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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Letters!

It's Sunday. And who has saved up some sarcasm to share with you all? This girl! Ha! It's not all sarcasm, sometimes I post sincere observations, and Sunday Letters are perfect for that too! So read on for some randomness. Head over to BTL (Big Time Literacy) and read and link up! Thanks Michelle!

Dear Carrie,
I see the mess that was a living room just a week or two ago! Oh my! If you pick up, you'll love it. I promise!

Dear Kindergarten babies:
I can't wait to see what all we learn this year! This teach forgot how much there is to learn in Kindergarten and how exhausting it is. I'm getting up to speed very quickly!
your tired teacher

Dear Kindergarten:
I also forget how delightful it is to see your faces everyday! I can't wait to greet you tomorrow and keep learning all there is to know! I am so excited to see you getting along and learning and laughing together.
Ms. Horn

Dear Teachers in the community,
Don't lose heart! The first week is hard for all of us. I see how much these kids need teachers that care, and you are part of that.
~Your colleague in room 103

Dear Old school teachers:
Please don't "school" me in what it is really like to be a teacher. I never want to become the cynical, pessimistic teacher that you epitomize. I like being naive when it comes to categories of judging and ways to look down my nose at other teachers, students, and parents. You are free to sit on your "high horse" and judge them, but don't expect me to climb up there with you. I am one of "those" people and my biggest hope is that we can bridge the gap between the infamous "us" and "them."
A teacher who knows what it is to be "that" parent

Dear "Johnnie" and "Susie":
I see you wiggling and squiggling and not holding still! I will do my best to let you be a kid while learning an exorbitant amount of information in 9 short months! We will learn to walk quietly in a line with relatively few wiggles, and how to hold still for short periods of time. But I know you need to MOVE! Movement stimulates your brain, so here's to a year of growth!
Ms. Horn

Friday, August 14, 2015

Five "random" things....

Tis the season to start linking back up with Doodlebugs for Five for Friday. I am essentially too exhausted to give this post the time and attention it deserves, but I will attempt to pound out a few important points (five of them to be exact) before I fall into bed for a few hours of bliss, er, I mean sleep.

 1. Finding a tribe. It's not a tribe I was born into, it is my teaching tribe. A smallish group of women that I am able to talk to about teaching, ideas, successes. It's a place to glean knowledge and find friendship and camaraderie. I love that I found this band of women and we can lift each other up. Do you have a tribe? A band of people who are tied to you, that you trust, that lift you up and fill you with enthusiasm and renew your passion? Go. Find a tribe and reap the rewards!

 2. My room is not ready, so no "big reveal." *sigh* and "aw....." But it will be ready for students by Monday night for open house/meet the teacher night.  Here is a "before" picture. Improvement actually has been made since this pic was taken.

 New Year, new partner. I am really excited about this year and teaching Kindergarten again. I am excited to teach with a conscientious, energetic partner who wants the best for the kiddos as well. My thoughtful new partner got me an adorable little organizer apple and a sweet note to go with it! I feel blessed.
Is this not the cutest thing you've ever seen?! I put paper clips in one and google eyes in another one.

Here is the note that came with.
I love feeling welcome!! Hooray!! So excited to have a teaching partner!

 4. More random love!! I was crying (not literally) on social media about how expensive it is to get a classroom ready to go! Last night when I got home I found the following gift in the mail! Wow! What a great thing! This is from a friend that I worked with a couple years ago, a seasoned veteran of the teaching profession, and one of the most positive people I know. I love this!

