Blog Archive

Sunday, July 23, 2017

2017-2018 School Year-classroom reveal and first 2 days

Good morning friends!  The past week has been a whirlwind!  I put final touches on my classroom and welcomed a new group of 3rd graders.  I always love the anticipation of a new school year and am still surprised at how exhausted I am after 2 days of school.  I am so glad that our district gives us a couple of days to ease in to the new year.  It is nice to have 2 days to get to know my students a little bit and to teach them routines and procedures.  Then we can hit the ground running on Monday.  I will still weave in those routines and procedures this week, but the major ones have been discussed.
First 2 Days Reflections

  1. We are departmentalized so I teach 2 sets of kiddos.  One class has roughly the same number of boys and girls.  The other has 15 boys (18 total kids).  I am definitely feeling for those 3 girls in that 2nd class.  The boys in my first group are WIDE OPEN!  I say all of that to say that I will have to make sure I bring in lots of brain breaks, group work, and hands-on activities for both of my groups.  I will also need to make sure there isn't any down time so they stay busy, but with meaningful activities.  
  2. Because of the HOT, HOT, HOT temperatures here in NC, we have had 2 days of indoor recess.  In the past when my class sizes have been a bit smaller, I have let students self-choose what they do.  This year, I am creating stations in my room and allowing a specific number of students to choose that station.  They must remain at that station for the entire recess.  2 days in and I can say that indoor recess hasn't turned me into a squawking mess constantly telling students what they can and can't do. 
  3. My plan for this week is to leave school by 3:30, unless I have a meeting.  School is over at 2:00!  There is no reason for me to stay later than 3:30.  I'll let you know how this one goes.  :)
Classroom Reveal
7 Habits Posters from Teachers Pay Teachers 
We are a Leader in Me school.  If you don't know anything about it check it out here.

My small group area and objectives.  Also...I love my big mustache.  I got it at JoAnn's several years ago!

On the far left cabinet I have the 8 mathematical standards.  Under that I plan on adding choices for math rotations and magnets with kids' numbers for them to choose.  The other cabinet has my clip chart, rules, and tiger stripes chart.

How stinking cute is that shiplap paper?  The shelves house my leveled library and math manipulatives.  

This is year 2 for The Leader in Me.  This is the year for data, data, data!  We will track our data and set and track class goals on this board.  It is a magnetic chalkboard!  

Anchor chart display 

Outside of door

Inside of door

I had this old frame that I painted.  I am thinking about a quote of the week, month...something.  I may let students submit quote they would like to see here.

First day class gift.  Tags from Live Laugh Love Second

Well, that's it for today!  TTFN!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer Camp Stories-Weeks 2 and 3

Welcome to weeks 2 and 3!  These weeks are brought to you by, WTF did that kid just say?

My partner teacher for summer camp is pregnant, so the kids are very interested in that whole thing.
Student E:  Ms. I can hear your baby crying!
Teacher: stares blankly
Student E: (puts ear up to teacher's belly) He's crying!!!
Now I've never been pregnant, but I'm pretty sure you can't hear the baby crying while it is inside you.  Help me out here!

And apparently I look like someone who gets out a lot and finds good stuff.
Student L:  Mrs. Hutchens, my mom wanted me to ask you if you find a Moana costume to let us know.
Me: Ok
Student L: Or anything from Moana, please let us know.
Me:  Ok, I'm pretty sure you can just get anything Hawaiian.  Summer is a good time to find that kind of stuff.
Student L:  Well, it's for my sister's birthday.
Me:  Ummmmm...ok, I'll be on the look out!
PS...this is a student who doesn't even go to my home school so I'm not sure how I'm going to get her Moana stuff to her, but it's currently in my Amazon cart!

Everyday at recess, the kids played Cheetah Girls or Carowinds.  When they would play Cheetah girls they would do dance offs.  We even had a boy Cheetah Girl, but he called himself the security or the judge.  Here's the song.  It was more of a cheer when the kids would do it.   
Cause we are sisters. (Cause we are sisters)
We stick together. (We stick together)
We make up one big family (We make up one big family)
But we don't look the same (But we don't look the same)

When they would play Carowinds (which is an theme park), they would all pretend they were a big family (probably still a Cheetah Girls tie-in).  Kids were crawling around and "crying".  The "mom" would suddenly fall out and they would all panic.  One of the kids was a dog, named Buster.  (I didn't know they allowed dogs at Carowinds)  She would crawl around and bark and follow the other kids.

Yesterday was our last day and we watched Finding Nemo.  Now, they have ALL seen this movie, I'm sure multiple times. 
During the first scenes when Nemo's parents are discussing their future and the barracuda comes along, "Don't do it, Coral! He's going to eat you!"  
When Nemo is trying to disable the aquarium filter, "C'mon Nemo, you can do it!"  
"He's not going to do it."  
"Yes, he is!"  
Nemo is unsuccessful, "You see, I told her I couldn't do it!"

