Wednesday, August 27, 2014

what would you do?

It's 1:05pm. You're in the middle of a math lesson. It's going really well and the kids are engaged. Suddenly...

"Ewww! Mrs. Miller...she's bleeding. Her nose is bleeding...like a lot!

You quickly send the bloody child to the nurse and try to get back on with the lesson before you lose the kids. Then you hear, "Oh yuck...she dripped blood on the rug!" And of course she dripped that blood right on the nice WHITE flower on my beautiful rug.

Do you:

A. Continue on with the lesson (while silently cursing the student of course). You can always call the janitors after school to take care of it. You wouldn't want to ruin the good flow you've got going just because of a few drops of blood.

B. Call the janitor ASAP. You just sat through an entire Blood-Born Pathogens presentation and wouldn't want to get in trouble with administration (not to mention OSHA) because you left bodily fluids out in the open. Surely the janitor can quickly spot-treat it and be out of your way.

C. Gather the children in a circle on the rug and mourn the pretty white flower. You teach them that if they bleed, vomit, or urinate in the classroom, it must NOT be on a white part of the rug. Or on the rug at all, for that matter.

Well I chose B. I called the janitor and asked him to come clean it. He came in and looked at the blood, and said he'd be back. (Interruption #1.) He was gone about 5 minutes and when he came back, he said that he had to take my ENTIRE rug out of the room. Apparently they didn't have some kind of blood remover at the school...they had to order it. And in the meantime, the blood couldn't be in the room with the kids. So he had to roll up the whole thing and take it with him. Now mind you, my room is small. So I have STUFF like furniture sitting on this rug. So I had to stop my lesson (Interruption #2) and move a bunch of furniture, so I could then help the janitor roll up my rug and haul it out.

By now you can pretty much guess that my lesson was not going so smoothly anymore and that the kids were peppering me with questions about the rug and why that man was taking it. I explained that they had to get it cleaned because there was blood on it. We talked about why we don't want to touch other people's blood and blah blah blah. Math lesson-over.

And literally TEN minutes after this incredibly lengthy discussion about the dang rug, one of my students (a very spacey student, indeed) says, "Wait...what happened to our rug? Where'd it go?"

And now 3 days later, I'm still without my rug. Apparently they're in the process of making sure it's cleaned for me and that no one will get an infectious disease from it. But you better believe I'm making a formal complaint if I don't have it back tomorrow. And if they ruin it, they're buying me a new one!

xoxo, mrs. miller.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

5 days down...

182 to go. And I'm already sick to top it off.

Even though yesterday was Friday, it sucked. I was so sick that I could only get a few sentences out before coughing so hard I was almost throwing up. And it's not like I can go sit at my desk and let my kindergartners entertain themselves for an hour. They're nowhere close to being capable of doing anything on their own for more than 3 minutes at a time.

So a little bit before lunch, I literally didn't think I could speak one more word before coughing up a lung. So I got out a bin of books (for the first time this year) and set it on the floor. They came to the carpet, chose books, and sat down to "read" together. And even though I was sick, my teacher heart was happy.



I have some cuter pictures of the whole group reading, but too many of their faces were showing. I got super excited about how pumped they were to look at books, and it held their attention for awhile (which was nice for my aching throat.) They were even bummed when I told them it was time to put them away so we could go to lunch.

Also, we shared All About Me posters yesterday. It's one of my favorite things we do all year. The kids present their posters to the class and tell us about themselves (with help from me, of course.) They really take ownership of the project and get really excited to share. And on the plus side, I have a great hallway display now!



I'm extremely excited to say that out of my 22 students, 20 turned in a poster! And the other two are sisters, so it only counts as one family not participating. I have high hopes for this year, my friends. High hopes, indeed!

xoxo, mrs. miller

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

i spent saturday morning...

Digging in boxes of other people's throw-aways.

Well...kind of. I went to the annual Teacher Book Sale at Better World Books. You could pack a whole box of books for $10. I didn't think I'd be there that long...so I decided to get there early so I could go right in when they opened.

There was a line. That's when I should've known it would be crazy.


So when they officially opened, you grabbed your box and headed in to look through the books. Now, these boxes were chest-high at least. And they were filled to the top with all kinds of books. Not sorted in any way. So you really had to dig. People were ruthless.


