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 · Uncategorized

Flex for Success!

Hello again! I’ve set up a DonorsChoose, and I would appreciate any and all donations! If you can’t donate, a simple share would be great! Thank you in advance!

My Students

My students are enthusiastic, highly motivated, and competitive. They love to dance, play, and are always on the move. As much I push them to be the best that they can be, they end up pushing me even harder. I teach 3rd grade at a Title I, high poverty / low income school. No matter what hardships they’re facing, they never give up and always encourage one another. If ever they’re feeling down, for whatever reason, they always try to lift each other’s spirits and won’t stop til they get each other smiling.

My Project

My students are tired of sitting in normal student desks. They constantly fidget because they don’t get nearly enough time outside or time to run around. Many of my students like to sit on the floor and I’id like to make it a bit more comfortable for them to do so. Having the low round table will help my students with group work and group reading in a spot where they like to be. Some of my students have experienced wobble chairs in other classrooms, and, I must say those chairs do wonders! The students stay focused and get their energy out! I have quite the energetic bunch.

Check it out, donate anything that you can (if you can), and please share! I and my students appreciate all and any help! Plus, add the promo code RIPPLE at checkout and your donations will be doubled up to $50 for the next 7 days!

If you want to take a look at our classroom wish list as well, here’s the link.

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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 · esl · teacher · teaching · Uncategorized

A New Year, A New School, A New Start

Don’t worry, I’ll get to writing my year in review with 2A a little bit later. As I’ve just moved back to the USA from Turkey, I am quite the busy bee over here.

I wanted to let you all know that I have a new position as a 3rd grade homeroom teacher in Florida, and I will be teaching at a charter school. The children that I will be teaching come from diverse backgrounds. Most of the children that I will be teaching also come from very low-income families and do not have the resources at home for a proper education. I know I will have many students who will not be able to afford the basics. So, as a teacher in the US, you know where those basics will be coming from. Yep, that’s right, my own pocket. I want to make sure that my students have the proper resources at home and in their classroom. Since they come from diverse backgrounds, I also want them to have resources that represent them as well. I want them to have the resources to fuel their imaginations and creativity. I want them to want to learn and always question why and how and try to figure it out for themselves.

I’ve made a wishlist on Amazon for my classroom. If you could help out at all I would be very appreciative. The wishlist includes things like basic classroom supplies such as pencils and paper. It also includes many multicultural and thought provoking books as well as many science experiment kids. I want my children to have the resources they need and that will help them grow. Many of these kids have a high likely hood of never graduating high school let alone alone getting into college. I want to be the teacher that pushes them forward. I don’t want them to end up being just another statistic.

Thank you for any and all help.

I’ll be updating more soon.

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First Year Completed

On 12th June 2014, I did what only six year old Angela thought I would do; I completed my first year of teaching. Though, I don’t think six year old Angela thought that she would be teaching half way across the world. I did it though. And not only did I complete one year of teaching at one place, but, a week and a half later, I completed my first year teaching at another place as well. Yes, you read correctly. I taught five days a week at my main school and I would also teach on Saturdays. I’ll get back to that later though.

It was definitely an experience filled with things I expected and things that I did not expect. As much as I absolutely loved my children (and still do), they beyond wore me out. Let’s get something out of the way here. In America, or in England, when one thinks of a private school automatically strict rules and discipline come to mind, right? Well, not here. A private school here, especially the one that I was teaching at which was a conservative (religious) private school is kind of the opposite. In these schools, the kids (or rather their parents) rule the school. The private schools in this country, for the most part, are nothing but businesses. They advertise and promote constantly creating a false sense of, “Wow! This school is amazing! My child will learn so much!” When, in reality, it’s not so much like that. There is a high turnover rate for teachers; especially for the English teachers. Everyone gets paid very little for the amount of work that they do, especially the Turkish teachers who not only work late every night, but who also must come in on the weekends as well. Aside from the fact that the turnover rate is high, these “schools” are also fairly new which means that they aren’t quite set in their ways. There are no set curriculums or curriculums that work. These are chain schools that could do really well if they focused on the actual education of these students and not when and where they’re going to open up a new school. If they focused their time, energy, and money on a school (and with the amount of money these schools have) the kids would flourish. The children that I taught have so much potential and I hope that it does not go to waste. Aside from all of this, the children are spoiled, never corrected or disciplined, and are free to essentially do whatever they please. In the beginning of the year, I was very close to quitting to be honest. The teachers who are there, though mostly lovely and nice women, don’t know how to handle children how they should. I don’t think they know the proper psychology behind everything and will constantly yell at the children (or certain children that annoy them) and call them names. Apparently though, that is the way that things are done here. When it came time for English class, though, they expected every lesson to be a strict lesson where we drilled English into their heads, but fun at the same time, and not boring, and make the children listen like little angels at the same time. Well, it took me almost half a year to corral the children and have it so they would actually sit down and listen in class. Being that they’re kindergarteners though, I knew that they also need fun time and play time or they get antsy and won’t listen. Why did it take this long? Well, in this school, like I said earlier, the children win. The English teachers are never or are rarely shown any respect by the other teachers or even the teacher assistants for that matter, so the children mimic that behavior. The children are also spoiled brats and we’re essentially not allowed to discipline them. This means that even if a child hits another child or throws toys or a temper tantrum that nothing really happens. There’s never a phone call home about it because then the parents would complain and yell at the teachers or the school because nothing is ever their little angels’ fault. So, yes, it took over half a year of different methods and straining and grief to finally get these children to listen.

