Week one done

We made it through the first week of school and now we are celebrating the long weekend with a “no-plans” weekend.  :)  Other families are off on exciting Labor Day vacations, and we are cozying down in PJs with the weekend comics and a big mug of tea.  That’s the way we roll.

I had a fairly easy transition into my teaching, with just one class the first day, no classes the second day (but lots of learning about the tech at school), and four classes each the last two days of the week.  I was exhausted Wednesday night (my no class day!) and feeling nervous about the next day with four classes.  I put the kids to bed early and myself to be immediately after them.  Thursday rolled around and the day was great!!  Four great classes!  Friday was the same.  I’m sure they won’t always be great, but I’m super happy about how the first week went.  :)

Eve is enjoying her new mixed class with all of the kids in one room.  It’s a big group of students and teachers, but so far she’s happy.  She also got an award for showing Caring, Safe, and Responsible behavior all week long.  It’s a new program they started this year and Eve was thrilled to be one of the first students to get it.

Lex made it to school happily each day.  He has homework now that is often online, so we need to come up with a way to keep track of that.  In the past homework was on a piece of paper that could sit on the table until it was done, but now he’s a big kid and things are changing.  He had a field trip to the lake where they did team building activities and tie-dyed t-shirts.  He had fun.

Everyone is happy to go back next week… after a three day weekend!

First day of a new school year!

Today began a new chapter in this house. Lex headed off to 6th grade at the middle school, Eve started 4th grade, I had my first day at the Media Specialist in the school library, and Arlo got to spend seven hours in his crate! No big changes for Alan though, sorry. Alan brought Lex in and said drop-off went well. Eve and I walked to school. I start later than she does, so I was able to walk her (and Arlo) to school in the morning, then come home, shower, and get myself ready. It’s a plan that kind of works, but needs some refinement. It worked well today though!

Back to school.

Miss Eve heading off to 4th grade.

My middle schooler!

Flowers for the teachers.

This girl is too much!

I only had one class to teach today, but I also had lunch duty, meetings, and an assembly. Tomorrow it’s just recess duty and meetings, then Thursday and Friday I get classes back to back to back! I’ll be ready for the long weekend!

Flowers for the librarian! Thanks family!!!

At the end of the day Eve came to meet me in the library and she was clearly excited about something. She said she wasn’t working on a project and I COULDNT NOT PEEK! She then asked me when my birthday is (precisely) and then decide maybe not to wait that long to share her project. After awhile she asked if she could take my picture and she set up the scene she wanted.

The new school librarian standing by the “NEW” books shelf!

Then she asked to borrow my computer.  The final output was an awesome poem called, “My Mom Poem.”  She said she started working on it in study hall at the end of the day, not as an assignment or anything, but just because she wanted to.  Sadly, she asked me not to share it because it was special for us. I’ll respect those wishes, though maybe I’m breaking them a wee bit by mentioning it here!  I can’t help it though.   She is amazing and I’m so proud to be her momma AND her librarian!

Lex took the bus to me after school and got off with a smile.  There are a handful of middle schoolers that have parents in my building, so he wasn’t the only big kid getting off at the elementary school.  He said the day went well and when I asked if he was planning to go back tomorrow he said, “I guess so.”  Raves reviews from the boy!  I haven’t heard much else from him.

I had a good day.  I’m so happy to be part of a school community that I love.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

Arlo did not like his day and was VERY eager to get outside when we got home.  He has been all teeth and claws ever since.  He doubled one of the holes in the yard, scratched up Eve’s arm, and is chewing everything he can find.  Apparently one 3-mile walk in the morning does not sufficiently counter seven hours in the crate!  That’s a problem I’m definitely going to have to work on.  Maybe Alan should take him to work each day!  :)

My Library

I had in-service week last week and on Friday when I was chatting with other teachers they kept saying the were pretty ready for school to start and the more people who said that the more panicked I got that I was not feeling at all ready for school to start!!

