Tuesday, August 20, 2013

new classroom

Last year my classroom was really, really small. 

Like, really small. 

Thirty-four junior highers did not help.

Over the summer I got the most amazing news: the school was knocking out a bunch of unused offices to create a brand spanking new classroom... for Algebra! 

That's me! Yes!

This is what my new room looked like back in July:

There was a lot that needed to be done.

Last week when we were in Catalina, I was getting picture updates from several people. The last wall got knocked out! The dry wall's done! The carpet's in! 

On Friday I went in for a 9am meeting and ended up staying till 2 moving stuff over from my old room. A couple of wonderful guys brought over the furniture for me, including NEW stuff. Ikea bookcases! A kidney desk! Tables for the kiddos instead of desks! I'm in heaven.

After training tomorrow, the plan is to put that room together officially. I got confirmation today that the boards are up, which is what I was waiting on to start decorating. For now, I'm off to sew up some more pennant banners for my room!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oh, 28...

Tomorrow I will be 29, which I'm not very happy about. I don't feel 29. I certainly don't think I act 29. So how is it possible that I'm 29? I just don't get it.

In an attempt to be more cheerful about it, I've looked through my pictures over the last year to see what I've accomplished. It hasn't been that bad of a year. And at the same time, it was the hardest year of my life. I live a paradox.

What I did in my 28th year:

1) Celebrated turning 28. Chris turned our garage into a ghetto birthday room where our friends and family enjoyed food and drinks and some old school Nintendo.

2. Left my amazing job of 3 years to move on to my very own classroom. I will always be a Woodmanite at heart, though. I've gone back about 3 times this last year just to eat lunch with everyone like old times.

3. One of my best friends, Jenna, got married. This is not Jenna. This is the giant teddy bear that sat at our table with us.

4. I started my first year of teaching. This is what I looked like the first day. Too tired to even change out of my school clothes. This teaching year was by far the hardest thing I've ever done. But I totally did it.

5. Oh, yes. This year I learned how to make bomb salads.

6. Saw Les Miserables. It fully rocked.

7. We got real adult furniture finally. I can say now that our house is actually furnished with new items, not our college items.

8. I spent many a night at my desk looking at this kind of scenario: a lesson plan on the right, and a good episode of How I Met Your Mother on the left.

9. My team won the coveted gold at the school Olympics. Take that first year!

10. We started drinking green smoothies.

11. We vacationed in Santa Barbara for a week. Took the train up and walked everywhere. It was delightful.

12. Snuggled with this guy. Repeatedly.

13. Tried to love running. It did not work.

14. Started Project Life.

15. Got my wisdom teeth out. This event is represented by Jack, who stayed with me during my bed rest and caught up with Once Upon a Time with me.

16. Attended my good friend Jeremy's wedding. Sorry, Jer, I was too far away to get good pics of you. But here's a cute one of me and Chris! (Did I mention this was two days post-wisdom teeth?)

17. Celebrated every half day like it was Christmas break.

18. Went kayaking with Chris for the first time.

19. Stayed home by myself for an entire week while Chris was gone at a conference. (I'm such a big girl/I hated the whole week.)

20. Actually grew things this year, to the point that we could actually harvest and eat them. Huzzah!

21. Saw West Side Story with the T family at the Pantages.

22. Welcomed a new baby Cowen...

23. ... and a new baby Holz.

24. Said good-bye to my first class of students.

25. Went to New York!

26. Saw Newsies...

27. ... and Matilda

So... yeah. All in all, a pretty packed year. Didn't realize I'd seen four musicals this year! And we had two vacations! And this summary of events really makes it look like I didn't spend almost every waking moment prepping for school. Retrospect, huh?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

September is Coming

Yep. It's almost time again. Summer's remaining weeks are meager at best, and it's time to face the cold hard truth: school will be upon us all too quickly. (If this were Game of Thrones, we would all be ominously staring at each other and proclaiming, "Winter is coming.") So I've been slowly stockpiling ideas and pinning my pins and spending a couple late nights rearranging my overall curriculum plan. It's a little daunting this year. Last year I was new to this school: I had no choice but to go into my classroom blindly and just try to wade through the brand new curriculum as best I could. I didn't know what to expect of it. I didn't know what worked well, what didn't, and what I could do better. I didn't know what supplies I would actually need and what I could make myself and what I could forego altogether. 

So this year's going to be much different. I'm revamping the structure of my curriculum in a way that makes more sense. I'm continuing to make more of my own specific units and assessments to get the results I want. I'm putting in my requests now for things that will make life in my classroom go more smoothly (i.e, tables instead of eternally-tipping desks). 

But, dang, it takes a long time to do all this stuff. Kind of takes away the fun and relaxation of summer.  

So here's some of my ideas for this year:

Absent Folder Crate: I don't know if this was just because of the group of kids I had last year, but there were a LOT of absences on a daily basis. And trying to keep track of all those kids and what they needed to turn in or what they missed each day was capital C Crazy. So in an effort to maintain my goal of "Work Less than the Children," I'm passing the responsibility over to them. You were absent two days ago? Great! Why are you asking me what to do? Go to the crate. I think this is going to be great for keeping everyone on track... at least the kids who want to stay on track. 

Weekly Stamp Sheets: This is something I was already doing last year. They get a sheet each week that has room for all our in-class assignments and homework, as well as the grade for homework, and space for a stamp at the end of each class. The stamp is for behavior in class, and I have to admit I was too free with the stamp last year. I really hated feeling like I was passing judgment at the end of each class, because, really, getting a stamp or not was completely subjective, and I didn't have time to explain to kids why they weren't getting a stamp that day. This year I plan to make it an all or nothing stamp. No homework, no stamp. If you need a warning during class, no stamp. If their stamp sheet isn't done correctly and neatly, no stamp. (I really want to stress neatness this year.)

Interactive Math Journals: Super excited about this one. I've found so many foldables and fun ideas online, and I think it will really help the kids when it comes time to study. They'll be able to add touch into their learning in a unique way, and they get to have a creative outlet at the same time. Win for all of us! If you check out the link, you can see all the fun foldables I've been pinning.

Student Jobs: This is something I wanted to do last year but didn't have a good way to implement with four different class periods. I just figured the only way it would work smoothly would be with one class of kids. But by the end of last year I finally caught on to the fact that, despite my overemotional, overcrazy, overloud, somewhat attitudal eighth graders, they sooooooo want to help. Even with the lame jobs. So this year, instead of just assigning tasks arbitrarily, I'm going to set up a job system. I'll have to come up with some more tasks, but I think overall it'll be good for overall organization. And great for me to have specific kids doing specific tasks every day, especially during homeroom. I'm planning on passing off attendance and lunch count so I can focus on getting the kids settled and working first thing. Hurray!

Assignment baskets: I already had these last year, but this year I'm revamping with the addition of the record sheet. One of the student jobs will be to organize the assignments in numerical order (planning to do more with student numbers this year, too), and another will be to record the numbers that are missing. That'll take up a lot less time entering grades.

There's other stuff happening, too, but those are the big ones I've been thinking on to make my classroom run more smoothly this year. Now I just have to wait until my classroom is finished so I can actually start decorating and putting these ideas into practice. Unfortunately, it'll be a few weeks still. They've finally got all the interior walls down (my new room was formerly four offices), but they still need to put up drywall, paint, put in the carpet, and place the smart board, white boards, and bulletin boards. I really have no idea what I'll have in there. So for now, all decorating is in my mind and is completely subject to change. 

Two more weeks! :S