Friday, December 08, 2006

'tis the season to procrastinate

It's not like I haven't had time to blog in the past 3 months. The motivation just wasn't there. Writing about being a librarian is not the same as writing about being a teacher. It doesn't seem like as much drama occurs in this job. That's good though, right?

I still love my job and am fitting in better with the staff now. Everyone seems to be satisfied with me.

One of my volunteers is a dad. A few weeks ago, Ms. J, from 4th grade came by after school and nervously asked me about him. She wanted to know if he was single or not. I assured her that he was available--he had told me a little about his ex-wife not too long ago. Anyway, Ms. J, a single parent as well, was interested in going out with Volunteer Dad. I encouraged her to go for it because Volunteer Dad seemed like a nice guy. Finally, this week, Ms. J got her opportunity. She came into the library when V Dad was working and I smoothly orchestrated a chance for her to talk to him. They ended up exchanging phone numbers and are going out this weekend! I've never played much of a part in a budding romance and it's pretty fun. I know Ms. J will keep me updated on how things are going, and I'll post on the progress.

Classrooms at school are busy with holiday festivities. I sure am missing some of the holiday activities I did with my kiddos as a teacher. Not missing a classroom full of hyper kids pumped up about Christmas! I have read some great books to my library classes though. Here are 2 fun ones that the kids loved:
How Santa Got His Job and How Santa Lost His Job both by Stephen Krensky.

One week left 'til the holidays!! I'm looking forward to some time off. Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

some news from the old school

Nothing very exciting is going on with me right now, so I'll tell a story about someone else...

One of my friends from my old team called me a couple of weeks ago. She began the conversation by telling me she had some news that would blow me away. I expected some juicy gossip about another teacher at that school, so I was totally unprepared for what she told me.

Old Principal had a meeting with the entire 2nd grade team. She explained that pre-K numbers are high and 2nd grade (what I used to teach) numbers are low. A first grade teacher who is early childhood certified volunteered to move to Pre-K and one of the 2nd grade teachers was going to have to move to 1st!!! Now, normally it would be the last teacher hired at that school, which is the lady who took my place. For some reason (nepotism is suspected), Old Principal was instructed to go by district hire dates instead. New Teacher (who taught for several years at another school) signed her contract with the district 3 days before 2 of my old school's last hired 2nd grade teachers, which meant that those 2 (my friend is one of them) had to decide by the end of that week who would go to first grade. (Incidentally, if I were still teaching there, I would be the one who have had to move. I signed my contract after all the current 2nd grade teachers!)

My friend is the one who volunteered, very reluntantly. My friend has been comtemplating moving up to 5th or 6th soon so you can imagine her complete horror at having to move down. I can remember conversations we've had about how much we admire 1st grade teachers. We thought our 2nd graders were babies at the beginning of the year and eagerly looked forward to a few months into the school year when they were more independent. She's been a 1st grade teacher for a week now. She says she's adjusting. The kids are sweet, and some of them are very interesting characters. I'm sure she'll have some funny stories to tell.

I know she'll do well. She's a great teacher and can adjust to almost anything. At least she got to stay at the same school. Last week at my school a 9th first grade teacher was hired who had already begun the year teaching somewhere else in the district!! How unnerving to have to pack up and move to a totally different campus a month into school. I met her and she seems very optimistic. My admiration goes out to both of these brave teachers!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Only 179 more days til summer

(Warning: The formatting of the text with the pictures in this post may not be very good. I'm just too tired to mess with it right now.)
The first day of school was a great success in the library! I was busy every minute, but everything went smoothly. The library at my school is in the specials roatation, which means that students rotate weekly among music, art, PE, library, and technology while the teachers have a 70 minute conference time. I'm in charge of
morning announcements via TV first thing in the morning. That duty hasn't actually started yet, but it will soon. A few 4th grade kids will help. From 8:10 to 10:30 I see 4 classes (4th and 3rd grades) in back to back 35 minute periods. I have a break from 10:30-12:40 during which I take care of administrative libaray issues, eat lunch (which I almost forgot to do today!), and supervise a p.m. kinder class for a short transition time. Then from 12:40-2:55 I see 4 more classes (2nd and 1st) back to back. At 2:55 I have bus duty. It's non-stop activity, and so far I love it! I'm in the process of signing up parent volunteers to come in on a schedule and help with book circulation and other library tasks. Don't forget that during the day, teachers are also coming in for help with technology issues that pop up. Those issues range from needing a bulb for the overhead projector to losing network connection in a classroom. I can't wait to go back tomorrow and do it all again.

The kids are fabulous. It's amazing how different they are from my other school. I came from a rural area, where parents rarely have more than a highschool education, to a suburban area, where the kids go to Europe and New Zealand for summer vacations. This is all in the same school district! I'm in culture shock. I'm really glad I'm getting the opportunity to see both worlds. I had some very positive experiences at my old school, and I'll miss those kiddos.

