Sunday, August 21, 2011

School Year 2011-2012 Goals

 So tomorrow is the first day of my fifth year of teaching. I can't believe Year 5 is actually here! Typically, teachers begin to feel like they are hitting their stride in years 3-4. I had to switch grade levels and had several change of curriculum and change of teaching partners so I feel like I am just now hitting my stride.

We had Meet the Teacher last Friday night and I am so glad I am at the point in my career where I have built a reputation for myself. I remember taking my little brother Calvin (who tomorrow will be a senior in high school!) to see who was his 5th grade teacher. While we were there I could hear kids saying, "I hope so and so is my teacher". I remember thinking that I want to be that teacher that kids are hoping for. Friday night I had several kids say that they wanted to be in my class. I also had a former parent who told me she pushed for me to be her other son's teacher but for other reasons, he had to be in a different class. Luckily, you can't go wrong with any teachers in my grade level at my school in my unbiased opinion. ;) I also had a cousin and aunt of one of my former students stop by and see me. They told me that he is doing well and it is partly because of me. :) I cannot express how much that meant to me. Teaching is not one of those professions where you get immediate results. It can take years for the fruits of your labor to blossom and we many times don't even hear about it. Now that I am a teacher and realize this, I praise my former teachers and past and current mentors to their face and behind their backs. :)

Ok, on to my goals for the year.

1) Effectively balance being a teacher, a student, a wife, and all my other hats.

This is one I have been working on for the last 2 years (at times more successfully than others).  Luckily, I have an amazing, supporting husband. He is VERY patient with me as I try balance everything as much as I can. There is no way I could be the teacher I am and have a 4.0 in grad school if it wasn't for him. That does not mean I can keep going the way I am devoting most of my time to work in his expense. I want to work smarter and not harder this year. I have to figure out how to lessen my distractions and be productive in my work life so I can be a better wife at home.

2) Encourage my students to think deeper and more critically

This is something I was thinking about before we found out that the STAAR would require this of us. More than memorizing math facts other math concepts, my students need to be able to decide WHEN to use certain math concepts and WHY they need to be used. I hear about grown adults who can DO the math, but they have to be told step by step what to do! I also recently become interested in brain development and how the brain works. I won't go too much into it but I really want to teach my students about their brain and thinking and help them become independent thinkers.

3) Math and science writing

I would like to have my students do more writing in math and science. This goes along with thinking because when writing, they have to explain the thinking behind their math. My students in the past have doing writing assignments but I want to concentrate more on it this year.

4) Technology

Last year, I became more passionate about not only teaching WITH technology but teaching ABOUT technology. Being on the curriculum writing team helped this. I would like to continue teaching my students WITH and ABOUT technology because they will need this learning to be successful in this day and age.

I know it is still early but I should start getting all my stuff together for tomorrow and getting ready for bed. 5:30 will come early tomorrow and I still have things to get done before my students enter my classroom in the morning!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Hello from the Sunflower State! So you may be wondering what I am doing in Kansas. My dad grew up here and his 3 brothers and their familes live in Kansas. Of course now that my cousins are older, some of them have moved to other states.

Every summer my family would make the 14 hour drive to Kansas for a week to see everyone. It was always a fun time playing with all my cousins and catching up on what had happened in the past year. As we got older, it became harder to get everyone together which is I guess what naturally happens. The last time I was able to make it up here was in 2008 when my cousin got married. Luckily, everyone was able to make it down for my wedding in 2009 and it was really meant a lot to me that everyone made time to come down.

This is when I would post a picture of all my cousins and me from the wedding but I am on my grandparents' computer and it doesn't have my pictures on it. I am still working on getting my computer hooked up to their internet. :(

I wasn't orginally planning on coming this year because my summers are really busy (YES teachers work during the summer!), but I found out that my grandparents might not make it down to Houston this year. (Normally I am able to see them 2-3 times a year) I asked my parents when they were making the trip and checked my calendar. Turns out that I didn't have any trainings during this time and my grad class is over (thank goodness!) so I tagged along. :) I am so glad I did. I am enjoying my time with my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins and they aren't even all here yet!

I am looking forward to having some down time. I am going to try and work on lesson plans, read, and hopefully catch up on my blogging. Once I can hook up my own computer, I can start adding pictures. :)

We get back on Monday and then my first official day at work is Tuesday. I have been up at school this past week working on my classroom and trying to get it together. I feel like I am finally starting to reach my teaching stride and I actually feel like I know what I am doing! I am about to start my 5th year of teaching and it still kinda blows my mind. I have on my blogging to do list to post about my goals for this year so hopefully I will be able to do that in my time here in Kansas. I'm really excited about this upcoming year but you will have to wait and read all about that later. :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mission Journey Part 2

Remember when I said I would post the pictures tomorrow? That was July 9th :) Oops. To say this summer has been busy for me would probably be an understatement.

When we got there we would stretch, pray, and do our silly banana dance. :)

Front of the house. the dark blue was the original trim color.

End of Banana Dance :)

Carrying ladders.
 We had (and needed) LOTS of ladders. We tried to plan strategically so there wouldn't be a bottleneck of people waiting on the ladders but we weren't always successful. The house was really tall and 6th graders (and me!) aren't! We made it work and several of the kids overcame their fear of heights. So proud of them!
Lots and lots of paint!!!

Scraping and painting the porch.
Working on the left side of the house.

Blake holding the 2 story ladder to make sure Olivia didn't fall off as she painted the trim. Like his socks? :)

I spent most of my time on this wall on the right side of the house. Scraping it and painting it with 2-3 coats!

Back of the house (Grayson replacing rotted wood)

Amy aka the scraping queen!

Blake again making sure the kids don't fall. It wasn't the most exciting job but someone has to do it! Always time for safety! :)

Back of the house

Full view of the back of the house

You can see the original aqua trim (yes, not all the trim matched when we first got to the house)
Ok, so I gave my camera to one of the kids to take pictures of me! She had lots of fun taking pictures :) The next set are taken by her.
Sweet girls!


They loved Blake's socks. :)
Front of the house is almost done!

The kids had to get high on the ladder (and they LOVED it) :)

Cleaning up! All done!

My handsome hubby!

Dead tree on the side of the house

The backside of the tree. Super cool deep hollow hole

Dead tree from far away

Back of the house done!

Back of the house done!

Great Wall of Connie done!

The Beavers!

At the end of the day I somehow ended up with a blue streak in my hair...

The whole group with Ernest.

Some of the girls turned the mustang into a unicorn and added a smiley face :)

Us with all of our kiddos
I am so thankful that Blake took off work so we could have this experience together. We were able to see different parts of each other and learned a lot (especially about dealing with 6th graders!) I am very blessed in many parts of my life and many of those things are not in my control. I was very blessed to be born to the parents I was and able to grow up with many advantages. Not everyone gets that chance. I have worked hard to get to where I am but many people have to work harder than I did to reach the same place. It might seem like a small thing, painting a house, but with an organization like Generation One working in the Third Ward, hopefully that one generation will be able to break their cycle of poverty.

So I have made a blogging to do list of things I still need to blog about! I really want to be better so I will keep trying. Thanks for hanging in there with me and being patient with my crazy hectic life!