family · life

7.5 school days left

And so the countdown continues. It is hard to believe that the boys only have 7.5 days left in school. This year has been such a whirlwind for our whole family.

At this time last year we were wrapping up our last few weeks in FL. The house was pretty much packed up. The school year was almost over and we were getting ready to set off on our grand adventure. We left FL on June 5th and were moved in to the apartment on June 6th. Sometimes it is hard to believe it has been a full year already.

The boys were talking about it the other night and both feel that this move was good for them. They love their school and feel they have learned a lot this year. They have had their ups and downs, but in the long run they are happy.  Richard is settled into his job and I’m just about ready to send off my resume. I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth on what to do, where to apply, should I apply, should I stay home, what is the best thing.

It is such a hard thing to try and figure out what is not only best for me, but also best for the family. The last job I had pretty much fell in my lap and I I hardly thought about it. I took that position more than half way through the school year, the boys were settled and I was going to be in the same school as them. While the boys are settled, I will not be with them anymore. I know they are old enough, responsible enough and more than capable of dealing with the adjustments that will come along with me going back to work, it’s not an easy decision.

I know that the job market for educators is tough in this area. I know that I have a lot to offer still I just need to make sure that I go in the direction that will bring me the most joy. That will bring me the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of children…. that is what teaching is all about.

So, my goal is to get my resume sent out and the process started in the beginning of next week. I won’t share more details at this time, but will as time progresses.

I hope you are enjoying the countdown to your summer, whenever that starts in your life. For me, I’m looking forward to our first summer in our house. Seeing the boys settle into the summer routine of life. 7.5 more school days until life changes for us… again!

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Education · family · life

Next step….?

My mind is swimming today. I finally got my teacher certification here in PA. I guess it’s time to dust off my resume and figure out what the next step will be for me. In looking at districts nearby, I learned that the application process is different here than I’m used to from my other times applying for positions. PA has a mandatory application process which includes an essay. I also have to get all my background checks done ahead of time. Ugh! Ok I can do this.

I already contacted my former principal to see which of the essay topics she felt I should base my essay on, At least it can be typed! So now I need to figure out how to write an essay that will grab the principals’ attention for the right reasons. At least I’ve been blogging a lot lately so the whole putting thoughts on paper (well the screen) is not going to be the hard part.

Richard and I both feel that if I get a job.. .I get a job. If I don’t, I don’t. I have way too many other things in life to put a ton of stress on this whole process. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m taking this very seriously and I want to get a public school teaching job. I’ve just learned throughout life that you can’t stress what you can’t control. I can not control if I get a job or not. I can do my best, show up and show them who I am and then hope that I move forward.

For most of my life if you asked me to tell you who I am the first words out of my mouth was “I’m a teacher”. But, my life is so much more than that. I’m a wife and a mother, and nothing could be more important to me than those jobs.

So we will see where this process takes me, but for now… I guess I’ll start working on an essay.

life

blogger laziness and a bit of rambles

Yesterday I was a slacker blogger. You may have noticed that I just popped off a quick post at the end of the day yesterday. I was at the school from 7:20 until 2:00 helping out with the Science Olympiad. It was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast. Colby came home from school exhausted as I’m sure most of the kids did. This was their last school day before testing starts, so that was a fun way to prep for state testing. Blake has testing the next 2 weeks and Colby has testing the next 3 weeks.

I also didn’t read anyone else’s blog yesterday, that is normally a morning time thing for me, so I tried to plow through a lot of them today. I try to keep up with most of the bloggers who leave comments on my blog. I always feel this is the start of a conversation/ a kinship/ a something and when I know that you are reading and commenting on my blog, then I’m more drawn into reading yours on a regular basis. Others, I tend to read if they peek my interest. Am I the only one who blogs this way?

This week has been a revisiting of winter for us. We had some type of snow every day and woke up to a little over an inch of accumulated snow today again. Ok… I’m done with winter now. Can we move onto spring?

This weekend will be a slow keep life simple weekend. We will try to stay on our normal routines and get the kids to bed at a reasonable time. I really hate state testing, yes I know I’m a teacher, yes I know there is a need for accountability, but this still doesn’t feel like it is it. At least here in this school district (or at least this school) they don’t stress the kids out as much over the whole thing. My sons don’t feel the pressure as much as they did in FL.

This coming week also finds me finally going and taking the PA teacher tests. I am not stressing out over this… it is what it is. I am not going to study. I’m not going to do anything but show up and take the test. I’m totally in the mode of if it is meant to be I’ll be fine.  If not… Oh well. (part of me know that I’ll be totally ticked with myself if I don’t pass… I don’t do failure well!)

