Things To Do Next Year (part 1 of many, I’m sure)

-Use Google Spreadsheets to have an online gradebook accessible from anywhere
-Early in the year, create community and decoration through personalized art projects
-Get a better easel for that chart paper
-Don’t be afraid to introduce reward systems and behavior plans for kids who may benefit
-The Talk Box (students write their name in a certain section of the board if they have a question/want to chat)
-Priority work list for mornings and early finishers
-Don’t listen to answers that were shouted out if it was a hand-raising time
-Perfect line every time
-Pretests
-More written responses to reading
-Conference more; have a goal, rubric, and way to record it all
-Don’t be afraid to modify a student’s assignments or provide a copy of notes– responsibility is good, but so is flexibility
-Don’t be afraid to ask administration for help/advice
-Any stack of papers on desk should have 1. a paper clip or binder clip keeping together and 2. a post-it explaining what it is and what needs to be done with it. Also, “to copy,” “to grade,” and “to pass back” folders
-Trays on counter for this week (by day), next few weeks, and then folders in cabinets for later; folders within folders (i.e. in “MATH” folder – test masters and keys, copies of notes, review materials, etc.)
-Put all the parent email addresses IN the address book WITH their full name and their student’s full name; create a group at the beginning of the year… saves you from having to dig up an older email and “reply all” every time. Ditto the grade level team, obvi.
-Just get the kids in the habit of stacking their chairs every day. It’s so much easier. Also, take more time to planner/pack up at the end of the day rather than leaving in a rush!

FIFTH GRADE TOMORROW!

‘Twas the night before teaching, and all through the house
Typing could be heard, along with clicks of a mouse

The lesson plan book was scheduled with care
Each hour’s activities laid out in each square

The children were (hopefully) asleep in their beds
Their new long-term sub a mere thought in their heads

But I with my notebook and iPad and Mac
Was silently fearing the skills I might lack

I’d looked through the Dropbox, the files on Drive
Reminding myself teaching is why I’m alive

So when midnight came and my bed started to call
I dropped everything and said, “Heck! Fun for us all!”

The fifth graders like me, I already know
It’s time to “fake it and make it,” “get ready and go”

The planning is done– well, as done as it gets
How long will I last? Let’s start placing bets.

I start teaching fifth grade tomorrow!!!

 

what just happened? // week in recap

Monday: Sub half day, meet the second-grade class I will be taking over in December (or so I thought at the time… more on that later). Sub half day at another school. Drive down to Pleasanton, get stuck in traffic (I can never win with that stuff. Maybe I need a motorcycle after all), leave car at friend’s place, head down to San Jose for trivia night. Our team had gotten fifth place out of about 27 teams the week before, but thanks to our lack of knowledge in one entire round, this week landed us closer to 15th place. Thanks a lot, Madonna.

 

Tuesday: Sub a full day in kindergarten at the school I’ve been at the most so far this year. Since I worked as a resource para for the first three weeks of school here, I got to go into a lot of the classrooms and meet a lot of teachers and students. This was one class I’d spent a decent amount of time in, so when it came to actually subbing for them, I felt more comfortable than usual. It’s so nice getting to see the teacher teach before taking over, just so it’s easier and more natural to continue with their teaching and discipline style, and have a better idea of the classroom expectations and how the kids will react to it. The one student I worked with in resource recognized me as soon as I walked in– “Hi, Ms. Drew! I have a runny nose!” was honestly a really heartwarming comment from a five year old who usually can’t stay focused for more than three seconds. Anyway, after that I drove down the street to another school who had contacted me on the recommendation of the first-three-weeks-school’s principal. (It’s hard not to name names for this kind of stuff!) I sat down and spoke with the principal, assistant principal, and two teachers… answered some questions… made some jokes… and an hour later, had a formal job offer! A fifth-grade teacher is going out at Thanksgiving break for maternity leave, and taking the rest of the school year off. Which means I’ll be teaching fifth grade from December to June! I’m SO excited, and they are too. It’s a great feeling. However, having to tell the second-grade teacher whose class I met on Monday that I found a job offer I couldn’t refuse and therefore am no longer able to be her sub was not so thrilling. The decision to cancel on her wasn’t easy, but when four teachers you really respect agree with your gut instinct and desire… yeah, there’s probably a reason.

