Monday, January 28, 2013

Always Love!

Whew, I don't know about you, but Monday exhausted me!  However, I do mean that in the best way possible!  Today was an in-service day for us and it was by far the best in-service day E.V.E.R!  We went on a team building trip to a local retreat, we probably worked through at least 10 different activities, including zip lining, ninja (a time filler game) and archery!  I can't pick a "favorite" because really, I loved everything we did, seriously there wasn't one thing I didn't enjoy! :)  It helped that I had an awesome group that I worked through it all with! :)
I said last week that it was my goal to get done with literacy centers and math centers this past weekend.... well, I just finished my literacy centers tonight.  Thankfully, I even have almost all of them prepped and ready to go for tomorrow! However, I haven't finished my math centers, so I guess we will just continue to spiral what I have stored from last year until I am able to get finished!  I am loving these activities, mostly because the kids are going to have a ball with them!  :)
I was also able to get my character trait posters ALMOST done.  The ones that are done have already been laminated with my personal lamenator (my new obsession) and are hanging in the room.  As soon as I go back through and edit a few little things, they will be uploaded to TPT!

So Monday flew by and if I don't make this short and sweet it will be Tuesday before I get to bed! ;)  As much as I don't mean to make time fly by, I'm wayyyy excited for this weekend!! I get to not only see my best friend, Lindsey and a several other good friends, but I also get to see one of my all time FAVORITE Texas Country Singers, Wade Bowen!  Check out the song below, definitely my newest favorite of his...maybe because it reminds me of motherhood..even though it's referring to fatherhood... I guess just plain ol' parenthood! I hope you all have a wonderful week and maybe I'll have an opportunity to blog again this week about the SDE conference, I STILL have so much to share!!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Making Clip Art?!?!?!

I am soooo excited that I FINALLY figured out took the time to learn how to make my own clip art.  Now it's nothing too spectacular... especially considering the fact that it's my first... however I'm my toughest critic and I'm pretty impressed.

On my team we are lucky enough not to have to plan out EVERY. SINGLE. LITTLE. DETAIL. of our plans ourselves.  We team plan, meaning that a few of us plan out each subject.  My first year I was in charge of math, with my awesome mentor, and now great friend Diana.  Over the years we have always struggled finding a way to teach temperature in a way that we felt completely addressed our "specificity." (If you have CScope you know EXACTLY what I'm referring to.)  We've looked for stamps, we've looked for clip art, we've looked for ready made stuff.  Nothing we could find worked or lived up to what we expected and needed.  So for some reason today I decided to take on the task of figuring it out.  We've already taught temperature, but we need to continue to spiral it, oh and it is about to be readdressed in science!  After about 15 good minutes I had a nice layout set up, I just had to adjust, rearrange, resize, tweak, etc, etc to get it to meet my expectations.  I had to make them in varying intervals and different starting numbers.  Needless to say, I was able to get it done AND figure out how to successfully save them as a good ole PNG file.  Yes, I could have saved them as JPEG's, too.... however it is a extremely RARE occasion that I ever use JPEG's in my files.  I love the PNG files because they take all of the excessive white space and make it transparent.

Ekkk... So here it is... I'm a little excited... making me that much more of a teacher nerd I'm sure!  I can't wait to put these into my newest set of centers!   

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Classroom Management

So I mentioned in my post Be the BEST you, you can be last week that I was going to start discussing/sharing/analyzing some of the information from the SDE conference I went to on the 10th and 11th of this month.  I decided to start with Debbie Silver, her sessions were great.  She was my favorite presenter, which may have had part to do with her humor, but mostly because I could relate with SO much of what she shared and I had about 1,378 "ahhh-ha" moments!

The first session, minus her keynote presentation, was about classroom management.  I think that this is something that EVERYONE has or will struggle with at some point in time.  In my three long short years of teaching, I can vouch for this.  Before I go any further, take a minute to stop and think about what classroom management means to you....

This quote from Haim Ginott is one that Debbie Silver shared with us.  I feel as though this quote encompasses so much of what classroom management actually is.  In the past, when I was asked what my classroom management looks like, I immediately interpreted the question as "how will you manage your kids?"  While I have always known that the relationship that I form with my kids is almost as important as the "managing" part, I didn't take the relationship into consideration when thinking about my classroom management. 

