Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Need A New Mantra

With the first day of school fast approaching, I feel I need to pick a new, more positive mantra to use throughout the year (Last year I went back and forth between "I don't wanna go to school," and "I don't wanna be a teacher.") Anyone out there have any tips for getting in a positive mental state for the beginning of the school year?
Thanks!
-Pigtailed Teacher

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What I've Learned So Far...

Since I've been working out, I've remembered a few things I use to know about being getting shape:
1. When I workout, I generally want to eat healthier.
2. I need to make exercising a priority and that means every week I need to schedule where I'm working out and when...and then make sure I stick to my plan!!!
3. If I'm hungry (or just want to snack on something), I should probably eat a fruit or vegetable (which means I need to cut up the fruit and/or cook the veggies before I'm starving).
4. When I'm cooking I need to chew gum so I don't snack mindlessly. I also need to have someone else put the food away after dinner or else I'll keep munching away.

(Today was Zumba class at Sonny Newman's Dance Studio (http://www.sonnynewmansdancehall.com/Dance/Home.html The instructor could have been a Saturday Night Live character and the moves involved a lot of bootie shakin' and hip isolations. Quite the workout!)

Friday, August 6, 2010

I Did It!

I did it...I made it back to the gym! Well, not the same gym, but I made it to another workout today. You see, I'm trying to find a place to workout before the stressful days of teaching kick in and I forget about getting in shape. As a teacher we're trained to be proactive in respects to our students' behavior, so I was thinking, why not try it with my own? I figure I'll have a better chance of being successful and getting healthy if I have a great gym picked out by the end of the summer.

Anyway, on Wednesday I tried a "bodystep" class at Community Fitness (http://communityfitness.com/). I may be along the right track with this place. I love taking classes and that's what this place specializes in.

Today's place, Yogalife (http://www.yogalife.com/), was very helpful and friendly, but they only have yoga classes and I'm looking for a little more diversity than that.

On Sunday I'll be heading back to Community Fitness to try a zumba class with a different instructor. I'll let you know how that goes!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summertime Good Intentions

I have so many good intentions this summer...to read, cook, write, blog, travel, nap, hang out with friends, watch movies, go to festivals, decorate our apartment, go to happy hours...anything to help me forget about the trying year I had teaching third grade. Other, slightly more complex goals include trying to figure out what I want to do instead of teaching, how to get out of debt and someday afford a house, and how to get in shape and stay that way.

I think I've been doing a good job of balancing being productive this summer and enjoying not being productive. (Oh the joy of not setting the alarm clock!) Unfortunately I'm starting to realize that my summer is half over, and I need to focus a little if I want to cross a few more things off my list.

This is exactly why I finally got myself to an aerobic class today. I huffed and puffed my way though class and was so inspired by this act of healthiness that I came home, showered, and made a tasty dinner of whole wheat pasta with a doctored-up store bought red sauce (think fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini) with a side of roasted cauliflower, onions, and mushrooms.

Hopefully it won't take me so long to get back onto the gym again... :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A New Start!

Today I bought a used laptop from a friend of mine, and I've decided to use this event as a catalyst for getting back on the blogging horse. Look for lots of fun summer updates and reflections about my last year of teaching!
-P.T.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Four Days Left!!!

I think it was on June 1st when I realized I could make it until the end of the year. Now that the last day of school is finally in sight on the calendar, I'm starting to breathe a little easier.

But only a little...

Since my last update New Kid was suspended for three days (out of school suspension, finally!). It was for deliberately throwing a ball at a girl's head, hitting her smack in the ear, then throwing the ball at the two friends who stuck up for her, and for yelling in one friend's ear so loudly that it hurt.

In addition to New Kid's antics, I've also had to deal with what the teachers are calling "The Great Chocolate Heist of 2010," and Dear in Headlights Two's decision to be mean to people and then lie about it. I'll be sharing both of these "great" stories this summer, when I have time to give them the proper attention they deserve. :)

I hope everyone out there is surviving the last few days of school and dreaming of fun ways to enjoy the summer months. What are you looking forward to this summer?

