The year that I was teaching the fourth and fifth grade, my first year with my own classroom. I wasn't an E.A. and I wasn't a student teacher. It was my first whole class. I was a young, white teacher in a 98 percent hispanic school. I am a strict teacher and this definitely came out that year, not that the students didn't deserve it. However, the parents didn't enjoy it and told the principal so. I was young and white, easy prey.
Here is why I love my principal, Sr. Callejo. In the face of all the parents complaining about me that year, and believe me there were more than a few, he backed me up. Every single time. Not once did he let the parents believe that he was going to reprimand me. He always backed me up. Even when faced with the prospect of losing students (which for our tiny charter school is a big deal.) He understood that the kids needed the strictness that I was providing to the point that last year he moved me out of my successful fourth grade partnership to the awfulness that was the sixth grade.
This summer, Sr. Callejo hired a new teacher to take my place in the middle school slot that I practically got down on my knees and begged to get out of. This teacher, Ms. Wheat is African-American which I mention because I feel that she and I are kindred spirits as neither of us are Hispanic or literate in the culture that we have been thrown into. She has the pleasure of teaching the fifth, sixth and seventh graders (my sixth graders from last year.) I told her that any time she needed to vent, she should talk to me, because I've been there and I know EXACTLY how she feels.
She has been having a world of trouble. Parents have been complaining like crazy to me, to Ms. Tenny, to Sr. Callejo, everyone. I feel for her. She's an outsider in same way that I am. She's going through exactly what I was. She goes home and freaks out in the same way that I did.
When I was going through it, I had no one at school to talk to who took me seriously. She availed herself of that invitation yesterday and HELLO did she. When she asked how I put up with it, all I could say was that every morning, I went in with the goal of getting one thing done in Mathematics and one thing done in Literacy. If I was able to accomplish that, I felt successful. How awful is that?! Finally, someone understood. Ms. Wheat, she understood.
She was saying that the only way she could deal with the seventh graders was to put herself in one room and her husband in another when she got home. I didn't have that ability. I needed The Boy. When I couldn't sleep and would spend most of my nights in tears, he was the one that got me through. There was no one at school that understood. No one that could. When the year was over, I realized that without him, not only would I not have made it, but I literally would not have made it.
Anyway. It's nice to not be the scape goat anymore. It's nice that parents are complaining about someone else. Sr. Callejo even admitted that when he asked the seventh graders they thought he should do to improve the situation, they said that he should, "just bring Ms. Knitter back." So in the end. I must have done something right. Man, do I feel for her.
So I mentioned in my last "Nature" post that it was monsoon season. In La Pasa, the storms tend to move in and out relatively quickly. What they bring and what they leave behind is just astounding. Every time there's a storm and I stand there while marveling at the sky, The Boy says something like, "Welcome to the West." He grew up here (well, north of here) and to him the pictures that the sky makes out here are sort of old hat. I can't over it. This is what happens when you grow up in a place where you rarely see a huge chunk of sky.
I'm so glad you are back. Padma, I have missed you so. That little waif that was on in your place for Top Chef Masters has a lot to learn from you! Weird chauvanistic dude; I really hope you leave next week.
Alright, so the fourth graders have been working on Geometry, angles, rays, lines, line segments that sort of thing. Today, to get in a little review, I passed out the geoboards and rubber bands. When I was a kids, they were wooden with real nails pounded in, but someone must have decided that that wasn't safe (rightly so I suppose) because now kids have these plastic ones:
Clever right? It's a great way to do review and have kids still using their hands for more than drawing. Tactile learning. Love it.
Moment that Mattered: I passed out everything and had the kids just play around with them for awhile. That's always easier than jumping right into the lesson because all they want to do is play. This way, they get it out of the their system and after about ten minutes we can get down to business.