 

Wednesday: Teach kindergarten at New School (the one I’ll now be working at!). This must be a great week to be in kindergarten, because I’ve never minded it less. Having music, library, and PE all in one day probably didn’t hurt. 😉 It was so cool to walk into the office in the morning and have the principal and AP recognize me and tell me how happy they are to have me on staff now, and to meet teachers throughout the day who “had heard about me and are so glad you’re here.” That’s awesome in my book. I saw my future classroom for the first time, too! Complete with a kid trying to put his chair in his desk… I’m sure we’ll be hearing about that more in the future. After school, my sister and I drove down to the Shoreline in Mountain View to see Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5 in concert! Her friend’s mom had won tickets but couldn’t go, so lucky us! We had a blast hanging out on the lawn, belting out songs from 10 years ago, dancing to current hits, and all that good stuff. It was my first time at Shoreline and I loved being able to have my own personal space on the lawn, plus somehow they created a neat community feel with way they built the amphitheater. Summary: Kelly Clarkson still has pipes and seemed genuinely happy to be there, Adam Levine is gorgeous but seemed a little over it, sisters are fun.

 

Thursday: Sub half day in first grade at New School (I’m going to have to come up with a better name for this place) and received the most unique instruction from a teacher yet– “Make sure you shut the door when you leave the room, because otherwise the lizards will come in.” Sorry… come again? Luckily, no lizards appeared (that I know of). I also stopped by my future classroom to order my fifth grade shirt. I love shirts, haha. I’m so excited to look like I belong and start getting to know these kids! Then I subbed another half day at a school I’d never been to. The principal and office manager seemed so glad I was there, and their “about the school” folder for subs had such a welcoming tone to it! As a sub, it’s wonderful to feel so wanted/needed/welcomed. Honestly, as a person in general, that feeling is great, but that’s more of a discussion for another day. When I walked into this class, a student immediately turned to her friend and whispered, “Ohh, our sub is SO pretty!” If that’s not a confidence booster, I don’t know what is!  I’ll take it. 🙂 On my way home I stopped downtown to get my toes painted (hello maroon) and finally bought my Longchamp LePliage bag! Yay! My happiness was dampened by an email from the second-grade teacher from Monday… she didn’t seem too pleased with my decision, which upset me more than I expected. I find it interesting that I can get up so early, deal with kids all day, make things up when I need to, adapt to new schools all the time, manage myself, etc… yet something so simple as a three-word email can just suck. Honestly, and I was even surprised by this, my eyes were dangerously close to leaking on my drive home. Word to the wise: be nice! Luckily I have family and friends that will listen to me vent when I need to. Thanks guys. A Sharks win over the Canucks and a much-needed early bedtime of 9:30 helped end the day on a good note, too!

 

Friday: Oh, that’s today. Let’s see… even I’m getting tired of this post. Subbed at “the original” school for a second grade class that I’m pretty sure was the most aggravating, frustrating class I’ve subbed for yet. I’m not going to go into details, but let’s say I’ve never been so close to screaming at a student. (Obviously I would never, ever actually do that. Just saying.) This class was not made up of the best listeners. I would be really interested to see what they are like with their teacher around, to see if how they are works better with her style or something, or if she feels just as annoyed and incompetent as I did this morning. Oh, did I mention I was running late because the clock in my room was wrong, I hit several bad spots of traffic, and I therefore missed the teacher’s morning yard duty (though honestly, wouldn’t you want to warn a sub if they’re expected to do yard duty the minute their assignment starts?) and having to have the principal cover the first five minutes of class for me? Embarrrrrrassing. Ouch. After school I treated myself to iced chai at a really cute Starbucks (Quickly near work is closed for renovations, so no Friday boba… boo) and picked up my sister and I’s shirts and number bibs for the run we’re doing next weekend. The highlight of my day is that the t-shirts are long sleeved. Again, a day I’m very thankful to have supportive friends, family, and coworkers– the teachers at school listened to my story and agreed with my actions, so that was reassuring. A quick walk with mom and the dog, and I think I’m gearing up for another early bedtime. I’m going to try to start running/working out in the mornings so that once I’ve got a more regular job schedule I can make it a part of that… and in theory, the morning stuff starts tomorrow. Doing a 5k in a week with my sister, and the Nike Women’s Half Marathon is a week after that… AHH! Okay, my contacts are getting dry. Peace out A town down.

