Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Scary Teacher First

Wow, it's been a while! I was hoping that with a sweet, new class and a great new job, I'd feel like blogging a bit more. It seems like I have only enough energy for short Facebook posts and personal conversations these days!

I wanted to blog about something that happened to me this week as a teacher. Working with children exposes you to all kinds of life experiences, and Thursday was no exception. I began to notice as the afternoon wore on, that one of my sweeties--we'll call him A--was acting a little more impulsive than normal. This is a child with a significant medical history, as well as epilepsy, but to myself, he was acting more like a student with ADHD who forgot to take his medication. I think every teacher has had that experience :) He even expressed that he hadn't taken his medicine that day, and I thought, "Yep, that's it!" We made it through the day. I shot off a quick email to his mom highlighting some of my concerns and didn't really think twice about it.

When I arrived at work the next morning, I checked my email and found that his mother had written me back. Kindly, but firmly, as a mother should, she had expressed that the things that I had noticed were symptomatic of a seizure, and that she would expect him to have one in the next 24 hours. She requested that I let the staff know immediately, so that they would be on the lookout for seizure-like symptoms. I went back through his file, trying to find something that I had missed the day before, but none of his symptoms really seemed to match the behaviors I had seen. Either way, I spent the 30 minutes before the bell rang talking to the nurse, PE teachers, assistant principal, ESS teacher, etc. making sure everyone was aware that if A was feeling better this morning, he would be here, but we would need to keep an eye out for him.

I saw A at breakfast and he looked like his bright, happy self. His tradition in the morning when he gets to my room is to either try to scare the beejeezus out of me by sneaking up behind me, or just simply trying to get past me unnoticed. He finds great joy in this practice, and I have recognized as one of those things that A just loves to do :) In fact, he finds it so funny when I "catch" him, asking, "Mrs. T, HOW did you KNOW I was there?"

He was no different this morning, trying to sneak behind me, and giggling when I discovered him, yet again behind me. Morning Meeting went without a hitch, business as usual. My para was called out of the room that morning, so I was slightly concerned upon realizing I may be the only adult in the room with a pre-seizure student. Fortunately/Coincidentally, one of our autism professionals came in the room to do an observation on A around 8:45, and so I felt slightly better knowing there was an extra adult.

As we moved on to our reading block, my students were behaving like gems, and so I was really able to keep an eye on A. At one point, he got out of his chair, walked towards the Smartboard, and stopped completely. This seemed very unusual for him, so when he came back to his seat, I asked, "A, are you feeling okay?" He said, "Yeah, I feel good!" However, when I watched him get up again to get a piece of paper, he repeated the earlier behavior, stopping completely, staring off into space, completely oblivious for several seconds. As he came back to his seat, I asked again, "How do you feel?" A replied, "I don't feel very good." I immediately called the school nurse, who headed right down. When I returned, A somewhat lethargically said, "I need--I need to go the nurse." While I was on the phone, my instructional coach had come in to observe, and as I was guiding A out of the classroom, our ESS teacher also came in. I was able to leave my class in their hands, and we took off down the hallway. I kept A talking, noticing that he was beginning to stutter, get a little droopy, and fading off quite a bit.

We met the nurse in the hallway and headed back to her office. He went in and laid down, but couldn't sit still, complete sentences, or even forgot to respond to questions. He shivered a few times, stuttered his way through questions, and was very lethargic. At this point, I was just barely holding it together because I knew something was very wrong with this sweet little boy. Mom was called in, and as she knelt in front of him, she asked him where he was. After pausing, he was able to tell her he was at school, but couldn't lift his head in response to her request to look her in the eyes. At this point, I had to leave the room because the emotions completely overwhelmed me. I was relieved Mom was there to get him to the doctor, I was scared for him, I was terrified of what was happening to him.

My kind assistant principal let me sit in her office and cry for a few minutes. I was able to compose myself and get back to my room about 20 minutes later. It was incredibly difficult to teach that day, as I was feeling so emotionally exhausted and I constantly wondered what was happening to little A.

At the end of the day, I received an email from the nurse, who said that Mom had called and told her that 1 hour later at the doctor, A had a grand mal seizure, followed by several more episodes. He was in the hospital, getting blood taken, and recovering.

