Monday, October 27, 2008

The crush...another inevitability of first grade...

Last Friday was sweet for many of them being the realization that one of my students has a crush on me.  First grade crushes are normal, after all teachers spend more waking hours with their students than their actual parents do!  So, it stands to reason that eventually someone is going to go gaga over his/her teacher.  Last year it was a little boy who drew me a picture of the two us holding hands and he wrote on it "I love you Ms. Eklund", and he would get really jealous when Eric (my husband) showed up for a visit.  This year I knew the crush was there when one of my little students came up and wanted to know if I would "go to the movies with him, at his house."  He asked if I could come over and watch the new Indiana Jones movie with him.  When I told him that I couldn't, because my mom (mother-in-law is too difficult of a concept to explain to first graders) was coming in to town, he asked if I could come over on Saturday then.  Again, I told him no, so he proceeded to ask about Sunday!  When I had to tell him that there was just no way I could come over to his house to watch a movie, he went back to his desk and wrote his phone number down on a piece of paper and brought it back to me saying, "Well, Mrs. Eklund, when you CAN come over, would you call me???"  A little later he brought back another piece of paper with, "Ms.'re 'gorgus'", which I'm hoping means "gorgeous"...ha ha ha  Keep in mind, this is the little student who tells me how soft my arm hair is and kisses my arm.  

Truth be told, I doubt I broke his heart, as I've heard no mention of the movie today.  Ahhhh...first grade crushes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm a nicer teacher this year...and more self-reflections...

Just to keep myself on track emotionally and mentally, I check with know...just to see how things are doing from time to time.  Well, my latest "check-in" had to do with how I feel my teaching has evolved over the past couple of years.  Now, I've been told I'm a "natural" at this...that things just seem to "flow" in my classroom.  And while I'd like to tell you that it's easy, it really hasn't been.  I spend a crapload of time planning each week...probably on average, 10-12 hours of planning...and then even that doesn't feel like enough sometimes.  And you might be thinking that I need to find a way to streamline that...and you should know, THAT IT IS STREAMLINED.  Last year??? oh man...I probably spent 20 hours a week planning.  So, anyway...back to this whole check-in thing.  I realized that one of the biggest changes I've made this year is that I actually feel that I'm a "nicer" teacher.  How SAD is that?  Just to say it implies that last year I was a "mean" teacher...and the sad reality is that I probably was!  I was overwhelmed with everything...and I do mean everything.  No college class prepares you for what real life teaching is all about.  Theory and practice rarely's more like they're on completely divergent paths altogether, so you're left to sort of figure it all out on your own and hope that what you come up with is good...and some days you just hope that it's "good enough" to get by.  Last year was a rough was awesome as well, don't get me wrong, but it was rough.  I had kiddos in my class you would be amazed at...swearing, hitting, punching, kicking, screaming, homeless, no English, prostitute/drug dealers for parents, hate crimers, and the like.  Not just one or two kids, but ALOT of my class had issues.  So, when I think about it, I feel like I was a "meany McSweeny" to them...or I guess I could get by with saying I was really, really tough on them at times.  Thank goodness they're resilient little twerps and that they'll forgive you in an instant.  BUT...I know that they made me a better teacher for this year.

This year many things have changed.  I'm no longer a first year teacher (amen) and I know alot more about teaching than I did last year.  I'm calmer in tough situations and have many more "tools" in my proverbial teaching toolbox to help me get through a variety of situations.  I also have a tremendous almost disgustingly perfect class...maybe even borderline boring at times class.  They are, as a whole, SO good that it's scary.  Other specials teachers are choosing my class as they class they want to get observed with for their formal teaching observations.  That's pretty wonderful considering last year they kicked students from my class OUT of their classroom half the time.  The poor music teacher last year almost cried one day!  So...I may think I'm nicer because I have a better-behaved classroom, OR because I'm just a more experienced teacher...probably a little bit of both I guess.  I'm hoping that next year I can reflect back and continue to think that I'm getting better at this...that I'm growing and learning.  I guess if I ever reach a chance where I don't feel this, it will be time to stop.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Did you know I'm a good teacher? ;-)

Well, I am...the best in fact!  Ok, that last statement might be stretching it a bit...I mean, I haven't met ALL the teachers in the world, but according to a school district representative today, apparently I'm pretty darn good.  Which is kind of funny, because I say a lot of cuss words in class, you, "Get your f***ing work done...", "Quit talking da**it!" and "Are you really that stupid??"  But I guess that's what they want teachers to do know...make kids feel really horrible about themselves and talk to them like their parents do at home.

