Friday, December 30, 2011


Charlie just told me he had something in his ear. I asked him what it was and he told me it was a bug looking for nectar, but all he found was dirt.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our Friend, The Roadrunner

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 was very low-key, but very nice.

We started the celebrations off at Shawn's mom's house for Christmas Eve. AJ had made a book of poems at school and gave them to Shawn's grandfather. They were a huge hit.

Our actual Christmas day was very quiet, as it was just the four of us. AJ was thrilled to get his own set of actual tools and a woodworking book. In an effort to win the College of Wooster vs The University of Minnesota battle, I got AJ a sweatshirt, shirt and a hat. The hat was actually an alumni hat. I said on the card that he might as well get use to the idea.

Charlie got a bike from Santa, which he has no interest in. He was however very excited to get a bunch of matchbox cars. What can I say? The kid is a cheap date.

I also made cinnamon rolls for the neighbors. I will probably be doing another batch on Friday. I gave all but one pan away, and that did not go over well with my almost teenage (read: eating us out of house and home) son.

The Kid Knows What He Wants

I took the kids to ASU today to get my Institutional Recommendation paper. It is a magic piece of paper that allows me to go to the Department of Education, and get my teaching certificate with minimal hoop jumping.

While we were there, I wanted to stop at the bookstore. We walked inside and Charlie saw this t-shirt. In fact, he made a bee-line to this t-shirt. He hugged it. He hugged it some more. When we got to the checkout, he would not let the lady put it in a bag. He wanted to change into it RIGHT THERE. I'm sure there weren't too many people who would have gotten overly offended by a 3 year old changing his shirt in the actual bookstore. But just to be on the safe side, I told him he had to wait until we got out to the car. This picture was taken, in the parking lot, right after he put it on. He may never take it off.

Old Age Has Its Privileges

We got a pizza from our favorite pizza place the other day. When we were done we were all too lazy to clean up right away. A few minutes later, we looked and saw this. We were not sure if he was guarding the pizza or if the box was the perfect spot to sit with his arthritic hip. No one had the heart to tell him that there wasn't any pizza left.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

ITeach Celebration

The theme for the night was The Oscars. The auditorium was decorated with stars and even our very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There was even a red carpet. It was very cute. We each got an award and a nameplate for our desk at the ceremony. My classmates and I were responsible for coming up with some type of presentation to sum up our experience. We used "Oh The Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss as a template and each person made up his or her own stanza.

These are my classmates from the last year. We had our moments, but there were many times I wondered if we were all going to end up in some type of support group together. They came from all walks of life and I am so glad I got to know them.

This is a picture of me with my mentor, Kelly and Lauren, who worked in the classroom next door. They are a big part of why I looked forward to going every day.

It was a fun night.

Shawn made a gift basket for me to celebrate. It had flowers, apples (because I am a teacher) chocolate and wine. He chose the wine based on the labels. One was called Liberty School, and the other had a picture of a duck followed by ducklings. It was too cute.

I am so glad I did the program and I am so glad it is over.

My New Classroom

I started my new job this week. And as I was telling some people, I really don't think they thought I was going to actually show up. That might be because the situation is a little less than ideal. I am taking over a class while the old teacher starts a new class that is a 3rd/4th SEI class. I am taking the majority of her kids. I went to observe her a few times and her kids are a handful. They are very sweet, but chatty. And did I mention we are making this transition a week and a half before Christmas break? What could possibly go wrong? In fact, when I have been introduced to others around the school, I have gotten comments that range from "You are brave." to "So they are throwing you to the dogs, uh?"

The administration were very generous and gave me 3 days to set up my classroom. The district I am now in, is very different than the district I am coming from, with very specific requirements for what you have to have on your wall, etc. I needed every minute of those three days to wrap my mind around all the new information.

My co-workers on the 4th grade team have been very welcoming, very supportive and extremely helpful. I think they understand how daunting this all is. I am ready for the actual teaching to begin on Monday. I am looking forward to getting a routine down.

I wish I had a "before" the before picture. Because when I walked in that first time, there were not even any desks. But it has started to take shape. I am sure I will be scouring yard sales for bookshelves and books, and cubbies and anything else I can think of to make it more homey. But it is a work in progress.



Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Last night we had our celebration for completing the teaching certification program. I still have two more classes to take in the Spring to get my Masters, but I can now officially teach people. Maybe people will start listening to me now.

I will post pictures of the event and talk more about the actual night in a later post. But honestly, right now I just want to enjoy the fact that I made it through the program. It was basically a year-long teaching boot camp.

What makes the program unique and rigorous is that you are in the classroom as an intern, from the second week of January. There are three internships, each five weeks, during the Spring semester. I was in seventh grade science, and two separate third grade classes. With the internships, we gradually increased our actual teaching experience. At first we were just doing the copying and grading papers. By the end of the semester we were teaching much of the day.

During the summer, we co-taught with another iTeach classmate in our district's summer school. My co-teacher and I taught students going into 4th grade. We were completely responsible for every minute of the day. I had a great co-teacher, Sam. We worked really well together. It was stressful, and fun. It was challenging. (E.g. we were given one ream of paper to use for the summer). And when it was over, I felt like I was ready to have my own classroom.

I could not have asked for a better student teaching experience. The model we were following was a co-teaching one. In this day and age where a teacher's pay is based on student performance, there is no way a Mentor Teacher was going to give up total control of their classroom to a novice. I feel so lucky to have gotten placed with Kelly. I got to work with someone who I enjoyed hanging out with everyday. We had very similar teaching styles and the students could sense that we were a united front. I learned a ton and I looked forward to going every day. And probably the best part is that I have a new friend.

The iTeach coursework was a heavy load. In the spring we were in the classrooms three days a week, and we took 18 credits that first semester. During the summer, we taught M-TH and then had class all day Friday. During our student teaching semester, we were also writing our action research paper. My paper was about Cognitive Guided Instruction in math. Basically, I was exploring whether the use of manipulatives and CGI effected how struggling 3rd graders learned subtraction with regrouping. Also, if in a large classroom (we had 32 students at some points), CGI and the use of manipulatives made students less reliant on direct instruction.

Most days, my commute to my field work and my own classes was 45 minutes to an hour. So two hours out of my day were spent driving. And I was the only one in my program with kids. When AJ and Shawn's soccer schedule started getting more complicated, Shawn was gone two nights a week and most weekends coaching soccer. Many times I simply felt that there were not enough hours in the day. I would often get up at 4am (and a few time at 3am) to get homework and lesson planning done.

Despite the crazy soccer schedule, there is no way I could have done this without Shawn. Many times this past year he was the main parent and caregiver to the boys. He showed up at events that I could not get to, and even went to things like (ironically) parent/teacher conferences when I teaching my own classes. His support was complete. He gave me a hug, a pep talk or a beer, depending what the situation called for and my state of mind at the time.

In a few hours, I will start my new job teaching fourth grade. They have given me a few days to set up my classroom and get settled. I have my students starting on Monday. The iTeach program was hard. There were several days I just wanted to walk away. I am so glad I stuck it out. Am I nervous to start my new job? Yes. Am I terrified? A little. But, I do feel prepared.