I was so grateful for that mom's responsiveness to my email, and her warning to be on the lookout. I was grateful for support staff who showed up in my room at the exact right moment. I was grateful for an administration who let me catch my breath. I was grateful for a very calm and loving nurse to sit with A and I in her office. I am grateful, also, to my Heavenly Father for watching over me and little A, and I think it was a blessing that his seizure happened at the doctor, and not at school.

I am also grateful to know what to look out for, in case there is a next time. Because this is a chronic condition, this may not be the last time I deal with A's seizures.

Last of all, I am grateful for A's influence on my life. I am so lucky to get to work with these little ones, even when they do drive me crazy some days! I feel I learn so many life lessons through these tiny guys, and I'm so glad their parents share them with me everyday!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Class Love!

I love my new class. I'm exhausted, but they are the cutest, cutest, cutest!

Favorite conversation:

Student: Hey, Mrs. T., my dad had surgery.
Me: Really? Is he okay?
Student: Yeah, he just doesn't want any more kids!

bahahahaha :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First Day

Today was our first day! We had only a half day, and I LOVE that they do that. You are so exhausted after three hours with the kids.

They are really, really cute. It's still the honeymoon period (and everyone had taken their..umm...vitamins?) and so it went really well. I have EIGHT kids with IEP's. I almost cried when they told me that. It sounds like I will get a lot of support, which I'm so grateful for.

Seriously, they are darling. I love my room, although it's new, so I still kept putting things down and forgetting where they go! My water was gone in a blink, and I was hoarse by the end!

Happy Back to School!

This is my awesome team. They are helping me out with my door, which says, "We're so bright, we need sunglasses!" I took pictures of the kids today and I think it will be so cute!

My classroom, ready for the kids this morning!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Made It

I love this linky party that is happening over at 4th Grade Frolics! In fact, I had seen many, many versions of this idea I used for my "Made It", but it was through the linky party that I found this post over at Creekside Teaching Tales.

She used duct tape to cover her drawers instead of scrapbook paper...and since that seemed SUPER easy and FAST, and I already had the duct tape, I decided to do mine that way!

I looked around at a few other teacher toolboxes for some inspiration on what to label them, and used this labeling idea and template from Ladybug Teacher Files. I typed the labels, laminated them, and hot glued them on after adding the duct tape.

The zebra print is from some awesome contact paper I found at T.J. Maxx...that contact paper will be turning up in another place in my room (which is a project I am crossing my fingers works out!)

In other news, we had Everyday Math Training for the common core edition today. I really like the changes they made and I LOVE the E-Presentations...I am excited to use them (maybe I am just excited because they work in ActivInspire, which is what I'm used to using, as opposed to Smart Notebook, which is what my new district uses...and I still don't really like it!)

edit: Here is the direct link to Kristen's printable for the labels!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This Week

This week of summer has been my only true "do whatever I want/stay-at-home-wife" week. I did summer school in June, then spent the next two weeks packing and unpacking during our move, then we went on vacation (okay, so I did whatever I wanted then too!) Now, it's the last full week of July!

I realized yesterday that we have THREE weeks until students! And I have a BARE classroom! Okay, so it's a new school under construction and there's nothing I can do about that, but I wanted to get some things done so that when I am running around there like a chicken with its head cut off I have a few things done!

So here's a picture of a project I worked on today! It feels good to get something totally done! (oh, and laundry too!)

Since I have almost zero bulletin board space, I am planning on putting this on my storage closet door. I have cards from Vistaprint I used last year to give out to kids being kind, and this year they will be what fills the "buckets."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Brain Breaks

There are a lot of resources out there for brain breaks. I have a set of laminated brain breaks that correspond with each letter of the alphabet. Next year, the kids won't have an afternoon recess, but I am building in a time for us to do a brain break. In addition to using the breaks on a ring, I searched the web and compiled a set of labels I can add to popsicle sticks. A lot of the pre-made sets had games I was unfamiliar with, and so this is a set I customized. You may do the same, or feel free to use this as is! Brain Breaks

Some ideas from (thanks to a Pinterest search!):

