SOLSC Day 23: A Nice Surprise

So, you know when you have those days when you just feel overwhelmed, stressed, and just “done.” That’s how I was feeling this week for some reason. I sliced about this on Tuesday actually, and many of us seem to be feeling it a bit this time of year.

Then as I was getting ready to leave for the day yesterday, I decided to check my email quick and had an email letting me know that I have been nominated for Teacher of the Year in the district that I teach in. Honestly, it made me pretty happy. It came at the perfect time when I just needed something to perk me up a bit and that email did the trick.

I have no idea which parent/student it was, and I won’t know until the “award dinner” on May 5th. I’ve been a few times, as this is my 2nd time being nominated, but have had friends in my building get nominated and have gone to support. It’s a nice night. Everyone is dressed up, they have dinner and cocktails, and  each letter that was written for each of the nominees gets read aloud. At the end of the night they will announce the winner. A “blind panel” of volunteers read all the letters and decide from that who should get the award for the year. All of us will receive a $100 gift card to a restaurant and a certificate,  and the winner also receives an award, $1000 cash and a donation to their school as well. It’s a really nice night celebrating teachers, and there are many amazing teachers being nominated, as there are ever year.

Honestly, I don’t even think about “winning” it at all, as it really is an honor to be nominated. Especially since I work with some  wonderful, dedicated, caring teachers that sometimes don’t ever get the recognition they deserve! We all know in this field that we sometimes will only hear from a parent when they are upset or concerned, but  hardly ever what we are doing right. We all work hard and dedicate ourselves to our students, so it was a really nice feeling to know that someone out there appreciates what we do.

 

This is what I walked into today in my classroom. 🙂

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SOLSC Day 22: Therapeutic Writing

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When I decided to actually do the March Slice of Life writing challenge, I became inspired to also do a daily writing challenge with my 5th graders as well. While, I was not ready to have us take part in the official student challenge through Two Writing Teachers, (a goal for next year) my students are writing daily in their marble notebooks or typing their entries into a google doc and sharing it with me. 16 out of 19 of my students are still “in” it. My students can’t wait to share their notebooks with me and are so excited, they asked if we can do it again in May. Of course there are the students that I KNEW would love this, however, I really feel the best thing about it is the students that actually surprised me.

There is one boy in my class in particular that is standing out. This boy, who I adore by the way, has ADHD and really struggles with attention and impulsiveness. He also has a learning disability which makes academics more of a challenge for him. He is a great kid who is respectful, kind, and really tries to do well. However, he has not always LOVED writing as it can be a struggle for him. He will usually try to do the bare minimum and rush through it, as he’s not super comfortable with it. However, this challenge has CHANGED him. He has that black and white marble notebook with him always. It’s out on his desk all day, it goes to and from school every night, and some days he writes more than one entry. Not only is he writing a ton, he is excited to SHARE his writing with me. This “challenge” has become a way for him to express himself and his feelings.

Today while reading his notebook, I actually teared up. A few of his entries was about his grandfather that was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He writes about his feelings about his grandfather and how scared he is that he is sick. He talks about things they do together and that he’s worried as he “doesn’t look good.” The one that really got me was when he wrote how excited he was that he didn’t get in “trouble” with the substitute the day I was out last week.

His entries are so personal and insightful, and I find myself so lucky that he wants to share his private thoughts with me. To see the smile on his face, and the excitement he has about writing is amazing. I truly feel that this “challenge” allowed him a safe place to express himself and to get out his feelings, and that to me is the biggest indicator that the decision to do this challenge with my kids was a huge success!

 

SOLSC Day 21: Go, Go, Go.

Bell just rang and the kids just left. What a day. All of a sudden, I feel completely wiped out. I’m not sure why exactly, it wasn’t an out of the ordinary day. Just a usual day where I was pretty much ON all day fro the minute I stepped out of bed without much of a break or a rest. My husband left early for the fire house this morning, so I was up at 5:00 am to work out and get through the shower and dressed before my son woke. Then we are off to the races. Breakfast, teeth brushing, packing our bags… the usual morning chaos and time crunch! Getting him dressed and out of the house is always a challenge, especially when I am trying to get here early to get things done. Finally made it to work and had to show a staff member how to use the new grading system… so the time I wanted to spend getting things done was gone… My prep time was spent making copies of a packet we are doing for Social Studies and helping out the sub in the other 5th grade classroom get everything together. At recess time, we had a quick staff meeting about the new system we are using for grades, and I spent my lunch meeting with the school adjustment counselor about one of my kiddos. So needless to say it’s been non-stop.