-Pigtailed Teacher

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Kid's Follow-Up Suspension Meeting

After New Kid was suspended (http://pigtailedteacher.blogspot.com/2010/05/where-to-start.html), a meeting with his mom was scheduled. The original incident happened on Thursday, so New Kid did day one of in-house on Friday (and missed the school walk-a-thon). He was supposed to do day two on Monday...the same day as his mom's meeting with the principal, the school psychologist, the school part-time counselor, resource teacher, school nurse, and me, but he didn't show up to school and neither did his mom.

No phone call, no e-mail, nothing.

"How are we suppose to help support your child when you won't support us, Mom?!?!"

We had the meeting without Mom, and we're finally talking about what's the right placement for this kid, especially for next year. We decided to invite a behavioral specialist into my classroom to observe the student, a higher-up in the special ed world was called for consultation, a new behavioral plan was put into place for him, and several other things were discussed. I did my best not to get overwhelmed and cry in front of my co-workers, but I think everyone in the meeting knew I was upset and concerned about the well-being of the other students in my class (and for myself!)

When New Kid came back on Tuesday he did his second day of in-house suspension (while missing a field trip to the theater) and then he started two weeks of supervised recess...that means he gets to walk around with the recess supervisors and watch the other kids play. I'll be giving you all more details about that next time!

-Pigtailed Teacher

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Where to Start?

I've been MIA for three weeks, so it's hard to decide where to start.

How about New Kid's two day, in-house suspension?

On April 21st, a Wednesday, I went to an all-day training with my principal and four of my co-workers. According to the note my sub left me, New Kid was a complete jerk to her, had a meltdown, refused to go to the office, etc. As my sub put it, "I felt like I had been drug behind a truck."

So when I returned to class on Thursday, I met with New Kid to discuss the consequences, including the fact that he probably wasn't going on the field trip with us the next week. He was a little upset, but seemed to understand. From there though, the day went downhill. Fast.

Here's what I wrote in my journal: "New Kid acted up a little during writing, then a bunch more in math-knocked his pencil box [over] in the process & he got got very angry & I sent for the Crazy Counselor [who was filling in for the principal while she was out of the building for two days]. Crazy Counselor let him play a "video game" [to calm him down]." Then, as I was bringing the kids in from lunch recess, New Kid bounced a ball off the wall above the doorway. Right after I told him not to do that, as I turned to walk back to the front of my line, he bounced the ball off the back of my head!!!

"I whipped around & told him I was so mad, rushed to the office, threw the secretary in with my class & had a breakdown in the back office." My head was fine, but I was so mad and frustrated that I couldn't help but cry.

Long story short, New Kid got in-house suspension for two days, missed the field trip, had to write me an apology and we scheduled a meeting with his mom for the following Monday. Next time I'll tell you about the meeting and the flying scissors.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

More From My Teacher's Diary

The week after spring break proved to be something of an anomaly for me...New Kid was out for three days in a row!

On the first day both Highlights and he were gone. What a difference those two make!!! During math time I had all my kids on task, working quietly in pairs, spread out around the room, with soothing, classical music playing in the background. It was so picture perfect I had to run across the hallway and get one of my coworkers. She took one look around the room and nodded her head in approval.

When I filled her in on who was absent, her own eyes lit up with understanding...her naughty boy, who has behaviors and academic problems similar to New Kid, had just gone home sick.

We smiled, high-fived, and went on to enjoy a calm and productive afternoon with our kids.

Even though I did enjoy my time without New Kid immensely, it did make me a little depressed. As I wrote in my teacher's diary, "(It's) sad that they make such a negative difference. I gave the class an extra 15 minute recess and they were so happy." I can't normally do that sort of thing when New Kid is around and most of my class does deserve fun, little surprise like that.

