Sunday, February 28, 2010

1sts and everys

Things that happened today, for the first time ever:
1. I mopped poop off the floor
2. I rode to KS and back in the same day
3. I went Geocaching with Samson

Things that happen every weekend:
1. I wake up before 7 am
2. I fail to grade papers
3. My kitchen starts the week in a mess

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Students...a reflection

Yesterday I got a new student. New students are common after breaks, and near semesters, but fairly uncommon this time of year.

I have been blessed in my two years of teaching, with the exception of one student who stayed for three days before he pulled a pocket knife, I've got great kids. 

I've had a total 3 "new kids" in my two years. Two of them have been transfered from a difference 6th grade class, and one moved back from fifth grade.  All of them have fit into my class seamlessly. I feel thankful for them being placed in my class, even though the day I get them is always hectic and stressful. 

It's the small things. Really. 

HL, HP, and CW -Welcome, glad you're here, you make our class whole.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

At the end of my rope

I once told my kids that you know you are maturing when you are at the end of your rope, and you display self-control. 

Today I was at the end of my rope...

Hanging on their tight at the end of the day, trying to display self-control but my kids were making it difficult!

- asking tons of repeat questions
-not following directions
- having to redo the same thing 5 times
- saying dumb things, loudly

But I was clinging on....

THEN I came tumbling down.

E, my constant challenge to make sure behavior and language is appropriate, mouths off using racial slurs to one of my sweetest girls in the class.

over a wrinkled up piece of paper. yep. paper.

I got rope-burn on the way down. 

Monday, February 22, 2010


While looking at a practice problem on a test. 

5 + 6 - (4 x 4) 

I asked O,

Mrs. H -What should you do first?  
O- I dunno
Mrs. H- Do you know what phrase we use to remember what goes first?
O- Nope
Mrs. H- There's a's kinda made up..ring any bells?
*blank stares*
Mrs. H- PEMDAS? Please excuse my dear aunt Sally?
O- oh YEAH!

Mrs. H- What comes first?
 O- I don't know.

Mrs. H- Do you know what the P stands for?
Mrs. H- what are these? (pointing to the parenthesis)
O- Parenthesis? 
Mrs. H- yep. What does parenthesis start with?
O- P

Mrs. H- so what do you think the P in PEMDAS stands for?
O- ....Prime?


What I learned at Professional Development

Things I learned at Autism observing my fellow educators:

1. All teachers have ADD 
2. Sitting still for 90 minutes is killer
3. Drawing and Listening can happen, but it's not likely
4. Powerpoint packets double as game boards
5. We'd rather grade papers then be trained
6. When you get teachers together, the back rows fill first
7. Teachers stick in packs
8. I can sleep sitting up
9. A lot of purses get cleaned out
10. If it starts at 8:00, we arrive at 8:30
11. Parents aren't always the problem
12. It's the little things in life that bring happiness, like Sonic
13. We are everything we try to avoid in our students: tardy, inattentive, exclusive, distracting, and we talk during the class.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mrs. Howard, are you sick?

Mrs. H are you sick? 

That's what one of my students asked me yesterday.  

---What makes you think I'm sick? Is it the fact that I can't speak more then 4 sentences without coughing, or I have to blow my nose during the spelling pre-test?  Did I tip you off that I lost my voice during the read aloud?  I can't talk loud enough to talk over you, so I sit by the clock and count seconds until you notice that I'm trying to get your attention.  I guess you noticed because I have been squeezing my head, because of a headache, more than normal.  

---So why don't we have a sub, you ask.  Because dear 6th grader, If I were to get a sub, I would have to plan out many more lessons, make many more copies, grade many more papers then usual. I would also have to deal with more behavior and respect problems, other teachers giving me looks for skipping out on my duties, and a sub that leaves a report telling me you're all hyper, disrespectful, and can't stay on task. Does that sound like something you want to do when you're not feeling well? 

--So I'm here at school today, don't worry you won't catch my cold. You probably gave it to me. I know how to cover my cough, wash my hands, and not share food. I can keep my germs to myself. So please talk a little less, listen a little more, and grab a tissue for me. 

