Sunday, August 28, 2011

hit the ground running


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


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


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


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.

- 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)

- 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!

- 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.

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.

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?

Miss Eye