In less than one week, I will have my kids. One week to finish my classroom, to write lesson plans, prepare for the 73 students and lead my team to academic victory. This is hard, this is taxing, and this is exhausting.
I'm excited to welcome my short people. But my current classroom view is stacked high with unwanted text books, piles of curriculum, and a to do that would stretch the length of the Mississippi River; twice.
Synthesizing material takes me a couple of days, and right now I am overwhelmed with everything that will happen in the next two weeks. There are so many wonderful changes happening this year, but change is a little intimidating and there is so much pressure! My confidence level is acting bipolar: one minute I'm all, "I've got this, this is going to great" and the next I'm all, "Oh my gosh what am I going to do, this is too much I'm going to fail in a gargantuan and humiliating firey ball of suckitude!"
And then I breathe and the oxygen returns to my over stimulated brain, and I calm down and realize that it's going to be alright. My principal has my back, she chose me for lead because she knows I can do it, and I will improve this new set of lead teacher skills as I practice them. My team will be great. I honestly think that what is making me panicky is that I am suddenly confronted with a situation that I haven't navigated before. I've led a team of students, I've led peers, but I've never led peer adults, especially peer adults with years more experience than I've had. This means that I'm still learning how to lead my team, and how to work with and manage my adult peers. I love these ladies, and I am super excited to be working with them! Together, this is going to be the best 4th grade ever, and our students are going to achieve amazing results.
Changes are happening all over my school building! About 65% of the teachers are new to teaching or new to the school, and already the building feels more energized, motivated, and excited than it did last year!
4th grade has also undergone major changes this year. We have made the decision to departmentalize. This means, we will have a three block schedule where students will transfer to each unique block every 90 minutes. The blocks are: a) Reading/Language Arts/Read 180/System 44; b) Mathematics (me!); and c) Social Studies/Science. This effectively means I have 73 students this year! Oh my!
I am ecstatic that I have the honor of teaching math. Now, this seems odd for a woman who majored in English, but I absolutely love math. Manipulating numbers has a poetic quality about it, and when you truly understand how our math system works, it is beautiful. Additionally, I did my teaching practicum in math - 4th grade fractions in fact, and my master's inquiry was in math, so when I look back on it, I'm not really that surprised! And I can't wait for pi day! (3/14) :)
This change is slightly overwhelming at the moment, as all the preparation that I have done this summer to prepare for Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies is no longer vitally relevant to my teaching. I am mourning the loss of some of the projects I had in mind for those subjects, but I plan on incorporating all subjects into math, so I may have to scale back, but I will not lose the other subjects.
On a somewhat different note, my principal is amazing. Not only is she incredibly supportive of the teachers, but she is supportive of our support staff. Last year, our support staff such as the school nurse, T.A.s, and office personnel had to supervise the students in the cafeteria during the teacher's lunch time. Now, the teachers will be in charge of supervision during the students' lunch time. We will eat with them and go to recess with them. We will have our true "off-duty" lunch period adjacent to our plan time. This way, the teachers have an opportunity to further classroom community, the support staff has the time and opportunity to complete their work, and teachers end up having a make-shift extended plan period. After all, let's face it, we are going to use those "lunch" minutes as plan time. Especially, since the plan time is at the end of the day!
Oh, and for anyone wondering how my foot is doing: more bruising showed up today, it's still swollen, but I can walk on it with only the slightest of limps, so progress is happening!
Yes, that's right. My bookshelf tried to kill me! Today was my first day back in my classroom, and in the short 1 hour time allowance I had, my designated goal was to organize all the furniture in my classroom.
Now, I have been planning my layout for a while, and all seemed perfect on paper. Then I opened the door and realized that I had forgotten about some of the furniture and my in-head dimensions were shall we say, a bit off. So I had to do some rearranging.
Well, as I was swinging my bookshelf around, it decided to rocket towards me and crash into me: smashing my legs and feet. The pain was excruciating in my right foot, and I couldn't put any weight on it for about 30 minutes. I just sat on top of my other bookshelf and cried. So for once I was glad that my classroom is at the end of the hall where no one can hear you scream lol.
I have a bruise and the rest of the day was spent in a lot of pain, but I can walk on it, there are no broken bones, and after returning to my summer job, (while on my afternoon break) I was able to draw new schematics that more accurately represent the dimensions and furniture of my room.
Now, I'm desperate to get back in the classroom, and since I have Reading 180 training tomorrow, I don't think that is going to be plausible. Although, I will try to get back into my room tomorrow afternoon-- hopefully someone will be there to let me in!
The other day I began my adventures with donorschoose.org I had mixed feelings about using this website. One reason was that, I never seem to be quite sure about what my school will be able to provide me with versus what I should ask for. Should I be asking for paper and pencils? I know last year, my school didn't have paper for weeks. A parent had to complain to the district before we received free paper! I certainly don't have the funds to purchase enough paper for my classroom. Should I ask for the academic items I would like, but that my school doesn't have? What about books? I definitely want to ask for some class sets and literature group sets! But what books do I need?
Everything is a bit cloudy at this point. So, I asked for organizational tools for the classroom. I don't have the money to purchase these items, but they will directly benefit my students. We need organization. Organization helps create a routine and a designated place for each item. New brain science is showing that when students are stressed, they are physically unable to learn. You have to be in a calm state of mind in order to learn. Now, my students have enough stress in their lives, and it already makes everything a great deal harder. If I can teach them organization and self control, it will be one less thing that they have to worry about!
So, I've asked for donations to purchase 3 things:
1. Pencil Caddies-these will hold all our supplies for each college group. This way we do not have to waste time looking for supplies since everything is within reach! Last year, we had a hard time with being responsible for our supplies, until I used some pencil boxes as caddies, (they were already broken and now are just plain falling apart, and my next resort is Kleenex boxes!)
2. Book Boxes! My students love to read, read, and read! And reading is a core tenement of our classroom. In order to maximize reading time and minimize library searching time, we need book boxes, aka magazine files. In these awesome boxes, students will put their "checked-out" books, so that they can continuously read just right books, without having to search every day. Each week they will go shopping for new books, and then store them in the boxes. Additionally, we will no longer have piles of books sitting on top of, and getting constantly knocked off of desk corners (and my students will have the full surface area of their desk to work with!)
3. An organizer! This may not be the most glamorous of purchases, but we desperately need an organizer for all those papers! I can have students turn in their assignments and practice work by subject, which will free up a lot of my time to plan excellent lessons for my kiddoes!
Also, I just learned that the Shusterman Foundation is offering half off right now! So please help my students out! Just over $100 to go! And I promise, you will receive lots of love from 26 extremely grateful students and one delighted teacher!
If you would like to help out my students, please visit my donors choose page at : http://www.donorschoose.org/ashleyobanion THANK YOU!