As I was admiring one kid's creation another boy, Robbie said, "Rubbers, I need more rubbers." I quickly looked up wondering why a kid would be talking about condoms in my class (and for that matter the fourth grade) and saw him searching around his desk and on the floor. I cracked up. Then Fred, (whom I think had the same reaction I did) another fourth grader (with older brothers) said, "Robbie, you mean rubber BANDS." Robbie answered, "I know, that's what I said, I need more rubbers." Hysterical. The best part is that Mr. Rama is his dad! So after school, I went and found him and told him the story and he cracked up too.
Next funny thing. My students were in Performing Arts and I was running around doing stuff. Ms. Tenny stepped out of her classroom to do something, so I stepped in, happy to see my old sixth graders (now seventh graders.) We starting talking about my clases de espanol because they were so excited about it. I told them that I got all A's and that I was really looking forward to class starting again, which was tonight. Lucia said, "Hablame" (Talk to me, I think that's how it's spelled.) So I said, "Sobre que?" (About what?) and she said, "What does that mean!?" It was pretty funny.
However. This class. This professor. Hard. I think I understood about half of what he said. I think I'm in for it.
We have been getting up early in the morning (5:30) in order to go the gym. This means we get to see the beautiful sunrises here in the southwest. Each one sort of rolls into the next, but this morning was different. The monsoon season has begun. It rained last night and continued on our way to the gym. When I finished my workout and meandered toward the stairs, I saw the mountains to the east bathed in bright pink, the next patch of sky was a melon orange and then a lilac purple and then a deep blue. It was breath taking. I didn't remember I had a camera on my phone until I was downstairs and I didn't want to miss it by running back upstairs and so you can't see the mountains, but the picture is still really pretty.
Alright, as you have read before on this here blog, the third graders are a little rambunctious (or "squirrely" as my co - teacher as termed it. (Personally, I think this is a little unfair to squirrels because when they are flying around at warp speed they are; hunting for food, mating or running for their lives, all practical actions. Third graders, not so practical.
Moment that Mattered from today. I have a rolling chair that I use for reading out loud to the kids. Sometimes it "rolls away on its own" (otherwise known as the kids moving it around.) So when we gather for read alouds, there's always a commotion about who is going to get the chair in the right place, no matter how many times I ask them to let me do it because of how many fingers are splayed out on the floor just waiting to be crushed.
Well today I didn't get there in time and turned around to see four kids sitting up against the wall where the chair usually goes and Saul trying to shove it in between them. I was afraid the chair was being shoved into the head of the one of the kids because Saul didn't know they were there (his body is shorter and three times as wide as the chair) so I grabbed Saul and pulled him away from the chair. I felt awful! I've never grabbed a kid before. I apologized profusely to Saul and we had a class discussion about why I'm the only one that can move the chair.
I spoke to his mother after school and explained what happened. She laughed and said, "Oh. Worse than that happens at football!" Thank goodness.
We have figured out what to do with the third graders. All but two of the 17 students are a grade behind in their reading. What to do.
We have decided that the third graders will have English Reading every morning for an hour, whether or not they have English first thing that morning. They have been broken up into four groups according to their reading levels. Mr. Dido will have the Special Ed group, Ms. Cally the first grade group, I'll have the second grade and the on level groups and we'll go from there and see how hard we can push these kids.
It's going to mess up the scheduling a little bit, but its for the best.
Haha! Well at least Haha for all of you that get the "Rent" shoutout.
Seriously folks. La Pasa has become quite the Hollywood (it's even been dubbed "Tamalewood") since Governor Richardson began giving so many tax breaks to those who would like to shoot movies here. It gave a lot of New Mexicans jobs as well as the city and the state much needed revenue.
Today on the walk home from Kelly's (all of 200 feet away from our house.) The Boy and I saw a huge spotlight on the horizon, which in the Duke City could mean only one thing...something was shooting. So we decided to walk over and see how close we could get.
We ended up getting really close. We realized pretty quickly that it wasn't "Batman Begins," "In the Valley of Ellah," or "Terminator Salvation" because, well...we were able to walk right up. We asked a guy getting stuff out of a big truck what was shoot and it was "MacGruber" a spoof on "MacGuyver." I'll definitely have to fill my brother in on that!