Well… time to get ready to head to the gym. I wonder what the boys will do this week in their little lifters class? I’m dragging and my throat is scratchy so we will see how much energy I have for working out today. But… I’m going and that is a start.

Happy Saturday!

 

family · life

Some days you just have to slow down

Colby woke up and wasn’t feeling 100%. In getting ready for school he ended up getting sick, this is an automatic ticket to stay home for the day. I sent him back to bed. Colby then slept until about 10:45am. I guess he was tired. He woke up and was hungry. I told him to have something light and he started with dry oat squares. We almost always have dried cereal when we are over coming an upset stomach. He then went on and had a larabar and then a bowl of oatmeal. I think he was tired! He also has been slacking on taking his allergy medicine, this resulted in a stomach full of snot!

I was originally going to a meeting for the boys’ school district dealing with math and computer science curriculum. I wanted to attend this because I feel strongly that math should get just the same attention as reading when thinking about district curriculum. I know for certain that neither of my sons’ teachers use the text book to teach their math curriculum. If they are going to revamp the curriculum and/or consider new text books, they need to take into consideration the needs of the teachers and students. The books need to match the standards set by the state and be worth the money.

Oh well, so instead of going to this meeting I spent the morning cleaning. I swept and steam cleaned the floors, vacuumed the rugs and cleaned the bathrooms. I turned Food Network on and worked around the house. I took this time to get the jobs done that need to get done. I slowed down and am enjoying the day. Colby seems to be feeling well enough to go to Blake’s open house tonight and back to school tomorrow.  He will camp out of the couch for a while and slow down too.

Speaking of Colby, when we were at his open house last night there was a wall with writing from the students. The topic was the person I admire most. I asked Colby who he picked. I was curious. He has a few scientist that he admires such as Einstein and Edison. He has many adults in his life that he looks up to as roll models. But, he did not pick any of these people. Colby chose Blake. I can only hope that Blake appreciates this for what it is, an honor. Colby and Blake love each other. Colby and Blake annoy each other to no end. But in the end, they know they are there for each other. They know that when push comes to shove… they are brothers.

 

Education · family

Trips to school and car ride conversations

Today found me at the boys’ school twice. I headed in this morning to help out at the book fair. They are collecting coins for “All for books”. The school is using this money to donate books Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. I spent a good chunk of time today rolling dimes (each day they are collecting a different type of coin).

My own sons have brought in their own money each day. I asked them Sunday night  if they were going to donate quarters. I expected them to bring in $1 or $2… nope both brought in over $5 in quarters and then more money today. They said it was a good cause and that all kids deserve books. This makes my heart sing. I love that they are willing to donate their own money to children who have less. Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh is the hospital that we had to bring Colby to when he crashed his bike.

Then tonight we headed back to the school for Colby’s open house. This open house different from what we called open house in Florida. When we had open house it was the time for the teacher to talk about how we teach and what the children will learn. This was an opportunity for the children to come show off their classrooms and learning spaces. There was an art show where they displayed a piece of art from each child in the school. The hallways were covered in work from the different classes. In Colby’s math/science room they had all kinds of experiments set up. In his reading/social studies room they had their reading journals and samples of their writing on display. He was so proud to show off his work. We visited his art room, world language room and the media center as well. Tomorrow we head back to the school to go to Blake’s open house.

I love when I get to drive in the car with the boys. It gives us a chance to have some unique conversations. Tonight we started talking about small pox and other diseases that are eradicated or at least slowed down due to vaccines. We talked about the fact that many parents have been choosing to opt out of vaccines and even that there was concern that they vaccines caused autism. We talked about what autism is and the varying levels of autism. Sometimes I never know where a conversation will go and in what direction things will travel. Richard and I believe that honesty is best, within the reason of developmental understanding. We talk to our sons the same way you would talk to an adult, and have since they were young. I truly believe this has helped then in school. They have highly developed vocabularies and can hold a conversation with adults with little issue. I believe that these car ride conversations are part of this development.

I hope you had a great Tuesday and the weather in your area is cooperating. We are watching the weather as rain and possible snow is coming again. Where is the warm weather we had in February??

