Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Positive Thinking

My positive thought is at how well our transformation into IB is going.  As we meet with other buildings in the district, I'm noticing that we have been better instructed or lead in our training. 

This past Friday, we sat with another building and an IB trainer.  While I did learn many things - I realized that we were farther along in our experiences with IB.  We had units that were done, ideas we could talk from and tasks that were already completed.  It felt good to know that we were doing what we needed...like we were the "cool kids".

Frequently, I feel like we are the last ones being told stuff and that our plates are overloaded.  This year, I feel like I can take a breath.  It's always rushed at the beginning - new year, new kids to get to know, etc. But right now I feel good. 

Our Literacy team seems to have found our rhythm...we have lessons going more smoothly, communication is better and we're getting more into the flow of things.  The kids have seemed to find their flow and groove as well.  The honeymoon period is over, but things - for the most part - are still good. 

I'm hoping the positive vibes are stick around.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

this year....

So, last year ended interestingly.  I wasn't sure I would blog again...but I decided that I needed to keep at it.  It's one thing that keeps me sane and helps me work through things that I need to. 

This year - the word that I'm working on is patience.  My classes are very nice this year...it sounded like we may have some issues - but they have obviously matured and are a nice group.  I am being challenged a different way this year.  A lot of my students are struggling...they need to be told directions a lot and are easily distracted.  Now, I know that you you're thinking - "well, they're teenagers, of course they are..."  and you're right, but it's just creating a challenge for me.

My lesson for this year is learning to be kind.  Don't get me wrong - I can still get grumpy with them, but I'm trying to understand that sometimes, I get more than they do.  They're seeing it for the first time - I may be seeing it for the 12th....

So, while I reign myself in, remembering that these guys are not as independent as I sometimes wish they were - I am again learning a new skill.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

something new....

Ugh...some days I wish I had all the money in the world.  I mean that.  But not necessarily for just anything....for supplies.

I happily discovered that my students were proficient on this pretest for the unit.  And I mean PROFICIENT!  I had a lot who knew what theme is and how to find it.  I love finding out that these guys get it and know what's going on.

So, to change it up I decided to do something different.  While some students still need a little extra support, I'm going to have others do a novel unit.  I chose two books, "Wednesday Wars" by Gary Schmidt and "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton.  I'm going to have some students in each book and I "borrowed" some study guides to help the kids understand the book better.  I'll be working with them too; checking in, asking them questions and talking through any issues they have.

I'm excited about changing this up a bit and I hope the kids like the change too.  So far, those guys jumped right into the books and they seem to like what they're reading.  I'm hoping they continue feeling this way.  I'll keep you updated!  :-)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

learning new stuff...with friends....

I love learning new things...LOVE LEARNING NEW THINGS!  So, when I found out I could take a class about Anne Frank, I jumped on the chance to sign up, spend 10 hours in a room and give up an entire Saturday. 

Now I'm sitting here and everything I keep finding out I'm pretty impressed with.  Especially right now - we're going through different technology sites to use to teach this, I'm signed up for Edmodo to share ideas with these teachers and I now have been introduced to Animoto and Glogster.

I love teacher sharing days when everything actually seems relevant and worthy to take an entire day to learn.  I'm also sitting with two really nice teachers - one who's very excited to learn about everything and the other who is passionate about the subject....these guys get me jazzed and excited to learn as well.  They are a breath of fresh air and really help me get out of my funk of the end of the year "blahs".

Sunday, April 29, 2012

thoughts on a rainy Sunday....

I've been delaying to talk about some things that are happening in our building because there has been so much drama...good and bad.  I just want to post my views, but not for any specific reason other than to post my views and give my thoughts....

So, we've gotten a kind of fruit basket upset as it were for next year.  One of the 6th grade teachers is moving up to the 7th grade and one of the 7th grade teachers is moving to 6th grade.  I can't say that I am unhappy about this move...in fact, I'm joyous.  I don't say this with any kind of meanness...it's just that the teacher that is moving down has...well...been difficult to teach with.  While I believe that he has a lot of knowledge...I'm not sure he was willing to share it.  He could've made our literacy team pretty strong, but chose to do the opposite...he made it much it much harder to do our job.  I really wish it could've been different.  There's a lot that I would like to say - but I'll just leave it with that.

