Five Reasons I Can’t Sit Around During the Summer 


Everyone hates on teachers during the summer. I totally get it. But we need those summer days away from kids and work and thinking and solving problems for kids. We just need a brain break away.

On the flip side, when you don’t have many friends or family around, it’s hard to find things to do. I send my daughter to daycare most of the summer because she needs that interaction with kids so that leaves me with not too much to do. So that leaves me with the sun and my wallet. Why is this a problem you say? Well, lots of reasons! Let’s talk about the top 5 reasons why I can’t sit around and do nothing this summer as a teacher.

1. I will buy everything. This is not an exaggeration. If I have nothing else to do, I will start shopping. I will buy stuff for my classroom, I will stuff for my daughter, I’ll buy clothes, food, coffee, plants, stuff for my house, my backyard and literally anything else that I can do which usually requires money. Amazon Prime is my serious downfall but now that I have nothing to do during the day, I go visit stores and keep a’chargin. The worst part is that I am not making extra money (although I keep trying) so the more I spend is just out of my regular pay check…. all equaling down to the key word: BROKE.

2. I think too much. Right now my mom is here and my dad will be here next and last week I was away in New York with family and friends, but when they all leave, I will just be left with my thoughts and my broke credit card. During the summer, I have too much time to think. I think about life, my friends, dwell on things that happen and what doesn’t happen. It is not surprising that last summer I started this blog! This blog was my focus last summer so that took away a lot of my thinking and then I was able to focus my thinking on blogging. This year I am focusing my thinking on Instagram and Facebook audiences but still… too much thinking time!

3. I dress up my daughter and take way too many pictures of her.  Not that everyone doesn’t loveeee pictures of my daughter, especially when I dress her up in cute little dresses. But she doesn’t always love it! So I think that when it’s summer time, Hailey gets dressed up way more than normal and social media sees way more pictures of her than normal!

4. I start reorganizing, cleaning, selling and throwing away things.  Usually this is a really good thing, however, when there is so much time, it ends up turning into a bad thing. I will start selling things that I probably will need eventually but not at the moment, I throw away lots of things that maybe I should keep. I basically do some purging (last summer we moved – so the purging was the real deal) and everything gets changed around and then….. I refer back to number 1, because now I need to buy new things.

5. I wish my friends from home were around. Going back to #2 where I think too much, it takes me to wishing that my friends from home were here. It is always a tease when I come home in the beginning of the summer and get to see everyone and then all of a sudden, I am back at my house and have no friends around to hang out with. There are a few of them but a lot of them keep to themselves so I end up spending a lot of time by myself. But always during that time I am wishing my friends from home were around so I could see them and talk to them and hang out with them.

 

This is a drastic cycle. It always circles back. #1 never goes away and it is definitely the worst. There is nothing easier to do than spend money when you are bored.

I wonder if this list is something that other teachers out there can relate to. I think my next post will be how I can beat these 5 and actually not be broke by the end of each summer month!

 

 

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SOL: South Bronx Classroom Stories

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My first teaching job was at a charter school in the South Bronx. We were almost considered Manhattan, but still far enough up that it was the Bronx. I had never spent too much time in the Bronx outside of Yankee Games and job interviews but here I was teaching 5th grade after student teaching and working as a bartender and a preschool teacher, now I was in the big leagues.

I was so excited and beyond thrilled with being a real teacher in a real school. Now, it had been a year since I had student taught and I had taught in a upper class school, to say honestly, I was not prepared for my experience.

All I can say is thank god for my amazing teaching team. We had 2 ELA teachers, 2 Math teachers and a special ed teacher. We also had an amazing ELA coach who without her, we may not have survived. I was lucky enough that a guy I had met in a class I had taken at a different campus for my college had called me and asked if I was looking for a job, as he was the assistant principal.

Anyway, I wanted to preface the story before I began. I have quite a few stories from this school, but I thought of one today that I wanted to share since it is April & we (teachers) are tired.

