Tuesday, January 9

Last Step # 342

I signed up to take a CPR class this coming Saturday. It is just in the morning and I'll be certified at the end of it. Hurray! I used to be certified for CPR years ago so I'm expecting this will be no problem too. This is one hurdle on my way to "really" being a teacher that I'm looking forward to.

Another good day at school. Although, I graded tests for my 4th grade math students and it was a really mixed bag. I think it's because it was right before the holidays. Two kids had to take the test today. They did fine. I also had to get mean with two kids and send them to our lunchtime detention. They did not do their test corrections. I consider this part of the learning process so I require them to do it. It improves their grade so most kids at least take a stab at it. One of these girls says she did it but she left it at home -- she does this on a nearly daily basis with her homework. The other one is one that I've written about before. She's having a terrible year. The trouble is that she didn't even try. She's avoiding confrontation so she just handed it to me as if she'd done them. I feel badly for her and we're really trying to give her every break but the fact is that if she doesn't do the work, she won't learn what she needs to learn.

The rest of the day went really well. My tutoring kids were fun -- two of the 3rd grade boys that come to see me used to be really difficult to work with and now they are being fantastic. Really wonderful. They like to come, step up to the challenge, and are doing well. Hurray!

Another boy in that same group really worries me. He reminds of one of my students from last year. He is extremely passive and avoids confrontation by avoiding doing his work. He has a terrible home life and has seen his step-father beat up his mother. She's left him twice, taking the kids across the state before going back to him. I had his sister in my class last year during the time they were here then. She is better adapted but struggles with school as well. This boy has a great deal of anger and when it overwhelms him, he just shuts down and won't interact at all. Scary and sad. Life shouldn't be so hard when you are 8.

I was amazed to learn that being a teacher made me feel better about myself as a parent. No matter what mistakes I make in parenting my children, I am doing most things right and that is a good thing. They'll survive the occasional miscommunication when my husband thinks I'm picking them up and I think he's picking them up. They'll never have to see us fight (well, bickering doesn't count, does it???), never have to see one of us try to hurt the other -- or worse, succeed at hurting one another. So, there's that, right?

Monday, January 8

Back in the Saddle Again

To say that today was mixed would be gross understatement.

Today, I arrived at school ready to teach. But my room was not. The janitor was fumbling for keys at the door to my room when I got there. I went in and my mouth fell open. All my wall decorations were off the wall, there was a thick dust in the air and on every surface. My work tables were covered all sorts of things that belonged on the floor. And, there were paint splatters on every surface, including a big smear on the new counter tops (remember this was a brand new room in a brand new building). It was a mess.

The janitor told me that the room had been painted over the break. No one told me it would be painted and that doesn't explain why no one cleaned it up. So, the janitor vacuumed and I dusted and then wiped down every surface with disinfecting wipes. We moved all the stuff around. I couldn't believe how much dust was around. Evidently, they sanded before they painted.

And, to cap it all off, I ended up getting asthma from breathing in the dust. Delightful.

ARGH! I don't get how professional painters can not use drop clothes when they are painting and why think it's okay to leave a mess when they are done. I don't get why the contractor didn't inspect their work. I don't get why the janitors *who knew it was a mess* didn't clean it up.

We've been having trouble with the janitors and the leadership team at the school did a survey today of all the things wrong with the "cleaning" that was done over the break. Hopefully there will be ramifications. It's very frustrating.

But, otherwise, it was great to be back in the classroom, back with kids. I had a great, refreshed attitude. It was nice to see other teachers and staff. Without the filth and asthma, it would have been awesome!

Can't wait to get caught up on reading teaching blogs -- I pretty much gave myself a REAL vacation -- not work thoughts or anything like that. Relax and play! Awesome!

Thursday, December 21

Techy-Organizational Update

Okay, I have renamed the old location of my blog as mindfulteacherold. That's where the archives are and all that jazz. I have renamed this one so that it is just plain old Mindful Teacher and everyone's links should work and all is good and right with the world. Huzzah!