I keep telling myself that I'm going to start writing these things down and write a book called "Sh$t Kids Say!"  That or moonlight at a comedy bar.  My material writes itself! 

These almost 2nd graders were a lot of fun to teach and hang out with for 3 weeks.  I am definitely ready for a few days off to reset.  Then I get to start fresh with a new batch of 3rd graders!  I've got some changes coming to my classroom in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Summer Camp Stories Week 1

Don't let anyone fool you.  That title is a lie!  They call it summer camp, but it's really summer school.  It's a little like taking a zucchini and wrapping it in a Snickers wrapper.  You get all excited to do campy things and it's just a f*cking zucchini!  It's really a little cruel to the little ones because they take everything so literally.  One kiddo said, "When are we going to put up our tents to camp out?", schmamp.  I'm here to tell the stories that happened this week in "summer camp".  First of all, I got placed in 1st grade.  For those of you that know me, you know that A) I have never taught a grade lower than 3rd grade and B) I just really love playing and goofing off with the little ones.  That being said, I am happy to report, that I love, I'm talking big, puffy heart, love 1st grade summer school.  Now, on to the stories.

Day 1:  One of my kiddos, M, is about the most precious thing you've ever seen.  She is the size of a 4-year-old and speaks with the authority of a 40-year-old.  M's favorite phrase is "Can I tell you something?"  Well, of course you can!  This is why I can't teach 1st grade on a regular basis...I would listen to them tell me EVERY. SINGLE. STORY.  So, M proceeds to tell me all about herself.  At recess, I learn that her dad works on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, but not Saturday or Sunday.  She tells me about her favorite color, blue. And her favorite food, guacamole.  At one point I tell another teacher that I would take her home with me and M says, "I'm pretty sure my dad is picking me up so you can't take me home."  Later, she tells me that if her dad doesn't pick her up she will go home with me and on the way she can tell me all about her favorite foods so I can make them for her.  No problem, M.  Obviously she gets picked up by her dad.    

Day 2:  New student shows up for summer school.  We'll call her B.  B is the youngest of 4 and cannot stop talking to me!  Duh, captive audience!  So, another student (J) is hugging me and B says,
"Do you love her?"
J: Ummm...well, no...I don't know.
B: Well, I love her!
J:  stares blankly
B: Do you want to marry her?
B:  Well, I do!
Then B looks at me and says, "Will you marry me?"  
Me:  Sure, but I'll have to ask Mr. Hutchens
B: What?  Who's that?
Me:  My husband
B:  Ok, well then you can just be my mommy!
She has yet to stop calling me mommy! :)

Day 3:  One boy, D, is mad because he didn't get the chair he wanted to sit in.  I finally said something to him and added a "Bye, Philippe" to the end of it.  One little girl says, "Bye, Felicia" to him and he says, "It's Philippe, not Felicia!"

Day 4:  We are doing Olympics-style games in the afternoon.  Today was the discus.  For us that meant throwing a paper plate the farthest.  Each kiddo got 2 turns to throw.  D throws his the farthest and when he wins, he is jumping up and down and high fiving everyone like he just won the NBA championship or something!  He kept saying, "I can't believe I won!"  

Have I mentioned how much I love 1st grade summer school?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Honey, we're out of eggs...

...or something like that!  I have started and restarted this post more times than I can count.  It is something that I am just now truly in a place where I feel comfortable sharing.  In the past week I have had several friends announce their pregnancies.  I'll be honest, this is always hard for me!  I am truly happy for them, but also a little OK, a lot sad.  Sad that I will never experience what they are experiencing. Sad that I won't hear a child's sweet voice say, "I love you, Mommy".  Sad that my parents won't be grandparents. Just sad.  So here goes...

Almost 10 years ago I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure.  We had been trying to have a baby for 2-3 years and decided that we would go see an endocrinologist to find out what the hold up was.  The outcome:  small ovaries and very few follicles.  My egg count was also way down. 

Whoa!!!!  How could this be?  I was only 33 years old and basically my body was going through menopause.  Sort of...I don't have any of the major menopause symptoms it's just that "aunt flo" doesn't visit on a regular basis.  Kind of nice when you're not trying to conceive a child...kind of sucky when you are.  At any rate, the doctor basically told me that it wasn't very likely that I would get pregnant on my own.  The next step was invitro and likely a donor egg. 

As this was a road that neither of us wanted to go down, we sat on this information for awhile.  Then we started to discuss adoption.  We filled out paperwork, went to meetings, but in the end that also wasn't meant to be.  While my husband was on board with a natural surprise pregnancy, he wasn't exactly comfortable with changing our entire lives on purpose.  I didn't want to move forward with something this life altering without his 100% full support.  I'm not saying that there weren't times I wanted to just charge ahead, but then I would always be reminded of what we have and I truly didn't want to jeopardize that.   

