Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wah Flippin' Wah

I'm not interested in a "who works harder" debate, but if I have to read one more article or hear one more story about how unfair it is that federal workers might be subject to a pay freeze for two years, I might scream.

Welcome to reality my federal friends. I'm on 4 years and counting...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Love

It's been a rough few days for yours truly. I was thinking about blogging about it, but blogging is supposed to be my therapy and after writing the post, I didn't feel better so I scrapped it. It's hard being a teacher when you're struggling right? It's hard being there for all your lovies if you're not there for yourself. Well enough of this pity party because I work with amazing people.

My two fabulous co-teachers could tell I'm down and they both approached me and asked how I was and what could they do to help? Love. Then during the afternoon, when I had my kids strengthening their auditory skills at identifying rhyming words (Dr. Seuss movie) another fabulous colleague came in and gave me an incredible neck and back massage. She said I looked like I needed one. Double love. I am so lucky to work with such caring and fabulous people.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Frontline

My teammates have been grumbling about getting our testing done and data inputted by the school district's deadline. I agree with the grumbling, it's a whole lot of work that takes away from our teaching, and much of the work doesn't really inform our instruction. I can happily deal with data crunching if it's helping me plan my lessons, but busy work for the sake of busy work certainly deserves grumbling.

I happen to be very lucky to have two co-teachers in my classroom this year. I teach in an inclusion school so our special education teacher co-teaches with me and our reading specialist is also co-teaching with me this year. Out of the many benefits of this arrangement, the one that is most helpful when talking about testing is that my classroom has three teachers to complete testing when others on my team have to do it all on their own.

This realization got me thinking about kindergarten teachers and how we're the front line in the army of teachers in our school. We often know very little to nothing about kindergarten students when they arrive at our school. Unless they're transferring to us from a special education program at another school, all we have their name, birth date and address.

Our school has designated classrooms (this year three) where our special education kindergartners are mixed in with general education. This is done so our special education teacher can actually service these students. These three classrooms have some level of expectation on the first day because we know some of our students already, usually 3 or 4 students out of 20.

Then there's the rest. All of a sudden, a kindergarten teacher who has neither a special education co-teacher or a literacy co-teacher can easily be faced with students who clearly need more support than your average five year old. A child who appears to have no experience in a group setting and has social/emotional problems can be quite a challenge, two or three of these kids in a classroom can make for a very tough year. Instructional Assistants are incredibly important in our classrooms, but as I discovered last year, they should not, and cannot, be focused on one or two students all day everyday. It's not their job, nor their area of expertise.

Largely, by the time these kiddos get to first grade, they've either a) adjusted to school and its expectations or b) been "flagged" or even identified as a child with special needs. First grade teachers have a head's up about what's coming their way.

So yeah. Kindergarten is the front line. Maybe they should start issuing Kevlar with our science kits.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Overheard

Child singing, "Hey, soul sister, what's the mystery...radio, stereo." (A classroom favorite).

Other child sings, "I like to ride it all night long."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Please, just show up.

It's half-way through the first of our two parent conference days and I'm already irritated. Not surprisingly, I have found myself here before. Although when I reread my post from 2008, I seem to blame my self-diagnosed OCD on my pissy-ness, today I putting it squarely on the shoulders of my parents who pulled NO SHOWS for our conference.

Out of nine conferences so far, four have pulled no shows. It's not that I received a message to say they couldn't come. It's not that I arbitrarily picked a time and expected them to make it. NO. I worked my behind off to communicate with them personally about when they are available, confirm a time that worked for THEM, and then also sent home a paper reminder in their home language (I have Spanish and English speaking parents.) Their conference times come and go while I sit at my desk not wanting to delve into a project because they might, they might, show up. WHO DOES THIS?! This isn't just my Spanish speaking parents either, the current culprit is a mom that I know because I had her older child two years ago. YOU KNOW ME! Why would you blow me off?!

Breathe.

A colleague gently reminded me, amidst my ranting, that the real shock is that THIS IS YOUR CHILD. Can you show up? Please? Not for me, although I would like that too, but for them. Show up for them.