Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Listen, Mom! Someone thinks I'm organized!!!"

Today we were talking about responsibility, and giving some ideas for how to be responsible with homework.

I was mentioning how I make sure to take things out of my bag for school and then put them back as soon as I'm done so I know I won't forget them. I told them I have to do this because I'm a messy person and it's hard for me to be neat, even though I'm trying (especially the beginning of this year).

Later, my new lead teacher asked, "Really? Was that true? I don't see you as a messy person at all..."

And I was amazed. Yes, we're only a week and a half in, but this is shocking considering that at one point in my childhood, my room floor was so messy that my dad took everything and put it in trash bags and said unless it was homework, I couldn't get it back for 2 weeks. Clothes, shoes, whatever- I went 2 weeks without it.

My backpacks were always filled with randomness by the end of a year. More than a few papers were lost while I was in school. I have a pile literally a foot tall of papers from last year and the summer that still need filing.

But to start out the school year, I have managed to convince my co-teacher that I am at least somewhat organized and neat.

This may be the first time anyone has ever even kind of called me organized. I called my mom right after school to brag. Now I just hope it lasts!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Open House!

Every teacher blog I read seems to be focusing on how their classroom is set up for the new year, and I love it. I'm picking up so many wonderful ideas and so much inspiration for when I set up my own room! (See: linky on Babbling Abby's fantastic Teacher Week!) It makes me itch to get started and buy and make new things.

Unfortunately, I'm not at the stage of having my own room, but I am working on setting up a classroom! Our open house was this past week, and school is starting soon!

I've been helping my new partner-in-rhyme (eh... not sure about that one). We've been working on moving her into a new school while she also moves at home. I don't know how she's doing it, and I know she has got to be so stressed. She seems like she has a million different wonderful teaching ideas, and I can't wait to learn from her, but she's been so busy that I spent some time getting ready alone in the room this week.

It was odd; at times, I could think of so many things that I would do if it were my room. Some of these were things I didn't know if she wanted to do herself (or at all), and some of them were things that I would simply want to check with her about before I started working. It was a little odd to know what to do but not feel I could do it, but it also felt like a trial run.

I can tell already that one of the ways my assistant position has helped me is simply in showing me what a room needs to be ready. Between student teaching and where I was last year, I've seen two very different classrooms. Because I student taught in the Spring, though, I didn't get to see everything the teacher did at the beginning of the year (both before students came, and on that all-important first day).

Here were some of the things I did as we got ready for Open House:

- Make a bulletin board outside the room with student names so they can find their room.
(I put each name on a balloon and then tied a string from each one. Then I gathered the strings so they were in one big bunch!)

- Put away student supplies.
(Our school is purchasing or getting donated the necessary supplies, so I separated them all from their bulk boxes and put them in individual boxes for each kid or into a class supply area.)

- Label art boxes. They all look alike and I know we'll have arguments of whose are whose! 

- Distribute books to each desk.

- Label any place the kids will use specifically in the room, such as cubbies.

- Make a name label for each desk- but class lists change a lot, so don't attach them far in advance!

And those were just the things I actually did! If it were my room, I would want to do even more before open house.

I'd make sure we had a large name label for each teacher's desk, a welcome message up on the SmartBoard, a sign-in sheet and parent volunteer sheet, a note with a picture of me and treat for each student inside their desk at open house, and a page or activity for parents and/or students to do while at open house! I might even let students sign in on the SmartBoard (but make sure that no other writing utensils but the SmartBoard pens are in sight!), or I might have a slideshow of pictures from the year before on the board to show students some of the activities they will be doing.

At our school, open house happens before school starts and families mill around the school at any time in the hour to see their students' classrooms. There is no time where all parents are in your room to hear a talk or presentation, but luckily we still had time to greet each student and family that came in. About half of our students came, which is actually much better attendance than last year! The kids really like seeing their name outside the door and then coming in to see their special spots and things in the room. And, of course, meeting even half of the kids has me so excited to start school this week!

All the preparation also got me thinking about the things I would like to do to set up my own classroom next year- not just for open house, but for the whole year. This week I hope to type out my list for each step along the way so that next year, I'll have each small step written out and ready to be crossed off when it's done!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Another Way to Make a Cent

Picture borrowed from Rrrrred.

New pennies? Come on! They look nice, but do you people realize how difficult you make teaching money every time you add an updated style?

The new nickels have been confusing, and don't even get me started on state quarters. (What coin has a tree? Well, kids, if it has an eagle or ANYTHING ELSE YOU DON'T RECOGNIZE, go ahead and assume it's a quarter.)

It may seem simple for adults to figure out, but for little kids, you're just adding more and more that they have to be able to recognize and distinguish, and learning to count money is already hard for most of our kids!

Come on, U.S. Mint, I know you're trying to honor stuff, but help us out here!

Thursday, August 05, 2010


Most jobs have vacation time that's a bit more spread out through the year. Teachers get it mostly at once, and after this summer, I've realized I have to be careful to use it as vacation!

(By the way, for any non-teachers who think I'm complaining or think it's unfair, just stop. Teachers don't get paid for the summer- our paychecks for the 180 school days we work are just spread out over the whole year.)

This year I taught summer school. Unlike a lot of summer school programs, ours lasted the entire school day for 6 weeks. Then, I helped teach a summer camp for a couple of weeks. After that, I went back to my hometown and dove headfirst into wedding planning for a week.

Today, I slept in. I've done nothing productive at all yet. I'm still in my pajamas, and I've got reality TV on. I do need to get a few things done this afternoon, but it shouldn't be much. Tonight, I'm leaving for a mini-vacation with my fiance and family. I do need to clean up around home and get myself organized for the new school year after vacation, but I finally have the time to do it, and at least I shouldn't have a lot to do to set up a classroom!

It feels like I've finally gotten to SUMMER and it's fantastic!

School's going to start before I know it, and I'm hoping I have enough time left to enjoy that summer feeling, and get bored with that summer feeling juuuust before school starts! How about you? Has it felt like summer, and are you ready to go back to school?