And now for a truly sincere Thank You

I doubt the transition to parenthood is ever particularly smooth. I’m sure the hormones and sleepless nights can make even the most prepared first time parent doubt themselves. I’ve been through the wringer emotionally and physically, and I know I still have a long road to emotional recovery ahead. I have an appointment with a psychiatrist in two weeks to get back on my meds. I’m lucky to have a wonderful support system in my husband, family, coworkers, and in you, yes you.

Writing about my feelings and experiences is a coping strategy for me. I feel blessed by the response I have gotten from my followers and readers here on tumblr. I’d start listing you, but in my baby brain fog I know I’d forget someone, and I don’t want to offend. So many of you have liked my posts, left encouraging comments, and offered advice. I appreciate all of it!

More with Less

Our school board proposed a budget that included a COLA and a step increase for teachers. To fund this, the county Board of Supervisors needs to allocate more money to the schools. It’s my understanding that they have not done so in at least 6 years, and it’s been at least 8 years since teachers have gotten a step increase.

This week, the Supervisors advertised a new, lower tax rate, meaning it’s highly unlikely that the school’s budget will be funded. This isn’t just a problem for teachers struggling to make ends meet. Housing developments approved by the Supervisors have the potential to bring thousands of new students to the county, which will overwhelm an already overcrowded school. Supplies will need to stretch even farther than they are now.

And I find myself asking how long I can tolerate a community that blatantly disregards its education system. And then I wonder, where would I go that is any different? We have wonderful teachers and good students, but we can only do so much without the support of the community.

A huge thank you to coffeefortiffany for being an awesome #education Pen Exchange buddy! She sent some of my current favorites, Pilot G2s in fun colors, and some I’ve never tried before, Pentel EnerGels.

The Pentels are liquid gel pens that claim to be quick drying, and from my first journal entry I would have to agree. I love both pens, but the really touching thing is the journal she sent. It’s a five year journal with a daily prompt, so every year you can see what your thoughts were on the same topic the year before. This will make a wonderful keepsake for myself and Baby. It will also be a great way for me to focus and reflect in small doses. Love it! Thank you so much! And thank you to heykkkkatie for organizing the exchange!

Still Working

A senior emailed me on Monday to ask what he could do to improve his last report card grade because he is a varsity captain of his team and the grade makes him ineligible for the upcoming season. Part of me wanted to respond “too bad, so sad”, but this kid is nice, albeit somewhat lazy, and I don’t want to ruin the memories of his senior year over a grade in what is essentially an elective class. I also don’t want to set a precedent of significantly changing grades just because someone asks nicely. So instead he will be writing a formal report interpreting the global wind map (found here: http://earth.nullschool.net/). It will require him to put in the effort that he failed to show during class by applying everything we covered during the grading period. I think this is a reasonable balance between too hard/too easy, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with.

Snow Day Schedule?

How does your school handle snow days?

Back in PA, both districts I worked with used a 6 day cycle. If a snow day happened on Day 4, it would be Day 4 when we came back. If we had to use a snow make up day it would be added in as a regular part of the cycle.

Here in VA, we have an A/B schedule. If a snow day happens on a B Day, we lose that B Day and would return on an A Day. So we have to keep track of how many days we’ve been out o make sure we know what day it is when we come back. If we need to use a snow make up day admin goes back to see which day we missed first and adds it to the schedule, so we have two days with the same students back to back.

They claim to do this because they already printed the A/B schedule on the yearly calendar. I think they need to stop this practice so we don’t end up with the problem we have now. I’ve only missed 2 days with my B Day kids, but I’ve missed 5 with my A Days. I haven’t seen them in over 2 weeks. Their retention will suffer, we’ll need to spend more time reviewing, and they’ll fall even farther behind the B Day classes. But they all have to take the state tests at the same time, and that will probably happen before we get any snow make up days in, if we get any at all (we only start making up days after the first 5 snow days, and I don’t remember if they were A or B).

In 4 years of teaching,

I have never cried at school. Including my time as a long term and daily sub. Until today. Maybe it was seeing the high number on my glucose meter. Maybe it was the rowdy class that just doesn’t seem to care, despite everything I’ve tried. Maybe it was the hormones. Or the dentist appointment ahead. Fortunately the students were gone and I could gather my composure. But damn, this sucks.