So I mentioned in this post that I had yet to see the behavioral plan or the I.E.P. for my one of my students, Kismet. At the beginning of the year, I asked both special education teachers as well as Sr. Callejo during orientation for permission to go through both of these documents. (There are lots of laws about them, so there is some red tape, which is why I asked early.) The special education teachers, Mr. Dido and Mr. Rama said that, of course I would have the chance to go through those documents before school started.
Well, a week in, after asking both of them twice with no actual seeing of the documents, I used my weekly "teacher journal" (Sr. Callejo's way of finding out what we need) to tell the principal that after asking twice, I hadn't heard from either man about when I could get a look at these documents. Three more days went by and I still heard nothing.
From what I have been able to piece together about this Kismet is that he was seriously hard time as a little person and so missed a lot of the developmental hurdles that most children master. Thank goodness he and his two younger brothers were adopted by a very generous couple that has devoted their lives to these three boys. In fact, the mother spends her mornings in the classroom with Kismet in the fourth grade class.
Because he has this terrible past, there are many moments in the classroom where he just can't cope the way that my other students can. I met this little boy when he was in the first grade, while I was the E.A. in the Kindergarten room. There were times that he would lash out to the point that he needed to be restrained. I witnessed this one morning when we were called one day to help control him. It was necessary because he has a habit of throwing things like textbooks hard enough to hurt (having been on the receiving end) and climbing so that he can't be followed.
Thank goodness that Kismet has come so far since his first grade year, his previous teachers have been devoted and caring, his parents very supportive and helpful. He hasn't had any break downs this year and he and I have gotten on really well so far.
For all of these reasons, it was really important for me to know at the very beginning what to expect from him behaviorally as well as academically. All of these systems have been put in place by the special education team and by law they need to be followed. I couldn't understand why Mr. Dido and Mr. Rama were not falling all over themselves in their effort to give me the information. Mr. Dido did say to me at some point that I should treat him like any other student. (Which, because these systems were in place, I knew wasn't true.)
Kismet does his best in the morning and so I didn't have him in the afternoon until this week. I have been concentrating on staying upbeat and positive throughout the day. (My homage to Sophia.) And the three times that we have been at odds, I've called Mr. Rama, while staying calm yet stern with him. Thankfully, each of these times, Mr. Dido and Mr. Rama have backed me up and Kismet is learning that he has to listen to me. However, I was still a bit miffed that after asked three different people, I still didn't have access to the information that needed to work with him.
So today after being at odds with Kismet, I called Mr. Rama to explain what had happened and that that was the last time I was going to "wing it." I told him that I needed to sit down with that paperwork. We met after school and I have a good idea of how to work with him behaviorally, thankfully, I was already doing the right thing for the most part. But that isn't the point, because I did learn a lot. I have yet to see the I.E.P.
Moments that Mattered: Yesterday, Cosmo, a sixth grader from last year gave me a copy of his football game schedule so that I could go to one of his games. I don't think he asked any of his other teachers. Raul, my budding artist from last year is hoping that I will buy one of his sketches. He's going to bring it finished soon for me to see. I think I shall buy. I think they have realized that as hard as last year was for them, I was in it for them, for their successes. That matters to me.
I gave the DRA test (English reading test) to the third graders today. Whoa momma have we got some work to do. I had most of these kids in Kindergarten and I was surprised to learn today that the kids that I had in the "advanced" reading group in Kindergarten were in title one last year. Now, I have to assume that it was last years English teacher that dropped the ball because I know the their first grade teacher and she's first rate :) Now. The weird thing is that when I got their scores from the end of last year almost all of them were recorded as reading on or just below grade level. Yes, kids drop off over the summer, but two whole grade levels. I don't think so.
I talked to the title one reading teacher when I realized that there were only four kids left to test (I think one might test at grade level.) Usually she works with the four or five kids that aren't reading at grade level in small group in another classroom while I teach on grade level to the rest of the kids in class. Because it's looking like the whole class (except one) isn't on grade level, we might have Reading Recovery with the whole class for at least the first half of the year.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Best of times for me because I'll have the opportunity to work side by side with the best reading teacher (in the world) and really learn from her. Ms. Cally been teaching for over fifty years, she was one of the first ever trained in the state for title one. Kids gain mad grade levels when they work with her. Worst of times because somehow the teacher before (in second grade) really let them down. Seven or eight kids, alright, I can see that, the entire class (minus 1 perhaps) at least one grade below level. Not so good.
