Thursday, May 31, 2012

hello summertime

I am completely done.

And, yes, they did finish fixing that hole in the wall. They also installed an industrial-strength doorstop. They promised it would last at least the summer plus two weeks. We'll see.

I had my end-of-year induction conference today. My principal and assistant principal were extremely complementary. They listed on my form that I was particularly strong in collaboration, meeting the specific needs of my student population, and comprehensive planning for teaching and learning. They also apologized to me for my assistant situation at the beginning of the year. I didn't expect that, but I appreciated it.

I'm going to kick my summer off right: a swim, a nap, and a good book. Hopefully you're out for the year, too, and able to do the same.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

requiem for a lost latte

As you might surmise from my blog title, I'm a bit serious about my caffeine intake. This consumption is usually in the form of a venti iced nonfat latte from Starbucks. (An expensive habit I need to quit, but that's tangential.)

I even took a photo of my beloved latte (I'm only mostly joking) this morning, while commemorating the last breakfast I would scarf down frantically in my classroom (as a first year teacher, at least.)

However, me drinking all of this latte? Not meant to be. 

One latte was already lost last week to my newest small person, who snatched it away and drank from it before I could blink. (He then had to be stopped from taking it out of the trashcan to drink.) This one ended up on the floor when one of my other littles threw it. After denting a wall and bending my chart stand. Within four minutes. Before the school bell even rang. 

When my wingman/assistant came in, he tried to talk to the child and nearly got  his hand shut in a door. When he said, "You only have two hours before you're done for the year." . . . the small person only cried harder.

My mentor: "They're just showing you how much they're going to miss you."

I totally feel for this kid, and not wanting to leave. I get it. And compared to how this child started, today was no big deal. I'm just getting frustrated, because there is nothing I can do about it. I can't offer ESY just because you want to stay at school all summer. Sorry.

So, now that I'm DONE with my first year of teaching (!) I'm celebrating by going to Disney World taking a nap.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

shut. the. door.

Guess who has her IEP progress reports done a full 23 hours before they have to be sent home tomorrow. That would be this lady. That's even with staying up all night reading Gabriel's Rapture (I told you I use reading to procrastinate.) I also have all of my IEPs checked, my instructional files almost ready, and my room almost completely cleaned. Yes yes yes

I can't believe it. Tomorrow, year one is over.


So, anyway, if you've been keeping track. . . I hadn't seen the carpet in my closet since halfway through the first nine weeks. I had so much junk (tons of toys!) that I inherited and was unsure what to do with (besides, well, hiding it.) The closet also was locked, with no key to be found, for over half the school year. It was a black hole. Or something. But not anymore. . .

It's still extremely messy, but a much more usable kind. I can get to everything. I can actually walk into the closet. It is amazing. I have been bragging to everyone about how I can see the bottom of my triangular storage closet for once. (Most of them get stuck on "You have a triangular closet?" and don't fully appreciate the unclutering. A shame.)

Also, the bookshelf in my room is slowly getting more organized, too. And the buckets are going home tomorrow (woot!)

So, are you all out yet?

Monday, May 28, 2012


I love books. Love love love books. I read way too often, sometimes as a form of procrastination. So, I'm joining up with Jodi at Clutter-Free Classroom for her summer reading linky party. 

This year, I've read a lot of good books on both the personal and professional side. Most of my teacher-y books were on teaching reading: Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children, The CAFE Book, The Daily 5, Literacy Work Stations, and so on. I think everyone has read those, really.

On the SpEd side, I picked up The Out-of-Sync Child, which I am still struggling through. Do not read that one as an e-book, the formatting sucks. I also read Journal of Best Practices and Aspergirls, which were both lovely but not necessarily geared towards teachers.

I read a bunch of personal books, but the ones that all my teacher friends are buzzing about are the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy. I read them forever ago, but didn't say anything until the first grade team leader asked me (I was embarrassed!!!) They're great, but a little dark and twisty.

I'd recommend any of the above for summer reading, except with the caveat that you shouldn't get The Out-of-Sync Child, on your Nook or Kindle.

Now, for what I'm reading this summer. . .

After we leave school this week, first on my list are Math Work Stations, rereading  all of the Harry Potter series (thanks, Pottermore!) and Gabriel's Rapture. My first-grade-teacher-friend also said I'd like The Marriage Bargain. I have 45 more books on my to-read list on Goodreads, so let me know if you want any more recommendations.

countdown . . .

T-minus 350 minutes. Yes, I've got it down to minutes. In our district, we end the year with three half days. While I appreciate that this gives more time to do end of the year prep (progress reports, room cleaning, etc,) it totally messes with everyone's schedule. TOTALLY.

We've been just trying to keep chugging these last weeks. I taught reading through the last full day, and stretched the math series to finish on the exact last full day. I was pretty proud, since plays and ceremonies and field day were conspiring against me. We did some cute activities and made memory books . . . of which I have no photos. Because I haven't been able to take my camera out.

I have a new friend. Again. (Why, yes, I did write an IEP for the last six days of the school year.) I need some time for this sweetheart to grow on me, but I'm sure he will. Just maybe not before the end of the school year. He declared the other day that he didn't want to go to hell for being bad (this was a total non sequitur, by the way) and proceeded to attempt baptizing himself in the sink. I didn't really have anything appropriate to say, at least not that came to mind immediately, and he wasn't hurting anyone . . . so I let him do it.