I took this picture right when I was leaving. FOUR HOURS after I'd gotten there. I'm not entirely sure why I thought it was necessary to stand in the hot, humid sun for 4 hours digging through boxes of dusty books with nothing in my stomach. By the time I decided it was time to leave, I was shaky and sweaty and so thirsty! But I'm a book nerd so it was worth it. I got 3 boxes full of great books for my classroom. I brought them all inside and got them labeled. I got some really good stuff, considering these are books that people donate. I'm definitely going to go again next year. But I'll bring water. And eat a little something before I go. 

Oh and I'll bring back-up. The teachers that had husbands or moms with them were able to tag-team (and had some muscle to carry the boxes around!)

xoxo, wife.


Monday, August 18, 2014

my 4th first day of kindergarten


At the end of yet another first day of kindergarten, I'm reminded of some things that I seem to block out every year:

-Patience is a virtue. No...really, it is. And there are certain times of the day that patience doesn't come easy...like after the 100th time you've explained to cranky 4 and 5 year olds that there is no nap time in kindergarten.

-Beginning kindergartners ask to pee a LOT. And you have to let them, because if you don't, they'll likely pee their pants.

-On the first day of kindergarten, parents WILL randomly show up throughout the day to check up on their child...and more importantly, how you're TREATING their child.

-Public restrooms hold some kind of crazy fascination for little kids.

-You will have to show 21 students how to use a drinking fountain...and even after you show them the proper way to use it, they'll still have a soaking wet shirt for the next two hours.

-Beginning kindergartners do not know how to walk in a line. They just sort of herd around you wherever you go, and it takes 20 minutes to get anywhere because you have to constantly place them back in line.

-Your name is not "Mrs. _________ (fill in the blank with your last name.) It's "Teacher! Teacher!"

-There will be about a million school supplies to sort through. And while you'll be thankful for all of it in a couple months, today it just seems like a huge hassle.

-You will only have 10 minutes to scarf down your lunch, because you have to show your students how to USE the lunchroom and lunch line. And how not to eat like barbarians.

-Little kids don't like to listen. Or follow directions. Or pay attention. They kind of like to do whatever the heck they want. They're like teeny tiny teenagers.

-Even though you called EVERY SINGLE PARENT on Friday afternoon and explained the procedures for the Car Line after school, over half of your parents will want their kid to meet them upstairs for dismissal. And you'll have to explain 11 times that their new kindergartner doesn't know how to get to the office yet (not to mention that students aren't even supposed to be picked up from the office), so to please follow Car Line procedures from now on.

BUT...

All in all it was a pretty decent day. There was only one crier, and that was at lunch when she didn't want me to leave her. It was an exhausting day and I feel like I'll lose my voice by the end of the week, but we know how to walk and sit on the carpet appropriately. We know how to use one pump of soap and push the lever 3 times to get paper towels. We know where our seats are and how to walk to them quietly. We know to walk quietly in the hall with our hands behind our backs (the most important thing we learned today: your hands WILL get you in trouble if you don't control them!) We know our 5 classroom rules, we know what the teacher says when she wants our attention, we know how to play nicely at recess, and we know how to get ready to go at the end of the day (and yes I sprinkled some other stuff in throughout the day too.)

As exhausting as this first week month normally is, I always end up forgetting all about it. I literally block it out. It's always bad, and I know and expect that. But I block out all the details because it's never this tough or exhausting after a while. They just don't know any better. And in a few weeks I'll be so impressed by how far they've come. We'll spend the rest of this week working on rules and procedures, and then I'll start teaching actual "stuff" next week. I have the "troublesome" kids already picked out, so I'm determined to set some expectations and call parents this week if I need to. Because this WILL be a great year!

And just like that...my 4th first day of kindergarten is over!

xoxo, mrs. miller


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

quotes from Open House 2014

Well, I've officially put in my first 12 hour day of the year. Clocked in at 7:34. Clocked out at 7:46. Needless to say, it was a looooooong day. And the last hour of this incredibly long day was Open House. Kindergarten classes haven't been split up yet, because we're testing students first, so I literally met 30+ families in 60 minutes. It was a lot. But I made it through and even remembered some of what was said.

"This is my son. I'm not really sure why he's making that face. He doesn't normally look so....violent."

"She doesn't normally act like this...she''ll be way better behaved in class. I hope."

"Can we request which teacher he has?"

"Ya'll gonna learn to read? What...is this like the smart class or somethin'?"

"She's never been in a structured environment before...so we thought we should put her in kindergarten now. She just does whatever she feels like whenever she feels like it."

"Can I request a teacher?"

"What day does school start?"

"So school begins at 8:00...so that means that like, he should be here by 8:00 then?"

"Can we request a teacher?"

"We pulled in the parking lot and he said, 'Is this my school? This is my dream! I've always wanted to go to school!"

