Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lazy Town

Get ready for a cop out- picture post!

It's my goal (entirely for my benefit) to post every day- I'm really interested in seeing the evolution of a class over a year. But life is life and always takes precedence and as of late I've had some pressing personal matters that needed addressing.

So until I get things taken care of, here is a laaaaazy picture post. This batch is from grandparents day (grandparents day always makes me think of Midge from Mad Men. Do you guys watch Mad Men? You should.  It's got Jon Hamm wearing hats at rakish angles in it!).  We showed them what our morning meetings look like, E. read from our 'big book' collection, we decorated cookies and topped the morning off with an art project involving concrete- the best kind of art project.  Grandparents loved it, kids had a blast and no one mistook me for a kid.  Everybody won.

Drum on drummers.  The kids specifically asked to show their grandparents our rhythm games and who was I to say no.  ON GRANDPARENTS DAY.  HOW COULD YOU?

How cute is this picture???  After decorating a giant cookie, everyone loves a good head bump with their grandma.  Bonus: Because grandparents were there I did not have to break my rule about never ever eating anything a child has made.  Germ. Fucking. Central.

C. making a memory stone with grandma.  I have no idea what these poor grandparents will actually do with these stones (Coasters? Door stoppers? Projectile weapons?) but the kids had fun making them.

Letting the concrete dry in the sun.  You can tell the coxsackie virus was still raging based on the amount of art projects here.  PS: I have totally co-opted the back of the school and no one has said anything about it...

Scrappy Teacher says, it is officially time to put the phrase 'fail' to rest, my friends. It has filtered down to my class. Today one of my students informed me that the art project we were working on that accidentally went awry was 'a fail.' Oh internet, I'm so disappointed in you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


That is the sound that appropriately expresses my current state of being.

This will be short because I'm tired, cranky, had a grand total of 7 kids today and have to prepare for 'grandparents day' tomorrow.  Ah, grandparents day.  The mother of all fake holidays.


Again, tiny group today (hehehe... coxsackie virus) so we didn't do much.  I DID get to try out a new item for my science center though.  After talking some more about our senses we explored our sense of smell with a 'scent test.'  The kids took whiffs out of little scented jars and tried to guess what they were supposed to be.  Nice science activity PLUS it tied in nicely with math as they had to match the numbers on the jars to their corresponding cards to find the answers. We also graphed our favorite scents because my group from last year loooooooved doing that.  They'd beg to graph things (NERDS).  These guys were kind of ambivalent about it- they seem so much younger than last year's crew... sniff, sniff.  But it's only September...

Today in Awwwww:
L---: Hey Miss Julia.  You know Up?  The Movie?
Me: It's one of my favorites!
L---: Who's your favorite person in the movie? Or animal because there are animals, too.
Me: Ummmmm I liked Ellie, Doug the dog, and the main character- the man who had the balloon house.  But I can't remember his name, can you?
L---: It's probably Up.  You know, because that's the name of the movie.  Up.  About the man.   The man named Up.  Up.

Scrappy Teacher looks at this smock and says, "Oh, parents.  Really?  REALLY?"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Coxsackie? Coxsackie!

The Scene:
So last night I didn't get into bed until 2am for a job that I technically need to be up at 6am for. I was frantically working on plans that I didn't get to accomplish over a lost weekend until I passed out at the keyboard earlier than I intended.  To compensate, I woke up early, rushed off to school, proceeded to forget 9/10ths of the things I intended to bring, scrambled at work to set up alternative plans and then greeted five children.  FIVE. Apparently over the weekend they all started showing symptoms of something called the coxsackie virus and it's incredibly contagious.

Let's talk, shall we?

1. Fuck. My. Life.  So glad I came in on under 4 hours of sleep, with two alternate sets of lessons plans, only to have to throw them both out because I HAD FIVE CHILDREN.
2. Ummmmmm what???  Google tells me that the spreading of this involves fecal matter??  AM I SURROUNDED BY POOP???  HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO MAKE THEM WASH THEIR HANDS??  MINE ARE ALREADY CHAPPING!!
3. ...Am I going to get this? Do I have it now??  OH GOD IS IT ALL OVER ME?
4.  Hehehehehehe... cocksackie...

I guess there's not much point in me telling you what we did today (five. fucking. kids.).  The only thing of note was that we started a planting project- something I usually don't do till the spring.  We were examining this bin of pinto beans and one of my boys flat out suggested the classic 'bean in a bag' experiment.  I've actually never done this, but I obviously had to capitalize on their excitement and momentum.

I know what you're thinking now but calm down, America, it's okay- I'll keep you updated about how it goes.

In conclusion: guys, I am tired.  I don't like bitching, but there you have it.  I went from work, to a confirmation class I'm teaching, to the hospital, to a rehearsal (Arthur Miller's All My Sons.  Ehhhhhhhh?). I'm done.  So done that K is actually trying to tell me about his day now and I'm still typing this. I guess he thinks I'm doing lesson plans so he doesn't mind me not focusing 100%?  I'm not though.  I'm blogging.  Bloooog blog bloggity blog.  Blog.  Okay, I'll stop now.  I feel bad.  And he might read this.

Scrappy Teacher says, happy first day of school Faithble!!!!  My big girl... and 10 PM texter!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"obsolete, obsolete!"

Me: (singing) K is for K-----, how are you today?
K: (with unimaginable joy as she throws her hands in the air) I'm in school!!!!