I've been desperately trying to implement CHAMPS while trying to sort through and organize that mess of a room too. We received CHAMPS training and were asked to implement it this year. We are expected to display 4 posters (well, I am using pocket charts) of CHAMPS expectations during activities or transitions. I wrote them out in a staff meeting, now just to get them translated to those charts! I got stickers from TARGET to help with these posters so I can post what letter of the acronym I am meeting (I love school supplies, I love having to buy stickers). Putting the CHAMPS procedures into place will simplify things for me and I won't have to wonder if I am giving a clear expectation. We also had the privilege to hear Dr. Randy Sprick this week. He is the founder of the CHAMPS program. If you are not familiar with CHAMPS, look it up! It is overwhelming at first, but I am optimistic about what this will bring.
This is a CHAMPS procedure/expectation chart created by in our district by a former teacher who is working to implement the program district wide. Mine will look similar to this one when they are completed.
A bonus round thought. There's a twitter movement to find the good in our profession and display it for all to see. Telling the good things that happen in our rooms and sharing those fantastic teaching moments. So go to #happyclassrooms and read something good! If something good is happening in your teaching world, share it! Hashtag it! :-) Last night I shared my good things and I put the hashtag: teachersencouragingteachers. It was retweeted. That attention and cyber-love is really neat. Makes me want to share more stuff!

And I leave you all with this. I was ecstatic to find out that we are going to have the option to wear jeans for a 3rd day every week (hey, I teach K!). But it actually means I need more jeans/t-shirts. So here's what arrived in the mail today:

The back! Super cute!
The front!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Letters

I don't know if Michelle is hosting Sunday letters today or not, but it was time to post some! I have some things to say.
Dear Dillards Clerk,
Is there a secret reward for Dillards ladies who are snotty and rude? I encounter it so often when I enter your store. I will find a new place to buy my makeup, thank you very much.
I am already aware when I walk into your store that I am not "Dillards material" but I spend a heckuva lot on makeup in Dillards and I would appreciate not being talked down to. It is my hard earned money that I am parting with. (I had a lot of other snarky comments immediately after I left the store, but thankfully for everyone, I have slept since then).
Moving on,
~a former customer

Dear Summer,
You are so deceptive, promising rest and pool time. I am just as exhausted now as I was when you started! I cannot fathom having a relaxing poolside summer with new jobs, summer jobs, school prep, home maintenance, much needed mommy/kid-time, and book studies, OH MY!
*sigh* I fought really hard to keep up those book studies until about 2/3 through July. Now I have several books I have not completed. And school is fast approaching and every single day I feel as though I have not completed the "to do " list for the day.
Feeling oversold,
a midwest teaching mom

Dear Carrie,
I love it when the living room is clean and organized. If you could just stay on top of that, everyone would really appreciate it.
your alternate ego (also known as your judgmental inner self)

Dear Middle Class Educational Society (in my middle class town, Midwest, USA),
It drives me crazy that you look down your noses at the families you serve. Posting a lot of things of facebook about loving your students doesn't equal good relationship building. I am glad some of you are getting your eyes opened to what the struggle looks like, but its not enough. It's not enough to take an experience and analyze it without allowing the information to become knowledge. It's not enough to talk about how you now understand your poor families in one breath and in the next breath judge them for being late, or missing an appointment, or not having the meds you requested. Every parent, no matter what you believe about their quality of parenting, wants good things for their children. Its our job to bridge the gap and be on the same team, fighting for families.
one who has been on the receiving end of your judgment
p.s. Judging me or anyone else, does not motivate, it promotes the us vs. them mentality that educators everywhere say they are fighting to overcome.

Dear Rebecca,
I am so sorry I was late yesterday to your presentation. I know that you worked so hard to put it together. I just wanted to tell you that you are so right about the impact of relationships on our actions. If I didn't care about letting you down, I would not have shown up at all, I was really fighting with the desire not to come!
One who knows that relationships really are the key to success

Dear Educators everywhere,
I know the above rants do not apply to many/most of you. Most of the educators I have met IRL and in my cyber-world love their students and families with a passion that is visible and palpable and will not let societal norms overwhelm or overcome them. I know you are exceptional. I want to be like you. I want to make a difference for these children and I want to give them every advantage possible. I want them to know that someone believes in them. I hate it that I was the victim of some really horrible educators and societal expectations at several points in my life. I hate it that it still colors my world in regard to educators. I want to continue a path of learning to marry the empathy I have as a parent with children in public education with compassion and passion as a teacher reaching out to parents and families. I want to breed cohesiveness with colleagues as well. I want to be part of the team. I do not want to be on any side of the us vs. them. I have all to often been on the parent side of that, and I don't want to be on the other side as a teacher either. I want to be a fill-in-the-gap kind of girl. That's my hope and prayer today.
Thanks educators for giving of your heart and soul and making the gap smaller. Thanks for being "that' teacher, the one that goes the extra mile. I want to be like you.
an educator and a parent