"I have a question for you. How long have you been teaching? What's your teaching style? What time is school out? Can he be in your class? If he's in your class, does he ever have to be with the other teacher?"

"She's not as talkative as her sister was. Oh and she's not as smart either."

It was an interesting evening, to say the least. For the most part, the kids and their families seem pretty typical of the families that we normally have. There are a couple kids that I would prefer NOT to have, and there are a few I'd love to have. There are a lot of siblings of my former students, which is fun because I've met them through the years and know their families. We have testing appointments for the kiddos the rest of the week and then we'll split the kids up into classrooms and they start school on Monday!

And after this 12-hour workday, I'm turning in.

xoxo, mrs. miller


Monday, August 11, 2014

why yes, i have read 13 books this summer.

Not that anyone cares in any way what books I've read this summer.
But I'm now going to impress you with the amount I've read.
Most of my reading takes place in the evening, or in the morning after I shower. 
I DO NOT read all day.
Because that would take time away from the important things like watching tv, napping, and just being generally lazy.

So without further adieu, here are the books I've read this summer:
(be amazed.)

1. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
2. Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan (couldn't put this down.)
3. Crossed by Ally Condie
4. Holes by Luis Sachar
5. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
6. Matched by Ally Condie
7. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
8. Paper Towns by John Green
9. Reached by Ally Condie
10. Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock
11. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
12. Wonder by RJ Palacio
13. Looking for Alaska by John Green

And now alas, summer has come to an end. (I'll actually be at work when this posts.)
And I will no longer be able to read 13 books in 9 weeks.
But it was wonderful while it lasted.
And I look forward to next summer.
I am however participating in a book club so I'll still be reading some. 
But it just won't be the same.
Until next June.

xoxo, wife.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

#421 why i love my husband

He planned two different birthday surprises for me in one day!

If you know me at all, I HATE surprises. I hate not feeling in control. But he went about this in a way that didn't make me want to pull my hair out.

It started out this morning. We got up and he declared that he was going to clean the house. That's strange. I asked why he was doing that, and he said, "I just thought I'd be nice and clean the house before you go back to work Monday." Still thought that was weird but I thanked him. I left for an appointment to get a manicure and pedicure that he had set up for my birthday. I had been sitting in the chair for about 2 minutes when my mom walked in. She said she was getting her toes done too! And about 5 minutes after that, my cousin Sarah walked in! I had NOOOO clue they were coming...it was a fun surprise!




Then I got a text from Ty to get a couple bags of ice on the way home. I texted back and said, "Is there something else going on?" It took him awhile to respond, so I asked my mom and Sarah. They kind of just stared at me a minute. Then my mom started laughing and said that "Yes, we're going back to your house with a cookout with your friends." (She had permission from Ty to tell me.)

Ty had asked my closest friends from high school and work to come and celebrate my birthday with me. It was definitely unexpected, and good to have everyone around. Ty cooked us all burgers, brats, and chicken on the grill and we just chatted and had a good time!





I wish I had thought to get a picture with everyone before they left, but I think we were all caught up in the conversations and it just slipped my mind. As far as surprises go, this was a great one. I didn't feel overwhelmed or anything...just loved.

Ty was so sweet to do all this on his own. Plan MY mani/pedi, invite my mom and cousin and set up THEIR appointments, invite my friends over, go buy food and drinks, and cook for us. I love him, and I hope he knows how much I appreciated him doing this for my birthday!

xoxo, wife.


Friday, August 8, 2014

oh a-hiking we will go

Wahhhhhhh. Today is the last day of summer vacation. It was blissful while it lasted. I'm ready to get back into a routine and feel a little more useful than I've felt the last 9 weeks...but it's so much more fun to make money while being lazy at home than working 50+ hours a week. But I digress.

So in order to check another item off my summer to-do list (which did NOT get finished by the way), Ty suggested that we go hiking today. So we got up and headed out to Potato Creek State Park. I will now include about a million pictures...so you may now leave if you'd like. But I hope you'll stay and look.

Ty told me I got to pick the trail we took. I picked #4 (Moderate.) It was the longest and the most scenic. It also said we'd go past a couple old farm steads.



There's a nice, peaceful cemetery right at the beginning of Trail 4. 






I laughed out loud at this. The tree was growing around the railing of this lookout. It looked like the tree was eating it, so when I saw that someone had written this, I thought it was hilarious!

This was Tylan all day...taking pictures.


He was in his happy place: nature.


I've always wanted our names carved in a tree. 

