Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's so not just the counselor's job

Character Education, that is.  That's my opinion anyway.  So, in order for our school counselor to have more groups, we (the grade-level teachers) are picking up one counseling lesson to teach in our rooms on the off weeks when she does not see us (Week 1:  her; Week 2:  me...).  I've done two so far, and I found myself saying, "Why am I not doing at least a small lesson each day in conjunction with a read aloud?"  So I decided that I would.  On each of the days we don't have counseling we are doing a read-aloud/discussion (aiming to be 10 minutes...tops).  Our character word for the month is Respect.  Today after recess, we began.  I pulled out one of my favorite books ever.  The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  I brought it up on YouTube (Shel actually reads it aloud).  We stopped and discussed at the beginning the relationship between the boy and the tree and how they respected each other.  Some of my more tenderhearted friends gasped as the tree gave the boy his limbs, and by the end there were no dry eyes (even the tough guys cried and I'm not going to lie...I did too).  I really feel it is worthwhile to do this new read aloud for two reasons.  First, embedding Character into the day is proactive, and supports positive behavior.  Second, it exposes my friends to a variety of literature with which we had really good discussion with fairly high DOK.  So, I think I am going to keep going with it.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Answering the Call

So, I watched the "Teach" documentary today (I DVR'd it knowing that I would not be able to focus on anything aside from my pillow/bed after 7:30 last night).  It was really good.  I wasn't sure what exactly to expect.  I cheered the featured teachers on as they met the same sorts of adversity that we all do.  I waited with bated breath as they waited for the test results to come back (I hate that anxious feeling).  I cried with their students as they told them goodbye at the end of the year.  I would feel privileged to call any of those teachers colleague.  At the very end, Queen Latifah implored people to whom the documentary affected to "Answer the Calling."  That really is what this life we have chosen is.  Not just a job but who we all are at the core.

Friday, August 30, 2013

It's all in the cape

In my building, I sit on the Building Improvement Team.  This summer we got together and decided various things, and one of them was when the staff would be allowed to wear jeans (-or- as I like to call shave, no iron goodness).  We decided with our principal that we would use Wednesday as our day (we have an Early Release for PLC on that day).  We would smatter Fridays throughout the year with a specific theme.  At the beginning of the year meeting, our principal surprised us and said it would be every Friday (YES!!!!!!).  So we have a theme announced in the Tuesday Memo and in order to wear jeans, you have to dress with the theme.  Last week was somewhere you have been (I got a VW t-shirt at Walmart, and wore it because I went to Germany once).  Today, though, was Superhero Day.  We all had on capes and various superhero regalia.  And I think it made a difference in our overall demeanor as a building.  We laughed a lot, and had fun (even though it was 100 degrees and there was a fire drill).  The kiddos even got into it.  I heard a Kinder ask another Kinder if we were all really heroes (to which she answered, "I think yes.").  And there is something to be said for your cape flapping in the breeze (albeit balmy) during recess duty. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back at it

We are 11 days in to this year, and I am in love with my class.  Yes, yes...I know that I am in the honeymoon phase and things might not look so bright around Christmas time.  But, I do love them all. 

We are working out our procedures and expectations right now.  I seem to forget over the course of the summer how little/young my second graders actually are.  I wrote once about how I never wanted to be the teacher who made someone cry when they got home.  I have to be constantly aware of how my words, tone and overall demeanor deeply affect these children who were placed in my care.  Let me tell you, about the zillionth time I've said something, I am on the E of my patience tank (or running on fumes to be more exact).  It is not about me though, and they will learn. 

We are using the behavior rating chart (you know, the one where a student moves her name up or down during the course of the day).  I have two little friends who were having yellow/red days consistently.  Then, yesterday, they were both on green.  Friend One looked at Friend Two and asked, "Are you on Green?"  To which he replied, "YEAH! I AM!"  Then, the funniest thing happened.  They jumped up in the air and chest bumped right there by the sticker charts.  I laughed out loud.

