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Officially Cool

It’s Saturday which means it’s Pampering Day.

heehee

I’m developing a bad habit of late…shopping on Saturdays…treating myself to goodies.

Today’s trip resulted in new Mason drinking glasses from Sam’s…

Each glass comes with its own band that velcros for easy removal.  The box also contained an extra set of solid-colored straws.

My other big treat was purchased at Journeys.  I had received a catalog and coupon in the mail a couple of weeks ago, but I had not found the right time to shop.

The Mr. loves shopping, so he happily went with me.

I’d been wanting sneaker-type of shoes for a while…especially after watching what my students had been wearing.

I would like to be stylish but struggle a bit.

My 6th period class had been insisting, for several weeks, that I purchase a pair of Vans.

I liked the Converse I’d seen in the catalog.

Here’s what I came home with…

It was quite the experience…trying on these shoes.  The kids who took care of me in the store were too precious…all high schoolers and very enthusiastic about the shoes.

I loved the Converse, but I had also fallen in love with two other pairs (above).  The Vans and Sanuk fit the best.

The Vans are AMAZING on my feet and look really, really good with my skinny jeans.

I cannot wait for school on Monday.

I’ll be sporting the new t-shirt I purchased at a friend’s boutique as well as the Vans.

I think I can say that, with this outfit, I’m officially “cool.”

It’s In the Details

Last weekend, I bought a puzzle at Sam’s Club…

I chose the Paris puzzle because my family, on my dad’s side, hails from France.

As I worked on the puzzle one night this week, I was struck by how closely I was having to examine each piece to properly place it.

For instance, I noticed the brown rectangle in the middle of the following piece.

I knew exactly where it needed to go…

This puzzle is difficult, so paying attention to subtle color shadings and shapes are very important…

It won’t surprise you that my thoughts naturally turned to my classroom.

This year, I’ve become even more metacognitive in my teaching.

I’ve mentioned how I’ve taught my students to “think about their thinking.”

Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, because this is a strategy that I’ve been noticing myself using more and more as well.

This simple task of putting my puzzle together…noticing that I’m noticing the details…made me reflect on my teaching practices.

One of the things that I didn’t do well my first couple of years in the classroom was to notice the small details.

Students walked in and out of my room, and because I was too busy doggy-paddling my way through each day, I scarcely had the energy to, and this will sound contradictory, slow down and pay attention to the small things.

Last year, I began learning how to do so.

This year, I think I’ve become much more adept at it.

I know that some of what I’m about to say is repetitive, for I’ve been reflecting about my teaching ever since I dove into this profession four years ago, but I can’t help it.

Teaching is much more that spouting off facts that you want your students to memorize.

Teaching is even more than developing skills.

The foundation of teaching is about making connections with your students.

You can’t do that unless you pay attention to the details of their lives.

Your classroom will never form a complete picture unless you carefully fit each piece (i.e., each student) in.

In fact, lesson plans need to be made in such a way that they fit into each student’s specific-ness, for lack of a better word.

There are nearly sixty students who walk into my door each day.

Can you imagine the number of conversations that I overhear every week?

While I don’t process everything the kids are saying to each other, there are a lot of things I do pick up on and tuck away.

I’ve become better at remembering the small details that differentiate my students from one another…specific home-life situations, particular likes and dislikes, habits, good and bad.

I use my knowledge to weave together the fabric that becomes the background for our learning environment.

Ultimately, by noticing small things…a new haircut, highlights in a young lady’s hair, a new pair of shoes…and commenting on these things…I build my students’ self esteem and show them I care.

This year feels as though it’s been, for the most part, one continuous string of connections.

I’m sure that’s why I’ve smiled through most of the school year.

I would venture to say that most of my students have too.

 

FCAT Testing My Life Away

As you read this, I am finishing up my fourth day of FCAT testing.

This week, I was responsible for administering this test to approximately 75 students.

To help my assigned charges do their best, I went shopping last weekend…

A teacher who was also proctoring in my room gave me $10, which I used to defray my cost.

Students were appreciative…especially when we allowed them to take a stretch break midway through, replenishing with one bottle of water per student.

Monday afternoon, I stopped by my church and talked to one of the youth pastors.  He gave me several boxes of Goldfish and cookies.

I took the Goldfish to school the next day for Session 2 (same students as the previous day).

Being the lazy gal that I am, I managed to find a way to carry in everything at once…

If you’ve never had the pleasure of teaching or do not have a child who has taken a state exam, you probably don’t know how stressful exam time can be.

Teachers try to alleviate anxiety in a number of ways, including feeding our children.

You should have seen the looks on my charges’ faces when they walked in on Tuesday and saw the bags of Goldfish…one full-sized bag per student.

Several students exclaimed loudly in excitement.

One of the guys later told me that this had been his favorite testing year ever because of the class he’d been assigned to.

