Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Cleaning Sale and High/Low!

What a BEAUTIFUL Saturday, friends!  I don't know about where you live, but the sun is shining and the birds are chirping here in central Ohio!  It's still a bit on the cool side, but it looks like the end is in sight!

I'm SO sorry I've been MIA lately.  I mean, really.  I've been TERRIBLE with blogging.  My goal in these last two months is to get better with it.  I have finished all of my Reading Street packets and I'm about to be done with my monthly math centers.  Speaking of which, if you're anxiously waiting for my April Math Centers, I promise I'm working on them and trying to get them out ASAP!  I'm almost there!

Here's what's on tap for the next couple days: a Spring Cleaning Sale!  I'm throwing a 20% off sale today and tomorrow.  If you're like me, you've got a cart/wishlist full of goodies that you're dying to get.  Well here's a chance to do some spring cleaning and make some room in that cart/wishlist!  I'm joining up with lots of other sellers for this sale, so check out Krista's blog to see who's participating!

The Creative Chalkboard Blog

Click on the picture below to head to my store!

I'm teaming up with Katie from Teacher to the Core for her High/Low linky!

It has been an interesting month, to say the least!  March has been full of extreme highs and some frustrating lows.  Let's start with the low first...

I guess the low of the month is the stress of school.  We've had spring break this past week, but up until that point it has been HARD to get through the days.  With the impending 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee, dealing with an emotional student, and the new teacher evaluation system that we've been learning about, my mind has been FRIED and I just can't take it anymore.  This past week has been so good for me and I'm hoping these last 8 weeks go by fast!  That and the stupid cold weather.  That never helps ANYTHING.  :P  March is usually always one of the hardest months of the school year, so at least it's behind us now!  :D

The definite high of this month is getting this wonderful news!

I've been SOOOOO tired with this pregnancy.  I would come home from school and immediately take a 3-hour nap.  I think I'm starting to get some energy back, though.  Yay for a new baby!  :)

Alright friends, I'm off to work on these April Math Centers and to try to enjoy this beautiful day!  HAVE A HAPPY AND BLESSED EASTER!!!! :D

Monday, March 18, 2013

When What You Do Doesn't Seem to Matter

The past few weeks have been emotional and stressful at work.  So many new changes coming.  3rd Grade Reading Guarantee.  Ohio Teacher Evaluation System.  Words that make me cringe.  That make me get a lump in my throat.  Knots in my stomach.  When will our students ever be told they're good enough?  When will WE as teachers ever be told we're good enough?  I thought to myself, "What DOCTOR is evaluated on how many of their patients die?"  Regardless of whether or not it was their time.  Regardless if their patient came to them when it was too late.  Regardless of whether or not the damage had already been done.  Regardless of whether or not their patients followed their advice and took care of themselves.  Why are we singled out?  So. much. pressure.

The past couple of weeks, I'm not going to lie.  I have questioned whether or not this is the profession for me.  It is so unappreciated.  So many strings attached.  While we have the chance to work miracles, sometimes they're just that.  Miracles.  Our kids come from different situations that are beyond our control.  I take it to heart that I'm supposed to undo all the wrongs.  All the neglect.  All the learning disabilities.  All the things that are completely beyond my control.  I just want to grab the faces of all my little cherubs and say, "Ya know what, sweetheart?  You ARE enough.  I know this is hard.  I know you're scared.  I know you're nervous.  I know it doesn't make sense.  But we will make the best of your time with me and do what we can.  But darling, you ARE enough."  Even when the state says they're not.

I want to cry as I write this.

I can't help but to think my life would be easier and less stressful if I just exited the world of education.  When will I ever be enough?  So "Accomplished" is unattainable.  Good job, you've made me feel like I'll never cut it.  I'll never be enough for you.  Now I know how our kids feel.  And it hurts my soul.

Now you have teachers who argue, bicker, and call each other names because of how "good" or "bad" they are.  Once again, good job, state.  Talking with my father (he had a few choice words to say about all this), but he mentioned that the people in charge think they're "motivating" us by creating these lofty goals for us and our students.  His words were, "These legislators and big wigs think that unless they're behind us with a big stick, we won't be motivated to do better.  But the truth is that they have the opposite effect.  It makes us less motivated and only stresses us out."

I think it's sad that so many of us are feeling like what is one of the most rewarding jobs just isn't worth it anymore.

I've had my good days and bad days this week.  Times of positive emotions.  Times of frustration.

Maybe we'll never change the way we're asked to do things.  Maybe we'll never be trusted to use the education we received.  Maybe we'll never be trusted to make the right decision for our students.  Maybe our principals will never be trusted to do what's right for their school and find good teachers.  Or let go of ones who aren't doing their job.

But tonight I had some thoughts that were comforting.  If we leave our kids, then who will help see them through?  Don't say that someone else could do it.  God put YOU where YOU are for a REASON.  Those kids who come to school hungry.  Those kids who have parents who go out and socialize with friends every night and just give their kids "stuff" so they don't have to spend time with them.  They need YOU.  Not the teacher next door.  Not the substitute.  Not the new teacher looking for a job.  Oh, don't worry...there are kids who need those people.  But your students need YOU.  God knows what He's doing.  You have what that child needs.

