Sunday, January 25, 2009

Are You Kidding Me??

This was definitely an "are you KIDDING me??" moment. Every year, teachers have to be observed by principals once or twice a year, and Thursday was my day. I had told my kids that the principal was coming in to watch me and that they should behave, etc. Evidently, I've had one too many people come through my room this year (this happens when they're thinking about closing you're school), because it no longer encourages better behavior in my students.

So here I am, having a wonderful discussion on Greek democracy vs. American democracy with my students with the principal observing my amazing teach ability :-) All of a sudden, to what should my wondering eyes appear, but a student cry of pain which continued on to my ear. "Mrs. Shetler!" he cries, "Chris just hit me in the eye with a pencil!!"

ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? I didn't say this, but I was in total disbelief. Sure enough, one student threw a pencil at another student facing him (as in, their desks touch), and hit him in the eye. Since I didn't actually see this happen, I have to assume this was intentional. (Luckily the pencil didn't stick in his eye, more of a glancing blow...) So, I sent the thrower to principal, sent the kid with the red eye to the nurse, got the other kids started on something democratic and proceeded to write out the referral form.

The rest of the observation went fine, but I just could not get over how unbelievable this kid is. (To be fair, every single day he does something that amazes me, but still.) Anyone else have an "are you kidding me?????" moment this week?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Class Olympics

Last week, we studied the Ancient Greek Olympics all week, which then culminated in creating our own class Olympics on Friday. It was great fun and encouraging. Since the kids were interested, they did better work, and since I was more interest I put more work into it. (The opposite of a vicious cycle- what would you call that?) Anyway, early in the week, I had them read some descriptions of the characteristics of various city-states in Greece (this came from a great 6th grade social studies website), including the Spartans with whom they are already familiar with through the movie. (I know, I know, why are 6th graders watching stuff like that???) They had to choose which group of people they were most like and explain why and they did an awesome job! They listed their choice and gave several supported reasons why they were most similar to that group. I think their writing is improving because I make them do it all the time :-) (No-brainer, right?) So that made me feel good. 

Throughout the week, we read more about the Ancient Olympics and compared it to what we already knew about the modern Olympics and what had and hadn't changed. (Perfect opportunity for a Venn diagram.) In addition, we chose 7 "sports" to include in our class
 Olympics, wrote the rules for them (functional writing), created record-keeping forms, and chose which ones to participate in.  On Friday afternoon, we began the festivities, which included the following sports: running, paper basketball (throwing wadded up paper into the trash can), arm wrestling, 

thumb wrestling, hitting a volleyball (how many times you could hit it with
out dropping it), twister and musical chairs. (Again, these were all chosen by the kids.)
 Everything went great (if not a little noisy). The kids loved it. I took pictures the whole time, and we even had a medal ceremony in which bronze, silver and gold medal winners got their medals and got their pictures taken :-) A good time was had by all!

I think that definitely qualifies as a "good teacher" moment :-) 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Yesterday, my kids were being tested for something, and so they had to wait in the hallway and read their books. I look over and one kid has his book upside down. I told him to flip it over, figuring he was just being a dork. He looks at me with a smile and says, "I'm just trying to challenge myself!" 

That was my smile of the day :-)

A few minor successes

It's been a while! I've been crazy busy with testing (reading scores went up, math went down), Christmas events (a barely successful attempt at making Chex Mix with the kids in not enough time), and coming back to school without being overwhelmed by life. However, I've been meaning to blog for a while about a few things that have gone right. 

First of all, in December, I was gone for a day at a workshop, and when I returned, a student (who is very respectful, but totally out of seat, talking, etc.) had a note for me. It reads as follows: 
"I will try my best not to give up. Thank you for believing in me, and that I can have a really good success in my life. Instead of giving up, I will try a lot harder. PS: You are the best teacher ever!" :-) Yay, that was nice! This kid still drives me up the wall every day, but bless his heart anyway, right :-)

Then yesterday, earlier in class we had discussed the meaning of the word "opaque" and "transparent." Then later in the day, one of my favorite kids (who never does his work, but listens and participates in discussion) is looking at a page protector that something had come in. He holds it up to his face, attempts to look through, and says, "Hey, this is opaque, right?" Yes! You got it! Somebody is learning something!!

On Monday, the same kid and I were finally sitting down and hammering out some more work on fractions (if I never see another fraction again, it will be too soon!) and he did some good work. This was encouraging. However, then later on, we happened to be in lockdown for two hours and man were the kids bored. So, he finally comes up to me and asks me to write down fraction problems for him because he wanted to keep working!!!! Yay!!! 

So, among all the craziness, good things are still happening, I just have to look for them. And I am.  I recently came across an old journal that was a list of one good thing that happened each day during my first year of teaching. That was probably a life saver. So, I decided to take up the habit again, and it is such a good thing. It reminds me to actually look for good things, which is a great habit! Give it a shot! :-)