Sunday, July 27, 2008

The end of week 1

So this week went by fast and fairly uneventful behaviorwise...which I'm thrilled about! No funny behavior stories to share.....yet. And, without a class animal (yet - they really, really want a hamster or something - yikes) I don't even have any fun animal stories. However, I do have a class full of sweet first graders who, after being tested on their reading ability, are miles ahead of my class last year at this time. They are so far ahead in fact that I am starting them, on the advice of my reading coach, a full 4 weeks ahead in the curriculum. Yea! I'm hoping (along with her blessing) to be into the 2nd grade curriculum by 4th quarter.

This week we were the recipients of free backpacks and school supplies! We have a Community in Schools representative who coordinated the whole thing and a group of volunteers came in to pass out the backpacks and to make "crazy" paper bag hats with my kids on the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! It was a bit crazy and hectic, but well worth it. The kids were THRILLED and we got to keep all the craft supplies in addition to the extra school supplies they donated. It was great! I even got a brand new electric pencil sharpener! It was almost like Christmas!! ha ha Anyway, included in this blog are some pictures of that day. I had to "smudge" the students' faces out due to legal reasons, but you at least get to see the crazy hats they made and how much fun they had.

Being able to take some time and reflect on this past week, I am amazed at how different a class can be one year to the next. I can see that I'll have some real characters in my classroom, but it is SUCH a different dynamic this year already. I have a real "lover" in my class. He's adorable and is already telling me he "loves" me and he grabs my arm and kisses it. That's going to have to stop, but I'll give him all the hugs he wants instead. My kiddos think I'm "crazy, silly and really funny." All of this after I've had to be hard on them regarding their talking. Having 9 fewer students has definitely made a huge difference as well, although I do get a new student tomorrow, so I'll be upto 21 total if all students show up. (I have had two who didn't show up at all this past week.)

I was pleasantly surprised to be visited by two of my older friends this week. One was my 6th grade class mentee last year...she's great and was in my room for two full quarters helping with reading groups, filing and grading papers. The other student was a 6th grade boy that was originally sent to my room for misbehaving..he was on a three day suspension. But after being in my room, he wanted to come back to volunteer with my kids...and he was allowed to when his behavior was good. He stopped by on Thursday and he was really, really sweet. "Hey Mrs. are you? I just wanted to stop by to say HI and to give you a hug. I hope I can come to your room this year." was SO perfect. It's just an incredible feeling to know that somehow I made an impact on these older kids as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Honeymoon is OVER! ha ha ha

Just's not really over, but for all you skeptics out there regarding how good my class was this year,'re not all wrong either. =)  Seriously, my class is pretty good, yesterday was a talking day tho...and I'm quickly remembering what it means to keep my mouth shut and not talk over them.  My goal is to NOT lose my voice at the end of each week like I did last year! =)  So far so good, I still have a voice and it's Thursday already.  I'm not sure if I think they're quiet because I have only 19 still (three haven't shown up, but one has already withdrawn) or if they're so quiet, because they really are just a much quieter class.  Only time will tell.

Well, off to breakfast.  More later!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What a difference a year makes!

I know you've all been so patient for an update.  Thank you.  Also, thanks to all of you who called and left messages for me for my first day!  You made me feel SO special!!!  Thank you!  Thank you!!

From the bottom of my heart, I sincerely mean what a difference a year makes!  =)  Yesterday was the first day of school and all in all it was a smooth, relatively student-stress free day.  I only really freaked out when at 7am parents started showing up at my class!  We start school now at 7:30am and at 7am on the nose parents came streaming in my room.  I had to gently ask them to give me at least 15 more minutes to get ready for the day.  I went out my door, locked it, went to the staff room and had a little tension-breaker squeal!  I couldn't help it!  This year just came on so fast.  

As for my class?  It's about 180 degrees different than my class last year.  I'm not discounting the differences between the's my second year teaching (so I was a LOT less stressed and a LOT more confident), it was only day ONE, and I had 10 fewer students than last year.  But my oh my, what a difference!!  I had no major students forgotten on the major behavior problems (last year I knew I had about 7 problem students by the end of the first day), no student meltdowns (last year I had three heavy criers).  Nothing happened to severely derail our day!  It was WONDERFUL!  

