The Great Recess Duty Debacle Part 2

Wowie Wow Wow!  Your comments were so interesting to read about My Great Recess Duty Debacle!  I have decided that I am thankful for my 45 minute lunch but very very very sad that I do not have Specials. And I know about Specials because my niece and nephews live in Texas and they go to Specials.  And my old teaching partner moved to Missouri (and taught for a couple of years there) and her kids went to Specials.  And I have seen your Schedule Cards out in Blogland.  I know that Specials are P.E., Music, Art, and a combination of Computer/Library/Something time.  And all I can say is that I must be SUPER SPECIAL because you're LOOKING at the P.E. teacher, Music teacher, Art Teacher, Computer Teacher, ETC, ETC, ETC.   :)  I am a jack of all trades.

I feel that I need to clear a couple of things up AND ask a couple of questions.

For all of you poor, poor, poor teachers who ALWAYS have recess duty with their kids because, and I quote, "if your kids are at recess, so are you" ---- my question is when do you go to the bathroom??  I mean, really!!!  And my other question is ---- how do you eat lunch in 20 minutes??  I spend 20 minutes waiting for the microwave on some days!   And THEN my Lean Cuisine takes about 3 minutes . . . and then it's usually too hot and I have to let it cool down.  And I always have to talk to people!  20 minutes is just NOT enough to discuss The Bachelor Pad, The Housewives, Big Brother, this kid, that kid, Language Arts, the list goes on!

Okay, a couple of explanations:

I don't need recess duty for fresh air.  The longest I am in my classroom is 1 hour and 45 minutes.  To get ANYWHERE, I have to go outside.  See the fresh air????  It's everywhere!

 This picture is taken from the doorway of my classroom.  That's my view.  In order to go to the office, the bathroom, the library, the cafeteria, the computer lab, etc, etc, etc, we go OUTSIDE.  LOVE.  Here's another shot:
Last winter, those mountains had snow on them.  :)  The big building across from me is the Kinder wing and the little building to the right of it is the rest of first grade.

So we do not have hallways like so many of you do - with cute bulletin boards.  But I am okay with that.  Every once in awhile, I am super jealous of Hallway People.  But that's mostly when it's raining.  UGH. It is not a good day when it is raining.  I never get IN the building.  Just because I left my car and made it to my classroom does not mean I'm out of the rain.  I'm back in it every time I have to go to the office or the bathroom.  And try taking 31 first graders with you to the cafeteria in the rain.  JOY.  The umbrellas and galoshes flip flops are too cute!

Here's the front view of the first grade building:

My classroom is the one all the way to the right by the stairs.  Oh, those stairs!  Just love them.  The kids fall down them and I inevitably fall UP them once or twice a year.

And then, for extra good measure, and to prove that I don't need recess duty in order to get fresh air, here is a pic of the blacktop that is NOT the playground but will TAKE you to the playground.  Follow the yellow brick road blacktop ALL THE WAY DOWN THERE.  And then you'll arrive on the playground.

Can you see the fence down there?  Once you get BEYOND that, you're on the playground. I tried to take this picture standing by my door but I couldn't even SEE the fence.  So I went down the stairs and tried again.  Nope.  So I had to walk across the sidewalk and stand on the yellow line (the line that parents are not supposed to cross in the mornings) and THEN I could kind of see the fence that marks the playground.

Here is a zoomed shot:
I'm still standing in the same place but I zoomed.

Here's my point.  I walk all the way down there to pick up the kids in the morning.  And then we go back and forth like that for morning recess, lunch, and afternoon recess.  One of you commented about how you combined your two 15 minute recesses into one 30 minute recess because of the wasted instructional minutes of transitioning.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I really wanted to take a pic of the playground but the gate was locked.  I didn't take my keys all the way down there with me and I wasn't going to walk it all over again.  Surely you understand.  :)  And to answer another question, we only have one GIGANTIC playground.  I will try to take a pic of it soon.  It is HUMONGOUS.  Grades 1-3 go out together and then grades 4-6.  Don't even get me started on the grass part of it.  Let's just say . . . well, it . . . there is no fence around it.  Yes, you read that right.  Our kids play on the grass which is surrounded by two streets and there is no fence around it.  I SAID - don't get me started on it!

My upper grade friends (yes, I have friends in upper grade even though they are very mad at Primary as a whole) are sort of closer to the playground but they are light years away from the office.  It's a long way away!

So . . . nothing has been resolved with the duty schedule.  It kind of got worse.  Rumors swirled.  The union was called.  It is really just so stupid complicated.  Deep breath.  Smell the soup.  I have to go work on it AGAIN.

Enjoy your duties tomorrow, whatever they may be!


The Great Recess Duty Debacle

Hey there, everybody!  I took care of business on Saturday . . . laundry AND homework folders.  My first parent helper is coming this Friday and I will NOT be taking care of homework folders NEXT WEEKEND.  Thank goodness.   I watched a big ole marathon of New Jersey Housewives during the process.  I think Theresa is being really hard on Melissa, don't you?  Also, I don't care, I'm just going to say it --- I watch The Jersey Shore (stop judging me!) and can you believe what is going to happen to The Situation????  This week's episode is going to be CUH- RAZY!

Any-who --- now I have to work on the Duty Schedule.  And I would really love to know how everyone else out there in blogland handles Recess Duty.  I remember reading a blog (can't remember where it was but if this is YOU, please leave me a comment) and the author had a recess duty chair with supplies!  Like visors, radio, sunscreen, whistle, etc.  A CHAIR!  I would love a chair.  But I have to bring my hall monitor badge circa Bobby Brady clipboard and whistle and WALK AROUND on the playground.  This is quite dangerous.  I have been hit in the head, leg, butt, arm, and back with a ball or two.  Plus, other teachers are constantly saying that they can't find me on the playground when I am on duty (the teeny tiny thing).  I just blend right in.  I am of the mind that I should have to be a certain height in order to patrol the playground.  Just saying.

