education · elementary education · pregnancy · school · teacher · teaching

First Trimester and First Semester

First Trimester and First Semester

I found out I was pregnant on the first day of school this year. My mood had been slightly off, I was constantly hot, I was crying more than usual during commercials, and, my goodness, was I tired. I mean dead tired. I would pass out on the couch at 1 pm tired after doing not much at all. I was also about a week late, so that morning as I was preparing for school, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to wait until the weekend of even the end of the day; I had to test then. Normally, those little test strips take about five minutes to formulate a response, but it barely took thirty seconds for that second line to appear. I took another one after that just in case, and another one, and then just one more for good measure. I tried to contain my excitement and just go about my normal morning activities. I didn’t even tell my husband because I wanted to surprise him later that day when he got home from work. I went straight to Amazon and found some knock-off baby Chucks, a Guess What?  onesie, and  a We’re Pregnant book to surprise him when he came home that night. I was just glad that it was the first week of school which meant that the after school program that I normally work until six hadn’t started yet. If it had started there would be no way for me to prep his surprise. I also ordered my first set of prenatals. I had already been taking other supplements, but I wanted to be sure that all my bases were covered and that my little bean was getting what they needed to be getting. The first day of school is normally a whirlwind of a day to begin with and with this brand-new information I could barely get through the day. As soon as I got home, I grabbed the packages by my front door (can’t tell you how much I love Amazon’s Same-Day shipping) and prepped his surprise box. When he came home that day he just kept talking and it me a few minutes to get in a word to let him know that he got a little present today. I tried recording his reaction, but I somehow didn’t press the right button on my phone (I’m still upset about it). It took him a minute but his reaction was so sweet and he just kept repeating, “Really?” over and over in a high pitched voice. He even got all teary eyed. I think even now he’s still in a state of shock, but he’s still excited.

The next few weeks at school were interesting to say the least. My doctor’s appointment wasn’t until a few weeks later because I had to wait until I was around eight weeks. I just kept taking more tests to reassure myself (I can’t tell you how may test strips I went through…) and kept trying not to stress myself out at school – which, if you’re a teacher, you know is near impossible to do. It was a new school year, I was in a new grade level, with all new team members, and a new principal. The only things that weren’t new were my students since I had previously had them in third grade, which I think greatly helped out. The schedules were constantly changing, and we didn’t have a second of down time ether. During our planning periods, instead of getting to plan or prep for the day or week, we had meetings upon meetings upon meetings. Never ending meetings. All of this while keeping this new and exciting, yet still scary, secret. I’m a first-time mom, so of course I’m constantly worrying about everything in this pregnancy. I wouldn’t even let my husband tell his parents until after the first doctor’s appointment, and same thing went for me telling my best friend and my family. I wanted to make sure that it was real and that the little bean was actually in there and that all was good and healthy.

Luckily, I didn’t have too much morning sickness. I only ever got sick if I drank too quickly or too much on an empty stomach or if I left my toothbrush in my mouth too long or tried to brush my tongue (sorry kiddos, you’ll just have to deal with your teacher having stinky breath for a while; that’s why we have mouth wash and mints, right?) I was worried the kids would notice when I switched out my coffee for tea, and then for water, but luckily they’re too busy with their own fifth grade drama. They’re usually the first to notice or suggest things though. When I was working with them over the summer, a few of the girls were asking me when I was going to have a baby and that I should have a baby soon. I think they helped with the luck of this process, but they still have no idea. Each time I’ve gone to the doctor, I I get nervous they’ll start getting suspicious because I’m that teacher who is normally always at school. I mean always. Last year, I even had perfect attendance. I thought they’d start asking questions on this third visit, but they stopped when I told them that I just had to get my flu shot.

I honestly cannot wait to tell them. I know that they’ll be excited and I’ll finally be able to explain to them why I’ve just been extra grumpy this year. I haven’t put up with any drama since the year started. In a way, the surge of hormones has definitely helped with my classroom management this year which I know I needed to work on.

For my baby’s sake, I refuse to stress myself out over all the petty little things that happen at work and over all the constant changes. I just need to ride it out this year and make it until mid-April when my very own little munchkin will arrive. For now, I’ll prepare my fifth grade not-munchkins anymore for their state exams and middle school.

I’ll be back in a few more weeks with a second trimester bump-date to keep you all informed!    

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education · elementary education · school · teacher · Uncategorized

To Holiday or Not to Holiday?

Hi all!

Happy Veterans’ Day to all who’ve served!

