I'm not sure what it is about lower elementary school students, but they don't seem to believe in the whole "raise your hand to speak" idea. I mean, sure... they believe it in theory: if I asked my whole class what they needed to do to get my attention, they would dutifully reply with a chorus of "raise your hand". But in the real world? Not so much. The kids will come right up to me if they need something. It doesn't matter that they're in first grade and have been "raising their hand" for a year and half now. I still have random students getting up out of their chairs and coming to me to ask for (fill in the blank).
So today when an office staff member came by to take a picture of me and my cooperating teacher (for a bulletin board), it was strangely fitting that I was literally waving a student out of the shot just as she clicked the button. There I was: one arm around my colleague, the other stiffly bent away from my body, shooing off a random request from a student who "forgot" to raise her hand.
I can't think of a more fitting picture to capture life in the classroom!

a horror story from the trenches of student teaching

My very first teacher observation was during my first semester of student teaching in a resource room for kids with learning disabilities.

I remember it well because it was traumatic.

I hadn't previously met the man who came to do my observation; he was part of the college faculty in the education department, but not my instructor.

Anyhow, I had a great lesson planned. I was going to teach a small group (just two first graders) about telling time to the hour. FIRST MISTAKE. Don't ever teach time or money while being observed. Just trust me.

As the man observed, my lesson spiraled downhill in a sort of out-of-control, catastrophic disaster of epic proportions. At least, that's what it felt like at the time. The kids totally didn't get it, and I wasn't on top of their impulsive and distractable behaviors.

When he pulled me into the library so he could talk about my lesson, I knew that it hadn't gone well and as soon as he started talking, I burst into tears.

And soon my tears in front of this stranger turned into little sobs. Then bigger sobs. Then I was so embarrassed that I wanted to die!

He sat in stone-like silence during my whole meltdown. When it seemed like I was maybe starting to breathe normally again, he asked very stoically: "Are you finished?"

His complete lack of compassion was so shocking. I sat there, mute, as he calmly went over my lesson. When he was done, I didn't know if I would ever teach again.

I'm happy to report that I did teach again... And teacher observations no longer scare me (I don't know how I could do worse than that first one).

What's your worst teacher observation horror story?

purely for the tax benefits, obviously

When I noticed four other teachers crowding around my doorway to listen in on my spontaneous awkward teaching moment, I just knew I'd be sharing it on the blog today!
(To understand this post, you'll need to know one thing: the kids with hearing loss that I teach also have some considerable language delays. So while they may be eight years old, their language may be more like at a 2 or 3 or 4 year old level.)
We were reading "Me on the Map", and I decided that a good extension activity would be to draw a map of our own bedrooms. I passed out white sheets of paper and some pencils and we all got down to work. Even me. I figured: why not draw my bedroom as I supervise and assist them while they draw theirs?
I drew the door.
I drew the two windows.
I drew a big square bed with two pillows.
"TWO pillows?!" one of my kiddos said. "Why TWO pillows?!?"
I answered: "One for me, and one for Mr. B."
"What? He your girlfriend?"
"Boyfriend! And no, he's not my boyfriend. He's my husband."
"You sleep with him?"
"Husband, what that?"
Turns out, "husband" is a new vocabulary word for my five students. Four of my colleagues appeared out of nowhere and gathered around as I drew a stick figure of myself on the board, labeled "Mrs. B - wife" and Max, labeled "Mr. B - husband."
"We're MARRIED." I said, taking off my ring and showing everyone.
"Ooooooohhhhh" (ah, the sound of dawning realization!)
I thought the matter was settled when someone piped up with:
"Why you married?!?"
And then the giggling from the other teachers started all over again.

monday miscellaneous

I have no coherent thoughts to put together into a nice little blog post for you. My thoughts are scattered, just like the paperwork on my teacher desk! So here, you go... some random things on my mind:
*The front office says there's no more copy paper for the teachers. But I saw a mountainous pile of paper when I peeked into the (normally locked) supply closet. Why all the hoarding?
*We had a celebration of our sight words on Friday with chips and dip! Orange cheeto-dust is hard to get off sticky fingers and mouths...
*I have two IEPs this week.
*Gabrielle Blair from Design Mom sent me the sweetest thank you note for guest posting for her! It felt like getting mail from a celebrity!
*Max and I split half a carton of Ben&Jerry's yesterday (mint cookie flavor). But I really wanted the whole carton.
*If the state of Texas doesn't issue our school district a waiver for the 5 snow days we had this month, they're going to make us use our personal days!! Ouch. I was saving those for an emergency (or maybe a cruise!)
*It's a good thing I'm more prepared for my lesson plans than I was for this blog post!
What random thoughts do you have swirling around your brain?

bippety boppety boo!

