Wednesday, December 14, 2011

oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree . . .

We've been crafty lately, with mixed success.

My guys tried to make the traditional, white paper snowflakes one morning this week. I'd been in an IEP meeting, and came in about ten minutes late and tried to do it with them. . . no go. Two problems: our imaginations aren't very big ("What do you mean, just cut out shapes? Which ones? Where? But I don't want mine to be different!") and our cutting skills just aren't too great, considering we can all kind of be perfectionists. It didn't exactly work out.

All of my morning sweethearts made Christmas trees, though, and they look amazing. I saw the idea on A Special Kind of Class and wanted to go for it. We used die-cut circles and stars, and I punched out billions of colored dots to use as ornaments. I think they turned out adorable!

The one in the middle is by one of my darlings. Mine is left, the assistant's is right.


My friends that are in my class during Literacy Block as well wrote a sentence to go with it, then typed it up. Someone is missing, BTW; I have more than two during Literacy.

They all loved it, especially the hole-punch ornaments (the custodial staff hates me.) They look so cute in the hallway, too. The only thing I was conflicted about was the typing. When one particular little darling writes, no one but me can read it. I've been letting him type after he edits any time that our work goes into the hall. I want to recognize his awesome ideas and let him put up something his classmates in his other class will oooh and ahhh over when they see it, but I don't want to send the message that his handwriting is hopeless or an unimportant skill . . . 

Anyway, I'm really glad they had an awesome time and felt successful with this. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

stupendous snowflakes!

I feel like I've posted mostly about logistics, or little funny situations, or quotes from my class. I haven't talked much about what we're actually doing.

So. Here we go.

Normally, we have at least one activity a day that specifically targets following directions. Now, we follow directions all day at school, but I usually try to work on this behavior during a fun activity (a game, a craft, etc.) that is relatively non-threatening and doesn't really involve heavy academics. This keeps lack of academic skill and low motivation from being huge variables in the activity.

I was looking for a winter time craft that we could put up in our room when I ran across  a tutorial for snowflakes on Teaching in Flip-Flops. I immediately wanted them in my room. . . but I wasn't so sure that the activity would go that well with my guys and girl. She has third grade regular ed, while I have mostly first (and one second) graders with low tolerance of group activities, low rates of following verbal directions, etc. Also, first graders generally don't have the same fine motor skills as third graders. 

I decided we would try. And . . .

It went amazingly well! There were some hiccups:
- My guys wanted to pick their own colors, so we don't have an amazingly coordinated winter wonderland. I did not even bother to fight this battle; I only gave one prompt for how cool it would be if we had all blue/white, but they didn't bite. One even said, "Snowflakes are not blue, anyway." True that.
- They didn't have a whole lot of success with the cutting part. After we made one with them doing it all by themselves, I did all of the cutting/stapling and they did all of the folding/taping. Teamwork! I think if we ever do this again, I will get them into triangles and draw cut-lines on them prior to the activity. 
- One of my kids flat out was not interested. Could not have cared less. After the first mandatory snowflake part was done, that was it. She read a few books to herself while the boys got amazingly crafty. 
- I didn't have any fishing line or something transparent, so the black yarn is kind of a buzzkill. I'll be prepared next time.

Here are some pictures of our success!


This one was our "All By Ourselves" one, with extremely limited assistance. There were many do-overs, but they loved the finished product. They did two more mostly independently (not pictured.)



These two were our "I'll cut/staple, you fold/tape" ones. 

dear general ed teachers . . .

Do not jerk a child by the chin to get him/her to turn their face towards you under the premise of teaching eye contact. That child will then come to my room and jerk my chin in their direction when I eventually (and inevitably) speak to them without making eye contact (we're all a little autistic sometimes. . . ) Now you have that child invading people's space without permission, being rough with others. . .  And this child? Is not making eye contact with me, either, so now he/she is grabbing me by the chin while staring over my shoulder while nervously telling me, "Some teachers make you look at them. You have to."

You didn't just teach a pro-social skill. You just put me three steps backwards on the target behavior I was working on (asking for permission to touch/hug/etc.) and made both the child and I uncomfortable.

Thanks.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

thankful

Some good things happened today:

- Mr first DonorsChoose project was funded! The first four levels of my leveled library should arrive after the winter ordering freeze. My project for levels E through H is being reviewed and should be up soon.

