Monday, September 18, 2017

Confessions of a First Year Teacher - Week 4

The first half of this week was exhausting and stressful. At one point I had the principal in my classroom for about 30 minutes because of some behavior issues. To say I was in panic mode is an understatement. My inner Rory Gilmore (Gilmore Girls, See video --> and insert hubby or Cassie for Mommy.) had a mild freak out and felt like I probably looked like a bumbling idiot. At one point the principal asked if she could add something during my lesson. Who am I to say no? Once she left the classroom I wanted to crawl into my supply closet and hide while going over and over my instruction while she had been in the room and dissect every second.

Thankfully, by Thursday, the stressful element in our teaching hub was gloriously absent the rest of the week and we were able to breathe a little easier and get work done. I was most thankful that the principal did not need to come back into my classroom to monitor behaviors. PHEW!!!! And as I kept dreading, she never called me into her office to tell me I was a teaching failure. :P

I found a helpful tool at the beginning of the year and the kids seem to respond well to it. helps keep track of the noise level in the classroom. My kiddos know to watch the screen to self-monitor their noise level. This is especially helpful during centers/work stations or when I have them all doing partner work.

This week we also had our first field trip of the year. We took the whole first grade to the local high school on Friday for their pep rally. When I was a kid field trips were magical, exciting and fun. As a teacher it is a whole different ball game. I never once thought about what it was like for the teacher to have to keep track of a classroom full of students on a bus and then at the location we were going to.  In the back of my mind I was constantly trying to keep track of all 21 of my homeroom kids while also trying to make sure they were not jumping around or falling off the bleachers. Overall, it was a lot of fun and I loved seeing how excited my kids were during the pep rally.

My day was made on Friday when I found this in my school mail box. One of my students' parents made a Teacher Survival Kit for myself and his other two teachers. It was filled with some great things, such as, tissues, chocolate, tylenol, nail file, cool stickers, chap stick etc. It was unexpected and sweet. 

The math art project for this week is one I don't think I will do next year or if I do I will wait until later in the year. It took way too much time and my kiddos were not ready or skilled enough yet to be able to create their own addition sentences. They all needed extensive help filling in several of the sections and it took way too much time for me to go to each student individually and help them. With about 65 students it became a headache to get finished. They turned out cute but another teaching learning experience for sure. 

 A lot of new learning experiences this week. Not my favorite week but it wasn't a disaster. Deep breath... Moving on to next week and making it better.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Confessions of a First Year Teacher - Week 3

Whew week 3 was crazy.  How is it possible that a short week can feel so much longer than the regular week. So much stuff happened this week! I'm entering week 2 of my first cold of the school year. That's been super fun.  Some of the other happenings this week I can't elaborate on because of privacy issues and because it's just not really something I feel that should be shared. Let's just say this particular event added a layer of stress to the school day for not only the teachers and staff but the kiddos as well. However, we are figuring out what needs to happen to make it work. I love my team! Working together for the kids and helping each other. I seriously do not know what I would do without them.

In the classroom we are learning strategies to help us solve math problems. I made these little signs with different strategies for my kids to reference. They are particularly fond of using objects, drawing a picture, and counting on fingers to help them. I introduced them to number lines and how to use them to solve addition problems, I think with a bit more practice some of them will really like that strategy.

We are also studying doubles facts at the moment, as you can see by the mini posters hung up next to my strategy posters. My kids really love the hands and spider doubles. :P

I found this game called race to the board. It is meant for number recognition but I made it an addition game. Two teams, each member of each team takes a turn finding the sum of an addition problem I have written on a card. They have to figure out the sum and then find the answer on the "board" before the other team. The kids absolutely loved this game. I plan to use it for subtraction and add more numbers when we move into sums within 20 as well.

I pulled an activity from my time with Mrs. Benson during student teaching. Rainbow to 10. I had my kids fill in their paper and glue it into their math journals so we can reference it when needed.

I also gave my first test Friday. One of my team members helped me create a clicker test. The questions are displayed on the smart board like a power point and the kids have clicker remotes they use to answer the questions. They seem to feel like its a game and I don't have to sit at my desk grading 65+ test papers because the program grades and scores each student for me, all I have to do is print the report.