As I said before, it has taken me a long time to heal.  I have had the gamut of emotions.  I have questioned my faith.  I have doubted my own worthiness.  I have thought about what could have been.  I have regretted the decisions we made.  It's been a long road to say the least.  

Turns out, once I was done feeling worthless and sorry for myself, my life is better than I even imagined it could be.  I am married to my best friend and soul mate.  I have a job that I can't wait to go to every day.  I have a great family.  I have amazing friends who are like my 2nd family.  I am mom to many fur babies. And "mom" to countless kids I have had the privilege of teaching over the years.  I am truly blessed!   

Saturday, July 16, 2016

That Kid!

It happens every year around this time.  That hopeful anticipation of getting your class list for the new school year.  Getting my class list makes my teacher heart so happy.  It represents hope for a new batch of kiddos, renewed opportunities to make a difference, and a chance for reflection as I look back on previous years to what worked and what I can improve upon.

I scan my list trying to remember the names of siblings and students' names I've heard in the halls.  Some of those names have faces attached to them already...oh, I got her, she's so sweet just like her big brother...look, I got him, he's a handful, such a great math student.  The other names will have faces come open house.

Then, you come across that kid!  You know the one I'm talking about.  The name that makes your heart begin to pound and your head begin to ache.  The one that has a rap sheet a mile long in the office.  The one that other, well-meaning, teachers come to tell you all about.  That kid!

Already you are planning what you will do when that kid gets into the room.  You are going to put them in their place from the start.  You begin to play out scenarios in your head as to what you will do if that kid does A, B, and C...all the way through X, Y, and Z.  That kid!

But what if instead of seeing that kid through the lens of their past you look at them through the lens of their future.  A future that you have a hand in writing.  Instead of focusing on the rap sheet or the comments of others, you let that kid begin the year with a clean slate.  Instead of looking at where that kid is coming from look at where they are going.

Someone once asked me if I would want my child (or a child who is important to me) to be a student in my classroom.  This statement totally wrecked me as a teacher!  At the same time it became a mantra to guide everything I do in my classroom.

We only get one beginning of the 2016-2017 school year!  Make it count!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New Name...New Me!

Well...same old me.
Maybe more appropriate would be new attitude, new outlook, new get the idea!

My first classroom in NC-6th grade (straight cheesin')

Since moving to NC 10 years ago (wow, when I say it out loud, it really feels like a long time!)...anyway, since moving to NC 10 years ago, I was dubbed the teacher nerd.  It is a name I earned after one of my new co-workers came into my new classroom and noticed it fully decorated, as in the teacher store threw up all over my classroom!  It was further reinforced by the fact that I had labeled tubs for each month of the school year with a door decoration, at least one bulletin board display, and at least one outside wall display complete with a monthly craft stored inside!  I know my elementary teachers out there are going,  Well, this wasn't elementary school, it was middle school and the "rules" are a little different.  Since then, I have learned to embrace both my elementary side and my middle school side and have landed somewhere in the middle of going all out, all the time and having the same displays up all year long.  I am finding ways to channel the same energy I always put into my classroom displays into creating a classroom community where each student knows their worth and where they can find success.

Today our school began the process of becoming a Leader in Me school.  The Leader in Me is centered around The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  It all starts with making changes in my life to begin to apply these 7 Habits so I can model them for my students.  I am very nervous excited about these new changes that will be taking place.  I am ready to be challenged with who I am as a person and an educator.  I'm pretty sure that adds to my teacher nerd label, but I'll wear it proudly!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

I Just Don't Wanna!

All last week I was feeling blah!  I simply felt like a hamster on a wheel...just running and running and running and running and not getting anywhere.  

I have been working out like a crazy person, I've been meal prepping, and watching what I eat and yet my weight loss has stalled.  I haven't gained, but I haven't lost either.  The only thing all my hard work has gotten me lately is lots of dishes to wash and a sore right knee.  It's just so frustrating!

At school, I have been working my tail off trying to find ways to help my students learn the concepts they need to be successful on their end of grade tests.  I am feeling the pressure, why do they seem to be slowing down?  I'm pretty sure my head is gonna explode!

I am just so tired and want to just give up!

So I whined a little bit and then some more and maybe a little more.  And during a pause between whining sessions, the hits started coming.  

First there was this one..."Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up." ~Galatians 6:9
Then there was this one..."Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for men." ~Colossians 3:23
Finally, he hit me with this one..."Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe." ~Philippians 2:14-15

WOOF!!! Boy does God know just the right thing to hit me with to help pull me out of a funk! I mean, I'm still tired, but I'm ready for a new week! I'm going to get back on that wheel and run my heart out!

Have a great week!