resurfacing

This is short, but that’s all it needs to be. I’ve decided I want to keep up with this blog thing. Like, seriously this time. Lots of accomplishments, life changes (big and small), new jobs, etc. so I want to record it! But I’m going to go running right now… 

PACT PACT PACT

As the title implies… I should be working on PACT right now. I have purchased a fresh clean notebook, scheduled the next few days to figure out what I need to do when to get this thing done (well) (on time) (without too much stress)… and my fear is coming true. I can schedule and plan like it’s no big deal, but when it comes to sticking to those plans, it’s a leeeeettle more difficult. I know they say “if you think you’ll fail, you will”… and I don’t think I’m going to fail all of PACT. Just this whole planning and finishing bit. Time management. Bleh. Never my strong suit. I’m watching My Strange Addiction, reading fitness blogs, researching Bikram yoga in preparation to start it after PACT, and eating Tic-Tacs. Yes, really. Hence the blog post… and still My Strange Addiction. At least this is a little productive. I’ve been wanting to blog for suuuuch a long time, and I know my homework is more important, but maybe this is a good outlet too… at least it’s better than browsing Instagram while Corgi-flopped onto my bed, right?

Anyway, back to Bikram. Kind of. On St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) I ran a half-marathon in Sacramento. Yay! Well, I ran the first six miles, then ran-jogged-walked the other 7.1. My final time was something like 2:58… just under three hours, I made sure! It was interesting because I hadn’t really trained… at all. (Just realized I’m using a lot of ellipses in this post. Sorry! Moving on.) Then again, I’ve never really trained much for any of my three half marathons. I wonder how I would do in a half if I were to ever actually, you know, train. Someday maybe. I didn’t enjoy  not training. At the beginning of the semester, I even tried going to a lot of the group fitness classes at school. That lasted… maybe three weeks? It felt like a long time, but considering semesters are, what, 16 weeks long?… Meh. It’s frustrating because I know I could do a lot better and be a lot more disciplined, but at the same time, this is my teaching credential program and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize doing well. I know exercise is good for you and can help you think faster/clearer, sleep better, and have more energy. It just doesn’t seem to be happening much lately. And for the first time in my life, I’m feeling it. In high school, I was always active, and though I didn’t do much my first two years of college save for an occasional run and a swimming PE class, I did all sorts of IM sports, PE classes, and even swim club when I went away to college. I miss it like crazy– it never even felt like I was working out because it was so fun! Not to mention the UCD gym was soo nice and pretty. I wish I’d taken advantage of it 1239085 times more than I did (aka pretty much never) now that I don’t have access to it anymore! Lately I’ve just felt so BLAH. Bloated, sluggish, lazy, unhealthy… pretty much everything except thin, toned, and healthyish like I’m used to. Emphasis on the ish– my food habits need some serious help! I think that might be the only thing (aside from those awesome genetics) saving me here; knowing I don’t really have time to work out, I’ve been trying to eat a little better. But it’s kind of one step forward, two steps back. Or at least one forward and one back. One day I’m eating brown rice, sauteed shrimp, and brussels sprouts… the next I’m going for a cheese danish, pizza (twice in a day), chips, and beer. Yes, ew, unfortunately that is a real example.

In college I had this mirror– I think it was one of those $5 ones from Target– that makes you look really skinny. It stretches you out and is pretty good for your self esteem 😉 That is, until you start comparing yourself to pictures you took in it. Whoops. Anyway, computer dying and I’m just blabbering on and on anyway. More later! Wish me luck on PACT. 😛

flossing epiphanies

Okay, not really an epiphany of any sort, more of just a reassuring realization…

Tonight while I was flossing(!) my teeth I was thinking about my day, the staff meeting at school, how well my lesson went yesterday, how I was actually awake pretty much all day today, planning for my lesson and observation next week, etc. Every time I see other staff members at lunch or at meetings they ask me how kindergarten is going. I assume this is partly just to be nice/make conversation because they don’t know what else to ask me, but some of them do know me better and still ask, which I assume is because they actually want to know. My response is usually something like “It’s fun!… different… definitely different.” Today during writer’s workshop I had a moment where I could tell I was rapidly losing patience– not necessarily with a child, or the activity, or the grade, but just with the circumstances. I was trying to help a student write something about a snack she ate in her story, but in kindergarten, that’s not such a simple thing. I’m getting a little tired of enunciating e-v-e-r-y s-ou-n-d in a w-w-woooord, what do you think ‘word’ starts with?!…

So then comes this realization while flossing. Do I love kindergarten? No. But I don’t dislike it either. And if I had to, I could teach it, I think. A whole class. A whole year. Well, with this class, at least… they’re good. I feel so much better when I’m actually teaching than sitting back and observing.