My heart warmed.

I’m used to hearing comments about how strict I am.

I hope the kids know that they are my highest priority.  I am totally about the kids.  Nothing I do is for me.

I’m happy I could be there for the students to help brighten what is usually an icky couple of days.

Unbroken – A Book Review

I just finished book #15 of 2014, and what a doozie!!

I originally purchased this book because I have a student who is very interested in military history.  While this student was finishing a different book, I decided to bring it home.

It is, hands-down, the BEST biography I have ever read (and I’ve read quite a few, let me tell you). I became interested in this book after a segment about Louie Zamperini aired during the Olympics. It appealed to my love for history as well as my appreciation for athletics.

This book really doesn’t read much like a biography. Hillenbrand’s storytelling skills are PHENOMENAL. There was certainly a lot of information poured forth in the book’s pages, but she presented the information in such a way that I didn’t want to stop reading! I could not put this book down and resented my need to sleep, eat, and work because I wanted to read it straight through.

Zamperini’s antics as a child and young adult made me laugh…out loud. His bravado during his time drifting at sea and in the POW camps was truly inspiring. His collapse after his return home broke my heart, and his restoration brought tears to my eyes.

This is a MUST-READ.

Ready As We’ll Ever Be

Dear Students,

Today marks the beginning of FCAT testing for most of you.

For the last nine months, we have been honing the skills that you will use to answer two-days worth of reading comprehension questions.

I have worked 60-80 hour weeks preparing lessons.

You have worked through each task I’ve placed before you…sometimes willingly…sometimes a bit hesitantly.

Throughout the year, I have watched you go from students who deplored silent reading time to students who beg me to give you more time.

You have become students who, at first, could not find a book to read to students who recommend books to each other AND me!  You’ve even teared up when you have finished reading your beloved books.

Those are the signs that you have become book lovers.  May this love for reading never leave you.

Fluency was once a chore, but thanks to the research I’ve thrown in, it’s been a fun exercise.  You’ve learned a lot of extra vocabulary and bits of random facts that you previously didn’t know.

We can now call that “prior knowledge.”  It will be a resource that will prove quite useful, I promise.

You’ve gone from being students who had never heard the word meta-cognition to students use that term in daily conversations.

This is another skill that will assist you over the next two weeks.

As the months have passed, you’ve evolved from being students who shrugged their shoulders when asked to justify answers to students who actively assist each other, explaining your selections before I even ask.

I rather doubt that there will be a lot of “guessing” on the BIG test.

I want you to know that I have been praying for you.

More than anything, I have prayed that you would walk into your respective testing rooms with confidence.

You ARE ready.

You WILL succeed.

You will prove to yourselves that you ARE gifted young men and women, able to master the challenges placed before you.

I’m very proud of you and BELIEVE in the success that you are about to experience.

Love,

Mrs. AuburnChick

A Bit of Pampering Before FCAT Begins

The Mr. and I spent Saturday out and about.

There’s a mall at the beach that we enjoy going to.  The shops have exterior entrances so, when the weather is as beautiful as it is right now, shopping is a lot of fun.

We discovered a new store that had recently opened…

The clothes were adorable, and I had a lot of fun trying things on.

The Mr. spoiled me by paying for two of the dresses.  I paid for the other two.

Here’s what I got…

Retro and very flattering!

Navy wrap dress, which I’ll wear with a tank top underneath

Love this dress! It fits perfectly!

Maxi skirt…so comfortable that I couldn’t pass it up!

The next couple of weeks are going to be a bear, so it was fun to indulge in a bit of pampering.

The Scorpio Races

I just finished book #14 for this year…The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater.

I had read a few reviews and knew I had to purchase it for my classroom.

What a gem of a book!  I read it in three days!

The story centers around an annual ritual in which water horses, caught from the sea, are raced across the shore, handled by experienced and inexperienced men.  The prize is a large purse of money and prestige.

Sean Kendrick is a four-time winner, vying for his fifth win.  His motives run deeper than tangible rewards.

Puck Connolly is an orphaned young lady who enters the race to save her home.

I’m trying to put my finger on what makes this book so magical.

Part of it is the setting.

I’ve been on a few cruises, and I’ve seen a few tropical locations.

There’s a ethereal feel when you step on an island, and it was that connection that I felt when I read this book.

A thread of mystical power runs through this story.

Sean reminds me of the Horse Whisperer.  His connection with the wild horses from the sea is intriguing and touching.

Puck is a strong female character who doesn’t wait for life to happen to her.  She literally takes the reins in her hands to drive her own destiny.  This is a theme my teenage charges need to read about.

I think what I loved most about this story was the constant pull between what one loves (in this case, the ocean) and what needs to be done, pragmatically.  It’s a struggle I can identify with…that any reader will connect to.

I highly recommend this to anyone…middle school and above (it’s a good read for adults too).

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