recording her favorite radio show. However, there was one problem: his grandmother was a very simple woman who liked very simple things. She had no need for all of the extras. She would have been pleased with a basic radio. Heck, she was even pleased with her old one.

She smiled, politely thanked him and put it on the shelf, never to be seen or used again. Poor radio!

My husband didn’t understand. Why didn’t she use it? It had all the latest technology AND it was cute. Not to mention that he’d spent his hard earned money on it.

The Problem: My husband didn’t know his audience. He was only about 8 years old and he thought he was doing something very generous for his great-grandmother. His heart was in the right place, but it wasn’t enough. It’s the same with many teachers- new and old. Their heart’s in the right place but they don’t know their audience. They make beautiful lesson plans for, let’s say, their 2nd grade class. Unfortunately, the plans are suitable for 4th or 5th graders.

So, when making lesson plans for your class, does it really matter if the plans are beautifully written and printed out? Let me answer that for you. No, it doesn’t. What matters is that the children understand the material. Got it? Good!

Trying to Get It Together!

I am so trying to get it together. Just in case you’re wondering, I’ll start by saying that I work at a private school now, but I’ve worked at public school for my whole career. With that being said, I am used to having 3 weeks off, not two. I am really feeling it, believe me. I am so sluggish. I can’t help but think to myself that, this time last year, I was lying on my big, comfy sectional sofa doing a whole bunch of nothing. Now, I’m here, in a very cold classroom, trying my best to get it together.

I seriously feel like I am shortchanging them. I need to go home, get my mind together and come back tomorrow with a renewed mind. Pray for me!

Snap Back to Reality, Part 4

Well, it’s back to reality. I got a whole two weeks off. They were very restful. I didn’t get much done in the way of lesson planning (just Social Studies), but I did spend a lot of time with family, cooked & baked up a storm, & got pleennnnnnnnnty of rest. I think no matter how much time you have off, you always want more. So, of course I’m not totally ready to go back. I’m just being greedy though. I miss my students and need to get back to a routine before I gain a ton of weight.

So, even though I don’t really want to, I will return to work tomorrow. Once I’m there, I’m sure I won’t think about sleeping on this nice, warm, fluffy sectional sofa with a ton of warm covers all over me. Ok, let me stop before I call in sick tomorrow!

HERE’S TO 2011!

A Baby in the Oven???

For New Year’s Eve, I decided to start a new tradition. I decided to cook the same meal every New Year like some people do. I wanted to cook something I hadn’t cooked in a long time- Cornish hen. It’s actually been thirteen years since I’ve cooked it. There’s a funny story behind the reason why. Like to hear it, here it goes.

Sam & Dakota loved David so much when he was a baby, they couldn’t wait to get home and see him. When they got home from school they would shower him with kisses and hugs and hold him until dinner time. Well, this particular dinner time was not a happy one. I called them to the table just like any other day, when suddenly Sam exclaims,

“Oh my God, Mom! What is this?”

“It’s Cornish hen. Just sit down and eat it,” I said.

“Mom, I am not eating that. That looks so nasty, he said. It looks like a baby chicken. What if someone put salt and pepper on David & stuck him in the oven and cooked him?”

Ok, I’d never thought about it quite like that. I tried to explain to him that we are the top of the food chain and that it was okay to eat it, but he was not to be convinced. I, of course, didn’t make him eat. I think I made him a peanut butter & jelly sandwich instead. I’ve wanted Cornish hen over the years, but I hadn’t cooked it until last night. Sam was not here. I still don’t think he would have eaten it.

HERE’S TO 2011!