Last weekend Alan helped clean up the robotics lab a bit and this weekend we went back for another marathon work session. It was great! I left this evening feeling a thousand times more ready for Tuesday. There’s still work to do, of course, and always will be, but I feel like I can do this!

Let me show you my library…

My new school. Not really new exactly, because the kids have been going here for years and I subbed here and did my student teaching here, but now it’s officially MY school too! 😄

New books are always exciting! (Those are not all the new books, just the ones that were on the shelf when I took the picture! There are lots more!!)

My first library bulletin board.

The Vermont corner. The three maps of the area came from Grandpa’s house. 💜

This year’s Dorothy Canfield Fisher nominated books.

The reading corner needs to be a little cozier. Maybe I can find a nice cozy carpet or bean bag chairs or something.

Group activity area. Elizabeth made the green cushion and the rocking chair was Grandpa’s. He was a library kind of guy!

The computer/robotics lab has been underutilized the past few years since all the classrooms have laptops now. Alan got it all tidied and organized and I hope to put it to better use this year!

Arlo is a great library dog!! Next year I’m going to get him certified to come to school with me each day. The counseling team has a dog in school and I think the library needs one too!

Back to work

It hit me today that I’m rapidly running out of vacation.  I’ve had the luxury of being home and “not working” since Christmas, but starting Monday I’ll be back on the job.  I’m excited, of course, and I’m sure it will be great, but I do mourn a bit for the days when everyone goes away and I get “me time.”  :)   So how am I celebrating my last day of summer vacation (not counting the weekend)?  By working!  :/  Hmmm….  We had a very busy day yesterday and the kids really wanted a “no plans day” today, which means they are doing their own thing and I’m getting work done on the computer.  I updated the library interface, updated my Scope and Sequence document, sent some coordination emails, and did a required 2hr “Mandatory Reporter” training.  Nothing like child abuse photos to help celebrate the end of vacation!  Sheesh!

I need to turn this thing off now!  Maybe I can talk Eve into running some errands with me… fabric store and pet store… both school errands!  Welcome to teaching!

Back to work

Have I mentioned lately that I got a job?! Yay! I’m pretty excited about it!

Today while Lex was at camp, Eve and I spent the day in the library! I met with the out-going librarian for awhile, spent some time rearranging the furniture, met with a finance guy to talk about retirement savings, and spent a lot of time discussing the fish with Eve.

My grungy new fish tank

It seems I have inherited a fish tank with six South American Cichlids. I tried to pawn them off on other teachers last week, but no one wanted them. Eve and I did some research today and learned that this breed (is that even the word for fish??) is “toothy and agressive” and doesn’t play well with others. In fact, it tends to eat other fish unfortunate enough to be placed in the same tank. We spent some time yesterday at the pet store and I mostly walked away with a confirmed feeling that fish are creepy. Eve is pretty excited about the fish tank though, so I guess we will learn.

Eve put all of the extra plants and “accessories” she could find into the tank. It’s pretty full now!

It is such a big and amazing space, and I have no grand vision for it, so I think I’m going to have to just spend time there over the next few weeks and see how it feels. We did some rearranging, created a separate drawing center and reading center (which were combined last year) and Eve was full of advice about what to do. At one point I asked, “Do the tables go here?” to which she replied, “It’s your library mom, they go wherever you want them to!” She’s awesome!

Coding and Robotics

I’m at a course this week learning to teaching Coding and Robotics to the Elementary and Middle Grades.  I’m LOVING it!  I’m so thankful to have a job I can immediately apply this new knowledge too as well.  We met Friday to learn a lot of stuff, then this week we are “teacher helpers” at a coding camp for kids.  It has been interesting learning with and from the kids, several who have coding experience already.

We have been focusing on code.org, and Lego WeDo 2.0, and touched a bit on Scratch as well.  Here is my first Scratch project.  :)

The WeDos are similar to the NXT and EV3 programs that Lex has and loves. It has been interesting and challenging learning this “simplified” program because Lego made it more cartoony, but less usable. These kids (and teachers!) are struggling with the lack of functionality, inconsistent outcomes, and vague icons. As someone who has studied usability in the past, I can honestly say there is no excuse for this, especially from Lego! That said, I will continue learning it and developing ways I can introduce it in my library without having 250 confused kids!