Oh well, only nine weeks left...let the countdown begin!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Crabby, Crabby Teacher

Yup, this week I've been a crabby, crabby teacher. I'm chocking it up to a combination of stress, random parent meetings, rowdy kids, PMS, an old cat who wants to play at five in the morning, loads of papers to correct, more stress, starting to feel slightly under the weather, stupid (before school!) staff meetings, etc...the normal sort of teacher crap. And even though I knew I had been snapping at the kids a little more than usual, I thought I had been pretty good about hiding my bad mood from my third graders.

I guess I was wrong. :)

My co-worker came in right after school and asked if there was a specific reason why two of my boys left the room singing, "Highway to Hell."

I guess I'm not the only one feeling the stress. :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring Break

For the past nine days I've completely enjoyed not being a teacher. I've thoroughly devoted myself to sleeping in, going to the movies, reading for pleasure, going to happy hours, writing letters, watching mindless tv, napping with the cat, hanging out with friends and family, and getting things done around the house. Not teaching even makes things like doctor visits, trips to Costco, and vet check-ups not so bad.

Now, at 8 o'clock on Sunday night, I'm pulling out my "bag of good intentions" to make sure I at least have a rough idea of what I'm teaching tomorrow.

Sigh.

At least I only have ten more weeks until summer vacation...unless I decide to teach summer school, that is.

Oy vay.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

More From My Teacher's Diary

Here are some things I've written recently in my daily planner/teacher's diary:


  • "(New Kid's) meltdown continues...talking back all day..."I don't want to. I don't have to. No." Crawling under the tables. Not doing his work. So, after giving him choices and him not talking to me, I decided to call home. He cried, he yelled, and I listened to "Birthday Sex, " on his mom's phone. Refused to leave the room, so I had to call for the principal. He was out for over an hour."
  • "Kids were very chatty today-sort of like rainy day recess w/out the rain."
  • "Deer in Headlights did talk to his mom, but he's still a liar. Told the librarian he was talking about bleach." (And not b**ch...whatever!)
  • "Took away New Kid's Ipod."
  • "At Highlight's home, the gentleman (on the phone) didn't want to take my phone number." (I wonder why she never called me back? Hmm...)
  • "Had a drink at dinner."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

MLK Artwork

As part of our month long, integrated unit on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, I had my students randomly pick an event from the civil rights timeline and make a collage to represent their particular event...in the style of Henri Matisse (Why Matisse? I don't know? I guess because I like him and we rarely have a chance to do art and my parent art docent sucks this year...).

Anyway, here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):
















Here's when Martin Luther King was named, "Man of the Year."





















Oh look, it's baby Martin!

















Here's Dr. King giving one of his speeches.





















Uh, I know that the guy on the far right is King and that the other guy is stabbing him (which really happened), but I'm not sure who the guy on the left is and why he seems to be holding a laser gun...















Here's Martin giving his, "I Have a Dream" speech.















This is when Dr. King and civil rights activist Ralph Abernathy were put in jail.



















I think this is when Dr. King graduated high school at 15 and went to college.




















This is a portrait of Rosa Parks. I think she looks rather Jamaican, don't you? :)




















This is one of many times Martin Luther King went to jail. I love his mustache in this one!














Here's when Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott got married.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The New Kid + A Shoulder = Chocolates?

The week before mid-winter break was a rough one. That Tuesday New Kid finally crossed the all important line I had hoped he wouldn't.

He got physical.

With me.

He had been working at a table with several other kids on an art project when apparently Eeyore said something he didn't like. So, New Kid started poking holes in Eeyore's project.
First I asked him to move back to his desk to work. Then I told him to move. New Kid got angrier and angrier. Then I told him he could work at his table or in the hallway. He continued to get angrier. Finally, he grabbed his art supplies, construction paper in one hand, scissors in the other, and shoulder checked me twice as he walked out the door!

