Thursday, August 31, 2006
Yesterday I mentioned one of my little ones who has been a challenge in my new class. What I didn't mention is that I have a lot more of those little challenges in my room. 12 of my 20 kids are still 6. Being 6 in second grade is a WHOLE different thing than being 7 in second grade. For the past 3 weeks it has been par for the course to hear a thud about every 5 minute or so. That thud is a student who falls off of their chair because they can't sit still to save their lives!!!! I have actually caught kids rolling back and forth between the feet of their desks for minutes on end. When I have approached them and inquired about their little activity they are stunned. I don't think that they relized that they are doing anything out of the ordinary! On top of that, these are the chattiest kids I have ever seen. (and heard!) Each day has been more exhausting than the next. It has been hard teaching this year. I have spent more time on behavior management than ever before.
After yesterday's situation with my student and the rest of my "little angels" I decided that something had to change in my room. I started by going to Target and I bought a bunch of little goodies for my treat box. (very cheap btw - Target is having a great clearance sale on Back to School stuff) I then headed over to Office Max and bought carnival tickets. This morning, I showed off all of the goodies that I bought. (pencils, fancy erasers, note pads, pencil grips etc) I made sure that all of the kids were salivating at the sight of all of these cool things. I then packed them away in my treat box and introduced the tickets. I told the kids that if I caught anyone working exceptionally well, I would give them a ticket. When they earn a ticket they can write their name on the ticket and then turn it into my jar. At the end of the day I told them that I would pull tickets and whoever got a ticket would be able to help themselves to something in the treat box.
Well, after handing out my 5th ticket, I had an entirely different class. It was AMAZING!!! Those kids worked their little tails off today for these stupid little tickets. I was happy, the kids were happy and best of all - I was able to teach and they were able to learn. What a concept! Throughout the day, different kids approached me and gave me BIG hugs and smiles and said "You're the best teacher Ms. V." or "I love you Ms. V!" At the end of the day, before I pulled out the winning tickets, I debriefed with the kids and told them how proud I was of them and how proud they should be of themselves. I was a bit worried that when I finally got to pulling out the tickets, some kids might get upset because I didn't call their names. I was wrong. All of the kids handled it well. Not only that, they clapped for the kids who did get their names called. WOW!
It is amazing how a little bit of order (and bribery) will go a long way. I was able to exhale today. I didn't have to raise my voice, give the "evil eye," or have my face hurt at the end of the day because I had frowned too much. I walked to my car this afternoon with a big smile on my face ready to come back tomorrow and have another great day with my new, WONDERFUL kids!
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
You know what sucks even more? When parents cry because you tell them how they are misbehaving.
Today I had the displeasure of calling a parent and giving her the daily run down on her child. We have been in school 3 weeks now and this is not the first conversation we have had on this issue. It was such an awkward situation for me. I called the parent to give her the rundown of the day. There were so many incidents today that felt as if I were stabbing the lady over and over again as I was telling her what transpired today. (out of seat non stop, not completing work, moved out of group, hitting kids, making faces, starting fights, name calling, throwing milk on other kids etc.....)
I had to tell the mom everything. I just had too! I feel that if I am going to ever make a difference with this girl I have to be up front and honest from the beginning or we will go nowhere with her. After each incident I mentioned , I could hear the mom weep a little louder.
Then the conversation got even more strange. The mom (crying the whole way through) said "Gracias maestra por preocuparse tanto por mi hija. Se que usted tiene muchas cosas que hacer y no tienes que llamarme o perder su tiempo ayundando mi hija tanto. Usted puede mandarla al director y ya! Te lo agradezco mucho" (Thanks for taking so much time out to help my daughter. I know that you have many things to do and don't have to waste your time on my daughter. You could just send her to the Principal and they can take care of it. I really appreciate it)
THAT took me by surprise! I expected the lady to fight back with me, question me or not respond at all. I NEVER thought I would get a thank you and so much support. I didn't know how to respond at first but I just told her that it was my job and that I want her to be successful and that she can if we all work really hard with her.
