Absentee Blogger

Being a first year teacher essentially swallowed my life. I thought I’d have all sorts of creative things to share, but I just had a lot of “tired,” a lot of “frustrated,” a lot of “overwhelmed.” 

I’ve seen the belly of the beast: a title one school, one of the statistically worst in the country- kids whose parents are incarcerated, homeless kids, kids in foster care, kids passing through for a few weeks on their way somewhere else, kids who only have guaranteed meals at school…and of course kids with all varieties of more conventional families. 

They all think their lives are normal, and for them they are. Even though 98% of my kids get free lunch- they don’t consider themselves poor.  Even though 85% of my kids are reading far below grade level- they consider themselves average or above average. Even though many of them are in 8th grade but on their 4th or 5th year of middle school- they consider that a regular feature of school. And for this community, I guess it is.

It’s been a year where I’ve had to really think hard about my lenses, my norms, my perceptions. When another new teacher asked the question I’d been thinking, “Why are we making such a big deal of 8th grade prom and 8th grade graduation?” – the answer surprised me. Many of our kids won’t graduate. I googled the rates for the neighboring high school and it’s under 50%…but only about 35% of boys. 
Suddenly my student nonchalantly running out the clock on his 5th year of middle school with an eye toward his 16th birthday makes…I hesitate to say “sense” but I guess I now know why.

Teach for America asks us all to view ourselves as empowered agents of change.  It’s hard to imagine the three of us in my school turning around the culture of a whole community…it was hard enough (and I’m not saying I’ve been successful) just trying to create a culture in my classroom where high school graduation is an expectation and college is an attainable goal.  Some days, just getting through a lesson while fighting the constant battle against behavior issues felt Sisyphean…  

But…next year is a new year…there are just a few weeks left…and for now, I have bees and a garden to meditate on. 

  
One of my kids asked me this recently. 

Citrus/Vinegar Cleaner for Whiteboards

I like to use as few chemicals as possible in cleaning, but my school gave me whiteboard cleaner and so I’ve been using it. I think it’s about the same as windex, from the smell of it….and I definitely don’t like the smell.

Last week, my document camera (the overhead projector of the new millennium) stopped working between 2nd and 3rd periods while I was modeling writing in paragraphs/proofreading to my kids.

I went to the whiteboard and realized that all of my dry erase markers were too thick for the job of writing a bunch all at once, and too temporary to stand up to proofreading. So I grabbed a wet erase marker and went to town.

Afterward, I tried to clean the board and this happened:

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Big smeary mess! That’s actually after two attempts with the expo cleaner.

So today, I decided to put citrus/vinegar cleaner head to head with the expo.

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Grudge match!

The winner?

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School Starts This Week!

To say that I’m nervous would be an understatement.  New kids, new state, new a lot of things.  I sent my desk up today…I really hope I can keep it looking about like this, although I pretty much doubt it!  Being a teacher means I get to be extra crafty and also have an outlet for my love of office supplies!

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I’m super obsessed with Nikki McClure.  I get her calendar every year and then cut the previous year’s calendar up and use the images as note cards.  I have a handful of the words from 2013 stuck on my wall by my desk.  2015’s just came out and went right on my Christmas list.  If you want to check it out, it’s here!

I’ve also been working on a classroom library for a little while.  I’m actually up around 100 books these days, which has taken quite a bit to acquire.

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This isn’t quite all of them, I realized after I took this photo that I still had a small box of them to go….but for this one brief moment they are alphabetized.  Sigh…