So as a new teacher, coming into a new school, to a new class, half way into October, with no curriculum, and a few months pregnant, in the South Bronx…… life is stressful.

In the 1st couple of weeks of school, I lost my voice from screaming so much, and I got extremely sick with a fever. As I am a stubborn person, I clearly never went home, I continued going to work.

I don’t know if you have ever driven in the Bronx or tried to park on the streets in the Bronx, but as you can imagine it being a city, there was always traffic, never any spots, and a ton of busses.

Have you ever been so sick with a fever that the fever might have just taken over your brain and everything is in slow motion or you can’t judge distance?! Well this was the point I was at on a Friday night trying to leave school.

I made the trek to my car 2 miles away and its dark now because we got out of school so late. At this point I know I am super sick. At the point that my head might fall off kind of sick and I had no medicine. Obviously, this is the perfect time to go drive into aggressive traffic and try to make it home.

Well, I didn’t make it far down the street that my school was on when I tried to pass a NYC DOT Bus, but didn’t quite clear the side of the bus. What. The. Heck. Was. That?! 

There went my passenger’s side mirror. Gone. Vanished. I am so sick at this point I don’t even care and I know I can play it off and blame it on the Bronx!

I get home and have to explain to everyone what happened to my mirror. Unforunately, no one buys my story about it just being the Bronx.

I thought this was an appropriate story for this time of year when all teachers are super tired!

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National Boards: Editing Nightmare

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For those who do not know what National Boards for teachers is, it is an accelerated teaching program that has 4 components where you need to go above and beyond with how you teach and why you do what you do in the classroom, specifically focusing on one student and then the whole class. This includes a 13 page paper, 2 video taped lessons of 15 minutes each, a 3 hour test, another 15 page page, 2 written papers about the videos… and I think that’s it!

My teaching partner and I decided we would do this in one year. Why not!? Its possible to do, we are going to do it. But right now it is just a lot of work. I am in the process of making edits to my 19 page paper that can only be 13 pages at the most and I had two people read my paper and correct it. There are so many corrections. You would think I was not a good writer.

But the one thing I have noticed about my writing is that I tend to add in a lot of extra nouns that don’t need to be there. Some of the most common words I have been deleting are: and, the, be able to, that, with, were, was, also, noticed

And the list goes on.

I am hoping to finish this paper tonight, however, it is midnight and I am on page 11 of 19…. and I started quite a while ago!

 

What Teachers Really Do on Week Breaks 

{https://www.weareteachers.com/winter-break-memes-teachers/}
Everyone thinks it’s so great to be a teacher because we have all this time off and we get to sit around and do nothing all that time. 

What a common misconception about the reality of a teacher. Especially teachers with kids. 

What do most teachers do during a break in the middle of the year ? One would always like to think go to a tropical island and lay on the beach and drink pina cooladas right ?  And sometimes that could be the case. But usually it is doing all the things you are unable to accomplish during the week when you are working – doctors appointments.

Most people who work in an office can leave for an hour or two and go to these appointments or they can run those errands that they need to go so when it’s time to get off of work, they can just go home.  Unfortunately that does not work the same for teachers. I could not ever leave during the day for an appointment during the day! I would have to find a person to cover my class and then write sub plans for what they should do with them, if there is even a sub available. And I definitely couldn’t leave and then go back! That is not acceptable. 

So here I sit this week off, when I wish I could be on a tropical island, I am sitting in doctors office after doctors office getting all my appointments in so that I don’t have to do it all over April break too! Literally all week long. Dentist for me, dentist for Hailey,  vet for my cat, other doctors for me, etc. 

Ugh. Adulting! 

How many doctors will you see over your break ?!

SOL: To Give Homework or Not to Give Homework?

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{photo credit: Mrs. Beattie’s Classroom}

This is the first time I worked in a school where homework was not mandatory. In NYC, I was required to give homework every night, over the weekends and over all of the major breaks. Then, I had to hold the students accountable for actually do it, and then to top everything off I was expected to check and grade it all every day. I had 60-80 kids in both schools. Totally crazy!

