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Monthly Archives: October 2012

naturally flavored

A list of only good things!

1. It is SUNNY out. Windy and cool, but there sun is shining (I am obviously not on the East Coast).

2. I started documenting my super special needs students who I believe has the wrong classification and needs more support. Doing this made me feel a little less helpless, like at least it is a small step in meeting his needs.

3. I am tweaking our class schedule because our lunch time changed and the kids really rolled with the punches today for the most part. 

4. I added snack time because our lunch got pushed to later in the day and I was all, “But what do you do during snack time?!” and they seemed to really be okay just chatting and eating. I might build a sharing time into that little period. 

5. It is a short (I am taking Friday for appointments) holiday (Halloween) week! 

6. Did I mention the sun is shining?

the second is

This blog reads like such a downer. 

And it’s true – I’ve been having a tough time of it lately. Real life stuff as well as school stuff is really stressing me out and making me feel crazy but it isn’t all terrible! When I am feeling overwhelmed by my job, one of my responses is to sit down and process those feelings by blogging here which is why there is a heavy weight on OMGWTFHELP posts. 

Things are hard, definitely, but some things are really great. I’ve really set up the Daily 5 and have time for nice 25 minute chunks for guided reading groups. There have been a couple of days after I met with a small group where I was AMAZED and felt like I’d ACTUALLY TAUGHT THEM SOMETHING. What a high! I know I am teaching my class all the time, but the tangibility of working in those small groups is amazing. (See me here ignoring even mentioning that my most behaviorally difficult kids aren’t really able to self manage during this time and I feel very OMGWTFHELP about it). 

I’ve been cutting a lot of extra things out of my life to save on money – the YMCA where I would swim, cable TV, expensive coffees – and I know it sounds ridiculous but it is really adding to my stress level. This school year my whole family (me + spouse + child) was added to my health insurance and it is really hard to make ends meet with that extra chunk out (not to mention we could only afford a really high deductible plan so I’m still paranoid of someone getting sick since we’d pay the first $3k out of pocket – er, and we don’t have $3k).  

WHICH I MENTION NOT TO ADD TO THE WHINING – just to say that my coping skills would be strengthened by quad mochas and 30 laps every morning. 

Well. After all my whinging this morning about how terrible I feel re: my teaching these days, I actually had a great day.

I’m being tougher – it’s coming naturally. I still have huge holes of How To Deal, but if I feel like I’m doing a better job than last year and making sure the majority of my kids are really learning. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say – and I am not phrasing it quite right – but I guess I mean I am forging ahead with a reasonable amount of academic rigor (I say reasonable because I definitely want to amp it up) even though there are some kids (I mean one! really, just one and another on the fence) who are floundering.

I feel like I actually taught a bit today. Having my Guided Reading in effect makes a big difference for that – when I’m with 5 kids at a time I know they are learning even if it’s just for 25 minutes at a time. I know that some of them are definitely putting into practice some of the skills when working independently and I know that others are probably doing it without meaning to mwahahahaha.

The hope that has come with getting guided reading groups under way has me really raring to do a math workshop model. I need to be able to sit down with the 5 or so kids who don’t get place value separately – I don’t want to leave them trying to move forward without that foundation but I also don’t want to stop everyone from running forward who doesn’t need that. Maybe this weekend I’ll think about making that work – and how I can have general learning targets to adjust for small groups in math so we’re all more or less talking about the same (grade level) topics.

Today was not a perfect day by any means – my schizophrenic student is back from the hospital and not behaving entirely different than when she left. I care for, and that’s hard – I think I’ve been kind of pushing her away because it is Too Much. Not only because she breaks my heart, but because it is Too Much in the classroom – I will say what I have said a million times the past few years – I need to master how to have different behavior expectations for different students in class. And by master I mean figure out how it is even possible in these extremes.

I will be honest – I love my building (and my room!) but for next year I am pretty sure I’ll be looking for an opening at a school without a program for kids with emotional/behavior disturbances. My main reason for getting to this point is that I don’t want to burn out on teaching so fast. I love these kids and would like to work with them theoretically, but the inclusion model my district has is so poorly constructed. I can think of a dozen things that would make it better (more staff/IAs, impacted classrooms have lower class sizes/class size caps) but of course there isn’t money to make that happen anywhere (did I mention I am looking for a second job? because I’m interested in seeing my own kid less often, apparently /sarcasm).

I feel like a cad even thinking about it (why pass the buck?) but it is my plan for next year to look elsewhere in my district.

are these your keys?

I am having such a hard week. 

My idea of blogging for a bit as reflection at the end of each school day has (obviously) not been happening, and I hope to start it again. That said, it is not the end of a school day. It is 20 minutes before the bell rings in the morning right now. 

I am feeling: frustrated (that things aren’t going my way). Like a failure (that it is my fault things aren’t working better in my classroom). Overwhelmed (so many ideas from different places that I don’t know where to start). 

All of this comes to a head when I think of The Big Thing: I said yes when they asked if they could move a severely troubled child with behavior problems into my classroom. I said yes because I felt for the kid – I said yes because the sales pitch flattered me – I said yes because it wasn’t working where he was and I wanted him to have a chance.

But I regret it. Because even though I think things are significantly better for this child in my classroom, they are significantly worse for the other 28 students. And that is upsetting and overwhelming for me and I feel helpless. And angry with myself. 

Did I set myself up for another year of constant trials? Another year of feeling like I can never get a handle on things because of behavior issues from special needs students? Another year of letting everyone down every day? 

This week I am feeling like I don’t know how to handle it. Outside of school things are a factor as well – it was my son’s birthday, and I missed him that day so much I may have done some crying when no one was in the room with me (next year I’ll take that day off – last year it was on a weekend).  It’s my anniversary today, which isn’t a problem – but it does serve as a reminder that the balance I wish I had is very far out of my grasp right now. 

I love feedback and help from my principal and other teachers and I have been making a real point of reaching out more. This week I have gotten a lot of ideas from great people, but instead of being thankful for it (which I’m sure I will be eventually) I am stuck on (1) wondering how terrible a teacher they know/assume I am and (2) super overwhelmed to the max by how I could incorporate things into what already feels like a schedule I am falling behind in.

I haven’t done science in two weeks! I intended to launch a real Writers Workshop but I’ve been fighting all year to find a spot in my schedule for it outside of Daily 5 Work on Writing time. 

I just want to lay down and take a long nap. And then wake up and have two days to work in my room — replanning, leveling and organizing my classroom library (which is ATROCIOUS right now, I am so embarrassed). I want a break from being so needed and I mostly want a break from not being able to meet all those needs.

Is it always going to be like this?