Moment that Mattered from today: Brent proved to me that he really knows the difference between a line and a line segment (we are studying Geometry in math.) Very nicely, after I asked them to get in a line, he said, "Ms. Knitter, you should ask us to get into a line segment, because that end, but a line never does and we don't go on forever." Love it. I love it. He really learned the difference.
School is beginning to become a routine again. Yay!
So remember how I wondered what would happen when Ms. Jenson and I couldn't communicate about what was being taught in the classroom. Well. It happened.
So. We are a bilingual school, which means that the students have half of their day in English and half of their day in Spanish. We have to find a way to do this without "translating," which means that I can't teach on lesson in English and then that afternoon another teacher (in this case Ms. Jenson) teach the same lesson in Spanish. The two lessons need to build on each other in some way. This is easy to figure out for most subjects. We both teach Language Arts in each language, I teach science in English and she teaches Social Studies in Spanish. Math sort of throws a wrench in this finely tuned machine.
Because of the way that "Everyday Mathematics" is set up as a spiraling curriculum, we can't do every other chapter on our own the way we do with the reading curriculum. We have to know what each other taught yesterday, so that both of us know what to teach today and tomorrow. This, at least at the beginning involves a lot of planning. Sophia and I figured it out together last year and it took us a few weeks to get used to how it worked. We worked so well together, that eventually we didn't need to sit down and plan together because we got into a groove. I don't foresee this happening with Ms. Jenson.
Before school started I sat down and explained how we use the math curriculum in a bilingual school. She seemed amenable to this at first and the first two days of teaching this way went alright. On Thursday, I asked her how far she had gotten with the third graders that morning so I knew what I needed to work on with them that afternoon. It was then that she told me that she didn't think that she was going to be able to to do it the way we talked about. Rather, no matter what part of the day, she said that I should teach the introductory lesson (the lessons are mostly broken up into two main parts with smaller third part) and she should do the follow up. She said that kids just don't know any Spanish at all and that she was going to start teaching them SSL (Spanish as a Second Language.)
Now. It could have been worse. She could have suggested the translating method. This was a step or two above that, which is good. But this is the one thing that Sr. Callejo was clear about, this is how we were teach math to give the kids the best chance of having a bilingual vocabulary in the subject of Mathematics. So very carefully, very politely I said that if she really thought that was the best plan because she didn't think the kids could succeed the way we were doing it, she should bring it up with Sr. Callejo so that he knows that we will be switching it up a bit.
Well. That went over like a lead balloon. She went off about how she left public school because she was sick of being told how and what to teach. And that she couldn't believe that this was happening to her in a charter school and how she was just going to have to learn how to deal with it again and finally that she just couldn't believe that I was suggesting she get permission to change the way she was teaching. Which of course was not my intention, or in fact, what I said at all.
Now. Honestly. We have it really good at ALDR. We are not handed our schedules, our lesson plans, we get to use the curriculum (other than this relatively loose method with the math curriculum) in any way we wish as long as we address the standards set down by the state. We are not micromanaged at all. At all. The rules and procedures we do follow and set down we do to follow the laws set down by the state.
Nutter. This lady is at least part nutter. I spoke to Sr. Callejo about it and he talked her down from the ledge today at lunch.
Mondays are going to be my saving grace because the third graders have performing arts at the same time as the fourth graders have physical education and then vice versa. This means that Ms. Jenson and I get to plan together for a whole hour and a half. So today we sat down to talk through what we were going to teach for math (just math mind you) for the next five days. It took us over an hour to get through FIVE (five people) days. Crazy.
