Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Miss Davis, my mom got out of jail this morning."

After only a week into school, it's amazing how much I can see that these kids are not like I was in 4th grade. I didn't understand what it was like to come to school hungry, or have my car robbed in the middle of the night, or worry whether or not the car would start for me to be picked up after school, or whether or not my mom got out of jail for $50 when it was supposed to be $500. I was so naive compared to these kids, yet, they are still just kids. They deserve just as much attention and quality teaching as the "doctor's son." I am in a position where God has given me a chance to really show his love and patience to children who often don't get it at home.

When I assigned homework yesterday to explain and play their new math game with a family member at home, almost 3/4 of my class raised their hand, asking what to do if they didn't have anyone at all at home who would be able to play it with them. I was speechless. My best repsonse was "Ok, well I'll give you some time in the morning if you are not able to play it tonight."

I was talking with another teacher, who was permanent sub for awhile last year but it is her first year of teaching also, and we were discussing classroom management. We talked about how it was a difficult and fine line to find between their friend and their teacher. One thing that is really important to me is for my kids to feel like the classroom is "theirs," their home. But now I am struggling to reign them a bit because maybe I let them have too much leeway. I don't know. I had my first semi "discipline" issue today (nothing big, but it was the first). The kids were working in groups to define a short list of vocab words from the book we had just read. This boy was sitting with his arms crossed, rudely ignoring the group and his work. I approached him, asking why he didn't want to work, and he simply replied that he didn't want to. Not going to lie, I thought in my head "Oh NO! What do I say now? Help! Help! Hurry, think of something!" I remembered the approach of giving choices in these situations, so I quickly tried to think of 2 choices that I would be ok with. "Ok well you may choose to work on this with your group or write them as the class is sharing them in a few minutes." He crossed his arms, scowled, and said "Fine. I'll work on them with the class." This was fine with me, I was just aiming for everyone to get the definitions. I worry that I may have given him too much freedom with that choice, but it was the best I could do. I'm hoping this doesn't become an everyday occurence.

Now I am worrying and trying to figure out exactly how I'm going to set up my reading and spelling groups, as well as how I'm going to approach math. It was encouraging to talk to my mentor teacher (she's the reading specialist at my school! Sweet, I know!) and she told me that she hoped I would be encouraging to those around me with my intent to do literature circles and discussions and groupwork. It was nice to hear someone have some confidence in me, even with my lack of experience.

Sorry about the long post and the lack of posting over the last week. I must admit that I am way more busy than I thought I would be. It is getting easier though!

From the slightly-cluttered desk of,
Miss Davis

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Big Day.

Today was the Big Day! It was the first day of school! I greeted my 14 fourth graders with a smile and a handshake this morning, trying not to let on to them that I was way more nervous than they were. Breakfast was a little hectic, but I've got a great group of well-behaved kids, so it really went fine. It was hard for me to prepare for this just because I wasn't quite sure what to expect! They were all very quiet at first, even though their activity involved talking to their classmates. After a little encouragement, they were finally up and moving, for which I was thankful!
I introduced Morning Meeting, which could not have gone much smoother! The kids seemed to like it and had fun with our activity, focused on finding similarities among our class members. I joined in this activity also, which I think inspired a bit more participation. I will definitely keep this observation in mind!
My favorite part of the day was when we created our Writer's Notebooks and had our first Quickwrite! :) Coming from classes where they did little writing before, they were, needless to say, very hesitant and unsure of themselves. With questions about spelling and lack of topic, I simply encouraged them to write. I also allowed small pictures along with their writing. Going out on a limb (and very unsure of myself) I asked the group if anyone would like to share what they wrote (hoping for at least 1 to volunteer) and I had 8 hands go up! I was so excited! After my ethnography during OSUWP about the community that quickwrites build, I was hoping to have success using it in my classroom, and I feel like it started off on the right foot! That was the highlight of my day. :)

There was one activity that didn't go quite as planned, in which the students just seemed bored. I'll be throwing that one out for next year! I also realized some unclear directions during one activity also. I'm just learning as I go along!

We managed to get to specials, lunch, and dismissal on time, which, I think, allows me to call the day a success! Whew!

I'm so pumped to do this again tomorrow! :)

Praising God for a wonderful day,
Miss Davis

Monday, August 17, 2009


So, my first day of teacher in-service began at 8 am this morning at Tulsa Public Schools' "Convocation." It was crazy to see every single one of Tulsa's schoolteachers, from pre-K to high school, all gathered in one room. The new superintendent spent the first 10 minutes of his speech talking about how he didn't want to waste our time, which I thought was just a bit ironic. :) He seemed really optimistic and we are hopeful he is able to carry through on what he claims to stand for, which is the classroom teacher. Following convocation, I had lunch with a big group of the teachers from my school, which was neat. I enjoyed getting to know them a little more and feeling like part of the group.
I spent the rest of the afternoon working in my room, trying to figure out what I have left to do. I think I am getting close to finishing, but I feel like there is still lots to do. I don't know. I'm not a fan of feeling unprepared! I am trying to accept that I am just going to feel that way for awhile, no matter what! But, I'll survive.
The Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association also met today, and it was strange to talk about salaries, legal representation, etc. I'm glad there are others who are smarter than me to think about these things!
Tomorrow brings another day of meetings, along with a final class schedule. I think I'll feel better once I can plan my day, literally minute-by-minute.
Keep me in your prayers as I try to get ready for my kiddos!

