Saturday, September 26, 2015

Five for Friday...Holy Moly edition

Am I the only person that finds it ironic that the term "holy moly" was in the title of my post the same week that the Pope made his first visit to the US? Which is is indeed a holy event for our country?  Anyone?? No one??? That's okay.  I'm usually the only one that finds the things I say and do ironic ;).  Honestly this Five for Friday edition has nothing to do with the Pope or any other breaking headlines across the country.  When I was reflecting back on this week they only thing that came to my mind was...HOLY MOLY!

We have been sorting fools in Kindergarten for about a week and half to two weeks now.  It's funny to me how my classes are all different.  Some catch on quickly.  Some don't.  Some not only love to sort but they become masters at it.  Some just get the gist and move on.  Some love gonoodle.  Some hate it.  By the way do you use gonoodle?  It's the best.  Anyway we have sorted to the point where it's actually become a disappointment.  It's time to move on.  I'm really proud of them though because I'm almost positive that they ALL actually GET IT.  I even went as far to make MY OWN gummy bear sorting and graphing activity AND they loved that too! I know.  Can Kindergarten get anymore perfect right now?  Okay I'll stop.  Here's an action shots from gummy bear sorting.
I was so excited about my students' excitement for sorting that I made my own sorting and graphing activity for sorting gummy bears.  They loved sorting (and eating) the gummy bears. I think they liked eating them slightly more than sorting but I'll take what I can get.  
I've really debated about whether or not the post this.  Mostly because I don't really know what to say about it. I am much better with writing funny stories from Kindergarten or making jokes about the dumb, goofy things I do on a daily basis.  I don't write about serious things but here goes.  Just as school was starting (literally the first week of the year) my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  We were pretty shocked since my mom is young and very healthy.  The beginning of school alone is a time of pure insanity.  So many things to get in place, so many new faces to meet, so many long hours of preparation.  It's exhausting and getting this news on top of it was a lot to take in.  I'll share more about it later but this past Saturday teachers and students at her high school hosted a 5K run in her honor and to raise awareness about breast cancer.  My mom is a high school math teacher and so many current and former students and teachers have come to see visit her, sent her cards, asked about her, and participated in the 5K.  It's been so nice for me also to see how many people love and support my mom.  

Normally I never miss a day of school.  Maybe one day a year when I absolutely have to but it's very rare.  With the news of breast cancer I've have to be out of my classroom more than usual.  I don't like to miss school.  It's hard for me and it's hard for my kids.  I have been blessed this year by both my students and my teaching assistant.  My students have been so resilient and my teaching assistant is a complete rock star.  She has not only held down the fort when I've had to leave early to go the Dr. but she's also kept things running so smoothly and been supportive to both me and our students.  On Thursday she brought popsicles to reward our class for being so wonderful and hardworking on a day I was at the Dr. It was a nice sunny day and we ate them outside.  There was even an extra popsicle in the box for me.  Did I mention this lady is rock star?? She is! In case I didn't say that before.  The wind was blowing and our little minis were swinging their popsicles and telling me stories and my white dress pants soaked up all of their dripping mountains of flavored ice. Here's a picture of the casualty.  Can you see the purple?

Over the summer my family started a weekly grilling tradition.  We've grilled everything from wings to pizza to apple pies.  It's a lot of fun and yummy too!  This week included quarter chickens, plain, barbecued, and buffaloed and fries.  It was great!
Well, that was my week.  Holy moly style.  It was a big week I know.  I will leave you with a joke.  All of the popsicles we had on Thursday had jokes on the sticks.  Here was mine.  What do you call cheese that is not yours?...Can you guess?  Nacho cheese.  I'm going to stick with my day job and not become a comedian =).  Happy last week of September!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Five For Friday....Flashback Friday Edition

I was trying to do a little catching up and maybe even getting ahead after school today.  While I was sitting at my desk it hit me that today is Friday.  My first reaction was...IT'S FRIDAY!!! My second was..I have nothing to post for Five for Friday.  Sure lots of things have happened this week, In class we are getting so much better at writing our letters and names, we are learning to walk nicely in the hallway and take turns talking but none of that was Five for Friday worthy.  I hate to miss Five for Friday so I came up with a solution Five for "Flashback" Friday. It works out pretty perfectly since there is nothing I would rather do on a Friday then relive my summer.  So here we go..