 

book · Education · Uncategorized

Thank You, Mr. Falker– book review

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Today and tomorrow, I’m heading to the boys school for Read Across America Week. I’m reading to their classes. I decided to read a picture book or two. I picked Thank You, Mr. Falker since Blake’s class is reading Fish in a Tree. Both books are about dealing with reading issues. Colby’s class recently read about dyslexia as well. I’m taking a few other books with me as well. I was originally going to bring a chapter book, but it seemed strange to read a part of a chapter book, but not the whole one.

I can only hope that the kids enjoy this book. I don’t want them to think it’s young because it is a picture book. These books are written kids in 3rd-5th grade. The main character is a 5th grader. So often we forget that there are picture books made for older children. Patricia Pollacco writes many books that are geared towards an older child audience. The story of Thank You, Mr. Falker is her story. the story of how she learned to read in the 5th grade. How she learned she has dyslexia and how to live with it instead of letting it decide how she lives.

Thursday, I’m back at the boys school to help set up their book fair. I love that I can go help out at the boys school and especially when I can do something to help out the teachers.

** contains links, please read my disclosure statement**

 

family · food · life

Baking cookies and kids math stress

I’m back… Yep you are getting two posts today. Why? Because I’ve been having a productive day. I got a ton of cleaning done, drank two tumblers of water, and even have a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer.

I’m trying a new cookie recipe. Last year, Richard gave me Duff Goldman’s book Duff Bakes. I’ve made a few recipes out of this book already and enjoyed them all. Today I’m testing out his recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies the thin and crispy version. I don’t think I’ve even had a thin and crispy chocolate chip cookie. To me, a good chocolate chip cookie is chewy and best served straight out of the oven. I swear that is my thing with baking is the ability to eat the cookies when they come out of the oven and are hot and ooey gooey.  Who doesn’t love a hot cookie?

The boys will be walking home from the bus soon enough, so I decide to pop on here one more time to share something that has been bopping around in my brain.

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Being a teacher turned mommy there are times when different parts of me have different thoughts about things that deal with school. Colby is so much like me and there is one way I wish he wasn’t like me… the ability to memorize math facts. I remember how much I HATED third grade for so many reasons, but one reason was the fact that we had to take timed tests on our multiplication tables. Colby has been dealing with this same thing for the last two years.

Colby has a natural ability to understand math. He does complex math in his head. He can explain how to solve math problems in multiple modes. He loves to solve math problems, but he struggles to pass timed multiplication tests. At this time, his teacher is testing them on a mixture of multiplication facts. He needs to complete 80 math problems in 2 minutes. He can do it. He knows the facts, for the most part, but he can’t do them that fast. Colby understand multiplication and uses this knowledge to solve the multiplication problems. He may not know 8×7 quick, but can solve 7×9 then subtract 7. It works for him.

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As a teacher, I understand what the teacher is trying to do. When children have automaticity of facts it takes that factor away when trying to understand more complex math problems. I even gave my students timed practice on their addition and subtraction facts. I tried to make these fun challenges for my kindergarten and first grade students. They would earn a prize each time they “leveled up” to the next set of facts. I get it. I understand why teachers use this strategy to help the children move faster on their facts.

But… as a mom it is driving me crazy. I hate seeing him come home and have to practice these facts over and over. He has to practice 4 times between home and school before he gets tested again. It is a matter of drilling the facts in his head. But, as a mom who also struggled with this concept I know that to some degree I can hit him over the head with these facts over and over and they may not stick.

When I was in 4th grade I was tested for learning disorders, but never got diagnosed since my IQ was too high… don’t get me started. But, having done enough research into learning problems I have self diagnosed myself with dyscalculia, (Dyscalculia /ˌdɪskælˈkjuːliə/ is difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic, such as difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, and learning facts in mathematics. It is generally seen as a specific developmental disorder.) I have a huge understanding of math. I love math. I love to teach math, but I can’t calculate in my head. I need a calculator. Once I could use a calculator in math people realized how strong my math skills were. When I was in high school and college my teachers/professors tried to tell me to go into engineering, or at least if I was going to teach that I should teach math. I didn’t want to because I wanted to get the kids who would possibly struggle young and help them get help before they started to struggle. I wanted to teach children to love to learn before they realized that learning isn’t simple.

While I don’t think Colby has Dyscalculia as he can add, subtract, multiply and divide in his head. He does struggle to memorize those facts. It could be he doesn’t want to learn them. I could be his brain doesn’t let them stick because there is so many other things going on in his head. Who knows. But I do know that I hate seeing him frustrated over something that isn’t even used towards his math grade. See him getting mad and thinking that he isn’t good in math because he can’t pass these “tests” as easily as his peers. I also know I can’t and won’t fix it for him. I’ll help him. I’ll work with him on it. I’ll remind him that this doesn’t effect his grades. That this doesn’t prove if he can or can’t do math.

