Sunday, December 14, 2008

Apologies and Good-Bye (For Now)...

... I have a good friend who reads my blog and she's always on mind when I know I haven't posted in awhile. I feel bad about that because I hate it when I check my favorite blogs only to find that it hasn't been updated in days or weeks. So as I am sitting here plowing through report cards, I decided to take a procrastination break and type my last post (for now).

Some of you know that I started blogging during my first year of teaching. Teaching kindergarten at a Title I school was (and is) a challenge and after coming home night after late night, consuming too much wine to dull the stress, and then dumping it all on my ever-patient husband, I discovered that typing out my experiences was incredibly therapeutic (and better for my liver and marriage). A co worker's blog inspired me to do my own. I posted the good, the bad, and the really ugly. Soon I discovered other bloggers were reading mine and I was loving theirs. Snippety Gibbet, Elbows, Knees, Dreams and It's Not All Flowers and Sausages just to name a few. Snippety's accounts of teaching art to Kindergarten continuously entertained me, especially when I could spot references to my own students in her writing (she's a coworker). I follow Elbows because she seems to have my exact children the year before I get them and reading about her experiences comforts me -- even the tough ones. Sausages is just darn funny. There are times I think she embellishes and other times I think not. Regardless, it's very entertaining.

As you can see, I have enjoyed blogging about the ins and outs of my day but lately it's been hard. I am totally consumed with prepping for maternity leave and trying to keep my mind focused on my 19 five year olds, and not obsessing about the 37+week babe sitting on my pelvic bone seemingly pushing its way out with each step I take. Sitting down to reflect on the day has taken a back seat - a far back seat on my to-do list.

I have 7 more school days left and trust me when I tell you that I want to be there for them. I am a planner and I am planned to be with my kids right up until 2:40 p.m. on 12/23. It's Polar Express Day after all and who would want to miss that?!

If my baby wants to come early on the evening of 12/23 -- please do. If he or she wants to wait until after the due date of January 2nd, that's fine too. But for now, I am gently pleading with this infant-to-be to hold tight and wait for me to get some closure with my kids.

So I think this will be it for the time being. You might see a post mid-maternity leave entitled, "WTF is happening with my kids?!" but in all likelihood I'll be back when I return to the classroom this spring. Thanks for reading, have a Merry Christmas (or whatever it is you celebrate), and I'll be back in a few months, hopefully with some interesting, "while I was gone you'll never guess what happened..." posts.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Grumpy, frustrated and downright mad

I'm not naive. I know that in a troubled economy people have to go without. I worked in government long enough to know that no matter how good a program is, if it's expensive and doesn't have a powerful advocate, it will get chopped. I know all this.

But now our school's calendar is on the chopping block and I am so grumpy, frustrated and downright mad. If you read my blog you know I work at a school where we are in session 11 months a year. During those 11 months we have 3 breaks called Intersessions. These Intersessions are optional for teachers to teach and students to attend, but most do and most do. Teachers get paid extra (always nice) and students receive remediation and enrichment courses. It's like an academic camp. It's awesome. I always taught the Intersessions and while my husband enjoyed the extra income coming in, I liked the new and changed atmosphere. Week long author studies, healthy eating classes, edible math -- to name a few of my favorites. Then when I became pregnant I used those breaks as needed breaks. I stayed home, slept a lot, planned for the next quarter and recharged. And yes, all of this costs money.

Outside of the Intersessions, our kiddos need this calendar. Our kids don't go to summer camp or on summer vacations when school is out. Many of them stay home, unsupervised, watching TV and losing all that they learned that year. They don't speak English, they lose that precious vocabulary they learned, they forget their reading strategies, and they forget about school. The unlucky ones are home all day to witness a tense household struggling in a faltering economy. Abuse happens. Neglect happens.

But when it comes down to it, regardless of the benefits for the kids, running a school 11 months out of the year costs money and there is little money to go around right now.

I don't like to oversimplify and play the victim, but our school is largely a bunch of poor kids whose parents don't have the time, the resources, the language, or the know-how to fight for them. Affluent and better-off parents from affluent and better-off neighborhoods are busy fighting their own fights for programs they don't want to lose. Why would they waste their time on a small number of schools full of kids they don't know? It's just not fair.

I would hate to be our superintendent right now, I know he's being pulled in a million directions and it unlikely able to make anyone happy, but right now it's about me and our kids, and I'm mad.

I am hoping that somehow, in the end of this mess, that we survive. Cross your fingers for us.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Something stuck!

Today we did our lesson on the president, the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. It's very exciting. I show them a picture of the current president and we identify who he is. Then we talk about the new president and who that will be. Then we talk about the flag. Why are there stars? Yadda yadda. It's fun but not incredibly thrilling. We also attempt to decode the Pledge of Allegiance which is a struggle for 5 year olds, but funny nonetheless. Especially since we say it every day and they are fairly clueless about what it means.

After the lesson my kiddos made their own U.S. Flags using paint and paper -- they were awesome.

At Choice Time today, one kid chose to color for her activity and got to work with paper and markers. After a few minutes she came to me and asked for tape. I gave her few pieces and she went on her way. When she asked for more, I asked her what she was making.

"A Pledge of Allegiance Hat."

Oh. Hmmmm... wasn't aware such a hat existed or was needed. I smiled and told her I thought that sounded really cool and sent her back to keep working.

Her final product was a paper ring with kids drawn all over it saying the Pledge. She made it for a classmate who wore it proudly. The lesson stuck! Rock on!

The rug is still missing

So the student that I mentioned in my previous post never arrived, although I have been assured that she has moved back "home" and is returning any day. So she's trapped in a weird non-school world. Trapped between schools, between homes, and possibly between parents. That's a lot of instability for a 5 year old. I hope that there isn't too much damage to repair when she finally returns.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pull the rug out, put it right back

A student of mine moved with her family right before Thanksgiving. I was sad to see her go... she started the year late and it took weeks to bring her out of her shell. She struggled academically and socially and she was finally settling in and making her way. Then wham, her family moves.

That was 6 days ago.

Our registrar just emailed me to let me know that she's coming back tomorrow. We don't know the circumstances but they can't be good. This is a family with 4 school aged children and a toddler at home. They were sent to a new school earlier this year (ours), then pulled out to go to another, and now they are back.

Poor kiddos.