Saturday, August 30, 2008

One Week Down!!!

Well, the first week is over. It was good, but so tiring and stressful! I am used to sleeping late and then all of the sudden I was waking up at 5:30 and working long, 10-11 hour days. Thursday was Meet the Teacher night, and I was at school for over 14 hours. If you count the commute time, I was gone for 16 hours that day. Ridiculous.

Meet the Teacher night went well, though. I had a good turnout - 13 of my kids' parents came, which is way more than last year. The demographics of my class are different than last year, too though. We did it as a grade level because there are two sets of twins in 1st grade. I did the majority of the presentation, but I didn't mind because one of the other two teachers is new :). Last year when I was new, I didn't do any of the presentation either, because it is hard to teach parents about a program that you are not familiar with yourself!

I think it will be a good year. I have a talkative class and a couple of very high maintenance kids, but they are also very bright. They are far more advanced academically than last year's group was at this point. I am amazed at how much we have gotten through and how much they have actually learned in the first week of school, especially with the behavioral obstacles! The week's behavior highlights include one boy standing on top of the cafeteria table and beating his chest like a gorilla, and the same boy collapsing at recess after hitting a friend because he new he would be in trouble, panting and screaming "I'm a failure! My life is over!" while I carried his stiff body back to the school. This stuff continues throughout every day. Add into the mix a child who constantly pretends to drop things under his desk so that he can climb around on the floor, a girl who is a hypocondriac and thinks she constantly needs to go to the nurse, another girl who bosses everyone around and pushes their buttons, and a class full of kids who insist that they are going to pee in their pants if I do not let them go to the bathroom every few minutes, and you'll have the picture. Just picture me walking down the hall with 20 children following like little ducklings behind me (stepping on each other's heels), while the other two grip my two hands and scream and cry in the front of the line. This is my life in 1st grade. In a couple of weeks two more children will be joining my class for short periods of time throughout the day: yes, that makes 24 kids in total. I'll be getting two boys who are being partially mainstreamed from the behavior classroom. It should be even more interesting then.

Due to the circumstances, I started a new and improved behavior plan to work along with my color change system on Wednesday, and so far so good. It involves pulling "Buzz cards" (my room has a bee theme) each time you need a redirection. After pulling all three of your buzz cards out of the pocket chart, you recieve a color change. You then get to put your cards back in and start over, this time trying to avoid the next color change. The funny thing about it is that I find myself telling the kids things like "Don't make me buzz you," "If you don't stop talking you're going to get buzzed," and "Don't get a buzz." Something about it just sounds weird, lol. The response has been positive so far, though, so I'm encouraged! I love my class, I really do, but there is a lot of work to do to get them to the point where I want them to be.

Kevin and I had plans to go to Bryan this weekend to meet my family at my granparents' house, but due to a number of circumstances we cancelled at the last minute and decided to stay home. I'm kind of sad because I was really looking forward to seeing my family, but at the same time it will be nice to restore my sleep reserves after this week and also get some stuff done around the house! We'll make a trip to San Antonio very soon.

Well I am going to go back to bed, I think. It's time for a nap! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Every girl is always right."

Today was a wonderful day! My kids were a little more controlled, and I realized something about them. They may be talkative, but they are just excited. Plus, they are very respectful. I may have to redirect them several times during each lesson, but they always respond well, and some even apologize for their behavior. They are great kids, for the most part. I have had a few "meltdowns" from a certain child - the kind where he cries hysterically and is unable to be consoled. The most recent one was because he didn't get to be the "toucher" in heads up seven up during indoor recess. Yesterday was because he didn't have the color "apricot" to color his skin on his paper. It should be an interesting year, but I love the little guy already :)

In math my kids have been having trouble understanding greater than, greatest, least, etc. It is hard for kids with limited english proficiency to use terms like that, so I try to give them little tricks to remember them by. I have always told them that "least" starts with an l, just liek "little," so those are little numbers. Today, though, I was so proud because I figured out a good one for greater than and greatest! Those words start with "gr," just like "grande!" After I taught my kids this, they all seemed to get it! I love to figure out new ways to teach and reach my kids every day - I love my job!

Now about the title of my blog....