And when you're feeling down because of what other people think, just remember to do what you love.  If you love it, it won't matter what other people think.  It doesn't make it any easier to be treated poorly, but as long as you love what you do when you're in that classroom, you're in the right spot.

A blogging friend tonight told me the best thing ever.  She said, "Just keep rocking it.  Besides, give them a little break - it would be a little intimidating to work with such a rockstar. ;)"  By NO means am I some superstar teacher.  But I do strive to think of new things and do things that I think will work best for my students.  But the point is, we should be each other's cheerleaders, not naysayers!  PLEASE give props where props are due.  Encourage your teammates.  Remember we'll all different.  We aren't cookie cutter teachers.  That would be kind of boring and wouldn't be good for the students.  I love how diverse our team is because there's a teacher for each type of child.  We all have such different personalities and ways of doing things.  It's a good thing!  But don't criticize your neighbors.  There are kids who need them, just like there are kids who need you.

And with teachers who struggle, find ways to encourage them.  Don't snub them.

Ladies and gents, we were called to do what we do.  I don't know about you when you were little, but I was taught never to quit in the middle of something just because it's too hard.

Let's be a living example to our families and students of that principle.

I pray you have a good week and hang in there!  We are in this together.  We're all under the same pressure.  We all deal with similar things.  Let's love each other and encourage as much as possible.  When the tough gets going, friends come together and love each other through the thing!!!!

God bless...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Our Class Book - Pete the Cat Style!

Hey friends!  I wanted to share with you the cutest thing EVER that we did last week!  We were supposed to write a class book for a competition for our building Book Fair.  I really didn't want to do it, to be honest.  I mean, I can hardly fit things in as it is.  But my firsties?  Writing a class book?  And agreeing on it?  And doing what they were supposed to?  The thought of it kind of made me squirm.  But my wonderful Ohio State student gave me the motivation I needed!  I looked at her and said, "Do you want to do this?  Because I really don't."  The more we kind of brainstormed together, the more excited I got.  Then I enlisted the help of my firsties.  After all, it WAS their book.

Rewind to some background info.  I know, I know, I'm the last on the bandwagon.  I had NEVER read a Pete the Cat book.  Ever.  I had seen so much about it and knew that they were all the rage.  The teachers were able to pick out a free book on the first day of the Book Fair, so I ran down in a hurry to snag one.  So many books!  Which would should I pick?  Ah-ha...there's a Pete the Cat book right in front of me.  Sure, why not?  It's free and maybe we'll actually enjoy it.  So I found 5 free minutes the next day (which turned into 10 because we HAD to listen to the audio version that's on the internet) and read let them listen to the book.  By page 3 or 4 they were singing along and having a BLAST!

Fast forward again to the dreaded day of writing the blasted book.  I turned the mic to my students and asked them for suggestions.  Fiction?  Nonfiction?  Funny?  Serious?  We had a few ideas up on the board and I said, "Ok, Miss Crooks and I will take it from here and narrow it down."  Then this sweet gal in my class quietly came up and said, "Mrs. Kirby...what about our own version of Pete the Cat?"  I looked at Morgan, Morgan looked at me, and we KNEW that's what we would do.  I did a quick check with the rest of the class and they ERUPTED into cheers!  Ok.  Set.  Done.

Then we had the biggest brainstorm session ever.  After narrowing it down, they wanted to do a Pete the Cat book with changing of hats.  We came up with different hats (football helmet and hockey mask didn't quite make the cut).

Then we wrote our story on the board.  Typing it out allowed for some easy editing.  After all, we only had two days to finish this project!

Having it typed out also allowed for an easy way for all the students to write the book.  I cut and paste into a document and printed the lines out.  I cut them up and gave each student a sentence or two to write their own page to contribute to the book.

Then we put some clipart on the board of Pete the Cat and all the different hats he was wearing in the book.  This helped guide them with their illustrations.

Silly me forgot to take a snapshot of the final product.  I was in such a hurry to get the thing done and turned in!  The judging takes place this week.  If our class wins, they get to silly string our principal!  They are REALLY hoping they win.  And so am I. :)

Ya know what I think will REALLY set the judges over the edge?  Yeah, that's right.  The fact that we made a CD and recorded our book!

You should be able to click the link and click the "Play" button at the bottom where it says, "Click play to hear the preview of the song."  It should play the whole thing.  :)

And one more thing...around a week ago I picked up these from the Target dollar bins!  Dry-erase spinner games for addition and subtraction!  Yeah!

Enjoy!  I'm getting ready to hunker down for this snow storm that's coming tomorrow.  Putting ice cubes in the toilet, sleeping with a spoon under my pillow, sleeping with my jammies inside-out, and doing my snow dance...hey, if it's gonna snow in March, it might was well count for something!  ;)