Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Sweet Taste (and Smell) of Success

Family Time turned out to be a great success. We had a blast! The food turned out great! We watched a basketball game (UConn) and then the adults watched a movie. It was pretty good. My nephew (4 yrs. old) and my cat (somewhat overweight and extremely lazy) made their peace and became friends; however, they continued to proceed cautiously around one another when they weren't playing. My house was filled with good food and laughter. That's what I call being successful and wealthy!

On another note, I had the send student Z to the Assistant Principal's office on Friday. I have been at this long enough to know that I can't win over every student, but it still bothers me. The new classroom management approach is working with everyone else. After getting a warning note on his desk, a note home, and having a timeout conference K continued his off-task behavior. After class, I had him call his father and discuss his behavior. This was the last straw for K. "Why do I have to fill out the reminder note, fill out the note home, and call my father? Why don't you do it?", he demanded. I calmly responded, "I am teaching and I am responsible for doing the things that are required for students to learn the standard we are working on. When you misbehave you are responsible for your actions and have to do the things that are required to learn from your mistake." During a paired activity, I heard his partner tell him that if he stopped playing around he wouldn't have to fill out anything or make any phone calls. His father, who showed up after school, sternly gave him the same advice. I give K a great deal of leeway because he has difficulty sitting still, but even he has boundaries. He told me he is just joking around with his classmates when he tries to engage them in conversation or draws things and shows it to them (he also thinks it is unfair that I am usually giving directions while he is doing this).

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Today our classroom environment was filled with laughter and learning. All students, including Student Z and his cohort in crime, were on task. I hate to sound like a pessimist, but....should I be on high alert? Something about calm and the storm comes to mind. Forget that. We all had a good day and that is definitely on my list of Things I Love.

Regarding Family Time, the menu is set and I have begun the prep work for the meal. I'll be worn out, but I thoroughly enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Student Z was not in my classroom today (I'll be meeting with the SRO (sheriff) tomorrow morning to share notes and come up with a more individualized discipline program for this student). His cohort in crime was in class, and I was ready for him. Withiut his buddy to egg him on, he remained on task the entire time. He actually partnered with a special needs student and their project is off to a good start. He initially tried to get out of the classroom by pretending he was told to come to the office during fifth period. "If they need you they will send for you.", I told him, and that ended that. He not have to be redirected or warned during the entire time he was in my room. I spoke with his parents today (regarding somethings stemming from choices he made on Tuesday. We all feel that with a concerted effort we can get him headed in the right direction.

Today is only one day, but I can see some payoff and other strategies I can use with this child. One almost down and one to go!

On another note, I attended a wonderful lecture on the spread of Buddhism from India to China. Even though it was over an hour drive each way (after work), it was worth it. The National History Project is just as meaningful as the National Writing Project. They both offer teachers great resources and opportunities. Seize the opportunity if you get a chance to get involved with either of these programs.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Family Time

I invited the family over for an early dinner on Saturday. Looks like I'm going to have a party of eight dropping by. It will be fun to see everyone, but the work that happens between the invitation and the event I'm sure we'll have a great time, I just hope I'll have the energy left to enjoy it :-)
Today a student really tried to rain on my parade. I've been energized by a new classroom management program I am implementing, but student Z really put a damper on my mood. He went into a loud outburst after being given a pink warning slip to fill out. This result in a white "note home" slip. The disturbance escalated, and I sent him out of the room for a time out. This was not taken seriously, so he was sent to the office. He was sent back to get his backpack and was in the room just long enough to tear both notices, throw them in the trash, and laugh as he left. Upon follow up, I was told by an administrator that they don't know what to do with this student either. I called home to advise his guardian of the situation and, to my surprise, was informed that any problems with his behavior at home or school are being handled by the SRO (sheriff). The SRO will not be in until Thursday. Meanwhile, the child and this situation are both out of control. I have requested an in school suspension for tomorrow and hope to team with the SRO to get this kid on the right track. Forget the zinfandel, just pass me my pillow because I am exhausted!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Getting a Handle on Things

Door Handle, Parish Church, Whalton, Northumberland. Photo provided by

I miss blogging, and things are clearly out of balance in my life, so here's an attempt to get a handle on things and be consistent.