I am feeling very accomplished right now. I have pl*ns and materials organized for now until at least April. Realistically they will probably last until May, but I’d rather have too much prepared than not enough. All I have left is filling in a few answer keys and gathering some minor lab materials.

asker

Anonymous asked: Hello, I'll be a full-time teacher soon and I was wondering: what is the reality of lesson planning? I've been too embarrassed to ask anyone. I'll obviously plan the way I have been doing during my pracs but I've never really seen any lesson planning from my supervising teachers (let alone have I even seen my supervising teachers, teach). Can you provide some insight? Thanks.

adiemtocarpe:

Hi Anon! No need to be embarrassed!!!

Lesson planning is one of the most time consuming parts of teaching. For me, at least. It DOES get better with experience. My first year teaching I would stay three plus hours after school each day figuring out lessons. I was very, very slow. Second year I got it down to an hour and a half. This year I probably spend an extra 45 mins at the end of the day planning. It honestly gets easier the more you do it, especially after you have taught the same content more than once.

The lesson plan format I used in college proved totally useless. Halfway through student teaching I was able to “block plan” which is what my school uses.

My biggest piece of advice is to always over plan. It’s so much easier to not get to everything in a day rather than to be scrambling to fill up an extra 20 minutes.

Feel free to come off anon and I would be happy to send you an example of my lessons. Sorry for the less than stellar response; I am on my way to bed :)

Yeah, all the lesson plan formats I had to use during school were useless once I actually started teaching. They take way too much time to complete. My admin requires us to submit lesson plans, but we are allowed to use any format we want, as long as we include objectives, corresponding standards, and a rough outline including dates. In college, my lessons for one day would be multiple pages long. Now, my lessons for one unit are usually 1 page, plus resources. I don’t need to write out the introduction, modeling, practice, and whatever other stages you are told to include. I know how I want my activities to flow and it’s very instinctual at this point (3rd year).

Thank You!

I didn’t want to put your real name up here, and I don’t have your tumblr name, but a wonderful future teacher from Michigan sent a Mythbusters DVD from my classroom wishlist. Thank you!! We use Mythbusters to review scientific method at the start of the year, and this year it is part of my emergency plan if I have to leave mid-day or mid-unit. This is much appreciated!

2013 Highlights

- Bought a car
- Finished my MS in Secondary Education with a 4.0
- Bought a house
- Adopted a puppy
- Got pregnant (without the difficulties all my doctors predicted)

(The last 4 things all happened in the same month! Well, the puppy didn’t come home until July, but we met her in May)

Career-wise:
- Finished my second year teaching
- Had a great first season as assistant tennis coach
- Got tables for my classroom!
- Started my third year with a great group of new students
- Impressed myself with my long-term planning abilities. I have plans for nearly the entire year. I’ve got a binder with master copies and electronic copies and answer keys.

I’ve enjoyed watching all the success and happiness experienced by my tumblr friends and IRL friends. I hope 2014 is a chance for all of us to grow and celebrate continued happiness!

asker

teachertaytay asked: I'm 20 years old and two years away from student teaching/graduating with my Master's degree. I recently accepted a job as a substitute teacher for the local school district starting in January (yay for not having classes tuesdays/thursdays next semester!) Do you have any advice? I have teaching experience but I have never been the only teacher in the classroom. Thank you, ma'am!

girlwithalessonplan:

That’s what I did too.  take it for what it is: experience.  You’re not going to do much if any of your own plans, so follow what teachers leave you to the letter.  Follow their classroom procedures and implement your own.  It doesn’t matter if “teacher lets us use the bathroom”. you can set your own rules. Leave detailed notes for the teacher. 

want brownie points?  Grade things if you can, like simple quizzes.  Keep some simple workbooks or puzzle books on hand for quick photo copies if kids need to be kept busy.  Thank the admin for calling you in. 

I would second what GWALP said. The subs on my preferred list are the ones that follow my plans and make good judgements with student questions. For example, if they have a test or a quiz and a student says they were absent, I prefer the sub to have them take it and let me handle it from there. I also love detailed notes about how the day went.

Oh, and please please please leave the desk as you found it! And if you want me to recommend you to all my coworkers, clean the dry erase board!

Note to Substitutes

If the school provides computers in the teacher workroom, please save them for full time teachers unless your assignment requires you to use them for prep. I don’t want to see you browsing news sites or updating your resume when I need to revise a test for next period.

I always feel a little panicky at the start of a day off. Did I request a sub? Did they show up? Are my plans ok? Did I forget anything?