When I revisited it later that night (as I lay sleepless in my bed), it made me think about how necessary it is to celebrate even small things.  It was a good reminder.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The writing on the wall

- or - the district letterhead anyway.  Yesterday, I received the good old back-to-school letter telling me when I had to start getting dressed before noon.  It is soon.  Too soon.  I really feel like this summer has gone by waaay to quickly.  I could ignore the slipping of summertime through my fingers when the school supplies at Wal-Mart came out (they do everything early, right?).  But now, I can no longer pretend not to see the elephant named Public Educator in the corner of my office because I have it in writing.  I have a lot to do to get ready for nine months of full-tilt teaching/parenting.  I will not panic, I will keep my "Unless it says Due Tomorrow, I will not Do today." attitude for a little longer (not too much longer as I don't care for school nightmares).

Friday, July 12, 2013

I am Turtleman

So, my nephew came over tonight to hang with the Middleschooler.  I ordered a pizza and they were doing their thing (playing video games and being boys).  Everything was under control.  Then, the Middleschooler decided that he would go out to the chickens and show his cousin Barry the Rooster (he had to go out and put all of them up anyway).  My sister and I were hanging out, drinking Diet Coke and laughing when both of the boys came screaming into the house something like, "THERE IS A SNAKE IN THE HENHOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" (except make it really fast and barely intelligible because of the yelling).  I looked at my sister, and said, "I guess I better take go take care of this."  I hate snakes so, so much. SO MUCH.  But my DH wasn't home, and someone had to deal with it.  I asked my nephew what color the snake was (dealing with a black snake is a teeny bit different than dealing with a copperhead).  He wasn't sure, so I grabbed the broom(?) and headed to the chickens with all the kids trailing behind me.  The Middleschooler had gone into his room and grabbed his knife (a great thought, but I'm not getting that close to a snake).  I opened the nesting box lid and looked inside.  Sure enough, there was a 4 foot long black snake curled up all comfortable inside.  Then I opened the side door so it would have a place to go, and poked it with the end of the broom.  At first, it looked at me like, "Hey lady, watch it with the long stick."  Then, I poked it again, and it slithered out of the henhouse and toward the back field.  Gross.  The kids were pretty chimed up, and I was a little giggly (that's what happens in times of stress for me).  All I could think, walking back to the house was...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy 4th!

We have just returned from an awesome SD vacation.  I took notes over the course of the whole thing, so next week I will be writing about it.  But for now I want to wish all of you a wonderful Independence Day.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are from the celebrations we had at my grandma's farm. Drinking as much soda as I could (Vess soda had a jillion flavors, and I sampled my fair share), cranking the ice cream maker, playing really competitive croquet, and praying that the fields weren't too dry to set off some fireworks were just parts of the fun.

Now, the fun is watching the excitement in my monkeys.  Even as we were driving home from, by all accounts, the best vacation ever, they were talking about how they couldn't wait for the 4th at Aunt D's. It is really all they have been talking about for the last 72 hours.  And I know it will be fun, and that someday they will look back and remember the great times with their family on the 4th of July.

That is what I wish for everyone...A super fun memory made this Independence Day.

Monday, June 17, 2013

We have a WINNER!

As I told you before, last week was our town's fair.  I already told you about the rides, the Christian Music Show and the parade.  But, two more exciting things happened during the fair (and no, I did not go on the Cliff Hanger). 

We have this mulberry tree in our back yard.  The monkeys love to get the stepstool out and pick away when they become ripe (which has been every day for the last week or so).  So, I had an overabundance of mulberries in my refrigerator.  Last year, I made a pie from them, and my DH asked me to make him one this year.  At the same time, I noticed that there was a pie contest at the fair, so instead of making just one...I went ahead and made two (how could I tell him no and hey a contest?).  I barely got it done in time, and rushed it to the main stage.  After watching the rest of the Mr. and Miss Panther contest, it was finally time for the winners to be announced.  And guess what happened?  My pie got second place!  I won a very nice stoneware pie plate (which will make my pies look much nicer).