Those are my letters. I have been feeling very "indignant" lately and I know it shows in my letters. But I also have SO MUCH to be grateful for. I love being a teacher and I am really excited about the community I am teaching in. Thanks for stopping by! Happy Sunday! 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bloggers gotta blog, blog, blog, blog....

Mrs. Bartel, at Mrs. Bartel's School Family is right.... Bloggers gotta blog! I am SO tired. New teacher training is really taking it out of me. Don't get me wrong, I am pretty excited. I feel really good about the district I am joining. I love that they give us so many tools to get started with. However, I did laugh a bit at the ecard on facebook today. It looked like this:
I have a half day training tomorrow and then I'll spend a little time in my room in the afternoon. However.... we are going fishing tomorrow night as a family. I am looking forward to it. I recently had the (joy?) of making an amends to my family for some behavior that took wayyyyy tooo long for me to see my part in and apologize for. But the *consequence* (there's a good "teacher" word) is that I feel better about being around my family and the tension that was thick enough to cut with a knife is no longer there. Whew. Sweet relief. See? Remember when we were taught that "consequences can be positive or negative?" I know I'm not the only skeptic in that thought.... "you just have to say that, reality is that consequences are punishment!" Seriously, on some level, I "get" it. I know the consequence thing. Or more down to my level of thinking/speaking.... I know that whatever I focus on increases in my life today! Maybe not quite the same thing. But our lives are the results of our actions, good or bad~ positive or negative consequences will follow whichever action we make.

Look, at that, I did it again. Went off on a bunny trail. Oops. Back to teaching, new district, training and more! I just wanted to reiterate that I am excited to feel like I am being equipped. Tomorrow is DRA training and I have experience (limited though it is) in AimsWeb screening and using QPS for a quick screener, but I have no idea how to use DRA. So I am glad we are getting trained.

Today was day 4 of a New Teacher Institute (NTI). Today probably should have been about half as long as it was. This afternoon we had FUNdations training and I have been looking forward to it. I know a little about FUNdations but I knew I wanted to know more! I want to be equipped! I was so tired today, I nearly fell asleep, miltiple times, during this training! My brain hit overload yesterday afternoon during CHAMPS training.  *sigh*

If you are familiar with CHAMPS you'll understand that some of my WBT rules that I've used until now are not going to work this year. According to CHAMPS teaching, they are procedures as well as the fact that at least one of them is contradictory. So.... *sigh* (yet again).... I am taking: "Raise your hand to speak" out of my rules, and I am also taking out "Respect others, respect yourself, respect your school." The idea of respect is more of a guiding principle and something to be taught, modeled, practiced, re-taught, modeled, and so on, for the entire year. It's an ongoing process, or learning event. It's not cut and dried. I agree with the logic. But these rules have worked pretty well for me so far.... not perfectly, but they've worked fairly well. Now I am trying to figure out how to change my rules and how to word them. I would like to have a rule about talking but not sure how to word it. I think the last draft I came up with said: "Take turns speaking." I loved the "raise your hand to speak" rule. But it doesn't ring true during the times when I give permission to "shout out" answers by making gestures with my hands that anyone can answer. And it doesn't apply to small group interactions when children need to be free to work in their group and share their thoughts and ideas. But even when we don't have to raise a hand and wait for permission to speak, we need to learn to be courteous and to give everyone a turn to speak. Small group expectations will be that all students get to share and that only one person speaks at a time. Do you see now why I am SO tired?! All this is rattling around inside my head!

