Wednesday, August 30, 2006

We have to go to school tomorrow??

So I did go into my classroom everyday this week. (Sorry to those of you who suggested that I not, but I am still a very new teacher going to a new school and I needed the chance to sort through a retired teacher's things, organize furniture, and just get a sense of the place. I'm sure that when I've been teaching for ten years I won't need to do that anymore. And just in case you were wondering, no I certainly did not do it to kiss up to the administration.) Having said that, I didn't spend nearly as much time in my room as I had hoped to. Monday was the biggest day I arrived around 11:00 and stayed until 5:30. It took me ages to set up the furniture just how I wanted it with centers and the library as the focus of the room, etc. Tuesday I showed up in the afternoon and only stayed about an hour and a half because I had to run to my event at the Heritage House. Today I decided to take care of some last minute things before going into school. I also wanted to take my last opportunity to sleep in on a weekday so I didn't get the early start I had hoped for. I had to go to my old school and load up my stuff and bring it to the new one. I saw my TFA friends there. I thought I would be really sad to leave them but seeing my old room I was just sooooo happy that I don't have to spend another year in there. Seriously. So. Happy. By the time I got to my new school it was 4pm and the principal had already left so the janitor would only let me put my stuff in the auditorium. I really wanted to get a few hours of work in but I guess it will have to wait for tomorrow.

I am very much in denial that school is starting tomorrow. I mean seriously, I have to set my alarm tonight? I have to get up at 6am? I know that I am going to school tomorrow but it doesn't feel like school is starting.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Free Stuff!

I was walking home from the subway tonight and saw a sign that said "Free Books and Games." I grabbed an armful of stuff to take home with me. Look at everything I got. Nice books all in good condition and two colorful shapes games. I can definitely use this stuff in my classroom. I think I am going to go back tomorrow and leave a little note on the door thanking whomever left this stuff on the curb for the donation and letting them know that their books will be put to good use! I'm most excited about Chicka Chicka 123. My kindergarteners loved Chicka Chicka Boom Boom last year.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Getting Ready for the Year

Wednesday I finished my grad school classes for the summer. Yippee! Only 19 days until classes start again.

I still haven't had time to really work on stuff for my classroom. I did spend most of today working on a packet that I am going to present to new TFA teachers going into Region 5. A group of about ten corps members who just completed their first year got together and thought about what they wished they had know or had explained to them about Region 5 expectations. (It really is a crazy region). We came up with the idea of a packet detailing all of the logistics about the classroom environment, portfolios, exit projects, report cards, basically everything we were just expected to know (without being told). Everyone wrote a part of the packet and then another teacher and I synthesized all of the information into one packet. Tuesday evening were having a gathering at the Brownsville Heritage House where we are going to present the information. Also, the director of the Heritage House is going to talk about the history of the community, the people who live there, the cultural heritage, etc. The first time you step into Brownsville you can get a bit of culture shock. The director said she wanted to let all of the new teachers know things about the community beyond what is reported on in the news everyday. That is true. I told her though that honestly, all of these teachers are from all over the country (not from here) so they most likely don't even know anything about Brownsville (good or bad) at this point. The walk from the subway to their school interview is all they know. And as I said, that can be a very new (and shocking) experience for most. So, I think this event will be really great.

Tomorrow I'm presenting another packet that I wrote (all alone this time) on how to be an ESL coordinator. Many of the new ESL teachers are the only ones in their buildings. In NYC there is so much paper work and so many reports involved with ESL that it can be really confusing if you don't have anyone to explain it to you. My administration last year certainly didn't have any clue as to what I was supposed to do. For the entire first week they kept saying they were going to give me a class list only to find out later that I had to check cumulative records and test scores and administer an entrance exam to find out which students were mine. Hopefully by giving them this information up front the new teachers will be able to speed up the whole process and start TEACHING sooner.

After the meeting in the afternoon I'm going to the teacher store. And then, seriously, I am going to start planning everything that I need to do for September and beyond.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Instead of working on my last paper for grad school yesterday, I met my friend Amanda for a late lunch at Bar Toto on Sixth Avenue. Afterall, she's only in town for one day between trips to Austin and Toronto and I still have three days to whip up that ten page paper.

We both drank Campari and Soda--a nice reminder of aperitivo in Italy but certainly not an every day drink for me. She had a mixed bruschetta plate and I had rigatoni with eggplant and smoked mozzarella. The food was great (definitely better than Tutta Pasta we both agreed). We had a long lunch catching up on our summer travels and then said goodbye until she returns on the 28th.

Now I'm still procrastinating on getting started. I have to get this paper out of the way so that I can focus on planning for next year.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Last Weeks of Summer

So it's now the home stretch until school starts. I must admit, I haven't really done much to prepare for the upcoming year. The two workshops that I attended did put some ideas in my head so I kind of know where I want to go but I haven't really had time to think things through and get some real planning done. My excuse is that I've had a lot of grad school work to do. (Online courses are much more labor intensive than the in person classes). I just have two papers left to finish, one due Sunday and the other Wednesday. After that, I'm free to focus on next year.

This year I feel like I am starting all over. Not only am I going to a new school so I don't know entirely what to expect, but I plan on doing things a lot differently than last year. I had such small groups last year that I could get away with minimal planning. A lot of what I did in class was actually working one on one with students. Next year that won't be the case. My main structures for class next year are going to be read alouds, centers, writing workshop, and something I learned at the CLI institute called Message Time Plus. I will put those elements together to form a sort of literacy block. There is still so much to think about and plan though. And, I've never done writer's workshop so I am kind of worried about that.

Next week I hope to sketch out some ideas for routines, organization and planning. The week of the 28th I plan to be in my classroom getting set up the whole week. Then the next week school starts. Seriously, where did the summer go??

Monday, August 14, 2006

We'll Call These The Before Pictures

Two weeks ago I went to my new school to get a better look at my new classroom. I was excited about it when I went for my interview but now I am thrilled. I really lucked out on this room. At the interview I was excited about the rug, the cabinets, the windows and the computers. I didn't even notice that the room had THREE computers (with a printer! Hmm, I wonder if I have internet?), tons of great picture books (in English and Spanish), all kinds of manipulatives, and an air conditioner!! The teacher who left the position retired and left sooo much stuff in the closets and in the filing cabinets. Good stuff. I seriously have everything I can think of in terms of supplies: pencils, paper, index cards, chart paper, slates, felt boards, white boards, you name it. I was in the teacher store last week with another teacher friend and she kept seeing things she wanted for her room and I'd say, "I have that in my classroom!" The best part is, this teacher was super organized so I wont have to spend a lot of time digging through junk. Everything is organized and labeled (just the way I like it). There are a few things I can see that'll need to be thrown out but nothing too out of control.

I can't wait to get in there and organize the furniture and decorate the walls and set up my library. So here are the before pictures . . .

The left side of the room.

The right side of the room. Already I can see there are way too many desks. I don't think I'll have more than twelve students at a time so I'd like to get rid of the ones I don't need and keep only matching ones if possible.

The library. This is going to be my favorite part. I already got some pillows, a comfy chair, and some stuffed animals to make this a cozy space. I can't wait to fix it up.

OK, well that is the sneak preview for now. I'll post the after pictures in a few weeks.

Overheard in Arizona

What a gorgeous day! And the temperature is perfect.

Note: The temperature was 103 degrees.