Now, what did my kids really learn from having to do all that homework? Did they do it? What happened if they didn’t? Did I let them fail if they didn’t get it done? Do I pass them because they are lazy? All these questions I had no idea on what to do. They were 5th and 6th graders in a school considered a middle school setting for 5th graders. Were we doing a disservice to these kids by giving them too much homework? It literally made them hate school more than they probably already did.

On the flip side, I am in a school now where they don’t micro manage what type of homework we give, and we have dropped down to the bare minimum. I had 6th grade last year and 3rd grade this year and literally a reading log and some math homework here and there and spelling homework is optional. Last year as a 6th grade teacher, I felt that it was important for these kids going into middle school that they needed to be held accountable for their homework and getting it done and so did my team.

This year in 3rd grade, I am beginning to see the uselessness of homework in the lower grades. My kids just don’t do it. And there parents don’t enforce it either. But, can I blame them?

What I have learned about homework recently is this: the kids who need to do it, don’t. The kids who don’t need to do it, do it. The other kids, their parents do it for them. In which case are we doing justice to everyone involved? They are supposed to go home and take what we learned in class and apply it to their homework. I can tell you that my 3rd graders walk out of my room to go home and they don’t remember a single thing about school, let alone how to do their math homework.

The next thing that I learned is that as a 8/9 year old in 3rd grade, I really just want them to go home and play! After struggling to learn and stay focused all day long, they should not have to do any homework when they go home. They are still young and need exercise and need to play and need to relax and just enjoy life. There is nothing more they are going to learn at home about math or vocabulary words at age 8 at home.

My conclusion for my belief is this: upper grades I can understand the homework, getting the students ready for college and preparing to work hard. K-4th grade need to have brain breaks. Even 5th graders, I think they are still young and need some time. 6th graders can handle the work but some choose not to out of laziness and then 7th on should be starting to prepare for college.

How do you feel about it? Do you notice the same things I do? Have you found a solution in your classroom?

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Opinion Writing Mentor Texts

A coworker and I were brain storming on some mentor texts to use for opinion writing and character analysis. We came to the conclusion that our curriculum book didn’t have any lasting characters that we could even remember to talk about so the kids surely would not remember. 

We found those four books and each of them have lasting characters and all learn a lesson. They can be used for different strategies besides just opinion writing. That is huge when buying books for me. I know Amazon makes them so cheap and so easy to get but if I can only use them once then sometimes it’s not worth it to buy. 

We needed to have a writing lesson for our national boards and we felt that there was not enough materials and resources to have a good lesson. These books I bought have really great characters in them to use as a compare/contrast, teach character traits, to use for opinion on if they would have handled the situation the same why or why not, etc. 

Based on the scenerios in the story, the kids can relate to some of them and the others are interesting with good characters. I am excited for next week to read all of these books!!!!

Workshop on Dyslexia 

I attended a workshop today on Dyslexia and I seriously love going to professional development. 

There is so much wonderful and important information out there for people, especially teachers, to learn that I just wonder why I have not been doing this my whole career. 

This workshop really helped me see the light on some of the kids in my class and what is happening. It also made me realize there is so much more to Dyslexia than just seeing words backwards and writing them backwards. 


This quote they posted up was brilliant. It was such a great quote because what they were saying with the quote was that kids with Dyslexia feel like they are stupid because they are terrible spellers, the have a hard time reading aloud and they have poor handwriting. So when they turn work in and you mark it up, writing all of the things they did wrong, they feel stupid. 

Another piece if information that I learned was that Dyslexic students memorize the words that they read because they cannot decode words like other readers, making spelling quizzes and learning how to spell nearly impossible.  I 100% have a student like this in my class. 

This was a great list of sites that can help your students or children – whether it be learning a new way to learn digraphs, prefixes and suffixes, or having speech to text. All huge resources. 

Teachers, I would recommend a workshop like this. It is very enlightening. It opened my eyes for signs to look for.