Saturday, April 24, 2010



I have had 3 students to date with the first intial h. yep. hard to keep straight. I'm going to name this one Helen for the sake of keeping it straight.

So when H joined my class last week, you probably read my confusion, anger, and semi (very semi excitement)

This week she humbled me.

Background information: My class has "adopted" the severe/multiple special education class. My kids don't know that title, we refer to them as our buddies. There are 7 students in there. 6 boys and 1 girl. The boy buddies are so much fun. They dance like Michael Jackson, offer big hugs, and are so funny. The girl buddy has a few more challenges. She is nearly unresponsive that we can tell, to what we are doing. So weekly we read, do crafts, and help them celebrate holidays/season. It has been a truely rewarding experience for my 12 year olds, and I hope for their class as well. I wish I had a whole post on why I choose to have my students volunteer in this way, but I don't. So I will wrap it up by saying, it make them better children, friends, students and people by forcing them out of what is comfrortable and really showing them how fortunate they are.

Back to H. So every week we read on Tuesday and Thursday. My students take turns working one on one with the buddies. They don't have the same buddy every time. Since their are different skill/cognitive levels I like to switch it up. It is almost always easier to find student who wants to work with the boys, since like I said they are very high funtioning and responsive. H who has been in my class just one week, volunteers to work with the girl, "Summer". I didn't get a chance to talk to her when she was finished reading, to be honest, I didn't think about it in the busyness of the day. Yesterday when we were making our pieces for our class quilt, H was finished with hers. She asked if she could make another one...I said yes. She then began embroidering a heart with the letter "s" in it. When she was finished she asked if she could go give it to Summer. So off she went to give her gift to Summer, a girl who might not show she was recieving anything, who would not thank H, who wouldn't be excited or wrap H in a hug. It was true selflessness. To give without asking anything in return. What an honor I have, teaching such an awesome 12 year old.

on to other things

With testing officially over!!! (it was the longest week of my life) I get to move on to OTHER things!!! I'm very very very very excited.

This is the reason I love teaching. I love to teach students things that transfer directly over to their life now. I like to use the curriculum and make it relevant. Teaching life things like citizenship, honestly, hard work thru my 7 core subjects is a challenge I enjoy.

So good bye test prep, hello Novel Studies, The Real Game, Fun Science Experiments and Guess Speakers!

p.s And just a little new student H.... Well things are going smashingly!

Friday, April 16, 2010

POed or proud?

Today was a day.

I've been sitting here mulling over it since school was out at 3:15. I still don't know if I have the words. Today started like every other Friday. Until 8:30, around ten minutes after the bell. Our principal, walks in my room. This is a semi-rare occurance, especially without notice.

She broke the news to me, that I would be getting a new student.

Before I was actually a teacher, I wondered how teachers react to this kind of news. I always am a bit thrown off. I never have been excited when the principal comes to bring this news. It throws off the day, you have to find new books, a new desk, and it changes the dynamic of your classroom. I have been fortunate in my teaching career that I haven't had students leave my class, and now only 4 to date join it.

So back to today, I should mention I already have the highest count in my grade with a whooping 26. So when I recieved news that I would be getting a student who has now been in 3 different classes this year, been suspended, lived in ISS, and is generally disrespectful and unruly, I was less then excited. I was actually mad. Ticked. My friends will attest. I didn't understand why me. I have the most kids, the most kids with emotional disorders, tons of IEPs, students who don't speak English! I am stretched thinner then I ever imagined. So adding one more student to the mix who will need lots of attention frustrated me. So I went through the day wrestling with whether I should be super mad, or kinda proud. Having parents fight to get their kids in my class is kind of flattering...(that was vain, I know)

So I've decided to look at it like this, what doesn't kill me will make me stronger and everything happens for a reason. I like a challenge. I will make these next 29 days of school the best days of school this student has experienced. I won't fail her. It is not her fault for this situation we've been put in. I hope when I look back on this post at the end of the year, the end of the decade, right before I retire....that we had success. Here's to the next 29 days.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

He came around...

I've never had a student like Seth.

He is extremely bright, extremely sarcastic, and extremely hard-headed. Did I enjoy him every moment at first? Nope. Was I patient with him every moment? Nope. Did I see his potential? Nope.

I will be the first to admit, I judged him wrong. It was at the beginning of the year, and we butted heads all day. (now, I know that I'm the adult, and he should respect me, but that's not Seth's way) For this young man, respect is earned, not given. I called his parents a couple of times, and no matter what I was telling them he did- from hitting a girl on the head to cussing and everything inbetween, they kept telling me I was going about it the wrong way. They said, you are either on his team or against him. Get on his team.

Now to any educator, when parents tell you what to do, it's sometimes taken the wrong way. I didn't like being told that I was failing with this student. Were his grades good? yes! Could he pass the state test? yes! But my success wasn't measured by scores. I want it to be measured by Seth taking interest, getting involved in class, and enjoying learning.

I'm not just any teacher, and I like a good challenge.

Slowly but surely, I took interest in Seth. I learned his likes and dislikes, I tried to see his strenghs and focus less on the distractions and sarcastic comments. And guess what...I did it!

I saw Seth today interact with a student in the special needs class with a huge smile on his face. Earlier this year Seth would have been either sleeping or reading while I talked about this volunteering oppertunity, but today...he raised his hand.

As I watched Seth work with Jesse, helping him glue, color, and bend the pipe cleaner for his butterfly, about how Seth is like that butterfly.....coming into himself beautifully.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

While Mrs. Smith is in here...

Today I had about ten minutes to kill before another teacher was going to come teach my class a lesson. Being the world's best teacher, I always have something productive planned for my students, just in case we ever have down time. ... not.

Considering their previous behavior, I asked them to fill in the blank:

While Mrs. Smith is in here....

here are some of their answers

...I will not pick my nose not punch her in the face not throw a banana at her not act like we are acting now
...raise our hands before talking eating pickles not embarass Mrs. Howard

This activity went over with such astounding reviews, I lead a similar activity at the end of the day. It was called give a tip. Here are some tips from the smartest 12 year olds on the planet.

-don't try to sneak up on a skunk
-don't put a lite fire cracker in a beer bottle
-don't take a shower with your cell phone
-don't forget to do your friend's homework
-don't scream into the phone when your mom calls
-don't eat pancakes naked

Yep. My job is interesting.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Someone is coming to Visit

Sammie is coming to visit!
Samson is excited!

Lindsey is coming with Sammie
Beth is excited!
hurry up friday....

Friday, April 2, 2010

Oh the things they say:

Direct quote:

From the assistant principals daughter:

"Teachers don't get kids. Well, except Mrs. Howard, she's all up in kids a good way"

From one of my students:

"1985 was a long time ago, like 40 years"