Right now, on the books, I have 22 students, however I have had three students who have not shown up for school for two consecutive days, so we'll see if they actually do.  My class size, even at 22 when all students are here, will be a dream compared to the 28-29 that I had last year at this time.  Yesterday I had 18 students.  Today I had 19 (one new one showed up before lunch).  It's great!!  At this point, as I mentioned, no behavior students - at least none that strike me right off the bat like they did last year.  I have some specifically that is just "out" there.  If a hippie were to be in the soul of this young girl, I would not be surprised.  =)  I have some really bright kiddos and some pretty low ones, but all in all, I have a great feeling about this class.  They think I'm "silly", "funny" and "great".  At least that's what they said today.  Yesterday, as I did my faux British accent, they looked at me funny and I said, "Well, don't I sound like Harry Potter??"  One student's reply?  "Uh...NO, not really."  So...I tucked my tail between my legs and didn't do Harry Potter the rest of the day.  ha ha ha  It is such a different dynamic this year already.  I had one boy today declare that he was the smartest boy in the class...and to be honest, I have no doubt that he is.  He's smart, funny, helpful and kind and really, I could apply those adjectives to most of my class.  

Today was easier...students were more relaxed, I was more relaxed and we got more accomplished.  The first day is normally ALL about procedures and rules and school tours and etc., at least for first grade.  So, it was nice to get into the curriculum today and to start to find out where my kiddos are at scholastically.  Personally, I already know that some of my kids are a mess.  One student will probably be pulled out and then re-enrolled based on the whim of his mother and her drug habit.  Another student's parents are divorced and she most likely be shuttled between parents throughout the school year.  So many grownup things they have to deal with when they're only 6 and  7 years old.  However, thankfully - at least so far, I don't see depth of these problems with all my kids...only a select few.  

Today I created the "Vowel Cha Cha"...and it was HILARIOUS!  "A-E-I-O-U cha cha cha".  When I had the kids stand up to dance around the room you would have thought I asked them to eat worms.  The girls were ok, but the boys were having NONE OF IT and I finally had to threaten to dance with them if they didn't move their little legs and at least march in place.  And it's hard to threaten someone when you're doubled over in a fit of giggles!  We'll see if I have more participants tomorrow.

Other than that, I'm just getting used to (but enjoying) our early start time.  M, T, Th. and Fri. we are done at 2pm; on Wednesday's it's 1pm.  I'm not sure what I'll do with my extra time!! 

On a separate note, it was overwhelming to see some of my first graders from last year who are now second graders.  My how they've grown up over the summer!!  It was amazing to have them come running up to me and wrap their little arms around me, giving me hugs and kisses on the cheek.  They were SO excited to see me, and I was equally the same.  They walk around with the confidence only experience can bring, like over summer they realized they are now the big men and women on campus (hardly, but you get my analogy).   My biter from last year informed me that she's "friends" now with the girl she kept biting and targeting for physical attacks.  (One can only hope!)  I guess that's all in the hands of our second grade teacher now tho!  ~~  They are so precious and seemingly all grown up.  I know I'm going to cry when I watch them leave Squaw Peak and head for high school in 7 years. =)

As for now, I'm going to plan for tomorrow and then hit the gym.  Thanks again for all your well wishes!  I'll post more soon.

Lots of love!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Room!

So, it's Sunday and I'm still working on getting ready for tomorrow...I have planning to do and a million things going through my head. I'm still a bit in denial that school starts and that tomorrow I will have 19 eager 6 year olds relying on me to get them started on their future. I'm a little stunned at the small class size, but I'm not complaining at all! It's a full 10 students less than last year at this point, so...I'm thrilled. Before I get too deep into my "to-do" list, which has grown from 12 items to 21, (don't worry - I've crossed a lot of things off!) I want to get these pictures posted so you can see my adorable, fun, monkey-mischief room.

This is my calendar area and is located on the West side of my room.

This is my reading/library area on the North side of my room.

This is my listening center...I'll post reading assistance and projects up on the bulletin board.
This is my computer station and workbook cubbies. I have enough room for these extra cubbies so I don't have to have stacks of workbooks around my room this year. As you can see, I don't have desks again this year, I have tables, which significantly cuts down on my storage space. So - each student will have an assigned cubbie to put their reading, math and science workbooks in, as well as any other journals and etc that I give them. Above their cubbies is a my "manners" bulletin board...just little reminders on how to be respectful to each other. My hope is that every time they get something out of their cubbie, they'll be reminded of how to be respectful!
My back wall. This is on the East side of my room. I will, in a couple of weeks, remove the "Welcome" sign and put up a word wall for my students to use as a reference. I will also post student work along these back cabinets.

Facing South in my room.

My behavior chart and Math Focus Wall.

This is my only whiteboard. I have a much bigger room this year, but only this whiteboard.

This is my reading focus wall. It says, "Swing into Reading".

