My Next Career will be Competitive Eating

So it seems that I may be eating too fast. I've recently had suspicions of this when I started noticing that I finish dinner before Max (sometimes WAY before) and he doesn't take much more food than I do.

I've attributed this to the fact that I have short lunches at school and must finish all of my food within a certain time frame. Because there are copies to run, phone calls to be made, emails to write, and kids to teach! Who has time to chew?

I guess this carries over to dinner time. Tonight, I ate an entire plate of food (spaghetti, green beans, and two pieces of garlic bread) in four minutes flat. I was really hungry, and also, there is Internet that must be searched, and TV that must be watched! I was aware that I was eating too fast because at one point, I flung spaghetti onto the floor and all over my pajamas. I told myself: "Sarah, slow down". But my body wouldn't listen. Just kept shoveling it in.

I guess I'll have to wait until school is out to be civilized...

Feeding my Childhood

My Saturdays are usually full of errands. Every once in a while, I have to do some very unpleasant errands--like today! I had to go to the doctor (after fasting all night and skipping breakfast) and I had to go get the car's oil changed (I HATE getting the oil changed). To cheer myself up, I decided that between my doctor's visit and the oil change, I would go get breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts.

It's been a while since I've been to Dunkin Donuts, even though I love that place. I'd say it's been at least four years. More than anything else, nothing says "America" to me like Dunkin Donuts. I remember that when I was very young, before my family moved to France, my dad would take me and my two siblings out to Dunkin Donuts on Saturday mornings so that my mom could sleep in. That's when my love of donuts began. And I'm picky! No other donut tastes as good... not Krispy Kreme, not Tim Hortons, not grocery-store bought. I craved them even more all the years we lived in France, since you couldn't find them there.

I remember when I was about nine or ten, my parents drove to Spain for a summer vacation. I hardly remember anything about Spain except that we found something very very close to donuts in Barcelona. That was a great day!

And when I was seventeen, my senior class took a class trip to Rome for a week (it's easy to do that when you go to an international high school in Germany). The same evening we visited the Trevi Fountain, some of us discovered that right around the corner was a Dunkin Donuts! In Europe!! What a treat! It generated so much excitement, that many of us ditched this scene:

for this scene:

It was the right choice to make...

Ups and Downs

I was going to have this long, philosophical post about how outrageous it is that the bottom line in special education is the Almighty Dollar, and how somebody should get out there and fix this broken, broken system.

But then making dinner tonight was like a comedy of errors with frozen chunks of food flying everywhere, wasted sauce (and time!), and shrimp that may have been too old.

So now, all I have the energy to say is that I won a radio contest on my commute home today (I was caller number one!). I got two free concert tickets to see Sara Bareilles next Thursday! Yay for me!!!

Productivity vs. Procrastination

Yesterday, I had a serious case of the Sunday Blues as I contemplated this upcoming week. Lots of MEAP testing, with some very uncomfortable parent meetings thrown into the mix (three, to be exact). Usually, I can handle all the meetings that come my way. But this time? This time, I don't know what to do/what to say/how to proceed. And that makes me anxious. Also? I knew I would be coming back to pile of paperwork to take care of. Paperwork that I didn't want to deal with.

And today wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. There are a few reasons for this: 1) I'm repressing all thoughts of my upcoming meetings; and 2) some absent kids and some other circumstances gave me a free two hours in my afternoon. Now a responsible person would have used that time to tackle all of that paperwork. But not me. No, I decided that the more fun thing to do would be to watch some music videos online, to do some house shopping on craigslist, and to generally putz around my office. Maybe if I walked at the office, I would be more productive!

My Thoughts Exactly

It's all about MEAP these days. MEAP is Michigan's standardized test that all third through eighth graders must take. Most of my special education students have accommodations such as taking it in a small/quiet setting, or having the questions read aloud. Let me tell you, it is VERY painful watching them take this test. I so very much want to help them, but I can't! One boy asked: "Why does Michigan want us to do this test? I don't like it at all!" What I wanted to say was "Yeah, I know, right? It sucks!!!", but all I could do was nod sympathetically...

Monday Merriment

Parent-teacher conference day is definitely a day to look forward to if you work at a school and are not a classroom teacher. While all of my friends were holding back-to-back meetings, I attended five conferences (a total of an hour of my time) and had the rest of the day to myself.

Although I got A LOT done, I managed to sleep in for an extra half hour and take a forty-five minute lunch! If only every Monday could be so easy!

Spelling Successes

If you ever wonder why kids struggle so much with spelling, take a look at this poem.

There are five students to whom I give modified spelling lists. Today was the first test for three of my second graders. I've designed this system where, for every perfect spelling test (one error is permitted because I'm too nice), they get to move their little paper person up one rung of a construction paper ladder. The whole set-up is on my bulletin board titled "stepping up". I've told the kids that there will be some sort of surprise or celebration once they reach the top of their ladders (each one has five rungs).