This job...I tell ya! I know that so many people think that teachers have it made with easy hours and a cushy workload. They just don't even know the half of it.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I was not happy to hear this because special shoes in my mind equals too much $$$$$!!! I bit the bullet though and visited a local store called Shoes That Fit. The sales clerk had me jump up on a computerized device that scanned my feet and then he was able to recommend some appropriate shoes for me. I was looking for a sandal. I needed something that is appropriate to wear at school, would be comfortable and cute! There were two shoes that I really liked.
Finn Comfort and the other by Kumfs. I settled for the Kumfs because they cost $150 while the Finns were $220. OUCH!
I went back to the store the next week because I needed good workout shoes. After trying on several differnt shoes I chose a pair of Brooks.
Zappos and they were priced at $123.95 with free shipping! Darn!
This past weekend, I went back to the store with my mom. She also is "foot challenged!" She was looking for a pair of tennis shoes as well and she found a pair of New Balance 1010's that she really liked. While we were there, my mom asked to try on a couople of pairs of MBT's. I told her about these shoes not too long ago after a friend of mine invested in them.
For this shoe, there was no price difference. :-(
I have been quite upset about the fact that I have had to resort to wearing such expensive shoes. Who has that kind of money to spend on shoes? I will need several pairs of shoes too. I can't just have one shoe - this is going to be an expensive investment. I have to say though that now, after 2 weeks with the right fitting shoe, I have little or no foot pain. It is really miraculous. WOW! What a change.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
2) High Visibility:
This year we have a new principal and vice principal. Each day one of the two (and sometimes both) show up in our rooms for casual drop in observations. The firt week it was kind of nerve wracking. Since then we have all gotten used to it and really enjoy their visits. They are both very positive with both the staff and students. Behavior problems seem to be down and morale is up. Yay for good leadership!
3) Order in the Classroom:
As I mentioned in my last post, I will be getting a student teacher tomorrow. I went in to school today and put in 2 and a half hours of work mostly organizing all of my clutter that I created these past 3 weeks. I sorted through all kinds of school paperwork for the kids, filed a ton of stuff, cleaned my desk off and even managed to work on a bulletin board.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Remember "Ana?" (If not check this post out and this one)
Sabina and I were waiting eagerly for the first day of school so that we could see her. I wanted to check in with her and prep her for the third grade a bit. Sabi just wanted to play with her friend.
I didn't see her on the first day of school. I called her house - no answer. I didn't see her on the second day of school. I checked in with the office to see if they knew anything - they didn't. On the third day of school, one of my students looked at one of the pictures on the wall and he told me that Ana was his cousin! I asked him where she was. He told me tht she had moved away with her family. Afterschool, I confirmed this story with his mother. The good thing is that she moved not too far away from us. The bad thing is that I won't see her on a daily basis. I will miss that immensely.
Ana was such an amazing student. She worked so hard to learn English this past year. I just received her State test scores and was impressed by her once again. At the time that she took the test she had been in the US for 1 year exactly. She scored in the average range. That is so impressive since that means that she was able to handle an English written grade level exam.
I am going to write to Ana in her new school. I think I will call her too. It would probably be good for me to wait a few weeks though for her to settle in her new school. I am not sure if I can hold out that long. I will try though...
Friday, August 25, 2006
2) Sabi had a birthday, started school and had Back to School Night this week. It has been an exhausting week. Glad to celebrate it all but also glad that it is all over.
3) My students are nice but LOUD and very DISTRACTED! This week has been hard. I have been trying my best to be "The Enforcer" of rules and behavior management. I go home each day feeling like a big meanie. I know that if I don't take care of business now I will be dealing with it all year.
4) A good thing about my students is that they ROCK at turning in homework. This year was the first week I assigned homework. I send it home in a packet on Friday and it is due on Thursday. Yesterday all 20 of my kids turned it in. YES! Both the principal and the vice principal came to visit my class and tell them how proud they were of them.
5) I got a new printer for my class. (finally!) The old printer that I had was stolen in October when my class was broken into. This printer has a lot of bell and whistles on it - it should be fun!
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Sabi and Mommy - 3 months oldSabina will be 8 years old tomorrow. A friend from school told me that she always thought that birthdays should be about moms not just the kids. I agree with her. In that spirit, I put together this little collection of Sabi -Pics from the past 8 years.