At that point I had an internal conversation with myself. It went something like this, "What the hell?!?" "Did he just do what I think he did?!?" "Did he really?" "Yes. He did!"
I thought New Kid was heading to the work table in the hallway, so I quickly and calmly had one of my other students go get the principal. (My classroom happens to be the closest one to the office.) I stood in the doorway to make sure New Kid was at the table, but instead he was already walking himself to the office.
Long story short, New Kid spent most of that afternoon in the office and had a day of in-school suspension on Thursday. That Friday, the day of our Valentine's day party, New Kid walks in and states that he has something in his backpack for me. And something for the principal. Great.
What is it?















A box of Valentine's Day chocolates.

No "Happy Valentine's Day," or "I'm sorry I'm a punk and cause you all sorts of problems." Just a, "Here," and the handing off of the red roses, heart-shaped box of chocolates from his backpack.
I guess you take an apology however it comes.

The funniest part of this whole incident is finding out what got New Kid so riled up in the first place. I guess Eeyore said New Kid's brother, "had a fat butt cheek." Yup, that's it. That's what started this whole thing...a large derriere, a big bootie, an oversized gluteus maximus.

Third graders are so weird.


(Here's me looking a little suspicious...To eat or not to eat, that is the question!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Quotes From My Daily Planner

At the beginning of the school year, Urbanite Mommy (http://mom3908.blogspot.com/) gave me a personalized daily planner. At first I used it to write down the occasional meeting or doctor appointment, but it quickly became lost in my bag of good intentions. But in January I decided to re-purpose the planner into my "daily reflection/get these crazy kids out of my head/I'd better make note of this" teacher's diary.

Here are some of things I've written down in the past month and a half:

  • "New Kid has been off. Today I walked outside to pick the kids up at recess and see him swinging Highlights around in a circle...by one arm!"
  • "Deer in Headlights apparently threatened someone during chess today...chess!?!? of all things!"
  • "Highlights kissed Eeyore at recess."
  • "New Kid wore a fake tattoo sleeve today." (Boy, I wish I had my camera!)
  • "Someone was overheard at recess saying, 'Get it done, get it done, get it done. Make a baby, make a baby, make a baby.'"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Can Marshmallows Go Bad?

As part of my research for finding (or creating) a job that isn't too stressful, pays okay, and is fun, I decided to try my hand at making Rice Krispie treats (Who knows...maybe I'm suppose to be the Duff Goldman of the buttery-marhmallowy-Rice Krispie world?!?!) Anyway, I decided to make some "Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats" since I had most of the ingredients already in my house. Unfortunately, they weren't the freshest or most exact ingredients ever...slightly past the "use by date" mini marshmallows, mostly crispy Rice Krispies, and table salt instead of sea salt. I did run into some problems melting the marshmallows, but the end result actually tasted yummy, especially the ones I put chocolate chips on! I can't wait to try making them again...after I hit the grocery store, that is! :)



video

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Fill In the Blank

I recently met up with a friend of mine who spent the last three years teaching in Thailand. Now that she's back, she's decided to, "Give the photography thing a try," and has started her own photography business. (http://www.clearlykatie.com/) It was so inspirational to hear how she is following her dream, while not taking it too seriously and getting way uptight about it...or at least that's how she made it seem. :)

Anyway, our conversation got me thinking again about, "What I want to be when I grow up."

You see, I like teaching, but I don't love it. I find that I take home too much work, both mentally and physically, and that I don't think I'll ever be the amazing, creative teacher I know I could be because I've got too many kids in the class and not enough classroom support.

So, I've been replaying what my friend said and trying to figure out what I could give a try. "I think I'll give ____________ a try."

But the thing is, I don't know what my "Blank" should be!

I have lots of ideas; some of them are time consuming, some are creative, some require more schooling, some come with low stress, and others with a pay cut. Some require working in the summer, while others cost money to start up. I made a pro/con list for my ideas, but I still don't know what my "Blank" should be.