HaHa! Funny story from today. Fred came back today, I was expecting him last week but he didn't show up until today. I was helping him with some Geometry today when he looked at me and said, "Ms. Knitter, you've got stuff right here." He pointed to the part of his eye nearest his nose. I realized that he thought my eye brightener looked like "stuff." From the mouths of babe eh?
I love Sundays now. The Boy and I have sort of started this diet, where we count the calories that we eat. Sundays are the days we don't do it, because your body is supposed to have one day off a week so that it doesn't feel like it's hoarding food.
So. Today, we ate homemade oatmeal for breakfast, munchies for lunch, gellato as an afternoon snack and homemade french fries with cheese curds and gravy on top. Yum. Total yum.
And now to finish the reorganization. The last thing in my life that really needs organizing is my computer. After all the stuff was put back on after the loss of my hard drive, all the documents are out of order. It will be much easier to search for all my interesting lessons at school, if there is some sort of order.
I'm not sure if I've really explained before that my school has a four day week. We have school Monday through Thursday from 8:00 to 3:00 (3:30 for seventh graders.) I love this schedule. I'm not sure what's going to happen when we have to go back to a five day schedule for whatever reason. When we went to this schedule, one of the biggest worries was planning time, since we would be losing a whole day of after school planning time. So we picked one day a week to stay until four thirty and one afternoon a month that hour would be a staff meeting.
Good plan right? Well, it didn't exactly turn out that way. We ended up having a staff every week. After a few weeks of this I realized that it was because people weren't reading their memos! We would go to the meeting and 90% of the time was spent on regurgitating the memo! I mentioned this to Sr. Callejo once and he told me that the rest of the staff wasn't reading the memo and couldn't be trusted to follow through with things the way I did, simply because they read written instructions. He laughed it off, but in my mind I was saying, "then hire better people you crazy man!"
Anyway, we had our first staff meeting this afternoon. We were given a folder of information that we had to sort and some of it needed to be returned. Instructions had to be given four times. Which wasted time.
And then came the title of this post. My classroom is the largest. I love it. It's got a great heater and a great air conditioner, the computers are out of the way, and I have enough space to store things. However, there are four doors. There is one door that leads out into the school parking lot, a straight line from the school to the cafeteria. Another door leads to the small office of the school business manager, another to the other classrooms and admin offices and the last leads to the second and third grade classrooms.
Now, there are many times during the day when people have to come through these doors. Second and third graders need to be able to get to their title one reading and special education classes, admin staff need to be able to get the business office and to the second and third grade classrooms as well as my own. I get it. I'm fine with that. The kids are trained to do it quietly and a month into school, it won't bother my students at all. What drives me nuts is the interior/exterior door that leads straight to the cafeteria.
On the first day, Ms. Jenson thought (and rightly so, she's brand new and we've been using my interior/exterior door during orientation) that that door was how her kids were to go to the bathroom, so twice during the morning and once during the afternoon. So before the second morning, I took her aside and explained that she could use her own interior/exterior door. She was upset. Not sure why.
At the end of the day today, I ran into the third grade classroom where my fourth graders were having Spanish, to pass out some things. I reminded the students to put their pencil boxes back on our classroom library bookcase for the next day. Ms. Jenson looked at me and said, "Well we'll have to go through your classroom then." And I said, "Oh yes, of course you can go through at the end of the day." She said, very sarcastically, "Oh yay!" I walked back into my classroom very confused, because when I asked her not to use my door, I was only talking about the whole class bathroom trips in the middle of classes.
There's one teacher, Ms. Gana that I had to beg last year not to use my door during the school year. She's started back up this year. (Even thought this year, she has her own door on the same side of the building as me!) Last year she was upset that I asked her not use my door. This year after Ms. Gana and a few others have taken to using it during the school day again, I decided to bring it up at the staff meeting. Very politely, I explained that we needed to not use that interior/exterior door during the school day. After I was finished, Ms. Jenson said to everyone, "Yes, she's already BANISHED me from using that door." I was so surprised, I couldn't really defend myself.
I really hope our relationship improves. It's going to be a hard year if my co-teacher is like this about things that have nothing to do with what's being taught...