(Although I'm not quite sure why he put TM instead of Ty. I think he was afraid of getting in trouble.)



Ty found a crane at the top of this tree.

We found an old spring house.





 If you can't be silly, then what can you be?

Turns out, I'm not too great at using the new fancy camera. It took me a good 3 minutes to snap this picture. 

Water spiders...gross!



Can you spot the baby toad?

Ty was amazed at the acorns. Something about how it's way too early for acorns to be falling or something of that nature.

And then 2 and a half miles later, we were back where we started.

We drove around the park awhile and then headed to lunch.


If you're still here, congratulations...that was a lot of pictures. But I had to preserve this perfect last day of summer. It was a great day...thanks for taking a day off from work and hanging out with me Ty! I love you!

xoxo, wife.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

ch-ch-ch-changes.

I haven't even officially started back to work yet, and this year is already proving to be draining...at least emotionally.

I've been in and out of the building all week getting things ready for the coming year. Yesterday I had a run-in with a colleague that was not the most fun way to start the year. Today my work-best-friend/mentor resigned to take a job at another corporation. We cried together off and on all morning because of the change, and how it will be scary for both of us. She is the sole reason I've been able to stick it out and keep being a teacher. She's taught me everything I know about what I do...and I'm not quite sure what I'll do without her there. I'm happy for her...but sad at the same time. It'll be rough at first, that's for sure.

I also just got an email that one of our administrators (the only one who I felt really ever had my back) saying that he also resigned today to take another job.

If I'm doing the math correctly, that will be 10 out of 33 staff members that are leaving this year. That's a lot of change. That's a lot of new people coming in. I've worked at this job going on 4 years now and I've seen so many people come and go that it's almost funny. (And there are reasons for such high turnover...I'm the first to admit it.) But it makes accepting those new people that come in really difficult. I've learned to put up walls. That's probably the biggest issue I face with my colleagues. I've watched people come and go so often that I don't trust anyone who comes in. I don't trust that they'll stay. I don't trust that they have these kids' best interest at heart. I don't trust that they appreciate all the blood, sweat, and tears I've put into this school for 4 years. It's hard.

We suffered a big loss today, especially in terms of support. I'm not sure how I feel about the upcoming year, to be honest. I'm not dreading it...but I'm not excited either. I think I'll have to wait and see how it goes. I'm hopeful for this new batch of students I'm about to get. I anticipate that I'm going to have a great year in terms of actually teaching...but it's the other stuff. The staff-morale stuff. That's what I'm not too sure of right now. But only time will tell.

xoxo, wife.

Monday, August 4, 2014

classroom setup 2014

Well, it's that time of year. I got up this morning, packed up my stuff and headed in to work to set up my classroom.



 At the end of every year, I have to take everything off the walls and move all my furniture to the middle of the room, so it looked like this when I arrived:




I wanted to change the setup a little to correct some issues I had last year, so I set about rearranging. And I rearranged that dang furniture 3 times before I realized that my room is so small that there is really only one way to do it: the way I did last year. So alas, I moved everything a 4th time and was officially sweating.

Then I started hanging everything back up on the walls. I hung up some new stuff and some old stuff, and was happy with the way it looked when I was finished. I'm not finished, but I'm close, which takes a load off my shoulders, and means I can start planning for the first week without worrying about my room.


I fixed those trays promptly after taking this picture.

This is my whole-group lesson area. The bulletin board on the left will be the calendar area, which I'll take care of tomorrow.


 This year I'm trying something different for behavior: Every day that a student is on Green or Purple (the best colors you can be on) they'll get a sticker to put on their chart.

Once their chart is full they'll get to choose a prize from the prize box and will get a brand new chart to start over with. I think this will be a good (and positive) way to reinforce good behavior. A couple of my coworkers liked this idea so much that they're going to try it in their rooms too!

That looks like an awful lot of chairs. But I promise, there's only 24.

Student work will be clipped up to the wall on the left with fun and decorative clothespins that I glued onto thumb tacks and stuck in the wall. 

This is my teacher area, and the one part of my room that needs to be cleaned up a little. Once school starts I'm pretty anal about making sure I have a clean desk at all times, so this is rare. 

I printed a few things and then it was around 2:30 so I decided that I should leave because I don't want to spend every waking moment at school when I could be lounging at home. So I packed up and headed home to do what? MORE WORK! But at least I was on the couch watching tv while I was doing it.

I'm heading back in tomorrow for a meeting and to work a little more, but I don't plan on staying too long. I'd like to do some teacher-clothes-shopping!