Today we were reading a story about mutual respect. The main character was Annie the Ant, and she was being teased by her friends about having a different opinion than them about something. We talked about how that was not showing mutual respect, and several of my kids had comments to make. Then, this cute little boy raised his hand and stated: "Yeah. Plus she's a girl. And every girl is always right!"

Once I regained my composure, I looked at that little boy and I said "Whatever woman in your life taught you that is very wise."

What a funny day!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The First Day of School: Top Ten Great Things

Here are the top ten greatest things about my first day of school, followed by a couple of cute pictures :)

10. Working from 6:30am to 6:30pm…AND ACTUALLY ENJOYING IT!!!
9. Laughing because someone said: “the only thing that I’m excited about in first grade is
the recess,” and then seeing the disappointment when he found out that we still have to
play on the “little playground” in first grade.
8. Watching a group of six year olds pretend to be Olympic jumpers jumping over piles of mud
on the playground (then "accidentally" falling in it).
7. Eating my lunch with 22 sets of curious eyes staring me down, while answering questions
like “Are those Doritos?”, “What’s in your sandwich?”, and “Why do you chew like that?”
Can you say AWKWARD?
6. Talking a little boy down from a tantrum because he did not have the color “apricot” and
thus was unable to complete his assignment because he could not color himself.
5. Starting off a new year with a new math curriculum that is very promising and exciting,
and mixing it in with the songs I wrote last year that are so fun to sing!
4. Being told that the best part of being in first grade was “having Mrs. White as a teacher”
3. Getting a dozen pink roses from one very sweet little girl and her mom to start my first
day off right.
2. Being told several times throughout the day: “Mrs. White, I like first grade!”

~~~~~~~and the most exciting part about my first day of school was~~~~~~~~~

1. Greeting 22 smiling, exciting new faces at the door, while still getting hugs from the
kids I passed on to second grade.

My absolutely adorable class:

Me and Emily in her room next door, anxiously waiting the arrival of our kiddos this morning!

PS: This is totally unrelated, but you have to see the adorable puppy dress that I bought for Bella the other day! It was on clearance at walmart and was a STEAL!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I'm busy and I love it.

Tomorrow is Saturday and I'm going to work in my room and on some planning stuff. Kevin has to work in the morning anyway. Plus, I actually like being at school. Bella's going with me, and I think there are going to be a couple of other doggies there for her to play with!

All I have left to do is to call my students to tell them that I am their teacher and figure out a few things about our new math curriculum, which is very confusing to me right now.

As I write, Kevin is sitting next to me on the couch playing his silly video game. Earlier I made a sarcastic comment about how I was so lucky to marry a man who is obsessed with video games and is such a winner. He told me I wouldn't be able to find a guy his age that was not. He didn't think it was too funny when I asked him if that was a challenge ;) I'm kidding though, I really don't think he's obsessed; he just plays alot while I am busy doing other things.

Well I hate to write so little, but I have to run. I have another long day tomorrow and it's already late!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

All is right in my world :)

My classroom is finally finished! The last few days have been jam-packed with labeling, organizing, and decorating! Today, right when I first thought I was finished, the PTA parents delivered my students' pre-purchased school supplies. There were 15 sets of them! This is good and bad: good because 15 of my 22 students have already purchased their supplies, and that is a good indicator of the type of class/parents I will have! Also, I am able to go ahead and unpack and label things before the craziness of the first day of school. It was only bad because it made a lot more work for me today! Here is a picture of the supplies once I had unpacked the sets and separated them:

That's a lot of supplies! And there is still more to come, too.

Here are a couple of pictures of my finished room. It's pretty much the same as last year, but with a nice big colorful rug and a few more things.

A lot has changed in first grade since last year! My team-mate Tracey moved up to teach second grade and we hired a new teacher in her place. Her name is Emily and I am looking so forward to working with her this year! She is going to be an amazing teacher :)We are back to three teachers in 1st! I also took Tracey's spot as team chair-person, so there is sure to be extra work and maybe (hopefully not) extra stress involved with that. Please pray for the dynamics of my first grade team, as there may be some tension for a while because of this news.

Here is a picture of me and my new friend and colleague Emily. We're wearing matching shirts because today was academic convocation for RISD and we all had to wear them.