- The PTO may be buying me a tent for my room to make a reading nook. My long-term sub-sistant (ha!) was president last year, so she took note of how differently my room is funded. We will see . . .

- I got lap desks for my guys, finally! They were on sale at Michael's for $5 each, plus my teacher discount. Hooray!

- My book bins are in (but UPS wouldn't leave them because I wasn't there. Boo. Let's hope the signature release on the door works tomorrow.)

- We've started bucket-filling. My kinds are slowly taking to it. I also managed to find some cute buckets at Target in the dollar section! Well, actually, my mentor found them for me and I went to get them. :) We needed 7. I got 12. Heh.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

absent

Hi. Umm, it's been a month. While I am not one for excuses ("but he made me do it!") there have been some interesting circumstances around these here parts:

1. I had a new friend join me on short notice. He hasn't learned the ropes yet, so I've been kicked/hit/bitten (yes, bitten!) quite a few times. Plus, my new friend runs out of my room frequently. My others ran out frequently in August if they were upset (not anymore.) He ran out last week when asked if he wanted to play legos or do Fast Math during choice time. Yeah.

2. My paraprofessional took all of her sick days, then quit with no notice. The day after her sick leave ran out, she didn't call in or officially quit, so I didn't even have a substitute. I've had some interesting substitutes in the meantime, by the way. I have a long-term one now, though. She's amazing, but not trained and having to learn on the spot. Plus, she's only paid to work bell-to-bell (paraprofessionals stay 30 minutes,) so it's hard to conference about logistics.

3. I have been sick. I have a nasty chest cold (AKA probably bronchitis) that's been messing with my asthma, plus I just finished antibiotics for an ear infection. As a side note, I don't know any other adult that still gets ear infections. This is my third this year. Weird?

Anyway, I'm going to try to be better about posting, because some of the things that go on around here are pretty funny. I need to be creating a memoir. ;)

Friday, October 21, 2011

unwell

An e-mail I received today from our school psych:

"What day are you going to go observe at (two elementary schools with classes like mine) and (school with student needing evaluation) (AKA day I need to be feeling sick?)"

I was first informed that I was not allowed sick days. Then they said that I could take them, but that they would want to take a sick day that day, too. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

overwhelmed

I am (unexpectedly) home this weekend. Again.

Although I love the kids I teach, and I hope I'm doing a good job teaching them, I'm extremely stressed out by my job. Add on roommate troubles, not having friends in my new city, and so on . . . I feel pretty awful right now.

I have spent all of Saturday a) looking up ideas for math and literacy centers on the internet, b) going to two teacher stores and B&N for supplies, c) getting back on the computer and working on stuff for school, and d) not napping despite an overwhelming urge to.

I don't want to make this blog really personal. This is getting to me, though.

Anyway, I have a billion things to do and no time to do them in. Centers, lesson plans, preparing for a field trip, organizing for an early release day, an induction teacher class . .  . This would seem much less overwhelming if my kids weren't so high-octane. I get hit or kicked pretty much every day, things are thrown, someone runs from the room, someone else offends the precious sensibilities of a general education teacher. . .

I don't have planning half the time. I frequently don't have time for lunch. My only bathroom break on Friday happened at 2:50. I had last gone at 7:05. I don't get much help from my assistant. She frequently calls in sick.

I don't know if I'm supposed to be this stressed. Am I making too big of a deal about it all?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

where are you, weekend?

I was at Wal-Mart for longer than I expected this morning (buying legos, dixie cups, and a beanbag chair) and didn't get to school until 7:10. (That's still 5 minutes before duty starts, and I technically don't have duty.) I usually get there at 6:45. My assistant saw me and said, "Oh thank God. I was afraid your cold had gotten worse and you'd called in sick."

Later today, I was wondering aloud why it felt like it should be the weekend already when it was only Thursday. The school psych shouted out (from her office) that it was because I worked twice as hard as anyone else. I asked if we could just cancel school tomorrow. "No. And, also, you may not take a sick day. Ever. We would be in serious trouble. I will buy you orange juice and a flu shot. The one professional day you have coming up is all you get."

Awesome. So much for the five (or something) day balance I have, I guess they'll be rolling over forever.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

planning

An e-mail I received today:

"We need to meet and make a cohesive plan for (other teacher's) new student. Tentative plan for first day: wear running shoes."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

sick

When I spoke to one of my kids early this morning, he said, "I gave you my cold, didn't I?"

