It's a Small World After All

This morning, an old friend of my family (who happens to be the assistant superintendent of the entire county's department of education) came to visit our program. He spent a long time in my classroom, accompanied by a colleague of mine. They watched as we did our first science lesson with real, live caterpillars. I knew I was doing a good job, I could just tell. I was relieved. After they had stayed for about thirty minutes, they left to go see some other classrooms.

When they came back, it was five minutes before recess, and my colleague took advantage of the down-time to introduce the visitor to the kids. She said: "We have a special visitor today. He knew Mrs. B when she was just a baby. He's known her whole family for a long time". Then she started talking about the fact that I'm not originally from California, and that I lived in a country far away. She had the kids guess which country. Someone said "New York". Someone else said "Las Vegas". [Meanwhile, I was thinking: It's time for a geography unit!]. My colleague tried to clarify. She pointed to the flag and she said: "It's somewhere where they don't say 'I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America'".

There was a moment of silence, then one student enthusiastically shouted "TEXAS!!"

When we had finally established that I had lived in France, she started talking about how I could speak French--she related it to the students in my classroom who speak Spanish at home. The kids wanted to hear what French sounded like, so I rattled off a few sentences. As all of this new information about their teacher sunk in, one student bemoaned: "Why didn't you tell us?"


I So Tired

I had a cranky day today.

Fridays are supposed to be joyous, carefree days, but I was too weary and wary to even notice that it was Friday. I think it has something to do with deadlines creeping up on me, and having to teach all by myself. I've been feeling pulled in too many directions lately. By eleven o'clock this morning (when Max called to tell me about booking our tickets for our summer travel), I thought I was going to scream if I heard one more kid say/whine my name. I tried not to let on to the kids that I was feeling so frazzled and stressed, but I may have failed.

Ten minutes before afternoon recess, during our "Fun Day Friday" activity (making edible aquariums), one student asked me: "Are you going to play kickball with us today?" [I led them in a game of kickball yesterday for PE]. I said "No [sighhhhhhh], not today". A different student must have picked up on my mood, because he said: "I think you so tired". And he nodded knowingly, kind of like a parent would when their toddler is all tuckered out.

Extra Large Shoes

My aide, Sue, has been out on disability for eight days... and counting. Apparently when that door hit her, it must have hit a nerve. She has to take muscle relaxants and Vicodin for the left side of her body, and she has to see a neurologist this week because her vision is blurry. She's supposed to go back to the doctor's on Monday to see if they'll release her to come back to work (please Lord!).

The district has sent a substitute aide for most of those eight days, but it is definitely not the same. Although having the extra pair of hands is nice, she has only worked with high school kids, and I just can't teach someone how to be a natural with the kids. With Sue, I can give her a group of kids to work with and give her little or no direction and I can be confident that she'll do a terrific job. She knows what needs to be done before I even ask her. She takes my grand ideas and runs with them. She de-clutters my room and cloroxes all surfaces at the end of every day. She even shares her snacks with me. You just can't replace someone like that, people. Her shoes are just too big to fill!

And I Didn't Even Get That Seasick!

You may remember from last year that everyone in our program got to go on a field trip to the Ocean Institute. Well this year, our private donor sponsored us again!! Today, all forty-three of us (including staff), drove out to Dana Point and boarded a boat for an adventure!! We did much the same thing as last year, but the kids didn't seem to notice and we all had a great time! It was particularly fun to dig through the mud that we brought up from the bottom of the ocean and find tiny worms, and even tinier shrimp. We sorted them into containers:

The kids also got a kick out of watching the sea lions and hearing them bark:

And here's the picture of the boat we took out to sea:

It's nice to have a break from the routine!

So I Gave Him Some Tissues

The only interesting thing that happened today was that my accident prone student somehow managed to fall into a puddle at recess and soak his entire body.

I'm Back!

I'm back from a very fun and a very enlightening two day conference in Palm Springs put on by the Alexander Graham Bell association. There was a lot that happened to make me think, and I don't think I have a nice and concise summary to give you all.

I was able to make two contacts that could potentially help me find a teaching position once we move back to Michigan. They were helpful, but at the same time, realistic. The southeast region of Michigan is over-saturated with teachers. Neither of them mentioned any openings in the oral deaf field. So, I'm faced with the very real possibility that I might not be able to do exactly what I want to do for a while. They were very nice in giving me all the contact information they had for oral-deaf programs in the region. I'll be getting in touch with those people this week, and continuing to pray that the Lord will provide.