Mrs. H

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Real friends tell

So I've always heard the phrase, real friends tell. Mostly when it comes to telling your friend something awkward or embarrassing.  Like when my husband has a bugger in his nose, or when an 11 year old boy has his zipper open, or you can see panties through a skirt. Things like that. So today I walk into my class and take my coat off.  (It was a cool morning, so I'd had my jacket on til around 9 am)

A few moments later, H walks up to me and says, Mrs. H is your shirt on inside out?  It takes me a moment to realize that she is not trying to pull one over on me. I glance down, my shirt appears the same on the outside and on the inside with the exception the seams show. There is no tag, to other give-aways. Sure enough, my shirt is on inside out. 

I quickly take the moment to teach my students things that only weird situations can bring on. I show them how to handle embarrassment.  I tell H that I planned that to see how observant they are, and begin a contest of how many people mention to me that my shirt is on inside out. She, and all my other students thought this was a great idea. 

But on a serious note, in their lives embarrassing things happen, they and if they can learn to laugh at themselves, other will laugh with them, instead of at them. 

P.S. H was the only person who told me today, that my shirt was on backwards...thanks Mrs. M and Mrs. W!

Friday, February 12, 2010

thoughts about LOVE

With V-day coming up, I've been surrounded by people who either love or hate this holiday. 

Valentine's Day in the 6th grade:  

Today I had 12 year olds receive flowers, candy, and valentines from their significant others. Today I had 12 year olds wear anti-Valentine's Day shirts.
Today I had 12 year olds tell me they loved electronics.
Today I had 12 year olds tell me they loved other 12 year olds.

It amazes me how much love changes as we do.  I remember my first little "boyfriend".  His name is Nick, and we were 6.  I'm pretty sure I told my mom I loved him. And -gasp- I kissed him! 
* I am happy to report that Nick is happily married to an awesome girl, and has a sweet little boy.*

As I grew up, there were boys that I was interested in, but I'm positive I never told anyone that I loved a boy from the age of 7 to probably about 15.  When I was 15 I would have told you I loved around six boys...but only as friends. I truly did.

Then there is Trevor. My love for Trev changed over the years.  It went from a figment of my imagination, to an interest in friendship, to a love of friendship, to a young romance, and now we share a two year of marriage, you're my other half love. 

So two days before the big V, I can tell you this: I LOVE teaching, expanding, investing, and frustrating my 25 amazing 11 year olds, who are experiencing their own level of love.  

And I Love my husband, the most sincere, honest, humble, forgiving, even-keel, funny man I know.  

I can't imagine my life without either!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Fifty Six

Fifty six = hands in my classroom

Fifty six = more then me and Michael's ages added together

Fifty six = the year my aunt was born

Fifty six = the age I am going to be when I'm eligible to retire from teaching.

I came to this realization today. Years taught + real age = 90.

Fifty six is older then either of my parents. Fifty six is over thirty years away. Fifty six seems so far away. Fifty six.... I don't know how much energy I'm going to have then. Fifty six seems like a grandma age. Fifty six...

By the time I'm fifty-six ;

I'll be finished raising children if I have any
My first students will be 44 years old
I'll have been married for 32 years
Hope, Hannah, and Jacob will be 43 years old
My parents will be in their eighties
David will be 30 years old
I'll own my own house
My student loans will be paid off!

God bless me if I make it to 56.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Old Fart

Our new counselor, Mrs. 'Old-School' was in my room yesterday.  Now, understand I don't have anything against her, well not much anyways. I know a lot about teaching has changed in the last say...40 years... 

Anyway, she is very tough, and likes to make sure the students are doing exactly what she says, and writing exactly what she's written....word. for. word. 

Besides that, she sometimes interrupts then before they are done speaking, and she discourages their individualism, and it's her way or the high way. 

That being said, I'm thankful that she comes once every two weeks, to share a life skill lesson so that I don't have to write a lesson plan, deliver the lesson, answer questions, grade the papers, enter the grades. Okay, okay back to the story.