Today I found out that third graders are really big second graders. And while this may have made perfect sense to everyone else, it was proven to me today. This group is so interesting. The only thing that makes it bearable is that I only have them for half of the day. (It's the fourth grade that makes me tick!) I think their behavior problems stem from the fact that the boys have always out numbered the girls by a large margin. These boys are rambunctious and have extra strong personalities. They make me laugh and want to scream at the same time. Their attention span is short, they like to horseplay and my "look" doesn't work on them. I'm trying to look forward to the challenge.
Good moment from today: I introduced the kids to their classroom library (which has grown quite a bit with the addition books that The Boy's Mum rescued from the Casper Library discard!) They were especially excited about the fact that I have "Where the Wild Things Are" in both Japanese and Spanish. When I gave the third graders some reading time on their own, Principe and Craig pulled down both copies. They sat next to each other and Craig said, "Hey, I can read Spanish, so we can translate!" The two spent the next fifteen minutes going phrase by phrase through both books. Hearing their made up Japanese was pretty funny, but they were so into it.
Moment that Mattered (there are times that I miss Bennington so bad, it's palpable) from today: I was putting the third graders into groups to do some math facts practice with flash cards. There are seventeen students, so one group would be of three. Principe started shouting that he needed to be in the group of three. I didn't really respond because I don't respond when children yell at me. So I started at the other end of the class, making groups and passing out cards. When I got to him, I put him with one of the five girls Camille. He was visably upset, but wandered off to work with her. That group was the best behaved and got the most done. Every time I looked over in their direction, they were working really well together. So, I gave him a "Walking Tall" slip (sort of like a referral because he did something great without being asked) and used it teaching moment for the whole class. He was so surprised and pleased and the kids were impressed. I'm going to kill these third graders with kind strictness. Let's see where it gets me.
I now have 11 kids in my fourth grade. So far, only one new student to the school, but he's sweet, quite and aims to please. The kid that I worry about is ____________. (I haven't come up with the best alias yet.) He's got some serious personal problems and has a lot of help from the Special Ed department, though no matter how many times I ask, I havn't had a meeting about him or been able to see his I.E.P. Which is really frustrating because I haven't worked with him in two years and no idea what I should expect from him as a student. He has a bad habit of wrestling with other kids and doesn't seem to know his strength, but because I haven't seen (or had explained to me) his behavorial plan, I don't know how to discipline him. Very frustrating.
First Day of School was great! I only had eight fourth graders, so my morning was awesome! I'm sure that number will go up as the public school gets going, we started a little early so our families may not know that first day was today.
My third graders are a different story. There's 16 of them (though at times it feels like 40) and only 2 girls in the group. These are the kids I had in Kindergarten and they were a tough crew even then. The whole coming full circle theme came to mind but when I asked one of them, Saul if he remembered having me as a Kinder teacher, his comeback was, "I've had you as a teacher before?!" So perhaps not so full circle at all.
It was really really good to see my sixth grade girls. I feel like I have a real bond with them, especially Fiona, Cassie and Lucia. All three were upset when they found out that I wasn't going to the be their teacher, since it was assumed that I would be at the end of last year. Hopefully, though I shall still see them everyday and be at least a part of their lives.
On top of first day of school, today was also First Day of Car Shopping in Earnest now that The Boy is home. I was also offered another job opportunity with Moonlight Consulting, one that pays big buck but is also so far away that it's an overnight. It's in the middle of September and I would much rather have a new car rather than depend on the not so dependable Harrison. We went back to the Subaru Dealership and The Boy got to test drive the same car that I drove and he liked it just as much as me, but still wants to drive other things. So poop. A few more days of driving around in the Hot Harrison (as there is no AC) and getting in and out of other HOT cars that have been sitting around in the sun all day.
One of the too bad things about living in New Mexico is that we don't get ANY Red Sox games. Tonight, ESPN is following the Red Sox vs. Yankee game! Yay! The only thing that could make it better would be if Jerry Remi was calling the game...can't have everything I guess.