1. I like participating in reading challenges because they give my reading a sense of direction. I know what's coming next. My TBR list is always exciting, and I get to hear about so many interesting books. On the other hand, there is no way I can create a post about every book. From now on, I'll let my heart be my guide when it comes to posting about books.(The Dewey Challenge is one that's close to my heart, so I will post reviews for that.) I will to update the challenge lists in the side bar of this blog.

2.I plan to continue with the Blog Improvement Challenge when I can. No pressure. Afterall, blogging should be fun.

3. I will also need to alter my blogging goals a bit. Posting three times a week would be nice, but two times is more realistic (anything more than that is a bonus). Reality also dictates that if I post more than one per week there is a good chance they will be done on the same day and within the same hour.

4. The dietary changes I made this year have been a plus and every doctor I have seen insists the changes are helping me and not causing any of the problems I am experiencing.

5. My social life is seriously flat. That must change. Early dinner with the girls tomorrow is a good start.

6. Prayer, study, and meditation time are a must. The morning really is the best time (even if I'm not a morning person).

7. Excercise (enjoyable and in a non-work setting) is a must.

8. I need to de-clutter my environment. Believe it or not, this (and not #7) is the hardest thing for me to do.


With RIF notices looming, our school has been a whirlwind of activity. I would have never thought this possible, but we have actually been busier than usual. Yesterday, we had a site visit from the Distinguised Schools panel (From what I hear, the panel was pleased with what they saw. We'll find out if we get this illustrious honor some time in April.) We work very hard to get the results we get, and that is the point of this post.

For a little over a month, I have had swollen glands popping up here and there, and an allergic reaction to something on my right leg. My doctor said the glands might be due to a dental problem and the allergic reaction could be from a number of things. During the past week and a half, dental pain became a problem. My dentist put me on antibiotics and sent me to an endodontist for a consultation. The antibiotics and warm compresses are reducing the glandular swelling. I had been trying to get an appointment after work hours to see the endodontist, but lately there is always something that requires I stay later. While rescheduling my appointment for the second time, I decided to take today off. I saw the endodontist (No root canal needed!!! The consensus is that the pain is possibly due to grinding my teeth while I'm sleeping.), missed a fundraiser assembly, and got some rest. FYI, this won't keep me from having my grades entered, by Thursday, in a program that can only be accessed using district computers during a designated three day window (Does that sound like a complaint?).

One of my colleagues recently pointed out that no one would ever know I wasn't feeling well because I only look tired or stressed when I let my guard down. (Complement?) I may never know the source the swollen glands or the rash (which cortisone cream is taking care of), but I think that stress and a lack of meaningful rest are playing a part in all of this.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


We live in a very different world than the one we lived in a year ago. My colleagues insist that they are professionals, and the anxiety over RIF notices is not affecting their classrooms. On the other hand, they are not buying the supplies they would normally purchase out of pocket, they are emotionally drained from crying and complaining during their breaks, and their inboxes are filled with emails containing rumors and worst case scenarios. They can't help bringing this tension into their classrooms. I am holding on to the fact that these notices are for the coming school year. This year, at my best or worst, I am the only teacher my students have for my subject area. They deserve my best.

Thes Books Were Made for Walking

On the 3rd Wednesday of every month, Strumpet's Life hosts this meme which asks us to think about a topic that has to do with books and travel. Here's the topic for this month:

Is there a place that you have always dreamed of visiting specifically because of a book you read? It can be any kind of book: fiction, non-fiction, travelogue, you name it. If you have been to the place, did it live up to your expectations? If you haven't been, do you think you'll ever make it there?

This one was a little difficult for me. The locale was easy because I have longed to go to India for a little over nine years. I wasn't too sure I could attribute it to reading. Then I gave it more thought and realized it had everything to do with reading! My desire to visit India began during my first year teaching sixth grade ancient world history. The story of the Taj Mahal, the origins of Hinduism and Buddhism, and the beauty of the subcontinent drew me in. I guess you could say Houghtin Mifflin's textbook Message of Ancient Days and TCI's History Alive! unit on India sparked my interest in India.