I'm too tired for this, but I realize that there are people out there desperate to hear about what I've been up to and how I'm doing (...ahem....). So, let me sum up in bullet form:
  • I've been getting progressively sicker and sicker this week. When half of the class is coughing, it's only a matter of time... I never had to take a sick day last year, so maybe I'll use them this year?!
  • I had a very tense special education zone meeting yesterday (all sp.ed teachers from the district were there). One lady I didn't know went off for TWENTY MINUTES about how she hates the computer system on which we do our IEP paperwork. She was saying things like "we don't get paid enough to do this", "It's ruining my life" (verbatim), etc. I sat there in disbelief. Suck it up. Do your job...even the parts you don't like. Seriously, we could have been out of the meeting 20 minutes earlier if it hadn't been for her fruitless complaints.
  • We had picture day today. I survived.
  • I had cheez-its for dinner because I didn't feel like cooking...
  • I stayed at school until 7:00 tonight to do said paperwork on said computer program. It must be done! Better to stay late on a weekday then to come in on a Saturday, right?
  • I'm so tired right now, I literally feel like I'm sleeping with my eyes open....


I did something for the very first time last Thursday. I was inspired to write a grant for a software program called Earobics for my classroom. It wasn't a very large grant ($687), but it was definitely a last-minute grant (the deadline was Friday). I got some advice from some people who have written them and recieved them before and I'm pretty sure I wrote a STRONG grant. At least, I got positive feedback from colleagues, so that's good. Now all I have to do is sit around and wait till March to find out if I got the grant or not. I really hope I do.

My students are also very proud of themselves these days. My aide bought a device to help teach children how to tie their shoes (it's kind of like a large rectangle covered with material with large holes and laces). It turns out that half of my second and third graders can't tie their own shoes. Two of them have mild cerebral palsy issues, and two of them just never learned. My aide showed them how to do it, and they've been practicing like crazy ever since! They are so excited! They are even helping the younger ones across the hall now.

What a great thing it is to feel a sense of accomplishment!

Professor B.

I was in a meeting yesterday. But for once, I was the one running the meeting!! Granted, only the third grade team was there (about seven teachers), but it still counts. I was explaining a fantastic research-based math program that guarantees automatic memorization of basic math facts in only seven minutes a day. (I happened to go to a conference--I'm not actually a math fact expert...). Everyone was very excited to try it in their classrooms after my forty-five minute presentation on it. I thought I would be nervous giving the presentation but I absolutely wasn't. It felt totally natural, and I actually enjoyed myself. Ten minutes after the meeting was over, one of my colleagues said I did a great job and asked me if I had had any training in "educational leadership" (didn't know there was such a thing!). I was definitely flattered! I got worried, however, when upon learning that I hadn't met any of the "big-wigs" in the district, she vowed she would "show me off". I could get in trouble... In my previous post, I explained how I was "sticking it to the man" (Hannah's words). It wouldn't be the same if I met "the man", and if "the man" decided to look over my shoulder as I taught. Sometimes it's better to be just one among the masses :)

Old News, Mold News

I realize this may be old news, but last Thursday was Back-to-School night and I think it's worth mentioning. I never expect to see many parents at these functions since all of our parents in the DHH program are out of district and have to drive many moons to get to school. That said, you can imagine my surprise when five out of nine families showed up!! YEA for me! A great time was had by all, and I almost managed to forget that I was at school from 6:45 to 8:00 PM.

My weekend was equally good and bad. Friday night was a relaxing evening in a quiet apartment as Max was in class. Saturday, I went out to lunch with a friend from high school who just moved to Orange County over the summer. We had a good time, and I got sick on a Mint Chip Dazzler from Haagen Daaz. I picked Max up at 3:00, and since he was feeling sick from being sick, and I was feeling sick from my gluttony, we opted to sit in front of our enormous TV for the rest of the afternoon and get caught up on Monk. Sunday was entirely wasted on moving all of our stuff out of our oldy-moldy apartment and dumping it in the dumpster. We saved some things, but 80% of it was too risky to keep. You wouldn't think dumping stuff would take all day, but it did. Max worked for 10 hours and I worked for 8. Some of the things I had to throw away made me sad. I guess it was a good reminder that you can't take "stuff" with you to heaven!

Shhh! Secret Success

I'm sitting at the computer, dead tired. But this tired is a much different tired than last year... Last year, I was defeated-tired, fed-up-tired, exasperated-tired, and even depressed-tired. This year, I'm tired from having done my job, and having done it well.

I'm amazed at how different this year is turning out to be! I have ten 2nd/3rd graders (nine in the classroom; one is mainstreamed full time) who are very ... low... in every way. Two of them are non-readers, and one of the non-readers only knows 20 out of 26 letters of the alphabet. Then why do I feel so good about things at the end of the day? As I thought about it, I realized that these are two different classes.

Last year's class was competitive, rough, petty, hyper, sensitive, and even catty.
This year's class is sweet, friendly, CALM, and cooperative.

As my aide pointed out, this year's class is a joy to teach. And if you're thinking this is a honeymoon period, you're wrong; I checked with last year's teacher and this is how they are all the time. LUCKY ME!!

But the real kicker in my attitude/energy level/motivation/emotional well-being, is that I made the executive decision (shh, don't tell!) to teach my kids what they need to learn, whether or not that corresponds with the reading or math curriculum the state of California and our district has adopted. Revolutionary, huh? No longer do I feel like I'm banging my head against a wall every day trying to teach reading skills my students aren't ready for. Instead, I feel GREAT about what I'm doing, because it's working, and for the first time in my career, I'm seeing some growth!! YEA FOR ME!

