Common Core and Movement

Another school year has been upon us for many days now.  We’re slowly slinking our way towards another Thanksgiving Vacation, followed quickly by Christmas and the official half-way point of the year.

I barely know what is going on most of the time.  I just hope my students don’t realize how completely unaware I am of everything around me.  Between the Common Core,  a new schedule, and a move to be International Baccalaureate, things are a bit crazy.  I’m trying to really keep it together, and on most fronts, I’m doing okay.

I do love how the Common Core has changed math.  It won’t help my students much this year, but my kids have much more confidence with fractions than ever before.  They still don’t quite get mixed and improper fractions, but they’re doing much better than either of my previous classes.  I’m afraid of all the things we’re leaving out that WILL be on AIMS this year (I know coordinate plane is one of them, but cannot recall the rest), and just pray that it’ll be close enough not to matter.

It’s reading that’s really throwing most of us for a loop.  I recently found one resource: Readworks that is helping me structure my thinking.  Another one I’ve been hooked into, but haven’t used much, is ReadWriteThink  I’ve also started up some literature circles that I HOPE are good.   I’ve  got two groups reading Snow Treasure, two groups reading The Long Winter, one group reading Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and one group reading Woodsong.  All of them have something to do with Winter, though Mrs. Frisby’s connection is only barely there.  The kids do seem to enjoy them, though my lowest group is struggling with Snow Treasure, and my highest group is trying to coast through Woodsong.  (Not letting them though, they had to redo ALL of the work from last week because they’d really put no effort into it.)

Things have changed in our classroom too.  In the last two weeks I got two new students.  Once I haven’t learned much about except that he’s a math wiz, reads VERY well, is chatty, chatty, chatty, and loves football (especially the Packers.)  The other I /really/ know nothing about as I’ve only had her for one week.  I do know she’s very intelligent, but stubborn, and doesn’t have a very high self esteem.  I see myself working hard with her on that, because intelligent children often struggle the worst with self esteem any time anything happens.  I mean, she got a 60 on a test that killed four others, even though she’s had exactly one week of fractions and the rest have had four weeks.

Another change occurred on Friday, though I knew it was coming.   I had a very special child in my class with very special challenges.  He came to me late, and I’ve felt badly all year about the challenges he’s had.  I won’t go into specifics here, but I’ve worried about him.  He has more assistance in the school than most kids get, but he still wasn’t getting the best education.  It wasn’t anything in particular that I did, it was simply that I couldn’t do as much for him because I did have to care for the other 29 kids in the class also, and that he spent over 50% of his time outside of my classroom.

Now, on to the change.  It was decided in a meeting that his parents and advocate would tour another setting for him.  A few days later I found out that they loved the alternate setting and would transfer him.  I got to meet his new teachers, and was impressed by their attitudes.  I expressed how I knew this child was special, and that I believed in his ability to learn and wished that I didn’t have to give him up, but understood that he needed more assistance then I, and my school, were able to give.

On Friday, he left half way though the day.  I knew he was leaving, but expected it about two hours later than it did happen.  Because of this I was caught off guard, and hadn’t had a chance to have the kids do anything for him.  We had an impromptu good-bye party (just during snack for 10 minutes) before he was whisked away forever.

Part of me is really sad about the change.  He was a good kid, and I’ll miss him, and will always wonder if I COULD have made a difference in his life.  On the other side though, my work load has been halved in day-to-day scheduling.

I just hope he makes friends.  And is happen.  I’ll always wonder if he’s getting on well.

I also found out that the father of one of my students from my first year died suddenly.  I need to try to reach out and see if I can’t contact them and make sure they know how much I care.  Because I do care.  I want all my kids to be happy… even if they aren’t my kids any more.

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I feel a shifting in the sand

Wow!!

The school boar has been dithering back and forth for the last four months on start and end times for my school.  There’s been a few reasons for serious concern.

1. Bus Schedules.  The school doesn’t want to hire more bus drivers.  Right now we can sometimes wait 20-40 minutes after school for busses to finish their last routes and arrive to pick up our kids.  With k-4 kiddos this really isn’t good ESPECIALLY at the start of the year when it can be an upwards of 100* outside (they stand in the sunlight waiting).  This year we didn’t even have a large place for the kids to wait for the school bus at.

2. Community Issues.  My school is set back in a residental area that isn’t really condusive to a lot of traffic.  However, a school with almost athousand kids ended up with quite a bit of traffic.  The community has ordinances agaisnt parking on the street during certain hours, but the parents who don’t live in the community freely ignore that.  It’s hard on the residence during our start and end times.

Back to the wow-

Typically the board bows to pressure from the parents very readily.  This year however, that’s a no-go! The start and end times have been pushed up an hour.