That being said, I’m one of the lucky teachers who has off today, but know not all teachers do. It’s interesting to see the what’s considered a school holiday or not when you move from state to state, county to county, or even country to country, and also what has changed over the years.

I remember when I was in school we’d all grumble and moan when we’d have to come in for school on MLK Jr day or Veteran’s Day or any of those holidays especially when we knew other schools around us had the day off. Instead of making it a normal school day though, my school would take the day to educate us about what the holiday means and why we have it. We would have assemblies, people would come in and talk, and, then, once we returned to the classroom, we would either work on an activity related to the day, write a reflective essay, or have discussions about what we learned. The teachers (or rather the admin) knew better than to try to get us back on task and do regular school work because nothing would get done (I can’t say that it’s the same any more because we’re not allowed to waste a minute of standard based instruction). Even though we’d have school on those days, I’m from an area where we would get the first day of hunting season off!

Looking back, I do feel that it was beneficial. Nowadays, it’s so hard to teach about anything extra or that’s not on the curriculum because there is no time. Every standard has a certain amount of days allotted to it and we have to stick to it. If we feel that the kids understand the standard, we might be able to move on ahead of time but that might just give us extra time to teach a standard that they will struggle with or it might, just might, make up for time when a team member is absent and we have to split the classes up because there are no substitutes, so our regular instruction is yet again interrupted. Very rarely have I had time to ever teach about any holidays (or very rarely are we even permitted to do to restrictions in this day and age).  Many holidays come and go without anyone even mentioning them. Why? Again, if it doesn’t align to the standards, there’s no time. They say that we’re not teaching to the test, yet we’re still evaluated based off of how the kids do, and our curricula and day to day teachings are based off of what is on the test and only what is on the test… so, there’s that too. But that’s a whole other blog post.

Working at a Title 1 school, I know that holidays can be somewhat of a problem for the parents as well. Not all companies and jobs have today off, so that leaves the parents with the question of who will watch my kids because most cannot afford to take off or to pay someone to watch them. More often than not, I find out that the kids stay home alone. For the older grades that’s fine, until you also realize that they have a few younger siblings, so who’s left to play mom or dad for the day? The older siblings of course. Babies taking care of babies.

As a teacher who is stressed and completely exhausted (not to mention currently 18 weeks pregnant), I definitely welcome these three day weekends. I get done what I need to get done on the weekend, like cleaning, lesson planning, grading, laundry, and shopping, and normally I don’t get a minute to actually relax. Three day weekends on the other hand actually give me that extra time I need to just zone out and chill or do some things that I want to do. Recently, I’ve started to sew again, and I blame that on my maternal nesting instincts kicking in. It’s self care time. I also try to promote my side Avon hustle (click to join my team or click to see all the new and amazing products we have )!  I don’t look forward to the rest of the week though because every single time we come back from a three day weekend, the students act as if they don’t remember any of the school rules and it completely throws them off. For now though, I’ll try not to focus on that and enjoy my day off.

What do you think? How should schools (as well as other companies) handle these holidays? Should we still have them off? Should we use them as an extra educational day specifically devoted to that day? Should there be more daycare options available to parents those days? I’d love to hear some input and other thoughts!

education · elementary education · esl · school · teacher · teaching

It’s that time again!

Good evening all!

I can’t believe that school is starting already! I go back on Monday the 5th for returning teacher training, but I’ll probably be at school this week to try and set up my classroom.

This year, I’m changing it up. Instead of teaching 3rd grade again, I’ll be teaching 5th grade math and science! I’m excited because that means that I will be looping with my kids from the other year.

I and my students would greatly appreciate any and all help that you can give. Even a share would help! I’m trying to get items for my students that will help them throughout the year in school and out. Remember, I teach at a 100% free and reduced Title 1 school. I’d love to stock them up on snacks, essential hygiene products, as we as materials that will help them learn and focus in the classroom.

Click here to help out! And don’t forget to share! Thank you!

education · elementary education · esl · immigration · teacher · teaching · Uncategorized

Help Out a Classroom in Need! :)

I know it’s hard to think of, especially for my friends who just got out of school up in the Northern states, but it’s nearly back to school time! Florida starts August 10th! If anyone wants to help out my classroom, I’d truly appreciate it.

I teach 3rd grade at a Title 1 school in Florida which gets 30% less funding than the public schools. 100% of our students are eligible for free lunch which means they are at or below poverty level, so I’m trying to provide them with the an amazing education experience. Any and all help is appreciated. Thank you all. I try to increase their access to diverse books, give my students comfort and a release for their fidgets, as well as continue to educate myself. I appreciate any and all help 😘❤️ Thank you all!