This Duty Schedule is a pain in my butt (maybe it's from that ball that slammed into me).  I joined the committee at the last minute because we only had upper grade teachers on it for this coming year and I wanted us primary teachers to have some representation.  Obviously.  So we started talking about it right before school started because we needed to have it ready for Day One.

Let me set this up for you.  Two primary teachers (my partner and me) and two upper grade teachers talking via Facebook (private messaging, not on the wall or anything like that!) and going back and forth, and back and forth.  I am telling you, it was STRESSFUL.  Negotiations were breaking down and both sides needed lawyers.  I hate conflict - it was killing me.  All I kept thinking was that these girls were going to hate me!  I started every sentence with "I'm sorry but . . ."

Here's the kit and caboodle of the whole situation.  Our school has almost 1200 kids.  At one time.  We are no longer year round (WAAAH!!!!  I am still so bummed over it) and we are all there ALL. THE. TIME.  We have to have so many teachers cover so many kids, etc.  We have 5 teachers cover recess before school (which is not really recess but grades 1 - 6 go to the playground and play with pretend balls.  Seriously.  It's hilarious to watch.  Now THERE'S a sport I can play!), 5 teachers at primary morning recess, 5 teachers at upper grade morning recess, and 5 teachers after school for bus and carpool.  The biggest problem (not for me) is that primary ALSO gets an afternoon recess which is mandated by our district.  But upper grades do not get this afternoon recess.  I don't know why. Is it because upper grade students can sit still longer?  Is it because upper graders rarely have accidents (as in pee their pants)?  Honestly, I don't know the real reason but I thank God for it every day.  And the best part is that my principal pays our noon supervisors (the brave ladies who cover our lunch recess) to stay 15 minutes longer to cover our afternoon recess.  (Basically, after the upper graders finish their lunch and recess, it's time for our afternoon recess so the noon supervisors just stay)  So we never have that duty.  Ever.  Opera singing going on in my head now (Haaaaaalllllllleluuuuuuuujah!!).  By the way, after writing all of that, it looks like my kids are at recess all day.  I wonder how I even have two and a half hours for Language Arts.  I am going to have to get the calculator out and see what's up.  :)

SO --- when the committee got together, upper grade (as a whole) basically said they were tired of getting the shaft and that things HAD to change.  They said that our afternoon primary recess is 15 minutes a day times 5 days a week which equals 100 minutes of free time that they do not get.  I know, my math is off.  I forgot to tell you that primary gets a 45 minute lunch and upper grade gets 40 minutes.  Honestly, why anyone would even accept an upper grade position is beyond me.  So that was their point.  We get 20 minutes of free time every day.  FREE TIME.  Yep.  I don't know about you but I am just kicking it during those minutes.  Not a care in the world.  I tend to take my nap during that time.

Are you still with me?  Is this boring???  Because to tell you the truth, I was all fired up about it.  I kept trying to tell the husband about it and he just kept telling me to call my partner to vent.  He said he didn't understand it.  Aren't I making myself clear???  I do NOT want to have recess duty EVER.

Wellllllll, this compromise meant that upper grade teachers were off the schedule every other two week period (our duties last for two weeks).  And primary teachers were only off the schedule ONE TIME before Christmas.

Our primary teachers are very strong.  They speak up.  They went ballistic.  The principal got involved.  One of the committee members took herself off.  The other almost cried.  It was awful.  I seriously thought we were going to have a rumble between upper and primary on the handball courts at 3:30.  It was bad.  One teacher called it "a hostile environment".  YIKES.  I mean, I may kid and all, but I try to keep things in perspective.  If I'm on duty, I try to remember to thank God for a job that allows me to be outside watching children play.  I'm not stuck at a desk or serving customers or what have you.

My principal told all of us at a meeting that duty has to be equitable and that the primary afternoon recess  couldn't count against us.  She said she was taking it over  . . . and then I got that special email.  She needs my help.  Can I fix it?   Can I send her a new one by the end of the week?

Would you say no???  I already did the first one before school started and now I have to start all over.  Granted, I am going to have more time off, but it is complicated to make it equitable and fair.  My brain hurts.

So what happens at your school?  Do you have duty?  Is it equitable?  Do you get hit with balls?  Is there a height requirement for patrolling the playground where you teach???  PLEASE comment.  I am really dying to see what other schools do.  I have actually heard that some teachers NEVER have duty.  Where is this school???  Are they hiring????

Okay, Big Bro Fans!  Let's see what happens tonight.  I need Shelly outta there!!!!!!!


Free For All Friday

I am so happy it's Friday!  It was 104 degrees today . . . we didn't get ANY recesses, not even the morning one.  :(  I felt so bad for the kids AND me!  But my firsties are still amazing and we had a great day together.  However, I am melting.

I can't wait to look at all of the freebies!  I am going to offer up a couple of word family sorts.  We just finished working on the -at, -an, and -am word families and next week we will be working on short i word families.  For those of you who "get" to do The Daily Five, maybe you can use them for word work.  I am not sure how I will incorporate them this year but I used them last year as a Phonics Center.  THIS YEAR . . . is different.  And I am very afraid that I am going to get into trouble.  Not for blogging when I was supposed to be teaching.  Not for talking on my cell phone when I was supposed to be teaching.  Not for sitting at my desk with my feet up when I was supposed to be teaching.  Nope.  I am afraid that I am in trouble because I gave a Spelling Test during my two and a half hour Language Arts block and at our grade level meeting with my principal, we (AS IN the principal) agreed that since the Spelling Tests we created are "supplemental", we have to give them during our Universal Access time.  And folks, it was well past that time.  I don't know about you all, but I am STILL going over procedures and routines and everything takes sooooo long with these babies.  And even though my spelling test covered the -am and -an word families that were taught during the Houghton Mifflin block and also covered the two (yep - just two) high frequency words that were taught during the HM block, I ---- GASP!!!! ----- I called the high frequency words ----- can't believe I did this in front of the principal ------ SIGHT WORDS.  (just in case you didn't know, I cheated on HM with that.  No fidelity whatsoever)

And then, a little bit later, RIGHT AFTER our inside recess time (so fun - wish you could have been there), I had to take a moment to explain to the class that when I say "snack time", I actually mean "you can eat that in the classroom NOW".  The majority of my kids got it but I had a couple who wanted to know when we were going to have snack.  (Which I just don't get.  You're playing blocks with your buddy who is eating a bag of chips or a pudding cup or string cheese, and no bells go off in your head?  Seriously?)  Anyways, as I'm taking this moment, my ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL came in.  And she actually said she was just seeing what I was doing.  Yep.  I think she was checking to see if I was teaching math during our FIDELITY TO THE CORE time.  I wasn't.  So, being quick on my feet and everything, I said, "Oh, we are just about to grab our reading anthologies and REVISIT THE LITERATURE from this week."  (good buzz words in HM)  All true.  Really.  I am not joking or being sarcastic.  But now I'm sure she's thinking that I was just wasting time.

