Camp Mommy – SOL #17

Yesterday was the first day of Camp Mommy.  What is Camp Mommy you may ask?  Well, my husband seemed to think that it was going to be similar to boot camp! But, nope.  It’s just days filled with me and my girl.  I’m not sure that choosing the Camp Mommy option will be the best, but we’re trying it this way for a few reasons.

  1. Em has had a long school year and needed some time to just chill.
  2. Em HATES – I mean hates mornings!  (I don’t love them either!)  A typical camp day starts in the morning like a school day, which means I’d have to wake her and then wait for the storms to hit.  Yelling and fighting about getting out of bed, brushing teeth, brushing hair, eating breakfast. The thought of those fights that I had the past 180 school days just made me cringe. Since she’s been out of school, she’s been sleeping in til 8:30 and waking up full of smiles!
  3. Structure and Schedules are great – even for me.  But, at Camp Mommy, Em gets to have more say in our schedule.  Now, I’m not saying she gets to do whatever she wants and is the boss of summer – she’s not even close to that!  But, she is always being forced into the schedules that the world makes for her, so why not let her summer be more at her own pace?!  She’s lucky enough that I’m home and don’t have to rush, rush, rush anymore.
  4. Relax, recharge, breathe.  The hustle and bustle of the school year was especially hard for her this year (and me too).  My post here explains a little about this.  I’m hoping Camp Mommy gives us both time to relax, recharge, and just breathe in everything around us.
  5. My one main reason for Camp Mommy is that I want to have time to enjoy my Em and fill our days with happiness.  Those battles all school year were hard on us all – just exhausting.  It became harder and harder to find the good and focus on the positives.  The goals of Camp Mommy are to be present, to laugh, to smile, and to find the joy in each other, every day.

Em said Day 1 was the best day ever and was full of smiles and hugs.  Today, we’re taking our first “Field Trip” to the zoo.  It’s going to be another great day – I can just feel it!  If you have any suggestions on other things that will make Camp Mommy a success, please comment below!

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Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community.  A place for us to grow together as writers.  Join us for SOL Tuesdays!

Celebrate – 15 years of teaching

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Every week Ruth Ayres extends an invitation to share a celebration. What a great way to focus on something to celebrate!

I’m a first timer with posting a celebration.  I’ve come across some posts of people celebrating but until now, haven’t linked up a celebration.

Yesterday, marked the end of my 15th year of teaching.  Wow, 15 years already.  That in itself is a celebration!  The bigger celebration is that I still love what I do.  It’s still my passion and I continue to want to learn more and be a better teacher.

Saying “goodbye” to my kiddos each year is bittersweet.  The end of the year is hard for me – I’m not really a fan of “endings.”  I don’t like “goodbyes.”  But this year, it felt harder to let them go.

I had read some of their thank you cards during the day and the kids were making me lots of pictures.  One little girl kept announcing that she was sad to be leaving me.  This was the same little girl who had a tough time transitioning to her new school and cried and cried for the first month.   But, she soon became my best hugger (several times a day) and one of the most enthusiastic learners.  But that’s not what made me emotional.  I was doing fine until I took them outside to be dismissed.  Their parents started to come over with big smiles and phones out for pictures.  They were mouthing “thank yous” and putting their hands over their hearts.  The kids and I did a big group hug and posed for a “family” picture.  And then, all of a sudden, I found myself fighting back the tears and my breath was taken away.

These kiddos were a special bunch with very supportive parents. We had a wonderful year together and formed a close bond.  I guess some years are just like that.  So my celebration is them!  They have grown in all possible ways during our 10 months together.  Every day they amazed me in one way or another.  They became stronger readers, writers, and thinkers.  I hope they’re celebrating all they’ve learned as well.

Today, I celebrate successfully finishing my 15th year of teaching and my special group of 1st graders who made this year amazing!

 

End of Year Tired

screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-10-42-06-amEnd.  Of.  Year.  Tired. – Yup that’s what I am.  Three days left – well, there are really 3 half-ish days.  So much to do, so little time.

I’ve been teaching for 15 years, and I still don’t have a “good” end of the year system.  I make the usual “to do” list, but don’t really prioritize what needs to happen.  I then start bouncing from thing to thing.   I’ll be organizing books in the library, and I’ll go put some books into my closet, where I will see something else I need to do and BOUNCE – there I go!  Wherever I look, there’s something else to do, so there I go BOUNCING all around. I’m like a bouncy ball bouncing from job to job.

I usually start off the pack up process strong.  I file my papers and organize my library, and organize my supply closet.   I pack my teaching books according to unit of study.  I label boxes and really try to keep myself organized.  I start off strong in the beginning of the week.  By Thursday and Friday afternoon, I change from “organizer” to “shover”.  I just start shoving things in boxes and labeling them “stuff.”  I shove things in drawers and think to myself “I’ll organize this in August.”  Does it ever happen? Nope!  I always have the best intentions!

Anyone else “bounce” around like me?  Who can offer me some helpful End of the Year suggestions or tips so I don’t feel like a bouncy ball?

Anyway, I was going to skip writing tonight, because, you know I’m tired, but I just had to BOUNCE into this slice.  At least the cleaning and packing up the classroom distracts me from realizing how much I will miss my kiddos!

Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community where we can write and read slices and grow together as writers.  