The next night (the last night of the fair), was to be the town talent competition.  The Clover told me that she wanted to sing in the show, so I signed her up.  Goodness gracious, I'm not sure how many times, we sang Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys, but I can tell you that it was a lot.  A lot.  She borrowed a red and black sequined chevron striped tank top from me (which I pinned back so it would fit her like a dress), put on her ruffled black skirt and asked if she could wear her eye shadow (of course I said, yes). 

Prior to the show, we had my family over for a pre-Father's Day cookout (which ended up being a cook-in due to thunderstorms).  So after we all ate, we moved ourselves to the Talent Contest (which thankfully had not been cancelled, just moved indoors) and settled in for almost two hours of acts (some of which were better than others).  The Clover got up and sang her song (mostly to the floor as stage fright makes you forget all the moves you practiced no fewer than 1000 times), but she belted it.  So at the end of the night, they announced the winners in each division.  And the Clover placed 2nd (thereby doubling her vacation money).  I was so proud that not only did she choose to do this rather scary thing for an 8-year-old, but that she did it well!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Owning it

I teach in the district where I live (which happens to be in a smaaaallll town).  My monkeys are in school here.  Basically, everything we do is here.  After 14 years of being two districts away, I feel that my circle is very small.  At first, this bothered me.  But now, not so much.  I love knowing everyone.  I love that my monkeys are known.  There's something great about a small town, and well, being a townie.

So last night was the big parade.  The Clover was to be on the 4H float, and the Middle Schooler was on the wrestling float.  I didn't have to worry because I couldn't be with them both because, you know...small town.  I sat on the end of the trailer of the 4H float (with two other moms so that none of the kids fell/jumped off).  All down the parade route, I could hear kids calling "Clover! Over here!"  But in the same way, I heard an awful lot of, "Frau M!!!!"  I felt a bit like a rockstar, except, I'm pretty sure real rock stars don't wear flip flops and sit on the back of a gooseneck trailer.  I'm surprised by how many more people I know now after only being a teacher here one year (I mean, sheesh, I've lived here for 10).  I always said before this year that I was basically a Tiger (other town resident), just I lived a little far outside city limits.  All that has changed, now.  So I guess when they say, "Go big or go home," I can answer, "I am home." 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I may be Candor/Erudite...

but the monkeys are Dauntless!

So, clearly, I haven't written here for a long time.  Yeah, about that...sorry?  I have plenty of reasons to not blog.  Mostly it boils down to not really wanting to.  There were times during the last four (!?) months that I had the time, but I just didn't really feel like it.  So there you go.  On with the story...

My BFF recommended the book Divergent to me, so on a shopping trip to Barnes and Noble, I bought it.  It took me less than 24 hours to read it all.  And it was quite possibly one of the best books I have ever read.  Better than The Hunger Games.  So then of course, I read Insurgent (book 2 of the series).  Again, great reading.  Now I have officially become a fangirl.  I even cruised the Pinterest page about it.  I took the quiz, even.  I would be in either Candor (truth telling) or Erudite (loves learning) factions.  The monkeys are a whole other story.

Tonight was the beginning of our town fair.  Each year in June there is a four-day extravaganza of excitement.  The Clover played 6 little songs at the Christian Music Show (on the main stage at the fourway stop...yes, there is only one).  After it was all over, the monkeys wanted to ride some rides.  I am not made of money, so I told them they could ride one each, and bought the tickets.  They have both always been timid about riding things, so I was thinking, "One go on the teacups, and off we go on our merry way."  But alas, my son (who quit Cubscouts after earning his Webelos badge, so now I have to come up with a new nickname for him here), said, "I'm going on the Hang Glider!!!!!"  This is a ride much like a Ferris wheel where you are on your belly and going very, very fast in a circle.  He was yelling "YEAH!!!!!!" the whole time.  Then the Clover surprised me and said, "I'm going on that tomorrow, and the Spinning Dragon tonight!"  All the while, I'm thinking, "Who are these kids?"  I know who they are...they are Dauntless!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Apparently, the Groundhog lied

when he did not see his shadow and predicted that spring was on the way.  Because last week we had two snow days, today is a snow day and tomorrow will be, too.  Here's why I don't have to get dressed until I feel like it/get to drink more than one cup of coffee/had to shovel a path to the chickens (See that snowy square shape?  That's were they live and they had better lay at least one egg because now my arm is going to fall off).
Do do do...lookin' out my back door.