My kiddos blew my socks off! They did really well overall. I do have some that will need some small group instruction but I was anticipating it. Another successful week in Mrs. Ogier's class.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Confessions of a First Year Teacher - Week 2

Adorable sign my friend Cassie
surprised me with.
At my school students start transitioning to different teachers for different content areas in 1st grade. I teach math exclusively to 3 classes of 20-22 first graders. My team consists of myself along with 2 other teachers. One teaches Science, Social Studies and Phonics, the other teaches Reading and Writing. It makes the day go by so fast! Each of the three classes, while all 1st graders, are filled with unique students and although I teach the same lesson to each of them, sometimes I have to modify how or what I present to each group, because what has worked for a previous class group doesn't always create the same connections with my current group. I am learning quickly how to modify in the moment. Classroom management is also something I am having to modify for each group.

Classroom management seemed to be the theme of my 2nd week. It is one of the things I struggled with during student teaching and it's no different now in my own classroom. It can sometimes be challenging to find something that works for each of my 3 groups of 1st graders. What seems to work for one group has no affect on another. Most of the behavior issues are typical of this age group (Chattiness and trouble staying in their seats).

I pulled out my teacher voice this week and I think I took some of my kids by surprise because Mrs. Ogier is "so nice and sweet". I didn't yell but I was very serious and expressed my disappointment in some of my students. We are only in the 2nd week of school and I am hopeful that as the school year progresses they will come to understand what I need and expect from them even more and a lot of the behavior issues will sort themselves out.

10 Frame Friends, my student's first
math project.
My homeroom class is full of some characters. One day this past week they were on fire learning about sets and using a 10 frame to make 10. I smiled at them excitedly and told them how proud I was of how smart they all were. I looked at them and said "You knocked my socks off!" Most of them looked at me in shock and then looked down at my feet. (I was not wearing socks as I wear BOBS most days.) One of my students smirked at me and said "Mrs. Ogier, you weren't even wearing any socks."

I laughed and said "Well, if I had been they would have flown across the room because you all are just so smart." He giggled and now almost every day one of my students will ask if they blew my socks off today. This week was awesome! Now bring on the 3 day weekend woohoo!

I was so excited to hang out my first student work in the
hallway outside my room.
In case you were wondering, I did my attendance correctly every day this week! 

I did learn something this week though, when you have 65-70 students projects that require me to cut out lots of little pieces are probably not something I will do on a regular basis. :P

Confessions of a First Year Teacher

As I drove to my school on the first day of the year I was terrified, excited, emotional, apprehensive, and filled with an equal mix of self doubt along with self confidence. This was the moment I had spent years dreaming about. The moment I had been preparing for since I was 5 or 6 when I lined my dolls and stuffed animals up to give them a spelling test or to teach them numbers on my chalk board.

During my drive I wondered if my Grandma and Grandpa would be proud of me. The answer was whispered inside my head, an unequivocal YES! I then tried to remember all of the knowledge and advice my favorite professors had instilled in me throughout my education. I will admit it was all a little overwhelming. 

Once the parents left and 21 sets of little eyes were focused on me it was a magical moment. I had finally arrived, there was no more "working towards the goal". I am their teacher and this is my classroom where I am responsible for the education of these precious little beings staring back at me shyly. My nervousness slowly dissipated and I embraced my inner teacher. 
The first week of the school year was spent teaching CHAMPS procedures, CHAMPS behavior expectations, rules etc. After going over the initial discussion of what a CHAMP looks like I started to mix in math instruction with procedures while I modeled proper behaviors & we practiced our CHAMPS behaviors. Most of what I taught was a review of concepts taught in Kindergarten. This helped me get a sense of which kids were ready for more, which needed a little re-teaching and which needed more help with the basics. 

When I put my last kiddo in their parent's car on Friday I was beyond exhausted but I felt like the week had been successful, as long as you don't consider all the mistakes I made recording my attendance. Out of the 5 days I managed to do my attendance correctly 1 time. I think I made every mistake possible. On the positive side, I only made each mistake once. The poor secretary probably thought I was so dumb. My only excuse is I was already overwhelmed with trying to remember 65-70 student names, getting those said students to and from lunch/recess/library/music/gym and then making sure I don't send students to the wrong place at dismissal. 

