Wednesday, June 23, 2010


So yes. I haven't been writing lately. Bad. I know. I actually had to re-read some of my last posts to remember where I left off. Very bad.

It was so nice to leave that last day. So. Nice. It had been so rushed up until then. I felt as if I had been going going going (think Energizer Bunny) since the standardized testing mid March. The end is always a garbled mess of report cards, retention meetings, IEP's and so on. Then Sr. Callejo threw in a two day (Friday and Saturday -- days I don't usually work and was planning on using them for cleaning the house and packing for my epic trip east) training that I was not at all excited about and was not being compensated for.

Then I left and had a fantastic time visiting family and friends in a trip that was all too short. Graduation was fantastic, I'm so proud of my brother and I can't wait to see what the talented man does next. I met up with one of my favorite people from high school and the Boy bonded with her little boy (SO CUTE!) and I spent time on the Cape with my family and my Dad's fantastic fishing boat. (Pictures perhaps to follow!)

When I came back I began doing some work for Moonlight Consulting that has been taking up a lot of time and when I'm done with that I just sort of want to knit and breathe and watch mindless TV mostly via Wii Netflix; Friday Night Lights, Weeds, Big Love, Real Housewives of New Jersey and so on and so forth. (Love that Wii Nexflix...totally awesome...I'm sure we won't be using Netflix mail for very much longer.)

Then, sometime in the near future, the boy, the Chaca Dawg and I leave for an epic road journey that's going to take us visiting family through Wyoming and Montana (Yellowstone Baby!) and I absolutely can't wait for that.

So over the next few days I have a lot of things to catch up on! Keep an eye out!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dear NPR,

You failed me this morning, for the first time. Thankfully, it wasn't too serious.

Every morning I wake up and the first thing I think about the date. Now, because I grew up in Western Massachusetts, a place with, you know...four seasons and not one and a half there are days when I can't figure out the month in my early morning stupor because I have no seasonal clues. Oh, it's sunny outside, it must be August...or October...or February.

So this morning, I'm in the car thinking about the date, when your story came on about TODAY being the 40th anniversary of the Kent State Shooting. I listened as you did an interview with one of the nine survivors remembering a piece of historical fiction I had written in college for a history class all about the days leading up to the massacre itself from the point of view of the girl in the historic photograph. I remembered the date from the project, May 4th and also remembered that people also called the day the May 4th Massacre. Aha! I said to myself, it's May 4th! I was pretty impressed with myself for remembering the date after years of not thinking about the project.

I got to school, gave the reading assessments all day, labeling each May 4th and thinking to myself how clever I was, until the last test was handed in and Matt said to me, "Ms. Knitter, isn't it the third?"

I felt very not clever after that.

Yours Truly Even So,

Ms. Knitter

11 Days left.

So, I had allotted this week to do the DRA (Diagnostic Reading Assessment) because it's taken me that long in the past. On Friday I went in to make sure everyone's folders were organized and I had copies of the correct test. I sort of guessed on where I thought the kids would test out and I'm proud to say I was only wrong 1 out of 15 times. (ROCK ON! Less time and paper wasted when I'm so very right!)

I ended up spending the entire morning on it with the third graders. I gave them some busy work and tested the kids I had to test. (The other reading teachers are testing the other third graders.) It took about two and a half hours all told. After the kids' out loud reading fluency is tested, they have to answer questions to test their prediction and comprehension skills. That part they do on their own and it can take them up to an hour or more to complete it. So the whole morning was testing. I decided to do the same with the fourth graders. I only missed two kids, because they were absent.

I figured it was better to mess up the whole day rather than the whole week. Then I took some time to grade them and put the results into my computer. I felt a little guilty about taking teaching time to do that, but I haven't once complained about not having any specials after physical education was cut after the holiday break and both my classes lost Performing Arts because the teacher can't control them at the end of February. I figured I sort of deserved it and the kids didn't complain.

I'd given them the math assessment last week and so was able to put everything together in each of their folders and left my classroom feeling like I had accomplished a lot. Report cards are going to be a breeze! The only test they have left is the Spanish language test and Ms. Jenson will be giving that, though I'll have to correct the multiple choice section.

While I was in the midst of testing the third graders this morning, who walked into my room but Monte! One of my sixth graders from last year! It was so good to see him. He's so much taller. I asked him why he had come by, though I guessed he and his mum had been to the capilla on the other side of the church from where my classroom is. He said that he had just popped in to visit me and that he lives outside of La Pasa now! His mum popped into my classroom earlier this year to say hello and to wish me well. I must have made an impression on that family! It made me warm and snuggly inside.