I wish I felt less stressed right now as I’m doing my slice, but I’m playing beat the clock here right now, as I also have a doctor’s appointment at 4:00 pm , then off to pick up my son at the in-laws, home to make dinner, do tubby and get lunches made for tomorrow before bedtime. Oh.. that’s right! I just remembered… there are ALSO clothes in the dryer to fold and dishes in the dishwasher to put away. Maybe, just maybe at 8:00 pm I’ll be able to sit down and relax. Oh how nice it will be to put on a mindless show and just relax and unwind for an hour or two before I nod off and hopefully have a restful night’s sleep. Then up again at 5:00 am to do it all again tomorrow. Sigh. Thank goodness for caffeine. And Wine.

 

 

SOLSC Day 20: Spring is Here!

Since today is the first day of Spring and the 20th day of the challenge I thought I’d come up with a list of 20 of my favorite things about Springtime!

  1. Running! I love doing 5Ks in the spring more than any other time of year.
  2. The temperature when it’s not too warm and not too cold. 🙂
  3. Fresh air.. Oh, the joy of being able to air out my house and my classroom by opening the windows!
  4. Seeing the grass. I love when the snow is gone for good, and my yard is green!!!
  5. Flowers. Especially Tulips.
  6. NOT wearing gloves, heavy scarfs, my winter coat and boots!!
  7. Pedicures (I skip them pretty much from January through March)
  8. Driving  in the car with the windows down
  9. Going hiking/walking with my husband
  10. Playing outside with Brayden after school.
  11. It’s Baseball season. Go Red Sox!!!
  12. How much my mood lightens when it is sunny and bright out.
  13. Taking the train into Boston and walking around the city.
  14. Spending our weekends more outdoors than in!
  15. Sleeping with the windows open. (That little bit of time between having the heat still on and needing the air conditioner!)
  16. Wearing clothes that are NOT black or gray!
  17. Grilling dinner pretty much every night of the week.
  18. Sitting outside on our porch, having a cocktail with my husband after Brayden goes to bed.
  19. Easter with my huge family and the very elaborate egg hunt we do for the kids!
  20. April Vacation Week!

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SOLSC Day 19: Small trip down memory lane

I woke up this morning thinking about college. Which is weird because I really haven’t thought about my time as an undergraduate at Bridgewater State College in a very long time, yet when I opened my eyes and was in that “fog” before you’re truly awake, I was thinking about the big cafeteria where I used to meet a group of friends that were from my hometown for a late breakfast/early lunch in between classes. I am guessing I must have been having a dream about it, because the memories truly came out of nowhere. I mean, This was all a life time ago, and I never even think about  it, but for some reason this morning I could remember all the details of the campus and that big, bright, open cafeteria we used to meet at.

While I did live on campus my first year, I ended up commuting after that. The drive was only about 4o minutes and even when my parents were paying room and board, I was home every other weekend to work at my job and to see my boyfriend and my friends. Since it was pretty close, many kids from my home town went to college there, and it was not uncommon to see familiar faces on campus. There were actually a bunch of us “Norwood” kids that commuted to school there, and even though some of us didn’t know each other that well before BSC, we became a pretty close-knit group from hanging out together there. Some of us actually began commuting together when we could, and we started to hang out back at home, meeting out for dinner and drinks, etc.  One of the girls that ended up becoming one of my closest friends from BSC  was actually the girlfriend of my long-term high school boyfriend. It sounds weird, but we hit it off from the start and she was fun and funny and we were instant friends. Luckily, I had stayed friends with my ex and his group of friends, so from hanging out with her, I was spending a lot of time with him too, but it seemed completely normal! Okay, yes at first I think  it was a bit weird for him that his ex-girlfriend and his new girlfriend were such good friends, commuted to school together and were pretty much inseparable, but not for her or I. He got over it, especially since I dated his best friend for the next THREE years. Ha. Looking back now it’s all pretty crazy, but it was such a fun time in my life, and we were all so young. Only in our small town  of Norwood can going off to college actually expand your circle of friends at home. Needless to say she and I are still friends twenty something years later, well past our college boyfriends and our time at the BSC cafeteria. Oh.. good times.

SOLSC Day 18: First hour of the day

I awoke from a sound sleep at exactly 7:04 am to someone crawling on me. When I opened one eye to look at the clock my first thought was thank god it’s at least 7:00 as Brayden usually likes to come in and get into bed around six am. (Thank you Day Light Savings Time!) So.. my day began. I thought for the 18th day of the challenge, and this month, I would list 18 things that I got done today in my first sixty minutes of being awake. All done by 8:04 am. 🙂

