Wednesday, September 26, 2012

field trips.

Field Trips.  Truth be told, I cannot decide whether or not I love them or I hate them.  Story time.

The first field trip I ever took a class on was a trip to the pumpkin farm with my kindergarten class.  This was, simply put, the field trip from h. e. double hockey sticks.  Fact: It was my first field trip as a teacher ever.  Fact: It was a whole school field trip.

I had everything ready.  I thought.  I had just enough chaperones, and had split the class up into groups with a parent in charge of each group.  I had lists to give the parents.  I had name tags.  I had printed directions to the farm for the parent drivers.  I had calculated what our bill would come out to.  I had all the money.  We were scheduled to leave after lunch, so I didn't have to worry about taking lunch bags.  I had a fantastic mentor teacher going with me and would be able to help me if anything went wrong.

It was mid-October, I believe.  I had been with my class for a little over a month, and did not know many of the parents.  Getting enough chaperones had been a struggle.  One of my parents had to cancel last minute because her daughter was sick.  I had twins in my class and their parents worked constantly, so they were unable to come and opted to send the twins' grandfather instead.  I had never, ever met this man in my entire life.  Chaperones were supposed to arrive, check in in the office and meet the teachers outside the cafeteria to get their lists, directions and review what our schedule was.

I arrive to meet the chaperones.  Everyone is there, except the twins' grandfather.  We wait for him.  And wait for him.  I have to pick up the class from lunch and get on our way.  I tell the parents that I will return with the kiddos, and hopefully, our missing chaperone will arrive while I'm gone.  I get my class, and three of my kids are missing.  The lunch monitor says one went to the restroom, and the other two, the twins, went with their grandfather already.  I am already freaking out a little bit.  There are 11 kids in my class.  THREE are missing--more than 25%.  We assume they are somewhere in the building.  I take the rest of my class to the chaperones, tell my mentor teacher that I am going to find the missing children and chaperone, and that I will drive myself to the pumpkin farm once I figure things out.  We should have left twenty minutes ago.

I look all over the school for them.  The secretary determines that the grandfather's car is not in the parking lot--he must have left for the field trip already with the twins.  We try calling him.  We think he's driving the car, so he does not answer his cell phone.  I leave three voicemails for him to call me as soon as possible.  I continue to look ALL OVER THE SCHOOL for the other little girl.  She was a "hider"--she would get upset about something and hide anywhere.  She would hide inside lockers (not necessarily her own) or climb on top of the toilet in a stall so you couldn't see her feet.  I looked everywhere.

Finally, the secretary tells me to go.  She will continue searching and if she finds the little girl, she will let me know.

I drive there and thankfully, do not get lost.  When I pull in the parking lot, somehow the rest of the school is still unloading (I have no idea how fast I had to have driven...  I was searching for at least 15-20 minutes).  I see the twins.  I see the missing little girl.  I see a man I guess must be the twins' grandfather.  I get out, call the secretary and then go to talk to my mentor teacher.  She has the twins' older sister in her class, so she tells me she will talk to the grandfather about not letting anyone know that he was taking the children.

I pay for myself twice for the field trip.  Kids fall in the mud.  I bought apple butter.

I eventually get to talk to the grandfather myself--I introduce myself as Mrs. B, the kindergarten teacher.  We have a five minute conversation about the twins.  And later, I hear him ask the twins who their teacher is.

The next field trip, the twins did not go.  The missing little girl was always in my group of students--which was only her.

And why am I thinking about this today?  We went on our first first grade field trip today to a nature reserve.  And it was the EASIEST, LEAST STRESSFUL field trip ever.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

a real teacher.

What am I excited about today?  My new schedule cards!  The first week of school, my first graders started to make me nuts asking me six times a day, "How many things do we have to do before it's time to go home!?"  My solution to that was to start writing the schedule on the board.  My intent all of August was to make some fancy schmancy schedule cards to put into a mini pocket chart (I collect them from Target's dollar bin when they get marked down to $.30), but that never happened.

This week, I thought...  why don't I just make some cards, stick some magnets on the back and put them on the white board?  So in all of the free time I had at home and school, I created these.  I designed them in Publisher Tuesday night, printed them out Wednesday morning, cut them out Wednesday at lunch and laminated them during my prep period.  I may not have accomplished writing many lesson plans yesterday, but these cards are great!