Playing in the leaves - 2 and 1/2 years old
Enjoying the beach in San Diego - 7 years old
First Day of Kindergarten - 5 years old
First Violin Recital - 3 and 1/2 years old
Celebrating Grandfather's Birthday - 1 and 1/2 years old
Birthday Breakfast in Bed - 6 years old
Birthday Breakfast in Bed - 7 years old
First field trip at Merryhill School - 1 year old
:Just woke up hair" (before the haircut) - 7 years old
Friend's Wedding - 3 years old
Tonight - Last night to ever be 7 years old again!
Me: "We know that the people in our room are part of a group. Our group is Ms. V.'s class, right?"
Kids: "Right! "
Me: "So, the leader of this group is______________?"
Kids: "YOU!!! Ms.V!"
Me: "Very good! Now, We know that all the people at our school belong to a larger group. Who is the leader of our school?"
Kids: "Mr. ________ "(our principal)
Me: "Excellent, you are so smart! Now, All of the people that live here in Turlock are part of an even bigger group. We are citizens of the town of Turlock. Who is the leader of Turlock?"
Me: "Well, actually, the leader of a town or city is the mayor. Say MAYOR with me."
Me: "Ok - Let's try another one. An even larger group than our town is our state, the state of California. Who is the leader of our state?"
Me: "Actually, the leader of our state is a governor. His name is Arnold Schwarzennegger."
Kids: "Who???" (They tried to say his name but couldn't. I knew not to push it after this incident last year)
Me: "An even larger group that we belong to is our country. We are all citizens of the United States of America. Who is the leader of the U.S.A.?"
Kids responded almost all at the same time:
Kid 1: "GOD!"
Kid 2: "Oh,Oh, Oh! Ms.V., I know! George Washington!!!"
Kid 3: "Not George Washington, George Bush!"
Kid 4: "Not George Bush... George W. Bush"
Me: (overwhelmed) Yes, George W. Bush. Let's close our books and go outside for recess.
Monday, August 21, 2006
After a lot of coaxing I got to the heart of the problem. Sabi was VERY anxious about her first day of school. As soon as she told me this it was like the floodgates had opened and she went on and on about what was worrying her. She was worried about not knowing her multiplication facts, not knowing cursive and most of all that kids in third grade would get sent to the principal without a warning if they break the rules. She was also a bit worried about the fact that her teacher would be too hard on her and the rest of her schoolmates since she just came to third grade from teaching sixth grade. (Little did she know that the teacher had taught third grade for many years prior to her short time in sixth!) Anyway, once Sabi got all of the worries out, she was able to relax and start to think about the good things that she was looking forward to. This morning, all of the stress was gone and she woke up on a happy note and was eager to go back to school and see all of her friends.
All day today I had Sabi on my mind. I was wondering how her day went. I couldn't wait to see her after school was over and ask her how things went. The first thing I asked her when I saw her was "How was your day?" She simply responded "ok." I needed more information so I continued "What did you do today?" She responded with the classic "nothing." I sighed and knew that everything had to have gone well. As the evening progressed, Sabi started giving me little snapshots of how the day had been as she thought of the exciting things that she did. The last comment that she made about school was "I think that third grade is going to be cool because my teacher is really nice!"
Sunday, August 20, 2006
1) Jack's Nursery: (Jack and the Beanstalk)
Here the kids could make a book about growing a bean plant. Then they could plant their very own beans to take home and watch them grow.
2) Cinderella's Schoolhouse: (Cinderella)
In this center each child received a folder full of Fairy Tale themed worksheets that included crosswords, dot-to dots and sequencing.
3) The Shoemaker's Workshop: (The Elves and the Shoemaker)
Arts and Crafts! The kids got to decorate their own crown to wear.
4) The Big Bad Wolf's Library: (Little Red Riding Hood)
5) The Three Pig's Hotel: (The Three Pigs)
A resting stop with board games to play. The Little Red Hen's Kitchen: (The Little Red Hen)
Decorate your own crown cookie to eat!
