Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rejuvenated

As I previously shared, I am looking for a change.  I've been at my school for five years and since we're transitioning to year-round and that's not something I desire.  The 17 mile commute (each way) is taxing and I'm looking for somewhere closer to (my new) home.

I found it.

I showed up at the school and was sent on a tour with the school's two coaches.  We clicked immediately (and not just because we had the same polka dotted 31 bag!).  The school has a very strong reading program and so many books.  We actually had our interview in one of the literacy labs and being surrounded by books is just fine by me!  I met the grade level and I think we'll get along just fine! 

The school has very high standards and believes in transparent data, which is a great thing.  The students should know exactly where they stand and how they're growing academically.   There is a huge emphasis on teamwork and collaboration.  

The interview was with the principal, assistant principal and grade level.  I was at the school for about an hour and left feeling so excited about the opportunity.

I've spent the last twenty four hours in nervous anticipation, wavering between telling everyone how great I think the interview went and keeping my nerves to myself, in case it doesn't pan out.

We were doing our CRTs today, so all my technology had to be turned off.  My cellphone also died, which only contributed to my anxiety.

Luckily, my fears were soothed about five o'clock this evening.  I was offered the position, which I immediately accepted.  I have to tell my administration tomorrow morning, which will be a hard conversation.  I'm headed to my new school after work to sign my transfer paperwork to make everything official!

I'm excited for this new opportunity!  I will miss some of the awesome coworkers (they know who they are!) but this just means we'll have to prioritize happy hours next year.

Onward and upward!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Just doin' my job...

One of my parents came to me today with a very pressing issue.  

She had a doctor's appointment later that day and needed a book to read.  Naturally, I came to mind as someone to recommend a new book.

This makes my heart so incredibly happy that I'm immediately thought of as a credible person to recommend books.

I know she's read Number the Stars, Tuck Everlasting, the Bad Beginning, and Who Could That Be At This Hour? with her daughter this year.  So I recommended one of my new favorites:



I gave her a quick synopsis and she was sold!  If you haven't checked out this book, I highly recommend it!

Monday, April 21, 2014

New Opportunities

I've been at my school for five years now and it's time for a change.  We're going year-round and that's not something I wish to do.  While I would appreciate the track breaks to separate the year, I don't think I'd be able to fully enjoy them.  I would be constantly working on school stuff and planning units on my breaks, which isn't good for my mental health.  I was a first year teacher, a first year graduate student, and on an undesired track...it wasn't pleasant.  I don't wish to repeat that year-round schedule again unless I was in a specialist position.

So the time has come to branch out.  As previously stated, I applied for a coaching position and was briefly devastated when that didn't pan out.  I won't have the coursework to be hired provisionally as a librarian, but that dream is still on the back burner.  I applied for a literacy coach almost a month ago and haven't heard back either way, which is frustrating.  I applied to be a digital coach and am in the wait pool, which is better than nothing.

So I decided to look at the transfer list for my school district.  I'm hoping to stick with fifth grade because I'm a little hesitant to try both a new school and a new grade level at the same time.

I looked for schools nearby my new house that were on the traditional 9 month calendar and had fifth grade openings.

Low and behold, I found one.  

So I called the office manager after school.  She asked me to send in my last evaluations and a resume, which I promptly did.  Not twenty minutes later, I had a call from the principal to set up an interview.

I'm really excited about this opportunity!

It's right after school tomorrow, I get a tour and then the interview.  I'm crossing my fingers it all works out as it's meant to!

On a very random note, the Principal's last name is coincidentally the name of the high school I attended in Arizona.  Very, very strange...but perhaps a good sign?

Fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Aww

I have a teacher facebook. I'm very careful of what I post and use this social media platform as a way to connect with my students and their families, both former and current.  It's completely separate from my personal account. There's nothing I put on my page I wouldn't share with my principal or superintendent.

When I discovered there was a third in the Al Capone... series, I took to facebook to let my students know.  Here was the almost immediate reaction:



Yes, my student responded almost immediately with giddy excitement.  These moments make my job worthwhile.  I won't have to tell the rest of the group, this student will do it for me and most likely today or tomorrow morning at recess.

These are my students.  

Book Review

I read this novel with one of my small groups for the first time this year:



As I previously stated, I was really impressed with how well my students handled the complexity of the characters.  I really enjoyed the story and I'm glad my students did as well!  

They are just finishing the first novel, so I read the second ahead of them so I'd be prepared for our discussions.



My teacher guide is available here on TpT and a bundle guide of both novels will be available soon!  

I was pleased with the ending of both books, but then discovered this:



Ah yes, a third book!  Time to write a grant proposal :)

Happy reading!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

CRT testing


Standardized testing is up on us.  In our district, spring break coincided with Easter so some of the fifth grade testing was done before spring break with the rest after.

Third grade went first and we had our math test on the Wednesday and Thursday before spring break.  The Friday before spring break was field day, so no testing was done.

We had a fifth grade pep assembly and they got these cute testing treats:



I don't know what happens at other schools, but we are very strict with our testing protocol.  My pink CRT bucket does not leave my sight after I sign it out in the am.  I lock it in the cabinet and then lock my door when I go to pick up my students and when we take our restroom break.  This year, our district was even stricter with test proctoring rules.  No technology could be on, which includes my teacher computer, iPads, and my cell phone.  I understand the rules and it saddens me that some teachers would cheat, giving the rest of us a bad name.  However, I also understand the incredibly high stakes of this test and when job security depends on the moods of eight year-olds, it seems like a catch-22 situation.  But again, I'm not the one making the rules...just the one meticulously following them.  Even though it means no email during the test.

We do class adoptions during testing season.  Primary classes adopt the testing grades and create good luck banners and treats to motivate our kiddos.  I wish we would have this adoption all year so that our classes could read to one another and share their writing, but I am not in charge of these things.

We did make good luck signs for the two third grade classes that we share a hallway with and they made super cute ones for us as well.  We also write good luck messages on our boards, since we take down all of our anchor charts and visual cues during testing.  

We were adopted by two first grade classes since their combined numbers are about equal to one fifth grade classroom.

Our first treat said we would rock the test and was baggies of rock shaped chocolates:


Our second treat was that we're on a roll with tootsie rolls.



I can't wait to see what the next four days of testing treats will be.  My students love the snack and the motivation signs are super cute.  I'm actually really excited about testing because I'm so proud of the hard work my grade level has done this year to prepare our students. 

 I only hope the standardized tests match what we taught in terms of standards.  We adopted the Common Core and have followed our state's roll-out plan meticulously, so we hope the test reflects the standards we were mandated to teach.  

(In all likelihood, this won't be the case.  I'm sure the test will be the old standards and our school will look poor in rankings because we did our job and taught them what they were supposed to learn...but alas, I'm not a policy maker and am not able to be in charge of everything...yet?)





K-8?

I spend a lot of time online looking at teaching ideas on pinterest, products on TpT, and reading other teaching blogs.  I'll be the first to admit this.

However, I'm a little bit bothered when I see materials/activities geared toward multiple grades.  I understand the K-1, K-2, 2-3, 4-5, 3-5, etc bands.  Heck, the text exemplars in the Common Core are in grade level bands (which is why we always check with fourth grade about the texts they're using).

But I am bothered when materials are being promoted as K-8.  I certainly hope educators aren't using the same strategies and learning activities with kinders as they are with eighth graders.  So please, fellow educators, market your products to the appropriate grade(s).  I'm going to be very wary if your idea is self-proclaimed as appropriate for both five and fifteen year-olds.