Any ideas for narrowing down the possibilities? How do I find a job that I LOVE, not just like? And for those of you out there that do love your jobs, what makes your job so great?

-Pigtailed Teacher

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bingo + Karaoke = A Good Time For All!


On Friday night a group of us hit the Greenwood Senior Center in Seattle for some bing0-karaoke fun. (http://www.greenwoodseniorcenter.org/) Some of us went early for the $5 spaghetti feed, while others came at 7pm for the main event.

Now you may be wondering why a bunch of 30/40 somethings would want to hang out at the senior center on a Friday night, but you have to understand that this event has become the hippest place to be on the first Friday of the month! There's an eclectic mix of all ages, and the wine and beer only cost $3. The music is great, and the crowd is rowdy! This time over 160 people reserved tables, which was good since they ended up turning away people at the door!

If you're ever in the neighborhood on the first Friday of the month, you should check it out for yourself!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Week in Review

Since the beginning of the new year I've been trying to jot down notes about how school went. I'm keeping the entries short and sweet, just enough to remember all the crazy ups and downs of the classroom. Here's some of the more stressful moments of this week:
  • One student (Let's call him "D.H." for Dear in Headlights...what he looks like when he gets in trouble and tries to play dumb) threatened another student while playing chess...chess, of all things!
  • I called New Kid's mom's cell phone to let her know about the incident report coming home in his backpack. Didn't get to talk to mom, but listened to her ring back tone..."Birthday Sex" by Jeremih. (If you haven't heard it before, you might want to look it up and give it a listen. It gives this story so much more wrongness than you'd expect.)
  • I also had to call another student's house to let her mom know about the incident report in her backpack. Let's call this student Highlights. I didn't get to talk to Highlight's mom, but did talk to an older gentleman (grandpa, maybe?) who didn't want to take my name or phone number down. No surprise I haven't heard from Highlight's mom yet.
  • Took away New Kid's Ipod after risking a power struggle with him. When I "won" the battle, I felt like I was from that reality t.v. show, "World's Strictest Parents."
  • New Kid continues his crappy week, with lots of talking back, crawling under the tables, and refusing to do work. Called his mom at lunch, but all I got was another round of "Birthday Sex." New Kid was mad that I called home, so he refused to go to lunch. I had to call the principal to stay with him until she could get him calmed down and out of my room.
  • New Kid was playing too physical at recess. (Why was he playing when he was suppose to be walking around with the playground duty, hmmm?) Anyway, he got another write-up and wouldn't go to the office to calm down. This time I had to have the nurse come and deal with him since the principal was out of the building.
  • New Kid came back calm, but grew angry again when he realized he didn't get Friday Free Time due to missing homework. Had to get the nurse again.
  • Highlights pretended to flip off a classmate and then threatened to rip off two boys' ears and skin.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Where Did the Weekend Go?

