Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Now When is This Due?

It's happen in every family across the country, I did this as a child, my little sister has done this and I've awkwardly enough witnessed numerous of my friends do this to their parents ( never a good moment). The supposed responsible student waits to the last minute to start working on a homework assignment that was assigned weeks before.

Holly Homemaker, she lives for last minute projects
 My most infamous last minute project would belong to 8th grade IPC, "Rat Trap Race Car" and man did I get what I deserved in the end. I waited until two nights before to work even start buying the materials for a project that had been assigned for a month. Yes granted the teacher didn't give out the rubric until a week before it was due, I could have at least bought the actual rat trap went it was assigned.

After suffering a major melt down, my parents finally intervened, but only after a speech on responsibility and two weeks worth of grounding, not to mention the guilt I felt for being such an inconvenience when my parents intervention turned out to be having one of their colleagues ( oh yeah, by the way, my parents are educators too) aid me in completing my car.
I wish, don't even know where to start on this car.
Remember when I said I got mine in the end, welp I did. Yep, just as it was my turn for my car to impress everyone in class and more importantly my teacher, the wheels fell off the car. Since, I wasn't the mastermind behind the whole design I was no good as pit crew and just had to learn a lesson the hard way.

This was my grade, but the circle completely joined because my teacher was OCD.
So parents, how do you stay on top of your students assignments? Have any of you ever had procrastination go so wrong? What advice do you have for teachers and parents to work together in these situations?

Pavlov's Theory

Mine is the "Ding" of my e-mail , what exactly is yours?

One of Pavlov's dogs, preserved at The Pavlov Museum, Ryazan, Russia  . . . yes, a bit creepy.
 Seriously I receive so many e-mails throughout the day, that if I leave the volume on during class my kids can't concentrate due to the constant interruptions of urgent e-mails being sent to their adoring teacher.
At first I would save every e-mail until my planning period, but then I would spend that time only answering e-mails and slowly fall behind in my lesson planning and grading for the week. Then I would just wait until the end of the day, but that did not go over so well when e-mails really were urgent. Last, I tried answering in the morning before school, let's just say there are better was to start out your day.

Finally after the fourth ding in the first 10 minutes of the class period one of my genius students asked if people were aware that I was teaching a class- "DING,DUH and OHMYGOODNESS"! From that day on I've turned off my volume and only answer e-mails when I have time because my job is to teach first and foremost anything else comes second. Simple as that . . . for now at least.

I am so jealous of this woman, which is not very zen of me.
 Study buddies, what is your work double edge sword? Have you ever received an on the job light bulb moment from an unlikely source?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'll Pencil You In

It's Friday again, oh how I've needed this Friday. For some reason this has been the longest week of my six month teaching career and that includes the week before Thanksgiving.

How Ironic, since this is what I watched to pep me back up.
My first intent was to sit on the couch all weekend, like I did on all my weeknights, and watch movies, but my friends had other ideas. Thank goodness. I'm looking forward to a great dinner out with friends new and old, an art show that I've heard great buzz about, drinks at a new bar in town and finally brunch on Sunday with a wonderful neighbor.

Yes, thank goodness for friends because with friends come plenty of laughter and great memories. 

What are your plans for the weekend? What do you usually do to get over the weekday blues?

The Sweater and Long Skirt Wonder

Every day you wake up as a teacher you may not feel like looking as if you walked out of a magazine or right off the catwalk. Most days you wake up you probably actually question when will pajamas actually become acceptable on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Look she even added some silk sleeve, nice.
Until that happens though have no worries because there is a solution. You still get the comfort, the loose clothing feeling and compliments will flood in from all directions. What is this miracle outfit you ask, but of course the comfy sweater and maxi-skirt combination.

This one is a little more fancy , but still just as comfortable as the rest.

Please note that this lady has on boots, she did not even consider heels.

Great transition from winter to spring or even during early fall, love her sandals.
It's your choice lady, and the way in which you wear this combo goes far beyond the three hear, just remember no P.J.'s- ever!

My fashion forward study buddies what is your go to outfit on a blah day? Which one would you wear? Do you think these would be great to wear from work to play?

Wacky Wednesday

Let's hear what the kids have to say:

Girl Athlete: "Aaaahhh, I lost my tooth, I lost my tooth!"
Me: " Okay, is that suppose to to happen?"
Girl Athlete: " Yes, Coach, it's my last baby tooth! I can get braces no!"

This is the exact face my student made.
This incident occurred during basketball practice, the girls were lining up for a drill and boom my guard started screaming her head off. Since I have only ever worked in high schools I've never encountered a student loosing their tooth and pure joy being the reaction, but honestly this was one of the happiest moments I've ever witnessed.

 The student still hasn't received braces, which is okay because she already has an amazing smile.

Do you guys have any stories about loosing a tooth? Did you believe in the tooth fairy? What about braces, how many of you had them growing up?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'll Love You Forever, I'll Love You Always

They grow up so fast!

I was just informed by one of my students moms that he has grown over 5 inches since the beginning of school, I didn't even notice. I have noticed other student growth spurts though and some definite personality changes . . . all for the better of course.