The party was a hit! Sabina and her friends all had a blast. It was a good birthday celebration as well as end of summer vacation get together.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
My BTS time tonight is from 7:05 - 7:20. I am curious as to how many of my 20 kids will be represented tonight. It varies so much from year to year. I am also a bit nervous about my presentation. I am not at all intimidated by the parents but I have never, ever done a whole class presentation to parents before. We have always had "drop in" BTS in the past. I ended up giving my BTS spiel about 15 times each night. This year, we have a new plan of attack by having all grade levels assigned to a 20 minute time frame to present. I do not know how I am supposed to share all of the information I need to share in this time frame. To make matters worse, I need to do it in 2 languages. Out of my 20 students, only 2 have English speaking only parents. I have to do my presentaion in English first though and then in Spanish. ¿Qué hago?
Tonight should be interesting...
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Sunday, August 13, 2006
I have been to El Valle about 5 times now and each trip that I have made there has been a wonderful one. It is due to the combination of the nice cool weather, the extremely friendly weather and the amazing scenery. El Valle is so beautifully decorated with natural greenery. To me, the town is like one big nursery. There are so many different types of plants to admire there.
We stayed at the Hotel Campestre during our last visit to El Valle. Many years ago, I remember driving by the Hotel Campestre and all of us thought "Someday it would be nice to stay in such a nice place." On my visit two years ago I did get to stay there. The nightly rates were quite reasonable. Two years ago, my dad, Sabi and I stayed there for around $45 a night. The rooms were huge and simply decorated. They weren't fancy necessarily but the view was amazing and the Hotel was very quaint. This year, we stayed at the Hotel Campestre again. This time, we paid $40 a night. The Hotel was more run down this time. In fact, most of the Hotel was under construction as it is being remodeled. We came at night and I couldn't get the full effect of the hotel. When I looked at it in the morning, it reminded me of the Hotel in The Shining for some reason!
The Hotel was also the only place that I was able to get a good view of the famous Rana Dorada this time.
La Santa Librada. Not only that, she rents a large bus to take people to the festival and she buys food for the people to eat. She doesn't charge people to go. It is her way of paying La Santa Librada back for curing her sister.
There are three places that we make sure to visit when we go to El Valle. The first one is the Restaurant, La Santa Librada. Why we go to that place, I am not quite sure. We just picked it out on one of our trips a while back and have kept going back ever since. This time, we had a nice conversation with the owner. She told us about the name of the Restaurant. Her dad is from Las Tablas. There is a festival in Las Tablas each year, in July, for La Santa Librada.
The other place that we always visit in El Valle is El Nispero.
I hate leaving that spot. Nothing else is like it.If I had the money, I would love to buy a house there and spend days on end there doing absolutely nothing. What a life!
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Sabi's birthday is coming up on the 23rd. Last night I realized that if I am going to have a party for her, I have to do it next Saturday. This morning Sabi and I brainstormed a theme for her party - Fairy Tales and Fairies. She started rambling off some ideas such as "pin the tiara on the princess" and acting out fairy tales etc. After that we made a mad dash around town to pick up party supplies. When we came home, we made invitations and have them ready to send out. I am still in need of some more party ideas with a Fairy Tale theme. Any ideas y'all???
Friday, August 11, 2006
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Arrived at gym. Got a great workout. As I was in the shower I was feeling very proud of myself for being so dedicated to my workouts this week. I was also happily ahead of schedule and I was trying to determine which Starbucks I would stop at to reward myself for my good gym behavior. When I arrived at my locker I realized that I was missing a very important "support" undergarment. (Ladies y'all know what I am talking about!) I had to rush home and talk care of that situation. This put me a little bit behind in the schedule and I had to cancel the Starbucks trip.
Arrived at school. School starts at 8:10. I was surprised to see no students or parents outside of my room. I went in got ready for the day, ate my Cheerios and checked e-mail.
Stepped outside of my room to go check in to the office. There were TONS of parents and kids swarming around outside of the 6 portables where my room is located. It was kind of overwhelming. I smiled and snuck out of the crowd. When I returned from my errands I was greeted by a fellow teacher with a Starbucks Frappucino. BLESS HER! I then opened the door and the kids filed in.