It was a little rough today but I purposely pushed them just to see what they could handle so I'm not too surprised.  Finding out back stories about some of my kids which is helpful/occasionally sad.  I'd like to write about it but I need some time to think about whether or not it's appropriate.  I'm not disclosing names or where I work obviously 
(or pictures of faces even though I technically have permission), but something still seems off to me.  But then I'd like really like your advice, so I don't know.  Hmmm.  Things to ponder.

What worked today: the kids

I would love to take credit for this idea but it was really all my students.  We were working with the light table (which PS is just the coolest) and playing with some materials I had left out for them- colored gels, translucent items, etc. when one of my guys walked up with a box of shells and other sea treasures.  Eventually he found some shells that 'glowed' when placed on the table and got very excited about finding more to show everyone.  This unexpected project was great for sorting (as he separated ones that lit up from ones that didn't) and critical thinking (he very quickly figured out what sorts of shells would lend themselves to a light display and which ones wouldn't).  It was a fun, rewarding project that he was clearly enthusiastic about- and it was all his own idea.  They so don't need me.  If you have any ideas as to how to take this a step further, I'm open.  More items for the light table?  Colored jewel cases for cds?  Wish I could find some sea glass.  Hmm.

What didn't work: afternoon transitions
I need to figure out something that works for the time immediately before school gets out at 3.  Because they are wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiild and I am outnumbered.  And scared.  I think I can take them on individually but if they all ganged up for a hostile takeover I wouldn't stand a chance.  So tiny, so powerful in hordes...  

All right, that's enough of that.  K is having an existential crisis about where he should put his new keyboard in the house and my presence is required.

Scrappy Teacher looks at this worm and says, "oh, fucking gross, children."  But internally.  Where they can't hear it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

nice one, perv

And day 1 is in the books!

It went well (great sentence, educator, very descriptive!).  It's always difficult to gauge the first day of school- I'm still feeling the kids out in regards to previously acquired knowledge, attention spans, etc.  And of course, no real work gets done in between establishing rules, comforting children who have never been away from their families, etc. But they seem like a mighty crew (yaaaar!), and I'm excited to get to know them.

Today in hilarity:

* I have a student in my class possessed of what most children would consider an unusual and (I guess?) hard to pronounce name.  So naturally, they shortened it.  To Perve.  As in pervert.  "Nice one, Perve."  "Cool moves, Perve."  Things I actually heard today.  I'd tell them to stop but I don't know how to explain what a pervert is to them without getting in trouble/fired/arrested.

Things that will probably interest only teachers:

What worked today: awesome assessment game for shyer kids

The first part of my year (and probably yours) is basically assessment, assessment, assessment.  I need to know where my students are at so that I can plan my lessons out accordingly.  The sooner I can get this done, the better- so I started today.  Some students I could sit down with and straight up assess while their hands were busy with play-dough, others I had to kind of trick because they were too scared, or shy or too excited about everything in the room.  SO we played this genius game that allowed to me to see how familiar they were with the alphabet.  I took out a deck of alphabet flash cards the school had lying around and 'accidentally' dropped them all over the floor.  Then I invited them to help me put the deck back together again by asking them to find letters for me as I called them out.  Worked like a charm- allowed me to see where the shyer children were at and gave me double confirmation on trouble areas for the children I had previously assessed.  Julia, you sly dog, you!

What didn't work: nothing today really

I had slight issues with one girl who seems very interested in testing boundaries and two girls who seem to have formed some sort of 5 year old, Justin-Bieber-backpack-sporting gang.  But all in all, it worked today.  I think it's still too early for me to have screwed up. ...I hope...

Final thought: it's the end of the day and my hands are still covered in paint after multiple attempts at washing them.  I must be back in school.  :)

Scrappy Teacher has been asked to clarify her statement regarding best friends yesterday by her boyfriend.  Who but a best friend would leave this masterpiece for her on her first day of work:
Text: "As you see me sleeping, drooling with my mouth open... Know that I am proud of you."
...One day, poets will sing of our love.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

the new kid

It's Tuesday, September 6th, the night before a new school year- and I'm freaking out. Again.

I've been teaching for 3 years now and without fail on the eve of the First Day of School I get a knot in my stomach as I think, "Oh god, this is it. The year they figure out that I'm a fraud and have no business molding young minds. The year I discover that any previous successes I've had have been due to the unusually bright minds of my students and not my influence at all." Does anyone else get that feeling before a big day at their job?? Just me? Ok.

A few things before we start:
I'm Julia. I live in New Jersey (I don't have a reality show) with my dad, two cats and my boyfriend in an old, weird, falling-apart-at-the-seems house I inherited with my brother. Aforementioned brother is my best friend and a Navy SEAL who sings show tunes when he's not out saving the world (and sometimes when he is, I'm sure). I'm in my twenties. I'm bossy as heck. I'm a teacher- this year, preschool/kindergarten inclusion. I love what I do more than anything in the world.

I started this for several reasons, some more noble than others:
1. I wanted to share ideas with my fellow teachers- what's worked for me, what hasn't, etc.
2. I wanted to create a better chronicle of the school year for my future reference.
3. I wanted a place to bitch about the rest of my life as it gradually falls apart around me during the school year.

So there you go. That's an okay introduction, I think. Tomorrow I'll post about the dreaded FIRST DAY and we'll check out the crew I'll be spending the next 9 months with. And if I throw up from nerves before then, I'll spare you the details. That is the Julia promise to you, reader.

Yours in nausea,

Scrappy Teacher repeats her mantra for the day: if you can hold a rooster, you can hold the attention of children.