Tales of a Third Grade

Keep Calm and Teach On

Ms. Smartie Pants

Minds in Bloom

Monday, July 23, 2012

Finger Signals

In my classroom, I've always used finger signals for the kids who need to get up and get a pencil, go to the bathroom, etc. In the past, I've just used 1 finger and 2 fingers, but I thought this year I would try to go for all five. It's one of my favorite management techniques. Also, I don't believe in limiting the kids too much on bathroom breaks (I wouldn't want someone telling me I couldn't go when I needed to go!) I can tell pretty quickly which kids like to abuse the privilege, and I always talk to those kids about excessive breaks during independent time turning into 5 minutes working during recess time. It nips that in the bud pretty quick!  But most of all, I love not having to verbally acknowledge the kids' needs--they can just get up and go and we can keep going.

I also talk to the kids about times when they CAN'T go: when I am doing a whole-group lesson, when they have an assignment that is being timed, etc. Even then, if they try to go when I'm teaching, I just have to shake my head.

Great little tool, but I've never put up posters before. I created some simple ones to go with my black, white, green, and pink scheme. The pictures are from Discovery Kids.

Finger Signals


Another item of cool news that I received before the end of the year was that my classroom had been given a donation through Adopt-A-Classroom!

I honestly had completely forgotten about signing up, because I had done it about a year before, and it was so easy! I created my profile, wrote about the details of my school and classroom, and that was pretty much it!

Through the donation, I ordered a few of the things I mentioned in the last post, along with some fun guided reading and math items. I am planning on ordering a Scholastic News subscription too, with my remaining money.

I can't decide whether to order enough subscriptions for a small guided reading group (7), enough to read it in partners (about 12/13 subscriptions), or just order one for the whole class.

Anyone use Scholastic News and have any great tips or advice?

Recent Purchases

Like any teacher, I have a hard time resisting buying new things for the next school year. This year is turning out to be a challenge because I have only seen my new classroom once, and it only has ONE bulletin board. Yes, ONE! It is a smaller square board too, and then the only other board is a whiteboard which is twice it's size. So, I'm a little nervous about that. I think I will have to get creative with those concrete blocks!

But here are a few things I love to get every year for my room!

1. Large Post-It pad.

I love using this paper for anchor charts and for small groups. Usually I just get the Post-It pad itself, but this year I am going to try the one that has the Dry Erase board on the other side.

2. Borders from Creative Teaching Press.

Before I knew I was going to have zero bulletin board space, I knew I wanted to simplify my "theme" and colors. To be honest, I can't pull off a great theme very well, and I loved the simplicity of Kristen's room over at Ladybug Teaching Files. So I wanted to do black and white, and then throw in some bright colors, like lime and hot pink. Still not sure how it will turn out in my room, but I like the basic idea of it!

3. Post-it Flags.

I purchased "Be a Guided Reading Guru" from Lesson Plan SOS last summer and then didn't get to use it because our district adopted a brand new curriculum. This year, I am going to use it. In her packet, she uses the different colored flags to correspond with a thinking strategy for reading. I would love to try it, since it seems much more simpler than things I have done in the past!

4. How Full is Your Bucket?

Our administration read this book to our kids a few years ago, and I have used bits and pieces of the overall idea to motivate my kids to be nice! This year, I plan to have a board (somewhere!) where the kids each have a library pocket and can earn "bucket filler cards" for doing nice things for their classmates. I love the classrooms that do the actual buckets and fill them with pom poms, but because of space, I am going to try it this way.

So, I know I have purchased more things, but here are some of the basics.  I am back to being a "new" teacher again since I am in a new district, so orientation starts August 1st. I can't believe how soon that is coming up!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Big update!

I updated my blog for the first time since February, and there are several posts! Keep scrolling down to see them all!


I have many excuses for not posting for MONTHS, as I mentioned in a post below. Here are a few more:

  • my husband graduated from law school
  • my husband took the bar
  • my husband PASSED THE BAR!
  • my husband GOT A JOB!
  • my husband got a job in a new city! (60 minutes west of Topeka)
  • I had to get a new job!
  • I got an interview...and the next day I had a new job!
  • I had to move out of my classroom!
  • I taught summer school!

