Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Week Recap

Well, we've officially been back to school for an entire week.  Five full days in the classroom.  Everyone seems to be adjusting very well, including myself, but I thought I'd give a recap on how my week has been as well as my kids' first week.

Peanut is now in high school.  A freshman.  It's a hard pill to swallow, seeing my first born all grown up and heading off each morning to go to school in a completely different town.  I am so stinkin' proud of her though.  She is doing the Honors Track, and so she is taking several advanced classes.  She's taking Honors English, Pre-AP Biology, she was able to skip taking Algebra (because she did that in 8th grade) and went straight in to taking Geometry.  She's also taking Debate, Spanish I, word processing, and Show Choir.  

She has already realized that taking the classes she's taking is going to be quite the demanding handful.  She's been locked in her room each night working on homework.  She has half her schedule on one day, and half on the other.  It's a block scheduling rotation, except for Fridays in which she has all of her classes.  

Even though the first week has been quite an adjustment for Peanut, she's taking it like a champ.  She's using me on our rides to and from school to practice her Spanish words, she's working on homework in my classroom after school, and she's making good use of her new laptop to write up her essays and other stuff when she gets home.  She hasn't once complained, and always has a smile on her face when her day is over.  I love her dedication and she is very committed on sticking with her tough demands.  She told me that a few of her friends are ditching the honors route because there's too much work, and I was happy to hear that she has no such intentions.  She has big plans for her future, and I love that she is already thinking about that kind of stuff right now.

Butter is in 8th grade, this year.  He was able to select two elective classes, and he went with Ag. and Outdoor Classroom.  He originally wanted to take drama, but apparently that one filled up too fast.  So, he chose two electives that keep him working with his hands, and learning about farming and agriculture - which is an interest for him.  He's also playing football, again, and he's been practicing each and every night with his team.  

I'm not too sure how his other classes are going, because he doesn't really talk about them and I haven't seen him bring any homework home yet.  I hate being that teacher-mom that's constantly checking up on him, but I will if I think I need to.  Once the first set of grade cards come out next week, I'll be able to see if he's adjusting well.  He seems to be doing OK, though.  I know he's gotten in to a bit of trouble in his math class for being disruptive.  But, I'm not that surprised.  He's a non-medicated kid with ADHD that has a hard time sitting still or being quiet.  He also doesn't do well with change, and the math teacher is a new teacher to our building this year.  Not that he can use that as an excuse.  The reason he was taken off medicine was because he has the ability to control himself when he really wants to... it's getting him to realize that he has to control himself when he needs to, not just when he wants to.  But, I think once all the changes settle in, and he gets to know his new teacher, he'll calm down.  I'm still extremely proud of the progress that he's made, and feel that this year will be a great year for him.

Jelly is now in 1st grade.  I'm happy to report that there hasn't been a single tear shed this first week about her going to school.  The first couple of weeks of kindergarten were a nightmare.  She cried every day, and it about tore my heart out of my chest.  But this year, she's excited about getting on the bus each morning to ride over to the primary school.  She gets off the bus at the end of each day full of excitement about her day, and is so happy about her teacher, her class, and everything they've been doing.  

The only minor issue I'm having with Jelly is how cranky she is due to being tired.  Last year, she was in bed by 7PM each night because she was EXHAUSTED.  And that was after sleeping all the way home in the car.  But this year, she's fighting the sleep, and I'm having to make her go to bed around 8PM.  I know she's tired because she gets very cranky or very sensitive and the slightest thing can make her upset.  But, having a new kitten has a lot to do with that.  She wants to spend time with Shadow when she gets home, and when we're not getting home until after 6:30PM, it doesn't give her much time to spend with him.  She wants Shadow to go to bed with her, and so she is trying to stay awake long enough to where he's tired enough to go to sleep with her.  Thankfully, that's working right now because he's so little.. but I think she'll be in for a rude awakening when he gets a little older.  But, then again, Katniss goes to bed with me every night so maybe Jelly will be lucky.

As for me?  Well, this is my third year teaching.  I didn't have near as many jitters about starting this year as I did the previous two.  I have hit the ground running, and having a great time.  I have an awesome class, and I love each kiddo already.  They are so shy, quiet, and unsure of themselves.  And I fully intend on bringing them all out of those closed-up shells.  They want nothing more than to please me, and don't want to make any mistakes or be wrong about anything.  I have my work cut out for me, showing them that in my classroom, we learn from our mistakes and grow by being wrong sometimes.  We can't all be right and know everything.  Even me.  I've made it a point to make a couple of mistakes each and every day, so that they can see that even I'm not perfect nor do I know everything.  

And that's really the only "struggle" I'm dealing with.  Sixteen kids who stress FAR too much about making mistakes.  And when I say stress, I mean stress.  My poor little darlings are actually stressing out about assignments, and giving them a pretest was like pulling their teeth out with pliers.  It was painful for them, and painful to watch.  So, my numero uno objective is to make them feel at ease... take away some of the stress.  I plan on doing that by taking grades for their effort, rather than wrong or right answers.  I've always been a firm believer in rewarding effort.  If a child spends time working on an assignment and doesn't get a single question right, should he make a zero?  Absolutely not.  He tried, so he needs credit for at least doing that.  What kind of message would I be sending if I said "You got every problem wrong, and so it was all for nothing".  If I was that kid, I'd say "Screw this, I'm not even going to bother, I'm not going to get a good grade anyway".  Plus, if a child is missing every problem, that means I need to step up my game and make sure that kid doesn't make those same mistakes next time... but I'm definitely not going to punish him for trying.  If he didn't get what he was supposed to do, but tried anyway, he shall be rewarded, and then we'll go over the assignment together finding out where he went wrong.  

I WANT my kids to make mistakes, and understand that it's OK.  Especially this early on in the game.  If they came to me knowing everything I plan on teaching them, this year, then what on earth would I do with myself?  But, if I have a class of kids that freak out because they don't know everything, then it's going to be an extremely tough year for them.  That can't happen.  In my classroom we embrace the mistakes, we use them to grow, and we are comfortable with sharing our mistakes with others so that we can all work together to learn from them.  

So, I have full confidence that I'm going to have a great year because I've got a bunch of worriers.  That tells me that their heart is at least in the learning process.  They WANT to do well.  I just have to give them all some confidence and help them understand that in my house?  We are free to share, and are safe from anyone thinking less of us just because we don't get something.  

And that's one of the absolute favorite things about being a teacher.

Man, I love my job!

Have a great Thursday, everyone!


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