Time to catch up.

How time has flown. Students made it through Thanksgiving break and the fun weeks after. We had semester tests and a long list of other activities.

For my break, I was rather busy. Worked my second job all the way through Christmas Day. Sadly that meant no family time. I did make a trip to see my parents briefly in Dallas. Loved every second I got with them.

This month will be the start of the new semester and the start of math competitions. Busy. Busy. Busy.

Just blah…

I must start with saying I love my school. I love my students. It is everything else that is pushing me over the edge.

Every day I am torn between working more in the classroom, making time for a social life, and spending time on myself.

Every time I think I am caught up, something else happens. Our progress report grades are due extremely early. We have to complete extra ACT Inspire Interim testing. Our first parent teacher night is this week.

Honest moment. My house is a mess. I have no energy to do house work when I am at home. My sleep schedule is completely wrong. I forget to eat. When I do eat it is far from healthy. There are many nights I sit back and wonder if this is worth it. Previous job was so much easier. I had more money for sure.

I share this not to complain. well maybe a little. I share so that maybe someone out there can get something from this. Another teacher can know he/she is not alone. For those who do not teach, give you a view of a day in the life. When you become upset with your child’s teacher for not doing everything exactly the way you feel they should. When you forget your child’s ADHD meds. When the teacher breaks down and writes a referral on your child. Please remember that we are human. Exhausted, overworked, and truly trying. We did not come into this profession to be sub-par. Believe me, I could have done any number of careers. I am here for the right reasons. Just looking for the reasons to stay.

Making tough decisions

So much of my time is spent on school work. I am either at the school, planning lessons, or researching more ways to reach the students. I have to purposely monitor that I get personal time regularly. So much to do and only one me in a 24 hour day. The hardest part is finding that balance between getting the job and getting time to rest.

My constant reminder to get me through this first year is, “next year will be easier. Just don’t loose what you have worked so hard for.”

Now I need to find a second job!!! ugh. Sadly I have fallen into the stereotypes on several levels.

Math Club

When I was in 8th grade, our math teacher started a math club. I honestly do not remember much about the meetings. What I remember is that we went to some competitions for mathematics. Once I sit to think about it I can pin this as the start of my passion for math. I was always a smart student. My grades were high in all subjects. How amazing it would be if just one student could leave my class with a stronger passion for learning math.

Our superintendent approved me to start a math club at the school. The few students I spoke to about it sound very interested. My task now will be doing all the paperwork and finding out how we will hold meetings. The organization I found provides several math activities and challenges. They are even sending me a starter book with the needed materials.

I must laugh at myself. First year teacher flooded with so much work already. Why not take on more?

Praxis Math Content

I had an unpleasant surprise a few weeks back. Because my teaching license for Louisiana had expired, I had to retake the Praxis for the math content area. Apparently the one I took previously was outdated. Now boosting your own ego is not flattering. So…. I am just sharing facts. The first time I took this test I scored 176. That is way above the passing score. I actually received a certificate of recognition for being in the top 15% of scores of people that had previously taken the test. That test was 6 years ago.

Naturally I was nervous about taking the test again. I set high standards for myself. It had been so long since I took the test, and I had not studied the upper level maths in some time. My nerves were shot. The test is on computers now. Two hours in front of a computer was excessive. At the end of the test, it gives two options. Without seeing the scores, I had to choose whether to submit the unknown score or trash all the work. I can not tell you how long I stared at that screen trying to decide.

Curiosity won over. I had to know the score. Pass or fail it did not matter.

I PASSED!!!! The score was not as high as the first time. I scored a 168. No hard feelings about it. I am impressed that after so long and with minimal amount of time to study I succeeded.

After Thought: I wonder how many people choose to cancel the test scores because they felt the way I did. How many people actually passed, but will never know it? Personally, after spending that much money and taking the time to take the test, Why would you not submit?

Labor Day weekend

Labor day is upon us. We have a three day weekend. Others may see this as time to relax and be lazy. Alas, not at my house. Living away from family is really tough. We are all very close. So I am going to be traveling.

Friday night, the senior high football team is traveling to Monroe. I am going to the game. Never miss an excuse to cross the state border. Saturday will be all about the family. My dad is driving from Dallas to hometown in Louisiana. So on the road I go again. Dogs in tow. It will be a family filled day. Sunday will be back in Arkansas. Sunday and Monday will be work work work. I am setting a goal to get at least two weeks ahead on lesson plans. I know that is not what three day weekends are for.

What makes it worth it? Hard work during this “free time” will give me more down time later. I am planning a me day to celebrate getting ahead of the game. My reward will be:

1 week ahead= Dinner out

2 weeks ahead= manicure

3 weeks ahead= Painting with a twist

4 weeks ahead= straight fun weekend with 0 work time

I will certainly update which goal I meet.

2 weeks down!

I can honestly say that I am proud of the school I teach at. The students are amazing. They have a desire to learn. If you pay attention, you see it. They each have such unique personalities. It is difficult to generalize my experience throughout the day. Our school has adopted a computer program that has diagnosed our student’s current math and reading levels. We are going to use this program to bring all of our students up not just to their grade level. I set the bar high for all my students to surpass their grade. This is going to be an amazing year.

The senior high guys had their scrimmage game this week. While I am excited that they won the game against the team that beat them in playoffs last season, they made us all proud by keeping up good sportsmanship. There were several incidents made by the opposing team that did not reflect our sportsmanship.

Back in the classroom. The students had their first test this week. Not graded yet. I debated testing on the second week. I broke and decided to go through with it. I want to enforce a strong learning environment. It was difficult listening to the students bargain to get out of the test. I feel horrible putting some of them through it. Hopefully I will be able to use this to encourage students to work more diligently in class and take the time to study. There are some modifications I am needing to make on my part as well. This week I hope to start using more manipulatives and out of the box learning styles. We also are going to start incorporating more word problems.

The year is off to a great start! Go Bulldogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First week at school!

What a week. I got to meet the other teachers for the school district. We have about 40 employees from k-12. They have all been amazing and extremely helpful. My classroom only had the teacher and student desks. The books were scattered between the front office and two storage closets. They were found thanks to the persistence of my mentor teacher and another teacher.

We have only one other math teacher at the high school. This is her first year at our school as well. Though she has many more years of experience. She will be very useful in the coming year.

Got into my classroom. Room number 5! Every wall has a dry erase board. I love it because I want to have students work at the board frequently. The smart-board in my classroom is different than what I have seen before.  Just an excuse to play. Thus far I have my classroom bulletin board together and all my supplies organized. Waiting on some form of storage to put it all in.

We have been in professional development everyday and will continue next week. Prepping for the school year. The students do not start until the 15. We get our class rosters on Tuesday. The open house is this Thursday. To welcome the students to my classroom, I am prepping a first day gift. The students will get two #2 pencils with extra eraser, a large eraser, a mechanical pencil, and a one subject notebook.


Midnight Run

It is tax free weekend in Arkansas! I can not stand to shop in a crowd. Thanks to the advice of a fellow teacher, I decided to go to wal-mart shortly after midnight. They were stocking the shelves while around that time. To keep it simple I just grabbed boxes of the notebooks. This was an interesting experience. There were several mama’s that had similar ideas. The only part that concerned me was that they had the kids out so late with them.  We are just over a week from starting the school year. This is something to remember for the start of school.