Academic convocation was so cool! It is basically just a huge pep rally for every single person who works in the district to attend - from teachers, to support staff, to transportation and nutrition services, etc. Everyone came together in celebration of a new school year, and it was very powerful and motivating! I love RISD so much :)

Tomorrow we will have training at our school all morning and then time to work in our rooms after lunch. I am going to take Bella with me, and since Emily's mom is going to be in her room working during our training, she is going to puppy-sit! Tomorrow afternoon is when I will make the phone calls to my students to tell them that they're in my class :)

I apologize for the fact that this post is so all over the place. There was pretty much no direction: just rambling. My mind is completely fried from this week, and I'm lucky to have even had time to post!

Yay for less than 4 days until the first day of school!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back to Work TOMORROW!!!

Tomorrow is the first day of teacher inservice and I am SO EXCITED to go back to work! I absolutely love the women that I work with, and almost 3 months is a long time to go without seeing most of them!

I am so blessed to have a job that I am so excited to return to. It is going to be a wonderful year!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Weekend Update

Hi everyone!

This weekend has been very productive so far. Last night Kevin and I went to The Dump and bought a beautiful rug for our TV room. It makes the room a lot warmer and cozier! Here is a picture:

The first thing Kevin and the dogs did after we put it down was cuddle up together (see below). The dogs are so happy to be able to hang out with us in the tv room now. They didn't like walking or laying on the wood floors.

Today I got up early and cleaned the house. I gave it a really thorough cleaning because I am going back to work next week and I wanted a nice, clean house to come home to. Here is a picture of me trying to get smudges off of our fridge. Note to self: do not buy stainless steel ever again.

And while I was working inside, Kevin was working outside! I snuck outside and took a picture of him working on the sprinklers. Then he asked me nervously why I was "giggling like a little girl." I guess I just like working in our very own house!!!!

Later we are going to do a few more small projects around here and then grill fajitas for dinner. Tomorrow we are busy pretty much all day with church stuff, so we're trying to get stuff done today.

On another note, I had planted some zinnias in the front flower beds earlier in the summer, and some bugs were eating them so I moved them into pots in the back yard recently. With the clouds and rain we have had the last few days they have really flourished! Look how big and beautiful they are!

I am very proud of my flowers, because I don't exactly have a "green thumb." I have always had more of brown shriveled up, dried out because I forgot to water it, type of thumb. Kevin's been helping me with that. My Mr. Agronomist.

I am so ready to go back to school! I have been working a lot to do as much at home as I can to prepare for the year, since we are getting into the school very late. Yesterday I spent hours on the floor making posters and organizing leveled readers for book boxes. It's never-ending to be a first grade teacher.

Have a great last half of your weekend! I'll update again soon :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

To say I'm stressed would be a understatement!

As you can see from above, school starts one week from Monday (the 25th of August). In any other circumstances, I would have already gotten my classroom in shape for the new year and would be sitting back waiting for staff development next week. The problem with that scenario is that my school is still under construction and the date that we can get in to work in our classrooms keeps getting pushed back. In fact, today it got pushed back again - to this coming Monday.

We had to take apart our classrooms at the end of the year to prepare for the construction. We had to box things up, take things down, move furniture to the side of the room in piles, etc. And for those of you who think that all you have to do to get a first grade classroom ready for a new year is "slap a spongebob poster or two onto the wall," you ar terribly mistaken. A lot goes into the preparation.

So we can report to school Monday morning. Well, we have training all day on Monday, so no time for rooms. Then we are off-site at more training all day on Tuesday. Wednesday we have time to work, as well as Friday. Thursday is also out. YIKES.

The other problem here is that, aside from re-assembling our classrooms, we have to find time to plan as a grade level team for the first week of school. Then we must turn in all of our materials to get copied, cut out patterns and construction paper for projects, make graphs on butcher paper to use in the classroom, etc.I could go on and on forever. I am not really seeing how two days is enough time for all of that to happen.

Oh, but here's the good news (insert sarcastic wink here): We GET to WORK in our CLASSROOMS all WEEKEND long! Isn't that wonderful? I am so looking forward to spending the last free weekend of my year at school.

...I apologize for my venting and my sarcasm. It really will work itself out, I'm sure. It is nobody's fault that the school is so behind schedule (not anyone I know personally, anyway). I guess this is just God's way of teaching me patience and trust. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Just trying something out...