I think I'm in big trouble.  My partner does, too, because SHE gave her spelling test at the wrong time, too, and our principal passed through.  And then when the Assistant Principal walked in, she was doing whiteboard work which did not match her lesson plans.  I really just do not understand what has happened to my career.  I barely recognize it.  What is it that I do again????

SO . . . I have absolutely NO CLUE when I'll ever use these again.  But maybe you can!

Be sure to copy the words on colored copy paper so that the kiddos have no confusion when they get their materials.

Short a word families:

Short i word families:

Just click on the pictures to download.  I hope someone can use them!  :)  I hope everyone has a great weekend . . . Big Bro Fans --- I am super bummed that Jeff was evicted.  I am very angry with Shelley.  I wish I could give her a piece of my mind.  What a flip flopper!!!!  I saw a fight between Jordan and Shelley on You Tube (I know, I am a Loser with a capital L) and Jordan was UP---SET.  It was crazy!  She reminded Shelley (and America) that she gave her the phone call home.  She GAVE it to her!!!  And then Jordan had to wear the Humilitard!!!!  ROARRR!!!!!!  If you don't watch Big Bro, this must just sound absolutely ridiculous to you.  And all I can say is that you are missing out!!! :)  If you could have heard me in my family room last night . . . not to mention, during the HOH and POV competitions, I was pacing around the room and putting my head in a couch pillow because I. JUST. COULDN'T. LOOK.  It was THAT bad.  

Have a happy weekend either way!  I may come back to see you!!!! :)  Don't forget to link up and share your favorite freebie!!!!


Three for Thursday

Today's Teacher Week Topic is "Three for Thursday".

Here goes!!!

1.  Favorite Fonts - I love fonts!  I mainly use DJ Inkers but now that I'm addicted to blogging, I have been checking out new ones.  Here are some of my fave DJ ones . . . click on them to see the source so you can get them, too!  (Only if you want . . . no pressure!)

I use those A LOT.  DJ Bizzy is super fun to use really, really, really big . . . with different colors for each letter.  I used it for my Mom's Happy Birthday sign in July.  :)

2.  Favorite blog . . . where is the "s" to make that plural????  This is almost impossible for me.  I read so many blogs and have so many favorites!  This is just plain mean.  Why, I oughta . . . :)

I have to say that recently I have been stalking Farley over at Oh 'Boy Fourth Grade.  I know, I know - I teach first.  What on earth could I find over there?  UM, just about EVERYTHING that was ever cute in this world!  That girl is so creative and she already knows this, but I am obssesed with her name.  Farley is her last name but everyone just calls her Farley.  I love it!  I don't know why I love it but I just do!  I always have name envy.  :(    My poor husband - it's not his fault he got this last name but OLDHAM?  Not only is it HAM (which I love to eat at Thanksgiving and Easter but that's about it) but it's OLD ham?  Oh no.  No no no no no.  So I often find myself gazing longingly at other last names . . . like my twin's married name.  Rose.  I mean, have you ever?  Mrs. Rose.  I could handle kids saying that all day. Really.  Or my first teaching partner's last name.  Wolfe.  Mrs. Wolfe.  Yes!  She had paw prints leading up to her door and a sign that said "Welcome to the Wolfe's Den."  YES YES YES!  What can I do with  Oldham?  OLD HAM?  Eventually, it's going to stink really, really, really bad.  SIGH.  (okay, okay, it's not that bad.  We pronounce it Old-um.  Which, if you say it really fast, comes out Ol- Dumb.)  Double SIGH.

So . . . FARLEY, FARLEY, FARLEY!  Here's her blog.   Go visit!  Besides being creative and so darn cute, she is FUNNY!  I love the way she writes.  I GET her.  :)

3.  Favorite online resource --- free educational clipart!!!!  I love their clocks and money.  FABULOUS!  Look at this sample of a worksheet I created for a telling time review:

And look at this sample of a worksheet I created for counting money!


Click on it to go visit.  Don't worry.  If you aren't from Florida, it doesn't matter.  I'm clear on the other side of the country, and they just let me get whatever I want.  Now, I don't want anyone to be disappointed.  This is not CUTE clipart.  It's educational.  So far, I have only used the Math clipart.  You are not going to find cute DJ stuff or Thistlegirl stuff or anything like that.  But I was so happy when I found the clocks and the money!  :)  I hope someone can use it!

Well, I will see you tomorrow for the last day of Teacher Week!  Don't forget to link up with I'm a Blog Hopper!!!


Where It All Goes Down Wednesday

Where it all goes down . . . or up, depending on the day!   I have posted classroom pics before but they were in two different posts where I was all over the place.  Lots of this and that, plus a whole lot of randomness.  So I will just repost them all nice and organized here.  The way that I like things to be!  Awww.  I feel better already!

This is the view from my door.  It looks really big here.  I think I could say that it's a big classroom but as soon as all 31 kiddos arrive, it's not that big.  It has definitely shrunk over the last two years!

Cubbies!  It's nice to have one left over for paperwork.  I hope it will stay that way!  :)

Carpet area . . . pretty much of all my teaching happens here.  I use the pocket charts for all kinds of things but the one under the vowel stars used to be for center rotations.  SAD FACE.  

(How much do you love the TV?)

