Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Teacher's Summer

Interspersed with trips to the water park, a short vacation, ball games, and other summer activities, I am already working on next year. And that is the life of a teacher.

What might most teachers be doing in the summer?

*Cleaning out files.  (Sometimes, actually filing all those loose papers we didn't get to during the year. Or is that just me??)

*Weeding out supplies: markers and pens that don't work any more, dried up glue sticks, tape dispensers that have "lost" their inner core, recycling paper and magazines that aren't needed, cleaning out all the excess in cupboards and drawers, and pitching all the lost and found items that weren't claimed.

*Planning for new teaching assignments and making lessons for the first weeks of school. (Three new assignments next year:  Speech, Drama, and Forensics. These require a different kind of planning than Sophomore English, but I'm on the hunt for all kinds of new activities!)

*Researching blogs and websites for new lesson planning ideas or classroom management techniques.  Some favorites:  Edudemic, AchievetheCore, Dr. Curtis Chandler, Edutopia,, ReadWriteThink, and WeAreTeachers.
  (Best resource for finding new ideas: Twitter.)

*Designing needed methods of tracking data (Spreadsheets, Google Docs, etc.)--and it would be oh so helpful if Excel were working this summer.

*Writing shared formative and summative assessments for classes.

*Tweaking class notebooks in English II.  (Between Standard's Based Grading and Interactive Notebooks, I'm not sure which was the best addition to my classes last year.)

If I plan and work now, next year will be much less stressful.

Oh, and I really need to select next spring's All School Production.  If I leave it until after school starts, I will be hunting the show over Christmas Break. Then, I really will be rushed and unprepared at the start of 2nd semester.

June, July, and August.  These days, I consider them an extended Plan Period.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Working On the New Classroom

My custodians took the door off of my new classroom so that they could take the scissor lift in.  The ceilings are so high that they needed the lift to clean the light fixtures and replace some ceiling tiles.

I jumped on the chance to use the lift. (An opportunity available only every 4-5 years.)  They helped me hang a couple of pieces on the front walls of my classroom.  (OK. It might have taken the five of them plus me to do it!)
Custodians, cooks, secretaries...
these are the people that keep our schools afloat.
I couldn't function without them.

I am assuming that the crew will be working on my floors and then moving some furniture from my old classroom into this new room.  I am trying to stay out of their hair for now.  Besides taking them breakfast, that is probably the best gift that I can give them.

Let's hear it for great support personnel!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

End of the Year

I love teaching.  I love the fact that there is a beginning, middle and an end to my job.

That being said, the end of the year!

To begin with, it would be easier to keep track of who is in class than who is absent.  Everyone is absent.  There are track meets, tennis meets, softball games, baseball games, golf meets, field trips, state music competitions, high honor roll trips, etc., etc., etc.!

Thus, there are many students who need to turn in late work.  I spend quite a bit of time, grading late work.

I also grade notebooks for the final time, and grade final projects and final essays. The students need to put their portfolios together and clean out their classroom folders.  Checking in books and chasing down students who still owe me classroom library books or textbooks becomes a regular part of lunch or plan period.

There are finals to write and grade, Accelerated Reader points to add to the nine weeks grades, and submitting one final copy of all grades to the office.

Then there is a checklist that requires initials from the librarian, lunch lady, two secretaries, and one principal.

This year, you can throw into the mix the fact that I had to pack up one classroom to move to another.   I don't know how many trips I made, but more than I care to count.  Even with quite a few students roped into helping, I wore a little path in the hallway.

With three new preps and a new classroom to get ready, I think it is safe to say that I will spend some of my summer at school or working on school things at home.

My last day was Thursday, and I have already put in 12 hours at school.  I finished the move. (My old classroom is completely empty of my things, except a couple of furniture pieces that the custodians will be moving for me.) I have also cleaned out a huge prop/costume closet and a couple of cupboards that I needed for storage. (Merging two classrooms is work!) I have completed a little (huge size wise, little work wise) art project for the front of my new classroom.  Today, I actually began organizing my desk drawers.

I'm not sure whether to consider this the end of one year or the beginning of the next.  I just know that I am going to enforce a strict no-schoolwork rule for at least a couple of weeks this summer.  Otherwise, next year might be a really long year!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Rock Stars of Education

At Christmas time our Central Office hosts a Holiday Open House.  When teachers and employees enter, we put our name on a piece of paper for drawings.

One gift our Superintendent gave away this year was "One Free Day of Subbing."  One elementary and one Middle/High School teacher would take off any day of their choice, and it wouldn't be charged to sick leave, family leave, or personal days. She would be their sub for the day. Amazing!  Even more amazing, she drew my name.

Friday, I am pretty sure I had the most highly qualified substitute teacher in our state.  While I was enjoying a new granddaughter, she was my sub.  She had time to talk to my high school students and colleagues.  She spent a day in the trenches, reminding herself of the work her teachers do. I know my students benefited from having her there, but I'm even more sure that every teacher in our district benefited from the day she put in as a teacher.

Reflecting on that day, I am reminded that she spends a great deal of time in our schools. She greets students, visits classes, and is interested in the lives of her employees. She understands us because she makes a regular practice of trying to stay in touch with her schools, students, and employees.

Is she a rock star or what?