The mom in me is at war with the teacher in me over this whole concept. I won’t ever solve it.. but I can be there for my guy.

Have you ever had a crispy chocolate chip cookie? Do you like cookies hot out of the oven? Do you remember taking times table tests? Hope your day is productive… have a wonderful Wednesday. Drop me a comment, I love hearing from you!

Uncategorized

Homecoming Week for the boys

Pine Richland is having their homecoming week. The boys school is having different activities each day. I like that they are using a week that is typically hyped up only in the high school as a week to have fun at the other schools. Not sure what the low elementary schools or the middle school is doing, but I’m guessing they are celebrating as well.

So this was a great week to see the differences between my two sons.

Monday they needed to dress in the color of their biome. The school is divided into different sections each labeled with a biome, and each biome has a color that matches it. So for Monday, Colby needed to wear yellow (desert biome) and Blake needed to wear blue (aquatic biome). This day was well easy other than we had to find a shirt with some yellow in it.

Tuesday was wacky socks day. Colby wore one black soccer sock and one black regular sock. So he had one sock that was up to his knee and one that was down at his ankle.  This works!  Blake thought he was being super creative. But, if you know Blake you will already guess that this didn’t work out well for him. Blake wore two sets of socks. Two sets of white socks. The bottom sock was about 2 inches taller than the outer sock.  You could not even tell he had anything but normal socks. He didn’t understand why people didn’t notice that he had stacked his socks one on the other.

Wednesday was mismatched/backwards clothes day. Colby wore his polo shirt inside out and backwards. He wanted to be mismatched as well, but, all his bottoms are khaki, jeans, navy or gray, which makes it harder to be mismatched (Yes I do this do they can’t typically make mismatched outfits). Blake put his shirt on backwards, but before he had even come downstairs, he had turned it the right way. He just could not wear the shirt backwards.

Today was crazy hair/hat day. Colby tried for a long time to get his hair to stick up in crazy directions. When the back of his hair was long we were able to easily do this, he often had Einstein hair. Now that his hair is super short in the back the whole crazy hair thing wouldn’t work. Colby then went upstairs found and old hat. He turned the hat inside out and wore it backwards with his bangs sticking out everywhere. Blake put on his UCF hat and said it would be “crazy” here because they probably don’t know UCF.

This week just shows the difference between my guys. Blake is so straight laced. He lived in a black and white world and struggles when things don’t fit into his molds. Colby on the other hand LOVES to be creative. He loves to think outside the box and sees the fun creative sides of life.

I love my guys and how different they are… keeps life interesting.

Uncategorized

What did I do now?

There is nothing easy about being a parent. Just when you think you’ve figured things out… bam! Everything changes and what works doesn’t work anymore.

 

One thing that I’ve also learned as a mom is that whenever things go wrong, I am the one they get mad at, even if I had nothing to do with what they are mad about.  My sons get so frustrated when they can’t do things perfectly, especially things having to do with school. For the most part academics comes very easy to my kids, this is good and bad. The challenge with this is when they have to work at a task or struggle to understand a concept they get really upset.

For example, Colby has a really strong understanding of math. He understands many math concepts before they are taught to him. He just has a way of figuring them out on his own. One thing that this did not translate well to was multiplication facts. Now, don’t get me wrong, Colby totally understands multiplication and can do it in his head, just not fast. Colby is my creative son, and this includes school. When Colby does math he does it Colby-style. And, Colby-style isn’t always fast, it’s right, it works, but it isn’t fast. In class right now they are taking timed multiplication tests daily. He has 1 minute to complete 40 multiplication facts that are mixed. Colby knows the facts, he just doesn’t have the memorized to the point that he can do them that rapidly. He doesn’t want to memorize them because… why should he? I can do the work. I can do the math problems. I know how it all works, why do I have to do these problems this way in this time frame? And for that I don’t have an answer. Why… because he is the same as me. I always struggled with memorizing math facts. I love math. I love problem solving. I took high level math, but wasn’t happy until I could use a calculator because then I didn’t have to struggle to do the computation to prove the answer that I already knew how to solve.

So, when Colby does not do well on these timed multiplication tests, he has to practice at home, and get the paper signed. This means that Colby has to remember to bring it home. Colby is my creative child… he is also my forgetful child. We always say Colby would forget his head if it wasn’t attached.  Colby is smart, don’t get me wrong. Colby is just somewhat scattered and distracted. His brain is going so fast that simple things like packing his backpack, putting away his dirty clothes or closing the door to the garage don’t register as important in his brain.