Before school started I trie
d to rearrange some things to make it obvious that someone new was coming in. I'm making it a point not to do things exactly like the lady who was there last year. Here are a few before and after pictures of the library and library office areas. A couple of them are blurry, but you'll get the idea.
This is before...

This is after.

This is before...

...and after.



A librarian's office is always crammed with on going projects. This last after pic may not look too organized, but believe me, it's way better than it was before. :)

I'm really excited about this school year and even though I'll always count down 'til summer and ask my teacher friends, "Is it May yet?", I'm feeling very positive about my job change. Of course, this was only the first day...those of us in education know that things can change at the drop of a hat. Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Coming soon...

I will be changing the name of my blog soon (as soon as I can decide on what to call it) to match my new job!! I've been super busy getting my library ready for school to start. In the next few days I'll post some before and after pictures of it. School starts on Wednesday, Aug 16. Meet the teacher is Tuesday night.

In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures from my 2 summer vacations. I went to West Virginia with my parents and New Mexico with my boyfriend. Both beautiful places.

This is Blackwater Falls, West Virginia.

And this is Abiqu, New Mexico, near Santa Fe.

Here's Zoe on our hike in the mountains.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Another cat story

A few weeks ago I agreed to help foster a stray cat. A friend of my boyfriend's mom had been feeding this cat for a month or so. She didn't want to adpot it because she already had 3 cats. I have 4 cats and a dog so I figured one more wouldn't hurt. Besides, the point was to take care of her until a home could be found for her. I named her Lily, and took her to the vet for shots and a check-up. The vet said she was very healthy, but there was a good chance she was pregnant! I could have her fixed or wait a little while and see if kittens showed up. I took her home and sought the advice of my boyfriend. We were very torn. We knew that having her fixed would abort a pregnancy if she was indeed pregnant. On the other hand, kittens meant finding more homes. We called the vet and asked about the risks of surgery to Lily if she were pregnant. The answer was the farther along in her pregnancy, the higher the risk. The vet said we could bring her in and have her x-rayed. If skulls and spinal cords of kittens were visable, the pregnancy was quite advanced. Sure enough, we could see skulls and spinal cords in the x-ray. The good news was....there were only 2 kittens! We decided to let her have her babies. The vet warned us that because Lily was pretty young herself, there was a possibility her mother instincts wouldn't kick in. We prepared ourselves both in knowledge and supplies in case that happened. We took Lily home and waited.

On Tuesday, June 13, Lily went into labor. My mom happened to be in town to help me in my new library. My boyfriend's mom came over too. It was like a labor wing waiting room. Her first baby was born and she did exactly what she was supposed to do. It was a girl.

We left Lily alone and waited for the next one to come. We checked on her every now and then. She seemed to be resting quietly. The books I had
gotten from the library said that if the next kitten wasn't born after 4 hours, to get the mother to the vet. 4 hours passed with no kitten and no active labor. Our moms left and my bf and I took Lily and her first baby to the vet. She was x-rayed again and we discovered the 2nd baby was facing the birth canal spine forward instead of head or feet forward. At this point we had 2 options; give her a shot to induce contractions and hope the baby turned or take the baby by C-section. We decided to try the shot first and if that didn't work we'd go for the surgery. The shot didn't was the only option. Poor Lily. She was stressed and nervous as it was. The vet's office was closing for the day so we had to take Lily to the emergency clinic.

We asked the emergency vet to spay Lily at this time as well. The procedure was over quickly and Lily now had a healthy baby boy. We took everyone home and watched for awhile. The boy kitten was doing well. Nursing almost constantly. The little girl was noticeable smaller and not nursing at all. We started feeding her kitten formula with a bottle. She had to be fed every 4 hours! After a day or so, she began to nurse on her own. We still bottle fed her some too. After a few more days we stopped the bottle feeding and she's nursing exclusively. She's still smaller than her brother (which my bf named Gordo, Spanish for fat) but she's gaining weight now. We call her Minnie.

Lily is a great mom and loves all the attention she gets. Her incision is healing well and she's off the antibiotics. My bf has found a possible home for both the kittens after they are weaned. Now we'll begin looking for the
perfect home for Lily. She's as sweet as can be, but a little shy around all my other animals. She's not fond of the dog at all. Anyone living in the Houston area who's interested in Lily, please let me know.

I'll get on my soapbox for just a moment. Please, please have your pets spayed or nuetered. If Lily hadn't been rescued, her 2nd kitten would have likely died inside her. As a result, Lily and her other baby would certainly have died painful deaths. There are so many stray animals at shelters and not enough homes for them. The solution to that is to control the population of dogs and cats. It's the most humane thing you can do as a pet owner. And now the best part....

Here's a picture of Lily before the kittens were born.

