What a long week. The hours I had to put in... all seven of them... really took it out of me. I really don't know how I made it through an entire one day work week without crawling up in to the fetal position and crying.
So. Exhausting. And. Stressful.
And after SUCH a long work week, of having to work an entire one day and spending the other four days curled up on my couch, I think it's time for some serious therapy. I really feel like I'm some kind of superhero making it through the week..urm...day I had.
And, for anyone that doesn't get my sarcasm... I'M KIDDING!!
No, seriously.. yesterday was actually a GREAT day. Once I got to work and realized that I was there without any kids (my own), and free to spend the day working with my team planning out the rest of the year, I was actually very happy and excited.
The original plan was to spend a couple of hours planning, and the rest in my classroom doing some much needed housekeeping. I have so much filing, and sorting, and decluttering to do. But, unfortunately, all the filing, sorting, and decluttering are still waiting for me.
Instead, my team sat down and planned out every single day between now and our MAP test that will occur around the first week of May. We pulled out all the standards that we really HAVE to focus on. We made a list of the skills our kiddos MUST have before moving on to 5th grade. And as hard as it was for some of us, we ditched the rest.
Ditched isn't a good word. Let's say, put them at the bottom of the list. That sound better? No standard really warrants "ditching" but some skills are FAR more important than others.
Plus with us being in the common core/ state learning standard merge time... we had to really think about what the kids had to have in order to prepare themselves for the 100% shift to common core next year.
You see, this is the LAST year our kids will be taking the standardized MAP test (or benchmark as it's called in several states). Even though we have started introducing Common Core, next year we make the full shift over to Common Core and the assessments aligned with that model.
While we still won't be getting rid of an end of year test, the test will be MUCH different. No more multiple choice, fill in the bubble test. Nope. Now it's a test designed to challenge critical thinking and demonstrate TRUE UNDERSTANDING of content and skills.
True understanding? Not just a 25% shot of guessing the right answer? FINALLY!!
Of course, no test is really free from challenge and concern. There are going to be kinks that some people won't like. There's going to be areas of concerns teachers and parents will have with the tests. But, I for one, will say we're at least moving in the right direction. Just getting rid of the standardized test model is a big plus. Will the new Smarter Balance test be perfect? NO. Probably not even close. But, a test that asks kids to explain WHY they are choosing an answer or show EVIDENCE of the question they are being asked is a far better way of seeing what a child is thinking. And the results from the tests will be leaps and bounds more beneficial that what we currently get.
Anywho, getting away from myself...
So, yesterday, we sat down and decided on what the kids MUST know before the MAP and what skills they really need to be prepared for next year when common core takes over.
It was quite the extensive list, but thankfully we'll be able to fit everything in. We plotted out a pacing guide, dedicated skills to each week, came up with ideas and activities that will be done with those skills, and even threw in some "wiggle room" stuff in case we get even more snow days.
Our pacing guide took us to the middle of April. It was truly amazing to see how much we've already taught our kiddos and by eliminating some of the "fluff" how we could really hone in on the essential skills. There is also plenty of areas where we will be introducing new skills and reviewing the skills we've already taught together.
Nothing like getting down to crunch time and seeing how much magic can really be worked by sitting down and planning everything out.
Of course, there may be more snow days. There may be days where the school has to close due to flooding. (The school is located in an area by the river that has had some pretty significant flood issues). But, if we really buckle down and use our plans, we think we'll be OK. If we wisely use every second of the day, pulling kids for small groups, adding extra practice with our teaching of science and social studies, the kids will be completely ready and able to finish out the school year ready for 5th grade.
Again, another jump on my soapbox as to why I think Common Core will help us a little more with this type of stuff. Because rather than trying wade through standards and picking out the stuff we can teach, and then applying some of that in to our science and social studies, Common Core will promote combining learning objectives across all content areas. The science and social studies will already be built in to the focus of skills and objectives.
There are so many misconceptions out there about common core, and that makes me sad. Unfortunately, this isn't the time or place for me to give my How Common Core Can Improve Education speech. Maybe the topic for a future blog post? We'll see.
Right now, though, I'm thinking that today is a great day for some retail therapy. After a very long week (ha), I can't think of a better way to spend my Saturday than taking my oldest dress shopping. You see, in two weeks she's having her Winter Formal. I chaperoned the same dance last year, and had a blast. And, the benefit of being a Student Council sponsor is that I get to chaperone again this year. So, that means new dress for Peanut AND a new dress for me!!
We're going to shop till we drop today. Well. Shop. No dropping, hopefully. Buy our dresses, our shoes, accessories and stuff to go with it all... and just enjoy each other's company.
She's been going through a lot of teenage stress lately. I don't want to call it silly and deflate how important it is to her... but it is stuff she will have forgotten about the minute her behind hits the doors of the high school next year.
But right now, it's important to her, and I'm going to stand by her and support her. Like I do.
I remember my 8th grade year being a very tough year for me. Moving in to that area where I was interested in boys, yet still very focused on my school work. Juggling around friends, and a boyfriend, and study time. It was tough. And, I can relate to how Peanut is currently feeling. I remember feeling the same way when I was her age.
I suppose it's why I try to stay out of her situation as much as possible and try and let things play out for themselves. I'm there when she needs someone to talk to, advice, and someone to yell and scream at when she's frustrated. But, that's it. I want her to figure this one out on her own. It's how she'll learn. If Momma is there controlling her every move, she'll just end up resenting me... regardless if I'm right or not. I REFUSE to let that happen!!!
Instead, I standby waiting for her to make her own mistakes, learn from them, and be there to guide her back on to the right path.
And take her shopping when she's had a tough week and needs some Momma alone time!!
Which is what we're doing today. No boys. No drama. No stress. Just her and I, having a day out shopping and having a good time.
Which I better get to getting to... because I don't want to let our day slip away from us while I sit here spilling my guts.
Have an awesome Saturday, everyone!!