Hey all, sorry it has been so long. Coming back from break has been quite a shock for me and hard to deal with in the classroom for lots of reasons.
Many of my students had rough breaks and it has taken them a long time to get back into school shape. They are also very excited about the holidays and thus all over the place most of the time.
We have been doing a lot of talking about the holidays and ways we can do good things for the holidays.
We recently did a can drive for Thanksgiving and raised more than 50 cans in just 2 days! So this week I decided to talk to them about ways to give back without money and brainstorm some people who need their help. Some of the kids were very sweet and thought of homeless people or those without food, while others used incredibly somber examples from their own families.
It is times like this that remind me of how little these kids have. Every day they come to school so full of energy and life, it is hard to remember that they are really struggling and do not have a lot at all.
Thus I want to do something special for them for the holidays. As a gift from my I bought them all a copy of “Where The Wild Things Are” which is a book they really love. But I want to get them books for our classroom. We have many great books, but I really want to expand our collection and expose them to even more high quality literature.
I put together an account on DonnorsChoose.com where I have listed 14 of the books I would like to add to my class. This is the top priority books out of a list of about 40 that I have so I want to see what kind of support I can get before putting up the remaining books. But in order to get these books I need YOUR help!
DonorsChoose is a great site that hosts teacher grants and gives people the opportunity to donate money to teacher projects. Generally teachers put up projects and hope for people to come by and recognize the students need and donate.
I have decided that I will reach out to all of my loyal readers and ask for help. My students are in desperate need of more books and you can help. It does not have to be a major donation. Anything that you can give would be incredible!
All of the donations can be deducted from your taxes and all of the money goes directly to DonorsChoose and as soon as they have all the money for my project they will purchase the books and send them to me!
Here is the letter I wrote about my students for the grant:
“I am a second grade teacher at a Title 1 school in Texas. I am part of the Teach For America program and this is my first year teaching. I teach everything from reading and writing to math and science and my kids are in desperate need of more books for our classroom.
The main focus of our classroom is on reading and balanced literacy. All of my kids come from Spanish-speaking households so the only time they speak English is when they are at school. Thus, it is of the utmost importance that I have good resources (especially high quality books) for my kids to learn with.
This is why I am asking for a diverse collection of texts for my classroom. I am looking to expose my kids to as many different books and authors as possible. I want them to love literature and the only way for them to do this is to have books to read.
But, in order to make this possible I need your help. With your support, my kids can have the books they need to really learn to love reading. Thank you for your generosity”
Help us grow our brains and become better readers!!!
Thank you all for your help and support!
I am going to post more pictures of my kids so please send me an email asking for the password if you would like to see them and see all the faces that your donation could be supporting!
I would like to start putting up some pictures and videos of my on the blog so in order to do this I am going to start password protecting some posts.
I will let anyone see them but I will just ask that you email me a request for the password and I will gladly pass it on.
If there is something you would like to see that is protected please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We love celebrating holidays in school and with us approaching thanksgiving we have been doing a lot of tday stuff. Here is a photo of our ceiling where the kids turkeys are hanging.
Each turkey has something that the child is thankful for writen on it. I had to explain to them that this was as high as turkeys ever fly. (side note: explaining the difference better a turkey and a chicken proved surprisingly difficult…)
Enjoy their work:
Today was a long day. I just got home at 9 p.m. after leaving my house before 6:30 a.m. this morning but it was a very good day. Actually I would categorize this as a fantastic day. But not in the way Wednesday’s normally are. Normally Wednesday’s are great because the kids leave at 2 p.m., I get work done and we do trivia and get drinks.
But today I missed most of trivia, only had one beer, and had long meetings this evening, but it was still a very important day.
After school I went to the TFA office for a meeting and afterwards I was talking to my program director who I proceeded to get made at when she was trying to convince me that my kids were growing. Needless to say, she is very right. My kids are growing. Our year-long goal is for them to grow 1.5 years in reading and just over a quarter through the year they have grown on average .75 years. That means they are halfway there. And the spring is supposed to be when the kids really grow the most.
But whether my kids as a whole had grown or not was not what started the argument. The reason I was frustrated is because I am looking at the distinct possibility of having to hold a student back and not allowing them to go to third grade. This student is very smart, but he is just are not a very good reader and he is so far behind that I don’t think he will be able to cut it once it comes to third grade testing.
This was a devastating realization. It is just one of my students and he has grown .4 years this first third of the year, which puts him pace to grow 1.2 years. But when you start basically at ground zero, that is not enough. And that is what really had me upset. The kid is just so far behind, that even though I am doing everything I can, I will very likely have him in my class next year.
The same testing I did to find out this information about this special student of mine, held some amazing news. I have two students who have skyrocketed up this semester. One went from a kindergarten level to now reading at a high first grade/nearly second grade level. He is on pace to be more than ready for third grade after coming in seriously behind.
Another one of my students has shot up as well. When I read with her at the beginning of the year she was so behind. But now she is reading like a mid-year first grader and has a larger vocabulary than almost every student in the classroom. Whenever we encounter a word that the class does not understand, she is always the one that knows what it means.
These are the amazing positives that I had heard about entering the teaching profession. Everyone said it was the most rewarding thing that you can do. And it is. Every day I see how much my students rely on me and how much I rely on them.
