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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Letters, 10-24-15

Hooray! It's time for Sunday letters! If you like the way we pour our heart and soul out in letter form, then read on! And head over to Michelle's blog at Big Time Literacy and read what other people are saying!

Dear Michelle,
I am so sorry I missed our letter date last time. As you know, I love to express myself in Sunday Letters! I think it is my all time favorite link-up now, surpassing Five for Friday, which has had a coveted spot in my heart for the past three years. So my heart and head are full of "letters" today. Thanks as always for providing a fun outlet to dump my brain and laugh and read and enjoy my Sunday morning!
Carrie in Kansas

Speaking of Kansas....
Dear KC Royals:
I have loved watching you play ball this season and I am so excited for the World Series! Thanks for drawing us fans in and making us part of your season. Thanks Drew Butera for signing that one last autograph for a girl and her grandpa waiting at the dugout even after the National Anthem had played. They waited over an hour and your signature made the wait worth it. We love hearing stories of how other cities can't seem to hate this midwest team with all your sportsmanship and good citizenship.
a devoted fan and her family

Dear Toronto Bluejays,
I wish I could say the same for you. But you were easy to hate. I was so glad my kids were not in the room to see your batter's temper tantrum in the dugout after you were called out. More people/teams/corporations "win" by using your tactics, but you made the victory oh-so-much-sweeter when my Royals beat you in the 9th inning. These golden come-from-behind boys behave like they feel honored and privileged to be going to the Series and that makes me love them more. But you are what I would call a JR Ewing team, a team that I love to hate.
Seriously?! Are you three?
one who was not impressed

Dear Pets,
We STILL poop outside. Even though it is getting chilly. That is all.
your frustrated doggy mom

Dear 6th grader/11 year old:
Help! Please tell me that this too shall pass. I am dying here. This is not the first time this week that I've stooped to the same level and pulled out the sarcastic parent voice. And, well, the Mom store is closed. So you're stuck with the one you've got. But I have not raised you to blame your life on everyone else, you know how to change things when you are miserable. So have a miserable day, since that seems to be what you want.
your exhausted and discouraged mother

Dear Kid hiding beneath your pre-teen exterior,
you. I am proud of you. When you don't tear away my pride with your disdain for life. I am proud that you've stepped out this year and are working so hard to be the best student you can be, the best violin player you can be, the best Boys and Girls Club member you can be. I am so proud of you when I hear others say sweet things about my baby girl. I am so proud of your interview at B&G Club and how I see you interact with the littler kids. I see you. You make my heart sing.

Dear Fall,
I love you.
The End.

Dear Teachers,
October is hard! So hold on, November is coming! I have been on a pink cloud and it evaporated this week. I realized that nothing has changed, but I've taken hold of some of the negativity around me. Hold on people! Kindness, modeling appropriate behaviors, consistency, and positive behavior plans will work! But it going to take time! Find the good things in your classroom/life/world/students and pull them into your bubble and keep everything else out. This too shall pass.
Focusing on the good really works!
don't push me off my cloud again

Dear Nameless,
Funny how you act like you don't want the same relationship over again either, but you really just want to do the same things over. Glad I figured this out now. And btw.... it is not kinder to lie. Just tell the truth.
feeling a little stepped on,
from one who really hoped this would turn into something

Dear universe,
Are there any nice guys out there? Do I even want one? It would be really nice if that all worked out. But I am still aware that nice guys are boring and boys who are not boring are no longer an option for me because I am done with liars and cheaters and secret-keepers.
Feeling deflated,
hopeless on the romantic side of things

Dear Food,
You are my one remaining vice. I know I would feel better if I ate better, but I am in love with cheesecake, pasta, carbs in most any form, cookies, cakes, fries, starch, pizza and the list goes on. I am loving the holiday goodies popping up in social media, and the fall foods that appropriate to make and consume right now.
a "fluffy" female (is there are category like that on dating sites? Fluffy female seeks..... blah, blah, blah)

Dear Sonic,
I look forward to your next $.50 corndog day with a passion. Yes, I plan to buy 8 or 9 of them again. Corndogs are the bomb. So thanks for that. And for $.50 hotdog day.
a lover of all things hotdog
p.s. Oscar Meyer you make the list too. I love your dogs as much as the song implies.

Dear Bertha,
I know you are tired. But we are planning to put some better tires on you and love you for at least the rest of this winter. Please keep your self together. I hear you whine, but I still need you. I love you for all your old aches and pains and mostly for not leaving me with a car payment.
Hang in there,
your daily driver

Dear bff,
Where are you? I miss you. Humph.
feeling forgotten,
your old bestie

Saturday, October 17, 2015

To blog, or not to blog? That is the question.

Helloooooo Bloggy land. I'm still here. But I am seriously thinking of taking time off from here. Mostly because I have a big mouth. I have stated many times that I use blogging as a form of therapy. Because once something starts rattling around in my brain, it won't stop until I spit it out in some form. But recently I have found that sometimes when I'm sounding off it can be taken as personal by those around me. I can't afford that. First of all, I value the team that I am a part of. I love my district and I feel called by God to work in the school that I am in. I never wake up and say "I wish I were not here." I almost always feel that way in my teaching career. I don't know if it is denial or the practice of focusing on the positive or what. Because I've placed myself in some overwhelmingly impossible situations. Last year, for instance, I took on a HUGE undertaking trying to competently teach 5 grade levels while learning how to best teach in a PBL environment with a hostile team mate and not other support at all. Most of the time I loved it. Even though I spent WAY TOO MUCH time focused on planning and not enough time with my own family! But in retrospect I never want my job to be that hard and that draining again. It is amazing what we can do if we have a team on our side and what undetermined odds we can beat if we feel supported. Would I walk through fire for my Kinders? Probably. I love them like my own. And I would take on all odds for my own children. Would I have done this last year? Yeah. But did I feel beat up and drained most of the time? Yes. This year, my district has implemented a positive behavior system that some teachers are buying in to and some are not. But I bought in early. Like student teaching. Because I watched my mentor (who I frequently refer to as the "student-whisperer") influence the students and others around her with her focus on positivity. I watched her equip kids, care about them, and love them. When I had tough day in the classroom and I would ask for advice, more than once her response was, "How often did you catch kids being good? Can you catch more of the behaviors you want students to exhibit?" Oh. that. again. and again. Guess what? It works.