I'M KIDDING!!  I feel like I should probably stop here, before you all think I'm being completely serious...I'm only kidding about the cussing and stupid parts tho, the part about being the best teacher EVER is completely true.  (insert extreme smile here)

The reality of the situation is that yes, the district sent a representative to our school today to observe every classroom in preparation of the AZ Dept. of Ed's visit either tomorrow or Friday.  AND, the reality of the situation is that yes, I was told I'm a pretty darn excellent teacher dontcha know, a regular Josephine Six-Pack of teachers ( sorry - Sarah Palin somehow took over my blog...I HATE it when that happens).  ANYWAY...I'm in a fantastic mood now, because I've spent the past forever (really - it feels that long) getting my room up to state "codes"(having the right state standards posters up, taking down the cute sh** so that I would have room for the state standards posters [I wish I was kidding on that one, but I'm not...we were literally told to take down the cute sh** to make room for these posters...cuz, you know, first graders don't NEED cut sh** to learn, right??], so to know that I can actually leave to go home tonight and not have to stress about anything is a pretty good feeling.  It's not even 2PM and I'm heading out the door...which is probably a miracle, because I've NEVER left school this early...EVER.  

So...I'm leaving...I'll add funny kid stuff on here tomorrow.  For right now, all I have to say is that I was told I have "the softest arm hair ever" by the student who rubs my arm every day, kisses it and tells me he loves me.'s cute, but creepy all the same.  Man...excellent teacher AND soft arm hair...I'm freakin' UNTOUCHABLE today. =)

(please tell me you're laughing out loud have to be at least a little...)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

First intersession...and my lesson plan dilemma

This week I'm off work due to our first two week intersession. It's been wonderful to relax, sleep in, watch TV, read books/magazines, cook, clean, and to finally feel "rested" after a hectic, yet wonderful first 10 weeks of school. In the back of my head tho, I'm carrying this burden of having to figure out this new lesson plan format. It might sound simple, but it's really not. The state of AZ has passed a ridiculous bill into law that requires a minimum of 4 hours of language instruction a day. Again, it may sound easy, but it's not. To get around the fact that what they are doing is segregation, i.e. having native English speakers in one class and non-native speakers in another, (which seemingly goes against their whole "immersion" theory, right??) they've decided NOT to count Math instruction as part of the 4 hours of language instruction. My question is this, do they realize how much vocabulary and language is actually taught in math? A LOT! Considering I teach math for over an hour a day, every day, including math in the required 4 hours would have been MUCH smarter than including social studies/science, which is taught only 30-45 minutes / day, 4 days a week. So...back to this lesson plan format; we now have five major areas of instruction to focus on: reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary and listening/speaking. We have to take the components from those and cross-reference them with the other subjects (i.e. science/social studies), match them with a state standard, add curriculum, materials used and time spent on each one, and write it all down in a lesson plan format. You see, I consider myself a pretty smart girl (at least that's what it says on my college diplomas...literally "She's a very smart girl!" - just kidding...but it does say something about summa cum laude??? - whatever that means?? ;-), but I've spent HOURS trying to figure out the BEST way to get all of this down on one lesson plan format that will fit a weeks' worth of lessons on only two pieces of paper. I like my current plan format, I don't want to change works for me, but adding all of this new information is killing my head. As of now, I can't wrap my brain around how all of this is going to work...on how I'm going to fit all of this into one document? I simply, in good conscience, cannot bring myself to use one piece of paper per me that's an environmentally monumental waste of paper.

Thus my dilemma continues.

I'm going to take out a "wanted" ad in the newspaper...I was going to write the exact verbage here, but decided against it considering it would probably get me fired if taken seriously =)