Friday, August 31, 2012

Finding Places

It's hard to start over in a new classroom that has a different configuration.  It would probably be easy if I was going to an identical room, but life is never so perfect.  And actually, my old classroom wasn't all that perfect.  Now that I think back on it, I've had a lot of imperfect classrooms.  The closest to perfect was the last classroom I had at Ridgewood.  LOTS of storage...I would give one of my kids to get that kind of storage again.  Well, maybe not since we've put so much money into them thus far. lol

But when little things happen that just's like I'm almost brilliant.  :)

Case in point....

I had two ways I kept my 'stuff' organized.  One was in binders in plastic sleeves for easy copying and storing.  Each month had a different binder.  It is really handy.

Then I also had those Costco milk boxes for storing the things that wouldn't fit in the binders.  It was handy too.  I had a big shelf in my closet that they were all stored on nice and neat and in order.

But then I moved classrooms and didn't have a nice big shelf any longer.  So as I was frustrated yesterday because one of the file cabinets didn't have those metal racks for holding hanging files...I got an idea...
I though that maybe these would fit in there...and looky, it does!  Just right!!  And almost organized too. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It Passed!!

The Facility Plant Levy was in its second go around this month.  It didn't pass last winter.  We were all so sad that there were pockets of voters in our district that didn't support our students and their need to be in a safe environment to learn.

So the powers that be within the district revamped, reworked, fine-tuned and put up for vote a newer snappier version of the original Facility Plant Levy. They also learned a few lessons about publicizing and getting people to vote...during a strange time of the summer.  Some buildings had 'Meet the Teacher' nights and BBQ's on voting day because many of the schools were polling places.

That helped quite a bit with voter turnout.  Speaking of voter turnout...

There are 13,663 registered voters in the Lakeland School District.  Of those only 1,940 voted.  That's only 14% of the voters!  Wow...I find that amazing that so few people were willing or cared to, take a stand either way on the issue.  These are the future doctors, lawyers, dentists, mechanics, teachers, parents....who will be taking care of us some day.  How sad.

I am curious to see if the voter turnout for the presidential election is higher than 14%...I should hope so.

Fortunately...of the 14% who felt like voicing their opinion...the majority--over 60%--supported the Levy and it PASSED!  Big sigh of relief could be heard by every building in our district...not just the people, but the actual buildings!

Here's the actual numbers...looks like the town I'm teaching in was very supportive of our Levy...yeah!

Monday, August 27, 2012

In the Middle of the Mess

Moving, unpacking, sorting, re-organizing...that is how the last few weeks have been.  Just plain crazy.  And this new school has an alarm system that I can't wrap my mind around yet so  I have only been there while the office staff is there--which of course never seems like enough time.

 But it's starting to look like a classroom.  with a cozy little reading area...
The 1st graders love these chairs. They are covered in that soft corduroy and they are big enough for two of them to sit together.  I found them last summer at Walmart for $10 each.  It has been well worth the money!

 A writing center with all the supplies at their fingertips...well they will be soon enough.
Notice my bulletin boards.  They are all covered with fabric.  I love it so much more than the rolls of paper. Even "fadeless" paper seems to fade.  But the fabric stays vibrant and I leave it up all year.  Plus it doesn't show the pushpin and staple holes like paper does.

Then there is the always favorite computer center.  I will have to get rid of these chairs.  They are like 6th grade sized and the three chairs don't fit together under the table...I see problems this could cause down the road.

You see the white tubs next to the computer center? That's my math.  I hate this math.  It takes up so much room for storing it.  But you will see more of these tubs around the room.  They are my hidden storage bins.  Most of them have a little fabric table cloth over the top to camouflage fancy them up.  I thought my last room was bad, but there is less storage in this room. 

This is my meeting's still in progress.  I don't like the way my math wall is coming together yet.  And I'm still missing my little table that goes up front.  My dear husband is sanding off all the old paint and layers of ugly contact paper and repainting it for me.