While at D. Silver's classroom management session she gave three bullets under the term "Classroom Management"
  • It is not just the rules
  • It is the mindset
  • It is an extension of who you are
Ummmmm.... WHOA, my first real "AHHH-HA" moment.  I mean how much sense does that make?!?!  Let me break it down a little more and share my interpretation of this...
  • It is not just the rules .... Ok... Yes, rules are important, we all know that.  Without rules well our classrooms would be more of a zoo than they already are, HOWEVER classroom management is sooooo much more than just the rules. 
  • It is the mindset... It is the mindset of you, the teacher.  If you come to school one day and you had the roughest of nights and you bring that into the classroom, what kind of day do you think you're going to have?!?! Probably a rougher day than your night.... Just speaking from personal experience.  Kids feed off of us... be it the kids in our class or our kids at home.  If you are dressed to a T everyday, but are completely broken on the inside... your kids will see past your picture perfect outfit and feed off of your inner feelings.  Some days we just have to tell ourselves that it is going to be a good day and actually believe it.  Yes, your day may not have been as "good" as you had hoped, but it will be better than it was.  Some days you just have to put on that smile, paste it on, eventually you'll find yourself actually happy.  If you're feeling blue, then wear something bright!
Act enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic, just as if you act mad, you will be mad. 
I can attest to this, before the break my kids got in trouble for something, for what I can't recall.  In turn I had to "act" mad/disappointed.... this acting turned into the real thing before I knew it!  I had to quickly pull myself out of it before I let it really it affect the out outcome of the day!  We really have all the power to determine the mood and climate in the classroom. 
  • It is an extension of who you are... I feel like this one goes hand in hand with the bullet above.  If any of my friends outside of work were to come in and observe my class, the way we interact, how it is set up, and the clutter organized chaos of everything, I truly feel would say that the way my classroom is run is the way my life is run.  My sarcasm, humor, seriousness, laughter, playfulness, caring personality is one in the same be it in the classroom, at home, or out with a group of friends.   I consider myself to be a very optimistic person... probably furthest away from a pessimist that I can be.  I try to find the good in everything... now obviously I am not always successful in this, but I try!  Personally, to be a teacher, I think that you have to be... otherwise everything, every day could/would be a disaster.  Not that I don't have catastrophes and moments of panic in my classroom with my lessons or my kids, but I try to look at them more as a learning experience rather than  a moment of complete failure! 

I also feel that another  MAJOR component of classroom management is the relationship you have with your kids.  If you have no relationship at all with your kids, your classroom management is likely to be a hot mess!  If you don't know your kids, if you haven't taken the time to get to know your kids, then it seems as though you care nothing about them (in my opinion at least).  If you don't care about your kids, then why should they care about anything you say or do.  By knowing things about your kids, their lives, the things they like, the things they dislike, you are ultimately able to use this to your advantage, plus they just love sharing things about their life! This is my little addition, but for me a big piece of the overall structure to my classroom management.

All of this is just a teeny tiny bit of the information I have stored away from the conference, be on the lookout for more soon!  Also, I think I have taken a long enough hiatus from the TPT world, I am officially beginning my new unit of literacy and math centers tonight!  If all goes well and there are no computer problems or an unexpected emergency this week, I will hopefully have it done by next weekend!

Oh, one more thing!  Be sure to swing by Learning with Mrs. Leeby, she is having her 200 follower giveaway going on right now!

I hope you all are as lucky as we are and have tomorrow off in observance of MLK day!  Have a wonderful week! :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Prayer in School

Well this week has been one for the books, I'm so over it. 

Today I had to answer one of those sticky questions in my classroom.  After explaining to my kids why I had to leave yesterday morning without warning (explanation coming....) one of my students asked if they could say a prayer for my brother, Will.  I immediately wanted to yell of course, unfortunately, due to the fact that we aren't really allowed to talk religion in school, I questioned my answer.  I in turn told my student that asked this question yes, she could pray.  I can't tell someone they can't pray, just as I can't tell them they have to pray.  That's my perception on it at least.  Right after answering that question though, I was asked another, "Ms. Pepper, can we all pray together for your brother right now?"  Ugh.... I would have loved nothing more than this, but I then had to explain that unfortunately we aren't allowed to all pray together.  This brought on more and more questions.  To date, this is probably one of the hardest conversations I've had to have with my kids, seriously.  (Like harder than telling my kids 2 years ago I was pregnant and having to explain how that happened without me being married.....)  It makes me sick, literally that I had to tell my kids that we couldn't all sit and say a prayer for him.  I had to explain to my kids that "a moment of silence" is for those wish to pray to pray.  I told my students that they were more than welcome to go back to their desk and pray, that they could pray at anytime during the day that they wish to, about anything they wish, and I couldn't do anything about it.  As my students headed back to their seats, it made my heart melt.  The fact that I have such loving, innocent, and caring children makes me love my profession even more than I did before (which was a lot)!!!  I can't imagine a more rewarding career than the one I have chosen!