My non-reader finally read the first five sight words from the Dolch list today. (the, and, to, he, a). We've been working with these words for three days, and I finally pulled him aside for some good old-fashioned "drill and kill". We spent five minutes seeing who could say each word on a flashcard first. If he could read it, he kept the card, and if he missed it or I had to remind him what the word was, I kept it. We went through all five words like, eight times before he finally got them all but when he did ... we cheered!! He was SO excited and SO proud! He got all five right three times in a row, and I am not kidding you when I say I literally had tears in my eyes. Seeing his beaming, freckled face under his white-blonde hair was all I needed to remember why I am a Teacher.

Teacher AND Housewife

With Max in school full time, I find myself in another role--that of a housewife. Last year, I was spoiled by anyone's standards: he took care of all the cooking and cleaning and laundry. This year is a different story...this weekend, I cooked TWO meals! I haven't cooked a meal, since, gosh, I can't even remember. My first turned out great: a fritatta recipe I found on the internet. The second meal went fine but I had to have some help seasoning the turkey burger. I had lots of time to be a housewife over the weekend. Not so much during the week, though... Today I'm dead tired; Max is tired and a little stressed and a little under the weather. We both got home around six tonight (one car, remember?) and we both looked at each other wondering who would cook dinner? :) We are learning the whole "give-and-take" thing again....

On the school front, week two is going well so far. We started our apple unit today by making "apple smiles" with round apple slices, peanut butter, and raisins. The kids loved it; it was really yummy; and I got them to say enough sentences about the activity so that it became a decent story :). I was actually surprised that no one turned up their noses at the raisins--I would have at their age!

I love you, Tomorrow!

Real quick post because it's 6:40 and I'm still at school (I know, I know...) and I need to get back in time to cook the pizza, eat the pizza, then pick up Max from class.

Crazy day. I had planned to assess all my kids in reading and language with informal placement tests. I had my assessment binder out and a plan all set for when and where this would happen. Then suddenly this morning my principal decides that the one student I have mainstreaming full time with Mrs. X is going to be moved to Mrs. Y's classroom because of a "numbers issue". Wouldn't be a big deal but said student has already spent three days in Mrs. X's class and is nicely adjusting and making friends. So I had to spend all my assessment time meeting with Mrs. X and Mrs. Y and talking to mom on the phone (in my most reassuring voice), then breaking the news to the said student (who thankfully seemed to take this all quite well...). Bottom line, I still have no idea how to group my kids for reading and language lessons thanks to a "numbers issue".

But I will not despair for There Is Always Tomorrow :)

Wasted Wednesday

Day Two went well. I'm discovering more and more about my new set of kids and my two new students. My second new student started in my class today (transportation issues yesterday). He's darling but from what I can tell, he has very little oral language--he's been signing all of his answers to me. I just lean in and say "I didn't hear you" and then he tries to say it out loud, but he is very shy about it :). He must think I'm pretty stupid for not understanding his signs!

Wednesday is our meeting day, so after the early dismissal I got a little bit of work done then headed over to the lounge. Our principal won us all over by provided free ice cream bars and popsicles for us, but quickly lost our admiration when he made us sit through a forty minute video we had all seen before (some had seen it twice before) at other staff meetings with him. So there we were, alternating between licking our ice cream, glaring at him, and checking our watches, and all the while he's standing there, smiling and laughing, clearly loving every minute of his favorite motivational video! Ah, meetings...the weekly waste of time :).

One down....

.... one hundred and seventy-nine to go!

Today was the first day of my second year of teaching. Last year on this day, my colleagues swarmed into my room and gave me congratulatory hugs and a gift signed by all of them to commemorate my first day of my career. Nothing like that happened when the last bell rang today, but I still felt a sense of triumph over a successful first day :).

It started way too early--my alarm rang at six, but I was so anxious about today that I tossed and turned from about 4:30 on. The kids came at around 8:30... so cute in their "first day" outfits and hair all neatly done. No one was really shy on account that they were all in the same class last year, but I do have a new student whose mom confided in me that he was very nervous. Fortunately, he fit right in with the rest of the class. All the activities that I had planned went quite well. My favorite part of the day was during calendar time when I taught them a short song about the days of the week. They were all so adorable as they sang out unabashedly (with no regard as to whether they sounded "cool" or not--something last year's class would have been self-conscious about!). I've got to find a way to sing more songs in my curriculum :).

By the end of the day, I was quite exhausted from all the excitement--I'm sure I'll sleep much better tonight! I also forgot how hard it is to get motivated to go on a walk after a full day of work... Back to the routine!


As you may have read from Max's blog, I was indeed at school for thirteen hours yesterday. But I do have an excuse! I was trying my very hardest to get all the loose ends wrapped up before Tuesday without coming in over the weekend. I would have been home sooner if the administration hadn't wasted four hours of my morning yesterday in a meeting. Oh well. It was a little spooky being at school after dark--I was even scared away from going to make copies in the work room. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), when I walked out to my car at 8:20, there were six other teacher cars in the parking lot, so apparently I wasn't the only one burning the midnight oil...
I apologize if my readers are sick of hearing about school, but 'tis my life now. I've been a little cranky about being back at work after such an exceptional summer. During the last ten days, every time I thought about Tuesday (in three days when I have kids) I've felt .... dread. Not that I don't like my job, but it's very hard going from having no responsibilities to having heavy responsibilities--from a slow paced summer to a fast paced job with all the busy-ness and stress that goes along with that. Having said that, something weird happened yesterday around three. I was still feeling that dread until the very moment I taped down the first desk-tag (like a name tag you use to label each desk). Then suddenly it was like something clicked... I found myself smiling down tenderly at the little desks, smiling in anticipation for when the little munchkins will get here. And now I'm strangely looking forward to getting started! Bizarre.

Check out Max's blog and find out why all I could say was "WHAT HAPPENED??" when I walked in the door last night :).
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