What an awesome, wonderful, long, tiring day yesterday was.
There must be something to being pumped with school spirit, because it coursed through my veins and the veins of my students pretty much all day yesterday.
Peanut and I made sure to do our part to be dressed up for the day. Even though you can't see it in the picture, the back of my hair was all sprayed and bright red. So was Peanut's bun. She opted for a red bandana that we bought the night before, and I went with basic red and black ribbons in my hair. My fingernails are also painted black and red, and the tips of Peanut's are painted black and red.
My day got underway, and students in my class know that regardless of what special activity is going on - Friday is test day.
Almost every Friday, the kids have their spelling test, their grammar test, and their reading test. It also worked out for them that they'd be taking a science test yesterday afternoon - but those don't usually fall on a Friday, just whenever we're done with a unit of study. And yesterday was that day.
So, the poor things had four tests to battle through...on top of being all pumped and excited about it being homecoming day.
In eight weeks of school, there has been four reading tests and two science tests. Not a SINGLE time has the whole class passed either test. Even though we discuss all the material on the test, and they are able to use their books to take the tests. It's a frustrating scenario each and every week as I grade. In fact, it's been a pretty even split of kids that pass versus kids that fail the tests.
I ALWAYS point out before each and every test that they should look up their answers, even if they think they already know the answer. But, up until yesterday, that never happened. Several kids would work through the multiple choice questions randomly picking a letter that looked good to them...and some of the essay type questions wouldn't even really go with what the question asked.
This week has been a frustrating week all around. Lots of changes has been taking place in the classroom - like the introduction of station teaching - and it's been hard on the kids and me. I have a co-teacher for 30 minutes of reading, but when my reading block is 90 minutes long... I have to juggle the stations on my own after she leaves. And I also have to accommodate the kids that have special needs or have trouble reading questions, etc.
Something happened inside of me yesterday that filled me with positivity. I gave my kids a big pep talk before the reading test - similar to what a coach might give his team before heading out on to the football field, I suppose. I told them to do their best. Give me all they've got. There were no prizes for being the first one finished... I was looking for kids that could stay the course, and verify and check all of their answers. Use their time wisely. Ask for help if they needed it. And so on.
The kids finished, it was time for lunch, and they all felt really good about how they did.
When the kids went off to specials, I took the opportunity to grade their reading tests. I started grading, and noticed I wasn't checking off as many wrong answers as I usually did. I got through a few more, and noticed several kids had only missed one or two...and then there was the first 100% that had ever happened...then another. I had written several A's, a few B's, a couple of C's....but I hadn't come to a single F from the kids in my class. On I went with my grading, and when I was finished... I had not given anyone in my class a single F. WHAT THE WHAT?
I checked through the stack again. Lots of A's. A few B's. A couple of C's. And two D's. Out of twenty kids. I was shocked. And ecstatic.
I immediately took myself down to Mrs. P's office and told her my exciting news. Now, I know that some of you are probably thinking "big whoop, all her kids passed a test". But, this is HUGE. I have several kids in my class that struggle with reading. It's extremely difficult for them. Either because of language barriers, reading several grade levels behind, or special needs. To have every single kid in my class pass that test was a major victory for us.
I asked Mrs. P if I could reward my class with some extra recess time, and she agreed - and handed me a package of Smarties for each kid to give them from her.
I think this is a great time to point out that all of my kids have also been rockstars in all of their specials classes this week. Another BIG WIN for my class, after the problems I was having. I fixed the issues this week by handing out two homework passes to the two students that the specials teacher believed to be the most behaved or helpful or respectful from the whole class. It worked, apparently.
The kids came back from specials, I gave them their Smarties, and told them that once the science test was over, we'd have some extra recess time. But, then I threw them a curveball. In order to prevent them from flying through the science test in order to have their extra recess time, I told them the recess time came with a stipulation. Everyone in the class had to make a C or higher on the test. The science test is always pretty simple - finding definitions to the vocabulary, answer a couple of multiple choice questions, read some information off of a chart, and answer one essay question. Again, the students have their books to use. But, like I said before, not a single time has the entire class passed a science test - let alone all of them make higher than a C. In fact, I shared with them that on the last science test there was only one A in the entire class, a few B's, and the rest were D's and F's. Over half the class had failed the last science test.
The students took the test, everyone finished, and we took the time to grade. As I read each answer, I was met with several cheers...they were getting them right. The end results? FOURTEEN A's, FIVE B's, and one C. They did it!!!
It goes to show what they can do when there's a very coveted reward dangling over their head. Right?
Our extra recess was a great way to end the day. They were so happy and proud with themselves. We ended our very frustrating and long week on an extremely high positive note. And I couldn't have been any more proud or happy with them.
After school, Hubby came to pick up Jelly. I spent a little time working in my classroom, and then it was time to get ready to go pick up Peanut and Butter from practice, so we could go to the game.
Do you remember those Jr. High kids that I spoke so much about during summer school? Well, since school has been back in, there have been a couple of them that I have stayed very close with. They come and see me in my room pretty much every single day, and we've created a very strong bond. In fact, one of the boys has now become one of Peanut's best friends. Which is funny, being that they didn't even talk to each other last year.
They don't get out to do much, so I volunteered to take a couple of them with me to the homecoming game. It was quite a sight leaving the school yesterday with four kids that didn't belong to me. But, it felt really great knowing that I was going to give them a night out...with proper supervision... knowing they'd be safe, and having fun.
When I got to Butter's practice, he asked if he could go off with a friend until the game started, and Peanut and her other best friend joined the four kids I already had. That meant I had six giant jr. high kids in my car. Talk about crowded! Luckily, we only had to drive a block up the road to our dinner destination.
I opted on buying the bunch two jumbo pizzas, and we all sat together, ate dinner, and had a few laughs while waiting for the game. You have no idea how much it means to me that these kids - now Peanut's good friends - actually WANT me to be there, apart of their fun. I could have sat at another table, which was my intent.. but they saved me a spot right in the middle of all of them. They weren't embarrassed by an "old lady" - a teacher at that - sitting right there with them. Makes my heart all warm and proud.
Even at the game, I told them all where to meet me when the game was over, fully expecting them to go off with their friends and enjoy the game in their own way. But, the boys from summer school met up with a few more kids that were in my summer school classes from another school...and they all chose to sit right by me through the entire game. Even after Peanut decided to go off with her friends. It felt just like summer school all over again. We watched the game, reminiscing our Frisbee Football games, laughing, and having one of the best times I've had in ages.
We didn't make it home until after 11PM last night, and I was exhausted. I had to take a shower and wash the red spray paint from my hair, but then I was straight to bed...and passed out before my head touched the pillow.
Today, I'm off to go see some of my 4th grade boys play some football. I think it's a big deal when a teacher goes out to support her kiddos in their extra curricular activities. They are my kids, right?
OK... definitely time for me to run, or I'll be late to their game.
Have an amazing Saturday...and thanks if you managed to make it through this very long post.