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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Ramblings of a Teacher

I've sat here for a while this evening wondering should I post my random thoughts...the thoughts that have been going through my head all year...the thoughts that have weighed heavy on my shoulders...the thoughts that have weighed heavy in my heart...the thoughts that have made me question my profession over the past few years.  Then I thought maybe I shouldn't.  I wouldn't want someone to view me as pessimistic, negative, or a "burned out."    Then I thought again.....that's not what I am. There's a difference between a teacher that is FED UP and one that is burned out.  I realized that today as I helped with field day in my son's school. His school is in the same county as the one that I teach, and today I realized that there's a huge difference in schools, parents, students, funding, technology, etc. 

First, let me say that I truly do love what I do.  I love watching those light bulb moments when students finally get it.  I love watching the growth my students make throughout the year.  This growth is in all areas... social, academic and maturity.   I love teaching.  I always have.  I'm dedicated.  I live it and breath it.  My first teaching position was right after my senior year.  I graduated in May of '99 and began teaching that Fall.  I always joke with my students and tell them that I've been in school since I was six, so I must think it's a pretty great place to be.  :)

Now.....what I'm not loving:


This is how society feels about us! 
 I'm tired of people thinking that teachers don't do their job.  That we only work 10 months out of a year.  That we only work until 3:30.  PLEASE!  Teaching is a hard job...PERIOD!  

 Are they accountable?
What are they accountable for?  Anything? 
You have some like this right?  Those that find fault with OTHER students when their children get in trouble.  Those that think that their child NEVER is the one at fault?  I'm a parent people---I know that my child isn't always innocent.  I know that it's not easy to hear that he or she made bad choices.  I know you feel it's a reflection on you, but it's not.  Kids are kids.  They do and will make mistakes.  It is YOUR responsibility to help me.  Back me up.  If I tell you that something happened in the classroom and it needs fixed, help me fix it.  No excuses.  It's okay.  Let's fix it before it becomes a HUGE problem.  No judging here.

Then there's the grade issues:
 No matter what type of socioeconomic status your building is in, you will have problems with this.  From wondering why your straight A child has a B (Yep, I've been that parent *holds head in shame*), to no support at home because unfortunately the parent (or in some cases grandparent) is struggling with the reading assignment at home.  It's sad friends.  We have parents who sometimes are illiterate.  They want better for their children, but are unable how to help at home.  Sometimes we as teachers need to help educate the parents so that they too can achieve success.  We have to close that gap!

Which brings me to my biggest PEEVE!

We, as educators, are evaluated on how well our students perform.
Our students are evaluated on how well they perform on one test. 

We are taught to differentiate instruction, provide interventions as needed to help students become successful.....THEN give them all the same test?

Okay, many of my students do NOT have the same background knowledge, the same experiences, the same advantages as my son's school---but I'm going to expect the same from them?  I'm going to expect the teachers to all have the same results as well?
So what if I have Accomplished on my Ohio report? Do I feel like I am?  Not really because it's ONE TEST.  I have students who are still struggling.  Have them made growth--yes, do I feel they are ready for 2nd grade?  No, not all of them.  One test shouldn't determine my value or their value.  It's not fair.  Who else is judged like this in society?

I feel like the weight of the world is on us..the educators.

I feel that we are where the blame goes.
 I feel that we (well not we as teachers, but we as a society) send kids on when they aren't ready.  I feel that sometimes they just need another year to play "catch up."  It's not that they can't learn---there are just so many other variables in their lives that sometimes life is hard on a little one.   I feel that sometimes we are their safety.  We are their consistence.  I just wish that others (others that aren't educators) realized all that we, as teachers, take on.

So what's my point in all of this?
For others not to question the profession that they fell in love with.

It's not a question of "Do I have burnout?"  
This job can be and is emotional.  This job is the MOST important job from all other jobs.

And when it's all said and done:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Centers for the End of the Year

The end of the year is always such a busy time.  Between grading, running records, state assessments---that's just at school.  Then if you have family/friends graduating, weddings, sports---it's just like May is a HUGE chaotic mess. I'm so glad that I have ACTUALLY prepped and prepared to have some centers ready as the year winds down.  I NEVER am ready---but this year, I'm on the ball. 
I'm not sure if it was that I prepped some last year, that I'm more motivated because I'm excited about a new job, or if I'm just ready for vacation so it seems like I'm more organized.  Ahh, whatever the case, I'd like to share with you some of the stations we will be doing as the year winds down.

I did a video on my Camping Set last week. 
You can click HERE to see the video.
*Side note, my kids are always curious about what I name the stations.  If I don't tell them the name of the game that we're playing, they will stop me and ask what it's called.  I found that kind of cute---and interesting that it matters to them! :)

I had several people comment that they liked the preview video of the pack, so I thought I'd do it with some of my end of the year packs as well.

This is for Splash Into Summer.  This isn't a differentiated pack, but I LOVE it and my kiddos enjoyed it last year as well.  I have just recently posted it on  TpT. 

Here's a video preview of this pack:

Then, another favorite of mine is S'more Fun with Math.
 My students loved these activities last year--especially ON FIRE.  My son still mentions how it was one of his favorite games.  The graphics in this set make it fun too! :)
Here's a video of this set if you are interested in checking it out as well. 

Ohh and I finally finished OH BUMMER, It's Still Not Summer!!
This is just a quick and easy to print pack of worksheets/activities.
This set was made for my firsties, so it may not be appropriate for the students in your room. It contains some very basic review skills for my students that are still very much needed. :)
I will let you preview it in this video. :)

If any of these center activities look like something you would enjoy, I'm having a sale on TpT.  

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