Sunday, September 7, 2014

New School Year!

Dusting off the shelves of this blog for another school year. I'd like to use this more as a personal journal for my schoolteacher life this year so what better way than to talk about all of the changes that are happening!

First off, I switched to fifth grade this year at a new school. I was fortunate enough to get a job back in February, since I knew I'd be moving. I'd heard good things about Derby, and they were the first ones to call me back for interviews. I didn't get the first job I interviewed for in third grade, but I got a call about interviewing for fifth. In fact, I had seen the job posting, but didn't know how comfortable I would be in fifth. I didn't technically apply for it, but when the principal called after seeing my resume, I decided to at least interview, since it seemed like I was getting the "nudge" I needed :)

I interviewed, and they offered me the job the same day. I had been praying that the right job would come along, and since everything fell into place so perfectly, I felt good about it. Now I could enjoy the last few months in third grade, and look forward to something new!

I do have to say, moving was really hard. I loved my teammates, my building, our school community, working with Army kids, etc. etc. The first few days this year were really hard because I kept comparing it to my old experience. In my heart, I knew it wasn't fair, but everything just felt so unfamiliar, I couldn't help it. I knew I needed to give it a chance, and things are getting better. In fact, most days are really great days. Fifth graders are not that much different from third graders in that there are pros and cons. My new colleagues are great, and really patient! So that makes a huge difference!

This year, I am teaching science to each fifth grade class. It's a lot of fun, although I do miss teaching science every day. With our school, I teach twice a week, 45 minutes one day, and 30 the next. However, I'm learning it's a good chunk of time, and it goes by really fast (always a good thing!) I'm also loving not having to teach writing or social studies. 

Hopefully I'll continue to blog here and keep a record of the funnies kids say, and the adventures we'll have this year. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Always a First Year Teacher

Thank goodness I didn't change grades, because these are the things that are new this year:

  • Reading curriculum (same basal, different format)
  • Math curriculum (we are now using Georgia's)
  • Word Work (no more spelling tests and lists)
  • Lucy Calkins writing (the updated, grade-level version)
  • Skyward is our new online gradebook
  • KEEP-our teacher evaluation system
It's juuuuuust enough to make me feel like a first year teacher again! In what other professions does this much change happen every year? Is it just teachers??

Talk Like a Pirate?

Only at a school can these things happen on the same day...

  • Adults and kids dressed in pajamas
  • Adults and kids dressed like pirates (many of them complete with tattoos and "beards")
  • Lessons on how to hide you and the rest of your classmates in a closet in case of a dangerous intruder
  • Chasing down a child who has run out the door
  • Papaya taste-testing
  • etc, etc etc!

There is never a "normal" day in an elementary school!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Grown-up Problems.

Student: "Mrs. T, do you actually call your husband Mr. Thomason?"
Me: "Nope, I call him my servant. Hahahaha!"
Crickets. Crickets.
They will understand when they are older :)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Old" Kids

One of my favorite parts of a  new school year is when your "old" kids come back and say hi. It totally makes you feel like a rock star! We have had afternoon recess with the 4th graders several times since the beginning of school, and I love when the kids come up to chat about their summer and show off their new haircuts, clothes, and the new inches they have grown! I even have one student who stops by every afternoon on her way home (she passed by our pod) to give me a hug and say goodbye. Love them!

It's a bit bittersweet because I miss those SWEET, TRAINED children! The beginning of the school year is tough because you know those kids that left were ready and trained for 4th, and you are getting brand new third grade "babies." But I think this school year is going to be great, maybe a bit more challenging than last year, but really nothing I haven't seen before. I'm hoping I will finally feel my five years of experience this year!

Seitz 2013-2014

A new year has arrived and we are off with a bang!

 The kids were super good sports as we did a Mrs. Thomason tradition--spelling our school's name. I always hope it will be a great teambuilding activity, but I always forget how hard it is for the kids to visualize it, and by the time each group is ready, we just all wanna get it over with! But it turned out cute, as usual, and we had to work quickly because the concrete is HOT! Already we have stayed in twice this week because of heat advisories, which is nuts, because we have had a weirdly wonderful not-that-humid summer, and now that school has started, it's SO HOT! Our a/c in our building didn't work one morning, and it was so miserable! It was a bonding experience for everyone, for sure!

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