My positive attitude about school is still here...but I'm finding it harder and harder to keep it. My class is actually great this year. I have a crazy mix of kiddos who can't even recognize the letters in their own name, to kids who are reading at a 4th grade level. I have kiddos who don't speak any English, to kids who are identified Gifted and Talented. I have a kid who was born addicted to meth and therefore incredibly mentally impaired, to a kid who is probably the smartest 2nd grader I've ever seen.
Should make for an interesting school year...
Yesterday was rough. I have 29 kids this year and that's a crazy amount for a primary classroom. Research shows that 18 is the optimal number for kids who are still learning how to read and write. Our curriculum is late arriving this year so we don't have enough books or materials. My computers are all broken and no one seems to know when someone will be in to fix them so I can't set up my technology for the kids to use. I'm going to a training next week (which is insane that they scheduled it for us) so I have to create 3 days of sub plans and hope that the kids haven't lost all the rules when I get back.
My car was spray-painted in the parking lot yesterday. We left around 12 to go get lunch (we didn't have kids yesterday...all the kids in the district were off), and I walked by my car to get into my friend's car. When we got back around 12:45, this is what I saw: I was shocked. Speechless. WHO would do that? We called the cops and they think that some punk kid (probably a middle-schooler as it's right across the street) started to tag my car with something awful and was scared away. I'm lucky it isn't worse. However, we don't have the $250 to fix it so I'm thinking about just going to Hobby Lobby and buying some red paint and touching it up myself. What do you think about that??? :-)
We're off to go camping this weekend with my family to get away for a bit. I'm excited: Maelin LOVES the mountains and we haven't been able to get up there as much as I would like. She'll be able to play with her cousins and Uncle and Auntie and have a great time...and I'll get to sit and watch the river and the campfire and try to forget (if even for a night) about the paint and the challenges that await me.
I've been back for two days now and I'm happy to report that I'm doing pretty well! Yes, the heat was on till this morning, making yesterday absolutely unbearable. Yes, I have 29 students registered right now...could drop OR could go higher. Yes, I don't have enough desks or chairs. Yes, we don't have enough reading materials for all these kiddos so they're going to have to share. Yes, none of my computers are still loaded with all the programs I used last year so I'm going to have to spend hours reloading them, and yes, my room is so crowded (even without the new desks), it's really hard to even move around.
My team is working really well together this year. Not sure what the difference is: maybe we finally realized how important it is to help each other out, instead of isolating ourselves. Anyway, we've split up a lot of the work this fall making an easier ride for all of us. It's really nice.
Another nice change is how clean my room was when I came back. This is the first year in 6 years that I didn't have to spend 2 full days just unpacking, cleaning, organizing, moving furniture, etc. There were a couple bulletin boards I had to create, a few posters to draw and a couple boxes to unpack and that's it! Instead of doing manual labor, I was able to sit and create a few behavior plans and start creating lessons...which is what a classroom teacher SHOULD be spending the first few days of school doing!
We have all day Wednesday in our classrooms and we have a bunch of meetings scheduled and then 1/3 of the kids come on Thurs, 1/3 on Friday, and 1/3 on Monday. Then the first "Full" day of school is Tuesday. We spend Th, F and M doing assessments and tests to see where the kiddos are at. I'll be getting quite a few who speak no English at all, so that will be interesting. I'm curious to see how this bunch of kiddos compare to previous years...
Oh, and by the way: Maelin is doing great at Sandra's house. We have a new baby over there: Baby Carson, the 8 month old son of a friend of mine. She LOVES playing with him...when she's not outside playing in the dirt. Today when I picked her up, Mae was playing in the dirt in the front yard and was filthy. She was using a beer cap to scoop dirt onto a toy car. Completely absorbed and could have cared less I was there. Makes me happy she has such a fun time while I'm working...
Thanks for all the phone calls and emails: Mae and I are going fine!
Sigh...those of you who have been following this blog for a while are probably tired of these posts. "Oh yay, here's Mara crying about having to leave Maelin while she goes back to work. She's lucky she gets so much time off at all, blah, blah."
I know, I know.
