Saturday, November 2, 2013

The First Quarter is OVER!!

So I did work ALL last weekend.  Then, Monday I got to school at 6:30 a.m. (so I could get to the copier before the line began) and stayed until 8 p.m.. Tuesday I taught a writing class to teachers until 7 p.m.and, though I had work to do, I just went home. Wednesday I stayed after school until 8 p.m. Thursday (Halloween) until 7:30 p.m., and Friday until 5 p.m. when I realized that due to indoor recess, I never ate any lunch and all I had eaten was a banana and a power bar at 6:30 a.m..

What was I doing?? Reading, grading, and hanging in the hallway the student's 2nd published personal narratives (after removing their 1st from the hallway). Grading DRA2 assessments. Reading, grading, and printing in color, onto card stock, the bookmarks they created to share their thinking about how and why the fiction character changed in their book. Searching one more time for the 3 books (out of 230 books - this isn't a typo - Arlington County Public Library has unlimited checkout and my school supplied me with a very limited classroom library) that are overdue from the public library. I have no complaints about any of these tasks. It comes with running a reading and writing workshop. But it does take time!

Now I am at Starbucks at 7:30am (I actually slept in until 7!!) ready to make my final preparations for the conferences I will hold all day Monday and Tuesday. After 3 more phone calls Friday, I have all 27 families scheduled. Friday afternoon, I gave my students an end of quarter free-time to read or write and I met with each student to practice what they will say at their conference. Using a worksheet, they picked the one thing they are most proud of doing in Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop, Math Workshop, Science, Virginia Studies, and their Specials (PE, Music, Art, Strings, Library, and Spanish). They also picked their academic and behavior strength and the area for growth, both academically and behaviorally. I LOVED having this time. They could all name something they have done well and why! Hearing this was strong feedback to ME. Looking back, I sometimes remember the frustrations and these conversations helped me to be reminded of why I am a teacher. For 9 weeks, I helped 27 fourth grade students to grow as readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, artists. I am looking forward to the 20 minutes with each family where each child will get the chance to share. Sure, we all have room for improvement but I like that this conference format will highlight all the positive things done across the 1st quarter!

And why am I at Starbucks so early on a Saturday?
I still have a dozen DRA2s to score, I need to pick up hanging folders at Staples, I need to enter math grades into a google doc, as we flex group for Math and my partner needs my grades and comments ASAP, I need to do 27 report cards (something I haven't done for 10 year as a reading specialist - this better not take too long!).

Secretary tasks - uugh! I also still need to record who has paid $70 for the trip to Jamestown VA, who has signed some form needed by the art teacher to help us win a grant, who has paid their class fund check, who wants to order books from Scholastic, who is coming to our Veteran's Day celebration. At least Friday I took care of who still needs to sign-up for a conference!

Reflecting on my week, my quarter, I totally understand WHY our education system in the United States struggles. I am a teacher that knows the content, yet after 9 weeks back in the classroom, I am exhausted. There is not one week that I have not cried. My To Do list just grows and grows. I know many who have left teaching because life is too short and they would rather do another, less demanding job.

I care SO much about reaching all my students. Yet, it is hard, so hard. There is so much to do and not enough extra time to allow me to sleep, eat, and have any time to converse with my husband. And what if my daughters weren't 21 and 25 now? Looking back, there is no way I could have also been a mom of school age children this past quarter. I did do it when the girls were younger, so what's different? I think I know more now and am teaching the content much better than I used to. But that takes TIME, which is why I spent 8 hours last Sat, 8 hours last Sun, 4 hours on Monday, Wed, and Thur and 2 hours on Friday = 30 hours extra hours... And why I need to stop typing now and get back to work!

Glad I survived 1st quarter and am looking forward to 2nd quarter - nonfiction reading unit of study, essay writing, trip to Jamestown and Colonial Day, math computation of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. And a Veteran's Day celebration based on what Tim Rasinski taught me at the Reunion Saturday at TCRWP. And a 16-day Winter Break (but who's counting!)

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