  1. Cuddled for a few minutes with my six-year-old in bed while answering at least 18 questions.
  2. Peed (Sorry if TMI)
  3. Washed my face and brushed my teeth.
  4. Emptied the dishwasher
  5. Made my protein shake with berries and almond/coconut milk.
  6. Made scrambled eggs for my son.
  7. Cleaned up all the breakfast dishes.
  8. Made and drank my first cup of coffee.
  9. Brought out the trash and the recyclable items to the bins outside.
  10. Paid my cell phone bill and my visa bill online through my phone.
  11. Made a quick grocery list for my husband to pick up on his way home from the firehouse.
  12. Talked to my husband, and gave him the list!
  13. Helped my very frustrated six-year old snap in a Lego piece he couldn’t get.
  14. Put in my workout DVD that I plan on doing in a bit.
  15. Went down to the basement and folded the laundry that I had in the dryer from last night.
  16. Peed again! (I go A LOT) 🙂
  17. Made a 2nd cup of coffee while checking Facebook and email.
  18. Sat down on the couch to watch the episode of “Fixer Upper” I had saved on the DVR for a few quiet minutes before I REALLY start my day.

So, after my bit of down time I settled down to write my slice and next up.. the basement for my Insanity workout! Then it’s into the shower, getting ready and making a guacomole dip for the family birthday party we have this afternoon for my cousin’s son 1st birthday. It’s going to be a good day!

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SOLSC-Day 17: A Big Misunderstanding

So first, Happy St. Patrick’s Day all! Due to the “holiday” my school (as most I’m sure) is filled with students and staffed decked out in their green! As teachers, we love days when we get permission from our principal to dress down. We try to have “Dress down” Fridays as often as possible. One way we get it approved is to have “Dress Down Day” for small donations to charities, etc.

Well, Brayden’s school just happens to be doing a fundraiser right now for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, so I thought this would be a great cause for our St. Patty’s Day Dress down. Especially since Leukemia is also the type of cancer that my brother had and passed from. So, Yesterday when I came into school I ran the idea by my principal, and she was all for it! She said for me to spread the word and she’d also send a message to the staff to let them know.

Fast-forward to 2:45 pm yesterday. Five minutes before the bell and my class in the middle of a heated discussion about Child Labor with myself and our reading specialist after reading an informational article  when I notice that my phone keeps buzzing at my desk. When the bell rings and my kids start to pack up, I go over to check it and realize I have two text messages from staff members that weren’t in the building yesterday. The music teacher and our school adjustment counselor who both travel between two buildings. The first one I read says, “Oh my god! I just read Ms. K’s text! What is happening? Is Brayden ok?”  the next one. “Maura, What?! What is going on?!! Ms. K just sent a text and I’m freaking out!”

So I open the text that was sent to the entire staff from our remind app. It reads, “Dress Down tomorrow for donations to Brayden Belanger’s Leukemia Drive.” Um, what?!! Ha. Within seconds of me reading this, one of the other 5th grade teachers flies into my room with her phone. Two of the teachers in the building are texting HER worried about Brayden. Yikes! Talk about a misunderstanding.

So, needless to say there were many, many, worried staff members and friends upon receiving this message due to the way it was worded and I needed to do damage control. I sent out an email to the entire staff and explained that our dress down day was for Brayden’s SCHOOL Fundraiser and that he was absolutely fine. It really goes to show how a text can be very misleading!!

 

SOLSC Day 16: Halfway Point

I have to say I am pretty proud of myself that I’ve actually made it to Day 16 of this challenge without missing a day. Half way through and I’m determined to keep it up for the rest of the month as well. It’s been a really positive, wonderful experience for me to both get my thoughts down and share them, but also to have the opportunity to get to know so many others out there from their own stories and posts. I am loving this experience very much and excited that I decided to be part of it.

While my students are not “officially” doing the SOL challenge, I did decide to do a daily writing challenge with my 5th graders for the month of March. I made it voluntary, but I was pleasantly surprised that most of my 19 students are going strong with it, and really enjoying it. I’m loving to see what they are coming up with in their writing notebooks. Some are using it like a journal and every daily entry talks about what happened that day or their feelings about something that day. Others are really changing it up, and every day is a bit different. They are creating lists about themselves, poems, and some are just writing about what comes into their heads. I am loving that they got so excited about this, and are actually continuing with it as well. At ethe end of the month, I am going to print off certificates for all the students that took part of the challenge and for those who completed all 31 days, I plan to put their names in a hat and pull one name randomly for a prize. The prize will be a $20 gift card to Barnes & Nobles! It’s been really cool to have about 15-20 minutes a day when the students are writing and so am I. I am really enjoying everything about this experience.

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SOLSC Day 15: Case of the Meanies

I have to start by saying that I absolutely LOVE teaching 5th grade. I love the age group and how much I able to do with them. They are still “kids”, but they are coming into their own, and finding out what they are good at, what they like, and they’re just FUN to talk too. We talk movies, sports, and just things going on in the news and world. However, with this age group, sometimes part of my job is also dealing with the “meanness”. This was part of what I had to deal with this morning.