Suffice it to say, it's been a busy 2012! I cried a few times during my last week of school. One of my students said a positive part of her day was "getting to spend today with Mrs. Thomason before she leaves." Tears, seriously. Again, SUCH A HARD YEAR, but I REALLY loved them at the end and I was sad to see them go!

So, onto new things! My new school is a BRAND SPANKIN school on Ft. Riley Army Base, and I get to STAY in third grade! We went to see our new school last Thursday, and the excitement was obvious, as teachers ran from room to room taking pictures of their classrooms and everything in between. This was in spite of the fact that the school is NOT complete yet!

Outside of the school, near the main entrance.

In each of the pods, there is a collaboration area. It will have two smartboards.

My classroom! EEEEKKK!! 28 cubbies and coat hooks

Sink area with cabinets

Each classroom has a CLOSET! YES!!!
Only pitfall of the room...not much bulletin board space! The smartboard will go in between the bulletin board and whiteboard.

Teacher workroom
We are a LEED school (green), so there is lots of natural light!

SPED and coaches room
The art/science room (teachers can use this room when they need to)


Like any hip teacher, I like to indoctrinate my students with silly Youtube videos.

Let's be honest, usually THEY are the ones teaching me to be cool!

On the last day of school, I pulled out some Carly Rae Jeppsen, in the form of the Harvard baseball players. My kids started doing the dance (ok, and some dances of their own!)

They are so cute!

End of the Year

At the end of the year, our assistant principal and behavior specialist came in to do some fun activities with my kids. It was such a positive 40 minutes!

They danced to a song (Follow the Leader, can't remember!)

They played a balloon game where they had to keep a balloon up without letting go of their hands.

They did more dance moves??? (By the way, we did chicken fat friday every Friday the second half of the year. They always talked about it!)

I also discovered a newfound love for Pete the Cat. They read them this story and talked about things being alllllll good! They kids sang the song. And, of course, I thought it was even cuter when they changed the song to "I love my TEACHER, I LOVE my teacher!"

End of the year photos

It's so funny how the class that gave you me so much DRAMA is one of the classes I'll miss the most. They really were sweet and I saw some HUGE improvements.

We did normal, silly, and TOUGH!

Recycling project

Some of the results of our annual recycling project. The kids pick their groups (and they work so much better together, imagine that!)

This group made a model of me, complete with coconut bra! No, I have NEVER worn that to work!

This is a racecar :)

Field Day!

I love field day! Our PE teachers do an amazing job planning the activities and teaching the kids ahead of time how to play them!

The looks on these girls' faces are priceless!

Cooperative Teams/Lego Fractions

One thing my students struggled with ALL year was working together...we still didn't quite have it down by the time we did this project, but I think the kids that could handle it did great, and so that made it worth it! Each team was given a set of legos (random) in four colors. They had 15 minutes to create a structure. They could make their own pieces and connect them (they HAD to be connected by the end of the time), or they could just build one big one together (harder than it sounds with these little guys...hehe). 

After the 15 minutes was up, they switched tables. They had to deconstruct the structure, sort out the colors, and create fractions using the four colors. They got extra "points" for putting the fractions in order from smallest to largest and using the <, >, or = symbols. 

I was inspired to do this by a news piece I saw where a middle school teacher used Legos with her sixth grade language arts class to talk about plot, conflict, etc. 

Angry Birds Writing

I found this project on Pinterest and knew we HAD to do it! HUGE thanks to the teacher that put this together. The kids loved it, loved the writing component, and REALLY loved building their birds! We even had another class come over to see our angry birds and ask questions about them :) 

I even did this project with my 4th-grade summer schoolers...who also loved it! If Angry Birds is still cool next year, we will for sure do it again!


I love doing this lesson with my third graders. The generous teacher in the classroom before me left a laminated set of 30 tangrams, and so I did some research and was led to Grandfather Tang. It's a great story where the two main animal characters change into different creatures as the story progresses. As I read it out loud, the kids manipulate their tangrams to match the creature. For some of them, it's hard at first, but they get better!