Three-quarters of the year passed and we then had the huge problem where most of the English department was let go and all of our lessons were switched around. I no longer had my shared five year old class and I no longer had my 6D class.  Instead, I had 6A and 6C, which had reputations for making the teachers gray-haired. I tried my best though. Remember how long it took to get my other two classes to behave semi-normally and make them teachable? Well, I had half the time to try and do this. At first, they were ok, because, hey new teacher. But then, things became ugly. 6A was split between me and another teacher. They tended to listen to her more because she’s a bit more strict in her manners of teaching (not to mention she’s Turkish so she better at handling them) and I was just the teacher that they could walk all over some classes and other classes, if they felt like it, they’d listen and things would go smoothly. One of the main problems with that class though was that the room was too big. It was hard to get the children to focus in there. 6C was an interesting class. This is the class with the worst reputation. In the beginning, they listened. They knew practically no English whatsoever, but they listened. I was starting to wonder why they were the class that had such a bad reputation. But then, it hit me, and it hit me hard. This class will not listen to a lick of what is said if their homeroom teacher is unable to teach and the longer she is out (and she was out for like two weeks due to meetings and organizing things) the worse the class becomes. They just had a complete disregard for any authority figure (even the assistant teachers had had enough of this class and sat there in a state of utter defeat). So, I would try to teach every time, and I would fail every time. The only thing that seemed to work with this class was busywork. So, I had to have an endless supply of worksheets for these children. When I did, they’d do their work and listen…mostly. It felt like I was at the beginning of the year again with these two classes. And it didn’t get better because, as it was the end of the year, the classes were constantly interrupted for field trips, shows, or practices of some sort. So, there was no real schedule anymore. The children and the teachers all caught the end of the year fever. And then, just as quickly as it began…it finished. It was a sandwich of a year; crazy, hair pulling bread and smooth happiness for the inside.

I know I made a lot of progress with the children though. I am not the kind of teacher who drills phrases into the kids’ heads. I know that the children’s parents want to hear them speak, but they’re not at the age where they need to be learning phrases. They’re at the age that they just need to soak in as much English as they can. The drenched them in vocabulary and by the end of the year, some of them were starting to put things together on their own. Even half way through the year, I was getting some of them to have conversations. Albeit very one-sided conversations, they were understanding the things that I was saying and trying to respond with a few words and lots of gestures.

It was harder with my weekend children to get to this point though as they only had English lessons once a week. Finally, towards the end of the year, they were starting to understand some things and become more confident. The only problem I had with these children was the age differences. I had children from four to seven in this class. This meant that I had kids who could read and write and others who still can’t write numbers. It was a challenge, but three quarters of the year later I started teaching them all the English alphabet and the phonetics that went with it. It made for some more interesting classes and the children really seemed to like learning about it. Big numbers and the alphabet seemed to be a hit in that class.

All in all, it was one hell of a year. I taught and I fought and I taught some more. As much as these children drove me nuts, I love them all. There’s something special and unforgettable about your first students. They and the memories that I made with them will last a lifetime. I wish that I could check up on all of them in ten, fifteen, twenty years and see where life takes them, but only time will tell. This year is finished and new adventures await!

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A Whirl Wind of a Month

Since my last update, there has been a lot that’s happened here. Due to the problems involving my school and the government there have been many unfavorable changes at my school and many others. Because of these problems way too many of our beloved teachers had to leave. We are all trying to wrap our heads around this surreal situation. One day they were here teaching with us, the next they weren’t even allowed to come to the school. Even though we are all still trying to figure this stuff out, fewer teachers means an obvious change in our schedules. Out of the five English kindergarten teachers there are only two of the original including myself and a third who used to be a coordinator. Actually, if you think about it, I am the only original left since the other girl has only been working with us in January. Aside from that, our schedules have been completely switched around. I used to teach 6B, 6D, and have a shared class with 5C. Now, I don’t have my 5 year olds at all, and I have lost 6D. I have added on 6A and 6C. These two classes are drastically different from what I’ve had to teach all year. Keep in mind that 6B and 6D have only had me as their English teacher all year. For 6A and 6C I am their fourth English teacher. They both have severe behavioral problems (6C being the one that is going to give me white hair). I have to go into those classes prepared for the worst, and I never know how I am going to come out. I know all of their names, and the kids somewhat know me, but they’re not used to behaving. For the most part, I have gotten 6B and 6D to behave and respect me. 6A and 6C don’t really know what that is. Luckily, I still have 6B who I’ve always considered my angel class. It is interesting noticing the differences in the dynamics of the classes and even how much English the class as a whole knows. Basic stuff that 6B and 6D know, these classes have no clue about. I used to be able to have conversations with 6B and 6D, but I can’t at all with these two classes. So, I am essentially starting from the beginning with these two classes as their fourth English teacher at the end of the year. One thing that boosted my teaching esteem was when the teacher who now has 6D told me that she loves them because they know so much English. That made me smile. And to think that I used to consider 6D my devil class! They don’t even compare to the new ones I have. I will try to do my best with these classes. I do want them to know what the other classes know, and there are a select few students in each class that really do want to learn and know a decent amount of English. The sad part, though, is that even these students who are smart and want to learn don’t listen that well simply because they haven’t had a stable teaching environment throughout the year. Well, I will have an interesting month and a half left with them. Let’s see what I can do even though the month of May and certainly June are known as the all fun and no work months in the school world.