Archive for August, 2010

Calgon, take me away….

August 27, 2010

I am done with my first week at my new school.  I feel like I have been on a rollercoaster.  Monday and Tuesday were full of admin duties….you would think that would be an “easy” day but you would be so wrong.  By lunch my feet were killing me and were dying to just have a few minutes to sit down.  Lunch on Monday was such a treat at 1pm 🙂  Wednesday I started “pushing in” with the 3rd grade classes.  Most of the day was fine.  One teacher had me laminating and making labels but she is so nice it’s hard to say no.   The goal is for the resource (music, pe, art, library and technology) teachers to be working with the students each morning.   Thursday I began teaching music!!!!  Yippee!!  After my morning car duty (insert a HUGE eye roll and LOUD sound of disgust), I finished helping in the cafeteria with the morning breakfast.  My first class was 4th grade.  It became quickly apparent that they are way behind.  I showed a piece of music on the screen and asked them to point to the time signature.  One kid pointed to the track numbers and when I said no, he responds, “oh yeah, that’s the date”.  Seriously?  When have seen a date printed on a picture of a CD with 6/12/22/23.   When someone finally pointed to the time signature I asked, what does it mean?  Every face went blank.  These kids do not know the basic music symbols, how to sing properly, how to read the melodic movement of notes on the staff.  This is something my Kindergartners were learning last year.  When I asked a group of 2nd and 5th graders what they learned last year in music, it was – “watched movies (which I’m sure happened once) and “watched a video of Michael Jackson”.  That might give you some perspective of where I am starting.  I’m hopeful that they are testing me right now and they do know more than they are letting on.  I asked the 5th graders to draw a quarter note, which is basic knowledge for elementary students, and they were unsuccessful.  We were able to speak a few rhythms but I felt like I was teaching 1st graders.  It didn’t help that this 5th grade is full of ATTITUDE.  They are going to drain me every other week….maybe that is the one positive of seeing students so infrequently – less gray hairs 🙂  This morning I found out that the 2nd and 5th graders take a music test in their classroom at the beginning of the year and the identical test at the end of the year.  If the students score well on this test then I get a bonus called MAP pay.  I am not for this type of bonus structure and I’ll tell you why! 

  1.  This puts an enormous amount of pressure on the students. 
  2. If they do not score as well as another school then I do not receive a bonus.  It is not taken into account that some schools see their classes every week and have more resources available.  My students should learn and retain the same information as a school who sees their classes once a week, every week and has the opportunities for music programs.
  3. Some teachers have in the past, not properly taught K, 1, 3, and 4th graders so that they learn a lot in the 2nd and 5th grade and do well on the test.  How stupid is that.
  4. I should not be evaluated and respected for how my students do on a written test.  I do not test well and have had some failures in the past due to that.  Does that mean I am a horrible teacher?  I would like to think not.  Why should my students have the extra pressure of doing well on this test so I can receive a bonus?  It’s just a ridiculous process.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t want the extra pay.  I believe teachers are overworked and underpaid.  I feel as though they should award us for our time and effort not for how well kids do on a standardized test.  While we are at it, let’s please get rid of the FCAT’s, VA SOL’s, and all the other ridiculous tests given to students to evaluate how “smart” they are and how “respected” the school is.

It’s been a long week and I am looking forward to the weekend filled with sunshine, pool, and beer 🙂


First day on the job

August 16, 2010

Where to begin….Let’s start with the roach infested room!  YUCK!  It is really quite disgusting but the super nice Head Custodian is going to take care of it.  I will be going in tomorrow with a dustbuster and cleaning everything – everyday!  It could be worse, I’m not sure how, but it could!  Note the upbeat, positive attitude here 🙂

My new school is called Oak Hill.  It’s a Title One school and received a grade of a very low ‘C’.  There are not many, if any, ESOL students (English as a second or other language) but there is a huge percentage of free and reduced lunch students.  Similar situation to ATES.  Low income families, low students, etc….

This morning we had a staff meeting and everyone introduced themselves.  It seems like a really nice staff.  Before we ate the delicious hot breakfast, we said grace.  Immediately after the “AMEN” I turned to the girl next to me and said “Are you kidding?  I couldn’t even say the word prayer without some sort of backlash!”.  She said “welcome to the south” to which I responded “I LOVE it!!”.  It was actually quite refreshing.  I think I may ask the next time we say grace if they could ask God to take away the ROACHES!

Now to the good part!  The Fine Arts Schedule.  This is where my FCPS friends will crap themselves.  I teach each class for 40 minutes every other week.  WHAT – twice a month?  I’m glad I spent 4.5 years on a college education to not teach music.  Argh.  On every other Wednesday the students dismiss early.  On those early Wednesdays, I basically tutor kids in the classroom.  On the Wednesdays that are full day, I rotate to different classrooms for 1 hour so the teachers can have a planning time with each other and the principal.  Again, WHAT?  Apparently this is one of the reasons I was hired.  The principal was impressed with the Intersession classes and such that I taught.  I knew that would some day come back and bite me in the arse!  haha!  While I am disappointed that music is not respected, I am excited to “push into” the classroom.  From the sounds of it, they need all the help they can get. 

I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out how to set up my room.  I am a little ticked that I gave Essel a lot of my stuff!  This place is not like ATES but then again, no place can equal ATES.  This will be a challenge.  I know there will be times that I will sit in my room and cry.  I know there will be times that these students will impress me and give me joy.  I’m excited for this new adventure!

Life in sunny FL

August 12, 2010

I have been in Florida for about 1 month and thought it was time to update my blog.  Especially for those select few who check my blog often and then yell at me to write something 🙂  I wish I could tell you that I absolutely love it down here but that would be a lie and my parents taught me to tell the truth!  There are many things I do like; the quiet neighborhood, the beach, the sun, my sister.  Then there are the things I don’t like; no job, no friends, the insane weight gain(my clients who be so disappointed!), the vacant condo in VA….the list goes on but I’m trying to be positive!

After about a week or so of feeling sorry for myself, a good friend sent me a text to read a blog from Runners World.  Kristin Armstrong writes beautifully about running, life, kids, friendship.  She always has something excellent to write and is usually centered around God (but not in a preachy way!).  This entry was about transitions and the 10 steps to take.  It was actually quite perfect.  I won’t write all the steps, I encourage you to read her entry (click the word entry above) for yourself. 

I would like to share the step that hit me the most – “2. Part two of step one: Begin anything with what, people? Gratitude. Find at least three things to be thankful for, right at this moment. Gratitude will always pull your gaze higher and beyond yourself–this is essential for maintaining perspective.”  How often do we find ourselves wallowing in self-pity and complaining about everything that is so horribly wrong with our pathetic life?!  Geez, I really hope that you all feel that way and it’s not just me!  haha!  I decided to wake up each morning and talk about things that I am grateful for.  Does this mean that I am a jolly little Christmas elf everyday?  Absolutely not!  I still have my moments of “my life sucks and I wish I was in VA” but I’m happy to report that those days are getting easier to handle and happen a lot less. 

As you wake up each morning, list the things you are grateful for in that moment and keep that with you all day!  Love to you all!