The woman that is moving up from the 6th grade, I believe, will finally make our literacy team cohesive.  She has a personality that is much more compatible with me and the other two teachers that will remain in the 7th grade....actually, anyone could've been moved up from the 6th grade team and we would be fine, but I believe a change will be good for all of us.  What I'm really excited about is getting on top of playing to our strengths and helping our students out.  I'm looking forward to see what we can really accomplish.  We all have ideas that we've been starting to bounce off of each other and each time we do, I get a little more excited and positive about next year. 

For the past few years, I've been struggling and unhappy.  It hasn't been just one particular thing...each year it's different and the more frustrated I get, the more I am looking at what else I can do.  Frustratingly, I really don't know what I else I would do.  One of the things that has kept me in the profession as long as I have, has been the relationships I've forged within the staff at my school, but this year - even those seem to be a point of contention.  I've been somewhat unhappy to learn how difficult friendships can be when aspects of people's lives change.  How one thing can change opinions of colleagues that we've known and been closely associated with for many years.  How one thing can make us forget that we are not perfect.  How we know that we don't have to agree with everything that everyone does, but that NO ONE is perfect. 

I'm hoping things can get better....that a summer can refresh and let us forget a bit.  I'm hoping that my situation will help renew me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

why can't we all get along....

What do you do with that staff member or members that just can't seem to get along with others? The one that constantly has to have drama or be drama? And no, the answer I found out is not to threaten to run them over and then back up to see if you got them....even if you want to. :-)

Last week was full of stress...I found ways to help myself reduce it a bit - exercise, spontaneous dancing in the hallway, pranking other staff who are ok with pranking - DANCE DARES!

But I'm still having issues with one member...one member that I can't figure out. Just when I thought everything was good and perfect this person goes and literally yells at another member of our team. His treatment of her was nothing short of unprofessional...talking to her like she's not important and has no value.

This person, by his actions, deems himself to be all powerful and knowing - like he's the wizard himself! What's sad is that he continually alienates himself from the rest of us. And while - as he states constantly, only has so much time before he retires - makes it hard for us to be a cohesive team. When we have the opportunity to work together and do what's best for students - he chooses to do what he would like to do. It's hard for me to confront this sort of behavior because it's easier when he's not around - at least personally...but it does hurt our team because he does have experience.

I hope that eventually we work things out because we need him and whether he wants to admit it....he needs us.

thoughts on a Tuesday after a bad week....

Well, it's April....it's not quite as close to the end, but the kids are starting to act like it is. This is the time of year I struggle with...not the beginning or middle, but the end. It's the time where you're hoping what you've been doing all year will not get lost as they finish up their year. It's the time where you are constantly giving them the "evil eye" as they act like we've taught them nothing all year. The weather is nicer - not that this winter was bad - and the days are brighter.

Last week was ITBS or what we've now named the Iowa Assessement. Last week was also my week to "hate" people. We put sooooo much emphasis on these tests that not only do we make the kids nuts about them, we make ourselves nuts too. Nothing is ever smooth during these and it doesn't help when communication isn't high on our priority list. We just want OUR test to go perfect and everyone else be hanged.

To me...this is one of the greatest examples of how these tests make our profession a dog-eat-dog world. At a time where we should be collaborating and sharing information to work together for our students - ITBS is the time where everyone just wants their scores to be the ones that shine. Soon new legislation will make our willingness to work together impossible as we compete for our salaries with our peers. I'm afraid of this...I like working with some of my peers...I like having conversations to help each of us think outside the box or build on skills that the others have taught.

Teaching used to be a profession where you just closed the door and did your own thing...thankfully, it's moved away from that. We talk to each other more, work together, build on each others' strengths....etc. We work as a team. I don't like to see where education is going if we lose this.

I hope that we will recover soon from the fallout of the testing that we did last week....I'm ready to move on to something more positive.