Saturday, January 9, 2016

...I was not ready

I wasn't ready for what this week brought in terms of classroom instruction.  Biggest Loser at work started, which meant a weigh in first thing Monday morning.  After eating like a queen for two weeks, that was a little devastating.  But there's only one way to go (and that's down in terms of weight loss!)  Going cold turkey on caffeine didn't help the week, but I'm just glad it's the weekend.


Almost every other teacher in the lounge spent Monday's lunch period praising how quiet their students were.  Mine? Mine came in noisy and we had to have not one, but three different reminder conversations to re-establish classroom norms.  The biggest struggle?  They wanted to talk over me when I was giving instructions.

I gave them catch up time with their tables after break.  We shared out as a group and welcomed one another back.  We spent Monday reviewing concepts learned before break.  We didn't start division with decimals until Tuesday, finished our novel The Lightning Thief,  made these adorable foldables for goal setting during writing time:

(A free download from a fellow TpT seller, available {here})  

Despite planning a relatively easy review day with fun activities, they were still extremely loud and a tad disrespectful.  I tried to shake it off and frame my thinking as they were having an adjustment period.  After two weeks without the classroom structure, some of them were a bit off in terms of behavior.

Monday ended with Battle of the Books and several more students dropping out.  I think they expected it to be's not.  They have 8 books (they have to read four) and will have to answer trivia questions.  It's a little disheartening that over half the students who initially signed up have quit.  

I'm also trying to be positive and keep in mind that it's the first year (in about eight) that we are competing.  Next year, hopefully, will be better.


Tuesday brought this surprise:

I requested a kit months ago and it finally arrived!  Inside is a teacher kit and enough track components to playfully test velocity, speed, force, and friction.  

Of course, my students wanted to play with it immediately.  I said we're finishing our social studies unit first, then will switch to science.  I explained that we needed to know science terms first and have some background because this wasn't for play time.  This was for science.  That explanation calmed a degree.


Wednesday was rough in terms of student behaviors, so instead I'll share two positives:

This was the view Wednesday morning from the playground of my school.  My phone doesn't do it justice.

We also had an IEP meeting where we exited the student from special education.  She made enough growth this year and met all of her individual goals.  This doesn't happen often and it was quite the cause for celebration.  Her dad cried tears of joy.


Surprisingly a super productive day, possibly due to afternoon prep.  I always seem to get so much crammed into the morning when I have three straight hours with them.  We conquer social studies, math, reading, and RTI block.

We also had a guest speaker, Ms. L, come in to talk about upstate New York.  She's a neighboring kinder teacher and my kiddos loved hearing about other places.  We'll have more guest speakers soon. I'm super blessed to be at a school where so many colleagues are willing to give up their prep periods to come talk to the fifth graders.  

 Half a dozen students stayed after school until 5 pm retaking summative assessments, since report cards are due next week.  That made for another long day, but I left when they did!


Friday morning, I learned some devastating news.  I thought I was at Masters +32, but I'm only at +29.  That means I need one more class by May for a substantial increase on the school district's pay scale.  Totally manageable.'s not.  We will be getting a new contract in March.  This does not count education credits the same way.  Since my previous 13 grad credits were completed before the new contract, they won't count toward advancement.  Since I didn't finish the last class before September of 2015 (because I had the goal of May, 2016, because that's when credits are due), I won't be earning the pay raise.  I was told "bummer" by the HR representative, that there's a tentative appeal process, but that I should be pleased the last class I'm taking will count as 15 hours on the new payscale.  15 of the 225 I'll need for salary advancement. 

I tried to keep back the tears because nothing is set in stone.  Still, it's hard to feel valued as a teacher when I'm so completely screwed over by my employer.  Let me make that clear: my school is amazing.  My school district is disappointing.

Behaviors escalated.  I wrote two citations on Friday.  One student did nothing during math time, then when confronted, tried to say it was my fault because he didn't have a pencil.  He didn't ask to sharpen a pencil, nor did he ask to borrow one.  He just decided to assume I'd so no and that it was better to sit and do nothing, then try to say it was my fault.  This nonsensical back talk is not needed.  I flat out told him it was his fault, to accept responsibility, and stop trying to place blame on others.  He then continued to be rude and argumentative.  After lunch (and the fourth hallway conversation), he once again tried to tell me it was my fault he was talking to another student because I wasn't clear with my directions.  Holding back laughter, I flat out asked how "separate, find a different partner, and stop talking when I'm talking" could possibly be misunderstood.  Again, instead of apologizing, he spat arguments and attitude, so  was removed to another classroom.   A second student, who'd tried to pull the fire alarm earlier in the week, wrote "thug life" all over the thank you card I wrote his mom, and was absent two days, decided to back talk our new paraprofessional (support staff, or teacher's aide).  They were outside reading and she shushed him because it was reading time.  He shushed her right back and when confronted, claimed she started it and refused to apologize.  

Needless to say, I left school at the bell on Friday.

The weekend

I cranked out a 41 page report in a little over twenty four hours.  I worked for two hours on Friday and wrote the rest this morning.  It's being peer reviewed before being sent into the district.  I also finished my report card comments (27 pages)...all without the help of caffeine.  If I could bottle that type of productivity and have it constantly, I'd be unstopable.  When I needed a break, I turned to chores.  The Christmas tree is now un-decorated and put away, along with all the other winter decor.  Laundry also got folded and put away, in addition to making a new crockpot meal and cleaning the house.

Then I took a well deserved nap.

Tomorrow brings family pictures with B's side, working on a regions powerpoint, and finishing grading retakes.  This week brings a lot of different activities...but I'm counting down until Thursday night when my mom arrives for the weekend!

How was your first week back? Hopefully less traumatic than mine!

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