Here she is with Minnie.

This is Minnie and Gordo.

Moving out

The week after school was out I spent most of my days packing up my classroom. It's unbelievable how much stuff I had accumulated in only 5 years of teaching! I now have a garage full of teacher junk. I tried to throw away or give away a lot of stuff. I packed 5 boxes full of give-away books. In addition to that, I kept 2 boxes of books. I called the girl who had been my student teacher this year, Miss W, and offered her the books. I knew she'd take care of them. I couldn't bear to just leave them there for others to pilfer through. My classroom book collection was very special to me. I recently found out that Miss W got a job teaching 2nd grade at an elementary school near my "old" school! The books I gave her will be perfect. I can also let her go through my files. She'll have a great start to her first year of teaching.

Here's a quick look at my classroom before and after.

Friday, June 23, 2006

An ending and a beginning

I'm sooo behind in posting this. We had our end of the year party on Thursday, May 25. Banana splits were eaten and games were played. The college student who had been my student teacher this year came for the party and pretty much took over. I let her. It was rather nice to be able to sit back and observe the festivities instead of managing them. The kids had a blast.

The next day, Friday, was the last day of school. Somehow the last day of school seems to drag on and on. I held my classroom awards ceremony at 8:30. I handed out academic awards (district policy won't let us do that in the grade level assembly...feelings might be hurt; which I think is a bit ridiculous) and Accelerated Reader certificates. Everyone received
something. Parents were invited and several showed up. I was pleasantly surprised. I showed a Power Point presentation of pictures I'd taken over the year and then it was time for the grade level awards. I had notified the parents of children who were receiving awards in the assembly. Some of the other parents took their kiddos home at this time. I said good-byes to them and posed for pictures and then we were off to the cafeteria.

After that assembly, several more kids left. My partner teacher and I combined our classes for the rest of the day and took turns watching the kids for an hour or so at a time while the other could get some work done. Usually, the last day of school is great because the kids who are there for the day help me with small chores that need to be done in the classroom. I tried assigning some things I thought they might enjoy. For the first year ever they just didn't get into it. So I ended up with more work than I expected. :) Finally it was 3:00. I lined up my 4 remaining kids for the buses. True to school tradition, the teachers loaded
the kids on buses and then gathered on the front porch of the school to wave them off as the buses drove away. Usually this is the best moment of year for me. The feeling of summer freedom truly hits and I get a little giddy. This year, the send off was bittersweet.

As you may remember from a previous post, I graduated in December with my masters degree in library science. The week before the last week of school I interviewed with another elementary school in my district for a librarian positon. I interviewed first with the principal and then a 2nd time with the grade level team leaders. Both interviews went well and I spent the last week of school waiting to hear from the principal. Not long after we got back to the classroom from the awards assembly the phone in my room rang. It was the secretary. She asked if I would take a call from Mr. M. It was the principal of the the school I had interviewed with so of course I accepted the call. Mr. M aplogized for calling at such a busy time and then asked if I'd like to come work at his school. I had been wondering how I would feel if I was offered the job. Both the thoughts of getting it and not getting it had been scaring me all week. As
soon as Mr. M offered the job, though, I was excited. I said I would love to work for him. Mr. M asked that I not tell anyone the good news until he got a chance to talk to my current principal. I got off the phone and immediately told my parnter teacher! hee hee There was no way I could keep that to myself. She hugged me, and I got a little teary. I then told my other teacher friend across the hall. I called my team leader who had also been my mentor when I first started teaching. I couldn't not tell her! I knew that these 3 girls would keep my secret. Later in the day my principal came to tell me she had talked to Mr. M and congratulate me. After that the news spread fast! I got lots of well wishes for the rest of the day.

The next day was a teacher work day. (Yes, on Saturday!!) I went to my "new" school first so that Mr. M could introduce me to the staff. They were so sweet! They all clapped for me. Then I headed to my "old" school to finish all the things on my end of the year checklist. When I got to my room I found
a beautiful boquet of purple flowers (my "new" school's color) and a card from my team!

Here's a picture of the flowers from my team (on the left) as well as a boquet my boyfriend gave me.

I am so excited about my new job, but I am going to miss my friends at my old school so much! Over the past 5 years I have become very close with my team of 2nd grade teachers. They are absolutely the best! Even though my title will now be "librarian" I still consider myself a teacher. The direction of my blog might change a bit, but the subject matter will still be basically the same...the joys, trials, tribulations, and hilarity of the life of a teacher.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Posting to procrastinate and update

I'm taking a break from a mountain of end of the year school work and only feeling slightly guilty about it. There are some things I've been wanting to post about for awhile and have decided this is the perfect time to do that. Organizing the literacy folders will just have to wait.