Mrs. O-S is in my room lecturing about different ways to handle conflict. She is instructing the students to fill in pages in the work book, keep their head up, pay attention, and on and on. Meanwhile, she is walking around the room. As she walks past my desk I hear a psh psh psh psh sound every time she walks.  

Squeaky shoes?

Student playing in their desk?

Student making noise with their mouth?

What IS that noise? I look up to see if my students are playing around, and I notice them covering their mouths, with red faces. Then I realize what is going on....


Monday, February 8, 2010

Instead of Grading

I stole this idea from one of my two favorite teachers, Mrs. M

Instead of grading I am:

Helping my friend come up with lesson plan ideas
Watching DVRd TV shows
Eating raw cookie dough
Changing pj pants
Driving to go get pizza
Checking all the blogs I follow
Farming on farmville
Texting my brother in law about a kilt
Drinking Coke
Bothering Smash's dog
Watching the bachelor!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Strings That Tie Us Together

This story is about one of my all time favorite students, if I had favorite students.  But being a completely perfect teacher, I don't. :)

Anyway, I remember meeting Shelby when she walked into my room with her mom for meet the teacher. She was dressed in boy-length sport shorts, a tee-shirt, and flip flops. Her hair was straight down, and about shoulder length. She looked tough and strong, and I listened as her mom told me of a fight she was in last year, where she took a punch.  If you are getting the idea of a tough kid, you are seeing this correctly. If you are thinking bully, you're completely off. 

Towards the end of the year, my class each made quilt pieces, and I sewed them together to make a class quilt.  So when we were finished with our project we had extra embroidery thread.  Being a camp girl at heart, I showed my students how to make a variety of string bracelets and necklaces.  I made an example and eventually let Shelby have it.  Little did I know the impact it would have on me, later.

So the year ends, Shelby moves to Jr. High, and I see her when I go to Jr. High sporting events. The first time I saw her she runs up, yells my name and gives me a hug.  The first thing she shows me is how she is still wearing her necklace.  (It had been on for a total of 5 months at this point)

The next time I see Shelby is at a basketball game, having hurt her knee she couldn't play in the game, so she sat by me on the bleachers. It amazes me the changes in this kid in a year. She dons dress pants, and a pink shirt, dress shoes, a little make-up, and a nice hair-do.  Then she recalls a story that happened at the last basketball game. The refs wouldn't let her play with the necklace on. She fought it a little, since it's just string, but in the end they made her cut it off. It occurs to me, I hadn't really remembered that she still had it. (now 11 months) So I didn't notice when she wasn't wearing it. She quickly brought me back to reality by lifting up her pant leg and showing me her ankle where the necklace had been tied. I'm pretty sure it choked me up a little. 

Being a teacher is sometimes and thank-less job.  But there are students sometimes who are wise beyond their years and appreciate the hard work that goes into their education.  Shelby will always be a bright spot in my teaching career. 

Shelby- I am so proud of the person you are, keep fighting for what you believe. Continue to make good choices and are going to soar Shelb! Thanks for helping me remember what is important.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I am THAT teacher

What teacher, when a student says the "F" word, makes them copy every word that begins with f, and its definition.
I am that teacher

What teacher, when a student colors her hair with sharpie, makes her color pages and pages of blank paper with old markers.
I am that teacher

What teacher, after repeating directions 10 times, when a student asks a question remarks that she might explode
I am that teacher

What teacher, when a student tattles says, are you injured or in danger?
I am that teacher

What teacher sends all her kids outside, even if they have homework missing, so she can have 15 minutes of silence?
I am that teacher

What teacher loves her kiddos so much she goes to their sporting events a year after they leave her class?
I am that teacher

What teacher, when a student writes on the bricks outside with crayon, will make her scrub it off with a toothbrush
I am that teacher

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Symbols of my classroom

If you look closely, you can see that each of my students decorated a piece of this puzzle, then they had to put it together.

   Class pets: Introducing Bella & Lucie

       Creating a Candy Animal Cell

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kaylee comes to school

Kaylee Comes to School- A ballad

As a younger girl at age of ten
she never wanted to come again
that school was mean, and so not fun
she had no friends, she had to run
Kaylee comes to school.