Calendar board - which I do not get to do this year.  So my Teacher's Pet (helper of the day) tries to get it done on their own time.  This is a lot harder since we have never done it as a class.  I don't know how many days we've been in school.  Weird.  The bear board is for some sponge painted bears we are going to make.  Don't worry.  I won't do it during the 
2 1/2 hour Language Arts block.  

View of the whiteboard and TODD (terribly old decrepit dinosaur, aka the overhead).  No technology over here.  Heaven forbid Todd has a light bulb moment and burns out one day.  Whatever will I do?   Not to mention, I just love cleaning off all of the transparencies.  It is just a joyous occasion every day.

Guided Reading  Semi-circle table.  No reading happens here whatsoever, I promise. I never sneak it or anything.  Cross my heart.  (sneaky smile here)  LOVE my windows and my curtains, thanks to my teammie and good friend, Heather!!!!!  SHOUT OUT!  And I love my water fountain thingy.  Peace.  Quiet.  Peace and quiet!

Library - an overhead light is burned out so it's a little dark and cozy.  Because centers have become a bad word, I have my table groups come here depending on the day.  Red Table can come here on Mondays, Blue Table on Tuesdays, etc.  Whenever they're finished with their work, they can mosey on over here.  I have clear tubs but all of YOUR blogs make me want colorful ones!  I see a change on the horizon!

Classroom door, my desk area.  My Teacher board.  The sink.  Nothing too special.  The fire extinguisher that I have no idea how to use.  And my filing cabinet that I want to put scrapbook paper all over now that I have seen YOUR crafty, creative ideas!!!!

This is my desk.  And I try really hard to keep it like this.  I can't stand clutter.  The little drawer system on the left was a big purchase for me from Pier One Imports.  It was one of those things that I saw, had to have, but wouldn't let myself spend the money.  And then I visited it a few times.  And then I couldn't help it.  I broke down and bought it.  It houses my staples, paper clips, paper fasteners, rubber bands, etc.  It doesn't have labels because the drawers are kind of "rock-like" but I know exactly where everything is.  I LOVE it.  

"First Grade Faces" bulletin board.  Our self portraits and some writing will go here.  The table in front of it is the Writing Center.

YES, I have stuff for my writing center!  The above picture makes it look a little sad, huh?  But I keep the stuff on the counter right behind it.  The kids can pull stuff down on the table at any time but then it's got to go right back.  Tidy, tidy, tidy!  Right now, it's a little bare because I like to build it as we get new materials to work with.     It will eventually be filled up with stickers, sequencing cards, picture cards, stationery, little blank books, big blank books, etc.

"School Rocks!" Bulletin Board.  We will have writing up here.

This is storage behind our whiteboard.  LOVE the storage.  This is how I organize all of my read alouds and non fiction books, etc.  THIS makes me SUPER HAPPY.  My heart SIIIINNNNNGGGS when I see this.  :)  I have labels for each of those bins . . . and I have a system.  Be still my heart.

More storage behind the whiteboard.  This is craft stuff and odds and ends.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this.  One of my friends joked that it looked like a store back here.  Well, didn't I just walk around BEAMING for the rest of the day????  :)

Well, that's where it all goes down!  I almost showed you pics of my room during Open House but I refrained.  I will have to wait . . . a long time, seeing as how Open House is in May this year but I will wait.  :)

Now I have to go look around at all of YOUR classroom pics.  Be sure to link up with Blog Hoppin to share your classroom!


Teacher Talk

It's Teacher Talk Tuesday today!  :)  

Advice for new teachers . . . (your poor things!)

1.  Save some of your paycheck for yourself.  Don't pour it all into your classroom.  :)

2.  Become good friends with the secretary and the custodian.  Do you bake?  Bring them a treat!  Do you stop by Starbucks or It's a Grind in the morning?  Bring them a coffee or tea!  I'm not saying every day - I'm just saying it always comes in handy to have them on your side.  Wink wink.  Nudge nudge.

3.  Be quiet.  Listen.  Observe.  You don't have to be opinionated in the beginning (although you should have opinions but just hold onto them in the beginning).    

4.  Beg, borrow, and steal ask your teammates for help AND THEN give credit where credit is due!!!!!!!!!!! :)

5.  I have found that another teacher and myself can say the EXACT SAME SENTENCE to a parent but we can get two different reactions.  It's all in the delivery, people.  Smile.  Cock your head a little.  Start off with "I'm sorry."  AS IN "I'm really sorry, but your child just can't throw chairs in our room."  Then nod a little for emphasis.  Put on a little sad face like you WISH their child could throw chairs in your classroom but it's just school policy this year.  Maybe next year.  It's always good to have parents on your side.  And even though you told them the truth, you said it nicely.  Now they're most likely going to work with you.  And give you gift cards.  For massages.  (this is real life experience!)

I think that's about it for my advice.  Other than my first teaching partner saved my life and I vowed to help out all new teachers after that.  Pay it forward!  That's why I love this blogging business.  It's incredible how much we share and support each other.  

Now it's your turn!  What are you waiting for?  Link up with Blog Hoppin and GET TO IT!  :)

Before I sign off, I just wanted to address a few of your comments from Meet the Teacher Monday.  First, thank you so much for all of your kind words.  Everyone out there in Blogland is soooooo nice -- I can't stand it!!!  :)  Second, my heart condition is called Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy and I found out about it because I was having lots of heart palpitations, dizziness, tunnel vision, and shortness of breath.  But I had these symptoms on and off for about 10 years during and after exercise so I attributed it to a really good work out!  Then later, as it got worse, I started having the symptoms while doing nothing (watching reality TV or reading a book).  And the symptoms became more frequent.  I finally decided to go in after having an "episode" that lasted for about 4 hours and I really thought I might be having a heart attack.  Up until then, the symptoms were just plain annoying.  Instead of thinking, "Oh no - am I having a heart attack?  Am I going to die?  Is this it?  Should I call 911?" (yes, insert DRAMA QUEEN here), I would think, "Dang it.  I need to dry my hair.  I have a list of things to do.  I do not have time to lay down on the bed for 15 minutes and wait for this to pass.  This is so irritating."  (insert IDIOTIC PRINCESS here)  Long story short, I am glad God finally gave me my wake up call.  Once I saw my primary care physician and had an irregular EKG, the rest went extremely fast.  Within about two weeks, I was diagnosed and in the hospital having an angiogram.  The last year and a half has been more about finding the right medicine that works for me and the right doses.  We play with it a lot because medicine is an art, not a science.  There is no cure but the medicine has helped me a lot and I just pray my body continues to respond.  I am grateful to God every day because not only did He protect me in so many ways, but I have grown closer to Him because of it.  The hubby and I go to church every Sunday (or Saturday depending on our mood), joined a small group bible study, and do daily devotionals.  Everything happens for a reason, right???  And that's my story!!!!  I am leaving out lots of little details but I'll spare you!  Unless you want them . . . in which case, email me!! :)

Thank you again for all of your kind words and support!!!  You guys rock!


