Sunday, August 17, 2008

Holy Shnikies!

Whew! My week in a nutshell: overwhelming. I found out at our 1st faculty meeting of the year on Monday that I am indeed the Reading Department Head. (I had suspected, but as previously stated I was not asked nor informed of this position.) How did I find out? When my principal was introducing the school's new faculty, he introduced me as the department head. Overall, I do not mind this role. However, it led to a lot of extra meetings, book distribution, etc. that took planning and classroom prep time away from my schedule during this "pre-planning" week.

Some neat Emma things before I forget:
--She learned how to swing this summer. Yesterday we went to the park after she was with me in my classroom for a while...she swung and swung...her little legs pumping in the breeze. Awww. I loved it.
--She is a fearless climber. She really took off this summer...climbs higher than I can reach, which really freaks me out sometimes. She loves ladders and climbing walls at the park.
--Some Emmaisms of the week:
--In the bathroom at a restaurant with DH:
Daddy: "You're taking a long time. Are you finished yet?"
Emma: "God says I have to poop."
--My favorite Emmaism of the week, after finding a tiny silver sequin on the floor:
"Look! I found a CD that shrinked!" Too, too cute. And it did look just like a tiny shrunken CD! :) (Ode to technology...I didn't know what a CD was until middle school. Lol.)
--Last night after being told she still had to go to bed, despite her "fear" of having bad dreams, we heard her praying. "Dear God, please let me not have bad dreams tonight." She then asked God to "bress" everyone she could think of, ending with "God bress everybody in the world." The little sweetie touches my heart.
--I also like the way Em says "muh-rote" instead of "remote." As in, "Mommy, here's the morote. Will you find a kid show?"

--Emma learned how to write her name over the summer. When we took Emma to summer camp last week, (daycare is "summer camp" during the summer months when they take time off from the school year curriculum) her teacher Ms. Cassandra was SOOO excited that Em wrote her name on the top of her artwork. According to Ms. C., Em is the only one in her class who is writing letters and can write her own name. Yea, Emma!

--Yesterday we went to orientation at Emma's Preschool/daycare. We met her new teacher (Ms. Stephanie) and toured her new classroom. The new teacher seemed nice, and I like her classroom set-up a lot.
--For some reason, Em was separated from the majority of her class. Only one other student in Ms. Stephanie's room was in the prior class with Emma. I'm not sure how the classes were divided, but it sounds like most of her class is still together, but just with a different teacher. I will "go with the flow" and see how things turn out. Part of me is bummed that she will be separated from the others, especially her little buddy Adrian. But part of me wonders if it will be best for her to reach out a bit. (Today: "Mommy, why isn't Adrian in my class? He's my best friend." Aww.) I guess time will tell...

--It burns my bridge---the school cutoff here is Sept 1st. Emma's birthday is Sept 17th. She misses the cutoff by 16 days. Thus, though she'll be 4 in less than a month, she will be placed in a K3 classroom for the year. Right now, this isn't a huge deal. Though she is the oldest in her class, she is still one of the smallest. However, I am thinking ahead----she won't graduate high school until she is nearly 19. Which isn't a just isn't what I'm used to. But then I think if she is the only one in her age group who is writing letters...does this mean she is ahead of her peers a little? I just don't know.

More overwhelming stuff: on planning days, teachers are scheduled to work at my school from 8-3. On Friday after a WEEK of planning, I was informed at 3:40 that I will be teaching a "Critical Thinking" class one period a day. WHAT????? Sighs. What really ticked me off is that the text book for this course was packed away in my garage all summer, from when I attended the training 2 years ago. I could have been planning if I were given prior notice. UGH. So now here I am the weekend before school starts cramming to create lesson plans for next week for a curriculum I haven't looked at for over a year.

The biggest obstacle right now is that county wide this year, they have decided that middle school reading teachers will also be their students' language arts teacher. (Last year I only taught reading, and students attended a different class for lang arts.) But---good ole Duval County--- the curriculum to intertwine language arts with reading HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED YET! Umm? Hello....the first day of school for students is TOMORROW and I don't even have the guide as to exactly what my expectations are. This county is so Bass-ackwards sometimes! It is so frustrating. We have been asked to work with the language arts teachers to try to incorporate what they are doing into our classrooms until the official reading/lang arts curriculum is released. What a crock!

Some other "overwhelmed" issues I've had are because I am new at my school. I had to deal with getting a copy code before I could use the copy machine, I need to learn school policies (escorting students to/from lunch, etc.) It is just a lot to retain. My mind is complete mush because I am on overload.

And the last thing I'm overwhelmed about---it is my first time teaching 8th grade language arts. This is different from the 7th grade I taught for 5 years because in Florida there is a huge writing component on the FCAT exam for 8th graders. And did I mention that the curriculum that correlates these writing standards to the reading standards I am familiar with teaching, has still not been released? Ay-yi-yi.

Tune in Helen Reddy: "If I have to, I can do anything. I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman." (I am a woman who is nearly crapping herself...) I CAN DO IT!!! I'm hoping if I keep telling myself that, it will come true.

I need to run. Gotta finish figuring out 1st day plans for tomorrow.

On a quick funny note---while on my GP weekend, one of the girls had a book of postcards called "Porn for Women." (No, they did not feature nudity, but rather men doing chores to please women.) In the mail this week, I received a postcard which shows a photo of a man ironing clothes. He has a speech bubble that says, "As soon as I finish the laundry, I'll do the grocery shopping. And I'll take the kids with me so you can relax." TOO TOO funny. Thanks, Molly! :)

Edit: I just checked my school email. Today at 1:18 p.m., the reading/language arts curriculum was emailed to teachers. Although somewhat relieved, I still had to chuckle at the lack of timeliness.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


For help with the grade 8 writing FCAT (and more importantly, for supporting the growth and development of students who are writing for real purposes and audiences--beyond the deadly-dull 5-paragraph essay), look for a hot-off-the-presses book by a DeLand middle school teacher named David Finkle. The title is Writing Extraordinary Essays--Every Middle Schooler Can!

For the last seven years David has been drawing a comic strip called "Mr. Fitz" for the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "Mr. Fitz" just happens to be a middle school language arts teacher, and David's book is filled with his terrific strips that illustate the teaching points.

The book is published by Scholastic, and I'm his editor (a longtime former Florida middle school teacher myself, now working offsite as an editor.) The book doesn't officially publish until September, but advance copies are available now, and you can preorder at Scroll to the bottom of the far-right frame, and there's a link to David's book at the bottom.