I can't wait for week 2!!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Birthday Week

I am exactly one week away from turning the big 4-0. I remember the year I was turning 30. I was depressed about it. I wasn't ready to leave my 20's behind. It is different now, I don't feel a sense of dread leaving my 30's behind. I am actually excited for this birthday. I am not sure why I feel this way exactly, maybe it is because of what events are set to happen in my 40's.

First, this time next year I will be preparing to start my semester of student teaching. This is my last step before I graduate and start my life in the "real world". This process has been a long time coming, full of starts and stops. I am so close to the end I can taste it. It excites me and terrifies me all the same. I just want to be a good teacher for my future students. I want to be the kind of teacher they remember for years and years because I made a positive impact on their lives.

Second, as soon as I graduate we will start the foster to adopt process. Ed and I have talked about it and we decided that we will start the application and required classes as soon after I graduate as possible. I am still struggling with wanting to have a biological child, but something in my heart is telling me there is a child or children who need two loving devoted parents, like Ed and I, to come into their lives and adopt them. I cannot explain the feeling but deep in my heart I get such a pull towards the idea of adopting that I cannot ignore it even if I tried.

Third, there is a possibility of checking one thing off my bucket list. As a graduation present to me, Ed and I, if a certain opportunity pans out will be saving up to take a very special trip. I don't want to jinx it by giving all the details. I know it may not happen because it depends on a lot of things falling into place but just the thought that it is a small possibility is so exciting.

As you can see my 40's are full of wonderful possibilities and I am so ready to begin my journey. Bring it on!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Trying to come to terms...

Most everyone knows that I had a baby when I was in high school and that I placed him for adoption. I got to pick his parents, I met them a few days before the baby was born. I named him Christopher because it is the male form of my name (Christina). I wanted to "give" him something of mine to take with him. I didn't know until after that the adoptive parents had planned all along to change his name to a name that was important to them. That was their right and I didn't begrudge them that. But I have always called him Christopher because in my heart that is who he is to me.

At the time of his adoption I confidently felt that I would have other children. They obviously wouldn't replace Christopher but all I ever wanted to be was a mother and I felt when the time was right I would get the chance. The adoption ripped me into pieces and changed who I was and how I saw the world. It was a good 10 years before I was able to look objectively at the adoption. I spent many years thinking that I deserved every bad thing that happened. It was my punishment for giving away my baby. I ended up in 2 bad relationships, and I stayed in them for way too long because I felt it was all I deserved. Christopher is now 21 and I have yearned for a child all of those 21 years. It has been over the past 6 years or so that I could think about having a child without an overwhelming sense of guilt. Guilt about moving on, about having another child and keeping it.

I had weight loss surgery 3 years ago. One of the deciding factors was wanting to increase my chances of having a baby. I have PCOS which can make it challenging, not impossible, to have a baby. PCOS symptoms are greatly reduced with weight loss. I lost a lot of weight and got healthier but my body keeps betraying me. I had a huge dermoid cyst on my right ovary, the cyst was so entwined with my ovary that it had to be removed. Then I had to have another surgery and biopsies on tumors that have been found in that same area. Thankfully they are non-cancerous but there are other issues and the obgyn gave us until my 40th birthday (which is May 2nd) to try and have a child before he wants to talk about a hysterectomy. Embarrassingly I started crying when he mentioned that word.

On top of all of that is my severe iron deficiency, anemia. Getting iron infusions every month isn't working. My body isn't kicking in and retaining any of it. It goes in and out almost as fast. All my drs agree that without getting my iron under control it would not be advisable to try get pregnant. I was just told by my hematologist that my iron issue will be a life long struggle and admitted that the past infusions have been a waste of time and offered no real help. I left my last iron appointment with the realization that my dream is over.

I will never have morning sickness, or feel a baby growing inside me again. I will never experience the joy of giving birth again. I mourn the loss of Christopher all over again. If I had known then what I know now, perhaps I would have made a different decision. However, it is what it is and I cannot go back and change it. All I can do is move forward and come to terms with the cards we have been dealt.

We have plans to adopt through foster care and through that avenue we will get to be parents. But that doesn't make what I feel right now any better.  I cannot begin to explain the depth of the pain you go through when you give up your child or how intense the desire to have another baby hits you. I am thankful to have a friend who gets it. She is a birthmother as well and understands what I am feeling right now. She has always been there to listen and sympathize and mostly just agree that it sucks. I hear too many times that "this is God's plan." or "God has something special for you." or "Oh well you can just adopt, you can still be a mother." Yes God has a plan, maybe it is special but unless you have a direct line to God you don't really know if there is something special in the future. And yes we can adopt and it is the plan but it isn't the magic word that will make everything all better and me instantly feel better.