Meet the Teacher Monday

Hi all!  I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin for Teacher Week

And TODAY is Meet the Teacher.  Love it!  I get to talk about myself!  :)  I will not be too long winded.  Hmmmm.  Okay, I will try not to be too long winded! :)  That's a pic of the hubs and me.  We were in South Carolina (which I fell IN LOVE with) at his little sister's wedding.  Fun times!

Tell us a little something about you..

Obviously, I am a teacher.  But in other news, I am the writer of this teeny tiny blog and it has recently taken over my life.  I am obsessed with writing, posting, and reading blogs.  My hubby is cooking dinner right now (this is what he does.  I am so lucky.  I know it.  We are going to have fajitas.  I will do the dishes, though) and here I am, even though I have a bag full of school stuff to do.  Oh well.  I will look at that while I watch The Bachelor Pad.  That's one other thing about me.  I am addicted to Reality TV.  Even the trashy kind.  I can't help it.  It makes me happy to watch other people's drama.  Call me crazy.

How long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching first grade for 14 years (I'm in my 15th year).  It doesn't seem that long but when I see new teachers, I realize how blessed I am to know what I am doing.  I started my career in a school with 100% Language Learners.  Four years later, my best friend and partner decided to leave me (well, she had a baby.  I mean, the nerve of her!  :) :) :)  Love you, Sheri) so I finally decided to get off the freeway and apply closer to my house.  My current school is where I have been ever since.  :)

You might not know...

Well, I don't have children of my own.  My husband and I have been married for 14 years and in the beginning, we said we would wait a couple of years.  And then a couple of years went by and we said we would wait another couple.  And then I think we said that 6 times or something.  I was always waiting for that desire or that feeling that my sisters and my friends would get.  Some of my friends were downright obsessed with getting preggers.  But not me.  So then I thought something was wrong with me because lots of people would tell me what a great mother I'd be and what's wrong with me???  What am I waiting for???  Really.  One time a PARENT of a child in my class made a special point to visit me after school to give me her fertility doctor's name!!  Because she had heard that I had been married for 10 years and thought for sure I was infertile.  TRUE STORY.   Anyways, I honestly couldn't find that feeling or desire, although I looked everywhere.  But THEN, a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with this really scary heart condition with this really scary name and GUESS WHAT?  Yep, I am not allowed to have children.  And I probably had this condition for YEARS (by the way, I ignored my symptoms for close to ten years so I do not advise that you do that.  It's pretty bad when you have the same primary care physician for nine years and have to ask for directions) so it was actually a blessing that I never became pregnant because it most likely would have killed me. (so my cardiologist says) So I really feel like God protected me both physically and emotionally because I know so many women who would have been devastated if they had been told they could not have children.  And I felt . . . well, I felt like "okay."   And it IS fun (even though it's mean) to answer that stupid, ongoing question, "When are YOU TWO going to have children?" with a clear, simple and direct, "I can't."  :)   We sometimes discuss adopting a baby from a far away land but for now, I am content.  Truly.  So tuck that lip back in and don't worry about me.  I'm all good.  :)  (I am on medicine that is working, I visit my cardiologist often, and I am stable.)

What do you need to improve?

My attitude.  This school year has been a little difficult with a lot of imposed changes by our district and principal.  I need to relax (ha!) and go with the flow.  I need to do what I do best and rise above it.  I walk into school with a positive attitude but I need to work on maintaining it throughout the day.  :)  You're never fully dressed without a smile!  (love Annie!)

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

My level for my bulletin boards.  I know.  It's a sickness.  But one time, my friend borrowed it and I thought I had lost an appendage.  Seriously.

My Ipod.  I have one JUST for the classroom and it is filled to the brim with every kind of music that kids need to learn new concepts, get the wiggles out, transition, etc.  I also use the timer on it.

Sharp pencils with good erasers.

Books.  Every kind.  I will throw away something else to make room for a new book.  I love love love love love books.  My favorites right now are by Robert Munsch, Mo Willems, and Kevin Henkes.  But they're just in my mind because I love to read them at the beginning of the year.  :)

Coke Zero or Diet Dr. Pepper.  Excedrine.  Starburst candy.  Coffee every single morning.

Well, that's it!  It's your turn!  Go link up with Blog Hoppin to join in!


Grammar Worksheets

Happy Sunday to all of you!  What a fantastic weekend so far!  I am so happy to be a lot less stressed this go around compared to last weekend.  :) :) :)  I saw The Help last night ---- it was just as good as the book (although we all know nothing compares to the book but I am talking THIS movie lived up to the book whereas The Time Traveler's Wife did NOT and don't get me started on Twilight!) and I loved it!  Hubby loved it, too (don't tell him I told you this but even though he may look like a big manly man and the guys at work call him grumpy bear, he is a BIG ole Teddy Bear and enjoys chick flicks as much as me.  And he needs the kleenex, too, although he will say that something is in his eye or the ceiling fan is making his eyes water) and I would honestly go see it again tonight!  If you want to go and your significant other won't take you, I WILL!!!!!

My internet was down earlier and I felt AAAANNOYED!  Grrrr.

