February 24, 2009

Project Linus

Anyone who's followed the Peanuts comic should be familiar with Charlie Brown's blanket-toting friend, Linus. Project Linus, is an organization dedicated to their mission of providing blankets to ill and traumatized babies and children, and our January service project was to create blankets by following a simple, no-sew pattern.
Our students were happy to give up their lunch hours to complete their blankets and donate to this wonderful cause. As a blankie-toting child myself, I completely understand the emotional comfort a child can feel from a piece of fabric. It might sound silly, but I think can be so comforting to suffering children to know that strangers care so much to take the time to make a personal gift for them. I was so pleased to be able to stuff my car full of soft, warm and colorful blankets to donate to the charity. This is such an easy (truly - my co-workers 2 and 5 year-old children helped) way to impact someone in need.

Small Things

I always say it's the small things in life that give the most pleasure, and this is no exception.

I recently took up scrapbooking after my friend Katie invited me to spend a day at Archiver's together. I haven't had a true hobby in years, and I love that I now have "something" fun to do whenever I desire. I can do it alone at home or in a social setting - both are fun!

After spending a few sessions around some serious croppers, I felt like such an amateur because I was storing all of my supplies in a giant, plastic pencil case. This weekend, however, I saw that Michael's was having a sale on scrapbooking organizers, and I purchased this mini tote for 40% off:
I love this tote (though mine is zebra striped)! It holds much more than my pencil case, and I can actually see everything. I love all the little compartments because everything has a place (this is the organizer in me).

Isn't it fun how a new purchase like this can re-energize you? I spent hours on the floor Sunday night scrapbooking while listening to the Oscars. I was so fixated on my task that I didn't realize how uncomfortable I was until I tried to stand upon finishing! Thank God for massage chairs!

February 22, 2009

Surprise Ending

This post is overdue, but my sentiments are still valid, so I still wanted to share it.

The week leading up to Valentine's Day was a rough one for me. My family was still dealing with drama surrounding my aunt's death, and although I managed to stay away from the conflict, I felt the stress for my mom and others involved.

Furthermore, I received some bad news at work: our numbers are down for next year, which means there is a high probability that I may lose my job. This is devastating news to me because I really love my job - I love my co-workers, my students, the curriculum... I've said numerous times that I am so lucky to have landed this position. And now I'm heartbroken at the possibility of having to leave this place I love so much.

On Friday, one of the secretaries called me in my classroom over the intercom to ask that I come pick something up in the office at the end of my study hall. I was instantly curious as to what it could be.

At the end of the period, I walked (nervously... I'll admit. Surprises always make me nervous.) to the office and discovered a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my "Secret Admirer!" I was touched - almost to the point of tears. You see, these flowers were not just Valentine's Day flowers. These flowers were meant to brighten what had been a dreary week - that is love!

Thank you again, Corey, for the beautiful bouquet! You are so thoughtful and supportive, and I am lucky to have you in my life. No matter what happens, I am blessed to have you by my side. I love you!

February 19, 2009

Morning Routine

I had an interesting discussion with some of my students about their morning routines. We had great debates over breakfast preferences, whether or not to press "snooze" and more. Some like to get up extra early, take their time getting ready, eat a full breakfast and watch cartoons before leaving for school. Others, like me, prefer to get up at the last possible minute and get out the door as quickly as possible.

I'm not a morning person. And because I know this about myself, I do whatever I can to prepare for the next day before going to bed. I shower and fix my hair at night (I sometimes have to touch things up in the morning). If I'm bringing a lunch to work, it's always packed after dinner, and my work bags are always packed and waiting near the door. My clothes are always selected ahead of time, and I've even been known to apply my makeup right before climbing into bed to not waste time in the morning. Yes... I hate mornings that much!

I'm not a snoozer. In fact, I don't understand the snooze button. My boyfriend will set the alarm an hour earlier than necessary to allow himself the opportunity to press snooze and "gradually" wake from his slumber. I feel like all that does is ruin a perfectly good hour of sleep! I much prefer to just get up when my alarm sounds and enjoy that last hour of undisturbed bliss.

I'm also not a "wake up with a cuppa joe" person. It's not that I dislike coffee, but more that I am afraid to become addicted to it. I'm also very sensitive to caffeine - if I have it daily Monday through Friday and then skip Saturday, I will have a terrible headache. I try to only drink it when I really need it - although I do enjoy a nice sugar-free, chai latte on a cold, winter day. Yum!

I think a person's morning routine can sometimes say a lot about them as a person. What does your morning routine say about you?

February 4, 2009

Accepting Less than Perfect

I normally don't use my blog to complain about issues at school, but I'm going to make an exception today. Next week, you see, is the end of the trimester, so we're now getting e-mails (some of them not very nice, I might add) from parents concerned about their children's grades. I can't help but feel annoyed when a parent e-mails me about their child's missing assignment from December at the end of February. Why weren't they concerned two months ago? And how can they be mad at me for not accepting the assignments now?

I had one parent e-mail this week about missing target sheets. Each day, I write a "Target" on the chalkboard, which students record on their sheet. This target is our daily learning goal, and the sheets are used to help students be self-reflective. At the end of the period, students have to answer, "Did I meet today's target?" It's meant to help them self-monitor their learning and to know when they need additional help. At the end of the week, students take their target sheets home to show their parents what we've done in class. So, what good does it do a child to complete a target sheet from two months ago? None! Why is that so difficult to understand?

I find it irritating that so many parents seem to be motivated (even more than their children) by grades. In my district, it seems that anything less than a B is completely unacceptable (in many families, the expectation is straight A's). I've seen students break into tears over B's and C's for fear that their parents will disapprove. I want to tell these parents about the damage they're doing to their children when they chastise them for anything less than perfect. When we expect perfection from our children, we are not leaving any room for growth. And isn't that what school is all about?

February 1, 2009

Breakthrough

Last year, when I was a student teacher, I had a student, A, who was a bit of a trouble maker. There are some issues at home, and a lack of structure that has led to some behavioral concerns in school. Still, though, I was able to really bond with this kid. In fact, when I was hired to teach at my school full-time, he was the students I pictured being most excited at this news. Come the first day of school, I was not disappointed in his reaction when he found me in my classroom!

I promised A that he could be my student assistant if I was back this year. It's really a win-win situation because he gets out of his study period (where he tends to find himself in trouble anyway), and I gain a paper-grader, file-sorter, peer editor, etc. as needed. So, we cleared it with the administration, and A 9th period in my classroom each day.

A is not a very motivated student. And when he came to my classroom whining about a novel he was assigned, I knew it was my opportunity to share my love of reading. The book he happened to be carrying was, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, which just so happens to be one of my favorite YA books. I decided I was going to make it my personal goal to convince A to read this book.

We made a bet, in front of my entire class. I promised A that if he read the whole book (cover-to-cover) and didn't enjoy it, I would buy him lunch. My intentions were two fold: 1) A would actually read a book (this is a huge feat) and 2) it would improve his failing LA grade. Even if he decided he hated the book (which I knew he wouldn't), he would have to defend his point-of-view. Either way, I win (and really... so does he).

Immediately, A began reading his book, bringing it to 9th period each day and sitting quietly in my reading corner as he zipped through the pages. When he was almost finished with the book, he approached me and declared that he had lost the bet. "The beginning was kinda slow," he admitted, "but after you get into the story, it teaches you a lot of good lessons."

Do you hear the hallelujah chorus? Those words were music to my ears! I was proud on so many levels!