Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Saturday Post

So it's official. I'm sick. I've had a couple of very sick kids in my class this week, and I guess I just picked it up. I went to bed at 9:30 last night after taking something to help me sleep, and I woke up at 8:30. Man, it was wonderful to sleep so well. Joel had to sleep in the guest room because I was snoring (ew) and he really does not need to be sick.

Today, I have been baking like crazy. I guess I just got the baking bug, but I made a huge loaf of pumpkin bread with walnuts and powdered sugar, and with the leftover batter I made muffins. I also bought plantains to try my hand at Caribbean cooking, and I made plantain chips and some thicker fried plantains. Joel loves them! I also made a breaded chicken and baked sweet potatoes for lunch. Actually enjoying cooking (and being able to cook without burning down the house) has been my biggest surprise about being a wife. I guess I could have cooked before, but I thought I wouldn't have the patience to cook with everything else going on. But I try not to take work home with me, so I have plenty of time during the weekends to try making things. During the week I try to make at least 2 nice meals, but I definitely don't stress about it. This week, because I was sick, we went out to eat a little more. Joel is great about cleaning up after I make things, so it's a good partnership.

This week at school was great. I had more planning time, so it was nice to get my head around things. We had open house, and I felt like I was really in charge of the class, finally. I kept my cool when a parent challenged me a little about the way 3rd grade does math. She wasn't rude, but I didn't get flustered. I met with my mentor, who gave me some fabulous ideas for working with a student I have who is on a kindergarten level (remember, I teach 3rd grade). I made a notebook for him of activities that are very hands-on, but can be done independently and quietly. He is only in my class for part of the day in 15 minute increments, so planning a whole lesson just for him while I'm teaching the rest of the class isn't possible, as much as I hate to admit it. He goes to the CCR teacher pretty much the whole day. After he completes three activities, which include Leap Frog books, books on tape, word sorts, sight words practice, and math manipulatives, he gets to go on the computer for 10 minutes. There is a math game he loves to play, so I feel like all around he's getting extra practice in my class.

Yesterday, I had to call a parent about homework. I was really nervous, but I don't think I conveyed it. She seemed friendly but I think she got the message. It made me feel more like a professional, rather than a schoolteacher.

A parent also came into my class after school to tell me that her son (who isn't the best student and is definitely all boy) loves my class. I almost cried. She said he'd never said that about any teacher. It was SO encouraging. I've had to really crack down on discipline this week, but I think now my expectations are clear and the consequences are more enforced. I really have to be consistent. That's the most important thing. Well, almost the most important.

One thing that has surprised me about teaching is how difficult it is to have those little relationship-building conversations with my students. When I was a camp counselor, I had all the time in the world, and I didn't have to worry about getting the content in in time. So I was able to ask them questions, do more fun things, get to know them. Now, when I have down time in the class, I am desperately trying to fit in all the mundane tasks to prepare for the next lesson so that the management piece runs smoothly. Even at lunch time, I'm so busy cramming food in my mouth in the 7 minutes I have to eat lunch, I barely have time to speak. But that piece is the most important thing. So. I have to fit it in.

Some interesting things did happen this week, though. We talked about 9/11, and I had to dispel some fears about riding on an airplane or going to New York City on vacation. It was a difficult conversation to have, but we had a moment of silence and also read The Little Chapel That Stood. When they asked about the war or the terrorists, I told them to ask their parents. But I did make sure to tell them that not everyone that is from Afghanistan is a terrorist!

Most of my kids are on grade level for the math quiz I just gave-HOORAY! It's the first quiz I have given after something I have taught, so I wanted them to do really well ( I know that sounds very selfish...).

We finished Ramona Quimby, Age 8, The Paper Bag Princess (my personal favorite), and some book about a little girl who turns into whatever people say about her.

We began a unit on citizenship (my favorite), did many cooperative activities (YES!), and played "I'm going on a picnic."

I'm not at all prepared for next week, but I'm happy with how last week went. We start centers this week and duty-free lunch! So excited.

Hopefully, I feel better soon so I can see little Grace Elizabeth-I do miss her.

Off to eat pumpkin bread and watch tv lazily.


jenblue said...

Dear Dom,
I love reading your blog because I can just feel how you genuinely want your kids to learn and do well and what a good teacher you want to be. You & Joel are such a blessing to the kids in your class and their parents! One thing, do you have any parents who have offered to help you out? If so take them up on it. That way you could have them do some of the "mundane" things for your and which would hopefully free up your time a bit. My kids both had the same second grade teacher who was so organzied I was really able to get a lot done for her when I was there. You are doing such a great job!!!
Jennifer Kromhout

meredith* said...

ooh! the paper bag princess! good girl!