Yeah. Thanks, dude.

On another note, why am I awake at oh-dark-thirty when I'm sick? Oh, maybe it's because I was making materials for science tomorrow, working on a class jobs chart, and reading up on district ELA curriculum. (p.s. I think that should've been addressed earlier. It is the 7 week of school and I just figured out where to get the district sight word list.)

My assistant sent me an e-mail saying she hope I took meds. I think she's just afraid I'll leave her there tomorrow with a sub. Heh.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

about me sheet

Almost every teaching blog I read has people giving away freebies, and selling more things on TpT. I am totally in awe of their creativity and their expertise. I wish I was that awesome. 

Most of the things I use in my classroom are not original. Not at all. I borrow ideas from blogs and Pinterest like no one's business. Reorganizing my teaching resource files today, though, I noticed that I did have one new thing I made this year. It's not impressive or anything, and you could make it yourself in about two minutes, but . . . whatever. I did a little getting to know you activity with my guys on the third day of school. Here you go.

nerves

I have my first parent-teacher conference tomorrow.

I am terrified.

I've had several IEP meetings already this year, but I knew what to expect with them and the whole team was there to balance everything out. Tomorrow will be me, the parent, and (I'm hoping) someone from administration.

I've tried to be positive as I could with this parent about her child's performance in my class while still being honest about the child's needs and problems. After a phone call on Thursday, I'm wondering if I was too positive. The parent seemed to be surprised by what I was telling her, even though the reports from last year, the behavior intervention plan, IEP present levels, and the things I'd told her so far seemed to be consistent with what I was saying.

I'm bringing my A game, all the data I have, and my diplomatic face to the conference in the morning. I'm worried that won't be enough. I don't feel like I have enough data (although I'm not dumb enough to tell that to mom) because so often someone in the room is in crisis or needs intensive one-on-one help. How do you take data when one student is having an extreme behavioral escalation and the other students need to be occupied so that they don't have one, too? I feel like I need to clone myself.

Anyway, wish me well tomorrow.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

rebel

Our principal just sent everyone at our school an e-mail with the school wellness policy the district mandates.

No non-nutritive snacks as rewards.

Ummmmm. . . I kind of bribe my kids with food. When they're good, though, they only earn about two treats a day. A treat is a single goldfish cracker, a single graham cracker, or (only occasionally!) an M&M. It's not like I'm feeding them a lot.

Is it bad to disregard this? Our district-level SpEd meeting encouraged using food, despite policy.

Ho hum.

missing: frosty

One of my student's RegEd teachers came up to me today and demanded to know: "Where IS his backpack? That worked yesterday!"

Me: "The melted snowman disappeared. I have no idea what happened."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

be like pre

One of my kids had a . . . behavioral escalation today. On the playground. Hello, whole new ballgame. Hello 40 minutes of crisis mode. But, anyway. Playground.

I run to catch the kid who is bent on (create your own danger to self and others scenario here.) I RUN.

While I am doing my crisis thing (insert CPI here,) another student (of mine) comes up to me. Here's how that went:

kid: "Wow, Miss Eye! You ran FAST!"
me: "Buddy, if you can go find something else to do right now, I'll show you a train picture on my phone after lunch."
kid: "Oh! Bye!"

Saturday, October 1, 2011

prepared

I imagine anyone coming across this blog (is there anyone out there?) would be more experienced than I am. It's hard not to be, really. However, this advice that I am about to dispense was something that many veteran teachers that I work with could have used if they'd heard it early last week. So, here it goes.


Be prepared for an emergency.


Oh, sure. I'm sure you think you're prepared. You have your box/bin/kit. It probably has a first-aid kit in it, your signal cards/flip book/whatever your district requires. Maybe even a flashlight. Your roster. You might even have emergency contacts for your kids, if you're particularly prepared. You're ready. Heh


First thing: Make sure everything is working and stocked from the list above. Your first-aid kit needs to be full. Especially of band-aids, wipes, anything that you would need to take care of for your kids in an emergency. This may seem obvious, but think: you run out of band-aids at recess pretty quickly some days. What if you have an emergency the next morning? 
Also, that flashlight? Checking the batteries to make sure it works is not sufficient. You need to test it out in the dark. The one my school issued me had working batteries. It didn't give off enough light. I replaced it with this flashlight from IKEA. It's hand-cranked, so you don't have to worry about batteries. It has been field-tested in an emergency (by me an my sprouts) and gives off plenty of light. The crank is also guaranteed to amuse a kid for at least 20 seconds and up to one hour. I already had this on hand, but I'm probably going to invest in some more this weekend. I'm sold on them.