Slice of Life Tuesday: Mad Libs

screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-10-42-06-amThis slice is brought to you by…..Report card procrastination!

Yes, you read that right.  I’m still working on report cards because my school year is not yet over.  8 more days to go and surprisingly, I’m not in full on panic mode.  My to do list just keeps getting longer and longer.  Anyway, back to my slice….

Who remembers Mad Libs?  My brother and I used to have books and books of these.  I feel like we begged my mom to buy us new ones every time we went to the store.  We were obsessed with them.  We’d fill them out together all the time and even took them on road trips.  Of course, we just had to come up with the most ridiculous nouns, inappropriate body parts, and silliest adjectives and verbs.  Reading them back would cause us to double over laughing and tears would be streaming down our faces.  The more ridiculous it sounded, the more hysterical we’d be.

I had forgotten all about Mad Libs until recently, when one of my girls, L, brought in a Mad Lib she had done at home.  She couldn’t wait to read it to me and was belly laughing the whole time.  I think most of her plural nouns were bananas or hot dogs. This little girl has the most amazing sense of humor.  Anyway, she asked me if I had any Mad Libs in the class.  Of course I didn’t (because I had forgotten about them).  But what did I do? – went right to my computer, did a search, and printed out a bunch.

That afternoon, my class was buzzing with chatting and laughter over these Mad Libs.  L was the ring leader – getting every one excited.  The excitement did fizzle a little bit, but yesterday interest sparked again when L went to the pile of printed Mad Libs and asked if she could do one with me.  We sat at my table while she asked me for verbs, adjectives, plural nouns, etc. and wrote all of my responses in the spaces.  When it came time to read it back, she started to giggle before she even began (which then made me giggle, too).   It’s like she just knew it was going to be funny.  She read smoothly, with intonation, and even stopped to point out how parts didn’t make sense.  More and more kids started to come over to our table as they heard us giggling. All of a sudden they all wanted to do Mad Libs again with each other.  They were working in teams and the laughter just brought a smile to my face.

When my brother and I were playing with Mad Libs, I’m sure we had no idea that we were learning at the same time.  We didn’t realize we were learning about adjectives, nouns, plural nouns, verbs, and adverbs.  Or that we were practicing reading with fluency.  We were even noticing (through laughter) when sentences didn’t quite make sense or sound right, but ridiculous or not, those sentences followed the grammar rules! To us, we just were having fun.  I’m sure my kiddos don’t completely realize the learning that’s happening either (unless I point it out).  Learning in a playful way is just amazing.  We have to strive to find ways to keep learning playful, fun,  and exciting for everyone!

Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community where we can write and read slices and grow together as writers.  

The Teacher/Mom struggle

screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-10-42-06-amSometimes it’s hard to be a teacher mom….

So, my daughter is finishing up second grade, and this has been a more challenging year for her (and in turn for me).  Increased academic demands, some girl drama emerging, reading struggles, and attentional struggles really coming to the surface.

I’ve always suspected potential attentional issues from the start of her academic career, but tried not to jump to conclusions and let my “teacher brain” be in charge.  She’s always been a kid who marched to her own tune.  She’s a stop and smell the roses kind of girl and time means nothing to her.  We’ve always had struggles with things at home such as stopping one task and transitioning to another, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc.  She’s always needed redirection at home with these tasks.  It’s definitely been hard to decipher if it’s in her control or not and if I’m expecting too much of her.  But, this year, the attentional issues started to impact her learning.

Her struggles with reading showed up early during 2nd grade.  In 1st grade, she made steady progress, but the battles about reading at home started to happen.  I’m like a literacy junky, but couldn’t help my own daughter.  When the summer came, the battles about reading just got worse.  “I just don’t love it like you do Mommy!!  It’s too hard.  I just want to play and draw!” she would yell on a regular basis.  My heart broke.

I will admit that the teacher part in me freaked out a bit – But, she has to read.  She’s made so much progress.  She’s gonna lose it all.  Ahhhh the summer slide.  I started to panic.  Then the mom side swooped in and reminded me to breathe.  I realized that arguing and forcing her to read was just going to make her hate it even more.  We compromised – I read to her daily and without her knowing, I was helping deepen her comprehension.

But, of course the summer slide happened.  So much of her progress gone- exactly what I knew and feared would happen.  After the first reading assessment her teacher conducted, we set up a phone conference and she shared the reading regression along with some difficulties focusing, and that’s when I shared all of my concerns and told her about the struggles with reading I saw at home.  Her teacher is simply amazing.  She put a good plan in place and before we knew it, Em was receiving reading support outside of the classroom and her attitude about reading started to turn around.

While the reading was improving, the attentional issues continued to show up in different areas.  Finally, my suspicions about the attention piece was definitely effecting her learning in school – not just making me crazy at home.  After many months of hard work and collaboration between her teacher, the school support team, my husband and I, and our pediatrician, Em was diagnosed with ADHD – inattentive type.

Despite her challenges with staying focused, she has made tremendous progress this year and still loves learning!  We now have accommodations in place for next school year to keep her on the right track.  Success happens when the school (teachers, support staff, administrators) and parents work together!  I often wonder if I wasn’t a teacher would I have been so attuned to the struggles with attention as early.  Hard to say.  But while being a teacher mom can be hard, it is also great!

Thank you to the team of writers at Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful writing community where we can write and read slices and grow together as writers.