We used them today for the first time--we moved a star post-it down the schedule as we completed things.  The kids LOVED it.  We needed to adjust the schedule some when my computer dropped the network key unexpectedly as I was setting up for math (and therefore, had no access to the video to introduce the new topic or any other online curriculum materials), and all we did was move some cards around on the board.  The class didn't question it the rest of the day because they could see what we were doing so easily.  I loved it--all I had to do to get it ready for tomorrow were some minor changes.

And in other news...  it only took until my second year of teaching, but I was officially given apples by a student.  I guess I'm really a teacher now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

after: my classroom.

I am a huge fan of my classroom.  I love walking in at seven a.m., ready to start my day.  Of course, there are still some things I would love to change and add to my room, but I've been in this room for less than a month.  It'll all get figured out just in time for me to pack it up for next year in June.  That's how it seems to always go--just the way you like it, and two days later, you have to put it all in the closet until next year.

Anyway.  On to the pictures!  I took these pictures the first week of school, so parts of the room have already changed!

This is the wall immediately inside my door.  The first board is a simple "Welcome!" display, then the smaller one now holds a collection of inspiring pictures, including a (free!) printable from eighteen25 and a photograph of Gabby Douglas in London this past summer.  The last one is the Clip Hall of Fame for our (internet trendy) Clip Chart.  The projects displayed we created the first week of school--they all say something along the lines of "Look Out!  Students at Work!" to warn visitors that we are busy, busy learning.

 And this is the other side of our door.  You can see our clip chart, and the cabinets where we keep most of our materials and centers that are not currently in use.  On the counter, you can see our first grade portfolios waiting to be filled with proud work.  That bulletin board is now our camera board--we put up pictures of us doing activities and the students write captions for them (Note to self...  take picture of that board sometime).

Our word wall, before it had words.  It's a little on the small side.

Our main work display showcase, currently showing off our first day of school self-portraits.  It's awful to say, but my favorites are the one with the orange background on the bottom and the one right above it.  The friend on the orange background looks so excited to be at school, and the one above it has me in it with a very fancy bun on my head.

My Dr. Seuss alphabet has come with me to every classroom I have been in since I finished student teaching.

My reading area that needs some help.  The blue saucer chair was in my bedroom in high school.  My husband and I have the twin in our bedroom right now (Note to self... get a new chair for bedroom now so the other chair can come to school and replace bean bag with holes in it).

Our birthday board.  My favorite part of our room right now.  My husband has gotten me to love penguins almost as much as he does, and for some reason, this summer I decided a "Happy Brrr-thday!" board was what we needed in my room.  Each igloo has a month on it, and the penguins are labeled with names and birthdays.

Our calendar board, homework board, math manipulatives, and honor code.  My desk is to the right of this picture.

Maybe I really like cheesy sayings.  I admit it.  My job chart is Mrs. B's Busy Bees.  The kids love checking to see what their Busy Bee Job is for the week.  With 12 kiddos in my class, everyone has a job every week.  I shift them to the next job each Friday before I go home so they have new jobs on Monday morning.

And that is a rough tour of my classroom.  Thanks for taking a look around.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

before: my classroom.

I used to teach kindergarten at a small school that took about 1.5 hours to get to during rush hour and worked at a childcare center after school.  (Reading that sentence now, I think "Who on EARTH was that CRAZY PERSON!?") 

This year, I started a new job at a new school--I teach first grade at a small school about fifteen minutes from home.  I received enough of a pay increase that I could take some time away from the childcare (I'll probably go back in the summer), so now I can fully dedicate my time to teaching and not driving or working another job.

The first thing I needed to do was get my classroom ready.  As any teacher can probably tell you, I never feel like my classroom is fully ready.  For now, I want to show you some pictures of what my classroom looked like when I first began to move in. 

I had a lot to adjust to--my old classroom was really two classrooms with a folding divider to split them... but we never opened it.  My room was huge!  Now, my room is much smaller and cozier--perfect for my class of 12 first graders.

The first couple days I was not working my summer job, and therefore, actually able to get to school and work in my room, I was not allowed to be in my room because of the floors.  Instead...  I worked at home on materials, decorations, planning, and preparing various supplies.  Working at home for school always creates a disaster.

Thank goodness school has actually started and I can be in my classroom.  My living room does not look like this anymore.  Check back--I will soon post pictures of my "finished" classroom.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

a start.

So.  My sister has been a food blogger for awhile now.  I remember blogger when it first came out and I had a blog called "imaginenate" to post all of my seventh grade ramblings on.  It was long overdue that I started a blog.

Hi, I'm Mrs. B.  I am a first grade teacher, a wife, a Disney fanatic and a Christmas queen.  This is my blog...  and it's going to cover all of those.  I think.  We'll see.