Besides having a blast with my colleagues, this conference opened my eyes to the needs and issues within this growing field, and has sparked my imagination of what role I could play in the future. I've been inspired to move forward, and Michigan will provide more opportunities for me to pursue my passion!

This Deserves Exclamation Points!!

Well, this is it. In about six and a half hours, I'm going to wake up and drive to Palm Springs with six of my colleagues for a two day conference for oral-deaf teachers (put on by the California chapter of Alexander Graham Bell). I've been looking forward to this for months!! It's even doubly exciting because one of the speakers there could potentially help me find a new job in Michigan!! And all seven of us are going to stay overnight in a condo!! And we're going to learn some really cool things at the conference!! And we're going to go out to dinner!! And there's a pool at the condo!! And it's professional growth I actually care about!! And the district is paying for it!!


An Apple a Day...

...doesn't necessarily keep the doctors away!

Especially when my aide gets hit by a door and has to have an emergency CT scan. The scan was clear, but she can't come back to work until Friday. Don't worry, the news only kept me up well past my bedtime, fretting about what activities I could possible do whole group today. Despite the sleep deprivation, today went swimmingly. I can't say if anything academic was accomplished, but I didn't run screaming onto the field, so I consider that to be a success.

I've had my own adventures with doctors today. Since being diagnosed with keratitis, my eyes will no longer accept contacts without becoming inflamed. My choices are pretty much glasses for the rest of my life, or lasek surgery (note: not lasik, lasek). Today was my consultation to see if I was a good candidate for the surgery. I am. As it turns out, my insurance policy is not a good candidate for footing the bill. Fifteen percent off of 5000 dollars doesn't add up to much, actually! Especially since we're hoarding our "wealth" for our move and impending expenses. We'll see. Haha... get it? We'll SEE?

On a related note, when I was little and mom and dad would take me to the doctor, they would always "waste time" and ask the doctors about a gazillion questions (and some, not even medical). I would always perceive the doctors to be annoyed. That made me annoyed. I vowed I would never do such a thing when I grew up. WELL GUESS WHAT PEOPLE??? I am turning into my father! I wouldn't have noticed except that both ophthalmologists said I was their most curious patient ("What's that?" "What does that thing do?" "How is that going to measure the thickness of my cornea?" "What does the lasek procedure entail?" "What did people do back in the day before all of this technology?" "How old are you?"). Later, as I was firing my barrage of questions at the head ophthalmologist, trying to write down his answers on a scrap piece of paper (but kind of failing because my pupils were extremely dilated and I couldn't see a thing in a close range), he laughed (in a nice way) and said he hadn't had a patient take notes in years!

I was embarrassed, but I couldn't stop. Thanks, dad. Thanks a lot!

And So It Begins

I don't care what anyone says; across the nation, good teachers and bad teachers alike are ALL counting down until the last day of school. I don't care if you love your job, or if you hate your job, everyone's counting down. So I thought I would share my countdown with you...

After a long, busy, and stressful day like today, it's appropriate to keep in mind that I'm in the final stretch! My aide got hit in the head when another teacher pushed open the door of the lounge too quickly, and she apparently "saw stars". Fifteen minutes later, she was still feeling dizzy, so she had a friend drive her to the doctor's office. I wanted to make sure she was okay, but I was left without help for the majority of the day. It's times like these when I realize that I can't do what I need to do without her! I was running around all day trying to help ten kids individually on different assignments! Crazy, I tell ya.

Let's Call it a Day

Today was a Big Day. Not only was it the first day back from Spring Break, it was also the day I had to tell my colleagues The Announcement. It was a very emotional day for me. Thankfully, the Lord was merciful! It was easier to deal with The Announcement when the kids weren't running me ragged. I had two students absent, and a third one left before lunch for a doctor's appointment. That left seven with me--and because of speech pullouts and math mainstreaming, I mostly just had four or five students to deal with at any one time.

The kids were wet noodles today! They were so tired, yawning and slouching all the time. At one point in the morning, I suggested maybe we should all take a nap instead of Reading Group... and they literally cheered!! It was nice just to have a laid back day. I introduced the new ocean unit, read them the new/updated class storybook (it's all pictures of them and the fun stuff we've been doing throughout the year with simple text captions--they LOVE to read this book. It's like they're all narcissists or something...), and we talked about what we did over break. I know we did some language arts and math in there somewhere too, but it's all just a blur. You know, only getting six hours of sleep will make anything seem like a blur!