I have a lot of other things on my mind. Things I'd love to share with teacher friends, hints and tips, and things I want to share with my "tribe." I don't know how to use Twitter/Periscope all that well yet, and so I wasn't able to figure out how to "save" the Periscope that my friend Alyce made, but she talked about our teaching tribe. It was awesome. I know I have food for thought to blog another day.

What have you learned about this summer that you can't wait to experience in your classroom with your kiddos? It can be a new training, or a procedure or rule, or maybe a cool hint that should totally make your life easier! What is it? I really want to know!

Goodnight teaching friends. Tomorrow will be here soon!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hit the ground running....

August has begun and we are hitting the ground running. Today: Enrollment. and shots. But this girl has done it again. Put those shot records in a safe place. So this morning instead of quietly drinking coffee and browsing blogs and twitter, I am tearing this house apart looking for our shot records. *sigh* But right now I am taking a minute to commune with you and quiet the persistent voice in my head telling me I have to write and commune with the keyboard. This morning I need to find shot records and load the van. Then I'll be ready for whatever else life throws my way. Here's the iternary: Today: enrollment; Wednesday and Thursday: new teacher institute; Friday morning DRA training (good thing since I've only used AimWeb before). Wednesday night I am meeting with an awesome group of Central Kansas Teachers and we are going to encourage each other. It just happens, there's no real agenda and we don't know what exactly we are going to talk about, but.... I am thinking of a gift for my newfound friends.... something about rule 62. Friday night is time with the Fam. Going fishing at the pond. Hooray! I really wanted to hog my Dad to myself, but it's not in his nature, he is party animal (as much as anyone is at 74? 76? I can't remember exactly) and he has to have as many people around him as he possibly can at all times, and it will be fun. I just wanted a little me and my kids and him and Mom. Maybe next time. I am lucky to have time at all. NOT complaining. This feels like a busy week for not even officially starting back to school yet. And Saturday I have TWO events and I haven't made awesome stuff for baby Zeke's shower yet, so there's that. And the curtains that I was going to sew that I haven't yet. What made me think I had time to blog? Do you feel this way? Overwhelmed? Overly busy? I am feeling a lot of pressure. And the official BTS buzz hasn't even started yet. This is all just new teacher stuff and personal and internal. I gotta run people! And if you read this, say a prayer about those shot records, I can't even imagine where they are. I was sure I knew and they weren't there.

p.s. Life is good today. One, I like to be busy. I know that is probably some sort of cardinal sin and I probably shouldn't admit it, but it is the truth. And two, I am living the dream: great kids, great career, great pets and a higher power to keep me going. God is good.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August Currently...

I like to link up with Farley for Currently because I get to read about what other teachers are doing in the moment and sometimes its about school and sometimes its not. (what? life outside the classroom?) And it inspires me. I love, love, {puffy heart} love the last entry this month! Oh' Boy Fourth Grade is just a click away! Read about what is going on Currently!
Here is what is going on....
The sound of the box fan is all I hear. It is golden. Children still sleeping. Dogs are quiet. A little bit of morning bliss.

Loving.... this will be my 4th year as a teacher, and it is my dream. This time of year is exhausting, but it is the kind of exhausting that wakes me up rearing to go again the next morning. I love teaching. I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings! I love prepping my room, sewing curtains, talking with colleagues, learning procedures, the smell of school, and... of course... school supplies (spiral notebooks, ask my kids about me and notebooks sometime).

Thinking.... about how I have naked bulletin boards, and a messy, messy room and about how my uber organized teaching partner has all her math centers printed already. So. much. to. do!

Wanting.... unfortunately once my wanter gets turned on high, it is so hard to slow it down. I want... that cool coffee table I talked about earlier in summer, I want a fence for my doggies, I want new back-to-school clothes, I want pizza, I want more supplies, more posters, more cute stuff, empowering teacher tees. The list goes on.

