Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Clash of the Titans (better known as parent-teacher conferences).

So, once again, I didn't update for 2 weeks. Sorry!

First of all, THE OTHER TEACHER HAS RETURNED! I now have another 4th grade teacher next door to me who knows what he's doing! Hooray! What a wonderful feeling it is to know that if I am not sure about something, I can simply walk a few steps, open the door, and ask my question. If I don't have any great ideas or activities for something, I have someone to ask! It's wonderful.

I had my first formal observation from my university supervisor last Wednesday (the day before Fall Break . . . what was I thinking?). I was nervous--not because she is critical or harsh (she's awesome, actually! I couldn't have asked for a better supervisor) but it was nerve-wracking to think about someone sitting in my classroom for the sole purpose of watching how I teach. Yikes! I was really nervous when she first arrived but felt better after awhile and kind of got back into the usual flow. She had nothing but positive comments and a few suggestions for some of my more difficult kids. It was encouraging and so nice just to catch up with her. It's sort of like seeing a familiar face when you're out of town. I am blessed to have her!

Then, Fall Break arrived, and it was magnificent.

I now know that all of these vacation days and holiday breaks were not created for students, but for teachers, without a doubt.

Our friendly "wecome back to school" after the break was parent-teacher conferences . . . which I was not excited about! I wish they had been right before the break instead of after, because I spent my break worrying and working to try to get ready for them. We had 3 hours of conferences on Tuesday and have another 3 hours tomorrow. I was SO nervous for the first one and feel like I rushed and talked really fast. I kept wondering what I must have looked like as I fumbled through my stack of papers (which I had spent the entire evening before putting in a certain order so I wouldn't have to fumble through them!) and perspired and tried to explain why their child needed to be put on a child study for reading. Luckily, she agreed that he needed help and was very positive about the whole thing. As were the other parents! I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly and quickly all of them went. The most awkward of the conferences was with the absolutely perfect, quiet, genius student that I have, in which I just showed Mom the papers and assessments and had no concerns to bring up with her! It was hard to wrap that conference up because I felt like she kept waiting for me to say something else.

Highlight of my conferences so far:

"It has been such a relief to have my daughter in your class this year. I spent every morning last year from week 2 of school to the end, in an argument to get her out of bed and to school. But I haven't had to argue with her once! She willingly gets up to come to school."

Can you see my glowing smile? I'm not going to lie, that felt good. Either I'm too easy or I'm doing okay... and if she is enjoying school, that is alright either way, I think.

Today, we took our 2nd Reading benchmark test, which I have a feeling my students did poorly on because they rushed through it. I talked to them before we started about taking their time, and when they raised their hand to finish, I made them read over it again, but I don't think it helped much. Any suggestions?

Also, I am shocked at some of the things my 4th graders know/have seen. To be polite, I took a note that was being passed between 2 girls and it was talking about males' body parts and what they look like since one of them had supposedly seen something. WHAT? This is 4th grade. Ridiculous. I guess I'll be making some parent phone calls tomorrow before conferences!

Thanks for following along!

From the scattered desk of,
Miss Davis

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Psychiatric help?

So much to say about the last 2 weeks . . . I'll try to contain it to a few paragraphs!

I had a student spend the week in a psychiatric hospital. He was at school last Monday and seemed fine (He was one of my 2 difficult kids) but nothing terrible. He was gone Tuesday and I found out that afternoon that his mother had checked him into the psychiatric hospital on Monday night. Mom didn't tell the school why so we had no information and had to withdraw him from school (he was enrolled at the hospital). He returned on Tuesday of this week. Again, no information! I would think, if he was in a state that he needed to check into a pyschiatric hospital, that I as the teacher would be given at least some information . . . what if he had been a danger to himself or others? Shouldn't I be informed in case he starts to escalate again? He has, however, since his return, been calm and agreeable for the most part. I am still worried though.

On the topic of mental disorders, is it possible for a whole class to be bipolar?

Thursday goes down as the worst day we have had in class yet. The 16 4th graders entered my room as normal, but proceeded to spend the entire day not listening to a word I said and picking on the new kid in class (I got a new student on Monday). Really? The new kid? That's low, guys! On top of that, the girls in my class have all of the sudden decided to take part in the drama that, until this week, has stayed in the other 4th grade class. I have never heard so many nasty reports of words and actions coming from the mouths of my 4th grade girls! I am appalled and disappointed to hear these things, but did my best to settle the arguments and handle the discipline issues. The counselor was a big help in this situation! I also sent home 3 behavior plans on Thursday afternoon (up until now, I had sent home a total of 3 for the year). And to add on top of everything else, we recieved our first benchmark test scores back on Thursday afternoon.


Epic fail.

Thursday evening was . . . not so enjoyable for this new teacher.

Friday, however, dawned crisp and clear, and I dressed for week in my jeans (yay jeans!) and school t-shirt and headed to school to face what I knew would be another terrible day in my classroom (I was feeling pretty pessimistic about how my classroom management was working out). I greeted my 4th graders and found a completely calm, compliant, and agreeable class (for the most part). My ever-pushing problem child showed up with his very best attitude of the year, even offering to help the cafeteria ladies clean up after lunch (what?). I even called his mother after school to let her know about his fantastic attitude for the day. After previous phone calls we've had (remember, he is my problem child), she did not sound happy to hear my voice on the phone. However, I was able to report good news to her for once, and I think she appreciated it. It was encouraging for me, as well. So, I left for this weekend after having quite a fantastic day at school after the worst day possible on Thursday. Happy weekend to me!

And that's where I am now. I just finished writing my lesson plans for the week which, much to my surprise and enjoyment, are getting much easier and faster. Thank goodness! Now I am grading papers and watching football. :)

One more full week and then a short week and Fall Break! Time really is flying.

Thanks for keeping up! :)

From the currently-optimistic,
Miss Davis