I started after-school tutoring yesterday for a group of five 4th/5th grade boys.

I went into it kicking and screaming a little because I had such a horrible experience with tutoring last year, but the following reasons made it easier to sign up (there's a lot of pressure to tutor at our school--even on Saturday mornings!):

*It's only once a week since I'm splitting the duties with a colleague.
*All the lessons are already planned and all the materials are already provided.
*It's an extra $50 a week.
*$50 buys a lot of ice cream.

Back to yesterday.

We got to the part in the lesson where we are supposed to review plot elements. The script said:

"The plot is the beginning, middle, and end of a story. Let's turn to our workbooks and write the beginning, middle, and ending of a story that we're all familiar with: Cinderella."

Cue the confusion. Cue the puzzled looks.

"Cinderella!? What's that?"


"I haven't seen that movie!"

Ooooookay. So I had to stop in the middle of the script to tell the whole story of Cinderella. And I did it with gestures, expression, and all the right voices.

All five of those "macho" boys were completely enthralled! No impulsive behavior. No random fart noises. No distraction. I had them eating out of my hand.

Hmmm.... I may have missed my calling as a professional storyteller!

banging my head against the wall.... 100 times

Today was our 100th day of school celebration!
We had a whole day of workstation activities planned with all of the kindergarten and first grade classes. The kids rotated between all the classrooms for a different fun acitivity in each room. There was 100 day crowns (with sentence strips), 100 day t-shirts, 100 day trail mix, 100 day fruit loop necklaces, etc.
Stupidly, I volunteered to man the "I can ___ 100 times" station. I figured: no materials, no mess, no clean up. All I had to do was figure out with the kids what we could do 100 times.
And as it turns out, jumping, clapping, snapping, "swimming", Egyptian walking, and hopping 100 times (TIMES EVERY HALF HOUR with a different group!) is a surefire way to pass out.
Things my kiddos said:
"Let's do 100 sit ups!"
"Let's run 100 laps!"
"Let's do 100 push-ups!"
Things I wanted to say:

"Okay kids, now let's take 100 deep breaths."
"Alright, now instead of jumping jacks, let's all just blink quietly 100 times."
"Hmmm. Okay, now let's all put our heads down for 100 seconds while I go take 100 gulps of water."
Don't get me wrong - I'm glad they're having a blast, but I may need to be carried out to my car since I won't be able to walk by the end of the day!!

Parents, you're welcome

Yesterday, we had our Valentine's Day Party at school. In fact, all Valentine's Day parties were celebrated at 1:30 yesterday at our school - per the principal's decree.

Are you the kind of teacher that thrives on classroom parties? I used to be, I really did. But lately, I find that the very mention of a classroom party makes me want to hide under my desk with earplugs and a stress ball.

This year we have a fantastic room mom who took it upon herself to provide each first grader with a shoe box (wrapped in pink or red paper). She also took care of ordering the pizzas, bringing the juice, and bringing paper plates and napkins!

So we should have had a pretty stress-free party.

Except it's a classroom party at the end of the day on Friday, with lots of SUGAR and EXCITEMENT, so of course there was still some stress!

Especially when some genius in the front office decided that ten minutes into all the parties would be the PERFECT time for a fire drill.

[In fact, as soon as I heard the fire alarm, I may have shouted into the sudden silence: ARE. YOU. KIDDING ME!!! Good thing our classroom is right next to the front office. Whoops.]

When we got back from the ill-timed fire drill, we set about passing out our Valentine's Day cards. It still amazes me how excited and overjoyed the kids are to receive a preprinted little Scooby Doo Justin Bieber note from their friends!

Once we passed out our Valentines, we passed out from too much pizza, too many cookies, and three different kinds of cupcakes!