Big thanks to Alan and my parents who team up to take care of the homestead while I’m away for five days!

Halloween in preschool

Throw flies (marshmallows) onto the spider web (tape).  The kids loved it!

Throw flies (marshmallows) onto the spider web (tape). The kids loved it!

I survived my first Halloween as a preschool teacher! It was much less chaotic than I was expecting. The other two classrooms really outdid me in decorations and I felt a little lame in the morning when I saw that, but by the end of the day I thought my room was just perfect. We had five activities that the kids could rotate through as they desired. Everyone had fun and there were no major meltdowns or out of control scenes. Just kids having fun. I was quite pleased, and happy when the day was over!!



Pumpkin bowling.  It started with the "pins" like this, but the kids quickly came up with many other inventive pin configurations.

Pumpkin bowling. It started with the “pins” like this, but the kids quickly came up with many other inventive pin configurations.

New job!

I start a new job tomorrow.  I am feeling prepared, but nervous nonetheless.  I’ll be teaching pre-k at a beautiful little school nearby.  It is a long-term sub position while their regular teacher is off on maternity leave.  I’ll be the teacher until Christmas vacation.  I get to do all the fun holiday crafts.  :)

It was a long and emotionally tumultuous path to arrive at this position, but I’m glad I took the journey and ended up where I did.  The first week of school my kids went back to school and I got myself organized.  I wrote up a long to-do list and started checking things off.  I made healthy food to eat and exercised every day.  I was enjoying the at-home gig.  Then a friend told me about a preschool position that was open and a day later I applied for a full-time kindergarten co-teacher position.  Both had some amazing pros, but some serious cons as well, and I again began my internal deliberation about home versus work versus me.  I want to be home with the kids, I want to continue my career, and I want to take care of myself, both physically and emotionally.  Unfortunately there just isn’t any way to do it all.

I interviewed at the preschool and decided not to take the job.  Then I interviewed for the kindergarten position and, after a TON of internal debate and with apologies and gracious thanks to those who were around to listen and support my complex decision making process, I turned that down as well.  That was especially hard because the school is amazing and the job would have been great, professionally.  Unfortunately it was a full-time job at a different school district, which means after school care for my kids and mismatched vacation schedules.  There may come a time when that works, but this year is not that time.  This year my kids still need me at home in the afternoon and I still need to be there for them.  So I turned down the kindergarten job.

“You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes, you just might find,
You get what you need.”  – The Rolling Stones

A day later I got a call from the director of the preschool at that same school.  She said she heard I turned down the K job and was wondering if maybe I would be interested in a part-time pre-k job instead.  Heck yeah!  I went back and interviewed with the pre-k team and it was a pretty easy decision.  It’s part time and just through Christmas, but I’ll still get the teacher experience (good for the resume!) and the afternoons at home (good for the family!)  Best of both worlds.

I start tomorrow and although I know it will go well and I know I made the right choice, I still have first day of school jitters!  Wish me luck.


Job hunting?

I decided not to return to my job as assistant teacher at the Montessori school this year, because I really wanted to find a full-time teaching position. I want to be the boss of my own classroom! I had a frustrating summer of very few interviews and no job offers, but really that was ok and I have been ok with the idea of subbing all along. I decided this was the year to hold out for what I really want, not settle for just anything. Of course, those who have been around know that my confidence with this decision changes daily. :)

It is really hard to balance what’s best for me (exercise, mental health), my family (home for the kids, home maintenance), and my career (teaching!). I want to work on all three “pillars” but unfortunately that’s very hard to do at the same time! When I work on the career it’s a pretty full-time commitment, leaving little time for the family/home and even less time for me! When I don’t work on the career I have more time for the other two, but end up feeling guilty about the amount of time and money I’ve invested so far into teaching, only to not continue the path.