The Boy's bachelor party was last night and continues today, he spent the day playing golf and shooting guns with his college friends, two of whom will be married next year. Tonight is a fancy dinner with a cell phone moratorium (at least on calls from "the womanfolk" as we girlfriends have been termed) for the rest of the evening. I love it. I love that they have put so much thought in to the planning and flawless execution of this weekend. Like my best college girlfriends, they rarely get to see each other
Meanwhile, I have decided that today is a movie marathon with...myself! I got up later than usual and began with the three Shrek movies. After that I put in Bridget Jones, will watch the sequel after that and then begin the Pirates movies. I also gave myself a manicure; green nail polish with little pink dots.
I got an A+ in Spanish. I've also noticed that I'm more able to speak spanish without having to think carefully about it. It's coming easier. This is good.
I think I finally got some answers on how I'm going to get my bilingual endorsement. It's going to take a few years, but I think it will be worth it. The names of the classes sound really interesting. I think what I will do is take the Spanish class this fall like I planned and take a Spanish class and another class in the spring.
Yes. It's here. First day of School! Monday! Yesterday and today was registration, so I saw some of my kids! This year, the third graders that I'll be teaching half of the day, I taught in Kindergarten!
My classroom is pretty much set up. There are still some boxes I haven't unpacked yet. But that's the great thing about not teaching the little kids; they can help me unpack and pass out books. By next weekend it should be completely finished and in good order. I'm trying something new with the desks. Usually I have the kids in rows or small groups (though in the latter they usually just spend most of the time kicking each other) but this time I put the desks in a horse shoe shape.
Right now I only have 16 kids in the fourth grade and the third grade is even smaller! So that's great. Counting down 'til Monday!
You know that tradition of teachers getting apples on the first day of school? Well, the first day of school doesn't make me think of apples anymore. Last year and this year, as I take the street that brings me to ADLR with my windows open (because it's already in the 80's in the morning here) I smell someone roasting green chile! It smells so good.
Second Day. Still not given any time to work in our classrooms as a staff. I stole moments here and there and stayed until after seven but it's so frustrating to sit in meetings all antsy because of the mountain of unpacking and organizing you have to do. I think all together, we're only given four hours and that includes planning time! Ridiculous. I feel even worse for the new teachers, because this all must seem very confusing.
This year we have a student-administrator, I'm going to call him Sr. Santiago. I think he is FANTASTIC. He gave a great presentation this morning about academic language and how to integrate it into our lesson plans. This is something I definitely intend to focus on this year and after I've had a chance to digest it and really think about it, I'll write about it and tell you all more. It was a great presentation.
Our parent-involvement presentation today was all fluff...a lot of; you should do this and you could do that, but no plan was put into place and didn't explain how one was to do the shoulds and coulds; definitely one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to presentations. He also talked a lot about God and spirituality, which is my second biggest pet peeve when it comes to presentations. I can't stand how people here assume you are one thing religiously simply because the majority are one thing.
Despite all of this, my classroom is coming together and I have 14 students enrolled in the fourth grade class. So exciting!
All the things I velcroed to the wall are still up! Score 1 for me!
Orientation went well this morning at ADLR. It was the regular run of the mill stuff. Going over the handbooks, standards, other policies and such. The new people seem eager and excited, which is always nice. Johanna was one of the speakers, she went over the Needs Assessment she did for us at the end of last school year and I'm pleased to say that are kids really are improving. This is heartening. Our hard work is starting to show in their test scores.
During one of the insurance presentations (that is most certainly a scam and that I've seen three times already) I started to put my classroom back together. I put up my new calendar system and I got the cursive letters up above the white boards. I love newly laminated things. There's a sense of satisfaction with newly laminated things. It was really just those two things I got done, which doesn't sound like a lot for two hours, but I'm using velcro this year!
