Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Teacher's Favorite Question...

I've decided that there is one question that any teacher around the world could be asked, and that they could most likely feel the same reaction. That question is: "So, are you going to get a summer job now that you're done teaching?"

I'd like to describe what goes on in a teacher's body when this question is asked: It starts with an eye twitch that slowly descends into the wrists and hands. Your face starts to get a little red and heat starts to spew from your ears.

Now, here are the thoughts that come into our minds: Did you know that most people take months to prepare one measly little speech that they will give for 30 minutes? Well, as a teacher I give SIX of those little "speeches" each day and they have to engage 30+ students for six hours. I teach six lessons a day for 180 days a year, which adds up to 1,080 lessons a year. And by my calculations, if you're spending at least a few hours to prepare your one speech, then I'm going to need at least 5,400 hours to prepare all of my lessons. And since summer is only around 2,160 hours, it seems that even three months of summer won't be enough for me to be planning lessons around the clock.

Sure, we might not be required to go into school to work, but we have meetings, classes, training sessions, and other commitments to keep throughout the summer if we want to be good teachers during the year. Those three months are given to us to prepare and be better, not to mention that we really do need the time to get ourselves back to normal after our strange sleeping patterns throughout the year.

So, next time that question slips from your lips (or anyone else within close proximity to a teacher) please save yourself from my bloodshot teacher eyes by following up with, "the reason I ask about a summer job is...uh...I was hoping you had a few spare moments for me to sponsor you on a trip to Hawaii! Ha,haha, do you have time for a nice relaxing vacation?"

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Moment

I was recently gifted my 34th student. My portable is crowded and our desks barely fit as we are. The thought of another student was overwhelming and made me wonder how I could squeeze another desk in the group of three at the end of each table. I'd have to copy one more page every time I copied, and I had to worry about counting one more student to give a holiday gift to. I was a little stressed.

Upon being called into the Principal's office to chat about this new student, I was warned that some serious issues from her personal life would hinder her ability to learn and grow, and that she would have a difficult time getting used to school.

Because I respect this student, and I love my job, I will not disclose some of the terrible things we have already undergone in our short time of knowing each other. From being so far behind to being unable to communicate, this student became an immediate challenge to me. While teaching my whole class one thing, I had to get them working independently while I taught her a whole different level. This student is struggling.

But there is something that I cannot deny. I am a Christian woman, I believe in God and I know that my Heavenly Father has entrusted me with this sweet spirit in the final months of this school year. I cannot let God down! I cannot let my student down because she deserves a fighting chance at a good life when she graduates from school. She deserves chances that have never been afforded to her, and it is my opportunity as a teacher to embrace all that she has, and to make her a better person.

I have been blessed with hours of help each week to get her on track. She has the sweetest personality and she will do anything to please me.

God does love the little children.

Do Anything

"Miss Elle?" said one of my girls.

"Yes?" I replied, hoping that her comment was helpful considering we were just minutes away from going on stage for our class plays and I was still fixing tunics and headpieces.

"Well," she stuttered. "I just want you to know that I would do anything for you because I think you're special. And I wouldn't ever want to trouble you."

Just then, my stressed-out teacher heart exploded with joy because she had admitted that she cared about our class and they things that we were doing. I love my sweet students more than I ever thought, because they are so thoughtful and all-knowing.

Let kids interrupt your perfection. They will always say something meaningful.

Ivy+Bean by: Annie Barrows

Alright, so every once in awhile I find a book that MUST be talked about. I found it on sale in Seagull Book and was intrigued as to why such a cute little book would be on the sale rack. After reading the book and thinking about all of my younger kids, I thought, "this book is the best thing since Junie B. Jones!"

If you get a chance, head to Seagull Book and check this little book out. It's all about two unlikely friends and their adventures together. It's a great read for a second grader, but students who are a little older just might enjoy it, too.

The website for the series is:

I judged this book by its cover, and loved the inside just as much.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Good Mood Food!

"Miss Elle? Have you ever heard the commercial about good mood food?" Said a student that I lovingly call "Spunky McGee."

"Yes, I have. What about it?" I replied, hoping that he wasn't about to tell me about the influence of social media on my eating habits; and consequently, the shape of my figure.

Then Spunky McGee replied, "Well, if you say it backwards, it's 'Doog doom doof!' " And he skipped off down the playground singing the backwards tune to all in his path.

I couldn't help but sing this new song in my head, chuckling as I thought of how this new creation could have come about. I honestly cannot hear this commercial now without thinking of his remake.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Taller after Christmas

I had it all planned in my head; that's right, the door greeting that would happen after Christmas break. I hadn't seen my students in over two weeks and I expected changes. Whether it dealt with their haircuts, clothing, shoes, or maybe a little peach fuzz. I also knew that I could safely tell a few kids they had gotten taller over the break.

There I was, ready to greet them all at once as I opened my door to the freezing playground where they entered my room.

"Nice shoes! Are they new?" I said in a folksy tone.

"Wow! A cool new sweatshirt of the Beebs! Lucky."

"Hey, Miss Elle!" said my shortest student in the class. "Did you get taller over the break? Because I sure don't remember you being this tall the last time I saw you!"

He stole my line. The very line I had planned to use on HIM! How could I, the teacher, have gotten taller? I reserved that comment for this little man. Not for him to use on me! I was speechless. Swept under the comment rug because he wanted to use his folksy tone on me.

Kids. They're always one step ahead of you. (But don't let them know that...)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Writing Process

I'm not sure if anyone else finds it difficult to organize an entire class load of writing assignments, but I sure do. I'm often thinking, "I just gave this writing assignment, and I wonder how my students are doing with it so far..."

Writing should be creative and I don't want to stifle my student's creative juices from flowing. But, I do want to hold them accountable for what they are accomplishing each day. Using a silverware organizer from WalMart ($4) and printing off each piece of the writing process to assign to a different slot, I now have the power in my hands to easily see where my students are on their writing assignment. Each student has their name on a stick and as they go through the different parts of the writing process, they move their stick to let me know who is moving ahead too fast, just write, or not fast enough. This allows me to intervene when needed.

We did a pre-activity to familiarize ourselves with each of the five steps of the writing process and there is a poster hanging above the bin in my classroom. It's important to check the bin everyday so that you know if your students are progressing, or not.

Who knew that kitchen supplies could help organize a classroom?