Friday, January 26, 2007

The beginning of the end of a challenging era...

The meetings have been held, the options presented and discussed, and now it's in the works.

My biggest challenge, my kid in the eye of the storm, is going to be heading off to "contract services". His parents start visiting/interviewing privated schools next week.

I accept this change with a mix of emotions: some relief, yes.... a feeling of hope for this family who will probably get more support services once the change is made.... and a wave of sadness. Saying goodbye is going to be hard. He loves us, and loves our school. In the long run, a change is going to be very, very positive. In the here and now, we are in for some heartwrenching moments.

Whenever teaching is presented as a science, a skillset focusing on content area expertise, lesson development and effective assessment, I will always remember this little guy and the piece of my heart he took with him.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

To each his/her own.....

Next week the first grade teaching team will review together the most recent data from our state testing scores. We are charged with the mission to look carefully at "teaching" weaknesses with an eye toward improving our teaching practice to increase achievement.

Translation: use the information we have, as muddy as it is, to decide where we need to make changes.

This kind of collegial,achievement-oriented work always pumps me up. I look forward to our eagle-eye exploration of how we are teaching certain important objectives, and how we can do it better.

There is something about a group of caring, smart, talented teachers thoughtfully examining our kids' work and discussing how we can do better. In addition, we are reminded by our administrators to go back to info on research-based instructional strategies as we make our plans for improvement. I agree. It will be important to our success and the success of our students that we stick to proven methods, not just ideas that sound good.

It's going to be fun!
I know. I'm a geek.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The glass IS half full...

Today I looked past the snotty nose to the sweet smile.
I counted the times he followed through with a direction instead of how many times he yelled NO!
He clocked a kid, but it didn't leave a mark.
The morning went slowly, but my husband (SURPRISE!) stopped in at noon and made my day!

It's true, this looking on the bright side stuff has its benefits!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Making a positive change...

What's it mean when I pass my teaching colleagues in the hall and as our eyes meet, we seem to concurrently sigh, widen our eyes, and look stricken?

This seems to be happening more and more. It's only mid-January. How is it we're all so spent already? We had Monday off for God's sake.

My pledge... greet my colleagues with an air of positive expectation. I'll "ACT as if"... and the rest will come, right?

A Reasonable Compromise...

An update on the last post: The team of teachers, along with the reading teacher, decided to continue to provide extra reading support for the lowest scoring kids who are not receiving other services. In March or April, the focus will shift to those "Bubble Kids" who are just ready to bloom and need alittle extra push....

Seems like a reasonable solution to me. Bravo ladies.

Can I whine again about our desire to have the time and staffing to really provide the critical extra help for all the kids who need it?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

We want to do the right thing.....

We meet as a first grade teaching team each Tuesday afternoon. I'm sitting here with 5 gen ed teachers, some of the most dedicated and delightful women I know. Mostly, I enjoy their collaborative attitude.

We discussed creating special reading groups to support kids who are really struggling. The question came up: should we focus this additonal help on kids who are very very low, who just aren't making it, BUT they have very little chance of improving enough to pass the state mandated testing.... OR... do we provide a boost to the kids "On The Bubble", those who, with this extra help, have a fair chance to improve and pass the tests. Not a comfortable question, but one that must be faced in this age of high stakes assessment.

We decided not to decide right now. Not a surprise, considering how it feels to make these decisions.

We really want to do the right thing.Too bad the MOST right thing is not an option considering staffing and time constraints are fixed.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tapped out....

It's two and a half hours after the official end of the work day, and I am hurrying to my car. The after school parent meeting went long, and I am leaving a good amount of work undone on my desk. I'll get in early tomorrow to catch up before the kids get in.

As I make my way through the maze of parked cars.....there are so many of them still here!.... I run into 5 fellow teachers. Two appear to be chit-chatting,(best to do that now;there is no time during the day), and the others are moving to their cars with distinct determination. Our area is known for its horrible traffic, and our late entry onto the beltway means certain frustration. Hurry, we are late for our homelife.

The circle of life continues....

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A New Year's Pledge....

When a child has the best day ever, when he or she sparkles and cooperates and is happy to do so..... that's the setting for a night of deep thinking, just as if it was the day from hell. What was different about the day? What did I do differently? What about home was different?


Because, I really want to replicate this day.

Was I more patient than usual? What I better at reinforcing the good things he was doing? Was I better at ignoring the little stuff? What about the accommodations and modifications on today's work made it more palatable? Did I smile more? Did I smile less?

And what if it's a medication issue? I have zero control over that. Or maybe the child got through breakfast at home without getting smacked around. Or the bully on the bus was absent.

What if...what if....what if....

We teachers often beat ourselves up trying to figure out how to best help our students. I know that sometimes I do, even though I'm very aware of how idiotic it is to lose sleep over these kinds of things. It's probably a by-product of our strong desire to do what's right for kids.

But I pledge today to shift my worrying and wondering to a more productive path. I will not obsess, just consider. I will not put myself down when things go wrong, but use my expertise, experience, and commitment to kids to strategically plan for doing things better the next time. I will not lose sleep, but pray for wisdom and patience, and leave it at that.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year all!

The break has been fantastic, a truly great "family time". I count my blessings everyday.

I don't exactly look forward to the start of school tomorrow, but nor do I dread it. I feel confident we can get back into the routine that was working so well in December. I absolutely look forward to seeing the sweet faces of my little ones, and hope hope hope their holidays were good ones.

Until the next update.... here's to a 2007 full of joy!

ps.. here is one of our new xmas decorations for the front yard...a Hokie football player. We are privately mourning our bowl loss, but look forward to a new season next year!