Monday, February 28, 2011

Limerick Contest

Hot off the limerick for this year's Limerick Contest as sponsored by Lori over at Write Mind, Open Heart

Whether using the bed, couch, or floor,

Sex should not feel like a chore.

Despite all the trying,

And pregnancy test buying,

We’re still wanting a family of four.

Be sure to check out Lori's blog to see the other entries for 2011! :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Random Ruminations--Catching Up Version

I can't believe February is nearly halfway gone...I've been managing to keep quite busy, here's the latest:

Vacation On My Mind:

Summer: Super stoked to be able to go to Wisconsin this summer! My Dad was raised there and we spent many July 4ths of my youth in Wisconsin for family reunions. After my grandmother died in '93, two things happened....

1. Myself and many cousins were officially "adults" and no longer had summers free to travel. Welcome to the working and/or college world! (My grandma died the summer after I graduated from high school and I had my first full-time job working to save $$ before starting college in the fall.)

2. The reunions no longer had a matriarch-focal-point, and thus sadly were no longer scheduled as frequently.

This year, my younger sister and I were able to coordinate our summer-schedules a bit. Emma and I will be able to travel from Florida to Ohio, and then on to Wisconsin with my sister! Yay! Cousin time and sister time....SO thrilled!

Spring Break: For the first time in several years my younger sis and I also have the same spring break schedule. She will be coming to Jacksonville to visit the last week of March. Hooray!

Disney: DH and I both put in for personal/vacation days on 2/25. We'll be heading to Disney World after school on Thursday the 24th for a mini-vacation with Emma. CAN'T WAIT!

Why all this vay-cay time on the brain???? Because WORK SUCKS!

School--The Bad: SO tired of administration at my school not buckling down and enforcing things...

-The same teachers (myself included) repeatedly do after school "bus duty" (wherein we go outside with the students and encourage them to get on the bus, try to distract from fights, monitor students in the cafeteria whose buses haven't arrived yet, etc. Despite having emailed and/or stated to the faculty several times that duty is "not optional," there are NO repercussions for teachers who do not help. Thus, you can guess what happens, right? Out of a faculty of 85...there are about 20-25 of us who help each day while the others don't bother. SO ANNOYING!

-The administration does not communicate with one another. The whole faculty was emailed a month ago by our principal with a schedule for a half day training at some point on 2/17 or 2/18. Most of us had already prepared lesson plans and substitute teachers as needed by the end of last week. On Thursday, we were all emailed a message from one of the assistant principals stating that our state-required benchmark testing would be held on the 17th and 18th. Of course there were a slew of emails sent back and forth---do you plan to have benchmark testing when half of the teachers are out at training, etc?---things were finally resolved by the end of the day on Friday. Benchmarks will now be held the week of the 21st. Again ANNOYING. How difficult is it to check with the master calendar before setting up testing dates?

-I've been teaching for 8 years. The team of teachers I am working with this year is leaps and bounds better than any team I've ever worked with as far as their "team" approach. We have a team disciplinary process....usually it is every-teacher-for-themself, but this team has agreed on a discipline procedure and we stick with it! Makes things WAY more effective when they are reinforced by all of the teachers a student sees each day. The pisser is that the house administrator assigned to our grade level is not supportive. Despite having a slew of documentation for the interventions we have done both individually and as a team for students, she is not processing behavior referrals in a manner that we feel is fair.

It is extremely frustrating when as a teacher I rarely write behavior referrals. When I do write a referral, I have a list of documented interventions I include with the referral so she can see what strategies I've tried (usually including multiple phone and/or email contact with the child's parent) prior to writing the referral. Sadly, the consequence given by the administrator usually includes thing like "silent lunch" or "conferenced with student." What the heck? Where is my back up? Kids are getting to the point that they don't think referrals are a "big deal," because the consequences are often lax. It is ridiculous.

-Student IDs: This is the 2nd year my current principal has been at our school. Last year she started a policy where students are "required" to wear IDs. I LOVE this idea and feel it was executed wonderfully at my prior school. However, here....again...NO consequences or follow up for students. They are supposed to be wearing their IDs at all times. Half of my students have lost their ID. At my prior school there were not-wearing-an-ID consequences such as: Students with no ID had to be last in the lunch line, weren't permitted to attend after school games, dances, or extra curricular activities, could be "written" up, etc. At my current school NOT A SINGLE DAMN CONSEQUENCE. Ridiculous! The kicker is that frequently during the morning announcements, the principal will say things like, "Just a reminder--all students should be wearing IDs at all times." Does she really think kids are going to pay $5 to replace a lost ID if there are no consequences for not wearing one?

-I have two students who were in ISSP (in school suspension) last week due to having received behavior referrals from multiple teachers. BOTH of them attended the Valentine's Day dance on Friday. Sorry, but allowing a child to attend a dance on the same day they had ISSP doesn't seem right to me.

-The contract my district had with S.cholast.ic for the reading program used daily in our reading classrooms expired last year. Thus, we no longer have "S.cholast.ic Consultants" who visit our school to provide support services. Things have really sucked district-wide, as the new worker in charge of the reading program for our county has NO experience teaching the program. (Remember me mentioning that we didn't get enough work books at our school until 2nd quarter?) Things continue to be disorganized and "last minute" with regards to testing our students and/or use of data specific to our program. Again, WAY annoying as it makes it difficult to plan things. Leaves me wondering why a county as large as mine would hire someone who isn't familiar with the ins and outs of the program. Duh??

School--The Good:
District Visit: We had a reading-department district visit on 2/8 and ROCKED IT! We finally received positive feedback department-wide, which is wonderful and helped deescalate a (little) bit of stress.

Yearly Evaluation: My yearly observation/evaluation was conducted by the 6th grade assistant principal I mentioned above. I was worried going into it that she might be a hard-ass and not evaluate me fairly. I was pleasantly surprised to have a positive evaluation. Comments included that I am a "positive influence for the teachers on my team" and that I talk to my students "in a calm manner" and "re-direct problem behavior positively. Yay, me!

Date Night: My in-laws watched Em for a few hours on Saturday night so DH and I were able to go out. We had dinner at J.Alexander's a restaurant that is new to Jacksonville...super yummy! After dinner we went to the bookstore and had time to "linger" sans Emma, which was awesome. :)

Blogging and Comments: Sorry I've been away...I've been scrambling to get things ready for our district visit and my yearly evaluation, and then trying to get WAY ahead on my lesson plans, as I won't be able to do plans the weekend we're at Disney, so need to have them finished ahead of time. Things are starting to calm down now, so I should be able to catch up soon.

Valentine's Day: I enjoyed watching Emma as for the first year she did everything independently with regards to the valentines for her class. Though she addressed her cards last year, this is the first year she was able to label/address the cards and fold/sticker them independently. Too cute! Happy v-day, everyone!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Emma's Dog Story

One of the greatest joys of the past few years has been watching Emma learn to read and write. I am especially tickled with her ability to write a coherent paragraph...sadly I have many middle school students who are not able to do this.

Emma brought the story below home with her today. Though her spelling is still mostly phonetic, I love that she had a cohesive story from beginning to end:

Emma's Version:

I Fed MY Dog My dog is
Bllak I wet on A wokk his
KOLR is red
A hoz is on
he is FRte
He Gos OVR An
tak a dekk WOOO Hes' hot
the End

Translated By Mommy Version:
I feed my dog. My dog is black. I went on a walk. His collar is red. A hose is on. He is thirsty. He goes over and takes a drink. Whew! He's hot. The End

(And yes, Dear Readers, our dog often drinks water from the neighbors' sprinkler systems when we take him on walks.) :)