So this year I’m not working. Yet. The first week the kids were back in school was excellent! I organized all my thoughts and scraps of notes into one big, long to-do list and started checking things off! I exercised every day and even lost two pounds that first week. It was great. The only uncomfortable times were when I had to explain to acquaintances why I wasn’t working and that really I was ok with things. I would get varying levels of pity and envy in response.

The second week I applied for a kindergarten position in a neighboring district and got an email from a close acquaintance about a preschool position in my district. My brain immediately started spinning! I lost focus on my to-do list, spent hours cycling through the pros and cons of taking (or not taking) either job, and basically started falling apart. I interviewed at both places. There were a lot of pros to the preschool job (teaching, short hours, in district), but a few big cons as well. So I said no. There were a lot of pros to the kindergarten position as well (nice school, nice teaching team) but a few big cons as well. I thought really hard and eventually emailed the principal and asked him to remove me from the candidate pool. I don’t know if I would have gotten an offer, but I think it was likely. It was a really hard choice for me. It would have meant an after school nanny for the kids, something I can’t even imagine, plus me back to my UVEI days of constant work morning, noon, and night. NO time for exercise, house up-keep, or family. Also, it was a different district with a somewhat different vacation schedule. I was a mental mess trying to decide what was the best thing to do. I finally came to a decision Saturday night, emailed the principal Sunday morning, and felt calm wash over me. Back to my stay-at-home, getting stuff done, probably subbing in the future plan. All was right in my head again.

Monday afternoon I get a voicemail (my phone never rings, something else I have to figure out and take care of!) from the preschool director at the school I had just turned down. She said she heard I hadn’t taken the kindergarten job (I didn’t even have an offer yet, but we won’t be picky) and wondered if I would please consider a long-term sub position in preschool. October to December to cover a maternity leave. Brain spin commence! At the moment it seems like it will be all the pros of the preschool position above, plus many of the pros of the kindergarten position…. but none of the cons. Perhaps. I’m going tomorrow to meet the director and see the school. An interview, I suppose, disguised as a visit. This woman has a kid who plays field hockey with Eve, so we have chatted as moms on the sidelines a few times. She seems nice. The school is lovely. We shall see.

For now I have to go get some exercise while I still can. Once again my future is up in the air.

Montessori Day 2

Happy sunny Thursday afternoon. I have a few minutes and thought I’d check in. There is no “Montessori Day 1” post, so don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything. Now that the kids are in school and Montessori has started, I find myself with a little over an hour at home, no kids, each afternoon. So far (day two) I have been revelling in it! I have grand ambitions of getting projects done, or cleaning, or something… but so far it has been tea and my laptop and a gentle breeze through the window.

Montessori school is fun and interesting. After two weeks of prep, in-service days, and home visits, I was eager to just get the school year started. Yesterday we had 22 little ones in this lovely classroom and guess what — they are just kids! Nothing magical about Montessori. They still roll around on the floor, pick their noses, run in the classroom (and get told not to), poke their friends, talk too loud, fall off chairs, and trip over their own feet. At each school visit when we had a new student come in to see the classroom, the teacher would give that student a lesson and the student would be still and quiet and focused and do very well on the work she offered. I was dying to see how that held up with there was a ton of them all together. Yep, just kids! :) Of course this is just day two, so perhaps after a few weeks when everyone has settled into the routine, then I’ll see the Montessori magic. Parents swear by it.

Everyone is super friendly and I’m enjoying getting to know people. Some are names I’ve known from around, or friends of friends, and now I’m putting faces to them. Others are completely new to the area and I’ve been happy to be able to recommend playgrounds and other kid-friendly places in the area.

Overall it has been a very nice week, and you can’t beat the hours! :) My own kids are happy that they get to be home each afternoon. Well, at least they come home each afternoon, sometimes I drag them right back out again to karate or something else. Tomorrow we are going apple picking! I hope it’s not 85° and humid like it is today!

I watched a neat video on the importance of connections and relationships in the classroom this afternoon. TED talks are just amazing! Check it out if you have eight minutes. She is a passionate and humorous speaker, like most TED presenters.