Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Overbooked and Underpaid

Whew! I'm feeling overbooked...

...and underpaid, but such is the life of all teachers. :)

--I've started "Competency 6." The LAST course I need to obtain the Reading Endorsement on my Teaching Certificate. As the "finale" for the course, I have to: Create a "Case Study" of 3 students wherein I use reading assessments to determine their specific reading needs, and then create lesson plans to meet these needs. After developing these lesson plans, I have to video tape myself teaching 5 mini-lessons. ACK! The portfolio is due just before winter break.

--A funny: In my class today someone's pager started going off. I do not own a pager, so I started looking around annoyed at whatever classmate I have who was disrupting the class. Then I discovered that it was ME! I had the digital timer I use in my classroom in my pocket and it started going off. OOPS! Lol.

--I have 3 lesson plan preps this semester. I'm teaching reading, language arts and critical thinking (Steven Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.) It is SOOOO time consuming and tedious to create lesson plans for 3 classes each day. I can't wait until next semester when my 7Habits class is over and I"ll be down to only 2 preps.

--A duty that I was not required to do at my old school as department head, but that I am required to do at my current school is to teach the faculty a "reading strategy of the month" they can use in their own classrooms if they wish to. I have been taking the easy way out and using the same "reading strategy of the month" that the Florida Online Reading Professional Development website uses. It is less work, (no research on my part----the "rational" and execution of the strategy are both posted on their website) but part of me feels like it is a cop-out.

--I was drafted into being one of the teacher coaches for our schools' International Night. I am helping with a Reader's Theater presentation. And of course, the event will take place in December the same week my Comp 6 portfolio is due. Ugh! Did I mention I can't wait for next semester?

--I am also on a committee that will meet for the first time next week. We are going to discuss the pros/cons of the way our county has required Read180 teachers to also teach language arts this year. Most of us who are doing this feel "stuck" and that it isn't working. We have the lowest quartile level of readers in our schools yet only 30 minutes a day of language arts time. The idea behind it is that only 30 minutes is needed because language arts strategies are integrated within the reading curriculum. NOT working in my opinion. Yes, the language arts strategies are integrated...but 30 minutes is NOT enough time to focus purely on writing, grammar, sentence structure, story elements, etc. These are issues that we do discuss in reading but do not always have time to elaborate on. I am very frustrated. Last year my school was one of the top 6 schools in the county for reading gains. I think mixing Read180 with language arts is doing 2 things: 1. It is messing with the integrity of the Read180 program. By not having ample time to "introduce" and "wrap up" topics, (this time is now devoted to lang arts) it is difficult to monitor student understanding. 2. It is not providing ample times for students to learn needed skills in both reading and language arts. As mentioned at the beginning of the year, I am very concerned about my students not making gains on this year's FCAT test. I have wonderful books and online resources. But resources can't be squeezed in when there are only 30 minutes of language arts time. Okay....I'll get off my soapbox now.

--To my friends: I haven't forgotten you! I am just really overbooked right now. Tea with Anna, email with Mary-Ann, catch-up time with MaryEllen, etc. My class is 2 nights a week and Emma's is one...I'm just stressing. After next week the class part of my Comp 6 is over and we have the next 2 months to work on our portfolios... And to the single parents of the world, I applaud you! Though I have a really crowded schedule, at least I have supportive DH who is helpful and does half of the load (especially with Emma stuff) at home!

--Speaking of which, Emma had her 4 year old shots and check up this morning. She is "perfect" and healthy and doing well. DH took her to the appointment. Thank you, Daddy! She is 34 1/2 pounds and 35 inches tall. She had to get 4 shots---2 in each arm, and also a pricked finger for some type of blood test. Aaron said she was in a great mood, enjoying the checkup...and then it all was ruined at shot time. When they left, Em said, "Daddy, I never want to go there again!"

Poor baby!

--We just signed Emma up for her first "extra curricular" class. She is now enrolled for classes every Wednesday night at MyGym. Some of my gal pals this summer were raving about it. It is only $5/month more than the "PlayBall," "Kindermusik" and "Movement" classes they were offering weekly at her school. I like the facility and I like that she is involved in something with teachers and students that differ from her school. Em's friend Adrian is in the class too. It is nice because each class starts with everyone working together (my teacher term: "Whole Group.") They then break into 3 small groups and rotate around the gym. For example, last week they had: balance beam, trampoline, and rope ladder as the 3 areas all children go to. So while she and Adrian can play together for part of the class, the instructors also made the point of separating the 2 of them during the time the children were rotating. Meanwhile, Adrian's Mom Stacye and I can watch and have girltalk during the whole class. It's a win-win situation! And most importantly, Em loves it.

--I took a personal day on Monday to get caught up on lesson plans, grading, etc. Sighs. I accomplished a lot, but am still behind. Report cards are due next week. I MUST get my grading done.

--2 companies measured our yard for fence estimates this week. I don't know if she cut me a deal or not, but one of the "project managers" is the mother of one of Emma's classmates. Her rate was $500 less than the other estimate. BINGO! I call her back today. Hope they can install within the next 2 weeks and we will finally have a fence.

--Aaron twisted his knee. To the point that he went to doctor and had x-rays and received an rx for pain killers. Aaron is the typical male who rarely goes to the doctor...thus I know it must really be hurting him. He was told not to run for 2 weeks. This past weekend was the end of week 1. He tried to take a short walk and said it was killing him. Thus, his new goal of the 1/2 marathon at the end of November is now not going to happen. Poor guy! He is really going nuts not being able to run. I just hope he waits until his knee is healed properly so that he doesn't do permanent damage.

--Some quick Emmaisms:
9/24/08: Em came to me whiny and upset because she had broken the strap on her binoculars.
Me: "What could you do about that instead of whining?"
Em: "Ask for help from a Higglytown Hero!"

9/29/08 When asked to help clean up the living room:
"You're treating me like a servant!"

10/4/08 On helping me decorate the house with Halloween and autumn decor:
"This can be the centerpiece!" (Wow! Who says "centerpiece?" That is not a word I often use. Found out from Em she learned it from Ruby on the "Max & Ruby" TV show.)

10/6/08 Em has been putting princess stickers all over the place. We finally had a discussion about how she should ONLY put stickers on paper. We went a few days with a sticker-free (other than paper) house. DH then pointed out the Snow White "You did it!" sticker Em had stuck on top of the toilet lid. We left it there...found it humorous.

10/8/08 Random conversation while driving in the car...
Em: "How do fish get home from the store, anyways?"
Me: "In a bag with water so that they can swim until someone puts them in a fish tank at their house."
Em: "Or they cook them!"

10/9/08 To Aaron after reading fairytales before bed: "Have you ever lived in a house as big as a castle?"

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