Tardy bell rang. ALL OF MY KID ON THE ROSTER WERE PRESENT!!! This was amazing. I have never ever had the entire class present on the first day, much less at the right time! To top it off, 18 of the 20 were in uniforms. They all looked so pretty/handsome and adorable! We got started with the day, all of us grinning from ear to ear.
The honeymoon stage was over! I was overwhelmed with how immature my kids seemed. It was then that I realized that I was going to be in for a lot of work with these kids. They were going to need a LOT of training. I stopped what we were doing and asked the kids how old they were. Lo and behold.... half of the kids were 6 years old. NO WONDER!!! I have a super young class. This will definitely be a challenge.
Lunch - yay, a break!
Math time. I scheduled a very simple math placement test. Last year, most of my kids aced this test and I had to move on to the placement test at the next level up. This year - not the same. It took me 30 minutes to get through the test with the kids. WOW! WE barely had time to clean up and then it was time to go as it was a minimum day.
Kids went home. The kids are nice but they are low. What a job I have ahead of me...
Monday, August 07, 2006
1) What will my students be like?
2) How many of my students will be behavior problem kids?
3) Will I have any difficult to work with parents?
4) Have I overextended myself with all of the extra duties that I signed up for at school?
5) What will I do on the first day? (ok - well I kind of have a plan - I just haven't written it out)
If I am not too exhausted tomorrow night I will write about my new class.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
The TV show Blues Clues is 10 years old. Tonight a special 10 year celebration program is airing. The big hoopla on tonight's show is that Blue gets a baby brother.
Sabi and I have been pretty excited about this show. Although Sabi hasn't watched Blue's Clues in over 3 years or so this show holds a lot of good memories for her. To be honest, it holds a lot for me too. Blues Clues is such a fun show. The characters are sweet and the message "You can do anything, that you want to do" is such a positive one for kids in today's fast paced and competitive world.
Back in the Blues Clues watching days, Sabi and I would cuddle up and watch the show together. Sabina would talk back to Steve (pre-Joe days) and get so excited when she would figure out the clues for the mystery of the day. She really believed that she was interacting with the characters on tv. I loved watching her excitement and was so appreciative of the kind hearted host Steve. He was perfect for that show.
Sabina stopped watching Blues Clues around the time that Steve left the show and went off to college. (Good message there) She was getting older and really didn't feel the connection to it anymore. I kind of missed it but it didn't feel right to watch it without Sabi.
Tonight, as I sit here typing, we are watching the 10th anniversary show. It is as if time hasn't even passed. Sabi is thrilled to pieces to see her favorite tv land friends and she is singing all of the songs and saying all of the show's phrases. It is so sweet. I am enjoying this moment in time. I can get my little baby back for a short while! I am also hoping that Steve will make a guest appearance!
If you missed the show, it isn't too late. Grab your "Handy-Dandy Notebook" curl up in your "thinking chair" and watch the Behind the Clues show here. Make sure to look for Steve, Blues first friend. He looks a bit different now that he has aged!
Last but not least, don't forget this great Blues Clues message:
"You can do anything that you want to do!"
Thursday, August 03, 2006
We started out by walking through the animal areas. There were SO many animals there being shown, judged and as part of interactive displays.
I was amazed at the animals myself. While I guess that I knew that cows and pigs were large animals, I never really thought about how big they were until I was up close and personal with them last night.
Some of them were HUGE!
After the animal experience, we went through the exhibit halls. As a kid, these were my favorite stops. I was a 4-H-er myself and I used to enter gingerbread houses, cakes and sewing projects in the County Fair. I loved to walk around and see my entries and check everyone else's out. I was so disappointed at what I saw in the exhibit halls last night. One of the exhibit halls was purely for vendors. The second exhibit hall did have entries from kids and adults for food items and sewn items but it was so small. There were hardly any entries in comparison to what it was like when I was a kid. I wonder why? Is it because kids are so into the video age and are not doing anything with their hands anymore? Whatever the reason, the exhibit hall was a sad site. I resolved last night to investigate how to enter projects in the Fair and I will work on something with my students this year to enter in the Fair.