I’ve Migrated to First grade

Wow.  I’m teaching First Grade this year and it is so different and so the same.  All of the record keeping changed going into First grade, I have a smaller class size, but a smaller room.  I have a number of kids who were in my class last year, but many who were not.  My class has 22 kids, and they are generally low.  I have a couple of high ones, that is, I have a couple who are actually on grade level.  Teaching the Common Core  in First Grade is different too.  One of the main problems is that we have no adopted or purchased programs for Language Arts/Reading or Math.  At least none that matches the Common Core.  I spend SO much time “creating” curriculum instead of teaching it.  I have to teach it, but I have to create what I teach and that is ridiculous.  Why have EVERY teacher spending countless hours recreating and duplicating effort?  It’s such a colossal waste of teacher time collectively.  And of course, they don’t pay us for, or even acknowledge all of the EXTRA time we have to put in.  Hours and hours of time.  Retiring is looking more and more attractive.  If I could ever afford that………… 

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Once Upon a Time

I enjoyed my job.

I wrote this blog because I liked telling about my job.

Once upon a time……..

I’m not alone.

I follow 33 teacher blogs, many of them kindergarten

15 of them show no activity in the last 6 months

7  had 2 or less entries

The new year….

Well, we are entering our third week and we each only have 21 students (normally we have around 30).  Of course THAT was too good to be true so the principal informed the kinder teachers today that she needed to move one of us to Second and split those kids up between the other three teachers.  I guess Wednesday when we have a common preparation time, she wants to meet and discuss it……

Oh, joy.  Nobody wants to move.  We have each spent literally hundreds of dollars of our own money on our classes this year and now she wants one of us to basically throw all of that away and start over on a different grade level. In a different, smaller room, with more kids.

Like I said,  “Oh, joy.”

The start of school

In our district, the teachers report back on August 24th, the students on the 29th of August.  Our principal emailed at the first of August when the office got back,  that  they didn’t want us back until tomorrow, so we wouldn’t get in the way of the custodial “deep cleaning”.    Apparently there  is some funding to pay us hourly money if we want to come in a few days early and work on Common Core State Standards.  We are going to do that as a grade level (conditional on everybody getting a time that we can do it).  The beginning of the year is always stressful, but this year will be more so than some.  Our school was listed in the paper as being one of the schools in the district that has never met AYP.  Most teachers understand how flawed No Child Left Behind is.  But that doesn’t prevent the stress.  It seems to me and I think most educators who have ever worked in at-risk schools, that most of the things that have been put in place and are being put in place to “fix” education, will not fix education, and much of it will make things worse.  You can’t fix a problem by treating the symptoms.  And most teachers aren’t the problem anyway.

I went to some of the big department stores that typically give good sales on school supplies.  The deals are still good, but things have gone up  It is especially apparent when you are trying to get supplies for 30 kids, not just one or two.  In the past I have usually purchased about a gross of the smaller glue sticks, about 40 folders for homework, and about 40 of the 24 packs of crayons.  The crayons and the glue sticks have been 20 cents a package, this year they are 40 cents.  And I can’t find the folders I usually use for under about a dollar a piece.  I’ve decided I can’t afford to spend that much on supplies this year.

I usually send home homework once a week on Monday to be returned on Friday.  It usually consists of a Weekly Reader, and a free book from Scholastic, a little math review and their current letters and sight words and a reading log.  They are expected to read with a family member for 20 minutes a day.

We give each family a list at registration, of suggested supplies for the classroom.  Paper towels, facial tissue, some liquid soap.  It’s not mandatory, but it helps.  I also give them a list of acceptable snacks that can be donated to the classroom for snack time.  No donations, no snacks.  That’s not strictly true, but since the school doesn’t provide snacks, if the parents don’t, then I have too, and in the past that has been a significant expense.

The economy continues to hard here, the school is cutting many things, the parents are in a bad way financially, and teachers can’t keep taking up the slack out of their own pockets. I haven’t worried too much about what I spend on my class in the past, because if I wanted to teach a certain way, then I would provide the materials to do so if the school wouldn’t.  But this year, it seems that my discretionary money has finally shrunk to the point that I am making a conscious effort to cut back  on the spending.

The End of the School Year

The kids are gone.  The room is cleaned out, and I’m checked out and my keys are turned in.  This will be the first time in 21 years of teaching where I have had a summer off.  Previously I have always worked in a year round setting where our breaks were smaller and spread out throughout the year.  The year round schedule was eliminated in our district as a cost saving move with all the budget cuts.  I’m looking forward to the break.  At the end of this week, we travel to get together with our children and grandchildren for a week.  It will be the first time we have had them all together in several years.  They are kind of spread out across the country.  One son in Nevada, one in Utah, one in the process of moving to Kansas, and our daughter in Colorado.  We just celebrated our 40 anniversary and this will be an extension of that.

We plan a road trip later in the summer, and there is the kindergarten conference (I Teach K) in Las Vegas in July that I plan to attend.  Other than that, it should be a nice quiet summer……

Well, that and “The List”.

1. clean out the garage (it has never actually been a garage, as in a place to park a car….) (and it won’t be after it’s clean, but it would be nice to be able to actually WALK in there…..)

2. fix bathroom sinks

3. paint outside of son’s house.

4.paint inside of house.

5. new carpet.

etc. etc.

not sure how much we will get done, but there are things to do…….