Needing.... my feet hurt so bad by the end of the day and even my oh-so-comfy Bobs give me cramps in my feet by about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. My folks gave me a gift card to the local shoe store for my birthday and I plan to go find some shoes that give me stamina! They might be tennies. I just found out that I will have up to 3 jeans days in a week! And it's Kindergarten, I need the shoes that will prepare my feet for the long haul!

B2S RAK..... I love Random acts of Kindness and we did a fair amount of them at school last year following the watching of Kid President's Awesome 2015 video. We wanted to make 2015 awesome for others in our school. Back to the present~ I will focus on RAK's for the unseen... the custodians and secretaries, the "dreaded" administrators* who were willing to give me a job, and the other newbie teachers to our building. My teaching partner is a ball of energy and I will want to include her in some ways too, but posting it here won't make it very random! I am already over-extended on cash spending so I'll need to keep it on the cheap. But I have in my possession a plethora of spiral notebooks, crayons, colored pencils and other cheap back to school supplies that I can use to make a small gift and I recently purchased some blank cards and cool scrapbook stickers to make some fun and unique cards which will give me a release to make them while hopefully lifting someone's spirit or giving a chuckle to the receiver! Chocolate. Who doesn't love it? I want to send a little kiss to all my Kinders when we complete our Kissing Hand activities, so I'll just snag a little bit extra to give to those around me. :)

That's about it! I think summer is (un)officially over. (boo). I have enrollment on Monday and training two more days this week, and then the following week we are "officially" back to school. Somewhere in the "down" time I need to plan meals, be active with my children, finish my room, take care of my body and finish cleaning/organizing my home! Can you say.... "Ack?!"

*I say "dreaded" jokingly. I have had nothing but positive interaction with administration in my new district and I am looking forward to teaching to their expectations and having kiddos that soar to new heights! I am grateful to have a job in the educational downturn and I want to pass along a little kindness. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Reflecting on the month of writing....

Michelle at Big Time Literacy had a blogging challenge this month. I was going to blog each and every day. I was sure of it. And most days I did. In looking back, I missed that first Thursday, the beginning of the Daring Greatly book study. And I missed yesterday. Yesterday I was overcome with fatigue. It comes around monthly and drains me of life. I hate it. I'm on the back of this 3-5 year process called menopause though, so maybe I'll get my personality and some of my energy back soon before too much longer! As I scrolled through my blog posts this morning, I did post 30 out of 31 times in July. That first Daring Greatly post came on a different day, a day when I blogged twice. So anyway.... I very nearly made my goal. And I guess I am a better person for it? I want to say it instilled a form of discipline in me that will not soon be forgotten, but now it's August and I am so busy, I don't know how disciplined I will be. I fought depression in July and I blogged about it. I don't know if that is good or bad. Sometimes people don't actually want to know about that kind of personal stuff. A writer friend of mine just told me that you should only blog twice a week. People only want to hear from you twice a week or they will stop reading. That is what she said. Do think that is true? My goal is blog on here twice a week. But we are also making a facebook page (or some other form of staying in touch with parents, maybe Bloomz, or possibly Snapfish?) and I have another blog that I really want to roll out this year and stick with, so there's another twice a week goal.

Blogging daily was good for me. What I noticed.... sometimes I was rushed and didn't get to read/respond to other people's posts, and that takes away some of the fun for me. Sometimes I take things personal and think it is a popularity contest and if people "like" me they will comment on my blog! I don't like it when I get in that mindset! It is a killer. Sometimes I am just trudging the road and blogging because I "have to" and it isn't that much fun on those days, but such is life. Seriously, I know I didn't "have to" at any point, but isn't this what we teach our kids, sometimes we just do things because we are supposed to, or because it is the right thing to do, we are not necessarily enthusiastic about everything every day! But sometimes, that passion is ignited and I am on fire after reading other people's blog posts! I learn so much by reading what other great teachers are doing and by watching them follow their passions.

I really want to know.... What are you passionate about? Is it teaching? Is it personal? or like me, is teaching personal to you? And how many times a week or month do you think you should blog? Is there a limit? A minimum or a maximum?