Second thing: Have the kids help you. This was easy in my class because I had already practiced it during our two fire drills. My kids are much more focused and well behaved when they know they have a job and can be appreciated for doing it. I'm not sure I would have put as much thought into it if I had a regular-ed class. With my small group of core (self-contained) students, they each have a job depending on where they are when they line up. First person grabs our emergency cards and will hold them up (hopefully green!) when we are in our place. Second person carries the emergency bin. Third person is caboose and makes sure everyone gets out and to our spot. I have a few things for whatever resource students are with us to do (put a rock in the door so we're not locked out if it's a drill, do our head count, etc.) that I can think of on the spot depending on what type of emergency/drill is going on. 


Third thing: This is the one that even the veteran teachers at my school were not prepared for. If you are evacuated, you may be sitting around. For a while. On a bus, outside, in another school's gym, or whatever. The excitement/anxiety/whatever will wear off and your kids (especially primary age or with special needs or both) will be bored. If you are evacuated for an hour (or hours!) you need to have something to do. One of my guys just happened to be working on a notebook full of dry-erase writing activities when we were told to evacuate. He put the pen in his pocket and carried the notebook and eraser out with us without me really noticing until we got outside. I'm really glad I didn't tell him to just put it down, because it really saved us as far as being calm and occupied. My students switched off who was writing and helped each other work on the pages.  



There are other things, too. You may need a small snack for your kids, or water, or whatever. This isn't supposed to be all-encompassing. Just think beyond the list your school gave you and think about what your kids would need if out of the school building for more than a half-hour. (Yes, half-hour. Just imagine that, then start extending to hours from there.)


I now have two (small) emergency bins stacked by my door. One just has what we would take out during a planned drill. The one under it will be taken with us any time we have an unplanned incident, in case we are out of our classroom but not dismissed for a while. A set of books on their level, a small anthology of several stories for read aloud, crayons and things to color, what have you. Sitting for hours without something to do during a stressful situation was problematic for a lot of kids (not just my kind of kids!) without something to do. 

shorts

From this past week:

Monday: Early morning. My principal comes into my room with a student (who had run and my assistant had followed.) I welcome the child back and thank him for making the right decision. The principal says, "Mrs. (blank) left." She doesn't come back for two days. I have an amazing substitute assistant the first day. I ask if I can keep her.

Tuesday: Substitute assistant from hell. Judge-y McJudgerson will not be invited back to my room ever again, for my students' safety and my sanity.

Wednesday: My mentor's assistant occasionally drops into my room to ask if I need anything or to courier a message. She came by after school to chat and said her favorite quote from me that day was: "Here's a sticker for being ABOVE the table." Hmm, small steps, right?

Thursday: Literacy night. I was a registration greeter instead of running a workshop. My school psych, who has seen how well my students are progressing in reading despite their various behavioral . . . quirks, suggested that I lead a workshop next year. Her original thought for a title was "How to teach reading to students who are alternatively under or on top of the table, or climbing on you, or running out of the room, or throw books instead of reading them, or . . ." We decided a better title would be "How to trick your child into learning to read."

Friday: Overheard: "It's 2:40 and I want to go home. Why can't kids have psychotic episodes on Wednesdays at 9:00?"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

overheard

*reading report from regular ed teacher while going over daily report with student*

me: "Smiley, smiley, smiley . . . whoa. A frown for not using nice words?
student: "There's a note."
me: "(Name) threatened to cut another student's head off when she sat in his seat? (Name,) what?"
student: "OBVIOUSLY, I was kidding. I didn't even have a machete."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

dear (blank)

Questions end in question marks, not seven exclamation points. Also, please don't crowd-source answers over e-mail for questions that A) I already answered and B) any veto to my answer could only be made by my boss. Finally, please proofread.

P.S. - The all-staff distribution list is not a toy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

i teach kids. . .