From the looking-more-official desk of,
Miss Davis

Sunday, August 16, 2009


It is truly amazing how God prepares us for the tasks laid out for us. I went to church this morning and listened to a sermon about "your legacy" and the humble leadership of Moses. This message could not have been more appropriately timed as I begin my career in working with kids. I have been blessed with so many opportunities to prepare myself as an educator and to truly change the lives of my students. As I enter into a brand new stage of my life this week, I am reminded that God has put me in this position for a purpose. Though my experience is little and my confidence is small, the task is still the same. He put me in this specific school, with these specific students, and it is time, now, for me to begin to leave my legacy. What impact will I have on the lives of my students?

Friday, August 14, 2009


Oh my gosh, what a long, tiring week! I spent 4 of the 5 days in the classroom this week, trying to get ready for the start of school. Once I got the paint on the walls, I was really able to start hanging stuff up on the walls and organizing. It is taking so much more work than I thought it would! I also didn't realize how many decisions I would have to make (which is a serious problem, because I am one of the most indecisive people ever). What to put here, how to have them turn things in, where to put all the bookshelves, tables, baskets, supplies, etc, etc, etc. So many decisions! I think I've managed to get things organized enough to get started, however, I also have the mindset that I'm just going to change things around as school starts and I figure out what works.
I was very blessed to have lots of help this week from my fiance, his co-worker, my mom, and an experienced teacher-friend of hers. That was another realization that I had this week--that I needed lots of help! I didn't really think I would need too much help, but I really did! I am learning more and more to just ask questions of others and not worry about "looking stupid." I did run into a little trouble with that today though . . . ready for a littel humor? I have been asking the teacher across the hall lots of questions over the last few days. I just stick my head in the door and ask. Well, earlier today, I opened the door as I started to phrase my question and saw a group of teachers, including my principal, in the teacher's room for a meeting. I totally interrupted my principal speaking and I was so embarrassed! She didn't seem to mind too much, told me to go ahead and ask my question, and just moved on. Wow, I was embarrassed! But, oh well. Such is life.
This weekend brings with it a list of things for me to accomplish at home that will hopefully get my room pretty much finished as far as the physical aspect of things. I also need to get to working more on the lesson planning for the first week. Yikes! It's all still overwhelming.

More to come after my first contract day on Monday!

From the cluttered but almost-decorated room of,
Miss Davis

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dreary to Cheery

I finally feel like I have had a productive day of preparation. With the help of my fiance and his co-worker, my classroom was painted a beautiful turquoise color today! It was really fun to see how it transformed the room from drab and dreary to bright and cheery! I absolutely love it and had lots of positive comments from the other teachers, which was really encouraging. With the extra help, all of my tubs and boxes of stuff made it into my room today also. None of it is unpacked yet, but it's all in there!
I am looking forward to having a helping hand tomorrow--one of my best friends' mothers is a teacher (just moved so she is without a position for now) and is coming to help me in my room all day tomorrow. Hopefully we will get everything moved around where I want it and she can give me some organization tips that I desperately need! I am hoping she can think of things that I still need to buy/do that I haven't thought of yet. It will definitely be a wonderful blessing to have her with me tomorrow!
I spent some time earlier this week to "script" my first day of school, which makes me feel a little better about it. Someone (for the life of me, I can't remember who) said that they did that every year, just to keep things running smoothly, and I feel a lot more prepared. I have written every word, question, and action that I hope to do on the first day of school. While I know I won't follow it exactly, I feel like I have an outline now. What a wonderful tip for a new teacher!
One week from today, I will meet my new 4th graders, and I am so excited, yet I feel so unprepared still! I know that I will accomplish a lot this week, and I am relying on the Lord to get me through and prepare me as much as possible!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Earlier this week, I attended a beginning of the year "kickoff" with all of the teachers at my school. The principal had team-building activities in which we participated, and then provided lunch. Afterwards, there was some discussion of what the teachers really loved and really disliked about last year. Among the positives were school-wide procedures while many of the negatives consisted of breakfast in the classrooms. At this point, both of these make me a little uneasy! First, school-wide procedures works well, I'm sure, but I don't know them yet! It makes me a little nervous that I will be learning these procedures alongside my students. I feel like a freshman in college all over again! The other thing, about breakfast in the classrooms, makes me nervous because not one of the teachers had a positive thing to say about how it was being done. Here's how it will operate this year:
7:30 am--Doors open to school, students go straight to their classroom
7:55 am--Breakfast is brought in tubs from cafeteria to each classroom
8:15 am--Breakfast is cleaned up, tub is put outside room to be collected, class begins
Here are a few of the things I am worried about (please offer suggestions or advice on how to best handle this situation!):
  • Official school start time is 7:55. What do I do with the students as they meander in until then? Do I start them on morning work? Do I just have free choice, quiet activities available? What do I do with them for 25 minutes when I won't have all of my class yet?
  • 20 minutes to eat breakfast is a lot of time being taken out of scheduled class time. Can I have them start on morning work during that time. Is it ok to have them eat and work at the same time?
  • How do I handle this whole process on the first day of school?

Another worry that I am really struggling with right now stems from some news I received from the other 4th grade teacher--he will be absent for, at the very LEAST, the first 2 weeks of school. I will be starting out the year without a partner! I am, to say the least, freaking out.


From the ever-worrying,
Miss Davis