Making Over Third Grade!: Reflecting on October
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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Reflecting on October

There was so much going on in October that this is the first chance I have had to really sit down for more than a few stolen minutes and write. I need to make blogging each week a part of my regular routine just as I make writing my parent letter and completing my lesson plans each weekend. Though really, this year, like all past years, I will be working on trying to get my lessons and things for the coming week done during the current one. For some reason, I have never been able to do that!

October started with a terrible incident as a dear friend and co-worker fell at work and ended up out of class for three weeks due to a severe concussion.  Thank God she has made a steady recovery and is on her way back to school this week. In her absence, I assisted as I could by completing lesson plans for her class as well as mine (which I was more than happy to do). Since I was writing the plans, another teacher on the team who is a long-term substitute requested copies so for a while there I was writing lesson plans for three classes. I tend to overplan even for just me - so 12 pages of plans for 1 week and 11 pages for another, it wasn't much of a surprise that either of the subs still had more than enough work to do in ELA that I ddn't have to do lesson plans for this past week.


Our primary literacy window (the weeks we are required to complete DRA testing along with other assessments) was open and all assessments had to be in the system by October 31st. They are completed but they are not all entered into the district website as it only works in Internet Explorer (how is that even possible in today's world?!?)  and of course, IE doesn't work on a Mac which is what I have now for school since I have a 1:1 iPad classroom, and too, it is not open to view out of the district network so I will be entering that data first thing Monday as soon as I can get a Windows machine up and running.

Since our district is leading the way in our area in incorporating 1:1 technology in classes some of our district Ed. Tech. teachers have been lecturing as part of the Education program at U.C. Davis. They asked a number of teachers in the district if they could bring student teachers in to see their rooms and watch them teach in 1:1 settings. I was asked to be one of the teachers for them to observe.  It was a very flattering request which I took as a huge compliment to my implementation of technology in our classroom (we are nearly completely paperless!).  It was exciting to see the student teachers interacting with my students! The second group of student
teachers that came in happened to coincide with a visit from my principal, the head of Elementary Education, and the Superintendent! I was SO impressed with my class as they continued to work despite so many visitors in our class and that they were able to answer questions that were posed to them while they were working on a variety of different tasks [we were beginning to wrap up our Cinderella unit (which is what we used to focus on for our Reading with Meaning unit of instruction)].

I was able to assist a colleague from a different site as she prepared to implement 1:1 devices in her own room. In the hour or so that she was in my class I think she managed to fill up 4 or 5 pages of notes on things that I found worked or didn't work in my room and apps that I found to be essential in my class. I LOVE being able to share my ideas, experiences, and joy of teaching with others -which is why I think I have become so addicted to Twitter and have recently discovered the addiction joys of  Instagram. (I have to be so careful with these sites and the PLNs that I have bulit on them!)

October 19 - 22 I was in Las Vegas as part of our school's team that went to the No Excuses University (NEU) national convention.  Our school has been using the NEU ideals for a few years now but became an official NEU school at the end of last year. Essentially the NEU ideals are based on 6 pillars: a Culture of Universal Achievement (every student can go to college if he/she chooses), Collaboration, Standards Alignment, Assessment, Data Management, and Interventions. These are all great strategies that teachers and schools should, I think, be using anyway.  So it is not hard to incorporate the NEU ideals into what you are already doing. The key for me is that it has changed the way students at our site view their futures and how they now see college as a key part of their education and future success.

The last day in Vegas found me talking about online courses with someone in the Starbucks line - turned out he was the Executive Dean of Education at Ashford University. When he found out I had my doctorate (he was trying to get teachers interested in their masters degree program) he asked if I was interested in teaching adjunct classes at the college level. At my yes, he asked me to send him my CV. Okay, well since it has been 11 years since I put together a serious application to get a job I had to ask someone what a CV was. Thank goodness I wasn't the only one to not know, we had to Google it to find out it is a Curriculum Vitae (which in case you don' t know either, is a type of resume but it focuses more on your education and uses action verbs to show what you know/have done).

In any case, I finished writing my CV and cover letter tonight and will be emailing it as soon as a friend of mine is done proof reading them for me. If it is meant to be, it will happen, and if not, well it was a good experience for me to update my professional background and to highlight the accomplishments I have achieved over the last 10 years.

I got back from Vegas and was in class for 1 day (insane!) and then attended the 2 day Fall CUE conference in Napa where I learned a lot of cool things that I instantly wanted to incorporate in my classroom but which I know will be better to include slowly in order to make the most of the strategies and to use them as effectively as possible.

I had a Parent Tech Night (I will write about that in the next post) on Tuesday, October 28th and we had Red Ribbon Week events each day that week as well. We wore red, wore our pajamas, sports day, crazy hair day, and finally....everyone was allowed to wear Halloween costumes! That was a first in my teaching career! As a second grade teacher at a previous site, the kids in grades 1 and 2 were allowed to dress up in the afternoon but to have kids be kids and wear their costumes to school like the kinder folk that was AMAZING. First, I was surprised it was allowed; second, it made the kids so incredibly happy.  It was a fun-filled day, I am just sad that I forgot to take photos of the kids in their costumes. How could I have been so dense forgetful?

Today, two friends and I went to Redwood City to attend a CUE sponsored PD by Shutterfly to address how to use digital storybooks in the classroom.  It was the 22nd day in a row that I have worked on school things, or taught, without a break.  I am exhausted yet I am sitting here at 2:00 in the morning watching The Wedding Planner on ABC Family and writing this blog post after I completed my CV, cover letter, parent newsletter, updated my class blog with newsletter information, and saw Bailey and Robert off to bed. I don't know why it is so hard for me to relax and let go....something I am bound to work on in the coming months as I make over third grade, and me as well.