This is what it's like walking the halls for some.
 At the beginning of the year I remind myself that I only have these kids with me for just one school year so enjoy my time and love them while I have them, but man would I love to meet up with coffee with each one of my students ten years after they leave my classroom. Just catch up and see how much they've grown as people. Just to see were those personalities go and who they become.

My parents never did anything to keep track of our personality changes during the year, but I know plenty of parents who do and I think it would be really neat to look back years from now and see who your child was then compared to who your child is now.

Love this book.
I love how in this book the mom and son's relationship is tracked through the years followed by the sweetest little diddy ever. How many of you, study buddies, have read this book? Any suggestions on how to track your childs changes over the years? Have any of you ever seen your baby book, can you believe how tiny your feet use to be?

Things You Don't Learn About Teaching Until You're Teaching

I Had No Clue
Believe it or not the college education system does not prepare you in so many ways for being a teacher, so very many ways. This post is about a few awkward situations I've experienced due to my utter lack of previous knowledge on the situation.
I want my money back.
1.) The standing.
      Teachers never sit, ever. We don't sit during assemblies, we don't sit during extra curricular activities, we definitely don't sit when we're teaching and we don't sit during morning/afternoon duty. Even when I'm coaching I feel guilty if I sit down.
Do your feet hurt? Mine do.
2.) The many, many, many meetings.
      Swear to you not teachers have to meet for everything with everyone. And there are so many different types of meetings (parent, teacher, student, coaching, principal, department, team,discipline . . .) and people are always willing to reschedule just in case you can't make it.

The birth place of multi-tasking.
3.) The Paperwork.
     Before you decide on anything or finalize anything there is paperwork to be done. Honestly I have four different copies and versions of just my weekly lesson plan and each format exist for a specific reason. Have to write up an incident infraction better prepare the documentation, wait you don't have documentation just let the kid slide this time.
This is my desk, you don't even want to see my filing cabinet.

4.) The Copy Machine.
      There are rules to the copy machine, even more rules if you actually have a copy clerk. Make sure you refill the paper tray before you leave, don't e-mail in a copy job - we know convenient for you, but heaven help if you interrupt another teacher's job, don't leave your copied papers in the tray and if you break the copy machine just take off the rest of the day. You'd think these rules are common sense, but then you'd be wrong.
No one every considers the copy machines feelings.
5.) Each Different Grade has its own Personality.
     True story. Every graduating class has a different personality than the rest, some classes are known for being super competitive, other irresponsible and some uber smart. Even if you don't teach every grade you have to know the difference because you will interact with every grade in your school at one point. Don't believe me, my first interaction with 7th graders was interesting . . . as interesting as the smell that goes along with 7th grade boys.
I just love this, students and teacher.
Any other observations I missed my fellow study buddies?What about those of you who don't teach what did you learn about your job that no school could have taught you? Any solutions to help with the copy machine or paper work chaos?

It's The Weekend, Need to Have Some Fun!

It's Payday, Payday, Payday and in case you were not aware today is Payday!
I wish.
  Every teachers calendar has a certain day circled, maybe at the end of the month or at the beginning, and even if that day wasn't circled on the calendar every teacher still remembers the exact day and time (yes exact time) that they get paid.
Wait, you didn't know teachers get paid only once a month? That's just during the regular months, don't even ask about the squirrelled holiday season paychecks that have driven many teachers to invest in floor heaters and heating pads.
swear, this is how I feel every payday.
  I know teachers who on payday weekends go shopping and don't even look twice at the bill, I know teachers who save all month to buy that special something on payday, I also know that most teachers walk a little lighter on payday, smile a little brighter and fewer students are written up on paydays. In the world of teaching pay day is an unofficial holiday celebrated by every teacher in it's own special way.

Study Buddies, do you have any advice for budgeting? What about your spending bad habbits? What would be your dream shopping spree?

What to Wear and What Definitely NOT to Wear

Mom Jeans. Cosby Sweaters. High water Pants. Nurse Shoes. Acid Wash Jeans. A vest full of hand prints.

These mama's are very proud of their jeans.
    I own none of these items. Okay maybe one Cosby Sweater, but that was for a themed party because I do have a social life. One of the first speeches they give you during student teaching is how important it is not to look like you stepped of the dance floor into your classroom, their is actually a whole training sections over the subject.

No Cameron, this is not how to dress for a school car wash.
   So in return everyone does the extreme and dresses like a soccer mom from the 80's and not to knock the 80's fashion era, but seriously that's just not fair to all the students who have to stare at you for at least 45 minutes a day. You have to find a good in between, an outfit that you feel comfortable in, that with a couple of tweaks you could wear to dinner later (without an apology or disclaimer to your future dinner guest) and that will not make you the talk of the teachers lounge until the end of the school year.
The modern librarian
  Start with your basics, remember that if there was ever a profession were no outfit is wasted on not being seen teaching is one, and not matter what dress from the closet that represents you . . . not your mentor teacher, not your mom, not fellow teachers and not the movie Working Girl.

  Also, remember there's nothing like a," I love your outfit today, you look great" confidence boost and at the end of a particularly harsh day in the classroom ( think spit wads and write-ups) this could be a nice pick me up.