I teach kids . . .
who hide under the small group table
who memorize train schedules
who run out of the school towards the road
who call each other "dude"
who kick your knees as you hold them back from hurting someone
who give awesome hugs
who cry for hours on end
who get endless giggles
who are starfish experts
who will eat anything
who pull off my glasses and throw them
who exclaim, "I love you, Miss Eye!"
who meltdown when they misspell a word
who run to me every morning
who hit me (and their friends)
who rush to comfort a friend in crisis
who bite my arms and pull my hair
who help me clean up someone else's mess
who proclaim, "I love your class!"
who throw chairs and scissors
who ask me to eat with them at lunch
who scream while trying to stand on my shoulders as I attempt to do storytime
who ask, "I don't do stuff wrong?"
who kick and punch
who have monsters bigger than they are
who say they missed me
who make me want to be at work

Sunday, August 28, 2011

hit the ground running

Hi.

I haven't abandoned blogging. I've just been working 12 hour days (I wish I was exaggerating) while trying to move in to my new place. And, to make it more awesome, we have no internet. The last tenant didn't pay their bill for cable/internet, so the provider won't hook us up. :(

My students are awesome, but some of them have pretty big difficulties that I hope I'll be able to help them with. I'm trying to make sure I do everything right, but I'm worried I'm screwing up majorly.

Anyway, I hope to be able to update regularly again soon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

off we go!

Today was the district-wide back to school celebration. I had heard from some returning faculty/staff that it was a horrible, boring waste of time. I was kind of dreading it, actually.

I loved it.

It dragged a little, at the beginning, but the superintendent was extremely funny when he spoke. I thought it was really great. He had a funny Michael Phelps/teacher joke, but telling it on here would give away the general geographic area that I teach in. Anyway, just trust me. Funny.

We worked more in the classroom again today, too. It's looking better and better, but still very few decorations. I'm definitely going to change that before the kids start. My parapro is inventorying my books for me, which hopefully is going okay since she didn't say anything. I also need to finish taking notes on my students (everyone else calls them my babies, by the way) so I can speak intelligently to my first-grade-counterparts tomorrow.

Meet-the-teacher night was also tonight. Since I'm considered a "non-homeroom teacher," I had to help with registration and residency issues instead of seeing them in my room. I met two more of my friends tonight, plus one of their moms. I AM SO EXCITED NOW!

It's getting real.

More tomorrow.

Monday, August 15, 2011

conflicted

Back to work! The weekend seemed way too short, probably because I was still busy looking for classroom supplies and packing up for my impending move. I was still exhausted by the end of it.

We had professional development today, which was a little disappointing. Everything I heard seemed so obvious to me, yet other things weren't covered. I don't know.

I also am having a conflict at work. And I'm further conflicted on if it's appropriate to say something on here. Even if the blog is mostly anonymous, I don't want to air dirty laundry. Yet, it is a major part of my initial experiences this week, which I wanted to document on here.

My room is coming together, and so are my plans for the two days this week my students come. They aren't supposed to come to my room, so I think I'm going to push-in to their classrooms those days. Past that, I'm going to teach the same academic lessons as their regular ed class PLUS social skills and affective lessons.

We have a kick-off party tomorrow, so off to bed I go.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

frist day

Even though I've been working a few days already, today was the first official day for all teachers (read: not just newbies.) We had meetings in the morning, and then got to work in our rooms more after lunch.

I am constantly learning more and more about how things are done here. I felt so clueless just forty-eight hours ago, and now I'm feeling much more in control of the situation. We still have more meetings, too, so hopefully things only get better from here.

I worked on my room this afternoon. (Photos will come tomorrow, since the internet is slow here.) It looks like a classroom now, and not a landfill!

After work, I went to Miss Bee's (my roommate's) classroom at another school. She's doing pre-K, so all of her stuff is so tiny. She's done a great job with her room, I'm so jealous.

Anyway, I'm staying at Miss Bee's parents' house, so no more commuting for now. I think we get keys next week. (woot!)


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

sleeeeeeepy

My life right now: signing up for professional development sessions five minutes before the registration deadline on my iPhone in the YMCA parking lot after (what was supposed to be) an interview for a part-time job.


Overall, today went well. My room is slowly coming together. Slowly. But commuting 90 minutes is wearing on me. I'm going to bring toiletries and a change of clothes with me tomorrow and try to either crash on someone's couch or get a hotel room. 


Ugh. Goodnight. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

clarity

So, day two of new-teacher training involved going to our schools for half a day. Which was awesome.

