I was recently going through some old photos of my years teaching in California. Right after Open House at end of the year, the teachers would get to walk through each other's rooms, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over fun and clever displays.

I took my camera through those walks, in case I wanted to use any of these ideas later. (Hey, it's all in the name of collaboration, right?)

I thought I'd share them with you, just in case you were scrambling to find project ideas for your walls!

Don't you just love all the cutesy fun stuff of being a teacher?!?

new kid on the block

It's been a rough first week back from Spring Break. It was the usual "Oh-no-there's-eleven-more-weeks-to-go" slump, plus I got a new student.

Remember when I kept saying what an easy and great year it's been for me? Well, apparently I should have been knocking on more wood.

The new girl, "Tammy" has thrown quite a wrench into things. She's a nine year old second grader who came to our program because she's too high functioning for the multi-handicapped unit where she'd been placed this year.  The problem is that she's too low functioning for our program.

Tammy is a darling little girl with the most charming smile, but here are the issues I've been dealing with:

*Sometimes, she can only understand if you sign to her. This is an oral program and my knowledge of sign is limited.

*If I ask her a question, 90% of the time she'll answer me in "Spanish". I have to use quotation marks here because our Spanish-speaking aide can't understand her.

*She's a wanderer. One second she's at her seat, and the next she's going through my desk drawers.

*She's bossy and likes to tell the other kids what to do (Ha! Just like me!)

*She can only count to 14, and she knows 22 out of 26 letters of the alphabet. She can't write her letters yet.

So it seems that I have my work cut out for me! The sad truth is that our district is NOT providing her with an appropriate eduction: she would be very successful in a self-contained hearing impaired classroom (we're a mainstream program that pulls out for Language Arts). The problem is that the district doesn't provide that kind of program. They know they need it. There's just no money.

I wish I could tell mom to sue.

I really hate it when the educational system lets our kids down...


There would only be ten kids in each classroom, K-5.
The basal reading series would be an optional resource.
The copier would never run out of toner or paper, nor would it jam.
The library would be overflowing with quality books.
Each classroom would have gobs of storage space filled with tons of Lakeshore materials (that you didn't have to buy yourself!)
The administration would leave you completely alone.
The teachers would decide which district and/or state tests to administer, and when.
The kids would get at least two recesses every day, K-5.
The classrooms would be JUMBO sized.
There would be a computer for each child.
All the school computers would always work, and never break down.
There would be an aide for every teacher.
There would be goodies in the teacher's lounge every day!
Whaddaya think? Did I miss any? Would you work at this school? I think most of us would be happy if just the first one could happen!

see what I missed by not having an older brother

This morning, The first graders were sharing what they did over Spring Break. They stood up one by one in front of their friends and told their favorite part. There were lots of stories about going to the zoo, the science museum, and the amusement park.
One boy stood up and said that he and his family drove to Mexico to visit his grandparents. He was beaming and obviously very proud. I didn't think much of it until I ran into his older brother (who's in fifth grade).
"Hey 'Jim', how was Mexico?" I asked him.
"Mexico? I didn't go to Mexico."
"But your little brother said you all went down there to visit your grandparents!"
"No we drove to Houston to visit them. I just told him for fun that we were driving to Mexico."
I guess what are older brothers for, if not to prey on the gullibility of younger siblings?!

Spring Break finally makes an appearance

The countdown is over, folks! It's a whole week off for this teacher!! And I'm feeling super blessed that Max has the same week off from his PhD program.

To celebrate, we're going to go spend 20+ hours in a car and visit family up in Michigan. I'll grumble when I have to wear my winter coat, but at least we'll be in good company!

We're bringing Barney with us. He loves my in-laws' house... he's pretty sure it's an amusement park specially created for him!

In any case, I won't be around much this week, but I do have some excellent posts scheduled to keep you company. They've been hand picked as my favorites from 5 years of blogging!! Think of them like reruns you probably haven't seen before!

murphy's law in the classroom

Murphy's law can especially bite you in the butt at school. Consider:

*Your principal stops by for an unscheduled visit on the day you are least prepared.

*The copier jams just as you are feeding in your week's worth of worksheets. Then it breaks.

*The only staff bathroom is occupied and you really have to go. Also? You left your class with another teacher for this emergency.

*The fire drill goes off five minutes into your classroom party.

*A student spills his pudding just as you've finished the last roll of paper towels.

*On the day you were going to actually get all of your planning done, the kids are indoors for recess due to rain.

*Your computer freezes/crashes right as you go to record grades (or type up that IEP!)

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

Feeling naughty

I snickered to myself as I put on my denim jacket on my way to work today. It felt so rebellious, so ... wrong.
At my last school, the principal decided that jean jackets looked like a gang sign so no staff members were allowed to wear them. This resulted in a lot of collective foot stomping and protests of "That's not fair!" There were so many perfect weather occasions that I couldn't wear my beloved jean jacket.
But I'm in Texas now, at a different school that isn't all hung up on what attire is appropriate (I can wear capris now too! Yay!). And even though there's no rule against jean jackets, I still feel like I'm breaking a rule. And it makes me smile.
What crazy rules do you have to follow where you work?

momma says "life's not fair"

For an hour every morning, I help with our third graders in Math and Science (in the general education setting). I'm in charge of three girls with severe hearing loss, one of which performs at about the early first grade level when it comes to Science.
We just held an IEP for her and decided that she needed to use the calculator so that could focus on understaning the math concepts instead of being bogged down by the actual computation.
As I handed her the calculator, another student, "Jose" (who is quite gifted) proclaimed:
"That's not fair!"
The whole class heard him, so I took the opportunity to give a brief lecture on fairness as I have come to understand it in the classroom.
Fairness does not equal "same". Fairness is everyone getting what they need in order to learn. Jose doesn't need a calculator to learn, but my student does. Not everyone needs a giant magnifying glass to do their work, but our visually impaired student does.
He seemed to understand what I was saying (either that or he shut up about it!). I've found that I've often needed to address the class when something like this happens. Why does Sue get to sit on a bean bag? How come Miguel has play doh in his desk? Why does John get to stand up to do his work? And so on.
How do you address fairness?

be honest: have you ever said this?

Have you ever said to yourself (or out loud):
"I don't want to be a teacher anymore."

I talk a lot on this blog about being a teacher: the ups, the downs, the kids, the policies, the exhaustion, and the excitement. I believe somewhere in these five or so years of archives, I have even said: "I can't imagine being anything other than a teacher."

And yet!! When I came across this article written by a 34 year teaching veteran, I could totally relate. I realize I've only been the profession for 6 years and didn't get to experience the "glory" days of teaching, but her description of what times are like right now absolutely rings true.

Teachers are in the news a lot right now with (it seems) nation-wide cuts in salaries, benefits, and even jobs. I enjoyed this clip from The Jon Stewart Show: he compared teachers with wall street. What he highlights from about minute 3:45 on to the end will have your blood boiling!

And I also thought that this excellent interview with Diane Ravitch  about the real reason for poor educational performance was also worth sharing:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Diane Ravitch
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

It all just makes me wonder if teaching is the new hated profession? Move over lawyers, there's a new butt of every joke!

I can't believe I said that

Things I've had to say to my students this week:

"Get that necklace out of your mouth!"

"Bacon comes from pigs. Yes! It does."

"You don't need to pull your pants all the way down to pee."

"You DO NOT say 'you can't make me' to a teacher."

What's come out of your mouth this week?
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