And now my front door.

They're saying that we could possible get about five more inches tonight into tomorrow.  It's like Old Man Winter forgot to do his job this year, just remembered that he is the one responsible for "snow events" and is trying to catch up.  So here's to going to school past Memorial Day!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The best laid plans

Can be upended by Strep throat (I'm not a doctor, but this is my best guess).  You see, my DH and I were all set to go on an outing with some friends today.  We were going to the art gallery in the city (I know, right...the last time we were there was when we were dating and he tagged along on my class field trip...14 years ago...all because he loved me).  I love, love, love the art gallery (we got a lot of culture as kids).  After that we were heading to a Spanish tapas restaurant in a fancy area.  But, alas, it was not to be. 

Yesterday, after a long play outside the Clover settled in for a nap (she's 8, so this was unusual.  But I chalked it up to the fact that she sledded her heart out).  However, when she awoke, she felt hot as blazes.  She had been under covers on the couch, and I knew she should be warm, but my "Mommy Thermometer" alerted FEVER!  FEVER!  So, I took her temperature.  103.7!  103.7?!  I lickety split found the ibuprofen and gave her some whilst I ran a tepid bath to put her in.  Once we got her fever under control, I put her into bed with a cool rag on her head.

About 1AM, she woke up crying with a headache and I redosed her (this time with Tylenol), and she didn't wake up again until around 8 this morning.  I took her temp and it was 101.  I waited until 9 to call and make our cancellations (holding out hope for a small miracle/waiting for everyone I needed to call to wake up).  I was a little disappointed (I haven't spent much quality time with my DH since October).  But for her sake, I wish she wasn't under the weather.  Hanging out on the couch all day while your brother gets to go to the store and buy a soda, play outside/sled, and play video games in the basement with Dad is NO FUN!

So tonight, I took a look at her throat, and we have to go to the Urgent Care Clinic tomorrow (or she'll have to have a shot on Monday).  She is a real trooper, because if my tonsils were that big, I'd be crying (and not asking my mom to find funny cat videos on YouTube).

Friday, February 22, 2013

Two Days

That's exactly how long it takes for cabin fever to rear its ugly head in my home.  You see, school was cancelled again today.  And even though I planned hourly activities for the monkeys (including, but not limited to snow fort building, silent reading time and sugar cookie baking), they are still trying to kill each other.  A little while ago, I had to use my meanest mom voice to rein them back in.  This usually reduces the Clover to tears, but not today.  They settled down for all of 5 minutes only to resume their shenanigans with new fervor.  Right now, I have sent them downstairs so the screaming isn't quite so loud (plus that's where the XBox is). 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Happy Bad Weather Day!

That's right.  Our first snow day of the year!  Currently, it is still snowing (with some thundersnow, too!).  I'm not going to make any assumptions, but I'd be surprised if we go tomorrow (good call by me for not sending a homework packet this week). 

Anyway, the leadup to this storm has been about a week in the making.  I knew there was potential for an ice storm starting on Saturday.  I discussed this with my sister (who is also a teacher) on Sunday at Walmart.  By discussed, I mean I said, "Hey did you hear about the weather on Thursday?" At which point, we both started chanting, "Snow Day.  Snow Day!", drawing curious glances from those in the hardware section. 

So yesterday at school we were all a'dither with nervous/excited anticipation of the impending weather.  I checked no fewer than 10 times.  Thankfully, the powers that be called it last night (though the actual snow didn't start until around 6AM), and I could sleep easy without one ear open for my phone.

Now I am on my 3rd load of laundry and 2nd hour of cruising the Internet a the while hoping for another day (because's only a  Friday).