My cabinets are not done. My SmartBoard is nowhere in sight. Yet, I'm not concerned.

I met my mentor today. Her room is next door. She probably thinks that I'm an idiot, because I had no idea what's going on. Or . . . well. In my defense, I was told I was being hired for one thing and then found out today that it was a completely different kind of class.

Yet, I'm not concerned.

I found out about my class today, from someone (aka my mentor) who actually knows. And I read files, and reports, and IEPs. And I now know so much more.

I am teaching resource.

Yes, me, teaching resource. At The College, my two practicum placements and my clinical internship were all self-contained. I only even saw two resource classes during my first-semester rotation (which was about 10 different classrooms for a half-day each.) I did, in my defense, have one child in my clinical practice who was resource, but came to our self-contained class because he was a kinder and there were no other resource kinders in our school.

But, anyway, resource. It is emotional/behavioral, as I was told, just not self-contained. Which is great, actually. Just unexpected.

I have six, right now, but that's subject to any additions from kindergarten as the year goes on plus anyone who needs me that moves in. I have six firsties! Yes, even though I officially teach K-1-2, they're all the same age. I think it's awesome. I have five boys, and one girl. Yes, I have a girl! Unexpected, but also great.

So, I'm not concerned (because I am now freaking excited.)

There are some things, though. Being resource, I'm not going to do first (or second) day of school with them. I won't be their homeroom. I won't be making my own lesson plans; I'll be working with them on the exact thing their regular ed class is learning right at that moment.

I'll need to make sure I am super helpful to our first grade reg-ed teachers, too. Of course.

Anyway. . .  students!

Monday, August 8, 2011

lost in the woods

I completed my first day of new-teacher-training today. A lot of it was completely redundant for me, but seeing others take notes and ask questions made me realize that my teacher education program had probably just covered more of these practical things than theirs. I've met a lot of new teachers, who all seem awesome, and our coordinator seems really knowledgable and supportive.

So, how am I lost?

A lot of the things I have questions about are school-based procedures and special education procedures. I've been assured that this will be covered on Thursday, when returning teachers start. Still, some of these things are kind of a big deal. I'm kind of getting anxious, because they impact my planning for next week.

Yes, next week. When the kids show up.

Anyway, I'm also lost because I'm *cringe* still not sure of what my class format will be like. I really need to talk to my mentor (who is actually in the room right next door!) about it. Even if she doesn't know, she should know who to talk to.

I'm at work every day all week. Which is awesome, because it will make me more prepared. But, also inconvenient . . . because we still haven't moved in to the apartment. Yay for 90 minute commutes?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

shopping (plus, what to geek-out on?)

(I don't want to make this a personal blog, but) I've done a lot of shopping so far this weekend. I made an IKEA trek yesterday, and now have furniture for my new apartment. Well, I have furniture for my room in my shared apartment, at least. Anyway, I'm anxious to find out when I can move in (the estimate is no earlier than Wednesday and possibly not until Sunday) because I am making a 90 minute commute to my school right now. Which is going to kind of suck this week.

I have new teacher orientation bright and early tomorrow (Monday.) Which I didn't know about before today. I think I am only half in-the-loop: I'm told about things, but the person telling me thinks I already know. I missed a benefits orientation, which was on the 4th, but the letter from benefits about the orientations was postmarked on the 5th. Yeah, I'm kind of confused, too. I would have missed the new teacher orientation, too, if not for the ├╝ber-nice receptionist at my school who called around for me to get my e-mail password (I'd been informed that IT would call me.)

It's no big deal, though, (as long as I don't get in trouble for missing something.)

After my IKEA and Target shopping extravaganzas, I was messing around on Amazon. My classroom wish list is now massive. It's mostly classroom decorations and children's books, for now, because I still have no idea what the kids I'll have will need. A lot of it I probably won't get this month, or even this year, but it's nice to dream. (And, of course, my personal wish list is also too-big.)

Do you want to know what's sparse?

My "professional reading" wish list.

I've been reading a lot of teacher blogs lately, so I added The CAFE Book and The Daily Five to the list because they keep being mentioned. I also have a few books I liked during college but never read all the way through, such as Skillstreaming and the Tough Kid series. But, mostly, I don't know what to read. And, also, I can't find very many good Special Education blogs.