*Sigh* Only eleven days left.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Parents are the wild card in my career. Some are fantastic, some never believe the good or bad things you say about their children and some are just awful.

Sometimes you get great parents like Saul and Brent's mum whom I've now known for four years. She's always ready to back you up, she's active on the PTA but she's not in the classroom all time and so she's not in your face. I've known Matt's parents are just as long too and though Matt isn't always the easiest kid in the classroom to deal with, his parents are willing to discuss the problems in a rational how-can-we-help-each-other kind of way that I really appreciate.

Then there are those that make me really uncomfortable. Gilbert's family, whom I've also known since moving here is one. They are really really religious which in and of itself is not a problem. But they push religion into every part of their lives. The Christmas card from them had such a strong pro-life message that made me feel so icky that I tossed it in the trash when no one was looking almost immediately after it was handed to me. Also, when I was their daughter Loo Loo's teacher, she panicked after she head the girls from my class doing "Bloody Mary" in the bathroom. She decided that this was some sort of "spell." She went directly to the board meeting and tried to ban Harry Potter from my classroom. I did not let this occur. This post is another example.

Another mother, of whom I'm not going to say, for further anonymity is really hard to understand. When she speaks to us, Ms. Jenson and myself, she speaks in ebonics. Now, I have a lot of parents that speak exclusively in Spanish. I understand almost everything they say and am usually only about a half sentence behind in understanding. When I speak to this mum I'm usually around three sentences behind in understanding.

This is one thing. The other thing is the way she is dressed. It's embarrassing for us and I'm sure even more so for Sr. Callejo who has been in on many of these meetings with us. She is wears shirts that are so revealing. Shirts that show her underthings and doesn't seem to ever leave much to the imagination. That's not the worst of it. She stores her cell phone IN her cleavage. And when it vibrates/rings...need I say more?

So after one of these meetings, it somehow came up that some parents occasionally join their kids at lunch. That next week, in she came complete with three bags of food from McDonald's. Now whenever someone unexpected comes in all my students (eating separately from the third graders) turn to see who it is.

Fred, who seems to know a bit more about the world than is healthy for a boy of ten, turns to the boy sitting next to him and says, "You know what fruit I like best?" The other boy shook his head. Fred replies, "Watermelons." The other boy looked confused, but I wasn't.

It took all I had not to burst out laughing while I was telling him that I understood perfectly well what he was talking about and that he needed to knock it off this instant.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Not so depressed as before

So I think I'm coming to terms with teaching sixth grade next year. There were a few reasons I wasn't so comfortable with this idea.

The first is that I just love the fourth grade curriculum. The science and math curriculum is rich with hands on activities that are doable by the students. The stories in the reader are engaging, culturally relevant and the kids love them. I've taught both fifth and sixth grade and did not find them to be similar.

Fourth graders, you know the actual students are just the best. They are still engaged in school for the most part. They find new concepts exciting and they love the practice. Fifth graders have started to see the routine in school and its harder to keep them engaged in school and not the drama among their peer group. And sixth graders. Ug. I don't even know where to begin with them. Check out the beginning of my blog because I try not to revisit that particular part of my teaching tends to bring on waves of panic.

As I was wrestling, fighting, cajoling, begging, helping the third graders to finish up the science fair group project, it came to me that these kids are actually going to be next year's fourth graders. (Well, except for those we are going to hold back.) Now, you might think this would have come to me much sooner. And perhaps it should have. But in years past, at the beginning of the year it's the third graders that I've the most problem with and fourth graders that I've loved. As the year comes to a close, the third graders start to become fourth graders and they become the most fun to work with and the fourth graders start to become fifth graders and I begin to become annoyed with their drama.

The other day I realized April was ending and I hadn't observed this particular change which I usually begin to see at the beginning of March. The third graders are still third graders, some are even still acting like second graders. The fourth graders are still fantastic. I'm grateful every time I get to send the third graders on and the fourth graders walk into my room.

So perhaps working with fifth and sixth graders next year will be a good thing. I'll have my fantastic fourth graders from this year and the sixth graders will be my fourth graders from the first half of last year and for the most part, I really enjoyed them.

I said as much to Sr. Callejo as the Science Fair was ending last night and he seemed excited about my change of heart. I know he loves the way I teach and likes the way I expect great things my students. He said, "That means you get to have my niece!" and he introduced me to Elma's mother, his sister.

So all and all, it's probably all sewn up and might even be for the best.

How's that for a positive note.

However, I'm definitely going to have to take home the sixth grade math curriculum and spend the summer with it.