Sunday, September 28, 2014

Highs and Lows

With September's Blogtember challenge nearing its end, I'm a little bummed. I liked having these daily reflective tasks.  I did about half of them, which is admirable considering my work schedule, the shared laptop, and that this was my first time participating.

For those who are visiting from Brave Love, hello! Hopefully you'll pop back over once in a while after this challenge ends.

Today's prompt: What are your highs and lows for the month?


1) My new school is amazing.  I feel supported. I feel like I have the freedom to make instructional decisions that benefit my students. I don't feel like every choice I make is questioned.  Everyone is super supportive. 

2) My students are excited to be in school and eager to learn.  They want to read.  They ask questions.  There are a few hallway chats each day about being on task and being nice, but it's nothing major.  It's such a refreshing change.

3) My new grade level is so welcoming.  I'm able to be honest with them about the things I'm unsure of (procedures, RTI expectations) and not feel judged.  They're willing to help and allow me to contribute (without expecting me to do more than my fair share).  Plus they're really awesome ladies and since no one plans on leaving, I think I've found a new group of friends.

4) My morning routine is so much more relaxed. I have time to eat breakfast at home, not at the copier.  I have time to blog, check emails, and relax in the morning. I have time to do stretches and a few household chores before leaving for work. I bought fruit and yogurt, so I'm going to start making smoothies in the morning.  Last year, I'd get up at 5, be out the door by 5:30, be at work at 6, and have until 7:10 to get work done before meetings started.  Now I wake up around five, leisurely take my time getting around, leave at 6:50 and am at my computer by 7:10.  The shorter drive gives me an hour of my life back each day. 

5) Our class weebly is getting a lot of positive attention and responses.  This year, my new school purchased weebly accounts for everyone. It's a classroom blog where I share information about our classroom with students and parents. I've given them homework to do online and put up polls and pictures.  I've gotten parent responses on it as well.  It's just nice to have a positive, open line of communication with my students and their families.

6) I tried Jamberry nails and I'm hooked! A week later (and a week of teaching and cleaning no less!, there are no chips.) I ordered my first set, am going to host a Jamberry/31 bags party in November (with an online component where you can order) and going to be a consultant. I've decided that having my nails look nice makes me happy and Jamberry is an inexpensive way to do that.  It may seem shallow, but having pretty nails makes me feel put together and on top of things, which is a message I want to convey to others.

7) I also tried doterra oils and love those as well.  I have occasional migraines and frequent joint pain from years of sports and I like how the oils helped with those. I'm excited to try a natural remedy to common ailments. 

8) I felt appreciated by those closest to me.  My birthday was at the end of August and for several reasons, I didn't really do anything special.  However, a few close friends made the effort to make me feel special on my birthday.

1) I didn't see my friends as much as I'd like. We all have busy schedules and our own lives, it's just a rough adjustment going from seeing them daily to seeing them monthly. I need to get better at calling and texting them. It's also becoming apparent who will remain a friend now that we are in separate schools and which friendships are fading.  That's life. It's just a sad situation when friendships dissolve because everyone is too busy.

2) I lost my planner. I've meticulously cleaned my car and home, so I know it's not hiding anywhere. I'm pretty sure I left it at a math training at a high school in the early parts of the month, so I don't have high hopes of it returning home. I bought a replacement, but since it was September, my options were severely limited. I'm just irritated that I have to go back through and enter commitments again. I've also felt very disorganized without my planner, which is frustrating.

3) I still don't feel like I have everything in my classroom under control.  I know as a teacher, I will never accomplish everything on my to do list.  I just finally built another filing cabinet insert (the metal part to put the folders on) to organize student data. I have five weeks' worth of filing awaiting me Monday...yikes!  

4) My students didn't do as well on their first math test as I would have liked and that's disappointing to me.  I haven't taught a traditional math block in a few years since we were departmentalized and I know the concept is difficult.  There were just a lot of careless mistakes (skipping problems) that I'll need to address as a class.  I know that they need more review and that I'll be giving the test again.  I just hope parents don't freak out. I know they don't have it yet.  We have until June to master the concept. Learning takes time.

5) The gradebook.  The entire district is trying a new gradebook and needless to say, it's a learning curve.  Last year, I only entered summative assessments (end of unit tests) and nothing else.  This year, I have three categories: summative for 90%, formative for 10% (quizzes, exit tickets, assignments during the unit of study) and a not for grade category (obviously worth nothing).  I'm used to entering grades as emerging, approaching, meeting, or exceeding and having each assignment broken down by standard.  With this new grade book, my standards are clumped together which I don't exactly like.  For example, in reading, RL 1, 2, and 3 are grouped together, then averaged.  This means grades for quoting accurately and making inferences (1), determining the theme of a story, drama or poem (2), and comparing and contrasting story elements (3) are put together.  I don't like this, but I don't have any say in the matter.  I just think it gives a misleading picture to parents.  Students may be struggling with one particular standard, but if several are linked together, the numbers are skewed.  Hopefully this problem is addressed soon by those higher ups.  We also aren't allowed to enter any grade lower than 55%, with the mindset that it's still an F, but students won't have as far to recover from a failed test.  We are to make notes of the actual score for parents to see.  I agree with this idea, I just wish I'd known before I started to enter grades because I had a good dozen assignments to go back and revise.

6) I haven't been to the gym...and feel really guilty about it!  I want to start going more, it's just hard at the end of the day. I need to start taking my gym clothes to work with me and giving myself permission to leave on time. I get there early, so it's okay to leave when my contract time is up.

7) My new crockpot recipes failed :(  Not failed persay, but definitely not a pinterest win.  The first one went awry because I used the larger crockpot and the sauce spread out, thus burning and not flavoring the chicken.  The second failed because it's a recipe that needs to be stirred a few times while it's cooking.  Perhaps we'll try that again on a weekend day when I can attend to the crockpot.

Overall, not a bad month.  It's strange to think it's almost October!

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