Graham Cracker States

We do a lot of "fun" stuff after state my school it seems like we put so much pressure on the kids to test well, and so it's nice to take it a little bit easier afterwards. Anyway, to end our postcard project, the kids made graham cracker states and marked the capitals with Smarties and water with blue frosting. Some of their states were open to a little interpretation :)

They LOVED it though. It was so cute. I would do this again!

I SO want to be back!

I really, really love updating my personal blog. I like being able to look back at our lives and see what changes we have been through and the things Todd and I have done together.

I have found that I have some personal limitations with this blog, and I'm learning to be okay with that. I really do want to keep a record of my teaching. I really want it to be positive. With that being said, I will probably never:

  • own a TpT or Teacher's Notebook store
  • host a giveaway
  • join a million linky parties and comment on every one (there are some link parties that I think are really awesome and I DO follow those!)
  • create incredibly darling unit and post them online

In the blog world, I have felt some pressure to "keep up" with all of the amazing things other teachers are doing. However, that stopped me from even posting. I had a really difficult class this year, and when I came home I just wanted to be home and not think about work. I loved my job, but I needed to leave work at work.

I'm hoping I can strike a new balance. Like I said above, recognize my limitations and not feel guilty about it. Post when I can about things that are working!

So, hopefully I can be back on this blog. I have some exciting things coming up in regards to my job and I want to document it!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cupcake Club

I had made some extra cupcakes over the weekend, and so on Monday when I showed up after having a sub on a Friday, I held a cupcake club. I had received some really nice notes about some of my students from the sub, so they got to join me for cupcake club at the end of the day. I totally feel for substitutes, having been one myself, but I'm grateful for them so I can have a day off every once in a while!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Maybe If I Vent...

...I'll feel better. My four boys were just rotten today. We ran the gamut from "Your momma" comments to kneeing someone in the crotch, to shoving in the classroom, to shouting matches over who tripped who. It was totally miserable. I have 21 other angels in my class. According to several different teachers, they have heard it from administration that I have the "toughest class in the school." Maybe someday that will feel like a compliment, but today it was awful. I just wanted to yank those boys off their seats and haul them to the office. 30 minutes after a talking to, two of the boys were at it again. I have to watch a few of them like hawks at recess to make sure they don't kill each other. They have little to no parent support. I have been told that Kagan will solve it, that Love and Logic will solve it, that community service will solve it, that phone calls home will fix it. Well, it's January, and none of those things have worked so far. I have one student that throws a fit every time he doesn't get what he wants, which is about 10 times a day...and I don't think that's an exaggeration. Sometimes I literally think he is going to drive me insane if he asks me one more time if he can go visit the SPED teacher or the school counselor...knowing that he won't have to do his work. It's a cycle, 5 minutes of class, 1 minute standing around to wait and ask me if he can leave, me saying no, 5 minutes of a tantrum, 10 minutes of scheduled time out of the classroom, he comes back, wants something, I say no, more tantrums and stomping, rinse and repeat.

Sorry to be so "woe is me." Tomorrow is a new day, but I almost had to take a timeout today. Things were going so well before Christmas, and then a few of them came back little monsters. I don't want people to feel sorry for me, I guess I just want this mess to be over, and to have my little angels back.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pinterest in Action!

So since I had some time over break to think about fun classroom things to do, I implemented two things I saw on Pinterest this week that I want to do weekly.

The first was Homeworkopoly, and Ladybug Teacher Files has a great download for it here. I told the kids about it on Wednesday, and they got to roll for the first time on Friday. They were SO excited :) The great thing is that three kids landed on Chance cards, and two had to answer math review questions...the rest just landed on regular spaces. I had more kids turn in homework this week (although we are STILL battling NAMES on papers!) and so that was great.

We also did "Chicken Fat Friday." If you link here, you'll end up on a teaching blog. I kinda found this idea by accident. I was following through another idea on the same pinterest post, but found this because her video of the kids was just so cute. I found the Robert Preston song on Youtube, and played it yesterday afternoon. The kids were hilarious, and since I did it with them, I was sweating by the time it was over! I think it will be especially great for those Friday afternoons when we don't have PE that day and the younguns are restless!