I'm determined to make this year different. Maelin is thriving in daycare, Kevin and I made a plan for him to help out around the house more this year, I've been working on some work things that might make the start of the year a bit easier and as long as the HEAT is turned off in my classroom (oh yes...it's 94 degrees out right now and on Friday, the heat was on in my room and no one knew when it would be turned off), I'm getting excited about the new school year!
Yes, I'm going to have more students this year than ever before. There aren't even enough desks in the building for all of them. Yes, we got rid of the bilingual program so lots of our kiddos aren't going to speak any English. Yes, our CSAP scores are wayyyyyyy down this year and that creates a lot of pressure for all of us to get our kids to proficiency. Yes, we aren't getting a raise this year due to budget cuts. Yes, we lost quite a few of our finest teachers last year to other districts, and yes, this is one of the hardest jobs anyone will ever do.
However...I'm optimistic. I've received personal emails from some of my students this summer asking how I'm doing, how is Maelin, they miss me, they can't wait to come back, etc. That wouldn't be happening if I wasn't touching them in some way...affecting their lives positively in some aspect.
As long as I can continue to do that (even on a small scale), and Maelin continues to love learning Spanish and loving playing in the dirt at Sandra's house...
As I'm heading back to school in less than a week (sob!), I'm not blogging too much right now. However, my travels are never far from my mind and especially now when faced with the daunting idea of a new school year.
Love this picture because Paris is one of my favorite cities in all of the world. This shot was taken in the early morning hours in Montmartre: arguably the best neighborhood in Paris. They were getting ready for the daily market.
I am 37 and mommy to Maelin who is 5 and super excited for Kindergarten. I'm a single mom who struggles every day to find the balance between my family, my job with my 2nd graders in a low-income school district, and the rest of my crazy, drama-filled life. However...I wouldn't change a bit of it.
Maelin and Me
Pumpkin Patch Time
Follow by Email
Thanks For Visiting!
This is the face I get when I ask her to smile...kinda think it's cute
Spanish Steps: Rome, Italy
You may not even recognize the Spanish Steps here due to the fact that they aren't covered with people: tourists, locals drinking their birra and vino, flowers everywhere, people trying to sell you stuff, musicians and drum circles and all sorts of lovers making out and hugging and enjoying the atmosphere. But where are these people? It was springtime in Rome and it was raining...I got soaked standing there just staring at the empty steps and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Attempt at Photography
I took this picture in Victora, Canada during the summer when all the flowers were so striking and gorgeous. I blew this picture up for a friend's office and he says it calms him every time he looks at it...I'll take that.
"A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" is a novel by Betty Smith first published in 1943. It relates the coming-of-age story of its main character, Francie Nolan, and her Irish-American family struggling against poverty in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. The novel is set in the first and second decades of the 20th century. The book was an immense success, a nationwide best-seller that was distributed to servicemen overseas.
"Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell. This is my all-time favorite book and you MUST read this at least once in your lifetime. It has won the Pulitzer Prize, it is available in 31 different countries and it has been hearlded as "The Great Amercian Novel"
"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult is a heart-wrenching novel about what it means to be a good parent, a good person and a good sister. Kate has had cancer since childhood and her younger sister Anna was concevied to be a perfect-match bone marrow donor for her. As Anna grows up, she struggles with how she and world will see the rights of her own body. This novel is the first book in years that had me crying. It was very well written and very enjoyable if you're in the mood for a tear-jerker.
"The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls is a memoir about a nomadic, deprived childhood told with the wonderment of a child who always wants to believe that Daddy will be a hero in the end and that Momma really does know best. You are enrapt reading about Walls and her siblings rifling through trash cans at school looking for food, doing the skedaddle in the middle of the night, or waiting for Dad to come home after another bender. It's a riveting story and a testament to Walls' desire to rise above a life that could have easily turned her into just another tragic headline. I really appreciated this story because of the very real probability that some of my students are living this very life.
One of my favorite authors (I have everything she's ever written) is Marian Keyes whose stories are set in Britian or Ireland. She is the internationally bestselling author of Watermelon (which is my favorite), Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Rachel's Holiday, The Last Chance Saloon, Angels, Sushi for Beginners, Under the Duvet, and her latest, The Other Side of the Story. Her books have touched readers around the world, and they are now published in 35 countries and in many different languages.