You may ask, why am I sharing all of this?  I don't know exactly...
Partially because I'm furious that I had to tell my kids that we couldn't pray together in school....
because I hated the heartache in their eyes when I had to explain this.....
because I'm curious how others would have handled it....
because it helps me to deal with things like this by writing and sharing about ...
because one of my kids said I don't know how to pray....
there are many reasons why, but the biggest reason being that it is devestating to me that we don't have the right to do this with our kids.  Yes, I know we are allowed to pray on our own, no one can stop us from doing that, but I just feel like it is so unfair that I have to tell my kids that I can't pray with them, despite the fact that I would love the opportunity to be able to.  

Ok... so let me rewind a little... How did we get to this conversation?  What happened?

To tell the full story, I have to rewind to Sunday.  Sunday was a rough night, B refused to go to sleep.  It wasn't until around 12, almost 4 hours after I laid her down that she actually fell asleep.  I felt as though I tried everything to get her to sleep and nothing worked.  Just as she was going to bed and I was falling asleep, I received a phone call from from my brother, well from my brother's phone at least.  It was his friend, she was letting me know that she was worried about him.  She told me all the things she observed, all the things he said, and all of her concerns.  After we talked for a while, I told her that she needed to take him to the ER.  After almost 5 hours in the ER, they diagnosed my brother with Serotonin Syndrome based on all of his symptoms.  Over the next 48 hours he seemed to be doing better.

For those of you that don't know a lot about my brother let me share a little (all of this including what happened this week is shared with his permission! :) ).  My brother is one of my best friends, he is 22 and my only "full" blooded sibling.  He is currently going to college and is less than a year away from graduating with both his bachelors and masters degree.  He is the best little brother I could ask or wish for.  He is an amazing uncle, someone who Berklee absolutely adores.  He is one of the most sensitive, hard headed, hard working, strong, dedicated, and loyal kids I know, seriously, I'm not just saying this because he's my brother.  In some ways, we are very much a like, in others we are very different.  My baby brother inspires me more than he will ever know!  I would be lost without him!

Tuesday came and went.  By the time Wednesday arrived I was exhausted.  Wednesday was going good, nothing to complain about, we had actually gotten a lot accomplished.  Not long after we arrived back in our classroom after specials I received a phone call from the office.  I was sure I was going to get in trouble because I STILL had not done my attendance, despite getting two reminder emails and a reminder over the intercom.  I picked up the phone and the secretary told me my mom was on the phone and she was going to put her through to me.  My heart sank, for my mom to call my school and them to interrupt me in class, something was wrong.  She called to let me know that my brother had another episode, this time at school, and she was in the ambulance with him as she called me.  Immediately tears began streaming down my face.  I tried to turn so my students couldn't see it, but it was too late.  My wonderful  neighbor and friend next door, Gwen, covered my class as I went to the office to see what I could do about leaving.  Thankfully I have a wonderful and supportive administrative staff that said they would take care of everything.  I went back upstairs and quickly threw things together for an aide to cover my class for the afternoon.  Luckily another one of my amazing friends and co-worker, Diana, took my kids to lunch.

As I arrived to the ER yesterday, my brother seemed to be doing much better.  He was being is sarcastic self, laughing, and joking.  They ran several other tests in addition to what was run on Sunday night when he was admitted.  The Dr was basically baffeled about what it could be.  He decided he was going to discharge him and refer him to the neurologist.  As we waited for him to be discharged, my brother all of the sudden got very cold and decided to close his eyes.  No sooner than us dimming the lights did he have another episode.  His chest began to spasm (one of the major symptoms he had been having), I ran to get the nurse/dr while my mom watched over him.  The Dr. came in and asked him some questions, he was able to respond but only in one word, it was a struggle for him to get out what he did, all while his eyes were closed.  It was good for the Dr to actually be able to observe what had been happening, but it was a very scary experience for myself.  I felt so helpless.   When my brother has these episodes, he doesn't recall them actually happening.  He doesn't remember the feeling, he doesn't remember the conversations he had, nothing, it's like that whole period of time is blacked out.  The Dr. decided that he was still going to discharge him, but he needed to see his primary care physician and the neurologist as soon as possible.  The ER Dr. didn't think that it was serotonin syndrome anymore...he had also ruled out seizures...