So, I need reading suggestions. Also, blog suggestions.

And maybe a nice lie-down. I'm exhausted.

Friday, August 5, 2011

cooking crayons

Today (well, yesterday, actually, considering that it's 2:30 a.m. where I live) I went through a bunch of my childhood toys/books/rubbish at my grandmother's house. Included in the many baby dolls and Babysitter's Club books (by the way, BSC was my thing in first grade) were many things that might actually find a place in my classroom.

There were also crayons. Lots of crayons, either broken or with raggedy/gross labels.

My grandmother, a former kindergarten teacher, suggested melting them in muffin tins in the oven. I had seen a different method, though, that I wanted to try.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find the webpage. I thought I'd liked it on StumbleUpon, but it was not to be found. So, armed with plenty of crayons, I decided to go forth on memory. The procedures below are by no means original, but I doubt there is any way to melt crayons that some teacher hasn't already done.

materials:
- Crayons, salvageable but broken or otherwise undesirable
- Bowl with ice water
- Tin cans, emptied/cleaned
- Small pot
- Source of water
- Stove (a hotplate would do, I suppose)
- Oven mitt or some other heat-barrier
- Ice cube trays in the shape you want your crayons to be
- Refrigerator (optional)

procedures: 
- Gather crayons. Group crayons into color families. Let logic prevail with this step.

- Remove labels from your first batch of crayons. Your ice water bowl will facilitate this. Stick the crayons in the ice water. Let sit for about 45 seconds or until you've almost forgotten about them. Remove from water. Holding on to the label, firmly tap the end of the crayon on a hard surface. The label should slide off. This trick does not work with some crayons, even within the same brand, but it worked for most all the ones I tried. Violet Crayolas were particularly bad for not coming off. YMMV.

- Alternately, you could have your Legion of the Small peel the paper off for you. Your call.



- Assemble a group of crayons which you would like to melt together. How many crayons per batch depends on the size you want your crayons, so I'm no help there. FYI cans with more crayons have less of a chance of tipping over while melting, but fewer crayons means quicker melting. Obviously

- Put them into your (clean!) tin can. Bend one part of the can into a spout. Just trust me on this.




- Fill your pot with enough water to cover the bottom part of the can (up to the ridges, at least. Heat water on medium-high, which may vary by stove. (Water will need to be replenished, over the course of the crayon melting due to this little thing called evaporation. Plan for it.)

- Put the can into the water.


- Watch crayons melt.

- When crayons are melted, pour the liquid into your ice-cube trays. (I got mine from Bed Bath and Beyond, but I think I'm going to get some with cool shapes from IKEA soon.)


- Let the wax sit in molds until semi-firm.

- Once they are firm enough that they do not splash over the side when you pick the tray up, put them in the refrigerator. Leave in there approximately forever. (Twenty minutes or until no longer warm.)


- Twist ice tray as if removing ice.

- Use crayons.

- Enjoy!

tips:
- You either need more than one can (ideal) or to plan your color sequence carefully. Why? It's hard to get the leftover wax from the last color out of the can. If you only have one can, I advise going from yellow to orange, orange to red, etc.

- Don't move the trays to the fridge too early. You will splash the wax over the side and onto your floor/counter/clothes/dog/whatever.

results:
The crayons look good, although not terribly earth-shattering. I forgot to take a picture, but they're solid, look nice, and write well. Results on usability will be in after school starts.

EDIT:
I think this was the page that I originally read several weeks before melting down my own crayons, but I can't be sure. Glad I found it, because now I want to try the rainbow crayons.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

the wild things

I met one of my students yesterday.

My parapro and I were working on a furniture list when I heard people coming down the hall. Our special ed wing is very segregated (there is no through traffic, even) so I knew they were probably looking for us since no one from resource or the older class was there.

Sure enough, the mental health practitioner was leading a woman down the hall. Tagging along behind was a very small boy.

One of my students, who'd been in to see the mental health practitioner. I greeted him (and his mom) and we spoke briefly. He's six, and was very firm that he is not in first grade yet. Fifteen more days. He wandered around the room, and seemed to find it sufficient, but not impressive. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to make it impressive yet. He said goodbye, and then they left.

My greatest impression was that he was quiet, perhaps shy, and extremely well mannered.