But all is better now.  :)  I just posted over on the First Grade Lounge at Me and My Gang.  Woo Hoo!  I'm an author!  If you haven't checked it out, you MUST.  You can grab the cute button on my right sidebar to head on over there.  The two lovely ladies and partners, Monica and Mrs. McCumbee, thought up this whole thing to showcase more SECOND grade blogs.  And even though they were calling all second grade teachers, I couldn't help myself.  I commented.  I may even have emailed.  I just had to verify that it was only for second grade teachers.  If you didn't know, I teach first.  AND I SO BADLY wanted to be a part of their gang.  I mean, A GANG!!!  How cool!  I am sure I could dig out a leather jacket from somewhere!  (Oh my gosh, I actually need to find the picture of my twin, two friends, and me when we were 14 and dressed up kind of like the Outsiders - except we wore brown trash bag vests that we made and and put bandanas in our hair!!!  I have always wanted to be bad.  :))  I digress.
Obviously.  This is what happens.  I go off on tangents but inevitably bring it back around.  SO!  Much to my surprise and delight, the Second Grade Gang decided to open it up to the rest of us!  Yeehaw!  And they said I could be a part of it!  So please go check it out.  :)

Now, onto curriculum.  Our district uses Houghton Mifflin curriculum.  And on Friday, my team and my principal wasted  spent a half day (subs included) to go over the curriculum and make sure that we were using it with FIDELITY TO THE CORE.  That's the new thing at my school.  I am trying not to roll my eyes as I type this because that's not very . . . it doesn't show fidelity.  So after teaching first grade for 14 years, and the Houghton Mifflin curriculum for 8 (yep - we did not get a new curriculum after the 7 years were up.  Explain.  I have no idea.  California??  Who knows?), my principal proceeded to show me how to read the Teacher's Manual and find the bullet points for each day.  BULLET POINTS point you in the right direction.  Did you know that?  OOOOH.  AAAAAH.

It was kind of nice to see how shocked my principal was at how SLOOOOW Houghton Mifflin is in the beginning and what a waste some of the practice pages are.  When we pointed out that some of the concepts have no follow up practice, she actually agreed that we could use some of our supplemental materials!  This was a big victory for us.  STILL - no reading groups allowed during the two and a half hour Language Arts block (I mean, really.  Wouldn't that just be dumb?  To read with first graders at their level?)  And STILL - no daily 5 unless each activity has a Houghton Mifflin emblem on it or I tattoo my kids' foreheads with HM during Read to Self or Read with Others.  I wonder if I could get Houghton Mifflin to sponser the tattooing??

So the bottom line is that I can use some of my supplemental grammar worksheets.  Or worksheets for those of you who are not a fan.  :)

Click the pic to grab them.  The first one talks about my special management plan (not a clip chart - oh no, am I in trouble?  Will you still like me?) which includes Fun Friday so if you need that document changed, please let me know!  I will un-PDF it or whatever so you can make changes.

I hope you can use one of them.  :)

One last thing -- a couple of you have left a comment asking me to email you my P.I.N. treat bag tags.  But you didn't leave your email address for me.  :(  So if that was you, I promise I am not ignoring you or being lazy.  So just leave me your email address and I will get it to you.

All right, people!  Have a great week at work (if you're back to school like me) and I have promised myself that I will blog every night this week.  So be on the lookout!

P.S.  Big Bro tonight!!!  I hope Jeff or Jordan win this HOH.  And that only the people I am not a fan of fall down and eat it in the suds.  Is that mean?



I miss you guys!  I can't wait for this weekend when things will finally slow down.  I honestly think next week will be a cake walk.  I don't think my principal has anything planned for us . . . and I may just get to focus on teaching.  Wouldn't that be something?  Wouldn't that be special??  I feel like I haven't blogged in days or gone stalking in days . . . and I don't like it.  :(

I'm hopping on really quick (before Big Brother - it's being recorded right now but I love to fast forward through the commercials so I can get back to Rachel's tears as soon as absolutely possible) to say that I just had Parent Information Night.  Hooray!!  It's over!  It went really well - 28 out of 31 parents showed.  Several parents thanked me for the treat bags--mission accomplished!  I was a RIOT and had the parents laughing the entire time.  

That's not true.  I wish it was.  These parents are just like their kids - sweet, respectful, and quiet.  I was trying but I think they were afraid to loosen up.  Just like their kids.  The other day I had to tell my kids that they were SUPPOSED to sing WITH me.  True story.

ANYways -- I got lots of volunteers!!  And I think they will be quiet volunteers if tonight is any indication.  I'm a little bummed because all of my spots for tearing out workbook pages (both Language Arts and Math) are not filled up.  And I don't know what these parents are thinking, but I'm certainly not going to be doing that boring and tedious job.  I put "Warning:  boring and tedious" on the form.   BAD IDEA.  Note to self:  boring and tedious fun and exciting!

One of you guys asked if you could see my sign up sheets.  They are really quite basic.  I used to put all sorts of cute clipart but then it looked . . . busy and confusing.  So I just simplified it a couple of years ago.
That's just a sample.  I uploaded them to google docs but now they are a HOT MESS.  But I know if you want to use them, you'll need to be able to change them to fit  your needs.  So just click the pic to check it out.  If you need help, let me know.  I can customize something if you'd like it.

I promise to come back this weekend with a much better freebie.  :)

I'm off to watch the Big Brother drama.  Grab your lifeboats --- I think Rachel's going to L.O.S.E. it!!!


Parent Volunteers

Just had my 4th day of school.  It was another great day!!!  I love my kids!  :)  I feel so blessed - I'm holding my breath waiting for . . . actually, I'm not sure what I'm waiting for.  I honestly don't think any of these cuties will throw a chair.  :)  I also can NOT get over how sweet my boys are.  Out of all 31, if I HAD to pick a stinker (and that's stretching it), my stinker is a GIRL.  But she has some . . . issues and it's not her fault.  Picture Pippi Longstocking.  That's her.  Cute as a button, hair every which way, mismatched this and that . . . beats to her own drum.  Which is why she might stink up the place every once in awhile.  But not in a bad way!  :)

Anyways, we have our PIN (parent information night) this Thursday!  I put out volunteer sign ups then.  I always have TONS of parent volunteers.  It's hard to fit them all in and still get a bit of just "me" time.  I mean, I'm with the kids, but sometimes I just want it to be "me".  And the kids.  Do you ever feel like that?  Or do you love volunteers? I have found that some are better than others.  I can't stand it when they talk loud.  Really?  REALLY?  Can't you see from our noise level chart (thank you, Katie at Little Warriors!) that we are on Level 2??