Right at the start of my day, I had three of my students come to me before the bell rang to tell me that another student in my room was being really mean through text and snapchat. Calling one girl fat and ugly, and teasing one of her other “friends” for hanging out with two other friends because of the color of their skin and telling her she needs to choice, us or them.

Ugh. I hate this. I hate that I try so hard to teach my students to be kind, consideratea nd respectful to their peers. We discuss bullying and prejudice and racism. Our class motto is “treat others the way you would want to be treated, yet sometimes it’s just not enough. It’s so disappointing to hear (and see) that one of my students is being really mean and intentionally hurting the feelings of others. The other part that is really tough as an educator as the teasing and bullying is usually done through their cell phones, out of school. This makes it hard for us to deal with it directly in school as we didn’t witness it ourselves.

So, I took 45 minutes of my morning to hold a classroom discussion about being mean,and how we can’t take back the words we say or what we write, even if it disappears after a few seconds, or we delete it, the damage has been done. I STILL remember the times I was teased as a kid and the mean things that were said to me, and I really wish they could all understand that and realize how much their words could affect someone.

I love my job usually and overall I have a class of great kids, but I can’t help that today I’m seeing one of them a “little” differently. I am feeling disappointment and quite honestly, a bit of disgust with her. I am an educator but I’m also a human being, and seeing a girl in tears and seeing the words that were sent to her phone by a friend” broke my heart, and it’s hard to not hope, just a little bit, that this “mean girl” might soon get a taste of her own medicine. “What comes around goes around.”

 

SOLSC Day 14: Snowy Day memories

So on this very snowy March 14th, it came to me this morning that on March 14, 1994.. Yes 23 years ago, there was also a snow storm. How do I remember this? Well, on that day, two recently turned 21 year olds, were supposed to be on their way to Daytona Beach to start their spring break! My bestie, Di and I, were seniors in college (her at Bryant in Rhode Island, and me at Bridgewater Sate in Massachusetts) and we were finally going away for spring break!

Our flight was mid morning, at about 10-10:30 and although we knew a storm was coming later in the day, we were hopeful that we’d get out before it got bad. My parents drove us in to Logan Airport early that morning, and we sat in the back, holding hands, and praying that our flight would be on time. Remember, this was before smart phones and the ability to just go online and check every two seconds in the car.

Not a flake had fallen out of the sky until we got to the airport, and then it started to come down. My parents said a quick goodbye as they had to drive home and wanted to get out of there before it got bad. We ran to the check out gate only to stop short when we saw the huge line of people waiting in the Delta line. We checked the board in panic and for a moment saw our flight listed, On-Time. We took a sigh of relief and got into the long check-in line. Finally, we were at the counter. We were all smiles and giggly. Ready to get out of dodge before the storm hit. when boom.

“I’m sorry. Your flight has been cancelled.”

NO!!!! So, as everyone else in the airport was finding out, all the flights were being grounded and nobody was getting out today. We could get on a flight on Tuesday (two days from then..) and we could try to fly standby the next day. 😦 Oh, and they gave us vouchers for a hotel room at the Ramada Inn at the airport and dinner.

What do we do? Do we stay? Do we call our parents and come back tomorrow? Our flight was not until Tuesday, however this woman was also telling us that there were a few flights to Florida the next day, and we could go on stand by. We thought about it and decided we’d wait it out, and try to get on any flight we could the next day that would get us to Florida. We can fly to Orlando or Lauderdale and rent a car if we have to. We  were only away until Saturday. We really didn’t want to miss any more of our beach time! So, we made a decision. Off to the Ramada Inn we go to wait out the storm and pray that we’d get out the next day somehow.

Yes, we were bummed, we were depressed, but we tried to stay positive. We were spending our first night of vacation in an airport hotel, but what we didn’t realize… so were a TON of other college students that also were trying to get out for spring break! Needless to say the restaurant and lounge of the Ramada Inn in Boston, had become “Senor Froggy’s” in a matter of hours that night. We TOOK. IT. OVER.  There was music, dancing, karaoke, lots of alcohol and I feel that all of us that were “stuck” definitely made the most of our situation.

That first night of our spring break, stuck in Boston, was one of the best, most fun nights of our entire trip! We met great people, we laughed, we danced and we had a blast!! So funny how an unexpected “bad” situation, turned into an amazing night! We actually did get on a flight to Orlando the next day and made it to Daytona Beach the following night by 5:00-6:00 at night, and our official vacation started. We had a great trip, lots of laughs and lots of fun together, but after all this time, that first night at the Ramada is the memory that is most vivid in our minds. We have laughed and relived some of the conversations we had that night over and over again in the last twenty-three years. Oh so many memories. Good times.

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