Every Sunday night I find myself wondering, "Where did the weekend go?" Even this weekend seemed to fly by and it was a day longer than normal. I think I've decided that every once in a while I need to write down what I "have done," and ignore my endless "to do" list. That way, I feel like I've actually accomplished something. So here's what I've done since I left work on Friday (in no particular order) :
  • took a nap
  • attended a partner massage class
  • babysat one of the cutest babies around
  • picked up Taco Bell for lunch
  • planned a ghetto-fabulous birthday party
  • picked up pizza for the party
  • picked up an ice cream cake for the party (I love me some "ice cream and cakey cake!")
  • picked up gifts for the party
  • wrapped gifts for the party
  • picked up adult beverages for the party
  • decorated for the party (while the afore mentioned cutest baby took a nap)
  • watched a bad movie (Beyonce's Obsessesed)
  • had adult beverages (orange juice + Peachtree Schnapps = yumminess)
  • ate a pizza dinner
  • ate cakey cake
  • watched part of Saturday Night Live
  • slept in
  • got a peppermint hot chocolate (thanks to one of my Christmas coffee cards)
  • took a walk around my new neighborhood
  • did three loads of laundry
  • watched another bad movie (Dear Me: A Blogger's Tale)...I had hoped to be inspired, but sadly I wasn't. At all.
  • corrected a math assignment
  • corrected the spelling tests
  • corrected two reading tests
  • watched a disturbing movie (Nursery University)...It's a very well done documentary about the competitive world of nursery schools in Manhattan.
  • corrected a reading assignment
  • corrected the science final project
  • watched another movie (Up by Disney/Pixar)
  • corrected two sets of cursive
  • inputted all of the above into my grade book
  • slept in again
  • had breakfast at Ikea
  • delivered meatballs to two friends
  • explored a local fabric outlet
  • went to the Salvation Army (Bought my mom lots of yarn for less than a dollar a skein!)
  • had a late lunch in the International District
  • tried two new Asian pastries
  • talked to three friends on the phone
  • hit an uber Christmas clearance sale at Kmart (Bought myself the holiday cookie jar I had been looking at. Instead of $19.99, it was only $0.99! I got seven bags of stuff for a little over $18! Woo-Whoo!)
  • tried out a step aerobics class at a gym I might join
  • returned something to Ross
  • had dinner (and a glass of wine)
  • took a shower
  • watched Chuck and Heroes
  • put some of my laundry away
  • scooped the litter boxes (and washed my hands twice)
  • talked to my parents on the phone
  • and blogged

I know that sounds like a lot, but when I think of the ongoing "to do" list in my head, I can feel my anxiety start to rise. I didn't use to feel this way. I think all aspect of life became more stressed when I started teaching. Any suggestions for how to deal with it all? I'd love to hear suggestions. :)

-Pigtailed Teacher

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Best (and Tackiest) Present Ever!

Last Monday one of my students walked into class and handed me a belated Christmas present. (Yay! I love presents!) But since it was the first day back after break, I didn't have time to ooh and ahh over it immediately. Instead I thanked her for the wonderful surpise and put it aside to look at after school.

At the end of a pretty smooth day in third grade, I sat down at my teacher's desk and noticed the present sitting on the floor next to me. The first thing I take out of the gift bag is a gem in itself...a glossy 8 x 10 photo of my student (and her brother, who I had last year), fresh from their holiday trip. I then pick up the other item in the bag, a medium-sized, wrapped box...I'm thinking chocolates, yup, definately chocolates. But boy am I wrong! This is so much more than chocolates. This is something I can use in the classroom. Something I will smile at each time I see it. This is....

a glossy cat key chain holder!
(engraved with a golden "Florida" in the lower left hand corner!)


Obviously this student had listened to my stories about Mugsy and Mookie (my two senior kitties) and thought of me while walking around a crowded gift shop in Orlando. What a sweetie!

If you're interested in learning more about Mugsy and Mookie, check out their blog at: http://www.crankyoldcats.blogspot.com/

Sunday, January 3, 2010

See Dad, I Told You I Didn't Quit!

So it's been over two and half months since I've written, but as I've been telling my dad, that doesn't mean I've quit blogging. It just means I took an extended vacation from it.

During my unplanned hiatus I did some serious apartment hunting, found an apartment, had to pack up the old one, move, and then slowly unpack at the new place. Also during this time our computer broke, and then our rebuilt computer called it quits, too. Since then I've hard a hard time motivating myself to do anything...unpack the last of the boxes in our den, find a gym that has lots of "fun" aerobic classes, or even blog, for that matter.

But with the new year comes renewed dedication for setting goals and actually trying to obtain them. One of mine of course, is to blog more. (Not hard to do considering my recent activity!) Anyway, this time though I'm looking to post twice a week. If I write more than that, great...I can consider it a bonus and give myself a gold star for effort. Talk to you later this week!
-P.T.