Here are my desks...I mourn the loss of my tables in my last school.  Perhaps if the levy passes I can get some again.  Desks are dirty (they shove all sorts of stuff in them), they are uneven and most of all they take away the feeling of being a group.  They are all individuals pushed together...not the feeling I try to instill in them.

Next problem....managing all my books.  After teaching for almost 20 years, I have gained quite a collection.  I don't fault myself for this, but I do have to work around this 'problem'.  I guess on the list of top problems--a first grade teacher having more books than her students could read in a year--isn't too bad. :-)

My  husband is also making me an extra shelf for that bookcase so I can put another row on it.  

The math center...still a dumping ground at this point...give me a few more days to tackle this corner.

More pretty fabric to brighten up the blah white walls...

Not the fanciest curtains I've ever made but they make a nice color splash over the backpack/coat hooks.  Behind it is a big shelf with tons more books (my monthly stash is hidden back there...I have to save a few 'new' books to share each month to keep my readers inspired.)  I also have more boxes of things stored up there as well.  Oh yeah, and the 5 sets of Anthologies that go with the Scott Foresman reading curriculum for our district.  They take up half the shelf all on their own!

More books...these come with the classroom.  I'm trying to figure out how to store them for easy use as well.  One of my problems with this classroom is the heating system.  It's baseboard heaters.  So we can't put anything that's not metal near them.  I am trying not to stress out our wonderful building custodian...but I'm also trying to stretch the limits a bit as well!

This is the one and only closet.  It's stuffed full in an organized way.  It should be better as the supplies get used up.  This school isn't one that instills hoarding.  In my last school we were taught to hoard our supplies in our classroom.  In this school, they have a supply room that is stocked and not locked!  So I may be able to clean out a few boxes soon.

"If the Levy passes"....that's how many sentences begin around here.  But if it does, this wall will become a whiteboard.  Then it will be the 'front' of my room because 'if the Levy passes' you will also see a projector hanging from the ceiling from in between those ugly  light fixtures.  Which would be a good thing because I have a document camera (Elmo) collecting dust until it does.

This is a good sign...empty baskets and boxes!

These are the bad signs....

My desk and my reading table are still full of piles!

Well soon I will be done...I have to be because the new group of 1st graders will be walking in the door in just over a week!

Friday, August 17, 2012

And So It Begins...

I have been a teacher for 19 years.  I have worked in three school districts, but most of those years have been in 1st grade.  I have dabbled in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and even kindergarten...but my favorite and my home is in 1st grade.

I'm not new to the teaching world, but there is nothing that will knock you back down to that very first year than...

Setting up a classroom!  

Fluctuation in student populations within a larger district can apparently cause this.  I am not used to it though because I worked for so long in a smaller district.  Big districts are a different beast.  So now instead of a 10 minute drive to work, I have a 25 minute drive to work.

Instead of enjoying my last month of summer, I am cleaning out the closet and cupboards of all the 'stuff' left in them from countless previous teachers.   Three huge black garbage bags full of old outdated stuff!  

So after I get the cupboards and the closet cleaned out...I stop and cry...because I finally have a minute.   I mourn the traditions, the friends, the parents and mostly the kids I will miss at my previous school.  I probably would have thrown a few things if they weren't all mostly packed in boxes and then I would have had to pick them up :(

I say to myself, "be thankful you have a job and it's even at the same grade level!"  My best friend and teaching partner also had to move schools, but she is at a different school and has to teach 4th grade!

But the other, inwardly shy part of me, has to put on her big girl panties and do the new kid on the block...again!  That's the hardest part for me.  Nobody realizes that I'm actually kind of

So new parents, new kids, new staff, new building, new traditions to learn, new ones to make...and I'm still not sure where the grownup bathroom is yet....

and then there is still that huge pile of boxes to go empty out and put away!  ugh!