How do you utilize your parent volunteers?  Here are some of the opportunites I offer my parents.

Homework helper - every Friday (puts together packets, empties the folders, stuffs folders, etc)
Library helper - every Tuesday (helps kids find a choice book and an AR book)
Parent Readers - every day but Friday (pulls kids one on one to hear them read their guided reading book or AR book)
Special Events - parties, teddy bear day, painting t-shirts, making banana bread, etc.
Workbook help - tearing out the pages from all of our workbooks, sorting them, etc.  TEDIOUS
AR help - helping kids log on to the computer, etc.

I feel like that is A LOT of opportunities.  But maybe not.  What do you do???

I also feel like blogging is MUCH HARDER to do now that I'm back at school.  All I want to do is read all of your blogs but I have to go write my professional goals (yep - they're due this Thursday because my principal believes piling on all things at once.  Makes us stronger.  You should see my biceps), half day sub plans for Friday morning (oh yeah - we have our First Grade planning meeting with our principal about our new extended forever long Houghton Mifflin curriculum block aka "INTEGRITY TO THE CORE"), and polish up my PIN packet because, like I said, it's THIS THURSDAY.  I have a lot to do.  But I know all of you do, too!!!  I hope I get to teach somewhere in there.

OH and I have to watch Bachelor Pad!!!!!  :) :) :) :) :)


Three Ways to Read a Book

I'm so happy it's Saturday.  I just slept for twelve hours.  Hallelujah!  I love my sleep and I sure needed it after the first three days of school.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my class.  I'm holding my breath and waiting for something to happen to screw it up.  These kids are quiet, polite, and sweet.  I'm in shock every time I give a direction and 31 first graders go do it.

They are so cute and adorable.  They are naturally quiet - I haven't really had to tell them to lower their voices.  I am in heaven!  :)  I hope your year is going as smoothly as mine is so far.

HOWEVER.  I still have to figure out this whole two and a half hour language arts deal.  Our principal says we can pull reading groups during our Universal Access time which is only 30 minutes.  I don't know where she came up with that number because I just read the TE cover to cover and it never mentions how long it's supposed to be.  We have a half day planning meeting with her this Friday (we're getting subs so I get to write sub plans.  So fun.) so I guess I will be able to ask more questions then.

Anyways, in preparation for Daily 5, I found a bunch of stuff.  I don't know if you can use this but I made a little poster for three ways to read a book.  The idea is not my own - I just added clipart.  I couldn't find one with clipart so that's why I made this.  I hope someone can use this.  I'm totally using it whether I'm allowed to incorporate Daily 5 or not.  I just have to google the Houghton Mifflin image, copy it, stick it on here, and I'm good to go!  JUST KIDDING!  But do you think that would work?????

Click on the picture to download.

Before I go, BB Fans - what did you think of Brendan getting back in the game???  I was kind of laughing because LeWon looked as if he didn't know what hit him.  What was he expecting?  He volunteered to be evicted!!!!!  Don't get me wrong - Brenchel is going to be SO annoying now that they're reunited.  GROSS.

Have a great weekend!


First Day = Success

I made it through the first day!  :)  Even though it was my 15th first day in first grade, I was still nervous and felt a tad bit . . . will I remember how to do this???  My feet hurt (I wore wedges that are pretty comfortable but they pinched my toes on my right foot today so the flip flops came out at lunch time) and my throat hurts from all of the talking I had to do but it was a success.  This class is so sweet!  They are also all CUTE and LITTLE!  I felt like a GIANT!  Woo hoo!  :)

I had the usual craziness that seems to happen only at my school (although please tell me if this happens at your school) and I tried really hard to be flexible and to just go with the flow (which is really hard for me because I do not like surprises and I must be in control and prepared at all times) but still.  Here's a snippet:

I have a Madison.  Cutie.  Identical twin (I start thinking . . . I don't remember her being a twin. I wonder who has the twin?) and dressed to the nines!  Takes a seat at the desk that says "Madison.".  Perfect.  This is going off without a hitch.  Look at all my new friends doing what they are supposed to be doing.  Look at all of their parents looking at me wishing that I would read The Kissing Hand and make a big to-do or a brilliant speech or something . . .

Here comes Madison number two.  With the correct last name.  Madison number one is in the wrong class!  Nice parent takes daughter to office.  No problem!

Nope.  Madison number one is on my new and improved list.  Identical twin is in another class and I found out at lunch time that my teamie knew about her twin student YESTERDAY.  They just forgot to tell ME about mine.  Rush, rush, grab, grab, write, write, sit here, welcome, welcome.  Smell the soup. I have 30 kids now.  It's all okay!  15 girls, 15 boys, even number, I like this.


I dismiss my kids.  It goes well (which is extremely hard at my school of 1100 kids with a front and back gate pick up, as well as bus, kids club, etc. It's stressful in the beginning!  Last year I "lost" three kids but not really because other families stole took them to their parents) and I'm heading back to class when a family stops to introduce themselves to me.  Because their son is going to be in my class tomorrow.  Because they requested me and didn't get me so they spent the afternoon with my principal and abracadabra . . . he is now pulled from my teamie's room and put in mine.  My partner is getting two tomorrow from other classes, my other teamie is getting one from another class . . . all because my principal will not take a stand.  GRRRRR.  So I spent tonight making new stuff for this poor guy who started in one room today and will start over again with me tomorrow.  And did I mention he is five years old and his birthday is not until December 1????????????????????  That is THE cut off date for California.  I mean, HONESTLY.