Monday, January 14, 2013

Love is in the Air

I know,'s only the middle of January.  I haven't even broken out the cute decorations that I got at the Teachers' Warehouse, yet (we have a "store" where I live that is stocked with free stuff for one's classroom...I will write about that soon).  So, we were doing a little Read to Self this morning (though our urgency for learning is waning).  I was walking around conferencing with my little friends.  I meandered over to the classroom library (currently undergoing a transformation a la the Clutter-Free Classroom project), and what did I spy?  Two of my little friends holding hands while they were reading.  Friend one is new to the class and friend two likes to be rightbyme (seriously...I need a little space, friend) all. the. time.  I don't actually mind because, if it didn't cross some sort of professional line, I'd take him home with me (and not just because he tells me, "I love you as a teacher," every day.).  Friend one immediately said, "He's not bothering me."  Friend two said, "We like each other."  I said, "That's great that you are friends, but we really need to keep our hands to ourselves...especially during reading time."  They looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders (as if to say, "Let's just humor her.") and scootched to opposite sides of the library.  It was the first display of affection in my class this year.  And given that Valentine's isn't too far away, I'm sure it won't be the last.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I feel like I had one all day long with my class.  I was pulling with all my strength toward learning, critical thinking and mastery...they were pulling toward silliness, chattyness and general wonkiness.  This is not like them at all.  They are a super class, and usually accomplish great things.  But, not today.  At all.

I started to panic at one point because all of my lessons were flopping and one never truly knows when she will be observed (even though I was a couple of days ago).  I would have definitely pulled down a 1 for student engagement (because I could not make my horses drink today), and a 1 for level of thinking (we stayed on the bottom of the hierarchy today).  If one of my teammates had waltzed into my room and offered up a movie today (tied to the curriculum, of course), I would have taken it.  But alas, that did not happen, so I plugged away (writing on behavior calendars and trying to remember I am a PBS room...maybe not so much today).  So...I'm not sure how much we got accomplished.  Now I will regroup and pray that whatever happened to my class changes overnight (that's right after I take the Cub to wrestling pictures, Scouts and the Clover to 4H).

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Proud Momma!

Wrestling tournament entry fee:  $15
Filling up the tank: $31.36
Admission for me (my DH had to stay behind due to work and he kept the Clover with him):  $3
Chinese Buffet after the tournament:  $17.80
Swagger demonstrated after the Cub placed first (he wore his medal into Walmart):  Priceless!

Today I spent the day in a hot gym because the Cubscout entered his second wrestling tournament of the season (we are kind of taking it easy this instead of every weekend we are just doing 2 a month).  I don't understand why he loves this sport so much.  It seems to me that a sport in which one spends minutes at a time struggling against an opponent in the hopes of pinning him (or her...don't get me started) to the floor would not be fun.  But for him, it is.  It makes my heart happy to see him happy, so there you go.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Because Life's not Fair

How easy is it say that to someone flippantly (in my case it is usually to one of the monkeys) and then turn around and complain about the injustices done to us?  Because really.  It isn't and it stinks when you are on the receiving end of unfairness.  For example, if life were fair, then I wouldn't have been evaluated today (on our second day back after break) by the Director of C/I for our district.  If life were fair, our Director would have elementary teaching experience (and not downgrade a teacher's DOK and engagement when we were clearly reestablishing routines).  If life were fair, a score of 7 would be attainable (seriously...).  So, after reading my evaluation (1 of 5 so far this year), I've made my peace (after a little weeping) with the fact that it is what it is (a black mark on an otherwise stellar record).  I get results (and really?  Isn't that what truly matters?).  So, there's my little rant for today.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back at it

Today was my first day back after a break that was too short (especially seeing as the first week of it was spent on the couch in a Nyquil/Dayquil induced fog).  My class was very low-key today.  We did the customary "What I did over Christmas Break" free-write followed by a sharing circle.  This year, though, I added in a really cute Resolution flipbook from Ms. Winston.  My students made cute little faces with party hats attached and voila...way cute bulletin board in the hall with minimal effort.

In other news, my monkeys survived their first day back at school.  Right now, they are laying on the couch looking like I feel (Nap?  Yes, please.).  So, now it's on to wrestling practice and some writing on the book I keep saying I am going to write (but never quite getting started).