Ups and Downs

IMG_00070918141844[1]It’s been a long week. Our school has been very busy getting reading for Walk-A-Thon (our largest fundraiser), assessing for parent/teacher conferences next week, preparing interims (which contain books of teachers comments), and the students had Monday off because of a district wide inservice.

As we know, our kids thrive best with structure during the school hours because many of them lack structure at home. This was not a good week for them. A day off, sporadic dress down days (they wear uniforms), fairies coming into our classrooms, a beloved lunch lady and classroom out of the building, and on Wednesday we had “Wacky Wednesday” when all the kids could dress crazy. All of these shifts and changes threw our students into a tailspin, made the teachers (me) grumpy, and created mass chaos in its wake. To top it all off, Amy and I couldn’t carpool much because of after school family commitments. When was I to vent???? To top all that off, Amy and I gave our follow up class to the Diocesan inservice we had at the beginning of the year. No matter how hard we try to be ready and organized, it is always a scramble close to deadline.

I think I have finally caught Amy’s cold.

But…….

  • The teachers and principals seemed to enjoy and get a lot out of our class.
  • The babies in school absolutely loved the “fairies”.
  • One of my less dedicated math students reported that one of my lessons on complex order of operations was, “hard core, but it was kinda fun.”
  • Most of my students went up a little on STAR testing
  • A principal from another school told our principal that she was very blessed to have Amy and I (Everyone loves a little praise)
  • My high language arts class is doing incredible work no matter the interruptions
  • A student who I absolutely adore and who is a major role model in the school wore a “Thug Life” t-shirt for dress down and I explained to him his position in the school and he totally got it and said he would wear a shirt and tie for our next dress down.
  • My family has been very supportive through all of the craziness
  • My baby realized she had something wrong on her math test and fixed it (Huge Step)

And last but not least; I have a great partner, we got paid for the first time as TTOTE, and we are committed to spreading our love of education to whomever will listen.


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8th Grade Fairies

We are having our annual Walk-a-thon on Monday. The students collect pledges for walking and it is our biggest fundraiser for the year.

I was in charge of promoting it in the school so I chose some of my outgoing 7th and 8th graders to be “Pledge Fairies.” They went around to every class trying to encourage everyone to bring in a lot of money and get the kids excited, while wearing fairy headbands with flowers and ribbons, oh, did I mention most of the “pledge fairies” were boys? They were hysterical. The lower grades loved it!

Yesterday, a kindergarten student looked at one of the teachers and said, “Can I ask you a question?”

She said, ” Yes, of course.”

He looked at her and asked quietly with awe in his voice, “Where do the fairies go during the day?”

How cute is that? The 7th and 8th graders cracked up when I told them. Sometimes it is the little things that make my day.


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Have you ever forgotten where you set your keys? Or thought, did I turn off the coffee pot, put the milk back in the refrigerator, or pay that electric bill? We all do it, mindless forgetfulness. We are too busy, there are too many things to remember, we are overloaded with information. It got me thinking about my students. (Okay, what doesn’t?)

I was telling Lori about a conversation I had with one sixth grade student. He gave me a $5.00 bill yesterday. When I asked him why he gave it to me he said for lunch. He is on free lunch so I was a little confused. Then he said for ice cream or extra food. So I gave the money to the appropriate cafeteria person and later in the day told him what I did, who I gave it to, and jokingly said, “Help yourself to dessert.”

So today, we are lined up to go home and the same student looks right at me and says, “Mrs. Loring, what did you do with my $5.00?”

I looked at him and said, “I gave it to the cafeteria like you asked me remember? I told you that yesterday.”

He looked right into my eyes and said, “Oh really, okay, I don’t remember that.”

I thought he was kidding me, so I said, “No, I took it and bought myself some lunch, ha-ha.”

He just looked at me and said, “No really, where is my money?”

This discussion made me think. If this boy cannot remember something that had direct impact on his daily life and relevance to him specifically within a 24 hour period about something as unimportant as lunch money, how is he supposed to remember the twenty vocabulary words I gave him in class?

I had two other students who told me they studied for their test but once they woke up in the morning it was gone. Three others piped in stating that happens to them too. They were dead serious. I told them to go over the material in the morning to refresh their memories. Today before the quiz I allowed them to review together first. It is an epidemic. They CANNOT remember. Their working memory fails them, leaving them to their low academic performances.

I know the many risk factors starting from poor prenatal care, to unhealthy food choices, lack of sleep, untreated illnesses, stress, ADD/ADHD, fear, and unstable home lives, but what do you do? It made me almost gasp aloud in class. Here I am being animated and silly as I am teaching to create an entertaining environment, I show, tell, explain again and again, make them draw, act out, jump around, sing, etc…and it will not stick, tomorrow. They will wake up and most of it will be forgotten. It is truly an uphill battle. Once again, back to research and new lesson ideas. It is imperative that we find ways to reach these students and have them remember. Lori, of course agreed.


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0918141845[1]There are days when I get this sense of excitement. I can’t explain it. I stand or sit down at my desk and I just know that good things are happening. During class discussions I can see the eagerness on the students’ faces. They are responding to my love of education. I watch them in awe. Their hands are waving, they are arguing over MATH. The are discussing books and figurative language. They are searching dictionaries for definitions and word usages. Oh, what a wonder!!!!

Today is a day like that. In my Language Arts class we are reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (one of my all time favorite books). The kids are loving it. We are annotating for the first time; searching for proof of the negative effects of prejudice. They are so excited when they find textual references and they are yelling out page numbers and examples. I am seeing sticky notes everywhere.

I teach two LOW math groups, but today they are mathematical geniuses. The kids are engaged, begging to go to the board to do problems. I hear them talking math and helping one another. They are quiet and concentrating. I see them working diligently figuring out problems, doing neat work, and asking one another questions. I hear congratulations for jobs well done and see pats on backs.

In my speech and drama class – yes I teach this too – the students are excited to act out charades. They are taking risks, getting into characters, and laughing with themselves along with their peers. This class is teaching them courage, self acceptance, and comradeship. They are working with one another even if they aren’t friends.  I’m having a great day!

Laughter – I truly feel that without it, we will not be successful as teachers and educators. What better way is there to bond with kids other than laughter? As teachers we have to have a sense of humor about ourselves. We need to be able to laugh along with our  students and understand their humor. Smiles are contagious. Smiles automatically energize, spark interest, and spur happiness. Laughter makes hard days a little easier. Sometimes it’s the only way to get through the day, week, month, and year.

Find reasons to laugh…. with your students, with your fellow educators, and with your families. I promise, you will be a better teacher because of it.


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Welcome to Monday

 

Lori states her feelings in a much more sophisticated manner. Here is my, “not so professional” take on today.

It is only Monday and I am exhausted. I think I could honestly take a nap on my dirty classroom floor. I thought I had my lessons well planned and was ready. It was like pulling teeth today.

Is it the change in the weather? It was very hot, and being in a non-air-conditioned school is not very motivating. Okay teaching tired sweaty middle school students can be a challenge. But no, that isn’t it because it is now cool. So what gives? I need to go home, think, reflect, pray, read, and try to come up with something exciting for tomorrow.

I feel like a fraud sometimes, I know what to do, I teach classes to other teachers on how to motivate students, but today I need to tell myself to reach deep and find the brilliance, or even just some internal enthusiasm.

Tomorrow is a new day, a new chance to make a difference; hopefully it is not a new day of pulling teeth, I am NOT a dentist!


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