My fellow study buddies, was transitioning from college to real world hard or easy for you? What advice to do have for transitioning your closet? Have you every encountered a teacher dressed wrong?

Wacky Wedneday: What the Kids Say

  Some of my greatest laughs and most uncensored moments come from the little things my students say. The moments when they get overjoyed about something happening or they make me remember how filtering is something acquired with age.

Everyone should laugh like this, and often.
I figured I'd start off with one of my absolute favorites:
6th grade Male Student to my buddy coach: "Oh man, are those suckers!"
Coach: "Ooh,ugh, sorry but those are products, not suckers- only girls get these."

Its the colors, the colors that cause all the confusion.
  As Girls Athletic Coaches and also the office of Girls Health, we have a plentiful, possibly stocked better than your local convenient store, selection of tampons, pads and pantyliners. Drawers full. And it has often lead to some funny situations . . . which I'll tell you more about later on.

Study Buddies, have you ever encoutered laugh out loud situations involving tampons? What are some of the funniest things you've heard a kid say?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's That Time of Year, Again.

The second semester, is the season of many things: testing, graduation, spring fever, and spring break. Sadly, it is also the season for Parent-Teacher Conferences.

Straight to the point.
There is no way to spin the Parent-Teacher Conference, no way to make it sound like a fun get together. If a teacher wants to spread good news and cheer they call home or send a postcard. Rarely, it's a, " your child performed above levels, we want them to skip grades and you're getting tons of scholarship money". I'd tell you to hold out for that one, but I'd rather you be prepared dear parents.

If your child is not in Kindergarten and has never attended daycare, chances are you've never heard of any issues, but any older and I'm sure there has been a few hints.

The minute the teacher schedules the conference, start asking questions: Why are we meeting? Does my child know we're meeting? Will my child be present at the meeting? Will an Administrator be present or the whole Teaching Team? Those last two are probably the most important, they tell the level of seriousness and also give you the opportunity to ask every question you've ever wanted to every single one of your child's teachers AND the person who decides their fate if it's a discipline issue.

Sadly, this is how a many of Parent-Teacher conferences have gone.
After you've settled on a date, start jotting down more questions to ask during the conference, somewhat along the lines of the following: Is this conference the first step or Last resort? What steps have the teachers taken before contacting you? What solutions are the teachers considering in the future? What role do you play in future solutions? Then decide on things that you know have worked in the past for behavior issues, things that work for you at home in communicating with your child. How does your child perceive the situation when explaining the issue to you.

This is much better.
Last, expect your child's teacher to have an agenda also, filled with documentation, Student-Teacher conference records, grades and specific scenarios showcasing the reason why you are meeting. The teacher should also have solutions to offer and possibly even contracts for the student. If the teacher is unprepared, then hold them accountable, ask that they provide the above information and until you do have a final working solution for what ever the problem, grades, behavior, bullying, a serious class crush that is hindering the learning environment don't give up. Do not give up.
Remember, every one has the best interest of your child in mind, everyone is a mature adult and again the end result should benefit your child. Also, if you see an issue occurring that has yet to be addressed by the school then schedule a parent meeting yourself.

Parent-Teacher Conferences can be awkward, disturbing and unproductive, but they don't have to be at all. Study buddies do you have any extra advice for conferences? Any questions to ask? Any examples of good conferences you've attended?

These Days, How the Fly on By

  My intent was to start this blog around the first day of school. Then I said around my birthday. Then I said during Christmas Break. It is now three weeks after Christmas Break, two weeks since school started back, and five days after semester finals.
It was all a blur, all a nightmare dream, honestly I remember very little to write down.

This is the pretty version of my life flying by.
 I've spoken about this "fly by" first semester with others, others with many, many years of experience compared to my one, and apparently this was to be expected. Honestly, many are surprised that I've actually started functioning now, with summer so far off. But how could I not, I love telling a good story and heaven knows I have plenty- just you wait and read.

Unfortunately for now, the one thing I honestly remember, can quote word for word, that occurred from last semester is advice I received from my principal ( that would be the lady who plucked me out of a graduation gown and placed me in front of a classroom).

The Queen, of great advice.

She was sitting beside me at a basketball game, I coach a few sports and have to keep the clock when not coaching (they get the stipends worth), and out of nowhere she says really quietly, " At least one will break your heart every year, don't take it personal."

I blanked, froze and then the image of my heartbreak popped in my head. I told her the students name and she nodded not surprised at all. We sat in silence until she again reminded me not to take it personal and then left me to my own thoughts and horrible clock keeping skills.

That advice helped me plenty last semester, it will help me I'm sure many times during my teaching career.  Still haven't given up on the kid, have no intentions of, but I can sleep a little better at night knowing it's not personal.

It makes me think though, who told her that, does she take her own advice, is she this wise old sage that runs around distilling advice to wide-eyed teachers who have no clue.

My fellow study buddies, what advice have you been given that's gotten you through the day? Do you have someone you always go to for advice? What one piece of advice would you give to someone who will be in your shoes ten years from now?