And finally, my teacher's desk and DUCK wall behind it. I'm going to get an UO Oregon flag to hang up on the wall as well. My kids will definitely know about the Ducks and maybe, just maybe they'll be inspired enough to go to college. =) Notice the time on the clock...9:13...that's PM on Friday night. I got kicked out at 9:30. =) ha ha

So far that's all! I am working on getting my day planned for tomorrow and will let you know how it goes =)

Love to all!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oh so close... being done setting up my room!  Tomorrow is Friday and I am hoping to be done with everything, curriculum for next week included.  I will take and post some pictures tomorrow so you can see my room.  Right now I still have 12 things to do on my "To Do" list...and it keeps growing!!  The school is open on Saturday, but I really don't want to come in on my last 'free' weekend of the summer.   It's 7:30pm and I'm still here, so I'd better get back to work!  


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Today is Convocation for our district. This is where all the teachers and administrators for the entire district get together as sort of a "kick off" to our year. Awards are given for exceptional service professionals, administrators and community involvement, and we usually have some sort of high profile, highly motivated guest speaker that will cheerlead us to start the year off right. I'm all for convocation - it brings everyone together and we get to reconnect with teachers we haven't seen all summer and teachers we rarely see because we are at different schools. Last year I was SO nervous! I only knew a handful of people from new teacher training and I was transported back into my childhood thinking and wondering if "anyone would want to be my friend?" (I thought those feelings would dissipate the older I never occured to me that adults have the same insecurities about friendships and etc that adolescents do!)

This year I head to convocation with confidence and pride. I am no longer a first year teacher (Thank God), but am a second year teacher brimming with confidence and an understanding of what lies ahead of me. There are still some unknowns (school restructuring aside), but what a difference a year makes! This year I head to convocation actually having real friendships with people, having a "place at the table" persay, not wondering if people will want to be my friend, but knowing that they already are and that I am on par with these people professionally and personally, at least on some level. It is a strange ride, but exciting all the same. I am confident, but know I also have SO much more to learn. I am thankful, joyfully thankful that I do not have to have a nerve-wracking, mind-boggling first day of teaching ever again. Even with the unknowns this year, I still feel much more prepared than I did last year at this same time. So far I haven't had a sleepless night! That will probably happen on Sunday...the night before the first day of teaching. Oh boy! =) Last year was great, but this year can only get better! So with laptop in hand, I head out the's time to begin another year.

Oops...have to have breakfast first! Man, would my Mom get MAD if she knew I left for school without having breakfast. =)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And so it begins again...

This past week saw the beginning of the end to my summer vacation. I finally had to accept that summer was over and it was time to start setting up my classroom. I put things off on Monday - going to work out with a friend, going to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls and beat Eric at a game of "P-I-G" on the putting green. However, at the driving range I tweaked my back, which in turn landed me in bed on Tuesday - thus putting me off even more in my classroom. Wednesday arrived to find my back feeling a little better, but with a more intense sense of urgency regarding the 51 boxes of classroom stuff just sitting waiting to be gone through. What was intended to be only three to four hours a day worth of work, ended up being a good 6-8 hours. My classroom now is pretty well set up, less bulletin boards. My new theme this year? "Monkey Mischief".
It should be an easy theme to branch off from, ("Let's Go Bananas for...", "Don't Monkey Around...", "Climb the Vine to Success...", and etc.) but the biggest plus of all? NO LIVE ANIMALS AS CLASSROOM PETS! Which in turn means no funerals to suffer through this year. I don't really think I'd get approval to have a classroom monkey, so I think I'm fairly safe from too many broken hearts. Granted, all the class fish from last year provided some great stories, but it was so hard to watch their little hearts get broken...three times. (Our "peace lily" is still alive!) Anyway - no funerals, no "dead songs" to be sung...only the lively, happy, mischievous monkeys adorning my classroom walls. I'm sure my students will only be too happy to perpetuate this "monkey" theme and morphe into little mischievous monkeys themselves. I expect nothing less. ;-)

I will post some pictures when my room is completed this week. In addition to adding the final touches to my room, I will suffer through hours of staff meetings and obligatory district meetings. If you didn't know my school is going through a severe transition and restructuring. Last year we were a district school, which bussed in students from all over our school district and had about 800 students K-8. This year we will be a "neighborhood" school, which means only students that live within walking distance of the school will attend, with the exception of those students in the "transition" years of 7th and 8th grade. So, our enrollment has dropped from 800 to about 300 K-8. What does this mean? It means that for grades K-6 there is only ONE grade level teacher. I am the only 1st grade teacher at my school! It's nuts, but exciting all the same. Talk about accountability!!

Add to this the probability of me having to go to the doctor for my back and you're talking one crazy week ahead of me!