The counselors around began to stir
nothing they said could convince her
that school was good, or even fine
She does not want to spend her time
Kaylee comes to school

She turns 11, a brand new year
Surely this attitude with clear
will see the good from learning
all her teachers are concerning
Kaylee comes to school

She enters my room, face bright
I try to help her find new heights
She makes 7 calls to find a ride
To school she no longer hides
Kaylee comes to school

Out of the mouth of ...

Out of the mouth of 12 year olds..

Mrs. H - Rigo did you hit Elijah?
R- no
Mrs. H- Did you touch him with any part of your body?
R- No?
Mrs. H- What did you do to Elijah?
R- (points to elbow)
Mrs. H- You elbowed him?
R- yes?
Mrs. H- your elbow is a part of your body
R- yes?

Mrs. H- (trying to sing twinkle twinkle little start in monotone) *Monotone is a spelling word this week*

Seth- Mrs. Howard I'm going to miss you in high school. I hear all those teachers are like sleeping pills in skirts.

Layton - Mrs. Howard, I need a little love over here!
(referring to his computer needing love, because it wasn't working properly)

Mrs. H - What brings you happiness, that doesn't cost money?
Rigo- I mount a horse!  (meaning horseback riding)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dear 6th grader

Dear 6th Grader,

Hi 12 year old. YEah, you I see you playing in your desk while i'm teaching. Even though I see you messing around, I will still answer your question when you come and ask it. I will try not to mention I just covered that exact thing.

I want you to know that you are not always a joy to be around. Sometimes you leave papers on the ground, sometimes you lie to me about turning in your work, and sometimes you tease your classmates and make my life more difficult. I want you to know despite all that, I still show up every day to try to expand your mind.

I know you are tired some mornings, I am too. I know that sometimes things go on at home that affect your day at school. I understand, I have a life outside of school too. If you give me a break sometimes, I'll give you one in return.

I really do want you to succeed. That's why sometimes I have to give you consequences when you don't do an assignment well, or when you don't treat your classmates with respect. It's not because I don't like you, or are picking on you. It's hard on me when you get mad and refuse to answer or participate. I know that you will get over it, even if it takes you posting on your Myspace that I'm a witch!

I hope someday when you interact with 12 year olds, you will remember how I treated you. That I treated you fairly, began each day with you new, and cared for you even though you might roll your eyes, or shrug your shoulders at me. I know 12 is a tough age. So is 24. I'm not so far away from when I was 12 and you aren't so far away from being 24, and adult with responsibilities, So I will try to prepare you the best I can.

Mrs. Howard


True Story:

A boy walked through my door last year, first day of school. He had showed up to meet the teacher day, with his older brother. Nothing about him stood out to me, as a first year teacher, I was just taking it all in stride. For some reason, maybe some higher power, I picked this student to be my first "helper of the day." This included running errands, leading the pledge, other small things.

Okay, fast forward to first parent teacher conference. I met mom. Within moments the mother sat there before me crying about how her son loved school, and how she was so happy.

Great, I thought, that's what any teacher loves to hear. But she went on, this student was heavily medicated last year for anxiety, bi-polor, and social disorders. He literally spent hours a day in the counselors office. WHAT?!!? (that would have been good information to know at the beginning of the year)

So all in all my year with J was overall a joy-filled, learning, stretching, growing, year. There were some days when he would feel alone, if his friends were leaving him out, but nothing major.

Tonight I went and watched him play 7th grade basketball. He rushed up to me before the game, (I was standing by his coach) When his coach asked what he needed, he said he just came to see his best teacher. As I watched him own that court later in the evening, I couldn't help but swell up with pride at the young man he became.

J, I can't wait to see you go to high school, and beyond. Keep following your heart, it's a good one.

It's Just Snow...

Dear parents

It's just snow.

I know it's wet, cold, slippery and intimidating... however it's just snow

Snow is not a good reason to keep your child at home.

Did you know I have a mere two months to prepare your child for their state testing? I have exactly 47 days until the state of OK is going to judge my ability as a teacher on their scores. The state doesn't care if you want to drive on snow, or not. I do care about their safety, and yours of course. With that being said, please send your student to school.

It's just snow.