Friday, October 21, 2011


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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. 


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?"