All three kiddos were SO excited to take their tests today. And (FORTUNATELY) they all passed with flying colors. Their excitement was evident as they moved their person up their ladder: they were clapping, jumping up and down, and generally beaming!

If you're wondering why I consider this a big enough deal to share with the internet, it's because, for all three of these kids, school is generally too difficult, too frustrating, and generally overwhelming. Today, they were able to experience a real sense of success and accomplishment; and, because of it, I now feel the same way!! [Insert clapping, jumping up and down, and beaming!!]

With or Without You

Teacher School Supplies I Can't Live Without:

  1. Post-it notes
  2. Electric stapler
  3. Laminator
  4. Sharpies
  5. Secret candy stash

What can't you live without?

Stress Test

Last Friday, our staff had a whole day of in-service. For part of the meeting, all the teachers were asked to log into the computers in the computer lab and take the district math test that the kids are asked to take at the beginning of the year. We take our district tests through NWEA. They're all computerized and they're all a little like the GRE: the more questions you get right, the harder the questions become; the more questions you get wrong, the easier they become.

The reason we were asked to do this is because all of us teachers are getting trained this year in mathematics content knowledge, in order to become better math teachers. So we were asked/told to take the test, then after all of our training, we'll take it again at the end of the year to see how much progress we've made.

Now. We were given the "sixth grade and up" version of the test. This doesn't mean they'll only give you middle school math questions. Remember, the more you get right, the harder they become. I was a little nervous about the test, only because it's been eight years since I've had a real math class. But I generally like taking tests (I know, I'm a nerd) and hoped that by my supreme math skills I would be able to show it who was boss.

In reality, it took me one hour and twenty minutes to answer fifty-two questions (and I had to take a shot in the dark on some of them) and I felt very humbled as I noticed the test items getting easier at one point. I was worried that I was going to start seeing questions like "1 + 1".

As it turns out, a lot of teachers were nervous about taking this test. I hope it will make us all more empathetic to our own students' test anxiety!

Art of Doing Nothing

It's 9:40 AM and I've been lazing around on the couch for about three hours now, alternating between watching Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures, and surfing the internet. I'm working up the strength to vacuum. Also? I think I may need a second breakfast to hold me over till lunch.

On the agenda for today: shower, more lounging around, watch a movie (maybe Sleeping Beauty), go to Costco with the hubby. The only time Max gets excited about shopping is when we go to Costco. Something about buying in bulk (getting the best deal), and lots of electronics, and free food samples must appeal to him somehow. Oh, and they have amazing pizza and frozen yogurt at their restaurant.

I'm planning on printing off some scenic pictures Max has taken over the past few years to frame for our stairwell. Maybe that will be tomorrow's project since I will be so busy relaxing today :)

Telling it like it is

If your principal is going to give the entire special education department the ultimatum that all IEP meetings will be held 4-6 weeks in advance, then gives you the exact dates that they are to be held ("Parents can't make it? Too bad!") so that she can be there, she had better DARN WELL SHOW UP!!

Please excuse my frustration. This decision that she has made has had monumental consequences. Since we have no flexibility to space out our IEP's, I have to schedule them back to back (up to five a day). That means the hours of testing the kids and writing up the paperwork is taking precedence over actually seeing the kids we were meant to help on a daily basis. Which is hurting my working relationships with general education teachers. Also? It's hurting the kids. OH YEAH. THE KIDS. So we basically dropped everything because of this decision she made so that she could be at our meetings... and this week, she has missed four out of five!

All of us special ed. staff are walking around in such a state of stress. One of my colleagues is talking about quitting mid-year. I hope our principal isn't shocked next fall when she finds that she has to replace an entire department.....

Maybe I'll post something more uplifting when I get some rest this weekend!

A Race I Can't Win

Every late afternoon/evening, I play a game called "Beat the clock". It basically involves leaving work as soon as is humanly possible. But there's a catch! I have a one hour commute and if I don't leave before 4, I'll hit traffic. If I leave between 4:05 and 4:25, I hit big time traffic. If I leave between 4:25 and 4:40, I hit some mild traffic. After 4:40, I hit no traffic, but then I just get home late because I left late.

And all I'm trying to do is win this game by maximizing the amount of time I can spend relaxing at home before I have to go to sleep and start all over again!

So the best case scenario is I wrap up the day's work and leave before four. But the game isn't over yet; it has just begun. If I leave at four, I get home at five. That leaves four hours until bedtime. (Bedtime is non-negotiable.) So I race around the house doing some light chores, cooking dinner, eating dinner, cleaning up after dinner, and walking on the treadmill. If I'm lucky, I can squeeze 2.5 hours of fun time before bed. Realistically, it's more like two hours. And that time always seems to fly right by!

If someone could just give me a "pause" button for this thing called Life, I would be much obliged!
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