A quick up date on Circus Girl...
Due to slow progress in reading, she was tested for special ed recently. She didn't qualify mainly due to a "lack of educational opportunity." Even though she's reading on a DRA level 4 (level 28 is the expected end of year level for 2nd grade), she'll be "placed" in 3rd grade with modifications in place. Don't know yet what those modifications will be. If she were held back in 2nd, she'd be 10 and it was decided that was too detrimental for her. That's where things stand now.

A hilarious story...
We went on a field trip a couple of weeks ago. We toured a local aluminum can manufacturing company (not the most exciting field trip I'd ever been on) and then had lunch at a nearby park. So here's the scene. We had had lunch and the kids had been playing on the playground for quite a while. We were gathering the kids up for one last water break before loading the buses. I happened to look around the playground for any lingering kiddos. That's when I saw the 2 boys still in swings. I called to them to come on, and when they made no obvious effort to obey, I began walking toward them with some irritation. As I got closer I realized they were swinging in this type of swing...

I quickly realized that they weren't obeying because they were stuck!!! The scared and embarassed looks on their faces confirmed this realization. A couple of moms not related to our field trip were there with toddler aged kids; waiting, I imagine, to swing in the baby swings. I tried to control my mirth while one of the moms and I tried to lift Stuck Boy #1 out of the swing. He wouldn't budge. It didn't help that he was wearing jeans. His legs were wedged tight in those holes. I went for reinforcements and came back with Miss O. Now there were 3 of us trying to lift Stuck Boy #1 out of the swing. The problem was, we couldn't hold him up long enough for one of us to get his legs out of the holes. We grown-ups were openly laughing by this time. We couldn't help it. How ridiculous for those boys to do something like that. I suggested we work on Stuck Boy #2 and let #1's legs rest. Stuck Boy #2 slid right out with just a little lifting. Now all 4 of us went back to work on #1. We joked about calling the fire department or getting some butter, but Miss O had an idea. She got down on her hands and knees and Stuck Boy #1 stood on her back. Bystander Mom and Stuck Boy #2 worked on wiggling his legs out of the holes. It worked. He was finally free. We were all wondering where the yearbook PTO mom was with the camera. What a photo op that was! We later asked the boys why they got in the baby swings. Their answer was quite logical. A chaparone mom was facilitating the regular swings and enforcing a 2 minute rule for each child so that everyone would get to swing. They didn't want to wait in line so the baby swings were the only other option. I bet they'll think twice before doing that again. It provided some excitement and entertainment to an othewise uneventful field trip. And it makes for a great story!

Total lockdown...
A few Fridays ago we went into total lockdown at school. We had to secure the kids in a safe location in the room, lock our classroom door, and cover the window. No phone calls of any kind were allowed. I didn't really know what was going on except that a man with a gun was loose in the vicinity. The first report I heard was that he was in the building! That wasn't true though, thank God! We were locked down for about an hour and a half. I kept the kids busy by reading to them and giving them a spelling test. They behaved pretty well. I kept reassuring them that we were doing this to keep them safe, and that no one was going to get in. I joked with my mom after it was all over that the gun man was probably a student's daddy. I'm pretty sure several fugitives live in that area. Anyway, later I found out that was partly true. Police attempted to pull over a car with two men. The driver had some sort of outstanding warrant so he took off. He ended up at a vacant house of a buddy of his that is currently in jail. When he heard the dogs coming for him, he took his gun and ran off into the woods not far from our school. The passenger in the car was detained for questioning. His son is a 2nd grader at our school. I knew the odds were good that a daddy was involved. Eventually the man was caught and all was safe. You'd think I worked in an inner city school instead of a country school in a rural area. Even though the end was anti-climatic, it was a new experience for me.

Job search...
I had an interview this week with the principal at another elementary school for a librarian job. It went well and he asked me back to meet with the grade level team leaders next week. He was openly accepting of my lack of experience. He listed all the things the librarian is responsible for and I must admit it's quite overwhelming. The library is part of the special subjects rotation, i.e. P.E., music, art, computer lab. I'd have eight 35 minute class periods a day of 1st-4th graders. I'd also have to schedule in Kinder classes to come in during the week. I'd be in charge of morning announcements via TV as well as a.m. and p.m. bus duty and lunch duty. I'm pretty fortunate in my teaching job now not to have to do much extra duty. Recess duty is about all I have outside the classroom. Any comments on the topic of school librarians will be much appreciated.

If you're even still reading this, my mountain of school work is still looming in the other room. I guess I'd better get back to it. I managed to procrastinate quite a lot with this post. But I also got a lot of thoughts out that have been begging to be written about.

Who knows what adventure tomorrow may bring. The faculty end of the year party is after school. Maybe the reserved 4th grade teacher will dance on the table. Or maybe one of the sweet 1st grade teachers will tell us how they really feel about having to move to a different room in the building for the 3rd time in so many years.

8 days 'til summer vacation. But who's counting?