A lot of people I've met talk about the kids in my class like they're demonic. Although I'm sure they have their moments, more than regular kids, they're not demons. Just little kids, some of them with problems bigger than they are. And maybe sometimes they are violent. Or maybe other times they turn on themselves. But, still. Children.

I may have the wild children, but they're still children. If we treat them like animals, they'll act like it.

Anyway, I felt like I didn't get a whole lot accomplished yesterday. The one thing I did get was furniture. We had no student desks, no tables for group work. Now we have a kidney table, two small trapezoid tables, and five student desks. We also managed to switch out the one teacher desk that was falling apart. I'd like to have one student desk per child, but I don't know if we have space. Or how many kids we have (although I should know on Monday.)

That brings me to another thing. Space. Every special ed room I went into during my internships and student teaching (which was a lot, between three placements of my own plus day-rotations through a lot more,) got a classroom that was the same size as a regular room. The classroom I'm in is nowhere near that size. It's maybe a third of the size of a regular first grade room at our school.

There are at least two empty full-size classrooms in the school. I really want one.

Is it impolite to ask?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"i'm old enough to be your mother."

Dear World,

What advice do you have for working with paraprofessionals/assistants?

Sincerely,
Miss Eye

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

so. this is it.


Well.

After much agonizing, this is it. I have a job, and it comes with my own classroom. Crazy, isn't it? My own classroom? Is it a cliche to say that it doesn't seem real?

Anyway, I have a job at an elementary school. I don't want to say which one (or where) in the interest of privacy (mine and my students',) but I will say that it's a nice one that's been recently added on to and renovated. I'm not sure anyone has ever been in my classroom; I think my wing is new.

As for what kind of class I will have. . . I'm waiting with anticipation to find out. There have been some changes in my job description wording since they made the offer, so I'm going to see how that pans out. I'm not concerned; it sounds great. The students are going to be Kindergarten through 2nd great, which will be awesome. I am so excited.


You can see my room (above.) It's crowded right now. None of the stuff in it is mine. Well, it is now. I'm excited to have supplies that I didn't anticipate, but the way things are stuffed in there it's hard to even unpack the boxes to see what I have. I think my dad is going to go down with me on Friday to move some of the heavy stuff, and then I'm going to start unpacking things on Monday to see what I have.

 One thing I haven't mentioned: I'm having to relocate for this job. I think we've found a place, but no definite word yet. And I only have two weeks before I start. Yep.

as posted 26 july 2011 (on my other blog)

"Generations of Americans with disabilities have improved our country in countless ways. Refusing to accept the world as it was, they have torn down the barriers that prohibited them from fully realizing the American dream. Their tireless efforts led to the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), one of the most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation in our Nation's history. On this day, we celebrate the 21st anniversary of the ADA and the progress we have made, and we reaffirm our commitment to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans."
Barack Obama
Presidential Proclamation--Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act | The White House

as posted 25 july 2011 (on my other blog)

"Welcome, newbies, to the wonderful world of education. You are now embarked upon that career for which you’ve been preparing for so long. You’ve jumped through the hoops, sat through classes that often seemed irrelevant and/or stultifyingly dull. You’ve taken those horrible courses in education and teacher training that were required of you, those classes that took time away from gaining greater command of the discipline you were preparing to teach. And, despite the fact that those education classes offered almost nothing, you sat through them, nonetheless, demonstrating to all future employers that you have what it takes to deal with the myriad pointless faculty meetings and in-service breakout sessions that lie ahead."
Education Week Teacher: New Teachers: Are You in It for the Long Haul?

as posted 5 july 2011 (on my other blog)


"Resuming his routine, Mr. Morgan warned his audience, “Don’t ever mess with women who have retarded kids.” As groans and cries of “Uh-oh” were heard, he continued, “Them young retarded males is strong. They’re strong like chimps.”
Tracy Morgan at Carolines Comedy Club - NYTimes.com

everyone was outraged at his homophobic comments, but the general consensus now is that he was "just being funny" with this remark. so, guys?

when is it going to far? what is okay to say in the name of comedy?

i don't think this is okay.

as posted 23 may 2011 (on my other blog)

Adult Privilege Checklist

read. this.

as posted 8 march 2011 (on my other blog)




as posted 18 December 2010 (on my other blog)

so, i'm going to graduate with honors . . .
assuming i make it through clinical practice without a mental breakdown. (i'm kidding. i think.)
that'd be nice :)