Sunday, January 26, 2014

National Boards

Along with a weight loss journey, I am also on the journey to getting my National Board Certification.  It's a long and daunting process.  Once I begin writing, I get caught up in my thoughts and end up starting over.  I finally finished one of the entries and received some great feedback.  Now I am onto the other three entries.

A big help has been the cohort I am part of.  At first I was resistant to the fact that my cohort coach was at a school that was an hour from where I live.  It's a waste of time to drive an hour, meet for two hours, and drive home another hour.  It was pointless and I'm all about being efficient and meaningful.  After I got over the initial huffing and puffing, I ended up taking a lot from it.  We have an Edmodo group going so we can keep in touch with the cohort group and I'm finding a lot of great resources from my coach.

It is certainly something that is making me more reflective on my teaching and the WHY to the things I do.  A main theme through all of my entries has been... WHY did you do this?  HOW to you know it worked?  SO WHAT?  So what you did x, y, and z... but why did you do it?

Clear and concise is the name of this game!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kindergarten Teachers are My HEROS! OH and a Freebie for Safety Week!

My lack of blogging both on my personal blog and here, are pretty much due to the amount of craziness going on this school year.  So many things are happening at once and I am trying to stay above water. Kindergarten is a different beast than any other grade level.  In the past six years of me teaching first grade, Kindergarten has really changed.  It's so fast paced and full of "rigor" {I now hate that word}.  The only thing that has not changed is the way kiddos are coming into Kindergarten.  There is such a wide spectrum of children: some that cannot spell their name, some that can already read, some that do not know their letters or sounds, some that can write sentences, some that do not even know colors.  They are just all over the place... BUT, by the time they leave Kinder, they will be {almost} all on the same level playing field.  It truly is an amazing grade to teach.

In my frantic search for age or grade level appropriate things to do with these babies, I come across a lot of stuff on Pinterest and TeacherPayTeachers.  What great resources.  But often I come to them and I see a price tag.  Sometimes I buy the product that was worked so hard on by another professional as my self and other times I hear my husband's voice in my head going "can't you make that yourself?  Why are you not getting paid?"

I do create things but I honestly come down to, where will I find time?!  So this morning I sat down before my own children got up and started planning out my week.  I made a couple of items for our safety week.  I made a tree map and a thank you note for the firefighters that are coming to visit us this week.  They are FREE too!  I don't have fancy programs to create items, I just try to make them look cute and enough to capture the attention of my kiddos.

Here is my firefighter tree map.

Here is my thank you note to send to our local firefighters after they come see us.

I hope you like them.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Recent News

In recent news, it was brought to our attention in NC that the Governor gave a hefty pay raise to some of his "peeps" and took heat over not giving a raise to his teachers in the state.  His response to that was "he tried" and "there was money needed to pay for the hole Medicaid was in."

As usual, NC teachers get put on the back burner.  What really bothers me is the perception and lack of respect that people have on teachers in this state.  We keep going and pushing through the nonsense and doing what we need to do for these children.  We have a responsibility to the kids and their families.  They are expecting a good education and not just being taught the minimum.  I have said it before and I will say it again, there is not ONE teacher in my school that does not try their hardest.  I can't say that for all schools in this state I am sure, so maybe that is where the views on teachers comes from when people comment on forums and news articles.

Some people are really harsh with the way they view us.  It's been an eye opener and I am thankful I am in the school I am in.  We have wonderful families and they value the teachers in our school.  That is what makes my job a little easier to swallow when the Governor and other state officials want to take things away from us.  No raises in years, taking away pay from Master level teachers, getting rid of career status... it's a real poo fest on teachers.

BUT, we have to still perform to their new evaluations and standards.  We still have to carry on like nothing is wrong.  Year after year there are new programs and assessment thrown at us like the rest of the country, and we are still expected to be paid the same?  They talk out of the side of their mouths.  They say they want the best for the students in NC but they certainly are not showing it.  A principal in another county had a letter go viral to the Governor.  She hit the nail on the head and called him out on some things.  I was very grateful to hear someone stick up for us.

I'm not sure where this is going but what sparked my blog was me, sitting here, watching a training online for NC Teacher Mentors.  We have to do 10 hours of training before Sept. 16.  I came across part of the video where we talk about new teachers and the evaluations they must go through.  Actually, every teacher has observations, evaluations, and we have PDP's {Professional Development Plans} that we must come up with every year.  So, they are taking away career status in a state that is already "right to work" and no union.  They can get rid of the "bad" teachers if they really wanted to.  So why punish the rest of us.  There are things in place to make sure we are on target and doing the best teaching for our students.

It's a sad state of affairs folks.  People think we have all the time off in the world {well, I am currently tracked out, HA!} and so why should we complain.  Really, we work even when we are not physically at school.  When we are at school we are teaching... not planning lessons for next week or grading papers.  We have to use our "off time" for that.  When else do they think it gets done?!  I am constantly thinking about my students and what else I can do for them.  It's what a good teacher does.  Duh!  Now I just want credit for being a good teacher.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I Will Not Feel Guilty

I tracked out on Friday and I left ALL of my planning materials at school and I refuse to feel guilty about it.  I keep peeking at Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teacher though.  School is always in my head and I am always thinking about what we will do next.

I love farms, apples, pumpkins, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin coffee, and everything fall!  After this week goes by, I will most likely find myself stopping by school and picking up my stuff so I can plan out my themes/units.

We will be very close to ending our first quarter and I plan to start sending word rings {rainbow words} and book bags home.  When do you start yours?  Every teacher is different  but coming from first grade, I feel like I am rushing these babies in some areas.

Anyways- back to vacation!  I hope you traditional schoolers have a great start back to your year.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Up Way Too Early

I was up WAY too early for this Sunday morning.  My three year old came in shortly before 6:00 am and announced he was feeling mad.  I told him that me feeling tired trumped his feeling mad and he needed to go back to sleep.  SO I marched his little butt back to bed and he did go back to sleep, thankfully, but did I?!  Nope!  I decided to use that time for lesson plans.

We have been using Letterland the past two years in Kindergarten.  The first eighteen days of school is what's called a "Fast Track".  It's a quick dip into each letter of letterland in those eighteen days.  After that, we jump into a more closer look at each letter, their name, shape, sound, you name it... we spend time doing it.  I am now going on days twenty-six to thirty.  We will have focused on four different letters: Annie Apple, Clever Cat, Dippy Duck, and Harry Hatman.

Here is my trouble... WHY is this program teaching those letters/sounds first?  And WHY do they teach the vowel sound with the letter, like Annie Apple?  She says 'a' as in apple but she belongs to Mr. A who says 'a' like ape.  SO confusing for these beginning Kinders.  They looked at me like I had ten heads.  Now, I know it was many years ago that I taught K and I have been with firsties for quite some time, but if I recall correctly, we taught in this sequence: rhyming, initial consonants, final consonants, and then vowels very last. When did this change?  I feel like I am teaching rhyming for those who cannot hear OR produce one and then initial consonants at one time.

Anyways, I created an initial consonant sort for the four Letterlanders we are working with recently.  They will use a pocket chart sort with the picture cards and then come back to the table and complete the sort I made.  Use if you like.  It's nothing fancy but just enough to get the point across to the kiddos.  I am going to make one each time we come across four more Letterlanders and even throw in some review.  Click on Annie Apple to grab the sort.