Bright Side:  Issues solved, kids get home earlier, cooler during more of the day, I get time to actually do stuff after school before stuff closes.

Dark Side:  Teachers who have kids at other schools are facing issues because those start times didn’t change.  At least one person on my team has no way to drop off her child any more, because (teacher) she will already be teaching when her daughter needs to be at school.

Another jot in “This is not my job.”

I’m struggling with the thankfulness, though talking to my youngest sister about her struggles helped. At least I understand when I have a panic attack what is going on and I have the freedom to help myself that a high schooler doesn’t necessary have.
Anyway on to things that are not my job.

We have this gifted class here at our school.  Currently there are 46 kids in that class.  It is too big.  My wonderful AEP teacher is so stressed and so overwhelmed she’s having health issues!  She’s a warrior, so it’s not her over reacting.

Well, we had a meeting today with our Principal, Union Rep and director of Human Resources as well as the AEP teacher and all of us on the 4th grade team.  Our Union Rep was appalled that nothing had been done (though they’d had 2 years to plan).  We stated under no uncertain terms this was unacceptable.  The principal and HR then turned to us and said, “You come up with how to fix it.”

… My job is not to fix staffing issues.  That is the District’s job.  That is the principal’s job.  My job is to teach, my job is to grade, my job is to plan collaboratively with my colleges, my job is to do duties as necessary for the good of the school.

My job is not to come up with a plan to solve this issue.

However, since we are professionals we did solve it.  Republican is going split the AEP class with AEP teacher, and her kids will be distributed to the rest of us. (I did ask if they would set a date for it to be fixed or at LEAST give us updates regularly about what is happening and they (HR and Principal) were VERY snippy about it.)

That means, if we do this fair so class sizes remain equal, I’m going to be getting 9 new kids in January on top of my little girl coming back from Thailand and another whose suppose to transfer over.

Going from 20 kids to 30 in one fell swoop in the middle of the year?  Nightmare…

A Thanksgiving Attitude

Maybe I should’ve called this post “An Attitude of Gratitude.” —> But I guess President Thomas S. Monson already took that in his April 1992 Talk.  (See Here)

 

“Like the leprosy of yesteryear are the plagues of today. They linger; they debilitate; they destroy. They are to be found everywhere. Their pervasiveness knows no boundaries. We know them as selfishness, greed, indulgence, cruelty, and crime, to identify but a few. Surfeited with their poison, we tend to criticize, to complain, to blame, and, slowly but surely, to abandon the positives and adopt the negatives of life.”

 

I’m recalling this today because my principal told us today to “Live in Gratitude.”  So, let’s see how I do:

 

1. I am thankful for my husband’s new job.  Not only does he HAVE a job, but it’s doing what he loves.
2. I am grateful that duty went stress free this morning.
3. I am grateful that my Book Pal order went through perfectly. Now I have a wonderful stack of The Phantom Tollbooth Books to run a unit on with Teacher Next Door.
4. I am grateful that my allergies are mild.
5. I am grateful that Art is 40 minutes today.
6. I am grateful that when I walked into my classroom this morning the kids were well ordered and behaved, thanks again to Teacher Next Door. ❤ ❤ ❤ (I had duty so couldn't be there right as the bell rung.)
7. I am grateful that the kids were so excited that I wasn't sick! (A few even came to give me hugs!)

I guess I do have a lot to be grateful for, and I've just run out of time. I'll what I can do about clinging to this greatfulness and maybe today will be pretty good despite indoor recess. *shudder*

Skype with 29 kids

We have a lovely little girl from our class who is over in Thailand right now.  I read her blog regularly, and she seems to be doing alright. (She didn’t want to move.)  Her mother and I keep in contact so that she can know that I still care about her education and am excited for her to come back, (she’ll be back just before the AIMS test in April.)  Yesterday I surprised the class by “skyping” her in.

Now that I’ve done it I have a few things I’m going to do differently.

1) Forwarning!  No more surprising the kids for me.  We’re going to come up with questions to ask her, so that some of the sillyness doesn’t show up as much.

2) Learn about the pace we’re skyping to!  The kids didn’t even know where Thailand was!  We had to do an impromtu lesson right in the middle so the kids had some context!

3) Set ground rules.  Things like- one person talks at a time, make room for the person talking to be able to be on the screen.  Things like that.

4) Know the limits of your camera/mic.  Just because it works with 2 kids, doesn’t mean it will work with 29!

I’m glad that despite the confusion and noise (I’m going to call her Asia for now, though she’s not at all Asian) Asia still loved the call.  I guess the two friends she HAD made there just moved away to be closer to their school, so she’s feeling pretty lonely right now.  We’ll do this again before it is time for her to come home.

With me being more prepared of course!!

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