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!

Wednesday, December 6

11 Steps to Protecting Your Children Online

Definitely something I wish I'd written. If you are a parent, go here and check it out! I bow down to CoolCatTeacher and her wisdom! I've been teaching this topic to adults for YEARS and much of what she says, I already knew but the way she says it and the directness of how she says it is powerful. I feel safer already!

Tuesday, December 5

Seen on CaliforniaLiveWire.
1. I am a good teacher because...
I care about kids and I have a knack for explaining complicated concepts in an understandable way.

2. If I weren’t a teacher, I would be... a computer trainer still, I suspect.

3. My teaching style is... friendly but firm. Somewhat motherly. Can't help being what I am.

4. My classroom is... tiny but functional.

5. My lesson plans are... hit or miss. Sometimes I work off an outline. Sometimes I work off a detailed lesson plan. But, sort of like cooking, I usually vary the detailed lesson anyway.

6. One of my teaching goals is... to get a full-time job next year at the school of my choice! (Nothing like being ambitious! :)

7. The toughest part of teaching is... seeing what bad parenting can do to a child.

8. The thing I love most about teaching is... watching the little lightbulbs go on over the kids' heads.

9. A common misconception about teaching is... most teachers are burnt out and have stopped caring. I'm sure that some fit that bill but most teachers I know care too much.

10. The most important thing I’ve learned since I started teaching is... you can't be a friend to your students until they respect you. You have to want their respect more than their friendship.

Monday, December 4

Worried about a student . . .

I have a student this year in my 4th grade math class who troubles me. She is having a very rough year and has a very fragile sense of self-esteem. Without getting into too much detail, she has a health issue which pretty much guarantees that she has gained and will continue to gain a huge amount of weight during her adolescence. Her brother is now in his mid-20s and has the same condition. She has seen him go through it and knows what is in store for her. He is now able to control his weight but until he finished with puberty, he gained and gained and gained. She also has learning problems that make it hard for her to learn so here she is fat, knowing she'll get fatter, and she feels stupid. Now, she is NOT stupid but she feels that way because of the learning issues. Her mind isn't on her work anyway with all this other stuff going on (plus some deaths in her extended family which aren't helping her at all). Anyway, she's having a rough, rough time. We are providing a network of support for her and I hope it's helping. During Math this morning, she completely melted down and had to go to the office. Our principal used to be the district psychologist and has taken on helping this girl through this time. So, I know she's getting help -- the family also has her in counseling -- but man, oh, man do I feel for her. I wish I could infuse her brain with math knowledge so that she'd feel more confident about ONE little thing in her life. It just plain ol' sucks!

Saturday, December 2

I'm done!

I completed my last task for CalStateTEACH and turned it all in. I am beyond thrilled. My husband and kids took me out for a nice dinner at a local restaurant with amazing cowboy food. I came home and did the survey. My goal was to finish this weekend and I finished by 6pm on Saturday. Unbelievable.

It hasn't sunk in yet but this is such a milestone. Tomorrow when I get up, I don't have much to worry about . . . just that my day is my own! HOT DIGGITY DOG!