Right now, I'm in the middle of progress reports and major cleaning. Do you remember that horrific picture of my storage closet? I may be getting back on the clutter-free wagon. I'll have pictures on Tuesday, I hope. When I left Friday, I could see the floor in my storage closet!!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


The thermometer outside of our room seems to be stuck above 85. The plants are green. It has officially bypassed Spring here, and we've progressed on into Summer. We're trying to stay busy and out of trouble, but seeing the May calendar with our last day of school posted has put some of us on countdown.

I may or not be one of them.

All year, I've relied mostly on the daily promise of prize box as an incentive for appropriate behavior. I'm really wanting to get away from this for some of mine, particularly the ones I serve on a resource or itinerant basis. My new thing hash been different criteria for prize box depending on service minutes (which feels like juggling to keep up with) and holding Friday incentive parties. Last week's party was an Angry Birds party. The littles who earned it were ecstatic! 

We had out an iPad, a Kindle Fire, my iPhone, and M's Droid. It was amazing. 

We've been hanging out with our good friend Mo Willems during literacy block. We used Hope King's Knuffle Bunny Unit, and the small people had a blast. My eldest small person felt too cool for bunnies, but he also was the first to complete all of the activities, so . . .

I finally got a white board in my room! I'd been asking FOREVER, so they finally gave me a tiny one to make me shut up. It's not magnetic, though . . . that makes me sad. The pigeon came and left us a message regarding this Friday's party:

Our little garden has finally started to grow! We'd just about given up on the spearmint until yesterday, when all the littles started to exclaim it was growing. M thought they were having a shared delusion. As you can see in the photo below, it's not visible.

But once we got right.up.close to it, we could see a little green. Just a little. But it's there.  Look!

Anyway I'm trying to teach hard until the end, but it's very hard to do so when we're already making so many plans for the next school year. I just ordered a bunch of stuff for next year through the school, and I have plans to ask for some more stuff from our district-level special services because I'm greedy my students could use it. Yes. That.

Also, we're planning out classes next year. I've done class size projections a few times, and I've had as little as four (in March) and am now anticipating at least nine in August. Which will be . . . awesome. Yeah.

P.S. - Part of why I have nine is because . . . I'm keeping my second graders! Next year I'm teaching third grade. Yes. Yes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What I teach . . .

Karla from Life in Special Education is holding a linky party for SpEd teachers entitled What Do You Teach? She (rightly!) pointed out that we have to explicitly teach a lot of skills that are totally not covered in the standards. My friend (who teaches self-contained preschool) and I were discussing how we would be in big trouble if they used standardized testing data to determine teacher pay, because most of what we teach is not tested.

So, in addition to K-2 state standards, here is some of what I teach. . .

1. How to walk into the school building and through the hallway.
2. Walking in line without talking, touching anyone else, or making your regular ed teacher unreasonably upset just because you're stimming.
3. How to ask a friend to play.
4. What to do if that friend says no thanks, because they'd rather play alone.
5. How to actually play with a friend when they say yes.
6. How to have a conversation with a peer or adult.
7. Transitions can be accomplished without getting upset! Recess is great, let's go!
8. Use strategies to cool down when you get upset.
9. We can solve conflicts without getting aggressive!
10. When you excuse yourself from a tough situation, you should let your teacher know where you're going so you don't get in trouble.
11. Friends need support when they're sad. Telling them to shut up will only make them cry louder. Be nice.
12. When to tell and when not to tattle.
13. Superstitions do not excuse you from classwork.
14. Fart jokes don't impress the ladies or your homeboys. Or whomever else you thought it would. Actually farting is even less impressive.
15. During peer mentoring: "No, if your heart was broken, you would be dead."
16. Blowing your nose and wiping your nose are not the same.
17. Using words gets us what we want and need. Picture symbols are good substitutes. Spitting, hitting, kicking, biting, and screaming don't usually work.
18. The definition of appropriate and why we have to be that at school.
19. The golden rule.
20. There are multiple steps to using the bathroom. You will be called out if you miss putting your clothes back on, flushing, or hand-washing. The rest is up to you.
21. Also, which order all of those steps go in. Hand-washing is not first.
22. You are responsible for you. And only you.
23. Breaking things makes people sad and angry.
24. Even if you don't care if you make someone sad or angry, you may not like the consequences.
25. No one can make you do anything, but I am very convincing.
26. How to play Angry Birds.
27. How to draw The Pigeon.
28. There is no excuse for not keeping your hands to yourself.
29. Basic language concepts (especially pragmatics and vocabulary.)
30. The golden rule.
31. What silverware is, how to use it, and why table manners matter.
32. Clothes have to be worn properly, all day.
33. How to win gracefully and how to lose without losing it.
34. Telling your classmates that we're all going to die is not reassuring during a tornado warning.
35. What to say when someone is bothering you.
36. Other people have different opinions, and they matter.
37. Some problems are kid-sized, and not everything requires adult intervention.
38. Why we have to do work at school.
39. Lying is not okay (so sometimes you should just not say anything.)
40. If an adult at school asks you to do something that will not hurt you, you generally have to listen to them.

Here are a few things that my littles and I are learning together, as a bonus!
41. Eye contact is apparently more essential than . . . lots of other stuff we're actually good at.
42. Just because some crazy, young SpEd teacher doesn't enforce quiet hands doesn't mean other teachers won't.
43. Academics: not a competitive sport. Unless you're talking about MAP scores.
44. It is okay to let other people be wrong. Even people who won't admit it. Especially people that won't understand the concept anyway.
45. Being smart is awesome. Making sure everyone else knows it is awkward.