The Number of....

hours I slept last night: 12
books I read: 2
hours I worked at school this week: 5
points scored in the bowling game last night: 76
grains of sand that hit my face at the beach during that windstorm: 1, 765, 297
times I cooked: 0
shopping trips for clothes: 2
times I've thought about the future: too many to count

days left of Spring break: 1

All is Quiet on the Classroom Front

Only four days into Spring Break, and I'm already back at school. Don't worry, though, I wanted to be here so I could get things set up for our ocean unit. Yes, I'm resting. No, I'm not "overdoing" it. No, I'm not bored. No, I'm not a work-a-holic. It's just that things are so... peaceful... when I'm the only one on campus, when my classroom is so quiet you could hear a pin drop. I just get so much done. I planned the next two weeks of instruction, put up two new bulletin boards, got everything ready for Monday, switched the seating arrangement, and made materials.

It is truly amazing when I think I could spend my whole week here in my classroom doing my job--without any kids in sight!

Let's Get This Party Started!

Yes!!!!!!!! Spring Break!!!!!!! I made it!!!!!!! I'll celebrate with some pictures:

The messier, the better!

My egg-head students

Happy Easter everyone!!

Almost There

Every morning this week, I've woken up completely exhausted and groggy, and thought to myself: "Spring break? Is it spring break yet? Now? How about now??". Eventually I figure out that I have to turn off my alarm and go to work. And, although the days have been fine, they have all felt soooo long. I'll look up at the clock and wonder why it's stopped ticking. I'll check my watch and think "It can't STILL be ten, can it?". Boy, if this is how I feel now, it's gonna get really bad in June. But don't worry; I'll be okay.

But I have a lot of things planned for Spring break. I've got two books to read, a baby blanket to finish knitting (NOT for me), a two week ocean unit to plan and put together, a doctor's appointment, a hair appointment, an opera to go to, and a ladies' night out to organize and attend. Oh and sleeping in. Lots and lots of sleeping in!


You often hear teachers talk about these wonderful "aha!" moments--you know, the ones that make it all worthwhile: seeing a child's face light up with understanding, witnessing a student's self-confidence soar, etc. I'm sorry to say that I've never truly had one of those moments--I haven't had the joy of seeing it all click for a student. Now, this doesn't mean I haven't had my small successes... I remember one time last year when a student (who was very low, language-wise) spontaneously put together one complete, gramatically correct sentence. That was a good moment. But as far as those "jump-for-joy, I-couldn't-be-anything-other-than-a-teacher" moments, I hadn't experienced that .... until a week ago last Thursday when I was observing my two students mainstreamed for math.

I should back up by saying that in September, I'd decided to run/teach this program called "Rocket Math" from the Otter Creek Institute. It's a basic math fact memorization program that supposedly takes only seven minutes a day. I figured that automaticity for basic addition facts would go a long way when it came to teaching three digit addition with regrouping. It's just not pretty to see nine year olds counting on their fingers to figure out 4+5. It was a lot of work to start the program, but by now the kids run it themselves. It takes about 20 minutes a day for my kids to get through it. I'll be honest, there were times when I thought of ditching it to make way for lots of other things; but I've stuck it out (so far) and last Thursday, I FINALLY saw a real benefit.

My two kids were sitting with their general ed peers in math. The teacher gave them a one minute drill test for addition. I watched as they took it. Both of my students were done in about thirty five seconds and looking at me and around the room to figure out what they were supposed to do now. All of the other kids were still struggling to complete the test.

I was in the corner, stiffling sobs of pride and joy, and trying to refrain myself from jumping excitedly so as not to distract the other kids. My students may have significant gaps compared to their general ed peers, but, by gosh, they KICK BUTT when it comes to basic math facts.
Hooray for Rocket Math! Hooray for me!!

The Blues

I have a bad case of the Sunday Night Blues. I really do not feel like going back to school tomorrow.... it's the last week before spring break, and so a very slow and long week. It's funny how I get so inspired to do all these great things--knit, write in my journal, clean the bathroom, clean out the car, start some project--but I never can/do because I'm busy or tired from work. Then, once I get some time off, I don't feel like doing anything so grand--I usually resort to watching T.V or complaining that there is nothing to do!

Here's to the week going by as fast as possible....
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