Click here to check out our class wish list.
I currently have many of the Who Was series on there as well as a decent selection of diverse books. I also am trying to help my students focus more and I’m starting to turn my classroom into a flexible seating room so that they can study where they feel most comfortable.

 

education · elementary education · school · teacher · teaching

FSA Prep – 3rd Grade

I know we don’t even want to think about it, but the beginning of the school year is right around the corner. As a teacher, I start August 3rd and my kids return August 10th. Like it or not, it’s time to prepare for the inevitable…

This past school year, 3rd graders took the FSA at the end of March and the beginning of April. We started practicing in January when we got back from winter break, but judging from scores and knowing the kids that are in our school, I believe we need to start practicing much earlier. I won’t lie and everyone knows that I am not a fan of this test nor any other standardized test, but they have to take it anyway.

I used these books last year to help the kids prep for the test. The format was good and easy to go through. I would usually give a Reading passage as morning work, and then during ELA we’d work on reading through the questions, going over testing strategies, etc. The same goes for during our math block. We would do fact review first and, of course, review some other concepts, then jump into answering these practice questions. We’d break apart how and what is being asked (because we all know testing language does not make sense) and then we’d try to solve the questions. While solving the question we would either review old concepts or delve straight into new topics. I would sometimes slip a few of these pages into their homework packets as well.

Like I said, I’m not a fan of testing but it has to be done here. My fellow Florida teachers know as well that 3rd grade is a critical year as it’s the first year that they take these tests and if they do not pass them, they are typically held back unless they fall into certain categories. Being that we are a Title 1 school and we’re not scoring well, it’s time we pick up the pace even more. We’ll need to try new things for sure, and one of those things will to be start practicing from the beginning of the year.

I would check the links below and definitely add them to your library. They wonderful resources to have when you start preparing for testing season. They also have them for other grades as well.
FLORIDA TEST PREP English Language Arts Reading Workbook Grade 3: Preparation for the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA)

FLORIDA TEST PREP FSA Practice Test Book English Language Arts Grade 3: Covers Reading, Language, and Listening

FLORIDA TEST PREP FSA Practice Test Book Mathematics Grade 3: Includes Two Full-Length Practice Tests

Comment if you have any questions! I’d love to hear back from some other FL teachers!

education · elementary education · school · teacher · teaching

Fidgets…

Hello all!

It’s been way too long since my last post for sure. The school year was beyond busy, crazy, emotional, and everything else you could imagine. I’ve been trying to relax this summer as much as I can since I know come August 3rd, I won’t see the light of day until the following June.

Teacher summers are never long enough! Now isn’t that the understatement of the year?

Now, like most teachers, I am not a fan of fidget spinners. They were a huge distraction this year and there were no observable benefits that I saw with the kids who did have them. They mostly just wanted to show them off.

I did, however, find an item that really kept my kids busy this year (or rather a set of items), was this IQ Challenge Set. I swear, even my most fidgety kids could sit for hours trying to get these puzzles together. Especially the cube. It kept their hands busy, and a few were even able to “play” with it during class. It worked for all ages as well. Normally, I teach 3rd grade, but I did tutoring after school and would have 2nd graders in my room. Both grades enjoyed them as well as the other students and siblings that would pop in the room. I even had some middle school siblings who would come in specifically just to try and figure these puzzles out.
I definitely need to order another set of these. This time though, I need to put each one in it’s own baggie labeled with what it is and perhaps how many pieces there should be to it.
I had a few students who figured out the sphere and the metal puzzle as well. Some got close to figuring out the cube, but, alas, they could not. Perhaps this year I will have a student who will be able to figure it out. Check them out for yourself in the link below!

I’ll keep you posted!

IQ Challenge


IQ Set

 
Don’t forget to check out other back to school needs as well my fellow teacher friends!
 Shop Amazon – Introducing Education Supplies for Teachers

education · elementary education · esl · ib pyp · Istanbul · school · teacher · teaching · Turkey

Who wants to fill up my coffee?