Needless to say, yesterday Colby left his folder at school, again. And, couldn’t complete his homework, again. And he also knows that he will have to figure this out himself again. I will not go to school after the fact, I will not “rescue him”. So when we were talking about this yesterday, he wasn’t mad that I wouldn’t get the folder or that he won’t be in the “homework club” or that he has to tell his teacher and get a second form signed by me stating why he does’t have his homework… Nope he was mad because I wanted to work on his multiplication facts to help him get ready for the test today. This I guess was the wrong thing. There was yelling, there were tears, there even may have been a door slammed. All because he didn’t want to hear he needed help.

So, yet again I’m in a stage that I have to figure out. One thing I already know about Colby is that when he gets into the state of I hate the world and especially you… you have to leave him alone. Typically I leave him for a good half hour and then go talk to him. I always remember to tell him. “I love you, I will always love you, but I didn’t like your choice to _______, and we need to fix it.” Together we work on fixing the problem… when we can. But, I also leave thinking ok what can I do differently to fix this issue. How can I help him deal with what is going on before we get to the explosion.

I think every parent wants to help their child, my kids just know that in doing so I won’t fix everything… I’ll help them fix it himself.

Uncategorized

To do, To do… what am I going to do?

This weekend I spent a lot off time talking to Richard. We had all of Friday together since he took the day off, we had the final walk through on our new house.  It was a great opportunity for us to check in with each other. Don’t get me wrong, Richard and I talk all the time, but this alone time afforded us the opportunity to talk about the things that often get shoved to the side.

One of the big topics we discussed what my career… or what to do with my career at least.

At this point I’m so torn in what to do next career wise. I’m having to jump through so many hoops to get my certification switched over. Granted I’m fighting it tooth and nail so that maybe why it feels like so much work. It’s just annoying that I have to do things like not only provide my official transcripts from both colleges, but also have the college fill out paperwork verifying the program I have my degree(s) in meets their standards. I have to get paperwork from both school districts that I have taught in and take 6 tests. Come on.. I have a masters degree in elementary education. I sent you copies of the 4 tests I just took in FL (again took them kicking and screaming since I’d already worked in FL before, but that wasn’t good enough). I’ve taught for 10 plus years in two different school districts in two different states. I understand that they are trying to “raise the bar”, but what other career path would I have to jump through all these hoops each time I change states to just get the certification. This doesn’t mean I get a job. That will be a whole different set of hoops to jump through.

So there is that frustration on the whole thing as well as there aren’t many teaching jobs in this area. So, it is harder to get jobs. So I could go through this whole process and not get a teaching position. Do I want a teaching position? Don’t get me wrong I LOVE teaching, its all the other crap that comes along with teaching. There is a lot of stress in the teaching profession right now and it all comes down to the expectations put on by standardized testing. I am a primary teacher, meaning I teach pre-K to 3rd grade, I shouldn’t be stressing out over getting my students ready for standardized testing. I should be helping my students develop a love of learning. Help them see the joy of reading a book. Guild them into learning about all the cool topics that make up the world we live in… not mastering 5 ways to answer an addition problem that can be answered in 1.

So what do I do? Do I try to go back into the classroom, where I will be happy for the Image result for question markmost part. Do I take a job at a day care working in a pre-K or K wrap program (they only have half day K here)? If I do that, I take a huge pay cut, but there is also less stress. I can teach pretty much the way I want to teach.

Do I stay as a stay-at-home mom? Then I don’t bring in an income, but I do free up our lives. When I’m home, the meals get made every night. The groceries, laundry, and cleaning gets done during the day and we don’t have to do these things after work or on the weekend. I’m free to help at the boys school. I’m home when the kids get out of school and they don’t have to go into after school care or home to an empty house.

I have already ruled out getting a part time job that isn’t in the teaching profession. I’m not going to go work at a store or restaurant. I’m not a secretary, bookkeeper or receptionist type. I also need to know that the job I get is school hours, no weekends, no nights and no summers.  Yep that limits my choices. This is the lifestyle we are accustomed to having and I don’t want to change it just to be busy or bring in a few extra bucks a week.

There isn’t much you can do with a teaching degree outside the classroom. So here I am… trying to figure out what is next for me. At least I have time. But, for now I’ll continue to work on getting my certification taken care of then I actually have options to pick from. And until I figure out what’s next I’ll…..

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