Then we sent the kids home!

shame... shame on me

There are two kinds of teachers in this world: those who send their students to the nurse for every little scrape and boo-boo, and those who downplay everything and make the kids tough it out.
I'm of the second camp.

*A kid falls down? "You're fine!" I say.
*Does your head hurt? "Go get a drink of water!" I say.
*Are you bleeding? (Wait, let me get out my magnifying glass for this one...) "Here's a bandaid now get back to work" I say.

So a few days ago, when I noticed some teeny-tiny red spots on "Thomas's" hands and wrists, I didn't think much of it. I asked him if his wrists were itchy, and he said no. So I figured he was fine. He wasn't complaining about it!

It occured to me that I should maybe ask the nurse to look at it just in case, but it was the end of the day and I forgot.

Today, a different teacher sent Thomas to the nurse. This teacher is more caring, and clearly belongs to the first type of teacher.

After she examined him, the nurse came to find me right away. She interrupted my lesson and pulled me out in the hallway. She told me I needed to send Thomas home, and clorox down all the surfaces in my classroom immediately- anything he could have touched.


He has scabies.

The things we do for snow days

I never thought that Texas would be a state where I compulsively checked every ten minutes, but there you have it. After a record four snow days in a row last week, we're expecting ANOTHER one tomorrow!
And I've been educating my Texas teacher colleagues on all of the superstitious behavior I learned from my Michigan teacher colleagues!
If you're gunning for a snow day, make sure to:
1. Wear your pajamas inside out.
2. Throw ice cubes into the toilet.
3. Sleep with a spoon under your pillow.
Those are the main ones that "work." Did I miss any? If there are any regional superstitions in your area for a guaranteed snow day, send them my way!!

The quadruple bypass snow day

So as it turns out, I left out a type of snow day in my Educator's Reference Guide to Snow Days :
The Quadruple Bypass: When school closes for FOUR whole days in a row!!

It has turned my weekend into a six day weekend! Here's what I've been up to:


Making cards for my store

Making flower belts (tutorial here!)

Organizing a huge raffle/giveaway to support Amy, a fellow blogger in need. You can get all the details about that upcoming event here. I hope you'll join us!

Have you had a lot of luck with snow days this week? What have you been up to?

an educator's reference guide to snow days

Today marks our second snow day in a row! Our area of Texas got hit with freezing rain/sleet/snow. And the coldest temps in fifteen years! Unfortunately, we have to make up any snow days we take (but I'll just let Future Sarah worry about that!)

In the meantime, enjoy this handy reference guide to snow days:

Snow Days:

Standard Snow Day: You knew it was coming, and it came!

Over-hype Call: There was supposed to be a storm. They panic and call it. Then there's barely any snow.

The Perfect Storm: A huge storm is forecast. You get the call that school will be canceled tomorrow. And it's Thursday night. (Yay THREE day weekends!)

The Double Whammy: Same as The Perfect Storm but with more than one snow day in a row.

The Surprise Party: You had no idea there was any chance of a snow day. You wake up in the morning to a surprise call and get as excited as a kid at Christmas!

The Fun Snow Day: School is canceled due to freezing rain... which melts by the time you wake up!

The Too Cool for School: It's twenty below and too cold to wait outside for the school bus. Or start your car.

The Heart-breaker: A two hour delay instead of a snow day.

The Tormentor: A standard snow day, but your power is out. And the roads are too bad to go anywhere. You're cold, you're bored, and you wish you were at school after all.

The Missed Memo: You get to school, only to find out that the doors are locked and school was canceled while you were on your way.

The Hostage Situation: It's the Missed Memo, plus you get stuck at school because Mom and Dad dropped you off before you realized. And now the teachers are stuck because the kids can't be left at school alone...

Non-snow Days: 

The Over-hype: Everyone thought it was going to be the Snowpocalypse, and instead it's just overcast.

The Stubborn No-call: The weather is bad enough, but they won't call it because the last snow day was a mistake (see Over-hype Call) OR they've already called too many snow days.

The Odd Man Out: Every other district EXCEPT YOURS has called a snow day.

The Toughman Contest: There's an escalating war between superintendents to see who can tough it out the longest.

**This post could not have been written without my husband's expertise!**

What do you think... did we miss any?
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