Saturday, November 19, 2016

Another Long Week

The past several weeks have been filled with increasingly longer to do lists. There is truly not enough time in the day to accomplish everything needed. We're all running on empty and feeling exhausted.

Here's a run down of this past week.


Since no one had school last Friday (Veteran's Day), we enjoyed a long weekend at the beach. The plan was to spend our final morning on the beach before our 11 a.m. checkout. Unfortunately, it was 42 degrees and raining. We left somewhat disappointed, then spent the next four hours in the van. 

Jesse shattered his phone the day before. As soon as we were back in town, Jesse drove to the Sprint store in hopes of replacing his phone. He learned that insurance would cover a replacement, but it would be 2 days before it would arrive in the mail. 

We were promised that our car would be ready from the mechanic by Sunday, but the mechanic would not return any of our calls over the weekend. This meant we were left scrambling, yet again, trying to figure out our transportation for the week. The rest of our Sunday was spent grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning, catching up on a mountain of laundry, and finishing lesson plans. 


Since we had no car, Jesse dropped Jackson and I off at school early Monday morning, took the trio to their school, then drove to his school. I did not communicate with him during the day since he didn't have a phone. We had made plans to meet at the front of my school at 5 pm so Jesse and the trio could pick us up.

During the day Jesse was finally able to receive confirmation that our car was ready from the mechanic. After 11 weeks of rental cars and uber rides, we could pick it up at last. The problem was the mechanic's on the other side of town and it was just after 5 pm. It took us over 45 minutes to get there. By that point, the trio had been in the car for an hour and a half and it was past dinner time for all of us. We stopped at Chick Fil A, ate, then drove back across town and went to bed.


Tuesday was a stressful day at school because we had our "Learning Celebration" at school. Most awards ceremony consist of an entire grade level meeting in the gym with parents. Students walk up when their name is called to receive certificates, parents leave, and we go back to class. This year, the administration decided to do a "Learning Celebration" in individual classrooms. There was no direction; we were just told to showcase student learning. Each teacher interpreted it a bit differently. In my class, I had students select one meaningful piece of work and display it on their desk. Students had to remain at their desk the entire time. I asked parents to walk around and visit each student. 

This event took a lot of prep work! I made sure to approve the students' selected work first so I knew it was quality work they were displaying. We practiced shaking hands, greeting each other, and explaining work. We cleaned the room and cleaned out our desks. I invited parents and organized a sign up for snacks so we could have a reception. And of course, I still had to count certificates and write names on the various awards. Thankfully the event was a huge success. We had 27 students, 24 parents, and several staff in and out. Administrators and parents were very complimentary and the students were very proud. 

The days excitement didn't stop there. When Jesse went to pick up the triplets, Maddie ran to him and fell on the ground, hitting her head. The staff put a butterfly bandaid on it. Unfortunately, Maddie's head was still bleeding when they got home, and continued bleeding during dinner. I decided to take her to Urgent Care. Two and a half hours later, Maddie's forehead was glued shut. Maddie was a trooper for most of the wait. We sang, drew pictures, played I Spy, danced, and did hand motions. By the time we actually saw the doctor, it was past Maddie's bedtime and she was less cooperative. 

As soon as Maddie and I got home, Jesse left. His replacement phone arrived but wouldn't activate so he was off to the Sprint store before they closed.


An assistant covered my class while I ran down to the kindergarten hall to attend Jackson's Learning Celebration. Their celebration was more of a lecture on nonsense words. Parents were then supposed to partner up with their child and listen to their child read. There weren't as many parents in attendance, so I listened to every child at Jackson's table read. Jackson was neither the best nor worst reader at the table, so I was content with his average abilities! He received an award for "All 3's" (equivalent to A/B honor roll in the upper grades). 

My students were a bit hyper because we haven't been allowed to have outdoor recess. Surrounding wildfires have created Code Red air quality days, making it hazardous for our many asthmatic children. No schools have been allowed to play outside.

One of the greatest frustrations at my school is lack of communication. I experience this as a teacher and a parent. Apparently there was a K/1 concert Wednesday evening. I found out about it Tuesday. Students were supposed to be there between 5:30-5:45 and the performance started at 6. It was a maddening rush to drive home, cook and serve dinner for everyone, and get Jackson back to school on time. The staff was all concerned that there wouldn't be a good turnout because of the poor communication. Teachers told parents at the Learning Celebration that morning. When I arrived, the parking lot was full and there weren't any seats left! I stood on the aisles with all the other late parents and attempted to film Jackson signing (yes, signing) to What A Wonderful World, then singing another song. 


Once a month our school has "Club Day". I had the bright idea to start a cake decorating club. It was the number one requested club and I had to turn down 50 students and place them in second or third choice clubs. Club Day is stressful for everyone because the whole schedule is modified and kids are always hyper. Over a thousand students move throughout the building at the same time. The biggest stress for me is bringing all the necessary materials. I had to haul my stand mixer, piping bags and tips, ingredients for buttercream icing, spatulas, etc. I taught the students how to make buttercream icing and how to use different techniques with the piping tips. The kids were so well behaved and engrossed in the lesson. I lost track of time and we had to quickly clean powdered sugar and icing as the bell was ringing.

I had to attend a meeting after school. Our school ability-groups and each grade level has two "top tier" classes with above grade level and gifted students. On Tuesday, the principal requested a meeting for Thursday with all the top tier teachers. The meeting lasted an hour and was mentally draining. The principal is rolling out a new "marketing strategy" to attract parents of gifted children. The highest class will follow pacing and schedule of the grade level above, starting with top kindergarten students. The new fourth grade team will now consist of the highest third grade class and we'll lose the highest fourth grade class. The new fifth grade team will consist of the highest fourth grade class and will lose the highest fifth grade class. In a mere two weeks, we'll have a new team, new schedule, new pacing guide, and additional assessments. Because I am the second tier class, I will not be affected as much as the top tier class. Regardless, these transitions are hard to process mid-year. I'm also not sure I can support tracking 5 year olds and pushing them through accelerated programs, all in hopes that they can finish middle school with several high school credits. I understand that gifted students need to have enrichment, but I think there are better ways to do that.

Jesse had a long day as well because James, Amelia, and Maddie had their Fall Festival. I had planned to take Jackson and attend the festival before I found out about the mandatory meeting. Jesse sent pictures. The festival was originally supposed to be outside, but was kept indoors because of the smoke. Jesse said it was very crowded but the kids had fun. They had face paint, games, and snacks.

Jesse picked up pizza on the way home since I was coming home from the late meeting. We ate dinner at six (late for us), then I left for a two hour long Session meeting at church. It was yet another mentally draining meeting.


Today was a relatively normal day. Our kids, students, and staff were all dragging from such a long week. Of course there's the added excitement of Thanksgiving and a 2-day week ahead. My plan is to crash as soon as possible and hopefully sleep in tomorrow. 

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