Misery at Sam's

You might be wondering why this post is titled "Misery at Sam's." Sam's is a wonderful store where everything is comically oversized and husbands and wives enjoy shopping together, right? Wrong! Let me tell you about our experience last night.

Kevin and I had a nice dinner with our friend, Van. On the way home, he said "We should go to Sam's tonight. You want to?" So I said yes, not knowing what I was getting myself into. Upon entering the store, Kevin was immediately drawn to the TV section = bad news for me. After I pried him away from the 50" Vizio that was "calling his name," we headed for the food.

If you know Kevin, you know that he is a man who really likes to eat. Food is more than a basic need for him, it is pleasure. He will tell you this himself. Thus, he was much like a little kid in a candy store at Sam's. We fought about almost everything that went into our cart, and the trip took much longer than it should have.

Finally, we were on the home stretch. I could see the registers in the distance, and I knew we were on the way. It was then that I saw the video games en route to the check-out. I strategically tried to position myself between them and my husband, but was unsucessful. I actually ended up drawing his attention TO the video games instead of AWAY from them. After a heated argument about why $160 was or was not a reasonable price to pay for the "coolest game ever," I was labeled a "dream killer" by my husband and we headed (without the game) to the check out.

We piled our massive amounts of food onto the counter. Then the cashier asked for our Sam's card. Kevin dug through his wallet looking for it, and enventually admitted that it was probably at home. The guy said to go to customer service to get a temporary card to use for the day. Kevin walked over there and left me standing there, guarding our purchases, alone with the cashier (unless you count the numerous disgruntled customers waiting behind me). The cashier, an african american guy about 25 years old or so, proceeded to shamelessly hit on me the entire time Kevin was gone. "You are so beautiful." "What are you so dressed up for" (which by the way I was in a very casual dress that I like to run around in - not dressy at all). "What do you do?" "Oh, so what do you teach first graders anyway?" "What did your husband (points to Kevin) do to marry a pretty girl like you?" "How tall are you? I think tall girls are sexy." And on and on......

Right when it was getting very uncomfortable, Kevin finally comes back with his temporary card. Then the cashier points out that a bag of chips we got is sold in a set of two, and Kevin should go get our free one. I tried to go get it myself, but Kevin was already gone. The guy took one last jab at me during this opportunity. He came around the stand to put something in our cart, looked at my shoes, and told me I had nice feet. WHAT??? Luckily Kevin came back right then, before I had to respond to that one.

As we are FINALLY leaving, Kevin veers off course to go take one more look at the TV that is "calling his name" yet again. Two hours later, we finally made it out the door, loaded the truck, and headed home. What a night!

It will be a long time before I go back to Sam's..............

It will be

Sunday, August 3, 2008

It has been a wonderful weekend! On Friday night, Kevin and I had a bunch of our church friends over for a game night. It was one of those times where you invite everyone because you never think that everyone is actually going to be able to make it on a given night, but then just about everyone shows up. We ended up with 12 people for game night! It was a blast; we played this awesome cranium game called Pop 5 - best game ever. Then we played a couple more, too. Everyone didn't leave until close to 1am.

Saturday was the laziest day we have had since we moved into our house. We spent most of our time on the couch watching movies, and in my opinion it was a well deserved break. Then Kevin grilled sausage for dinner and it was fantastic. Then we played Texas Hold 'em (yes, just the two of us). Who was the winner would depend on which one of us you asked. ;)

We got up and went to church this morning and it was a nice service. We had some great songs and our good friend Noah preached, as our regular preacher is on vacation. After church we went and ate fajitas with some of our friends. At 2pm we went to the Brookhaven Nursing Center for our church's annual "birthday party." We took cake, beads for the people who have a birthday this month, and little stuffed animal dinosaurs for everyone (party favors). We served everyone cake and someone played guitar and sang for us while we all ate and socialized with the residents. It was amazing. I sometimes feel as though I don't "give back" as much as I should, considering all that God has blessed me with. Today was the first time we went to Brookhaven, but I promise you it will not be the last.

Kevin and I are about to leave for his basketball game with the church league in just a few minutes. I just go and sit with the other wives and cheer our guys on. It's always a fun time. We also play "pass the baby" with the one baby that is always there, haha.

I hope your weekend was as amazing as ours!!!

God Bless :)