I took yesterday off as I needed a day to recover and was feeling under the weather, and when I came back today I was so excited to see my kids and they were excited to see me. We need each other. One of my parents came into my room at the end of the day to tell me how happy she is to have her daughter spending her days with me. I am with these kids more than their parents and we have created a great relationship which I have really seen pay off the last couple of weeks as my kids have really been progressing amazingly well.
On the other side though, this is the hardest profession as well. Every day I have to walk into school knowing that I have some students who just aren’t progressing and I am constantly searching for ways to get though to them. Hopefully it will happen soon.
As my PD and Zach keep on reminding me, I have to focus on the positives and if I keep focusing on the negative, I will never be an effective teacher.
I don’t know how clear this was, but today was a very important day for my mental perspective on everything and I thought it was important to share.
If I ever ask why I am here, all I have to do is look at my students. They never leave my thoughts and are worth every single hard day, long night, sleepless night and so much more that I don’t have to give.
Hey there everyone. Sorry for the incredibly long time since my last post. Things have been very busy, but I am back now.
Things have been a whirlwind around here lately. I cannot believe that it is less than two weeks until Thanksgiving break ( I will be in Chicago for just about the whole week) and less than five weeks until the end of the first semester. Part of me is very excited but it is also so scary because I still feel like there is so much my kids HAVE to learn before they are ready for third grade and there is just so little time left.
I am seeing really good progress with them though. I just finished some reading assessments and all my kids have really grown a lot and are becoming much better readers, which is great. I have had a couple of parents ask me if it normal that their kid only wants to read these days and doesn’t play video games nearly as much… I guess I am doing my job to a certain extent.
I have also had some issues with some kids lately and have had to call parents, but last week was really a whole ton better so I think we have putting those problems behind us. There was an issue with having to escort students out of my room for saying “I hate this school!” and biting another child. But last week this student was back to his angel ways so that was really good to see.
It is a very odd experience when parents ask you for advice on how to deal with situations with their kids. A lot of my parents have asked me why their children behave better in school than they do at home and what advice I can give them. I have to hide the fact that I am 22 and don’t know the first thing about parenting.
Speaking of parents, my dad was here this past weekend and got a chance to come by the school which was really great. I had told the kids on Friday that we would have a special guess and for some reason they all thought that it was going to be Obama… kids and their imaginations…
Needless to say, the kids were pretty excited to meet Mr. Mr. Rubin and discover that unlike previously believed I do have a family. They did ask my dad a couple of times if I was married. Apparently they do not trust me…
Having him in my class and showing him what I do was really great. It is hard to explain to someone what I do on a daily basis if you do not see if first hand, and so it was really great to be able to show my dad. I think he enjoyed it as well. He got a chance to read to the kids and talk to a few of them. One of them tried to get him to say “Peter Piper…” with him, but I am not really sure where that came from. Sometimes we say it when we are waiting for things.
Shifting gears slightly, many of you have heard of that show where contestants try to prove that they are smarter than 5th graders. Well I think I may have failed the “Are you smarter than a 3rd grader” show. Recently I walked into the 3rd grade class where they were working on multiplication. They have these sheets of 100 problems of mixed multiplication. Mrs. Williams (their teacher) can do the sheet in 1:16 and so I wanted to give it a shot. Needless to say I was not as good. I did it in like 2:58.
Then, yesterday one of the third graders comes to tell me that he has beaten me. A 9-year-old did the same sheet in 2:30… I was very embarrassed and need to practice so that I can beat him and show him who is boss!
This same 3rd grade class has challenged our class to an addition facts challenge. 100 difficult addition facts. Each class sits down to do it and the entire class that finishes first gets ice cream served to them by the other class. It should be pretty fun. On our first run through my class was very close to their class. Except for one student who finished 5 minutes slower than the rest of the class, we beat the 3rd grade by about a minute. But in the 3rd grade’s second effort, they took about two minutes off their time so we have some steep competition. It will be a tough competition. The challenge goes down the last day before Thanksgiving break. Wish us luck!
I think over the last month, the only really exciting event that I have missed posting anything about was Halloween which was ridiculous, but also great! The kids all came to school in their uniforms but could change in the afternoon for our harvest festival. We had some really ridiculous costumes, including one kid who dressed up as the school’s mascot (a GIANT “W”) that his mom made for him.
We all got to go trick or treating in the secondary building and got candy from classes and candy from some of the Uplift staff which was a lot of fun.
The kids loved it and it was a good time. But I would prefer not having to deal with intense costumes for about another year. Costumes are just complicated.
Speaking of complicated wardrobe situations, I am starting to realize that I have serious shortcomings when it comes to girls hair. It has become a daily occurrence that one of my girls has to be sent to another class to get their hair fixed. Buns fall out, clips come out, or numerous other hair related events. And none of them are things I can fix. Normally I just send them to one of the first grade teachers down the hall, but every time I laugh because out of all the challenges that I could be having, I am struggling with hair… I do have a girl with hair down to her butt so that may have something to do with it.
Side note: Earrings are actually much scarier than hair though because those involve sharp objects. Generally the earring goes in a bag so they can bring it home and have their mother fix it…
Okay that is all for now. I will be back soon though with more fun stories and things about my life.
Thank you all for your help and support!