Today, my brother had the appointment with his PCP.  Basically he believes that it is all still the serotonin syndrome.  Apparently, it can take up to 5 weeks for the serotonin to get out of your body.  My brother will still be going to see a neurologist, just to cover all our bases.  We would greatly appreciate any prayers sent our way. 

In addition to all of this, I received a message from B's babysitter that she was running a fever today... A quick trip to the Dr. and the diagnosis is a virus... awesome.  I had to go back up to school, put in and get ready for a sub.  By the time I had plans done, picked up my classroom from the after effects of Hurricane Berklee, and we ate, we finally made it home a little after 8.  This three day weekend just turned into a four day weekend for this chick.  I think it is much needed after this week, but I really HATE that I feel as though I haven't been in my classroom at all over the past two weeks.  

So my to do list over the next four days is to GRADE, GRADE, PLAN, GRADE, CREATE CENTERS, oh and GRADE!  I also hope to get in a little sewing, cleaning, laundry, LOTS of playtime, and LOTS loving on my sweet baby!! 

Before I forget, I wanted to end this on a good, inspiring note (well inspiring to me at least).... As my mother messaged my brother's professor on Wednesday to let her know how he was doing (his episode at school happened in her office), she received a response that was one of those messages that just makes your heart happy.  After my brother left in the Ambulance, all of his teachers that were there, past and present, including some teachers that weren't his took a few minutes to stop and pray for him.  This was very special and not something you see everywhere, while it should be.  

I hope you all have a great weekend! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Be the BEST you, you can be!

Whew, it is hard to believe that the weekend has passed and tomorrow starts another work week.  Here is a quick recap my roller coaster of a week!

Last Sunday ....... I stayed up late working, I decided last minute that my need for CHANGE said that morning work needed a makeover!  (If you haven't checked out my post about change, click here!)Keep in mind that my morning work has been going just fine, however there were a few things that I felt like I needed to squeeze into the school day like handwriting, grammar practice, and extra math spiraling that I could only fit in during this time!  I am very happy with my new layout and my kids like the variety, too!  I decided for some strange reason to print things out at home (which I NEVER do) so that I could throw them in for copies quickly the next morning....

Monday- I got to school only for my computer to C...R...A...S...H...E....D first thing!! THANK THE LORD I printed everything out that I need (well minus my lesson plans!!! GRR) that I needed for that day! 

Tuesday - I still had no word on my computer, which began to really make me nervous.  It only made me as nervous as it did because I STILL needed to make my sub plans for Thursday and Friday!  At the end of the day my campus tech brought in my computer and connected it to my personal Time Capsule by Apple that I brought in to back everything back up on the computer!  I had never been so excited to see my computer. 

Wednesday - Another day crammed full of learning, I had to set them up for everything else they would be doing for the week, since I would be gone!  Needless to say it was a BUSY day!

Thursday & Friday - SDE Conference!

Oh, and I think that my computer is out of commission again.  Thankfully I had not already completed my lesson plans for this week or done any other kind of work on it!

I'm excited to head back tomorrow even though I could go without the early morning wake up call from my trusty alarm!  I miss my kids like crazy, which my qualify me as being crazy to some!  Seriously though, I love my kids!

So, I tried to make the above update a slightly condensed because I'm DYING to post about the conference I spent Thursday and Friday at with my wonderful friend and co-worker, Diana!  I am not going to share EVERYTHING I learned and all of my ahhhhaaa moments at once because that would make this post qualify for one of the LONGEST posts EVER Awards!  My goal is to post a couple times this week and next so I can share some of the awesomeness!

I will start with my favorite presenter, Debbie Silver, and work backwards later on this week.  I say work backwards because she was the Keynote on Friday and the presenter for 4 other sessions, 2 of which I attended.

If you have not had the pleasure of attending a conference with her, YOU MUST!!!  She is hilarious, very matter of fact, says exactly what you're thinking in your head, but out loud!  She was born and raised in Texas, but now resides in Louisiana. She is an author, song writer, speaker, and humorist.  Two of her books are next on my reading list!

Be on the lookout for another post this week about her sessions, it's going to be some good stuff!  

Oh & of course I can't leave without sharing a few pictures of B from this week! :)
I hope you all have a wonderful week!! :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A much needed break!