This summer I traveled to Boston to visit a friend of mind from graduate school.  I first made the trip three years ago and I absolutely LOVED it.  I love the Boston/Cape Cod area because just about anything you want to do is at your finger tips.  We usually spend a couple days on the Cape and a couple in the city.  The only problem is that I'm having a hard time finding new things to do because I love the things I've already done so much!
This is the beach where my friend lives right outside of Boston.
Both of my parents turned 50 this year and we celebrated by spending a few days at the Greenbrier.  The Greenbrier, also known as America's resort, is one of my favorite places on Earth.  We visited during the Greenbrier classic golf tournament.  My parents love golf and I enjoy it also.  This was my first tournament as well as my first trip to the Greenbrier and if you've never been you MUST put it on your bucket list.  I can't describe it in detail enough but if you've ever wondered what it's like to be on a cruise ship but you don't want to leave dry land this is the place for you.  You can walk, golf, swim, play tennis, and tour the secret bunker, which for several years was the best kept secret in America.  Now I think their best kept secret is the peach margarita. =) 
My family has 50+ year tradition of camping around the 4th of July.  I am NOT a camper.  We do stay in cabins so that helps but I don't camp and I definitely don't camp in a tent.  I go every year because well it's means a lot to my family...and I love everyone that goes.  One the activities I actually enjoy doing is hiking to the top of the mountain.  I used to love to do that because it was the only spot where I could get cell phone service.  Now I actually appreciate the view.  It never  gets old.  No matter how many times I see it.

Every summer when I visit the beach I ask myself why I don't live there permanently.  Why doesn't everyone live at the beach permanently?? I love the beach.  I love the sun...I love the sand...I love the seafood.  The only thing I don't like about the beach....the crowds.  Here's a little less crowded shot.  This is how I prefer my beach days.
And finally...back to school.  If you saw the disaster my classroom was in post summer camp/post wax job then you might appreciate this picture as much as I do.  This was a shot of my classroom the night before the first day or as I like to call it...the calm before the storm.
So there you have it.  I'm sad to see summer go but I'm glad I enjoyed the time I had.  If you're like me and still hanging on to those last few warms days, enjoy them while you can.  Fall is on it's way and pumpkin pie spice lattes will be here before you know it.  How was your summer?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dear Me 2015 finally revisited

Last year around this time I participated in very cool link party titled Dear Me 2015. The idea was to write a letter to myself this year from myself last year.  Does that make sense? Basically I was going through all of the beginning of school emotions and writing myself an encouraging letter to read when I experienced all of those same emotions this year.  Brilliant right? The link party was hosted by Krystal from Kreative in Kinder.  I decided to join in for a couple of reasons.

1. I was hoping that I would read all of my own genius advice and it would make the following year run much smoother.
2. I was desperate for someone other than my mom to read my blog. Sad I know. I'm a newbie all the way to to blogging and I wanted friends and I didn't care how I got them.  Hi my name is Devon and I'm not ashamed of my need for blog buddies.

Anyway. I've been wanting to go back and read the advice I wrote to myself and see if I felt the same way I did last year and what I've learned from having a few years of teaching under my belt.
The first piece of advice I wanted to give myself was to basically let myself off the hook when it comes to figuring out which bus each of my students rides home in the evening. In my world buses are a Kindergarten teacher's nightmare.  My first year I got a quick bus tutorial from about 5 different people.
Make sure you find their address
Get a copy of the bus route schedule from the newspaper
Make sure you put their name,address, and phone number on their bus tag
If you can't find their street on the map call the bus garage

And the list goes on...
Kindergarten students begin school two days later than the other students in my district.  During those days students and their parents are invited to come to the school, meet their teachers, and see their classroom.  So I was bouncing back and forth between meeting new students and combing the bus schedule and maps to find the exact bus each of my students rode.  It took forever but I was sure I had placed each student on the right bus.  I followed all of my instructions. I found each students' address and matched it to the bus that dropped off at that particular street, made bus tags for each student,  and included their name, address, and phone number. Everything was right. Right?

Wrong.  I later found out that not every student goes directly home after school.  Some go to grandma's or a babysitter or a daycare and of course none of those options were mentioned in all of my tutorials.  I put five students on the wrong bus that day...did you hear me? FIVE students.  It was awful..I hated myself..I cried all evening and then again next morning.  I also swore I was never going back to school again and it was time for me to find a new job.  

