Saturday, December 17, 2016

Teaching, Observations, and no knitting!

This week marked two months back in the classroom, as well as my first formal observation as a non-tenured teacher.

After the hell I went through with my last principal and receiving my first poor evaluation in 21 years, which I believe was his retaliation for calling in the union on him, it is understandable that I was a little nervous.

I chose to be observed during the first hour or so of our day as this part of our day is coming along nicely, and it usually before any of my students begin to have meltdowns.  Thinking about it now, I think any other teacher would think I was crazy.  During my observation period:

  • Students finished up breakfast/morning work
  • Students transition to lining up
  • Class took a walk in the hall to deliver items to the office (two months ago, they could NOT walk in the hall appropriately)
  • A stop by the bathroom for a potty, and wash hand (another thing that was a nightmare two months ago)
  • return to the classroom to sit on the carpet on their "assigned spot" for Calendar
  • THEN, scoot up to teacher while I read a and discussed the book A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue by Julie Cook
  • Discuss the book, specifically what's tattling vs. reporting, and place pictures on an anchor chart.

How many transitions was that!?

As we were lining up for our walk, one student refused to leave the classroom, "Students are earning bonus points during our morning walk, you can't earn them here, I hope you choose to join your class." and the class left -- student decided to join us on our walk.

While waiting outside the bathroom, some of them wiggled and wobbled and chatted.  "Remember, bonus points are being awarded to students who are showing us appropriate hall behavior: calm bodies, hands, and feet to selves, zero voice level."

After returning to the classroom, during our Calendar/Morning Meeting, I had one student who refused to join us on the carpet, and another who kept leaving and returning to the group on the carpet.  One of these students spilled milk on herself/himself and was removed from the class to change clothes.

Our team continued doing what it is we do every day, with me trying not ignore the fact I was being watched the entire time by our principal.

At the end of the day, our principal came in and stated she wanted to talk to all of us before we left for the weekend.

Are you ready?

She stated we were the most well-oiled team she had ever seen in a classroom.  That we were all positive, we gave the same message, when there were other issues, the TA's handled it seamlessly without interrupting the lesson.  That the TA's supported me so well that I was free to do what I needed to do, which was teach the students!

I think my observation went well!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lesson Plans on

I hope you all had a enjoyable Thanksgiving.  We had my family over.  Mr. FiberJewels got a Traeger Wood Stove so we had a "turkey cook off" of sort.  I tossed the 25 pound Butterball turkey in the oven.  Popped fresh thyme and rosemary in the cavity, sprayed it down with olive oil and basted it once it started to get a lovely brown.

His turkey required more prep - under the skin he put about 1/4 inch of a mix of butter, garlic cloves, fresh rosemary & thyme, salt and pepper.

The reviews from the family is that both were great and no one had a favorite between the plane oven roasted and the wood oven roasted.

Yesterday, after post-Thanksgiving clean up of the kitchen, we took a trip to urgent care -- I'm fighting a sinus infection, but as I have no fever, they will not give me antibiotics, but I did manage to get drugs to help me deal with the symptoms.

Early in the morning, I fell into the rabbit hole that we call Pinterest!  I was looking for information about Daily 5, and ended up stumbling on is an online planner, you can access it from any computer, I believe there are also apps for smart phones and tablets (but I haven't researched that).

taken from page
I have been struggling with lesson plans.

We are a new team, and one of my Teaching Assistants (TA's) is very new and YOUNG.  I think the best way to explain this TA is that she has the attitudes of her generation.  In a word, she's a millennial!  She needs a lot of guidance and positive reinforcement and I'm finding I have to have EVERYTHING written out for her.  Recommendations to her are frequently met with her telling me why she does it a different way.

So, in addition to writing lesson plans for the students, I need to write expectations of the adults in my room.  This is not something I've had to deal with as I've been lucky, and the TA's I've had are my age with a wealth of knowledge.

I was using a word document.  When I worked on it at home, I'd save and email a copy to work. At work, I'd save and send a copy to me at home.  I had several copies with the same name, and it was getting cumbersome.  Additionally, I have to hand in my lesson plans at the end of the school year.

While at the bottom of a rabbit hole, I learned how one teacher was using  A quick search on youtube lead me to this video, Walkthrough ~ Teacher Organization Tool, and set up my own account.  I spent most of the day yesterday setting up my schedule, adding notes I want to stay with the various lesson times in my own account.  The vlogger also has a part two video, Additional Features ~ Teacher Organizational Tool.  In the videos, she shared a discount code for a free six months!  So check them out and grab the discount code and explore!

Today?  I'll be leaving for school shortly - I have an IEP meeting Tuesday that I am NOT ready for (have to write the IEP and to do so, I have to be on a school computer, on the school network).  I'll also finish up this week's lesson plans!

I hope to finish my LazyKaty Shawl tomorrow; I have a row or two to complete.  The "bind off" will be crocheted.  Pictures to come.

Edited to add: keeps getting better.  At school right now working on an IEP for a student.  Feeling very rusty after 18 months away from school.  Can pull up my state's standards and am using them for goals and objectives!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Hard to believe that only four months ago, when a friend asked me, "Do you ever think you'll return to the classroom?'  I quickly, without a thought, responded with, "Probably not!"

Three months ago, on my way home after visiting with a friend, I picked up a substitute teacher packet--it took me a month to fill it in and gather all the necessary information and update my resume.

Two months ago, I hit "submit" on my online application, and delivered the remaining documents to HR.

Last month I interviewed and was hired for what I thought was a long-term sub position.  If I had started this position only two working days later, it would have been a long-term position, but it wasn't.  A big jump in pay, as well as full benefits, and all the responsibilities!

As I stated post, I'm tired.  I often come home, eat dinner and go straight to bed.  The students drain me.

During our language rotations, the students were working in various groups, while I pulled students to my table to help cut up vegetables (thanks to my Pampered Cheif chopper, no fingers were near sharp objects) the principal entered our classroom.  After chatting with various groups, she walked over to my table, asked the student what we are doing, he proudly announced, "We're making STONE SOUP!"  She looked at me and simply said, "Amazing!"  and walked out!

I LOVE this little group of kids.  It both breaks and warms my heart when various school staff will stand at my door and just watch the class and share comments with me such as, "I love watching your class and seeing that the chaos is gone and they learning and laughing."

I'm so thankful that things have changed so much from August when I never EVER thought I'd ever return to the classroom, and now, though always tired, I have the BEST class in the world!