Thursday Thirteen (Vol. 6)

Thirteen Things Mindful Teacher Will Do On Winter Break
  1. Sleep in!
  2. Spend too much time with my kids.
  3. Entertain family and friends!
  4. Go to a New Year's Eve Party with friends I've known since High School.
  5. Clean my house from stem to stern.
  6. Make a fire in the fireplace, drink hot tea, and read a GOOD book.
  7. Take a walk everyday (rain or shine!).
  8. Take a picture everyday.
  9. Write poems.
  10. Finish an unfinished craft project.
  11. Spend time with my daughter sorting out her bead loom (as I have promised to do for more than a year!)
  12. Cook good food for my family everyday.
  13. Take advantage of at least one post-Christmas sale!
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, December 20

It's the most wonderful time of the year

The time of the year JUST before Winter Break starts. The kids are excited and happy -- for the most part. The staff is excited and doing all sorts of fun projects. At our school, it's unusually cold which adds to that pre-holiday excitement.

Today the staff meeting was a gingerbred house contest. I elected to stay home. It's not that I don't have the holiday spirit but I am going to be doing a gingerbred house with my kids later this week and just think that my mornings are too rushed as it is. Okay, reading back over that, I do have to offer up a big bah humbug to myself! Oh well.

Little gifties have started appearing in my mailbox which is always fun. Who doesn't like to get gifties. I have to get my gifties ready for gifting tonight! Tomorrow is the last day before break.

I have gifties for my 10 math kids and for the staff. Oh boy! I think I'll also make some amazing Peanut Brittle (or cashew brittle as the case may be) for the staff tonight. It's super easy and super delish!

Here's the recipe:
1 c sugar
1/2 c corn syrup
1 c peanuts (or nut of your choice)
1 tsp butter
1 tsp baking soda

Mix sugar & corn syrup in microwave-safe bowl.
Cook in microwave on high for 5 min.
Add peanuts.
Cook on high 2-3 minutes.
Add butter, vanilla, & baking soda.
Mix and spread on greased jelly roll pan to cool.
When cool, break and package up for a yummy giftable treat!


Thursday, December 14

Thursday Thirteen [Vol. 5]

Thirteen Things Mindful Teacher Wants for Christmas!
  1. A camera bag for my new camera.
  2. A lap desk for working in bed or on the couch.
  3. Dansko shoes -- best teacher shoes EVER!
  4. A pair of binoculars for bird watching.
  5. A Kitchenaid mixer in red!
  6. New sheets for the bed.
  7. Money for shopping for work clothes
  8. Funding for the big deal my husband has been working on for no pay for the last 3 years with no pay!
  9. Spa Day -- manicure, pedicure, massage, facial. HEAVEN!
  10. Julie Zickefoose's book "Letters from Eden"
  11. A Rat Terrier puppy
  12. A Roomba Vacuum Cleaner
  13. A full-time job at my school for next year!
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, December 11

Laying down the law

My 4th grade mini-class just had the best test of their lives. I'm so proud of them.

At the same time, half of them are not doing their homework. A large part of the job of 4th and 5th grade teachers is to prepare kids for success in the future (ie. middle school, high school, etc.). I take that job seriously.

My kids are graded on homework AND test results. So, I explained to kids the way that grading works. And, showed them what happens to your grade when you don't do your homework.

When we take a test, they have to correct their test and turn it in again if they get below an 80. I added a new twist -- dentention if they don't bring their corrections in tomorrow. If they forget the test altogether . . . they have to redo it and take whatever grade they get on it the 2nd time.

Merry Christmas from Mindful Teacher!

I think they got it. Now if I could only give the same lecture to their parents.

Friday, December 8

Making a difference

I think it's really too early to tell but my 4th grade students took a test yesterday on multiplication. It wasn't a hard test by any means but it was really exciting for me because they all did well. I had all As, Bs, and Cs. No Ds or {ahem} below Ds. This is the third test they've taken and this is the first time I've seen this result.


Well, it's a small class. 10 students. I have a volunteer aide who helps in the class. I am able to monitor the student's behavior closely so that they are accountable. They can't hide, daydream, doodle, do other work, read, eat, etc. They have to pay attention. I also modify their tests -- not a lot -- this time I simply gave them visual clues as to what they were to do.

I honestly think the behavior/accountability piece is the biggest and most important piece.

Regardless, I'm so proud of these kids and of the difference we are apparantly making. It won't be easy -- I know there will be times when we seem to fall backwards but we are making a difference and it's a good thing! HURRAH!