Needless to say I have learned from my very rookie mistake and I ALWAYS ask ahead of time if the student is going home, to a babysitter, to daycare, or anywhere else they may go after school. I made note of that in my Dear Me last year when once again I had a couple of students on the wrong bus.  I'm happy to report that this year all TWENTY THREE of my students made it home on their correct bus on the first day of school.  

I'm so glad that I not only wrote myself a letter last year but also that I took the time to go back and read it.  What an insightful little second year teacher I was. ;) It helps me realize that I have learned so much in the past couple years.  You can check out my Dear Me post HERE.  If you've never written a letter to your future self, I think you should try it. I didn't realize last year all of the things I was learning and how they would effect me this year.  

So give it a try.  Write your future self a note, put in a safe place, and read it next year. I bet you'll be surprised.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Five for Friday..on Saturday..back to school style

Oh my! Two weeks back at school and I already know why I love summer vacation so much.  I don't know about anyone else but the beginning of school is like the beginning of running with the bulls.  The rocket goes off and it is a mad dash from August to June.  Yikes! The end of week 2 brings us to a full stride of our 10 month sprint.  I have 23 little minis this year.  The maximum number of Kindergarten students in a classroom is 23 and this is the 2nd year that my roster has been filled to the max.  I feel terrible for those of you in districts where there is no cap on the number of students you can have.  I am certain that large class sizes are NOT beneficial to students because it decreases the already limited amount of time we have to spend some one-on-one time with each students, among many other reasons. I truly hope you see the day when class sizes are capped.

Anyway, I spent a lot of time getting ready for the new school year and I still have quite a few projects in progress.  Here's what's been going on.
It took several weeks, a little bit of bribing to get a few extra hands, and a lot of last minute crunch time but I finally had my classroom ready for the first day.  In my previous posts I blogged about getting my classroom organized over the summer with some very unflattering pictures.  I like this one much better.

I have been fortunate enough to have several students from our local work in my classroom to get hours towards their education degree.  I'm even luckier that my teaching assistant just so happens to have daughter in the teacher education programs and LOVES bulletin boards.  When I was in college I thought I couldn't wait to do bulletin boards for different seasons and holidays and to post work my students had done.  Now I often look at it and think can I stretch this out for two months? I was trying to come up with my beginning of the year bulletin board when my teaching assistant asked if her daughter could do our bulletin board AND our door.  Umm...YES! are kidding me?!?! She did an amazing job and I can now say we are "despicably" ready for this year. 

I've been really fortunate to have spent a lot of time this summer with one of my oldest (if not THE oldest) and dearest friends.  Our dads were roommates in college and continued to stay in touch over the years.  We visited each other several times throughout the year, went on vacation together, and now we are teachers together.  Over the weekend we had a surprise visit from her along with her mom and youngest brother.  This is a picture of Mason and I.  He used to sit on my he's over 6 feet tall..and driving!! 

I keep wondering if this is the year I will start getting sick less than I normally do.  For the last two years I've caught every cold, sore throat, strep throat, and flu that has come creeping into my classroom.  I had one student out for a few days with a sore throat last week and I had no symptoms of my own so I thought I was in the clear.  That was until I walked my students to the bus a couple of days ago and literally was drenched by an unexpected down poor..with no umbrella.  It was one of those storms that you can see coming at you when you're driving down the interstate and you know there's nothing to do about it.  I hurried my students to the bus while I was pelted left and right by enormous drops of rain.  I hid on one of the buses for a few minutes thinking surely another, very prepared and responsible, teacher would come out and rescue me with an umbrella as they walked their students to the bus but after a few minutes I knew all hope was lost and I darted out of the bus and into the school building.  When I say I was drenched I mean DRENCHED.  Notice my lovely hair.
Sure enough the next morning...sore throat.
We ended our week in Kindergarten with a little bit of fun.  I'm a stickler for rules at the beginning of the year and we've spent a lot of time learning about appropriate school behaviors, how to be a good friend, and understand why we are at school and how it is very different from day care and pre-school.  On Friday I showed them some of the activities we do for reading centers.  Their favorite part?  Playdough.  We made uppercase and lowercase letters using playdough.  They loved it.  It's a great fine motor skill as well a motivator for learning and writing letters.  They may actually be starting to like Kindergarten now.  

 And that's my Five for Friday..on a Saturday running with the bulls back to school style.  Our days seem long right now but two weeks have already flown by.  I'm looking forward to watching another class learn and grow this year.  I'm also excited for all of the things I know they will teach me.