Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's official!

This is my first blog post as a fully certified teacher of the state of Oklahoma!!!

I had my final residency meeting today... and everyone agreed that I have completed (almost) a successful year of teaching and should be certified. The papers are signed and in the mail! WOOHOO!

I totally feel like I just graduated again. Except... I think I worked a lot harder for it this time.

So happy!

On another note, it is the big week. The ominous state tests are currently taking place in my classroom. We started Monday morning and have one day left. I am proud of my kids because it seems that most of them have been taking their time, attempting to check over their answers, etc. They are atleast giving the appearance of these things, which is a bit better than I expected, actually. I can't say I mind the extra time I have to get grades entered in the computer! It also made lesson planning easy for this week. It's weird to be almost done with these tests that seem to have consumed our school lives for the last semester. It will be a nice change to have the pressure off, that's for sure.

I'm now trying to figure out what I'm going to do for the next 5 weeks. I think I'm going to try to do a group literature discussion of City of Ember if I can get ahold of a class set from the other TPS libraries. I'm also going to talk to the 5th grade teachers about what they would really like my kids to have some prior knowledge of for next year. Lastly, I am going to spend some time on writing, because in 5th grade there is a big state writing test. I am actually pretty excited to spend some quality time on writing, though we've done bits and pieces throughout the year (not as much as I would like, but such is life). Anyways, at least the next 5 weeks will be full of new activities and definitely less pressure! I'm looking forward to it.

I can't believe I'm almost done with this first school year. It seems like it was just dragging and dragging... and then all of the sudden it is almost the end of the year. I can't believe how ready I am for it to be over, but I am also completely amazed at the amount of learning that has taken place for me this year. There is no way anyone could prepare me for this.

Almost there!

From the computer of a fully-certified teacher of the state of Oklahoma (yay!),
Miss Davis

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Small, proud moments

So, I should really be in bed because the day will start early as usual again tomorrow, but I had something to share and I didn't want to forget.

I had 2 moments today where I stopped and realized that things were "working" as planned in my classroom.

The first occured during our short social studies time today. The students were paired off to read the rest of their social studies assignment before we discussed. I had a small group of struggling readers at my kidney table while the others read. As my group began to read, I looked across my room. You will never guess what I saw. Every pair of students was sitting with their partner, reading what they were supposed to. I even heard some students helping each other with words that they didn't know. And I didn't have to get on to a group once about staying on task.

Small victory? Indeed. But a victory nonetheless. This time last year, I would have never imagined that I would be rejoicing at such a small feat as this, but I am. With the struggles I've had with these students working together in groups, partners, and individually (most lack much motivation), it was a beautiful sight to see.

Second wonderful event of the day (again, remember I am rejoicing at the small victories) was after my kids had left for the day. I came back into my room and was doing the usual clean up. Because of budget cuts, we have been strictly audited on our energy use, so it's a big deal to make sure EVERYTHING is turned off at the end of the day. Since we have 3 classroom computers, plus my computer and the Promethean board, there is quite a bit to double check. I have been asking some of my students each day to take care of turning off the classroom computers.

I forgot to ask them to turn them off today.

When I returned to my room, I realized that they were already off. My students had paid attention, taken initiative, and done the responsible thing to be helpful.

I was so proud.

Are there academics exactly where they should be? No. But it seems a few have learned some lifeskills along the way. That's got to count for something.

From the swelling heart of,
Miss Davis

Friday, April 2, 2010

Drama, drama, drama!

Once again, I have neglected my personal goal to post more than once in a month (shouldn't be that hard, I don't think!) But life is so busy.

Spring Break was wonderful! And very short.

The week before Spring Break was... full of drama. Complaining parents make for quite a week. One of the results of that: a child was moved out of my classroom... one of my "problem kids" to be exact. My feelings were definitely mixed about the change. On one hand, I have invested so much time, energy, thought, and effort into that child-trying as many ideas as I could think of to motivate him, encourage him, find a discipline that works for him, connect with him, and the list just continues. We had made some progress, but a parental complaint from another student's parent led to his move to the other 4th grade class. It sort of felt like all the work I did was for nothing. I still see him and talk to him in the halls, but I feel like that investment is just sort of, lost.

On the other hand, I can't tell you how much more peaceful my classroom has been. Is that bad to say?

Now, I am dealing with a group of girls who just refuse to get along. I'm getting really tired of just hearing about it all the time. Can't they just get along? I've tried some different approaches to resolve the conflicts, but currently, none are working. I'm hoping after the parent conferences I had with each of their parents this week, I will see some change. I hope. I really, really hope.

And that brings me to parent conferences. I was nervous as I prepared for them, but as soon as they got started, it felt fairly natural and easy. It's amazing how much differently I feel about this time around than I did the first time. The major difference I felt and saw in these conferences (versus the first time, in October) is that I was more prepared to talk about the difficult issues. Last time, I didn't want to make any waves, didn't want to upset anyone... I was just kind of scared. So I glossed over things (didn't lie, just didn't approach things as directly as I should have) instead of getting to the heart of the problems with the parents. This time around, however, I discussed the poor choices these girls are making as they are fighting and arguing, I discussed the offensive sexual language with a girl whose mother is of a different orientation (I just wasn't sure how to approach it, but it went really well!), I talked about a boy's complete lack of effort and not turning any work in, and I discussed the need to retain one of my students in the 4th grade. Wow, not easy stuff! But I laid it out there and received very supportive and understanding comments from all of my parents. I know it won't always be that way, but it was a nice boost of confidence for me to lay out the tough issues and really discuss them. Small victory, but it really felt good.

And now I'm on a 3 day weekend! This is the last break we will have before Memorial Day on May 31st (2 days before school gets out. Really? Just let us out that Friday!). I am very ready for the year to be over! I am ready to have "successfully completed a full year of teaching" and be fully certified by the state. I am ready to revamp lots of things and get more organized for the next time around. I am ready to start over with another group of kids and approach things differently, and handle behavior and discipline better. And... I'm ready to get married. :) But, we've got 8 1/2 more weeks of school, so I'm just going to take it day by day! Test prep is rolling along, and I am getting more nervous about their performance! They are not scoring like I would like to see on their practice tests. There are so many things I wish I had time to go back and re-teach! But I will just do my best and that's all I can do!

Now, I'm going to go enjoy my 3-day weekend! Happy Easter!

From the practice test-covered desk of,
Miss Davis