The walls of school are cement painted over, which means that tacks don't work, but as the cement isn't smooth tape (of any kind) doesn't work either. Last year, I was coming to school early to re stick things up that had fallen during the night. I figured there had to be a better way and I found it! While I was at Target getting some other things I came across velcro! So after everything was laminated I started putting velcro on everything. All the numbers stick to the calender with velcro, all the candles stick to the birthday cakes with velcro and so on and so forth. At first I was just going to use velcro for those sorts of things, but today while I was sorting things out in the classroom, I realized that I could use it actually put the calendar system up! Light Bulb! It was a fantastic moment.
So here's what I did; I peeling the backing off of the fuzzy side of the velcro and adhered it to the thing that was going on the wall. Then I peeled the backing off of the rough side of the velcro and stuck that onto the fuzzy side. Then I could walk up to the wall and slap it on. Perfection. A little time consuming, but will probably save time in the end because I won't have to constantly re-tape stuff to the walls. Genius. Genius I say.
Here's hoping that all the stuff I put up today will still be hanging tomorrow.
Alright. So as I mentioned yesterday, I went to see Ice Age 3 by myself in the movie theater today. It was lovely. Not as good as the first two, but nice. Didn't even drive my car. Took the bus, using my free bus pass because I'm going to the U.
I can't believe all the childrens' books that are being turned into movies these days. Really. In 1996, they turned "Matilda" into a movie and ruined it. Ruined it. I read that book over and over. It was fantastic. Roald Dahl is a fantastic writer. As a kid, it was always his books that made me use my imagination the most. The movie was terrible. They destroyed the script. Done. Finished.
They made a movie out of "Horton Hears a Who." When I found out, I couldn't believe it. )Now, they had already made one movie out of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and the one with Jim Carrey was a redo so that didn't upset me as much, though the first was much truer to the book.) Horton, ruined. They messed with the story line, added characters and plot points. Really. How could they do that. My students haven't been interested in the book since the movie. Sad. Very sad.
"Where the Wild Things Are" is going to be a movie. I've seen some of the previews. I can't believe it. That's a classic. Should be untouchable by anyone but "Reading Rainbow." The previews that I've seen have totally added to the script. It's not the book. The Boy thinks that this movie is made more for adults than for children, but let's face it. Kids are going to see it and probably before they have read the book. The Boy says that the book teachs kids that sure you can escape everyonce in awhile but you always have to return to reality. That's not how I saw the story as a kid, I saw a kid who didn't want to listen to his parents and so was sent to his room. That was the beautiful thing about the book, you got to think whatever you wanted about the story. The movie (at least from what I can glean from the previews) doesn't give you that choice.
And for the last straw; "Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" is going to be a movie. Really people. I just saw a preview for it today. They have added gobbs to the story line. Turned it into a 3D extravaganza. It's one of the best childrens' books ever. Ever.
All I can say, I guess is that my children aren't going to be seeing any of these movies until they have read and loved the books. Period.
In preparation for the beginning of the school year, I went out and bought a new calendar and letters for above the chalkboard, stuff for a birthday and a helper bulletin board. I had all this stuff last year but during the move I lost a bunch of it. On Thursday, I took it all to the district's low cost laminating center and laminated over one hundred feet of materials. For my last birthday my mother sent me the flashcards that my brother and I used. The Christmas before last my parents bought me a great set of jumbo playing cards and I laminated those as well. I ended up with over one hundred feet of laminated material.
I also bought some new plastic tubs for all my books and other materials. I went though all of the stuff that has been stored in the garage for the summer. I went though, trashed stuff and reorganized what I decided to keep. Since The Boy was out of town and some of the tubs were too heavy for me to lift one of our very best friends helped me get them into my car and then Sr. Callejo helped me get them into my classroom. I was very excited to learn that I was going to get my old classroom from fourth grade last year! Yay! It's the best classroom! It's big, comfy, square, two magnetic dry erase boards that are kid height (because I made them rehang them last year) and it has an interior/exterior door! Now let's just hope I get to keep it all year long.
The Boy is out of town until August 9th and so I'm alone. And bored. Out of my mind. West Wing only takes you so far. (I have one and a half episodes left.) So tomorrow I have decided to take the bus downtown and catch Ice Age 3 before it leaves the theaters. Also a pedicure. I report to school on Monday and I'm ready.