 I'm back!! After an enjoyable 2 week break, it is now time to get serious and back to work.  I can seriously say that I have enjoyed this break thoroughly.  B and I had a great time spending time with family, friends, each other, and even a little time away from each other (a whole 30ish hours, the longest we've ever been apart).  It wasn't until about two days ago that I even began to look/think about work stuff.  Since I don't have a lot of schoolish stuff to share, I will share a little photo montage of our break! :) 

To start off it all off, I have to share one of the things I am most excited about!  My brother asked me over the break if I would consider running a marathon or half marathon with him.  Running a marathon is always something that has been in the back of my mind, but never really taken seriously.  With my realizations that I need to take a little more time for myself over the break,  I decided that this would be something great for me to do for myself.  I always enjoyed running when I was younger (on my own terms that is), it was a way for me to just clear my mind, think, and where a lot of my creativeness is cultivated!   With all of this being said, I will be doing the Warrior Dash in March, a great ending to spring break, and the Color Run in May! :)  These are only 5k runs, but it will be my motivation to the half marathon I plan on doing hopefully in early summer.  I'm still trying to find a good one here in Texas.  So if you know of one, please share! :) I started my "pre-training" this week and I feel great, plus B really loves the rides in her jogging stroller.
These are my new shoes, they're in the process of being broken in!
.....and this here is my training schedule.  Not too shabby, very feasible for me and our hectic schedule.  I also don't want to overdue it, even if I did do a 30 minute walk each day this week instead of 20 minutes.

Ok, so now that I have that excitement out of the way, I will go back in retell the break in the order that it all happened! :)  Our first weekend of the break, a good friend came to visit.  We were nice and lazy, just what the Dr ordered for this overly exhausted mommy and teacher!  Later on in the weekend, we had our first family Christmas.  It was Christmas on my mom's side, it's always a good time catching up with everyone.  Since the family is so big, it is rare that we get so many of us in one place.  We were missing quite a few, but managed to get a pretty good picture with all of the grandkids and great grandkids that were present with our grandma! :)

Miss B and I before the gathering.
Most of the cousins and our sweet Grandma!
Since we got out of school the Friday before Christmas, it was like I blinked and it was CHRISTMAS eve!   As part of our tradition we went to Christmas Eve service at our church, only we ended up being a little late because I thought it started 30 minutes later than it really did.  Luckily, we were only 15 minutes late and still made it in time for two songs! :)  I didn't feel so bad though when our pastor's wife walked in late too because she too thought it started later! We stayed the night at my parent's house and woke up bright and early!

B basically has all of her favorites in this picture, baby, stroller, boots, and necklace that you can't see!
This kid was a PRO at unwrapping presents!
After Christmas, we headed up North to see more family and friends!  It was so nice to see several of my friends, especially my best friend Lindsey and one of my sweet friends, Kristen,  I hadn't seen her in almost a year!!! 
B, Lindsey, and I before we headed out to do a little clearance damage at Target!
I was beyond exhausted and ready to be home, but it didn't last long.  After an invite to Fort Worth for NYE, I decided to let my mom take B for the night and head back up north to ring in the new year with some of my favorites from my college years! It was a much needed night out for this momma, not to mention the fact that I got to see so many familiar faces that I have missed!

Claire and I before we headed out to see the Casey Donahew Band!  
Getting home and actually staying home after NYE has been just as nice as it was seeing all of my friends and family over the break though.  B and I have been all kinds of lazy, well kinda.... we've slept in late, taken naps, reorganized the house, gone through closets, put new furniture together, had our walks, and I have even had a chance to break in my new pots and pans from Christmas!

Nutella and Banana Crepes and Saved By The Bell.... Just one of our yummy morning breakfasts
Homemade Broccoli and Cheddar soup!
Berklee playing peak-a-boo during our walk today!
Our break has been wonderful, I'm in denial that I only have one more day left.  However, I am ready to see some of my sweet kiddos, mingle with my awesome team, and be back into my daily routine.  Plus, this week can't be too bad.... Even thought it is technically a full week of work, two of the days I will be at SDE conference in Austin with my one of my favorite teammates, Diana! :) 
 I love when I get to be the student and bring back loads of info to my classroom and team!! The only pitfall is making the sub plans, oh well, beggars can't be choosers!   Looking ahead, I am kicking myself for not working on centers more over the break, but I am about to kick it into gear and get some of my literacy and math centers put together.  Until they are ready, I think I will have my kids review the centers from my winter holiday bundle since they are more winterish than holiday themed. 

Be looking out for an update early next week about how our week back is going! :)