Well, the first month is done. It’s been a whirlwind of a month. Getting to know the students and teachers and constantly changing schedules takes a lot out of you. I’m tired, I need a lot more coffee, but I enjoy the classroom teacher position. It’s nice to just focus on just one class and on just fourteen students as opposed to six classes and over a hundred students like I had last year at the same school. It’s also been a bit of a make-shift beginning of the year, because as per usual here the books came very late and some did not come at all. So, I’ve had to make do with the resources that I have at the school and online resources. For English resources, I have an endless supply because the office has to have thousands of books. I photocopy what I need for the day or week and that’s that. For the other subjects though such as social sciences and math, I’ve had to work a bit harder. Pinterest is a teacher’s best friend for sure; it not only offers crafting ideas, but there are also lesson plans, worksheets, and pretty much anything I could ever need. Teachers are very creative people are love to share with one another. Another great resource that I’m utilizing more is education.com which has some amazing workbooks that go over exactly what we’re doing in our classes. Learning about place value? There’s a workbook for that. Learning about the world, maps, and directions? There’s a workbook for that. Trying to teach about rhymes and sentence structure? There are books for that as well. Absolutely wonderful resource. There are also some games and videos on the site that I need to look through that could be very useful. I’ve found some interactive math sites which are also amazing for my children because they can’t understand everything that I am saying so having something that they can touch and visualize helps immensely.

Behaviorally, of course, there are a few problems, but there will always be problems especially in a school and culture where any sort of discipline / consequence is frowned upon. Even setting up simple routines can be hard to do because of this. Take for example morning reading hour, when the students are supposed to come into the room, put their stuff away, pick out a book, and read silently until breakfast time. Every day we go over the routine, we ask and we tell the children to please get a book, stop fooling around, stop talking, and please read. It doesn’t matter which language it is said in, they have yet to once be able to do this successfully. Then, when all the children actually are quiet and reading, another student comes into the room and the talking starts again. It’s not like we don’t give the children time to talk. We give them plenty of time to talk. Breakfast time is free reign and they can talk as much as they’d like. Their break times between each lesson they are allowed to talk, play, run around, dance, and do pretty much whatever their little hearts want to do.It is something that my co-teacher and I will have to talk about again because I think reading hour is actually very important building both their Turkish skills and their English comprehension. Parent-Teacher meeting is next Sunday I believe, and if the parents ask, I will tell. I do not and have never sugarcoated things and lied to the parents. Ask and you shall receive 🙂 Some may get angry, but the truth is the truth. If the child does not respect his or her friends or teachers, how do you think that they will act when they grow up? I do as much as I can to teach manners and respect in the classroom, but there is only so much a teacher can do. The rest is up to the parents at home because they are their children’s first and forever teachers. I’m not saying all of my children are disrespectful, I’m just saying this as a general statement.

For the most part, the children pay attention and love to participate, though, I do have to encourage some more than others to participate or pay attention. I involve them all and try to be fair to all. I try to liven things up a bit and do some activities because I understand that 2nd grade isn’t easy for them. Now that they finally know how to read and write, the workload is harder and more intense. English especially is hard right now too because it’s time to focus on proper pronunciations and spelling. They get away easy in Turkish because Turkish is a very phonetic language and what they hear is how it is spelled. As we all know, English is not like that at all. So, yes, there is a lot of writing this year in English which I know the children tire of after some time. This is when I try to liven things up a bit with activities or songs or dances or even simple fill in the blanks where they don’t realize that they’re practicing their spelling or sentence structuring. On the subject of gateway activities, my students love to dance. I’m surprised because my class is made of mostly boys, but when the music comes on or the dance video come up the boys are actually in the front row and the first to dance. They’ve certainly got some moves (and a huge surplus of energy that I wish they’d transfer to me)!

All in all, though, I got lucky this year. I have the smallest class in the school, I have students whose English comprehension is pretty decent, I have a wonderful co-teacher who I love, and I have parents who are very involved. I could be in the position of others at the school which would not be fun.There has been a lot of chaos this year in the English department and, well, everywhere else. I won’t go into detail here though. Perhaps at a later date. I just have to think positive thoughts for now.

This upcoming week should be a fun week because even though Halloween was this past weekend, we will be having our Halloween party on Thursday. I, of course, will be doing a few activities and songs throughout the week. If I can, I’ll try to set up a few extra special activities, but that depends if I have the time and can find the resources. The children have been asking me about the Halloween party since the first day of school! They are super excited for it. I think it’s because it’s something unfamiliar to them because it’s not normally celebrated in their culture. It’s fun and the kids get to get dressed up and play games. Who wouldn’t find that fun? It’s the one day a year where you can be anyone or anything that you want. Plus, getting free candy is always awesome as well. I cannot wait until the next big holiday… 😉