What I really need is time to come to terms with this reality, because to me this is almost like mourning the loss of all the babies I ever dreamed I would have. The loss of the baby I can see so vividly in my head. She has Ed's beautiful blue eyes, my grandma's auburn hair with Ed's curliness and my stubborn independence.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Frustration rant

I give you fair warning, this blog post will be all over the place. That is just how I feel at the moment. So many things going on that I find myself jumping from one random thought to another in repeated cycles all day long. I think I will start with some frustrations.

First and foremost is the lack of progress on dear hubby's immigration. I know I know, processing time takes up to 5 months for the initial paperwork. But how hard can that be? Seriously, read some forms, look at the passport photos, do your little background check, stamp it and transfer it to the next office so they can send us the next packet of forms and tasks to complete. I have not seen my husband face to face, in person, since Christmas. He cannot move down here and live while we do the paperwork, or so we have been told. You would think that the processing people would see this, understand this, and possibly try and expedite the processing time. I called Friday just to get some sort of a progress report on where everything stood and got told basically, don't call back and check until after June 10th (this is our 5 month mark). 

I am not a patient person, one of my biggest pet peeves is waiting on anyone or anything. I am always at least 5 minutes early and really get antsy when someone makes me late. This time however I have no choice but to sit and wait, patiently, or rather impatiently in my case. I just want my husband here, so that our lives can get off the holding pattern it feels like they are stuck on.

Which brings me to frustration #2. Since I arrived back in Texas almost a year ago, I have been staying at my dad and his wife's house. Rent free. Pretty cool set up. Except I am losing my mind. I have a very different way of setting up house, of cooking, of cleaning, of thinking etc. I am the first to say; I do NOT make a good roommate. I tend to border on loner-ism. That isn't to say I don't like having friends and going out to socialize with said friends. I just like a lot of quiet, reflective alone time. When I don't have that I start to get cranky and my creative juices are stunted. Many may not know, especially if you are new readers of my blog but I write. I am working on a few novels, most in the romance genre. I have one completed manuscript that I have shopped around to some literary agents. Three rejections so far and after a query letter re-write, am waiting on a response from a fourth agent. So I spend a lot of time at my computer, researching, typing, working on character bios, all things author-ish.

When my creative juices are stunted I cannot write to save my life. Which has been happening more and more as I continue to feel more and more frustrated with some events, that while I would love to share, I feel like I shouldn't since the party involved could possibly find this blog through my YouTube and would create a whole world of issues that frankly I do not want to deal with. This all adds to my impatience for hubby to get down here so we can start looking for our own place. This then brings us to frustration #3.

I recently got my comptia A+ certification, for those of you who don't know, that is basically just a computer techie entry level sort of certification. I self studied all the inner workings and components of a desktop and laptop computer. All this to try and get a job that I have had my eye on for a long while. Not anything fancy, just a entry level tech help desk position. It has excellent pay, 30-32k a year plus full benefits. According to their website they are hiring, according to the guy I talked to when I called they aren't. Not really sure what the dealio is but I submitted my resume with the hopes they would keep it on file until a position did open up. I have applied for several other jobs as well, only one of which has responded back. I have an interview tomorrow morning with them, but something about them kinda bothers me. Not something I can put my finger on, but, if it can get my foot in the door and some experience under my belt, then bring it on. Their pay is a little less, 23-25k per year, and some decent benefits.

My dad, God bless him, has put in a good word with another company. I submitted my resume to them  Monday or Tuesday, on Friday he was delivering some laptops to them, (he is a computer tech for the air force), and he talked me up. Crossing fingers something comes of that. I would much rather work there or at the first place I had my eye on. If I got the right shift my dad and I could carpool and split the cost of gas. At this point though, I would take almost any job that was offered to me, almost. I need to work, I need the money and most of all I want the health insurance. Paying for medical bills out of pocket is costly.

I guess all I need is: My husband here with me, a job, and my own house. No small order. *sigh* I will survive and what is meant to be will happen when it is supposed to happen. I will just have to be... P-A-T-I-E-N-T...