Did I say that my classroom is on the south side of the building and there is no cool air and I'm sweating like I'm in a dang sauna!?

ok...enough whining and back to work!

I will post pictures once I get things looking halfway decent!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Discovering Pinterest

I have just figured out this Pinterest thing.  It is the current rage!  For each holiday or season or topic I have a Pinterest Board and I'm posting fun stuff on it that I find on the internet.  I figured this could be a useful way to find a lot of things quickly, plus it's a better way for me to keep track of what I found online and where.

I don't know about you, but I get so lost blog hopping and I have no idea where I started and where I'm trying to go.  Then I find some really cool idea and I can't find it again!  So Pinterest is helping me out...hope it helps you too!

Here is my Pinterest Board:  Life in Idaho

Friday, August 3, 2012

Reuse those baby food jars!

Last school year I had a 1st grader with a little brother who was very hungry.  So her mom fed him a lot and then she sent the baby food jars in to me.  I love when there are little siblings at home and this works out.  Baby food jars are awesome!  I use them for all sorts of projects.  We use them for watercoloring, mixing colors, making treasure jars at Christmas, planting seeds, and more...

I found a blogger who has a list of 20 ideas for using those extra baby food jars.  Check it out:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

To Be or Not to Be: Teacher Unions

When I first became a teacher in California it was at a school that didn't have a union.  It was a smaller district.  We had a group of teachers that was our negotiations committee. They met with our Superintendent, principal, and a board member or two.

They had some long nights.  They respectfully worked together coming up with compromises and thoughtful solutions to whatever the budget woes were.  We had a workable contract for the next year -- before the end of the school year. We kicked in money to buy them all dinner once they were done.  Ta da! Neat and easy and move on with the job at hand...educating our kids.

Well, then I moved to the Inland Northwest.  I never was a member of the union in Washington.  I did lots of long term subbing...but never long enough to have to put a toe into the union pond.

Moving to Idaho and getting a job brought me into the Union's den.  I joined up.  Not because I was excited about being a member of a union.  I already felt a kinship with my fellow teachers.  Not because of the amazing deals and discounts that you get as a member of a union...I haven't used a single opportunity that they have offered.  Every deal I have gotten has been because I'm a teacher--not because I'm a member of a union.

But because of the 'protection' you get from a union.  Yes, I'm picturing those Chicago style gangsters right about now, aren't you?

"Hey Joey, that parent over there just yelled at that teacher.  You wanna take care of dis one or should I?"

LOL...just kidding.

In this day and age of suing because McDonalds makes their coffee too hot...or Justin Bieber's music was too loud at his have to be careful.

So I joined up.

But then the Luna-cy Laws happened in Idaho.

Among other drastic changes to supposedly improve education, all unions lost their powers of negotiation. They were basically rendered to be so powerless that it makes the Girl Scouts Council look stronger!   They put the power in the hands of the school's Administration--and teachers' futures at their whim.

This didn't just kill the teacher's unions but all unions--firemen, police, etc.

So in November, in Idaho, the people of Idaho are going to get their chance to strike down the Luna-cy Laws.  If you want to be educated on why you might want to consider voting No on 1,2,3...check out this link:  NOon123

I'm not telling you to vote no, but I hope you educate yourself a bit before you swallow the rubbish that is out there about why it is a good thing.

Unions...I'm still not decided as to whether I will continue with them this year.  I did not see the support for teachers in a couple situations over the last few years, one in which included myself.  The local union representative's attitude in these situations appeared that they were more interested in supporting the union and that they were trying not to ruffle any administrative feathers--at the cost of not supporting teachers.

I am actually considering moving on to another organization called Northwest Professional Educators:  It is cheaper, still tax deductible and gives me the nuts and bolts of what I'm looking for--support in my profession.

If you have any thoughts or feedback about unions, please let me know what you think.  I have given them 4 years to try and prove their worth to me and my faith has done nothing but fade.