Great news! I feel like I work hard to focus on positive, positive, positive and build my kids up as often as I can realize that they are on track and doing what they should. The goal in our district is 3:1. Three positives for every one negative. Yesterday when my mentor/coach observed me, I had 20 positives to 7 negatives. I was really close to meeting that goal! It feels like I do about 10 positives to one negative, so its a little disheartening to realize I could easily up the positives, but it does feel good to realize I am really close to meeting the goal.

Reality check. I don't get super nervous when people come in to observe me (usually). But it does drain me. Yesterday morning I was a shining star. Yesterday afternoon I was like.... "what happened?!" But retrospect would say that I didn't give enough positives to my negatives. I probably had a 1:1 or 2:1 afternoon. When teachers (me) say that they are "being real" or not sugar-coating things, they (me) really just mean that it is hard work to keep focusing on the positive all the time and we are doing what comes more naturally. I have focused on positives for over 4 years now and it comes somewhat naturally, but it is not automatic. So if I'm tired or emotionally drained, life happens and I see it in my kiddos behavior. How eye-opening is that?!

Okay. Back to the blogging dilemma. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But look how how that stuff just tumbled out of my mouth. or my fingertips. Blogging is a good way for me to reflect. I also know that sharing my successes and failures is valuable for other teachers to read. I have found and fallen in love facebook for the classroom. I have created a secret facebook group for my parents this year. What do I love? I don't have to put pics into powerpoint cover faces and then post to the blog. I just quickly load pics and caption and GO! It is SO easy! I love it. But I have learned SO MUCH from reading blogs. So it is really right to take down my blog or take a lengthy break? Hmmmm....

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Just some random rants

Friends, I blog because it purges my soul and feels better to me. But I also have these desires to face social situations. I do not blog about my colleagues. I *may* have blogged about someone I know who teaches another grade in another school, not so near to me, but still in my great state. I forget that people are not so different from me and wonder, "is that directed at me?" "Is that directed at someone I know?" Well, I'm aware that the more bloggers I know, the smaller my world gets, and you could possibly know this person, but I doubt it. I just felt that unquenchable need to spout off.  Now I realize that I need to be so careful because I am a team player. I don't really think that if you don't do your level best to prepare your kids for the next grade that you are actually a team player. It's not fair to that teacher. Do I fear that I might not get my kids ready? Oh yes, I am terrified. I'll just stick with that and discontinue this rant. I pray that when my Kinders are Firsties, they will be ready. So.... in the light of realizing that some could think this rant was directed closer to home, I am removing it. I love Kindergarten. I love my school and my team. I do NOT want to put forth anything different! I'm so sorry if I did that.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Five for Friday

Here it is.... Friday. I am SOOOOOO ready to share my five! So here goes!

 1.  Yesterday we started working on writing. We read a book about a chameleon who changed color according to the mood it was in. We talked about our moods and how they affect our day. We used the sight words "I" and "am" and then phonetically spelled the feeling word we wanted to put in. Some say, "I feel hape." Some of them say "I feel sad." One little guy was having a sad day. We drew a picture of ourselves using the color we thought best depicted the feeling we used in our sentence.

At lunchtime I pulled this one little guy aside and reminded him that he can change how he feels and acts and that maybe after some good lunch, he would have a better day. (It worked!)
 2. Yesterday I talked to students about how sometimes we will practice intruder drills and practice being very quiet in our room. So here we are practicing. They did great.

 3. We've been reading about chameleons all week and today we painted chameleons with KoolAid paint.

We painted chameleons with KoolAid paints! They smell delicious!

 4. Number sense flashcards.... We have been adding to them every week. We started with zero (zero is our hero.... z-e-r-o!) and have 4 cards for each number: a card with the correct number of objects (zero has a blank card), the number word, the numeral, and a ten-frame that is filled in with the correct number of dots. Today was the first day we practiced sorting and matching them up.

5. "Cool Beans!" We had our second cool beans celebration on Monday. We ended the day with popcorn and Tom and Jerry cartoons. I loved watching my students laugh so hard, and everyone could enjoy them, even my ELL students! What I love is that they are short and sweet and if we watch them for 15 minutes, they have watched several skits and laughed and laughed. It was a great ending to the day that day.

Cool Beans is our classroom positive behavior incentive. When we receive a compliment from another teacher, we get a "big bean" (a large magnet bean on the white board). When we fill 4 rows of 5 (20 beans), we get a whole class celebration. We also get to add a big bean if.... a student fills their personal chart with 20 stickers and earns their individual reward, we fill our cool beans can (20 beans... this is a lot like a marble jar, moving a bean to the big can when we meet expectations, follow directions, etc.). These guys work so hard. Sometimes it's easy to forget how hard it is to learn to be in school. Kindergarten is hard! Students have to learn how to work with others, walk quietly, follow directions from many different adults, and this doesn't even begin to address all the academic pressure on children in Kindergarten these days! These little people are poised to take off and read and learn all about addition and subtraction. They are on the verge of greatness! But let's face it, they work hard just learning how to students! Sorry, I was preaching to myself. I love my class. And they are great learners and hard workers. But sometimes I tend to push too hard.