I should have started this post thanking everyone for their nice, sweet, supportive comments on my other post.  You all are so nice - I can't get over it.  Blogging has taken over my life because when I sat in our meeting yesterday and heard about all of these horrible changes, I just kept thinking, "Wait until I blog about this!!!!  You'll see!!!!!"  :) :) :)  I love all of the comments about sneaking stuff in -- how did you guys know that my halo goes crooked every once in awhile??  I plan on spending this weekend reading my stupid T.E. cover to cover and documenting every little thing that says independent reading or independent ANYTHING (so that I can do Daily 5).  Surely I can make this work!

Lastly, here are a few more pics.

This is my little supply table where kids can get extra crayons, trade "not sharp" pencils for "sharp" pencils, get bandaids, turn in sight word lists, etc.

This is my guided reading table.  I love my windows - I feel really lucky to have 4!!! (the other two are on other walls)   :)  Most of the other rooms only have 2.

This is my desk area.  Nothing too special.

This is the library -- a light is burned out above it so it's kind of dark cozy.

Also, I probably don't need to point this out but as you can see, I don't have a theme.  Unless you call DJ Inkers a theme.  I change my bulletin boards ALL OF THE TIME.  I drive myself crazy with it but as soon as fall starts to approach, I have to change all my boards.  And then again with winter, spring, open house, etc.  It's never ending.  I am so anal that I started using a level about 10 years ago.  I have corrupted a lot of my friends with the need to have a level, too.  Do any of you use a level?  My husband  and my friend Susan's hubby were going to try to design a stapler that had a level in it - we were going to call it The Strapler (as in straight) but it never came to fruition.  If someone designs this, I will buy it!!

I have got to go to bed.  I can barely type this!  Thanks again for all of your support!!

PS  How about LeWon (spelling) on Big Brother?  Have you ever????????!!!!!!!!


Twas the Night Before School

Holy moly - school starts tomorrow!  It doesn't even feel real.  I can't believe I am going to have little brand new first grade friends in my room tomorrow! :)  From what I can gather, it looks like I am going to have a really good class this year.  Fingers crossed - last year was a bit rough challenging (mainly one who liked to throw rocks at my student teacher and chairs at other people, but then there were about 6 other boys who communicated with kicks and fists and rarely used words so . . . surely, it will be better than that?).  I am nervous!!!

I also feel really sad and upset today.  :(  We had our staff meeting this morning and after a big build up (choose a theme song as if you were a baseball player, a video montage of all our pictures with the song "Wind Beneath My Wings", learning that our school met and exceeded our API and AYP goals by over 20 points), our principal proceeded to tell us what Program Improvement looks like.  I talked about this in an earlier post but even though our school is fine, we have been mandated by the District to teach Language Arts for the first two and a half hours.

Here's the bad part:  I can't even do Daily 5.  I can't even use my supplemental materials.  I HAVE to use Houghton Mifflin the entire time.  I am not allowed to pull small groups, especially READING GROUPS during this time.  It is AWFUL.  I asked if I could use (for example) a short vowel activity that I created because the workbook page only had two problems and mine has ten and the answer is NO.  My team had a private meeting with her because we JUST. DIDN'T. GET. IT.  I mean, do you?  It got to the point that I had to ask (maybe beg is more like it) if it was OKAY for my early finishers to READ A BOOK.  My principal said (and I quote), "For how long?"  When I said, "um . . . (thinking what number in tarnation is she looking for me to say!?) . . .  about five to seven minutes and then I'll call them back to the carpet for the next lesson,"  she said, "Well, as long as it's not for any longer than that."

ARE. YOU. DYING? ..........................................

I had to stop and smell the soup for a minute.  Sorry about that.

I still don't know what I'm going to do.  Here's my schedule:

8:45-10:25 Language Arts
10:25-10:40 Recess
10:55-11:25 Language Arts
11:25-12:10 Lunch
12:10-1:45 Oral Language, Math (and twice a week I either have Library or Computer Lab, plus Wednesdays we get out at 1:57)
1:45-2:00 Recess
2:00-2:57 Science, Social Studies, ELD, Pack up, etc.

Where do I pull reading groups if I am not allowed to during my Language Arts block?

Okay, I need to stop.  I just keep re-reading, shaking my head, smelling the soup . . . I just have to stop.

On a bright note, I took some pics of my classroom.  Here's a little tour.  At least I have control over that (for now).

This is the view from my door.

Back to School bulletin board.  We will put writing on those red rectangles.

This is where I do most of my teaching with the kids on the carpet.  Notice the ugly TV?  We just got cords that connect from our computer to the TV last year.  Yep.  It was a big day.

Calendar (which I guess I am not allowed to do anymore) and another bulletin board which will have some sponge painted bears.  I have no idea when we'll sponge paint them, though.  Maybe they will take them home for homework???? (that's sarcasm)

This is my writing center.  Which I was going to use for Daily 5.  And now I think I will use it for . . . um, let's see . . . the Look, Don't Touch Center.  There is a table right in front of this but I didn't get it in the picture.  I also forgot to take a pic of my Library.  Oops.


Another bulletin board - (and that's the table by the writing center) we make first grade faces using yarn, buttons, etc.  The faces go above the yellow rectangles and we put a little half sheet of writing (all about themselves) on the yellow paper.  (I like to have the rectangles up and ready to go so that I can just staple.  It takes me FOREVER to figure out spacing . . . and yes, I take pics to remind me but every year, I have a different number of kids or I make the bulletin board the wrong size or I'm just a perfectionist.  The list is endless)

View of the whiteboard.  We have lots of storage behind the whiteboard! :)  And did you notice TODD?  (aka Terribly Old Decrepit Dinosaur, aka THE OVERHEAD) That's my technology.  All of you smartboard and Pentagon Parthenon lucky people make me jealous!!!!

Well, I'm going to wrap this up.  I have no clue what I'm wearing tomorrow.  I need to go figure it out.  
Thanks for listening!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

PS  Did anyone watch The Bachelor Pad??????  It was FANTASTIC!  Vienna is DRAMA and I can't stand Casey's voice.  It drives me crazy!  But I love it!! :) :) :)