I’m really excited to go back to my third and fourth graders, though 🙂

making vs. keeping

Well, well, well. Yesterday I re-read my post after publishing it (and caught a few typos along the way), and realized it was preeeetty long. A lot longer than I’d intended, actually. I considered re-writing and condensing it, but for the sake of time I didn’t. And the boy came over, so, you know, priorities. Anyway, after all my accidentally-big talk yesterday about all these goals I’m setting and plans I’m making, especially the being on time and school stuff (aka things applicable immediately), I went to bed with my bag and lunch semi-packed and alarm set for 5:55, 6, and 6:10 am to wake up– not to mention 6:50 and 7 to leave. I promptly fall asleep under my handmade gifted fleece owl blanket, and proceed to dream about who knows what. I wake up to the boy’s alarm. First thought: turn that alarm off, it’s loud! Second thought: That’s odd that his alarm is going off before mine. Third thOH MY GOSH IT’S 7:45 I SHOULD BE AT SCHOOL ALREADY WHERE IS MY ALARM PHONE HAIR MAKEUP BREAKFAST COFFEE LESSON PLANS THIRD GRADE HOMEWORK KEY BUT FIELD TRIP WAIT WHAT KEYS ROOMMATE WHERE WHEN WHAT!

Yeah.

I somehow managed to get out the door at 8, but traffic is a lot worse at 8 than it is at 7, so I didn’t get to school until 8:30 (aka 20 minutes after it starts). It was really, really discouraging to start off the semester by being significantly late to my alternate student teaching placement– especially since I’ve been late before. My boyfriend kept trying to stop me from beating myself up over it, saying “there’s always next time to get it right” and “there’s nothing to do about it now except get there soon,” but I still felt absolutely terrible. There shouldn’t be a next time to get it right, because this was the “next time” I was supposed to get it right! What’s the point of all the grief and anger and self-deprication I felt last time I was late if it didn’t stop me from being late this time? On one hand, it wasn’t my fault that my phone died… it had enough battery last night that it should have lasted all night, but for some reason didn’t. But, on the other hand, it was my fault, because I should have thought more carefully about the battery and charging it, or set an alternate alarm, or something.

Tonight, I still have some lesson planning to do for my first kindergarten observation tomorrow, so the 8-hours-of-sleep goal won’t be happening today– boo. But I’m trying to learn from my mistakes: my phone is currently plugged in to charge, I talked to the early-rising-always-on-time roommate about my predicament, and have a Post-It on my bedroom door that says “if no signs of life by 6:45, make loud noises.” Yes, really. There is no way I’m running late tomorrow! But I’m afraid to say that and jinx it. 😉

After all that this morning, I stayed after school to get some planning on my lesson done. I didn’t end up leaving school until about 4:40, then realized the college gym closes at 5 since it’s still their winter break. If you’ve driven during commute traffic in the south bay before, you know there’s no way to drive from central Santa Clara to downtown San Jose in 20 minutes, much less change clothes and run. So I got home and put on comfy clothes, chatted with the roommate, and logged onto Pinterest for some good old-fashioned time-wasting before working on the lesson plans. I stumbled upon this blog and read the girl’s story, and something about it just kind of made me realize that I really am not going to be in any sort of shape for a half marathon or summer or whatever if I just think about running all the time and get deterred from doing it by a closing time at a gym. It was dark and cold outside, but I logged onto the website of the gym down the street, signed up for a free 7-day trial, and twenty minutes later was running on their treadmill (at an incline of 2-3!) fo’ free. I don’t think it’s dishonest if I have no intention of starting a membership there… is it? 😛 Anyway, it was a nice way to fit in some running time tonight despite the change in plans. For the record: ran one mile and walked .7 more at a 2-3 incline in about 20 minutes. Came home, made the peanut-butter-banana-spinach smoothie I’ve been thinking about, showered, watched a movie with roomies while occasionally typing things on lesson plan, now munching on rice cakes (and trying to drink more water) and finishing this bad boy up. I still have a chart to do, and I’m SOOOOO tempted to leave it until tomorrow morning…….. uh oh. Here we go again. This meeting goals/keeping resolutions thing takes work!